When I was very young, we had a coal and wood range in the kitchen, one of those
big black cast iron stoves with warming ovens in the top and legs that held it off
the floor. Our house wasn’t very well insulated, but that stove helped to keep us
warm. Our cat and dog liked to lie under the stove because it was the warmest
place in the house. Next to the stove was an old black coal scuttle. We carried the
coal inside from the coal shed and left it where it was handy. The handle of the
coal scuttle was usually in the up position. I mention this because it’s important
later in the story.
My dad, Louie Roll, worked as a lockman at the Corps of Engineers. He wasn’t a
suit and tie kind of guy. He often sat around in his work pants and long underwear,
suspenders holding up his pants and his hair sticking up in several places. He
didn’t drink much coffee, but he did like his tea.
His spot was at the corner of the kitchen table. He also sat there to listen to
Saturday operas from the Met on the radio. My no nonsense dad was seen to leak
water from his eyes sometimes during one of his favorite arias.
One day as he sat with his tea mug in front of him, he pulled the Salada tea bag
from his cup. Never one for wringing the last bit out, he flung the teabag across the
kitchen, leaving a trail of tea drops across the linoleum. The hexagonal shaped tea
tag caught on the wire bale of the handle of the coal scuttle and flipped over. And
over again. And over again until it hung in place. My dad let out a hoot of joy.
He had never done it before. And he never could do it again, no matter how hard