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Chapter XXV - Nicola's Idea

An idea was germinating in his head. He wanted to start a small business at the shore and spend the whole summer enjoying the salubrious air. Perhaps it would enable us to make enough money to spend some time in Florida in the winter.

He concentrated his walks on finding a vacant lot to buy in order to build a place of work. In all of his years of work he had enjoyed a two-week vacation only twice and that was always at the shore.

He confided to me about his intentions and I thought it was a good idea. However, I didn't think we should look now since the shore was crowded with tourists and the realtors would have more time to give us after the season was over.

Meanwhile an idea was growing in my head. I wanted to give a party to celebrate our anniversary. I confided my idea to my daughter Colette and she discouraged me. She said papa would think I was giving the party because he was sick and that would harm him. I could not follow her reasoning, but I gave up the idea.

Our thoughts were now turned to acquiring some property at the shore. My fears were dissipated by my husband's improved health. I knew he could never work in construction again. My mind began to concentrate on the new idea. We would build the building, start the new venture and live at the shore from May until October. I was patient to start looking. My daughter suggested that the week of September 20-27 would be the best time to start looking. The weather was usually good then and the shore practically empty.

We returned to the shore on the weekend on the twentieth of September. It was hot with the temperatures in the nineties. Al, our son-in-law, would come with my daughter Colette and children and spend the following weekend at the shore with us. They would take us home.

We stayed at the place they owned. It was a laundromat with living quarters and was owned jointly by Al and Colette and Danny and Irma. That weekend was summer-like and the temperature reached 95 on Monday. My husband and I decided to enjoy the summer day since we had the whole week to look for a place.

Alas, almost unbelievably, the next day the temperature dropped into the fifties. A strong, blustery wind kept us indoors because we knew the cold and strong wind would be harmful to my husband. There were three days of cold weather. On Thursday the sun returned and the weather was summer-like again so we decided to start our search. Some places had signs "for sale" but there was no one to show us the place. My husband wanted a place in Seaside Park so we went to see a few realtors. Eventually we stopped at Sterling Realtors and asked if they had lots for sale. They told us they had several and one of the salesmen showed us around. The prices varied. Then he asked us why we wanted to buy a lot. We told him our intentions and he said, "Why build? I have a place with all the equipment and the price is reasonable. It has an apartment for you to live in and it's right on the Boulevard."

We said, "We would like to see the place."

He showed us the place and we liked it. My husband and I had a private talk and decided to make an offer. We were able to scale him down only a few hundred dollars from the price he asked. The realtor contacted the owner and we signed a contract. In only two days we had accomplished what we had come to the shore for.

The next day was Saturday and my son-in-law and family joined us. We relaxed and told them about our experiences of the week.

The next day was Sunday and our anniversary. I told my daughter that I wanted to shop for a nice dinner. She said, "Why bother?" I said "Of course I want to cook a nice dinner for all of us. After all, it is Papa's and my anniversary!"

At the supermarket I began to fill the cart. I could see my daughter's dismay and I thought she didn't understand. She had discouraged me about the party I wanted to give. The least I could do was to have a nice dinner and a cake. The cake turned out to be a failure. The gas had been changed to natural gas and the stove had not been adjusted to the new fuel, so the cake burned before it even started to rise.

My daughter was against all this cooking. She said, "Let's finish what we have here since we may not come back this season."

However, I was adamant. I wanted my way. The meal was fine and we toasted a good health and many more good years. The dishes were washed and put away and the kitchen floor was cleaned. Now I was ready to go home. I wanted to see Richard and Marie and the garden.

I said, "Let's put the leftovers in bags and bring them home." Colette replied, "No Ma. Let's leave everything here because we may still come back for another weekend." I said, "Let's leave."

She answered, "It's such a beautiful day. Let's leave later." I was impatient, so my husband took $2.00 out of his pocket and told me to go to the boardwalk and play Bingo. I took the $2.00 and left. I knew $2.00 wouldn't last very long and that I would end up playing much more.

Finally, they came. I had been lucky and had a won a few times. Papa decided to redeem the coupons since it had been his idea for me to play!

We left for home. On the way Colette informed me that we would stop at her house first so she could change the children's clothes. They were going to visit Lucy after dropping us off at home. The children were in shorts and at night it would be colder.

I began to suspect that something was up. First there was her unwillingness to shop for a dinner at the shore. Then there was my husband's generosity toward my playing Bingo when he was always opposed to it. Now there was her ruse that she had to dress the children to visit Lucy. After such a long day the children would normally go to bed early. Besides that, there was the fact that my son-in-law surely would not like to go visiting after he had driven from the shore.

Lucy lived in Madison and that would be a lot more driving. I decided to play their game. The only part that puzzled me was where my husband fitted in. He had to know something about it. It was dark already when we headed for home. When we arrived

I noticed a lot of cars parked across the street, but, conveniently, a parking place had been left in front of our garage. Al parked his car there. I continued to play their game.

Well, I got out of the car and smelled delicious cooking odors coming out of the house. I played dumb and proceeded to enter the house. The house was dark since Colette had called and told them we were coming. I switched on the light and a chorus of Happy Anniversary arose from every happy face. They were all lined up, the older ones in the back and the younger ones in the front. They were all very happy but my husband was the happiest of them all because he had played his part so well and had kept the secret from me.

Everyone contributed to the success of the party. Besides the family, a few close friends and relatives attended. Wishes and gifts were presented.

It was a memorable occasion and everyone was sure I had been surprised. I asked one of my daughters how come Papa knew about the party. She said, "We were afraid to spring a surprise on him because of his health."

He was all for the party because it was given for me. That explained his condescending contribution to my Bingo game. He was very proud of the part he had played and played well.

I felt everyone had played his part well and was an actor, including me. They wanted to know if I had been surprised. I said, "Yes, when I opened the door and saw all those shining faces I could not believe my own eyes."

I thanked them for the beautiful time they had given their father and me.

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