We had just arrived in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a Saturday morning August 12, 1910. I found that out by looking at a newspaper a boy was holding, he was yelling for people to buy it. We had been traveling for so long I lost track of time. The city was busy. People were moving about quickly. Tables were set up outside with all kinds of fruit and vegetables being sold. People were going in and out of stores and there were more cars being used there. We didn’t stand out too bad with our horses and coach. I could only imagine how we looked to people. We needed a good washing, our clothes were dirty and worn. One of my shoes, you could see my big toe peeking out every time I stepped it would flap open. Wilson’s beard was getting longer and we were just tired.
Wilson said we would have to look for work so we could eat. We sat on this bench outside a post office for a while. I think Wilson was trying to plan our next move. A lady came and sat on the other end of the bench. She looked like Claire in a way. She looked young and had a warm smile. Her skin was dark like mine and her hair was jet black. A single braid hung down her back. Her dress was fancy and so was her hat. A sweet scent lingered our way from her direction. I think she noticed me staring at her. She said hi to Wilson and me. I tried to cover my torn shoe with my other foot but she caught me. The lady then turned to Wilson and started a conversation with him. She asked a few questions which lead to Wilson telling her about our Journey from Nebraska. Soon a man came up and the lady introduced him to us. His name was Frances. He was her husband. Her name was Ruth. They chatted with us for a few more minutes and then left walking. I watched them go into a store down the way.
Wilson repositioned himself on the bench and whistled a tone. I fetched Chowder out of the wagon. It wasn’t long when I saw Ruth and Frances come out of the store and headed back in our direction. Soon they were standing right in front of us again. Ruth sat down next to me. She was holding a box. Then extended her arm to give it to me. I hesitated before taking the box. Wilson nodded his approval. When I opened it, it was a pair of new shoes. They were the most wonderful pair I had ever seen. They were brown and the material was sturdy. They looked like a half boot. Ruth asked me if I liked them. I nodded and immediately threw off my old pair and put them on. This made everyone laugh. Ruth had to help me with the laces on them. I had never had shoes with laces before. When I realized I had everyone’s attention, I took off running as fast as I could from one end of the stores to the other. I had to see how fast I could go in the new shoes. Chowder ran with me. Ruth said, “I was as fast as lightning.” When I was done entertaining them with my new shoes, Ruth and Frances invited us to their place for supper. We accepted right away. We were pretty hungry. Ruth and Frances had a car. It was kind of funny following them with our coach and horses.
Supper that night was the best meal Wilson and I had since we ate at Claire and Jonathan’s house. I remember whispering to Wilson when we arrived at their house if he thought this was my new home. He told me like he always did, “Be patient boy, you’ll know.” Well, Wilson and I ended up staying a week with Ruth and Frances. The land they lived on reminded me of all the peaceful country sides we passed in our travels. Part of it had rolling hills. It extended farther than my eyes could see. Frances told me he would tell me a story about how he came to own the land one day. How I wished Naomi was there to see it. She would have loved to run up and down the hills. We could sit under one of trees and play. I told Chowder while we rested under a tree from playing, that this felt like home. He was the only one I could tell that to at the time.