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Bob Stockton

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By Bob Stockton
Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Remembering ghosts from my adolescent years.

©2010 Bob Stockton. Excerpted from 'Listening To Ghosts' by Bob Stockton (Xlibris Press). Unauthorized use is prohibited.

In order to make ends meet, Maw, my grandmother, took in a boarder, a fortyish woman we called Hoppy. Although older, Hoppy and Mom had been friends as children and she was the perfect boarder. She helped with the housework, would get dinner started and presumably paid her rent on time. She was one of the family to me. Hoppy worked on the production line at the Local Westinghouse plant. She would get up every morning at 5, get ready for work, and catch the bus across the street from our house to get to the plant, which was located across town. Her shift was from 7 to 3, the day shift and she was always the first one home in the afternoon. Hoppy had a gentleman friend, Bill Cooper whom she had first met before the war. Bill was drafted by the Army and was sent to North Africa as a meteorologist. He returned in 1945 a sergeant, was discharged and went to work at the local Weather Bureau. Bill was a married man who had been separated from his wife for many years. He kept putting Hoppy off about marriage, saying that his wife wouldn’t give him a divorce, but he was sure that she would come around “soon.”

 Saturday was date night for Bill and Hoppy. Bill would arrive, impeccably dressed in a gabardine suit and straw hat. We would all sit in the living room waiting for Hoppy to make the grand entrance from her room upstairs. She was always late, which caused Bill, a fastidious man, some discomfort. Finally we would hear the clop, clop, clop of Hoppy’s platform shoes echoing on the wooden stairs just before she came grandly into view. She would always be dressed as if they were attending the Mayor’s Inaugural Ball or some such prestigious event. Off they would go in Bill’s car into the early evening for dinner and an evening’s escape from the humdrum of daily life.

 Maw couldn’t stand Bill. She  said that Bill Cooper was “too light for heavy work and too heavy for light work.” She always suspected him of dropping Hoppy off after their date and “sneaking drinks in a saloon somewhere,” an allegation that was confirmed years later by me while home on leave from the Navy. I had stopped into a downtown watering hole one Saturday night for a nightcap or two. There was Bill putting a few “behind his necktie.” Actually I kind of enjoyed having a drink and chatting with him that night. As it turned out, it was to be the last time that I would see him alive. Several years after Maw died in 1960, the government decided to close the Trenton Weather Bureau leaving Bill unemployed. He eventually found work in a furniture store selling furniture from the showroom floor.

 Bill and Hoppy never did marry. He died suddenly of a heart attack while shoveling snow in front of his apartment one winter morning. Hoppy never recovered. Never much of a drinker, she began to drink heavily. Mom would get rid of the booze and Hoppy would buy more, hiding bottles in the toilet tank and other places where she thought they wouldn’t be found. Hoppy eventually died, alone and unmarried, in the total throes of alcoholism.


       Web Site: Navy Publishing

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Reviewed by J Howard 1/15/2012
a sad truth for many lives...the embrace of what love (may) hold, cloaks an unspoken reality. interesting story-thanks so much for the read.

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