pioneer house

I can’t vouch for the truth of this story, but this is the way it was told to me by my great aunt Polly whose mother lived in a forlorn area of Illinois.  She became an intimate friend to Jennie Wagoner.  Now this Jennie had lived a life of luxury for her first 19 years as the only daughter of a prominent Chicago publisher.

As first love happens yet today, she passed by a young cowhand, Luke Wagoner,  who had been assigned a secret mission—it had something to do with selling a load of cattle to the Federal Inspectors in the Chicago District.  Again I say, as it happens today, with little or no foresight about the future those two young innocents fell in love on sight!  Jennie determined to marry Luke and settle on a small ranch in the country.  And she did.

Jennie and Luke had been married about five years when my great aunt Polly’s mother met them.  A woeful and pitiful couple she found.  Luke had hardened with the years in face of the near-daily berating he took from his young bride.  He tried to jump when she barked, but there was always some problem.  If she yelled, “Fire wood,” he thought she said “Briar wood.”  Upon bringing it into the house she complained about the thorniness.  She said she wanted a dog; he got a hog.    Her yes’s were more like no’s; her no’s like yes’s .  He asked if she wanted a baby.  She laughed hysterically at the ridiculous idea and snorted, “Baby!”  Luke thought she said, “Maybe.”  She soon was filled with hate.  She hated briars; she hated dogs; and she hated the whole idea of babies!

No bathtubs, no electric lights, no running water, no water closet with a toilet flapper valve like her parents had in their Chicago home!  Nothing to alleviate the constant boredom.  It seemed nothing could contain the hatred that was building like valve on a pressure cooker, simmering, sizzling, and seething – very soon the pop-off point.

She tried to do very little to make the situation better; in fact, it seemed the only thing she could do with expertise was hate.  At that she was a master!

Unbeknownst to her, Luke was still trying to please.  He had banked a tidy roll of money in the past three years.  On her birthday, he begged for the pleasure of anything that would please her.  She said,  “The only thing that would please me would be to leave this God-forsaken place.  I want adventure.  I want the city.  I want a whirl at the World Fair.   I want to see Paris.  I want a Paris whirl!”  By the time her tirade was over, Luke was tired but determined.  He went to the telegraph office and sent a telegram.  He said, “Please send whatever is needed for a real Paris whirl.”  No one knows for sure who made the mistake, the telegraph sender or the receiver, but the message said, “Please send whatever is needed for a real Ferris wheel.”

Six weeks later sixteen wagons came to the Wagoner ranch with all the parts for a Ferris wheel.  Jennie looked at the driver of the first wagon and thought, “If it was love at first sight the first time, it can be love at first sight the second time.”  She saddled up a couple fillies.  The driver of that first wagon was on the second filly sooner than he could tell his shot gun rider to hop off.

Great aunt Polly’s mother was not sure what happened after that, but she was pretty sure they didn’t ride to Paris.


I’m copying a story I wrote and blogged in January, ’16.  Hope you enjoy it.  I’m posting this time for a challenge for “story” by VJWC.  https://onewo

Image: Unsplash, Jan’s Archieve

About oneta hayes

ABOUT ME Hello. To various folks I am Neat’nee, Mom, Grandma Neta, Gramma, Aunt Neta, Aunt Noni, Aunt Neno, and Aunt Neto (lots of varieties from little nieces and nephews). To some I’m more like “Didn’t you used to be my teacher?” or “Don’t I know you from someplace?” To you, perhaps, I am a Fellow Blogger. Not “fellow” like a male or a guy, but “fellow” like a companion or an adventurer. I would choose to be Grandma Blogger, and have you pull up a chair, my website before you, while I tell you of some days of yore. I have experienced life much differently than most of you. It was and is a good life. I hope to share nuggets of appreciation for those who have gone before me and those who come after me. By necessity you are among those who come after me and I will tell you of those who came before. Once upon a time in a little house on a prairie - oops, change that lest I commit plagiarism - and change that “house on the prairie” to “dugout on the prairie.” So my story begins...
This entry was posted in fiction, humor, short story, Uncategorized, VJ's weekly challenge, VJWC and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. V.J. Knutson says:

    What a great story! You get what you ask for…sort of…. This story reminded me of my Grandmother, a pampered lass by all accounts, a city girl who fell for a dirt poor farmer. They married, and as my mother tells it, she spent the rest of her years pregnant and in tears. Wonder what happened to the Ferris Wheel.

  2. grAnnie Roo says:

    True or not, it’s a good story, expertly crafted.

  3. Faye says:

    Great story. Thanks.

  4. sgeoil says:

    Great story telling! Had me fully engaged all the way through

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