I don't know if Mom's trials made her determined or if she was determined from the start. Two days ago I gave you the story of Mom's first marriage. Today is the first part of the story of what happened after Fred died. I'll try to do it in her voice. I don't remember the name of the banker, even though Mom told me countless times. I'm going to call him Mr. Porter. Here we go:
The last bit of dirt was smacked down with the back of the shovel. That was it. Fred was buried. I stood, holding Pat and Julie's hands. Would they be like him? Would they remember him? Maybe Pat would, Julie was only two, probably not, for her.
I want to go home. Home to my family. Home to Dad and Aunt Lizzie, home to Bliss and Tom, Lillian and DeLynn. Home to cousins for my little girls. Home where I can have help. I'll have to make a living. I can't do it without help. I want to go home but I have the house, here in Pocatello. Half finished. I could sell it cheap but if I finish it, I'll have more money to start with. More money for whatever I have to do. Alone. No, not alone. Together with my girls.
The bank opens at 9:00 so I'm here at fifteen minutes till. I sit on the bench by the door. My feet close together, my skirt tucked tight around my legs, my purse clutched on my knees. I polished it and my shoes last night. My hair is tidy, lipstick on, nose powdered. I clutch my arms to my sides in hopes of keeping the perspiration contained. It's not hot but I feel hot. I should have had a drink of water before I left the house. I could spit cotton.
Here comes Mr. Porter. It's ten minutes to nine. He takes his keys out of his pocket, looks at his watch and opens the door. It closes and I hear the key turn again. In seven minutes I hear the key turn again and the blinds on the door are opened. I see his hand turn the sign to "Open." The clerks start arriving. I stand up, pull my skirt straight and open the door. It's cool inside. The overhead fan is turning with a slow whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
"Can I help you?" a friendly looking man says.
"I'd like to speak to Mr. Porter." I say it as if I have every right to be here.
He motions to a chair and I sit on the edge. In a few minutes I'm shown into Mr. Porter's office. I wipe my free hand on my skirt and extend it to him. He shakes it and motions for me to sit down.
I introduce myself and tell him my story. He nods. I'm encouraged. "What do you have as collateral?" he asks.
"All I have is the house. When I finish it I can pay you back, but I've got to have money to buy materials."
He temples his fingers in front of his nose. Then he sighs.
"Well," Mrs. Paschal, "I'll give it to you straight. Without collateral I can't loan you ten cents. It's not my decision, I have partners and a board of directors and those are the hard and fast rules. Times are hard. I'm running a bank and it has to make a profit. I'm sorry."
He stands up. I'm dismissed. I shake his hand and walk out through his door, through the bank and out the front door. I'm half a block away when the tears start. I duck into a doorway and wipe my eyes, take a deep breath and walk home to get the girls from the neighbor.
"Did you get the loan?" she asks.
"No, but I will."
And then I take the girls home.
Every morning I am sitting on the bench at fifteen minutes to nine. Every morning Mr. Porter avoids my eyes and every morning I am ushered into his office. Every day he says he's sorry and every day I say I will be back until he gives me a loan.
One morning he doesn't avoid my eyes. "Good morning, Mrs. Paschal. Won't you come in?" He takes me in and locks the door behind himself, just like every morning but I'm on the inside this time.
We sit down in his office and he says, "Mrs Paschal, I can't give you a bank loan. You know that."
I start to say something and he holds up his hand. "You'll be here every morning, asking for a loan until you're too old and feeble to walk. and I'll be dead and buried by that time."
"What I'm going to do, Mrs. Paschal, is give you a personal loan, out of my own pocket because someone as persistent as you will pay me back. You will, won't you?
I nod my head and start to say something.
He holds up his hand again. "So, Mrs. Paschal, this loan won't have paperwork. Bring your bills to me and I'll pay them and keep a running total. When you sell the house you can pay me back. With interest. The going rate. Will that be okay?"
I'm speechless and just nod my head again.
"I thought so. Shall we shake hands on the deal?"
We do. I walk out with him and I realize I have a bank loan in less time than it takes for him to unlock the door for the tellers.
I order the materials and Mr. Porter pays for them. I hammer and patch and paint. DeLynn comes to help. Mr. Porter is about to get paid back but first we have the kitchen appliances to order and get in and then I can sell the house. As soon as it sells I can pay off my loan and we can move home. DeLynn is going to stay with me until the very end.
To be finished tomorrow....