Hattie’s View By Ellen Coffey

I suppose a few things in life are meant to remain mysteries. Such was the case of our Christmas angel, a mechanic.

I must have been about four or five years old. I remember that holiday we had our bags packed and waiting, inside the hall door. We were ready to go to grandma’s for Christmas. Aunt B was to come get us Christmas eve morning, and we would be staying for a few days.

I loved my Grandma Hattie and looked forward to every visit to the country.

I recall, because we had no telephone, messages were often relayed to us from our neighbor, Mrs. Chavis. I knew when she came to our door that morning something was not good!

I was devastated when mama announced we would be staying home this Christmas! Dad was off to war, we didn’t own a car, and Aunt B’s car was in the garage. We had no other way to get to grandma’s. If that wasn’t enough, it was late in the month, so that meant there was no money!

“But not to worry. We can have a good Christmas, right here, anyway!” Mom said.

She went into the Hoosier cabinet and brought out a blue ball jar from behind the flour bin.

“Ah hah,” she screwed off the galvanized lid and poured out the change on the kitchen table. From his high chair, baby brother Len, watched, as mom counted her change out loud. Pulling each coin off the table slowly, with her index finger, into my waiting hands, she announced…”eighty five eighty six.  We have MORE than enough to get a hen, Ellen Jane. Let’s get our coats and go to the store!”

I knew mom wanted to be with her family too, but she never let us see her disappointment. Just as mom was bundling us up for the cold walk to the corner meat market, there was a knock on the door. How surprised we were to see, Aunt B!

“What? How?”

“No time to talk! Turn out the  lights, and let’s hit the road. Need to get to mama’s before dark!”

I recall how quickly mom and Aunt B loaded us in that strange car! On the way, Aunt B told how there was a “garage with a closed sign on the door located on US 1 in Camden, exactly where my car broke down. Suddenly, a mechanic appears and pushes my car in anyway. Then, after hearing my plight, and since he couldn’t repair my car immediately, he offers his personal car, free of charge, so I can continue to Columbia to get you!”

“Well,” mom says “I want that mechanic to have this eighty-six cents, for sure!”

We were so excited I think we laughed all the way to grandma’s.

That’s where the details of my story get sketchy. I remember, days later, after Aunt B’s car was repaired, the neighbors said no one knew of a garage ever having been in that location!”

Mom, Aunt B and Grandma Hattie were saying the same thing!

“Thanks be to God! Can you believe that? A Christmas Angel posing as a mechanic?”

“An angel! Really? Will we meet that angel in heaven? How will we know which angel to thank?” I questioned.

“Lordy, lordy, Ellen Jane, that’ll be easy,” Grandma Hattie responds. “He’ll be the one in heaven with eighty-six cents.”

I’ve got another angel story next week, y’all!