Sample Chapter – Short History of Post Office – Mid-1800’s Mail Delivery Systems

Sample Chapter
Short History of Post Office
Mid-1800’s Mail Delivery Systems
By 1845 many different types of mail systems had evolved, including:
Stage Coaches
Horse and Sulky
Railroad
Post Office
Saltwater Mail System
Ship Letters
Packet boat
Steamboat Companies
Semi-Formal
Informal
Stage Coach Companies
Brutal Travel
The stage coach originated in England in the 13th Century. Stage coach travel was dusty, bumpy and brutal. Most stage coaches seated about nine people on three seats inside the coach. The springless coaches provided for a rough ride over the dirt roads of the time. The stage coach acquired its name because travelers completed their journey in “stages.” Typically, teams of two to six horses pulled the coaches, which could weigh in at about 2.000 pounds. Baggage and mail was stowed in leather compartments called boots at the front and rear of the compartment. More luggage and mail could be placed on top of the coach behind the driver. Leather curtains provided some protection against dust while the leather seats provided little leg room. There was no back support, so passengers riding in the middle of the seat had to cling to a leather strap suspended from the ceiling of the coach.
Periodic Stops
Most stage coach lines had several stops along the way. Minor stops, called “swing” stops, allowed a stop of about ten minutes. These were about twelve miles apart. The stage driver had a small brass horn he tooted before arriving at the stop to alert the attendant the stage was coming. Once at these stops, the horse team would be changed and the passengers allowed out for a few minutes of welcome relief. About every fifty or sixty miles the stage coach stopped at a “home” station. These stations were bigger and usually had a cabin or house for the passengers to catch a few hours sleep and a meal before proceeding on. Sometimes there was a blacksmith on the site. A Butterfield stagecoach could cover about 110 miles per day traveling at about 5 miles per hour.
Influential Lobby
The stage coach lobby evolved into a powerful lobby in Washington D. C. Generally, the Post Office awarded contracts for mail delivery to stage coach companies for four years. In 1838 stage coaches carried mail 29,593,192 total miles for a total cost to the Post Office of $1.889,792. This amounted to about $.06 per mile. Although the bids were supposed to be competitive, allegations existed about rigging in the awarding of these contracts, which could be quite lucrative. Many government officials regarded postal contracts as a way to unofficially subsidize stage coach lines.
Sulky Transportation of Mail
A sulky is a two wheeled cart pulled by one horse and one seat for the driver. Much of the mail during this era was carried on horseback or by sulky. In 1838 sulky mail routes covered 11,575,918 miles at a cost of $831,038. This works out to about $.07 per mile.
Railway Companies
Primitive railway systems began emerging in the United States around 1830. The first public railway, the B & O commenced operations on May 24, 1830 with the opening of 24 miles of track over which horses pulled wagons mounted on tracks. The legendary race between the steam engine Tom Thumb on August 28, 1830 began the move to steam power even though the horse defeated the locomotive in the race. Post Office officials began utilizing the new technology on November 30, 1832 when they awarded a contract to a stage coach line that operated between Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The post office granted the company a $400 per year allowance to carry the mail for a short distance by rail. This practice increased over time. By 1838 the combined mileage for mail carried by rail and steamship totaled 2,413,092 miles at a cost of $410,488. This worked out to about $.17 per mile, however rail was much faster.
1838 – Railroads Designated Post Routes By Congress
The first recorded use of railroads for mail delivery was in Great Britain in 1830. Specially adapted railway carriages were used to carry mail kon the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Historical lore suggests that the South Carolina Rail Road carried the first bags of mail in 1831. Stage coach contractors Samuel Slaymaker and Jesse Tomlinson received the first recorded grant to use the railroad to carry mail regularly in the United States in 1832 from Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Railroads saw increased use as mail carriers between 1832 and 1838. The United States Congress passed a law that designated all railroads as post roads on July 7, 1838. The law limited post riders and horse drawn vehicles to carrying mail to post offices that were not on a rail route.
Saltwater Mail System 
Crews on board the sailing ships that plied the oceans would go weeks, months, or even years away from homes and sweethearts. A letter from home was a tremendous morale booster. Sailors could spend many hours while at sea composing letters to send back home. Sailors, and their loved ones back home, kept in touch using the Saltwater Mailing System that had evolved over the years.
The System
The Saltwater Mail System was simple in concept and horrendously unreliable. A ship leaving port would take mail bags on board with their cargo. If, by chance, they met another ship at sea they would open the mail bag and see if there were any letters addressed to any of the crewmen on the other ship. The letters generally bore vague addresses like, “William Smith, Pacific Ocean.” If by chance they found one or two letters belonging to crewmen, they would hand them over. They would then take any letters the crew, or officers, had written and add them to the mail bag. When they reached port, they would deposit the mail at that port and take on another bag when they departed. The “post offices,” were frequently taverns near the waterfront that ship’s captains would use as a sort of makeshift headquarters when they were in port. Needless to say, this system resulted in many letters taking months or years to reach the recipient. If they even arrived at all.
The Letters
Since postage was calculated by the number of pages, numerous systems evolved to put as much information as they could on one sheet. Many used a system called “cross writing,” to double the amount of words they could put in a letter. Basically, they would write the letter from top to bottom, then turn the page 1/4 turn and continue writing, with these lines intersecting those written earlier.
Ship Letters
The salt water mail system used by sailors was part of a larger, loose knit system of mail often referred to as the ship letter system. Ship captains, both salt water and fresh water, frequently used a public house, or tavern, as an office. Tavern owners encouraged this practice, as a boat captain hanging out in their tavern generally led to and increase in traffic as people looked to boat captains as a source of news and mail. A visit to a tavern when a captain was in attendance would sometimes yield a letter dispatched from a faraway relative, lover or acquaintance. If you received a letter from a captain, it was common practice to pay the captain a fee for the service. Typically, the sender gave the captain 2 cents and the recipient 6 cents for the service. If you had a letter to mail, you would give it to the captain, he would add it to the growing accumulation of letters in his mail bag. Especially in the colonies, the ship letter system was slow and often unreliable. Many times letter writers would make several copies of an important letters and send them on different ships to increase the odds at least one would reach the recipient. Wars between nations could further complicate mail delivery. Ships sunk during naval actions would, of course, never deliver any mail on board. Others were captured and the letters became part of the prize seized by the captors. Piracy could also cause many letters to go undelivered. Ships sunk due to storms were another impediment to mail delivery in this system. A recent effort by the British National Archives to digitize many of the 160,000 letters seized as prize booty during Britain’s wars in the 17th and 18th centuries will cause many of these letters to be digitized. They should provide a valuable insight into life during that time. Many of these letters are still sealed with wax.
Packet boat
In the early days of maritime history ships often sat in port until they had enough cargo and passengers to depart. This could be days, weeks or even months. In 1660 an innovation appeared as regularly scheduled ship departure began carrying mail between Great Britain and Holland. The routes later expanded to include France and Spain. These ships became known as packet ships, because their function in the beginning was to carry packets of mail between ports. At this time, privateers and pirates preyed upon shipping so most of these ships were armed and prepared to defend themselves against attack. Since this was a common danger, the companies offered a standard table of compensation for sailors that lost limbs during an attack. Packet ships were mainly small vessels that plied the oceans, rivers and canals of Europe and the United States. They maintained a regular schedule and eventually evolved into ships capable of carrying freight and passengers as well as mail. The packet trade, as it came to be called, became quite popular, and profitable for ships owners and those that used the service. Packet boats carried multitudes of immigrants to the United States on packet boats. Packet boats on the Erie Canal and others carried immigrants into the interior of the growing nation. By the early part of the Nineteenth Century steamship companies began supplanting packet boats as mail and passenger carriers.
Steamboat Mail Delivery
Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston teamed up to build the first steam powered boat in 1807, forever changing water transportation and the carriage of mail.
Robert Fulton (November 14, 1765 – February 24, 1815)
The son of son of Irish immigrants Robert Fulton and Mary Smith, Fulton received his education at a Quaker school about time he turned eight. His father died in 1774. He became an apprentice at a Philadelphia jewelry shop. While there he developed a talent for painting miniature portraits on lockets and rings. His talent for painting took him to London to seek his fortune in painting. His talent not sufficient for London tastes, he became acquainted with James Watt’s invention, the steam engine. He met Robert R. Livingston and the two teamed up to build the first steamboat in 1807, based on designs Fulton drew. This steamboat, the Clermont, made its first voyage on August 17, 1807. Fulton was also a huge advocate of building the Erie Canal. Fulton died of tuberculosis in 1815.
Riverboats
Fulton’s first riverboats were designed for the deeper eastern American waterways  and didn’t fare so well in the shallower western rivers. He built a boat called the New Orleans to run down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. The New Orleans departed Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in September, 1811. It traveled down the Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky, where it had to wait for the river to rise before it could navigate the Falls of the Ohio region. When the water finally rose, the boat had to navigate in water only five inches deeper the boat drew. Coincidentally, the catastrophic New Madrid earthquake struck as the boat slipped into a pool of water just below the Falls. The shock waves of the quake threw water out of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, felled trees into the rivers, and just created a general mess.  After many delays, the boat finally did reach New Orleans, but it never made the trip again. Rivers like the Ohio, Missouri, and Red Rivers needed boats with shallower drafts. These boats were eventually built, and river traffic at ports along these rivers blossomed.
Ocean Going Paddlewheelers
Paddle wheelers designed to cross the ocean were developed a little later. The Savannah, a converted coastal packet became the first paddle wheeler to cross the Atlantic. It departed Savannah Georgia on May 24, 1819 and arrived in Liverpool, England on the twentieth of June, 1819. Other ships made the trans-Atlantic crossing at irregular times until the British Cunard Line began a regular schedule in 1840. It was 1847 before American ships – the  Herman and Washington began service between America and Europe. The ocean going ships of this era were wooden paddle wheelers also equipped with masts to use to take advantage of favorable winds when they occurred. Freshwater paddle-wheelers were limited to the larger rivers and lakes. Canals were narrower than rivers and travel was discouraged because the turbulence induced by the paddles caused bank erosion.
Fulton died of tuberculosis in 1815.
Early Mail Carriage
Fulton’s steamboats carried mail on some of their first voyages, beginning in 1807. Unofficial carriage of mail, without a contract with the Post Office, continued until 1823, when the United States Congress declared the nation’s waterways as post roads, thus outlawing private carriage of mail. Typically, the unofficial carriage of mail used the ship letter system, however the volume of mail carried using this system created a drop in Post Office volume in many port towns by 1813. The Congress responded by passing a law that authorized local post masters to sign contracts with steamship companies to carry mail on February 27, 1815.
First Mail Contracts
The law that authorized post masters to sign contracts with steam ship companies also required all steam boat captains to deliver any mail they carried to the post office in any port at which they docked. This law compelled steamship companies to sign contracts with local post office officials, the first of which were signed later that same year. By the 1830 steam boats carried mail on the Ohio River, along the East Coast, the Hudson River, Erie Canal and the Mississippi River. By 1855 steamships carried mail a total of 14,619 miles. Two years before California achieved statehood, the Post Office authorized the establishment of post offices in that faraway territory in 1848. Since there was as yet no rail service between California and the eastern United States, steamship companies began forming that would provide a vital mail link between the two widely separated regions.
U.S. Mail Steamship Company
Established in 1848, the U.S. Mail Steamship Company transported mail from New York to New Orleans Havana and to the Isthmus of Panama. Mail arriving at the Isthmus was transported overland to a port on the Pacific Ocean and loaded on to a steam ship bound for California or Oregon. The Pacific Mail Steamship Company formed to transport mail from the west coast of Panama to the western United States coast. The U.S. Mail Steamship Company ceased operations in 1859.
Pacific Mail Steamship Company
A consortium of New York businessmen established the Pacific Mail Steamship Company on April 18, 1848, to carry mail from the western coast of Panama to points in California, Oregon and other points along the Pacific Coast. Initially, the steamship line transported mail and farm produce produced in California, however James W. Marshall’s discover of gold at Sutter’s Mill in California set off the California Gold Rush that same year. The steamship line found itself in the right place at the right time as gold fever set in and the rush of forty-niners streamed west. The company expanded its routes in later years, carrying passengers, mail and freight to Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The company closed in 1949.
Informal
Many farmers in the Midwest and other regions did not have a much cash on hand and could not afford to send letters via the Post Office. If they wanted to communicate with a family member or friend located in a distant town or city, they would write the letter and hold it until a local acquaintance was planning to travel to that place. They would entrust the letter to that person, who would deliver it free.
Semi-Formal 
Merchants located in large cities like Philadelphia, New York and Boston developed a sort of informal mailing system. Any merchant that had a need to travel from one large city to another would advertise the fact ahead of time. Any businessman that needed to send a letter to that city would contact him and give him the letter to deliver. This service was performed free, as all businessmen had need of the service. Many could achieve almost daily mail service between the large cities using this method.

Sample Chapter – Short History of the Post Office – Genghis Khan and the Mail

Sample Chapter
Short History of the Post Office 
Genghis Khan and the Mail
Genghis Khan relied heavily upon the messenger service he developed to govern his huge empire.
Genghis Khan (c.1162 – August 18, 1227)
The son of Yesugei Baghatur and Hoelun, Genghis was probably native to Delüün Boldog, Mongolia and given the name Temüjin. His father, a tribal leader of the important Kiyad tribe. Historical lore relates that at birth Temüjin clutched a blood clot in his hand, considered an omen of future greatness. When Temüjin was about 10 years old a rival Tatars tribe’s leader had his father poisoned. Temüjin attempted to claim the leadership position of the tribe, however they did not accept him and abandoned the family. Left to die, the family managed to survive the brutal environment of the Asian Steppe region. Their food consisted mainly of ox carcasses, wild fruit and small game Temüjin and his brothers managed to kill.
Kidnapped
Temüjin and his brother Khasar killed their older stepbrother Begter after he began to make claims to the family’s leadership. This would have meant that he could claim Temüjin’s mother Hoelun as his wife. An angry Temüjin and Khasar murdered him. Sometime after this a tribe that had been his father’s ally kidnapped and enslaved him. With the help of two of his father’s loyal followers and a sympathetic guard, Temüjin escaped during the night.
Marriage and Rise to Power
Temüjin married a girl to which he had been previously betrothed, Borte. In addition to the men that had helped him escape, Temüjin was able to gather more of his father’s former allies and then joined Toghril, chief of the Kerait.  Temüjin’s father had once helped the Kerait and thus gained their friendship. Temüjin proved to be a formidible leader and military strategist. His followers began a campaign of subjection over neighboring tribes, a task at which they had tremendous success.
The Great Khan
At this time the Central Asian plateau north of China consisted of dozens of tribes, including Naimans, Merkits, Tatars, Khamag Mongols, and Keraites.  Temüjin and his allies subdued these tribes one by one in a series of brutal, bloody campaigns. At length at a conference of these tribes in 1206 AD on the shores of the Kerulen river the leaders of these tribes awarded Temüjin with the title Great Khan.
Further Conquests
The Khan’s warriors were hardy men that could survive for days riding their tough horses with few provisions and rest. Each rider equipped themselves with up to 16 spare horses, which allowed them extreme mobility and the ability to move quickly over long distances. The Mongols utilized enemy tactics and technology, if it benefited them. Under the Khan’s leadership, this army expanded quickly, as conquered foes were frequently given the choice to either join the Khan or face total annihilation. The area governed by the Khan grew quickly as he attacked the Jin Emperor of China Emperor Xuanzong, eventually causing the fall of the empire by 1234. The conquest was completed by his sons, as Ghengis had died earlier. In addition to these conquests, Khan conquered the Khwarazmian Empire, Georgia, Crimea, Kievan Rus and Volga Bulgaria, adding each of these to his Mongol Empire that at his death in 1227 had become the largest contiguous empire on earth. The empire stretched from the Pacific Ocean to Eastern Europe. 
The Örtöö
Khan developed his messenger service, called the Örtöö, sometime around 1200 AD. The word Örtöö translates as the term checkpoint, which was a relay station on the route. At some point the service became known as the Yam, which is a Tatar word for road, related in turn to the Mongolian name for road, which is Zam. The Örtöö consisted of a series of relay stations located from 20 to 40 miles apart. Each station was equipped with horses, food and shelter. A messenger would arrive at the station, hand his message to the next rider in line, then eat and rest. The system grew to include thousands of relay stations. There were 1400 just in China. The Örtöö at one time had 50,000 horses, 6,700 mules, 1,400 oxen, more than 200 dogs, and 1,150 sheep. The service also owned over 6,000 boats and 400 carts. The system provided a means for the Khan and his officials to send messages, mail and intelligence reports. The Khan allowed merchants to use the service free. Abuse of the privilege led the Khan eventually to charge a fee.
The Messengers
The messengers were trustworthy individuals whose duties to the service superseded everything else. The members of the service enjoyed special privileges and carried a tablet called a  paiza that identified them as members of the service and designated their authority to obtain goods and services from the populace when they needed them. The service evolved into the largest and most efficient ever developed until modern times.

Short History of Mail Delivery

Short History of the Mail Delivery

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A history of mail delivery from its beginnings in ancient Egypt to the modern era of email, express and drones.

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Other Books in the Series:
Short History of Libraries, Printing and Language
Short History of Fire Fighting
Short History of Roads and Highways
Short History of Railroads
Short History of the Discoverers
Short History of Gardening and Agriculture
Short History of Public Parks
Short History of Political Parties
A Short History of Traditional Crafts

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Short History of Public Parks – Indiana Edition

Short History of Public Parks
Indiana Edition

Description

Connoisseurs of Indiana State Parks will learn the history of the Indiana State Park system as well as the individual state parks. The book includes a history of public parks and a list of Indiana county tourism sites to find local park information. The book includes an extensive list of state park systems in the United States.

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Other Books in the Series

Short History of Libraries, Printing and Language – Indiana Edition
Short History of Fire Fighting – Indiana Edition
Short History of Railroads- Indiana Edition
Short History of Roads and Highways – Indiana Edition


 

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Table of Contents

English Deer Parks
Landscaped Parks
The Great European Parks
La Alameda de Hércules
Városliget
Princes Park
Regent’s Park
Birkenhead Park
Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Local Communities to Create Public Parks
Rural Cemeteries in the United States
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Rural Cemetery Act
Central Park
Lincoln Park
Yosemite Grant
National Park Service
Antiquities Act of 1906
Executive Orders in 1933
Mission 66
Wilderness Act of 1964
National Wilderness Preservation System
The Wilderness Society
Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 1968
National Scenic Trails
Volunteers in the Parks Act of 1969
General Authorities Act, 1970
Archeological Resources Protection Act, 1979
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, 1980
The Vail Agenda, 1992
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
National Wildlife Refuge System
State Parks in the United States
Indiana State Park System
Richard Lieber (September 5, 1869 – April 15, 1944)
Indiana Department of Conservation History
Department of Natural Resources
Timeline of Indiana State Parks
Brown County State Park
Chain O’ Lakes State Park
Charlestown State Park
Clifty Falls State Park
Falls of the Ohio State Park
Fort Harrison State Park
Harmonie State Park
Indiana Dunes State Park
Lincoln State Park
McCormick’s Creek State Park
Mounds State Park
O’Bannon Woods State Park
Ouabache State Park
Pokagon State Park
Potato Creek State Park
Prophetstown State Park
Shades State Park
Shakamak State Park
Spring Mill State Park
Summit Lake State Park
Tippecanoe River State Park
Turkey Run State Park
Versailles State Park
White River State Park
Whitewater Memorial State Park
Indiana Tourism Sites – Local Park Information
Acknowledgements
About the Author
Mossy Feet Books Catalogue
Sample Chapter 1
Dearborn County Court House
Indiana Courthouses – Southeast Edition

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© 2020 Paul Wonning

Gardeners’ Guide to Growing Beets

Gardener’s Guide to Growing Beets
Beets are one of the most popular vegetables to grow in the garden. The sweet earthy roots nutritious source of vitamins, minerals other nutrients. The Gardeners’ Guide to Growing Beets serves as a valuable resource on the culture of growing beets as well as instructions on how to freeze, can and harvest this delicious, popular food. No vegetable is complete without a patch of beets to offer its share of summery sweetness.

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Sample Chapter – The Wizard’s Magic Pipe – A Dark Fantasy Novel

The Wizard’s Magic Pipe

Paul R. Wonning

Sample Chapter

The Wizard’s Magic Pipe


The initial shock of cold water slapped Cecil Barnes awake. As the water heated, he stuck his head under the stream and wetted his hair. He reached for the shampoo, squeezed a small puddle of it into his palm and lathered his hair. The rich smell of the shampoo permeated the steamy air. He felt the hot water sooth the stiff muscles in his neck and back. He hadn’t been sleeping well. He needed a new mattress. As this thought settled into his mind, he knew that his mattress wasn’t all that he needed to change.As he worked the shampoo through his hair, his mind drifted back to grade school.

He remembered something his history teacher, Mrs. Herman, had said many years ago.

“History is more than events which happened long ago. Our lives are a part of this collection of stories. Where we are born, the way we live our lives, those we love and how we die are all elements of this unique story.”

Cecil rinsed the rich lather from his hair. The sudsy water ran down his body and into the drain. His hand sought the washcloth and soap. While he washed himself, he remembered the rest of her lecture.

“Our children, parents and friends are all ingredients of this montage, and we of theirs. In addition to this, we are also part of a much older story, the chronicle of the earth and its people. Each person who ever lived is a thread in this tapestry, and these threads weave together like threads in a tapestry. These tales combine to create the history of our world.”

Cecil felt that if that were true, then his story would be a boring chapter in that history. His job was humdrum, his love life nonexistent, and his chief entertainment consisted of going to flea markets.

Cecil had a plan, though. He would get that new job in Indianapolis, get married, buy a house in the suburbs, and sire a couple of kids. He would also have a cat and a nice car to haul everything. Cecil had no idea as he sat down on the edge of his bed to put on his shoes that his story was about to change. It would change in a way that he could never have anticipated. He slipped on his shoes and began tying the laces.

“Darnn,” Cecil said aloud, as his shoestring broke with a snap.

Since this was his favorite pair of shoes and he had no spare laces, he would have to improvise until he could buy more. As he began loosening the laces, his cell phone rang. His mother’s number was flashing on the display screen.

He picked up the phone and said, “Hey, Mom, what’s up?”

“Hello, Cecil. How are you this morning?” she asked.

“Okay. I am just getting ready to go out.”

“Are you going to the flea market?”

“Yes, Mom, you know I like to go there on Sundays.”

“And eat all that greasy, unhealthy food?”

“Yes, Mom, and eat all that greasy, unhealthy food.”

“I hope you eat healthier the rest of the week.”

“I do,” Cecil said, feeling guilty about the lie.

“Are you still collecting and smoking those nasty old pipes?”

“Yes, Mom, I still collect them, and I do smoke one occasionally.”

He cringed inwardly at the fib. He loved relaxing to music and a pipe of tobacco each evening after work.

“That is a nasty, vile habit. I don’t know how you ever got started with that. You certainly didn’t learn it from me.”

“No, Mom, I didn’t.” 

A memory of sitting in his grandfather’s lap while the old man smoked his favorite pipe crowded into his head. The pipe had a horse’s head, and Cecil could still smell the wonderful fragrance of the tobacco as the old man told him stories.

“Did you talk to that company in Indianapolis again?” His mother’s voice shattered the memory.

“Yes, I am still talking to them. One of their sales reps is going to retire, leaving a position open. It won’t start for two months, and then there is a one year training period before I can start.”

“Why so long? Surely it isn’t that complicated.”

“The owner is a stickler for starting at the bottom. He wants all his sales people to work three months on the receiving dock. Then they work for three months in the warehouse. After that they put in three months processing orders. I work with the retiring sales rep the last three months.”

“But you’ve already done some of that stuff in your current job.”

“Yes, but the owner wants his sales people to know the entire operation so they are knowledgeable with customers.

“As he talked, he managed to get his shoe laces loosened up. He pulled the broken end out far enough to tie it. Then he tightened up the laces again and tied his shoe. The frayed end of the shoelace looked somewhat shabby, but it would have to do.

“Are you going to that flea market alone?”

“Yes, Mom. No, I don’t have a girlfriend yet,” he answered, anticipating her next question. “I don’t want to get tied into a relationship with a girl and then move to Indy.”

“But that isn’t far from Columbus. A girl would move there with you, if you had a good job.”

“There are girls in Indianapolis, too, Mom.”

“Well, maybe,” her tone was uncertain. “They are probably all farm girls with straw sticking out of their ears.”

Cecil rolled his eyes and said, “Hey, Mom, it’s been nice talking, but I have to go.”

“So soon, dear? Gosh, we just got started talking.”

“My cell phone battery is about to die.”

“If you would get a normal phone, we could talk longer. That always happens when I call.”

“Sorry, Mom, but…” he hit the cut off button.

He lay back on the bed, exhausted. She always had that effect on him. A few minutes on the phone with her and he felt like he had run a marathon. He realized that in just a few minutes she had extracted everything that happened of note during the last week.

It hadn’t always been like that. After Cecil’s father died in the car wreck, his mother became overprotective. When he graduated from high school, he left New Jersey for Ohio to gain his freedom. His mother never forgave him for leaving her protective reach.

He lay there musing about their conversation and the state of his life. He was ready for a change and hoped the job in Indianapolis worked out. Then maybe he could find a lady and settle down. He got up, gathered his things, donned his flat hat, and left his apartment.

As he walked out to his car, he reveled in the exhilarating weather. The chill in the air and falling leaves’ fragrance hinted at a fine autumn day. He would find fresh apple cider at the orchard’s stand, which was always one of his favorite treats. There would be honey for his toast as well. He licked his lips in anticipation as he got in his car and drove off.
Cecil loved flea markets. The sights, the sounds and the smells all combined to create a festive, exciting atmosphere. As he entered the savory aroma of sausages broiling behind a greasy glass case greeted him. This smell accompanied pungent, spicy barbecued pork and musky smelling roast beef. He sniffed at the odors of the other high fat, zillion-calorie fare offered. Of medium height and slightly pudgy, he didn’t eat this stuff often, but at the flea market he always partook. It was one of his few guilty pleasures.

Cecil stopped in front of one of the glass cases to peruse the offerings. He decided to start with a beer brat. He would return for one of those cheesy, spicy tacos before going home. He stepped to the back of the line. The woman behind the counter smiled at him when he stepped up to place his order.

“I’ll have one of those beer brats, some onion rings, and a root beer,” he said.

“Sure enough,” she replied as she slapped a brat into a bun. She tossed some of the juicy onion rings into a bag, sloshed some ice into a cup and filled it with the fragrant beverage.

Thus armed, Cecil sat down at a table to eat.

This was what he loved. Watching the people go by as he ate, he saw a rich diversity of people. Young parents with children, excited by the merchandise, waltzed by. There were also older couples enjoying each other’s company as they browsed the vendor’s tables.  He watched one young couple stroll by, holding hands. To be like that would be wonderful. He finished the brat, threw his paper plate and cup in the trash bin, and started out down the first aisle.

Vendors lined the aisles hawking every imaginable type of merchandise. He stopped periodically to look at offerings that interested him. As he rounded the end of one aisle and started down the next, the corner booth opposite him attracted his attention. A swarthy young man was standing behind a richly carved wooden table crowded with a stunning variety of pipes. He stopped to look. These pipes were neat, but expensive. But it would be fun to look and he just might find one to add to his collection.
Sarna’s apprehension grew as he watched the crowd flow by his table. His wares at the flea market this weekend had attracted little attention. Only two elderly men had stopped to peruse his selection of pipes. His master could not use an elderly man.

The anti-tobacco craze, which had surfaced in recent years, was making things difficult. Young men were no longer attracted to pipe smoking the way they once were.

His time was running short. He had to find someone to purchase it. He must find this person soon. Not only did he have to find a buyer, the purchaser must be the right sort of person. He had very little time to make another error.

He noticed a young man coming into view. This young man saw Sarna’s table and stopped. His face displayed interest as he began walking over to the table. Sarna studied him carefully. Over the centuries, Sarna learned to judge character types well. This man displayed the necessary interest. A quick read of his personality revealed that he could be problematic. Sarna didn’t have time for problems.

He glanced at the thinning crowd. Sarna’s experience at flea markets taught him many things. Early arrivals at the market were buyers. Later in the day, the browsers replaced the buyers. This day was drawing to a close. Soon, the market would be empty and he would have to wait another week.He watched as Cecil approached the table. Sarna made a quick decision. He reached under the table, pulled out a carved wooden box and placed it at the rear of the table.
Cecil studied the pipes. Most were ornate and didn’t appeal to his taste.His roving eye stopped at a carved wooden box at the rear of the table.What’s in that one? “”This is my best pipe,” answered the man, handing the case to Cecil.Cecil opened the case. A beautifully colored meerschaum pipe lay inside. He felt something stir in him as he rubbed the pipe with his fingers.

“That is a magic pipe,” the vendor said with a wink. “It brings good fortune to its owner.”

“Good fortune,” said Cecil. “I could use some of that.”
As Cecil felt the smoothness of the pipe, he entered a story that began hundreds of years ago and thousands of miles away. This story was about to catch up with him.

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© 2017 Paul Wonning

The Wizard’s Magic Pipe – A Dark Fantasy Novel

The Wizard’s Magic Pipe – A Dark Fantasy Novel
Beware the evil wizard that offers the magic pipe.
He promises power and immortality. Instead, he will give you a gift of evil horror that will terrorize you down to the bottom of your soul.
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Softbound – $12.99
Sample Chapter





Other Books in the Series
The Wizard’s Magic Pipe
Demon of Death
A Stranger Lurks
Gatherer of Souls
Campout

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Sample Chapter – Southern Indiana Wildflowers – Star Chickweed

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Sample Chapter

Southern Indiana Wildflowers

Star Chickweed

Common Name:
Star Chickweed
Botanical Name:
Stellaria pubera
Family:
Caryophyllaceae – Pinks
Sun:
Shade
Soil:
Rich, well drained

Hardiness Zone:
USDA Zone 3- 9
Propagation:
Seed, division, cuttings
Flower Time – Southern Indiana:
April
Plant Height:
Six – sixteen inches
Flower Color:
White
Stellaria, or Star Chickweed appears in April in the southeastern Indiana forests. It forms clumps of snow-white flowers on the forest floor. You will find it occupying rocky slopes, mainly above streams, in the deep forest. Stellaria pubera does well in the shaded perennial garden. Seed, dividing the plants, or taking cuttings, may propagate it.
Stellaria comes from the Latin word stellar, which means star like and refers to the shape and color of the flower. The word pubera is Latin for soft, short hairs and describe the hairy stem. Chickweed seeds are a valuable source of food for birds. Foragers may harvest the plant before it flowers. It is a nutritious green, containing copious quantities of vitamins A and C.