“Elmo” is a traditional American story where men unite to save the small town where their families descended. The harsh economic times that plague our nation were now taking their toll in the isolated town of Miner.
There was a cavalry though. At the edge of town stood a vintage building that housed “The Men Of Miner Fellowship Hall.” This was a charitable congregation, which held every local man as a member; these were the unsung heroes that used their strength, courage and love to keep the heart of Miner beating.
Times were hard with the fellowship members’ backs against the wall. Jobs, donations and government funding were dissipating fast with drastic measures needing to be taken. The lone freeway ramp across the street seemed to be the last resort. It was time to gamble at panhandling, a desperate tactic that was no longer restricted to big cities.
This average American town of baseball and apple pie would discretely change with the times. Their values, however, would never compromise. Women, children and especially seniors were painted a totally different picture. All were given the illusion that it was just another winter.
Initially, the dads kept a smile on their face during the day and secretively took turns at night holding a sign while wearing a hobo outfit. This strategy proved to help supplement the cause, but for how long?
A weak link in security unveiled their nighttime activity to the town’s most popular teenager: Sam Skates. This rude awakening propelled the high school senior to join the cause, forcing him to become a man. The promising baseball star got a first-hand reality check in life. This jolt made him take a deeper look at the town he hailed from, making him more aware of the contributions his father and grandfather had made — contributions that guaranteed the town would exist yet another generation.
In time, the boy would understand that it was now his turn to carry the torch. He would grow up a bit more and show allegiance to the town by changing the course of his life. The latest in a line of ‘Skates baseball fame’ would now apply a baseball scholarship to get an education and return home with it.
The story has twists and turns that test the strength of these good men. Like any small town, these trials only made them stronger.
There are two elements that I need to point out. Throughout the story, prayer sheds new light, giving direction and eventually answers. This story also remains within the very town of Miner, never once leaving it. It was important to stress that such All-American communities do face harsh challenges and never get defeated when the township unites as one.
I feel that this story shows a common thread, which has always been used throughout our heritage.
My focus on this novel was to have a small town story that never leaves its boundaries. I wanted to exemplify on how these American communities stick to their traditional values by remaining strong and united. As always, their goodness prevails.
Thank you for your time and for allowing me to share my thoughts and writings with you.
About The Author:
Matt Shea is a developing author having written five books. He is greatly inspired by the writings of Andy Griffith and marvels at the small towns this country was built on. His writings incorporate the values they hold and applies it to today’s society.
To view more of Matt Shea’s books you are invited to go to: www.mattsheabooks.com. This site offers many free stories and allows comments for all viewers.
“Your grandfather attended my high school when I was there,” Ella said. “He carried the same respect your father did.”
Sam took a dry swallow and began to fight tears.
Leaning closer the woman extended both her hands to hold Sam’s. Maintaining her sincere look she said something that the boy was not aware of. “Do you realize that everyone in Miner looks up to you with the same respect?”
That comment gave Sam a jolt. He was not expecting any compliments and sat up wanting to hear more.
Ella stayed on course. “Your grandfather, Will was the man of our class,” she said. “He represented all of us by wearing our school uniform when he played baseball.” The youthful senior let go of his hands as she looked up to the ceiling. Her face contorted with joy as she went back in time. “He was the state’s best baseball player with people traveling for miles to watch him play,” she recalled.
Sam listened in awe with a blank expression.
“When he stood on that mound we all looked at him as if he was our own father,” she said. Looking at Sam she gave a brief laugh adding; “But there were those of us that imagined being married to him one day…”
Sam nodded back with a smile.
With her arms wrapped around her head she looked up and covered more detail. “He received national recognition for winning a championship for the smallest town in the state. His feat put this town on the map with everyone knowing who we were,” said Ella as she playfully swayed back and forth. “He had a presence on that mound that was dignified. But there was so much more to him than being our star pitcher.”
At that moment she put her arms on the table and sat up looking at Sam. “He was a good man that cared for everybody,” she proclaimed. “Will was still humble even though he could have had any girl he wanted. He was respected because he showed respect. Every student in school knew him as a friend that always put others first.”
Sam let the information sink in.
“He was like your father,” pointed out Ella. “My daughter and I would watch your dad play on the same field he did. I could see the similarities between the two and shared them with my daughter. They had the same class, same dignity and carried an equal amount of respect. We would compare stories about our high school years having a ‘Skates’ in our class. That’s what every parent in this town wanted; to have their child be classmates with someone from your family.”
Sam was taken by her words and slid back in his chair.
Ella had more to say. “Your dad was written up in the papers many times,” she said. “He even won a championship for us; just like you did.”
Ella was hitting home with the boy.
“That’s not why this town looks up to your family, though,” she expressed. “Skates aren’t viewed as great baseball players who are great men; they are known as great men who are also great baseball players…”
Sam froze like a statue, absorbing the tidbit.
Parenting skills now came out of Ella. “Why do you think those boys out there hang out with you?” she questioned; giving the answer. “It’s because they want your image.”
Sam looked off to the side realizing that she was right.
Ella had more. “They act completely different when they’re here without you,” she confided. “Tonight, they did things differently; they got you to be like them.”
Sam tensed up and turned ‘beet-red’. It dawned on him what really happened that night. He slowly looked up with the foolish expression of a child caught in a lie.
Ella would now in drive the final stake. “Now about “Elmo,” she said. “Is he possibly someone out there who knew that the Skates family lived in this town..?”
That triggered Sam. He sat up straight and knew what to do. “I have to go now,” he said looking at her. “Thank you.”
“You are very welcome,” she said. “I have faith in you, Sam,”
Sam Skates got up and left the kitchen with his friends anxiously waiting for him. He quickly walked up to the booth, picked up his jacket and started to leave.
It occurred to Ryan that he was now top seed. He yelled out, “What’s the matter; are you going to kiss Elmo?” Sam didn’t have to prove himself. He simply walked out the door without saying a word. The other boys remained quiet.
Sam was on a mission to righten what was wronged. This would however, require breaking a few eggs to make the omelet. On more than one occasion his father reminded him that at night he had boundaries. One of which being the last stretch on Main Street that led to the freeway ramp. “It’s poorly lit with cars and trucks driving too fast,” would be his reasoning. There was a bit more to it then that, but Ben justified leaving some things out. Until that evening, Sam never challenged his jurisdiction.
Sam couldn’t forgive himself until he would come face-to-face with the dressed up panhandler and give his apology. From there; he would offer what he could.
He was two blocks from Elm street and entering forbidden territory for the second time that night. Sam quickly spotted what he came to see- with something being peculiar, The weary figure had left its corner and was straggling across the street. This gave him the impression that the homeless man actually had a place to go to.
How right he was.
Sam walked down Main Street as ‘Elmo’ disappeared going down Elm. The teenager walked fast to the corner of Elm Street just in time to watch something that added to the confusion. The midnight hobo entered The Men Of Minor Fellowship Hall, closing the door behind him. This was another place expressively forbidden by his father. Sam was well behind enemy lines and went for broke. It was as if he was answering a calling.
He walked to the edge of the illuminated plate glass that exposed the entire hall and peered inside. What he saw was a cluster of his dad’s friends surrounding the man in the outfit. He held his breath as the black gloves came off and set on the empty table next to him. Strong hands that seemed familiar were exposed. The suspense mounted as the hat came off next and placed with the gloves. Now came the grand finale: it was time to see who Elmo was.
The mighty hands reached up and grabbed the black ski mask. In one motion it was pulled off exposing an unmistakable bushy beard with graying hair. Sam was in shock with his whole world changed forever.
He found out who Santa Clause is.