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The Valley Revisited for Dec. 11, 2008

By Jo Cross

    My sister Helen had married Dick Colvin in 1934.  Soon after that he began to work for Butler Mfg. and was often moved to a territory that needed building up.  Such a move came in the late 1930’s, when Dick was transferred to St. Louis.  There Helen and Dick renewed their slight acquaintance with Hildreth Sawyer and his wife Yvonne, and the two couples became close friends.

    Hildreth was Blanche Sawyer’s second son.  There were Clifford, Hildreth, Kenneth, and Carl.

    St. Louis had rigid building codes, so that new houses had to be made of brick or stone.  Nearly everyone had small front yards to leave plenty of backyard for neat rows of grapes for wine-making.  Which brings us to the point of this episode.

    Yvonne and Helen planned a huge Thanksgiving feast, as Mrs. Sawyer was coming to visit.  Helen invited our mother and me to come also.  After a huge meal, the two mothers retired to the living room to visit, and the five of us settled in the dining room to play pinochle.  All of a sudden, a tremendous boom rattled the windows.  The mothers and I were exclaiming, “What was that?” I saw that my four companions were trying to stifle convulsive laughter.

    Another boom sounded.  Mrs. Sawyer said that someone was shooting and for Hildreth to go see what was happening.  He said if someone was out there with a shotgun, he wasn’t about to go out to investigate.  A third boom settled it, and Hildreth said maybe he and Dick had better have a look-see.  They did not go outside, but went to the basement.

    They had harvested the grapes the day before and put the wine into gallon jars with balloons fastened to the necks of the jars.  Some of them began to explode.

    Our two mothers were absolute teetotalers, so that no one mentioned wine.  Hildreth and Dick took care of the problem somehow and returned to report that if there had been a shooter, he was gone.

    Nothing more was ever said about the incident, but I always wondered if my mother had figured it out and remained quiet.