During the 1950s, many families had self-sufficient farms. Working hard and living off the land producing all their needs for the kitchen table and home. The Schmidt families were no exception. Working hard and living off the land produced all their kitchen table and home needs.
The thousand-acre Kansas farm was operated by two families. Jake and his parents, and his dad’s brother, Uncle Leonard. Sadly, at twenty-two, Jake lost his parents, who got killed in the winter of 1952 in a tragic farming accident. Immediately, Uncle Leonard and his wife helped Jake operate the farm
A few months after his parents’ funeral, Jake stated, “Uncle Leonard, I have no idea what I would have done had it not been for you and Aunt Mildred helping me with these five hundred acres. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“The strong family bond rises up to meet the challenge of life no matter the difficulty. Besides, you’re my one and only favorite nephew,” Uncle Leonard wraps his arm around Jake and squeezes him tightly.
Before Spring descended on the land, demanding fourteen-hour work days, Jake and his Uncle hired two full full-time farm hands which who would help on both five-hundred tracts of wheat. Luke and Samuel were a blessing, especially to Jake.
During the summer of 1953 and taking a break from running the combines, Luke questions Jake, “How old are you now?”
“Twenty-three. Why do you ask?”
“Like As the wheat we’re harvesting, you’re also ready.”
“Ready for what?” Jake is totally perplexed.
“Ready to get married, that’s what!” Luke answers gleefully.
“Yeah, sure. The only girl I know around these parts is Betsy, our cow. How can I meet a girl working this land from sun up to sun down?”
“Well, the work load is almost half in late fall and winter. You could go into town and stroll through the shops. You never know who you may meet?” Luke continues with the teasing.
“I don’t know, Luke.. The town is forty miles away and mostly on dirt roads. Snow drifts will make driving a potential hazard during the winter.”
“Excuses, excuses. Worse case, you could always stay at the Sunflower Inn for a night or two if the roads were inhabitable. If there’s a will, there’s a way.” Luke admonishes Jake.
“Okay, so if I did go into town, what shops would I visit?” Jake is warming up to the idea.
“I thought you’d never ask!” Luke shouts with exasperation. “You should visit the Tulip Flower Shop. My Aunt Gladys and her niece, Elizabeth, are co-owners.”
“So, how do you know them, Luke?”
“My former employer had me go into town weekly to buy farm tools and feed at the hardware store and bring back a bouquet of flowers for his wife. It wasn’t long before I became friends with Gladys and Elizabeth.”
“So, I’m guessing you want me to meet Elizabeth?”
“Yup! You got the idea. Elizabeth is two years younger than you and would make you a good wife.”
“Whoa, horsey!” Jake shouts. “You got the cart before the horse! I haven’t met her yet, and besides, we may not like each other.”
“You’re a great farmer, Jake. Your knowledge of the land is beyond compare when it comes to planting and harvesting. But, you’re naïve in thinking your Aunt Mildred will forever be your kitchen maid. She has enough to keep herself busy with three young children and all the chores on their farm, let alone canning fruit and vegetables for you.”
“I never thought of it that way.”
“Of course not. You’re young and still recouping emotionally from the loss of your parents. I have an idea, Jake, to make the meet and greet easily as apple pie.”
“Really?” Jake is getting interested but still questions Luke’s intentions.
“Let’s do a double date!” Luke shouts with excitement at his own idea. “The annual Harvest Festival Square Dance at the community center is held on the Saturday before Labor Day each year. I’ll ask Gladys to be my date, and she’ll ask Elizabeth to be yours.”
“Won’t that be a blind date for me?” Jake caught on rapidly.
Yup! But all the more anticipation and excitement for you and Elizabeth.”
While working the farm and taking breaks from the summer heat during June, July, and August, Jake had constant visions of Elizabeth. Holding her hand, dancing, and maybe even stealing a kiss over an ice cream sundae. Luckily for Jake, Aunt Mildred teaches him the fundamentals of square dancing.
The all-important Saturday afternoon finally arrives, and Luke drives him and Jake into town.
“Now remember, Jake, when I introduce you to Elizabeth, your only words for that moment are,” Luke waits for Jake to state them.
“It is very nice to meet your acquaintance, Miss Elizabeth.”
“While you’re saying those words, remember to take her hand and kiss it ever so softly.”
“I never knew dating would be so exacting,” Jake sounding exhausted already.
“Every good deed in life, Jake, takes work. So, you’re ready to do the meet and greet?”
“Yup! Let’s dance with the finest ladies in St. Francis, Kansas!”
Jake was not disappointed. Elizabeth was a delight, even taking the lead for a while in the square dancing. Likewise, Luke and Gladys became closer in their relationship, dating monthly for over a year.
Jake and Elizabeth paused for that infamous ice cream sundae, and Elizabeth asked right away, “What church do you attend, Jake?”
Jake was embarrassed, never attending church except for his parent’s funeral.
“I’m sorry to say that I haven’t attended church since my parents passed.”
“Luke did share the tragedy with Gladys and me, and I’m so sorry to hear that. It must have been rough for you in the days, weeks, and months following the accident.”
“Yes, it was. Thank you, but I’m a bit better now.”
“Gladys says, ‘time will heal all wounds,’ and I believe that. Let me ask you a question, Jake,” Elizabeth took charge to help Jake overcome his shyness.
“Sure, I guess. What’s the question?”
“Do you want to court me?”
Jake’s heart started beating one hundred miles an hour upon hearing those words. He wasn’t prepared for this. Luke never schooled him on this situation. Jake answered with the first words that came to mind.
“Yes, I guess. Sure, what do you have in mind?” Jake, befuddled, hands the decision back to Elizabeth.
“Well, you can ask Luke if you can borrow his truck one weekend a month. We can date on Saturday afternoon, you stay overnight at the inn, and we attend church Sunday morning.”
Her next words virtually scared Jake, so he almost fell off his chair.
“I could never marry a man who doesn’t have a fear of God within himself. Jake, if you don’t know the Bible, I will be happy to teach you on our Saturday dates.”
Composing himself, Jake answers surprisingly positively. “Teaching me on the Bible is very generous of you, Elizabeth. Since my parent’s passing, I’ve been so overwhelmed with the farm that I never gave God or the Bible any thought. Also, I would love to attend church with you.”
“Well, it’s settled. You can court me on the first Saturday of every month. I’ll prepare a picnic lunch, we’ll do Bible studies afterward, and in the evening, we’ll go square dancing at the community center.”
“Wow, you are certainly decisive, Elizabeth. Is there anything else I need to know?”
“Yes. I love tulips. I grow tulips everywhere I can. The flower shop, and my parents’ front and back yards. Gladys’s yard. The entire downtown is blooming with tulips in the Spring. I would dearly miss them if I ever moved from here, downtown St. Francis.”
Not wanting to drop the ball, Jake replies, “I suppose you could grow them on the farm.”
“I was hoping you’d say something like that, Jake. Also, so you know, I would like to have at least three to five children. I hope that doesn’t scare you?”
Not remotely ready for this type of conversation, Jake answers bleakly, “Yes, I understand most farms have large families, but I never gave this any thought. My uncle and I did hire two farmhands; as you know, one is Luke. So, they accomplish the workload of at least three children.”
“Yes, you’re right. But, later in life, when Luke and Samuel retire and we get older, you’ll want our children to take over the farm, won’t you?”
“Wow, Elizabeth. You’re looking some thirty years into the future. If I look thirty days ahead, I’m doing good.”
So, for the year’s remaining months and into April 1954, Jake courts Elizabeth every Saturday and attends Sunday morning church.
Elizabeth’s mom always prepared fried chicken dinner every Sunday after church. This Sunday, the conversation turned to Elizabeth’s fondness of tulips while finishing their meal.
Elizabeth’s dad asks Jake, “Do you know how many tulips and blubs she planted last winter?”
“No, not really. But I remember Elizabeth telling me she usually plants a hundred blubs. Am I close?”
“Well, this year was an exception. My daughter doubled the planting. Downtown St. Francis will look more beautiful than ever before.”
“Dad and Jake, if you’ll excuse me, I need to help mom with the dishes,” Elizabeth shares as she leaves the dining room.
“Now that Elizabeth can’t hear, speaking of beautiful, your daughter is that to me. I had asked Luke to help me with a surprise for Elizabeth this Spring. Last November, he and I planted over 20,000 tulip bulbs on ten acres I devoted entirely to Elizabeth’s enjoyment. I want your blessing to ask your daughter to marry me next Spring when the tulips are in full bloom.”
“Son, you have my full blessing. If there’s anything her mom and I can do to help on this happiest of occasions, don’t hesitate to ask, okay, Jake?” They shake hands celebrating her dad’s blessing.
In early April 1954, Jake drives out to downtown St. Francis, but instead of spending the day there with Elizabeth, he persuades her to visit the farm for the first time.
“You have to close your eyes, Elizabeth,” Jake commands as they drive closer to the tulip field.
“Do I have to?”
“Yes, you must listen to me this time, okay?”
“Okay, but make it quick. I don’t like being left in the dark.”
As Jake inches the truck closer to the edge of the tulip field, he shouts, “Okay! You can open your eyes!”
Elizabeth can’t believe her eyes. “Jake, this is wonderful. I love it! How did you do it?”
“Luke helped me. We planted them last November.”
“You knew we’d still be courting in April last November? Oh my, your confidence is growing in leaps and bounds. Praise the Lord!”
“Speaking of which, let’s get out of the truck and walk closer to the tulips.”
As they exit the truck, Elizabeth’s parents show up along with Luke and Gladys.
“Wow! What a nice surprise,” Elizabeth exclaims. “What brings you all out here?”
Her dad answers, “It’s a beautiful April spring day, and we thought, why not enjoy the tulips while in full bloom.”
When Elizabeth turns her attention to Jake, she sees him on one knee with a small, tiny box in his hand, and she screeches, “Oh, my gosh!”
“Elizabeth, I have loved you since the day we met. You make me a better person, and I can’t imagine living a day without you by my side. Elizabeth, will you marry me?”
“Yes, yes! Yes, I will marry you,” she shouts as they hug and kiss each other for a few moments.
Elizabeth’s mom and Dad and Luke and Gladys give celebration hugs. But, running a tad late are Uncle Leonard and Aunt Mildred.
“Looks like we missed the question,” Aunt Mildred vocalizes.
“But we’re happy for both of you,” Uncle Leonard shares. “I know it’s way too soon, but have you two decided on a wedding date?”
“It would be a shame not to fully utilize the beauty of twenty thousand tulips, so why not next Saturday?” Elizabeth beckons.
Luke shouts, “Would you mind if we made it a double wedding?”
Brandon J Rosenberg is the Christian author of the Cedar Creek County Mystery and Thriller Series. He has the unique craft of combining Christianity and Worldly living into a compelling fictional story of how God can change anyone’s life. His stories are filled with intrigue, flirty romance, humor, and heartfelt miracles that will inspire you to the last page.
Enjoy reading all his books in the Cedar Creek County Mystery and Thriller Series.