Become a Fan
Love on the open road chapter 5
By Pam L Potter
Friday, July 05, 2002
Pingya and Sammy and their baby Fumiko met Pingya's Aunt Nancy Jane.
Three months pass Sammy lays in bed, Fumiko and Spunky and Smokey
was asleep beside her, as Pingya bangs the hammer outside their
cover wagon replaced a broken wheel. Sammy writes; October first,
eighteen hundred and seventy-eight.
Dear Ma, and family,
We're almost to Pingya's Aunt Nancy Jane's in Kansas City Missouri.
Pingya said we could stop by Circleville on our way to New, Mexico
or Texas. I don't know when? Pingya's fixing the wagon wheel, we hit
a hole in the road and we tip over. Fumiko bump her head, she cried
for a long time. She's sleeping now.
Sandy broke the reins and ran off. After two hours Pingya came back
with her. Now we have a broken wheel, and torn reins. Pingya rode
Pearl to a near by town and trade his saddle for a wheel and new
reins and coffee, flour.
In a few days we'll be in Kansas City. I'm glad Aunt Nancy Jane sent
the telegram to Adda's, saying she wants to me Pingya's family.
Sammy, Pingya, Fumiko.
Several days later, they follow behind a carriage Sammy watches the
dark short fringe on top of the carriage blow freely in the wind, as
she rides down the cobblestone road passing several Victorian houses
partly hidden from the tall oak trees lined sidewalks, tall black
iron fences. She watches several children play stick ball and fly
newspaper kites in the wind in a small park, I wonder what Pingya's
cousin's Samuel and Liza are like? He's seems to be distant like
Grandpa Eli. How about their children? Liza Jane, Saul, Esu? I like
Aunt Nancy Jane though,I think will be friend's, She kissed Pingya
right on his cheek smiling, telling him, I'd always wanted to met
Eli's family. Sammy thought cradled Fumiko in her arms, wrapped in
the baby quilt that belong to her Grandpa Eli Kelly junior.
“ Pingya birthday today.”
Sammy announced as Pingya slump in his seat beside her as his face
grew hot. Nancy Jane smiled, leaned over and gently patted his knee.
“ I know. I think of it every year. And Eli the third is December
first eighteen hundred and forty-eight, Su-Ling is November 4
eighteen hundred fifty-three, Mei-Mei December thirteen eighteen
Your Pa wrote me each time one of you children were born. I wrote in
my family bible.”
Pingya eyes watered as he smiled at his Aunt for her love of her
brother and his father.
Several hours later after supper, a big white two layer cake is
carried into the huge formal dinning room, by a older women, her ash
brown hair, tucked neatly underneath a maid's cap. Pingya smiles, to
hid his flushed face. Sammy holds his hand.
" They accepted you. I'm so happy."
The next few days Pingya and Sammy kept busy seeing the sights of
Kansas City Missouri and looking through Aunt Nancy Jane's
photographs. Sammy plays closed attention to Pingya's Father's
picture's when he was a teenager. He was tall, thin, light wavy
hair, and a wide smile.
Nancy Jane told them Eli, and Morgan would get into alot of trouble
when they all were children. She said their Mother would always take
up for Eli. She gave Sammy a gold heart shaped locket, with Eli
junior's photo in it, when he was about fifteen. She said her Mother
wore the locket one evening on Eli junior twenty first birthday, two
years he been gone and only two letters. She gave the locket to her
for save keeping after her Pa Eli senior threw in the fire place.
She retrieve it before it was damage. She gave Sammy a embroidery
dresser scarf of pink roses, that she had made.
" Pingya, your Aunt has been so nice to us. She sure is happy your
She sighs, rocking Fumiko to sleep one night, after they had been
there a week. He is sat on their full size brass bed in whittling,
looks up at her smiling.
Once again it is three days before Christmas. Aunt Nancy Jane talk
Pingya in staying in Kansas City until spring. But Pingya insisted
he find his family their own house and find a job.
Sammy is in high spirts, but Pingya on the other hand wasn't and for
a very good reason there is hardly any money in the fruit jar. But
he managed to go and cut down a small pine tree with the help of his
friend Will Lee Burns a friend from work. They both are baggage men
at train station. The proud new parent's watch as their hearts burst
with pride, as their five month old daughter gazes in wonderment at
the flickering candle lights on their Christmas tree. Underneath
their tree is a package from Sammy's family, a package from Pingya's
family. Sammy had sent everyone a postcard picture of them. Sammy
been working on a memory quilt of Pingya and her life together. Aunt
Nancy Jane had showed her one she had made out of her memories of
twenty years of marriage. She helped Sammy with her first one. she
gave her a sewing box she had been her's since she was a young
women, fill with all colors of thread, and muslin for her material
for her squares. She helped her cut out eight squares. She had four
squares embroidered together, each symbolize a moment in their
marriage. First squared was an light blue wedding bells, with their
name and the date of their marriage, then the next squared was an
black outline of a two-story hotel building, with black thread 'Our
first home.'Then a bight yellow and red circus tent, in red
thread,'Onward to Missouri'.The last squared she had finished was a
baby bootie in pale pink with dark pink thread, 'Fumiko Susan Kelly
born July 17,1878.'
Sammy had just finished the last squared the night before, she was
so excited about getting four of the eight done she had wrapped them
up in a box putting them underneath the tree with Pingya's name on
it. Pingya looked at it, where did she get the money to buy me a
gift? He thought.
Two days before Christmas Pingya's boss motion for him to come in
the store room. He showed him a small wood rocking horse with brown
paint chipping off the horse's body. His daughter had out grown it
He wanted Fumiko to have it, Pingya was speechless, but gave his
boss a Chinese bow. On his break he went and bought some blue, and
white paint from the General store.
For the next few days after work he paints on the rocking horse in
the baggage room, telling Sammy, he had to work late. He still
worried what he could get for Sammy. One Christmas eve he is walking
home when he looks down on the ground, seeing a silver dollar laying
on the dirt road. He picks it up looking around seeing not a soul,
This is a sign the silver dollar is meant for Sammy's Christmas
present. He reasoned. He slips it into his blue jeans hip pocket. He
went home smiling with a warm feeling in his heart.
Later that night Fumiko lays playing in her crib with her rattle
cooing as Pingya went outside their bedroom window with a cow bell,
jingling them loudly, trying not to laughed.
" Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!"
He went back inside to a hot cup of coffee Sammy had waiting for
“ Fumiko is too young to understand this year, not to worry next she
shall be old enough! Pa did it every Christmas. We were the only
children in China, Santa Claus remember. Eli would tell me until I
was nine years old. Then Eli said the Kelly's have always rang Santa
Bells on Christmas Eve as far back as Pa said anyone can remember.
Eli was so trill to do it for his newborn daughter Blossom. The last
Christmas I was home.”
He sat on the tan settee cradling his wife in his arms as she falls
asleep, look out the small window in front of him notice it was
Suddenly he jumps up, as she hit the floor, waking up rubbing her
" What's wrong?"
She groans getting up.
" It is snowing. We are going to have a white Christmas."
They run outside letting the wet cold snow hit their faces like
children. When the cold air got too cold, they race inside the house
cuddling up to the fireplace laughing. Spunky sits barking at them
so loud Fumiko woke up screaming. Pingya picks up his squirming
crying daughter of seven months, holds her up to the window so she
could see the snow. She hit at the window as to try to catch a
The next morning Sammy woke up at the crack of dawn like she has on
Christmas morning as long as she could remembered. Any other
morning's it was hard for her to drag herself out of bed at six when
she had to get Pingya's and Fumiko's breakfast. But Christmas was
special. She nudges her sleeping husband awake, he grabs her kissing
her passion on her ear lope. Spunky wakes at the foot of the bed,
jumps in between them barks, hops up and down, wakes up Fumiko,
screaming. Smokey wakes up at a spot she curled next to Sammy head
on her pillow meowing, then pounced on Sammy stomach and laid down.
Pingya got out of bed mumbling in Chinese, He dresses, stumbles in
the kitchen starting to make coffee.
Few minutes later she came into the kitchen carries their baby as
her dog, cat trails close behind. She hands their screaming baby to
him , slips on her flannel over coat, makes a quick dash to the
privy and is back inside before the water boil for the coffee.
After breakfast they open their gifts. Sammy's folks had sent them a
wedding ring patch work quilt, in yellow, green flowers material for
the wedding rings, on white background. A note from Quentin and his
bride of four month's Hallie; We love it. the wood wedding bells our
names just above our wedding date.
All morning Fumiko kept crawling on her rocking horse. She get pull
at the handles, kicking it. Sammy holds her up as she rocks back and
forth. Spunky hops over it, ran around it barking.
Sammy is please to have a whole dollar she can spend anyway she
wanted. She wanted embroider thread with her dollar. Pingya thought
the gift she is making for them is sweet.
Around noon Pingya and Fumiko are asleep on the floor, Spunky beside
them, Sammy is cleaning up the parlor, picks up dirty coffee cups, a
plate, with one half eaten sugar cookie. She munches on the cookie
as she went into the kitchen to make some tea, checking on her
chicken in her cast iron stove. She glances toward her parlor
hearing a knock on their door. She opens the door, lets the cold air
creep inside her warm house, a short, thin man, sandy brown hair,
baby blue eyes, flannel shirt, a faded tan flannel jacket, snow
covers the back. His black cowboy hat, spots of snow. In his arms,
his two year old son a mirror image of himself. Beside them, a small
figure of a women, coarse brown hair olive complexion black eyes,
wearing a light blue dress, a black shawl wrap around her shoulders
carrying a carefully wrap square cardboard box, of bright red paper.
She shakes snow off the package and her shawl, as she steps into the
parlor, a small tan settee, a small oak table beside it, a clear
color coal oil lamp, on the other side of the settee, a big round
oak table, a small pine Christmas tree, decorated with cranberries
and popcorn hangs around it, brightly lit fireplace keeping the
whole room toasts warm. Sleeping at the foot of the fireplace on
their new quilt is Pingya, and Fumiko, and Spunky, Smokey, She
tiptoes pass her friends to the other end of the room to the kitchen
area, placed her package on the round walnut kitchen table.
" I made rum cake for us."
Esther whispers, as her husband sits at the kitchen table still
holds their son.
" Sound's good, I was about to make some tea."
She went over to the fireplace waking up her husband tries not to
wake up their baby. Pingya stands up yawns, bends down carefully,
hands their baby, still asleep to his wife. Spunky wakes up, barks
notices the Burn's family there. Fumiko wakes, screaming.
" Shut up Spunky!"
Pingya snaps. Spunky's ducks her head laying back down on the quilt.
Sammy cradles Fumiko up to her breast rocking her gently in her
arms, until she quiet.
" You all have a nice Christmas? Did Willy like his toy horse?" She
smiles going over to her water pump, holding Fumiko resting on her
shoulders, holds with one hand, pumps water into a tin coffee pot,
scoops tea into a tin drain upon top of the coffee pot.
She sits it upon her hot stove. She reached above the stove to a
large yellow mixing bowl, fill it with carrots, potatoes, onions
chop up in it, she opens the door of her stove, pours the contents
into her pot.
" About an half hour lunch will be ready."
She told everyone, as she went into her bedroom to put her sleeping
baby in her cradle. She walks back into her kitchen , Ester is
pouring herself a cup of hot tea, Sammy checks on her bread dough,
in a bowl,
on a shelve above her cook stove. She dumps the bread dough in her
loaf pan, and slid in next her chicken inside her stove.
" Sammy, Willy played all morning with his horse, all over the
house. Will, put my curio shelve, Pingya made up this morning in my
parlor corner wall. It was worth the two dollars Will payed you all
She said as they sit at the table sipping hot tea, as Willy played
on Fumiko new rocking horse beside them.
After lunch,The Kelly's,and the Burns's family are out in the
Kelly's frount yard making a snow man, trying to stay warm from the
bitter cold. Finally the two young women went back into the warm
house carrying their babies, a cold and wet dog close at their
heels, making sure it would not be left outside as it run ahead of
them into the house. They shook the snow off their shawls. Sammy put
the tea back on the stove warming it up, then pour them some tea in
her blue cermaic coffee cups.
Around five Christmas evening Pingya stopped his buckboard across
town from their little house to his cousin Samuel fine home for
Christmas dinner. Sammy sat beside him wrapped in a quilt with their
baby in her arms. He turned in the black iron gate entrance and rode
the snowed covered winding road up to their Victorian house. He
hurried his family inside the warm house as he went back out to get
his wagon and horses in the stables around back of the house.
Sammy laid Fumiko in a cradle they had for her by the fireplace.
Sammy uncovered her plate of sugar cookies she made for this
evening. She placed them on a small table by a over stuff gray wing
Sammy slumps in the gray chair as her mouth fell open and her green
eyes widen at the largest Christmas tree she ever seen. The very top
of a gold angel touch the log beam ceiling. Candles lit at several
branches in the middle of the tree. Liza came in smiling at Sammy as
she went over and blew out a candle.
“ Liza wait until Pingya sees the tree lit up, then every one would
of see it.”
She nods smiling as Pingya hurried in the parlor as his dark eyes
caught th glimpse of the huge tree, his heart skip a beat as he saw
silver angels hanging from branches at every level. The candles
flicker in the gloomy darkness of the room. Liza quickly blew out
the candles on the tree as Samuel and Jenna joined the family. Jenna
raced to the cookies, as she grabbed one.
“ Only one, dinner be served soon.”
“ Yes mama.”
The winter of new year of 1879 proved to be a bitter cold one.
The snow just kept coming down. Sammy was stuck day after day in her
little house, only with her baby and dog and cat for company until
her husband would come home at night. The snow was to deep to go
across town to visit Pingya aunt, which was fine for Sammy, Liza is
colder than the flacks outside toward them. Her friend Esther was
unable to visit her for the snow was so deep for weeks. Now her son
was in bed with the flu, that Sammy and Fumiko had just recovered
from last week. Pingya coughs all night. Sammy asked him about it,
he just snaps at her and says he's alright, and for her not to
worry. But she did manage to get him to drink hot tea and honey,
with a little whiskey in it at night. She lays on her settee
rereading her letters from her family that she recived last week as
he laid on the bed wheezing. She had written them that fresh meat
was price too high so they ate dried brown beans and corn bread they
wrote back conditions in Circleville were the same.
Spring couldn’t too soon for Sammy, the Kelly's roof caved in by the
snow storm one night. They spend several days in Samuel and Liza
home. Then moved back in their house. Pingya was laid off from the
railroad. He bundled up at Sammy insisting and rode his horse Pearl
around Kansas City looking for another job. Everything was closed
down from the snow storm. They moved back into Samuel and Liza home
until Spring. Sammy sat up in her bedroom one cold night as Pingya
slept beside her.
March fourth, eighteen hundred seventy-eight.
Pingya found one job finally but it across the Mississippi on Kansas
city Kansas side. So he’s leaving in the morning to get us a place
to lived. I sure hope he finds a place before I choke Liza.
Everything I do is wrong. I can’t wait to get away from Miss Prissy.
Several weeks later the snow melted and the sun warm up the land.
They left Kansas City Missouri and Kansas City Kansas behind. Sammy
missed Aunt Nancy Jane and Esther, but was glad to be away from
there. Even in the great fourteen room Victorian house of Liza it
was too small to avoid her.
They rode into a farming town just like every town they come too.
Sammy sat in her wagon, Even the townstown people are looking alike!
I'd wished we're in Circleville. But of course we ran out of money
again, so Pingya had to work awhile to get more traveling money.
They rode around the busy little town, trying different places but
no luck, until Pingya spots a sign that read ;Fu's Laundry. They
stop there, Thought Sammy as Pingya went inside.
Awhile later he came out again with two other Chinese men, smiling
and joking with each other in Chinese, Sammy didn't understand.
Pingya had tried to teach her how to speak Chinese,she just couldn't
learn it. " Sammy, met old friends Chow, Wong. We worked on railroad
A month passes,Pingya working in the Chinese laundry all day, every
day, while Sammy, Fumiko, Spunky set up housekeeping behind the
Fu's, in the back alley in their cover wagon, and a tent. Sammy made
friend's with Chow's wife Mae and their two small children, two year
old daughter Simiko, nine month old son Ling. Mae's teaching Sammy
Chinese dishes, helped her cooked them, Pingya enjoyed. Sammy tried
to learn how to eat with chop sticks, but all her food would end up
in her lap.
One sultry afternoon Sammy and Mae decided they wanted to go
shopping so they dressed up themselves in their best dresses,
putting their children's best clothes on. They walked across the
to the downtown area, which had a dress shop that Sammy was dying to
go into. The shop had any dresses, bonnets, books, kitchen ware. She
slowly walks around the store, her small daughter straddled her
small, slim, hips. She looked at items as though she had the money
to buy them, she wished she did. Mae was afraid to touch anything,
she and her children just followed closed behind their friend. They
looked up when they heard a bell ring from the shop's front door,
which had a bell top of the shop's door. A tall, slim, well dressed
young pretty women step inside as she owned the place. The store
owner's fell all over each just to wait on her. No one came up to
her or Mae to asked if they needed help, they just stared at them.
When my Pa would go into a store back home, they would trip over
each other to wait on him. She thought as she grins to herself, If
the shop help knew I was once from the privilege class, they
wouldn't be treating me like yesterday's dirty laundry.
Fumiko squirms out of her mother's arms darts in front of the fine
lady, Sammy yanks her dress tail, yanked her back.
Fumiko sobs, hits her mother on her arm. Sammy swats her on her bare
leg checking her diaper and sure enough it was wet. When she looked
the Aristocratic lady was hovering over her.
" What are you two-Uh? Ladies doing here? The store that cater's to
your kind are across the railroad track? You’re a white woman, what
are you doing with these Chinese people.?"
" My husband Pingya Kelly is half Chinese, and Mae is my friend, and
we wanted to go looking around town, I didn't know that we was
suppose to asked you for your permission? This is America, and we're
free to go where we want, and we can buy what, and where we want,
Uh? We want this da? This hat pin, it's a fifteen cents."
She looks inside her purse, found a dime. Mae looked inside her
purse and found a nickel, they gave it to the old bald salesman,
leaving with their heads held high, as Liza and Nancy Jane stepped
out the buggy calling to Sammy who didn’t see them. She stopped dead
in her tracks as the voices caught her ears and looked back twice to
see if she was dreaming. Their suppose to be in Kansas City? What
are earth are they doing here?
“ Aunt Nancy Jane, Liza I’m surprise and happy to see you.”
“ We come here each spring to this shop.”
Liza said as she went inside the shop leaving Nancy Jane at the
buggy with Sammy and her friends.
“ Aunt Nancy Jane Pingya be so surprise to see you. I can fixed you
some tea and you can see him. We just lived down the road.”
Sammy smiled feeling sick to her stomach because she has to take
Pingya Aunt to her home a cover wagon in the alley. In her letters
to her she told her they lived in a house, she never dreamed they
Pingya came home along with Mister Fu as he saw Sammy and his Aunt
walked down the road threw the front window. He couldn’t believe his
eyes. There was his Aunt. Mister Fu who treated Sammy like an
outsider. He would only speak Chinese, he would looked at her and
"Ai-Ya!" and "Wai guo er yue!" [Foreign female.]
A month later, and Sammy and Pingya had saved enough money to move
so the night before they left their friends threw them a going away
party. Mae made a cake, and after work they all had a piece in Fu's
living quarter's, which was behind Fu's the main entrance of his
Laundry business .