A Short Story by Rosemary
(The original version of this story was registered by the author at the U. S. Copyright Office in 2022.)
This was going to be an exciting day, as the end of January was nearing during the early 1970s. Rusty and Janie were eagerly getting ready for their class’s upcoming excursion and had been looking forward to this field trip with joyful anticipation.
The twins decided to wear their comfortable attire usually worn after school, since they would be traveling downtown on the bus to the museum in the city.
After the sisters were fully clothed, they started to gather their books, and other needed essentials.
Suddenly, they heard a knock at their door.
“Hi ladies, are you both dressed? If so, may I come in?” their dad inquired.
“Sure,” Rusty responded.
“I thought you may need some spending money for the trip today,” he stated generously, as he pulled out cash from his wallet.
“Wow, thanks!” Janie exclaimed immaturely.
“I thought since your birthday is coming up soon, I would advance each of you your gift money. It may be useful today. We assume that you both will probably want to eat in their cafeteria?” he asked rhetorically.
“Thank you,” Rusty graciously replied.
“Your mother told me to tell the two of you to remember all your winter gear. Although the weather is a bit mild for this time of year right now, it will probably get chillier later this afternoon.
“Okay, we can pack some of these things in our school bags, carry our coats, and wear the boots all day since they feel like our shoes,” Janie figured.
“Good, there is no reason for anyone to start getting sick,” their father remarked.
Their mother also stopped by their room to remind them to avoid eating too much
junk food when they go to the city.
Although the climate was warmer for that time of year, Rusty was relieved that it was not too sunny outside because otherwise, the sunlight would sometimes cause her deep auburn hair to become more of an orange color.
As Rusty took the last gulp of her breakfast, she heard noise outside on the driveway of their suburban dwelling. She immediately ran towards the large front window in the living room.
“It’s Mary and Lindsey waiting for us. Janie we better go now, or we will be late,” Rusty warned.
“Okay, I am all set!” her twin assured, as they jolted towards the front door.
As the siblings stepped outside, they were eager to greet their chums.
“Hi, you guys, we did not expect the two of you here today,” Janie expressed cordially.
“We thought that since you live right across the street from school, we would stop by and pick you up on the way,” Mary stated.
“We are glad you did. We may not be able to walk outside together for a while after we start having snow,” Rusty stated realistically.
“Yeah, except for those few days earlier this month, we have been lucky, Lindsey added optimistically.
As the four little girls reached the center area of the schoolyard, they promptly walked inside and into to their classroom. They immediately sat at their desks.
Their student population was small, and there was only one class per grade.
Their teacher entered the room and seemed to be feeling very enthusiastic about the field trip.
“Hello, I hope everyone is looking forward to the outing planned,” the refined lady stated happily.
She then paused before continuing, in a more informative manner.
“Please leave your books in your desks or lockers. I do not know when we will arrive back here. If it is earlier in the afternoon, we may be able to get some work done. If not, you may go home immediately as soon as we return. Only bring items that you will need with you downtown today,” their teacher instructed.
She then looked at her notes, before continuing.
“I wanted to express to all of you how important it is to behave during our visit today. It would be a bad reflection on our school administration here if anyone misbehaved,” the middle-aged woman warned tactfully.
Although the third graders were young, they understood the message she was trying to implore.
As they boarded the giant vehicle, they all tried to be polite towards one another, as well as the bus driver.
During the ride to the city, the four schoolgirls occupied two sets of double seats which were within the same section.
“Boy, I am looking forward to eating there. My older brother said they serve everything,” Mary stated excitedly.
She then stated, “My parents gave me four dollars for today. How much did yours give?” she asked childishly.
“We each got nine dollars!” Rusty stated cheerfully.
“Wow, that’s a lot of money. Why so much?” Lindsey asked.
“Because we are turning nine in a few weeks. Our dad gave us our birthday money earlier in case we need it today,” Rusty clarified.
“Gee, mine only gave me a buck so I can buy a soda pop or milk, to drink with what my mom made,” Lindsey stated disappointedly.
Her friends remained silent, as they did not want to say anything which would make her feel worse.
The large yellow vehicle pulled into the circular driveway in front of the huge historical and educational institution.
The impressive building was comprised of light pinkish tinted bricks, with white trim on the windows. The middle of the structure had ivory-colored pillars, and stairs leading up to the entrance.
Their instructor then stood up to speak.
“Please do not forget to take all your belongings, especially the cash you brought, before stepping outside,” she reminded.
The students tried not to push or run down the aisle as they departed from the interior of the bus. As each child passed the driver, they treated him with courteousness.
When the class arrived at their destination, they noticed groups of youngsters of all ages from other grammar schools.
Their leader looked at her wristwatch and decided they should have something to eat before the tour.
“Since it is after eleven thirty, I think we should have our lunch first before the tour begins,” she decided.
Her pupils happily agreed.
After a short personal break, they all headed towards the enormous lunchroom.
As they were all standing in line, Rusty and Janie conversed quietly amongst themselves for a moment.
They decided to help Lindsey out, as she looked very defeated when she saw the assortment the delicious looking foods to choose from.
“Lindsey, why don’t you toss what you brought aside, and pick out something you really want. We have enough money for you too,” Janie offered kindheartedly.
“Won’t your parents get mad that you used some of it on me?” she asked nervously.
“No, they made a point of telling us it is ours, and we can spend it anyway we want,” Rusty assured.
“Gee thanks, this is really nice of you,” Lindsey replied as she quickly grabbed one of the trays and began making her selections.
The list of choices in which they could choose their culinary selections were from the kiddie menu for patrons under the age of twelve. These were more reasonably priced, and appropriately proportioned for younger diners.
The teacher then directed them all to an area which would accommodate their group.
“My lunch is really good. How is yours?” Mary asked her buddies.
“So are my onion rings. Does anyone want to split their French fries with my order?” Lindsey inquired.
“I do. This way we can have some of each” Rusty suggested, as they started to divvy up their side dishes.
During their conversation, the topic of the twins’ upcoming birthday became the main subject.
“I am looking forward to coming to your party in February, but why is it being held on the twelfth, when your birthday is on the sixteenth?” Mary inquired.
“Because the sixteenth is on a weekday this year when we are at school. We would not be able to have it until much later in the afternoon. On a Saturday we can have it anytime we want,” Rusty explained.
“That’s a good idea. I bought you both a great gift,” Mary bragged.
“Yeah, me too. Or my mom did,” Lindsey clarified.
She then added, “thanks again for the free lunch. You did not have to buy so much for me,” their pal stated appreciatively.
“That’s okay,” Janie replied modestly.
Afterwards, the schoolchildren were reminded to throw away the remnants of their meals into the trash cans. Everybody was instructed to place their empty trays onto the racks.
As the young patrons entered the gallery, the rooms containing the exhibitions seemed huge.
The windows, lighting fixtures, and well-crafted furniture appeared to be highly preserved but had more of a dated appearance.
They were met by a young man in his early twenties who seemed eager to answer any questions regarding the displays.
Their entire cluster walked slowly together throughout the array of lovely paintings, interesting artifacts, and magnificent statues. The special lighting helped to magnify the spectacular art pieces, and further enhanced the viewing experience with the crowd.
Suddenly, they walked over to a large sculpture which was immediately recognized as Abraham Lincoln.
“He looks like the pictures in my textbook,” Rusty thought with amazement.
She found this physical presentation to be both stunning but puzzling, as she could not understand why it only consisted of his face.
“Hey Rusty, are you coming with us?” Mary asked.
“I’ll be there in a minute,” she promised.
Rusty also noticed there was a friendly-looking and unassuming man standing further away with a camera. He was chatting quietly with another adult, and she later noticed him talking with their teacher.
“He must work at one of the other districts, or maybe he is a parent,” the little girl assumed, as she decided to catch up with her classmates.
When the showings were over, they all thanked the tour guide.
The children were again granted a private free-time break, before they embarked on the long travel back to their community.
“Boy, its sure got cold outside. I am glad we brought with all this other stuff,” Rusty stated as she slid her arms into the sleeves of her thick luxurious coat and quickly zipped it up for warmth. She pulled out her gloves, scarf, and hat, and then crammed her lighter jacket into her bag
“All of this sure came in handy,” Janie remarked, as she started to maneuver her heavier jacket.
During the transport back to the suburbs, the youths conversed amongst themselves.
“That was fun.” Mary commented.
“Yeah, and the best thing is that we did not have to do any schoolwork today,” Lindsey stated with relief.
“We may get some if we get back before three-thirty,” Rusty recapped.
“With all of the icky traffic, I doubt it,” Janie stated realistically.
As the huge lemon-colored van drove into the wide turn-around area. Their educator once again mentioned that they all be mindful not to leave anything behind.
Each passenger thanked the middle-aged man at the wheel, as they were exiting the hefty vehicle.
Their teacher noticed some of the parents sitting in their cars waiting for their offspring.
She waved to the other adults, and then announced to her students that it was getting late and they could all go home.
The faculty member then made the final announcement for the day.
“Don’t forget to gather all your personal property before leaving. For those of you who still want to take your books, or anything else, you may go inside to collect everything. However, there will not be any lessons assigned for tonight, so you can always leave all your learning materials here for tomorrow,” she added.
“Oh, there’s my mom, I need to go now. Thanks for everything,” Lindsey acknowledged once again.
“It was nothing, see you tomorrow,” Rusty replied kindly, as she spotted her dad crossing the street to pick up his daughters.
Mary also lived nearby the little campus, and her mother was already waiting for her.
They all headed into the directions of their parents.
“Hi kids, how was the trip. Did you both have fun?” Their father asked.
“It was neat. The money you gave us was great,” Janie thankfully acknowledged.
“It was our pleasure. Your mom and I still have a small gift for each of you, that you will both receive on your actual birthday,” he cordially emphasized.
Their dad then added, “Your mother is making a nice dinner. I hope the two of you did not snack too much,” he stated with concern.
“No, besides we ate hours ago. I am starving,” Rusty declared.
“Me too,” Janie concurred.
“I am pleased to hear that because there is a special feast being prepared, which will be perfect to enjoy on a chilly evening, like tonight,” he proclaimed.
He then took the twins by the hands and walked them across the street towards the familiar ivory-colored house on the corner.
"Hi how did it go?” their mom inquired when she opened the door.
“It was fantastic, and the best part is that because we got back late, we have no assignments to do tonight,” Rusty gloated.
“Why don’t you all wash up. Supper will be ready soon,” their mom advised.
During dinner, Rusty and Janie described the fun-filled day they had experienced.
After they all finished, the twins, and their father complimented their mother for the wonderful meal and offered to clean up, as they continued with their conversation.
“So tell me kids, what does the museum charge these days for lunch. In other words, how much of the money did you wind up spending?” their dad asked lightheartedly.
The twins looked at each other and turned towards their parents, as the discussion took on a more serious tone.
“We bought Lindsey lunch with some of the cash you gave us because she was only given one dollar to buy a drink. She brought a plain crummy sandwich, but when she saw everything, they were serving, it would have been too hard for her to eat what she had in her lunchbox,” Janie explained.
“I know you both meant well, and that was very thoughtful of you girls. However,I am not happy that you defied her parents’ wishes. Please don’t do that again.Hopefully I won’t get yelled at by her folks,” their dad replied with candor.
“Don’t worry honey, I will defend you,” his wife kidded.
“Thanks dear, I may need you to,” their father joked with a self-mocking demeanor.
As the weeks passed, the sisters became more aware that the date of their big day was approaching.
On the day of the bash, the twins were wearing their new dresses.
Although their dressy outfits were in the same style, they each sported one in their favorite color.
Rusty’s favored a crimson shade, and her sister’s was in a soft purple.
They each had their long curly hair pulled back and tied with pretty bows which matched the shades of their garments. Their white stockings and shiny black shoes, added a classy touch to their beautiful ensembles.
Their family room was setup with a long fold-out table and chairs. The tabletop was adorned with a light pink tablecloth. It was further enhanced with birthday paper plates, matching cups, and napkins, along with plastic eating utensils.
They only needed one table, since their grade was comprised of only ten girls including the two junior hostesses.
In the corner, the antique desk provided an area to stack the presents.
Just before noon, their doorbell starting ringing. The other little girls were all were wearing their fancy clothes. They came indoors and started to remove their seasonal gear.
The front hall closet had been cleaned out the day before to provide space for them to have a place to store their winter coats.
The menu consisted of a choice of hot dogs, hamburgers, or cheeseburgers,with potato chips.
The refrigerator was overflowing with large cans of chilled fruit punch which was the typical choice of beverage during that era.
The friendly and overall merriment made the atmosphere very enjoyable, as the groovy music echoed from the record player.
Surprisingly, Rusty found it to be sort of strange that some of the invitees congratulated her. However, they did not express the same sentiments to her twin.
“Why did they only say those nice things to me, and not Janie? It’s her birthday too,” she wondered.
After the luncheon, they all played fun games appropriate for their age group.
The favorite fun-activity, required each participant to throw a small red ball into a row of large buckets lined-up in a row vertically. This was the home edition of the challenge featured on a popular local daily children’s circus television program.
Later, the dessert consisted of a large round white buttercream cake, with edible roses comprised of beautiful pastel colors and various sizes, decorated on the top and sides of it. The typical message was attractively written in a red icing.
All the children were also provided with a choice of chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
The gifts were colorfully wrapped and generous. The siblings mainly received fashion dolls, with clothes and accessories for them, and board games.
Rusty and Janie were mindful to thank everyone for their presents and to express how much they liked each one. They were coached beforehand not to mention if they already owned an item.
As the guests were departing, they all left with small decorative bags filled with miniature toys. They were also sent home with a big chunk of the celebratory bakery creation which had been served earlier, wrapped in a wax-coated paper, to share with their families.
After the twins said their farewells, they volunteered to help clean up the mess left behind.
Suddenly the phone rang.
“I’ll take it in the kitchen, their mom offered as she rushed towards the nearby room. The remaining three family members continued to tidy up.
Their mother came back downstairs with an elated but startled expression etched upon her face.
“That was the twins’ teacher, Rusty is featured in that big newspaper from downtown,” she joyfully announced.
“That's great, but how and why?” their stunned father happily inquired.
“From what she told me, it appears that when they were on the field trip, Rusty was looking at an exhibit, and one of their photographers happened to be there and snapped a picture of her admiring it. He obtained her name and other information from their teacher. She probably assumed it would be okay with us,” their mom explained.
“It is certainly okay with me,” their father answered elatedly.
He then turned his attention to Rusty.
Did you know anything about this?” their dad cheerfully questioned.
“Nope, I saw him and thought he was one of the other teachers or someone’s father. I had no idea he took a picture of me,” Rusty gleefully explained.
Their father suddenly ran towards the closet and quickly put his hat and coat on. He grabbed his wallet and car keys and headed swiftly towards the garage door.
“Where are you going dear,” their mom asked.
“I am going to the pharmacy uptown to buy a bunch of today’s editions of the paper,” he stated, as he promptly walked out the door to his car.
When he returned, Rusty heard the electronic garage door open and ran to help their dad.
He was carrying a bundle of newspapers in his arms as he cautiously walked his way into their home.
“I appreciate you getting the door for me. I bought a lot of copies,” he stated as he placed the pile of the publications on the nearest flat surface.
He then added. “I have more in my backseat.”
“You must have bought out the entire store,” his spouse teased.
“Yes, I purchased all of the remaining ones they had left on the shelves,” he described.
Immediately, their mother took her favorite scissors and started looking through the pages to find the section pertaining to her young daughter.
“Here it is, and Rusty looks adorable!” their mom exclaimed, as she carefully cut out the brief article and showed it to her husband and children.
The small human-interest piece showed Rusty in a black and white photo admiring a gigantic, detailed face sculpture of Abraham Lincoln. Underneath it stated her name, age, and what school she attended.
“The person who took the photograph did an excellent job and is obviously very gifted. In addition to Rusty looking darling, I really like the way the photographer captured with black and white how well-carved or chiseled the sculpture of Abe Lincoln is. It allows the reader to see all the fabulous craftsmanship of the exhibit up close,” their father praised.
Rusty too was pleased with the picture; however, she was still feeling a bit baffled by it.
“Gee I do not understand why he chose me; I mean there were lots of other kids there,” Rusty questioned aloud.
“Perhaps the photographer noticed a unique quality you have from afar, which he felt would come out in his picture,” their dad explained.
“Yeah Rusty, like that time we were on vacation and during that show they invited me onstage to play the maracas. The two of us looked the same, but I was the one they picked,” her sister added.
“That is an excellent point Janie,” their mother stated with a complementary tenor.
“Rusty there will be times when one twin will be chosen over the other for something, or another person may be selected for an opportunity instead of either of you. The key point is to be happy for that individual, just like you would wish someone to be for you,” he emphasized
Their dad then left the room for a short time. He returned holding a tray of four small paper cups leftover from the gathering, which contained the same fruit drink enjoyed during the earlier festivities.
The patriarch of their household then handed them each an ample portion of the sweet fruity beverage and decided to make a toast.
“First, this is to congratulate Rusty on appearing in the paper today. Also, that everything had had gone pleasantly this afternoon. Lastly, this is in honor of today’s date, which is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday,” he stated, as they all acknowledged the late President, as well as and in appreciation for the photographer, and the newspaper that printed the article.
The author of this story was featured in a short article titled, “Abe Still Fascinates”, in the Chicago Tribune, on Saturday, February 12, 1972. It appeared in the newspaper on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
The picture was taken by Mr. Jack Mulcahy.
The 50th anniversary date of the article’s publication was on Saturday, February 12, 2022.
This story is dedicated to the memory of Jack Mulcahy, who was a multi award winning photographer.
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A Short Story by Rosemary