Secrets of the Heart

BOOK: Secrets of the Heart
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This book is dedicated with love to Brenda Jacobson
my friend
my sister in the L
ORD
and the quiet strength behind her husband’s
dreams and accomplishments.
I love you, Bren.
Jo Anna
P
ROVERBS 17:17

“[God] knoweth the secrets of the heart.”
P
SALM 44:21

T
HE
E
NCYCLOPEDIA
B
RITANNICA
REPORTS
that the mail order business, also called direct mail marketing, “is a method of merchandising in which the seller’s offer is made through mass mailing of a circular or catalog, or advertisement placed in a newspaper or magazine, and in which the buyer places his order by mail.”

Britannica
goes on to say that “mail order operations have been known in the United States in one form or another since Colonial days, but not until the latter half of the nineteenth century did they assume a significant role in domestic trade.”

Thus the “mail order” market was known when the big gold rush took place in this country in the 1840s and 1850s. At that time prospectors, merchants, and adventurers raced from the East to the newly discovered goldfields in the West. One of the most famous was the California Gold Rush in 1848–49, when discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, near Sacramento, brought more than 40,000 men to California. Though few struck it rich, their presence stimulated economic growth, the lure of which brought even more men to the West.

The married men who had come West sent for their wives and children, desiring to stay and make their home in the West. Most of the gold rush men were single and also desired to stay in the West, but they found there were about two hundred men for every single woman. Being familiar with the mail order concept, they began advertising in eastern newspapers for women to come west and marry them. Thus was born the “mail order bride.”

Women by the hundreds began answering the ads, wanting to be
married and to make the move west. Often when men and their prospective brides corresponded, they agreed to send no photographs. They would accept each other by the spirit of the letters rather than on a physical basis. Others, of course, exchanged photographs.

The mail order bride movement accelerated after the Civil War ended in April 1865, when men went west by the thousands to make their fortune on the frontier. Many of the marriages turned out well, while others were disappointing and ended in desertion by one or the other of the mates, or in divorce.

As we embark on this fiction series, we’ll tell stories that will grip the heart of the reader, bring some smiles, and maybe wring out some tears. As always, we will weave in the gospel of Jesus Christ and run threads of Bible truth that apply to our lives today.

I
T WAS FALL IN
I
LLINOIS
, and each day the winds off Lake Michigan loosened the dry russet leaves and sent them swirling through space until they fell in the yards and streets of Chicago, giving a touch of bright temporary color wherever they settled.

Chicago’s 27th District was on the west side of the city, a predominantly Irish settlement. In the two-story house at 139 DeKoven Street, the sunny kitchen was redolent with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee as the Shaemus O’Malley family finished up a hearty breakfast.

Shaemus set his Irish eyes on his wife. “Well, Mama,” he said, “we’d best be thinkin’ about startin’ to commence to begin makin’ plans to head for the store.”

Maureen O’Malley, who was short and a bit round like her husband, looked somewhat younger than her thirty-nine years. She smiled at Shaemus. “You’re right, Papa. We’ll have irate customers standin’ at the front door of the store a-wantin’ in if we don’t shake a leg.”

Fourteen-year-old Patricia, who was the spitting image of her mother, laughed. “Papa, why do you always say that?”

“Always say
what
, darlin’?”

“You know… ‘start to commence to begin…’ Why do you always say that?”

“Because it always makes you laugh.” Shaemus had the mischievous grin of a fabled leprechaun. “And if there’s anythin’ this ol’ Irishman wants, it’s to see his children happy and laughin’.”

“Well, you’ve certainly made your son happy today, Papa,” said the family’s oldest child, Kathleen, who would soon turn eighteen.

“Made me happy?” gusted Donald, who was two years younger than Kathleen. There was a sly grin on his lips. “Why, Kathleen, how can you say that? You know I absolutely
hate
to miss school!”

“Mm-hmm. About the way you
hate to
eat chocolate cake.”

“How come us girls can’t go with you to get the potatoes, Papa?” Patricia asked.

“‘Cause girls aren’t strong enough to lift the sacks,” Donald said before his father could answer.

“Kathleen and I could handle sacks together,” Patricia said, giving Donald a look.

Shaemus chuckled. “Handlin’ spuds is for the male species, Patty, and besides, the railroad yard is no place for females. I know you’d like to skip out on school, but life isn’t always set up to be what we want it to be.”

Patricia shrugged. “Oh, well. Someday I’ll grow up and marry a real rich man. Then I can do anything I want, and I can
have
everything I want.”

Kathleen shoved her chair back and stood up. “But until then, little sister, you and I still have to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen before school.”

The rest of the family rose to their feet.

Donald was already almost a head taller than his father, and he liked to tease him about it. Laying a hand on his dad’s shoulder, he said, “Well, Shorty, I guess we’d better get going.”

Shaemus chuckled, looked up at Donald, and said, “Shorty, eh? Well, anytime the tall one, here, thinks he c’n handle Shorty, let ‘im try it.”

“Our son isn’t about to do that, Papa,” said Maureen, laughter showing in her eyes.

Donald grinned sheepishly. “You’re…ah…right about that, Mama.”

“Tall isn’t everything, Donald,” Patricia said. “No, it isn’t, half-pint. But being short isn’t either. And you ought to know.”

“I’ll grow some more,” Patricia said.

Donald took his cap off a peg. “You might, but lots of girls already have their height by the time they’re fourteen.” “Kathleen didn’t. She grew till last year.”

“Yeah, but Kathleen was taller than you are when she was your age.”

“Not by much. I’ll be at least as tall as she is.”

Donald looked down at Kathleen and grinned at her. “Which isn’t saying much, is it?”

“My feet reach the floor, and that’s all that matters,” she retorted.

The older O’Malleys and Donald put on their coats before stepping out into the brisk fall air. Kathleen and Patricia hugged their parents good-bye, then turned to Donald, mischievous grins on their faces. It embarrassed Donald—now that he was all of sixteen years—to be hugged by his sisters. He began edging his way toward the kitchen door as Maureen O’Malley said, “You girls do good in school today.”

“We will, Mama,” Patricia assured her.

“I’ll be at the store right after school lets out, Mama,” said Kathleen.

“And I’ll come home and do some housework,” said Patricia.

Donald had his hand on the doorknob. Before he could step outside, Kathleen glided up, smiling from ear to ear, and threw her arms around him, saying, “You have a good time loading and unloading the potatoes, Donnie.”

Donald’s face turned beet red, and his arms hung at his sides.

As Kathleen stepped back, Patricia moved in to hug him. “Bye, Donnie,” she said. “See you later.”

He opened the door and allowed his parents to pass through ahead of him, then fell in behind them as they walked toward the barn where the horses were already hitched to the wagon.

Though the air was brisk, the girls stepped outside onto the porch.

“Donnie…” Kathleen called.

The boy paused. “Yes?”

“If you don’t hug me back when I hug you, I’ll fix you good.”

“Oh? And just how will you do that, Miss Smarty?”

“I’ll hug you at school in front of your friends.”

Donald O’Malley’s face paled. “You…you wouldn’t do that.”

“I’ll do it too,” Patricia said.

Kathleen laughed. “So if you don’t want the supreme embarrassment of having your sisters hug you at school, you’d better hug us back when we’re at home.”

“All right, all right,” he said, turning to catch up with his parents.

“Starting right now!” Kathleen’s brilliant sky blue eyes danced with merriment, and a dimple flitted in and out of her right cheek as she set her mouth and fought to control the smile that threatened to break across her lips.

Donald shook his head, muttered something indistinguishable, and returned to the porch. He hugged both sisters then hurried away.

Moments later, the family wagon pulled out of the yard with Shaemus, Maureen, and Donald waving to the girls.

The girls rubbed their arms from the cold and returned to the warmth of the kitchen.

“Aren’t brothers fun to pick on?” Patricia said with a giggle.

“If they’re all like Donnie, they are.”

Shaemus and Maureen O’Malley were hardworking immigrants who had left Ireland in October of 1851 for the shores of America. The Great Potato Famine had struck Ireland in 1845 and lasted until 1850. By 1851, some two million people had died, and the economy was devastated. Shaemus and Maureen, who got married the year after the end of the Famine, decided to emigrate to the United States. There they would build their lives together and start their family.

They dearly loved their new country. Eventually they had put together enough money to open a corner grocery store in Chicago’s 27th District, and after three or four years the store was providing a
nice living for them. Now it was 1871, and they had been living in Chicago for twenty years. They would not have been considered wealthy, but they were quite comfortable and felt exceptionally blessed.

Their home was a happy one, filled with love. And even though sisters and brother teased each other unmercifully, underneath it all were genuine affection and respect.

BOOK: Secrets of the Heart
11.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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