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In our last Rubies episode we watched Stacey evolve into a vibrant young woman anxious to begin a new life with Gary Walker, a soldier she had met on the shores of Lake Superior and whom she thought was her dream come true. Katherine, on the other hand, was just beginning to discover the heartache that comes with disappointment in one choices and for Katherine it was disappointment in the man she had chosen to marry. Today we get a glimpse of Katherine’s life with Edward Parkingson and how her world is quickly shattering into pieces.
Boston to Duluth, Summer 1964
Katherine and Edward strolled hand in hand down Newbury Street, stopping several times to glance in store windows and sit at sidewalk cafes.
“We’d best be returning home, Katherine dear, or Mother will pinch a fit about us shirking our parental duties.”
Katherine could feel her breasts filling up with milk. “Unfortunately, Mother Nature agrees with you. Jeffrey must be good and hungry by now.”
As they neared the brownstone, Katherine squeezed Edward’s hand. “Do you think your mother likes me, Professor?”
“Do stop worrying so about Mother, Katherine. She hasn’t liked much of anything since Father died.”
“But you said he committed suicide after the crash of 1929!”
Edward threw her a tight smile and winked. “Think what I’ve lived with since I was ten years old.”
“Stop teasing me, Edward,” Katherine said, tugging playfully at his arm.
As Edward opened the door, his face drained at the distinct cry of a hungry baby.
Mrs. Timothy Edward Parkingson III wasn’t the least bit happy about her son’s marriage and was even more incensed when a baby followed less than nine months later. Now her anger was rekindled as she paced the room with a screaming baby in her arms.
“Really, Edward, don’t you think this nursing business is a bit inconvenient? The child’s been fussing for the past half hour.”
Edward rushed to take Jeffrey from his mother’s arms. “Come, come, Mother. Katherine will attend to him now.”
“I’ll go upstairs to nurse him,” Katherine said.
“Dinner will at seven sharp,” Mrs. Parkingson replied.
Katherine walked up the stairs wondering if she had been dismissed until dinner or if she would be allowed to join her husband after Jeffrey’s feeding.
Edward put his arm around his mother’s shoulder. “Really, Mother, must you be so stuffy towards Katherine?”
Mrs. Parkingson scowled at her son; her buxom frame stiffened as she used her hands to straighten the disheveled condition of her silver hair.
Edward threw back his head in laughter. “The child too much for you, Mother?”
“A child should be kept in its place as should a wife, Edward.”
“Whatever do you mean, Mother?”
Mrs. Parkingson proceeded to give Edward a tedious dissertation about the company affairs it appeared he was neglecting since his marriage, then continued her lecture by condemning his wife.
“You married far below your class; a marriage obviously not of your choosing.”
“There’s where you’re wrong, Mother. Granted, Katherine’s family is not wealthy, but she, as I, grew up without a father. I think she will do her best to be a dutiful wife and a conscientious mother.”
“Surely you don’t intend to let her continue nursing the child for very long. After all, you have to consider your social obligations.”
“I assure you my social obligations are quite in tact, Mother.”
“Yes, Mrs. Parkingson,” Katherine interjected, tripping lightly down the stairs. “I’m great at socializing.”
“How quaint.” Mrs. Parkingson poured herself a glass of brandy. “My dear?” she nodded at Katherine.
“No spirits for the nursing mother. Besides I’m strictly a wine person.”
Edward quickly cleared his throat to break the tension. “I’ll join you in a brandy, Mother.”
“Splendid. At least one of you is a suitable dinner companion.” Mrs. Parkingson threw Katherine a terse smile. “Perhaps when you grow up, my dear, you’ll learn what is expected of you as a Parkingson.”
Katherine’s eyes widened, her mouth dropping open. “Why you old–”
“Careful, darling.” Edward grabbed Katherine’s arm. “You wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite for dinner.” Ignoring Katherine’s glare, he directed her towards the dining room. “Rack of lamb, isn’t it, Mother?”
Robbinsdale, December 1964
“Please reconsider, Mom,” Stacey said, pacing impatiently between the living room and kitchen.
Marty brushed by her on her way to the kitchen.
“You only spent two weeks with this boy last summer. You don’t even know him.”
“But Gary’s sister will come along as a chaperon, and I’ll only be gone a few days over Christmas vacation.”
“You’re only sixteen, Stace, and Oklahoma is miles away!”
Stacey puckered her mouth. “I’m old enough to know what I want, and it isn’t those silly boys at school.”
“You’ve barely dated. How would you know?”
“I know what I feel when I’m with Gary.”
“That’s exactly why his sister may not be the best person to take you.”
“Then I can go?”
“Not so fast, young lady.” Marty crossed her arms. “What if Katy decides to come home for Christmas?”
Stacey pondered the thought carefully. She hadn’t seen Katy since she and Edward had stopped in Duluth on their way home to Chicago.
“I think Katy will probably go to Boston again.”
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Marty reached in the cupboard for some plates. “Anyway, I have to think about this. Set the table while I finish dinner.”
Stacey threw Marty a mutinous glance. She raised her chin resolutely and plunked the dishes down on the table. Somehow she would find a way.
Stacey sat staring at the phone, her hand gripping the receiver. Marty had taken the bus to Minneapolis to apply for their Christmas basket and would be gone for another hour. Chris was happily occupied with his favorite television program. It was 3:30 and Edward would still be at work.
Fearing she would lose her nerve, Stacey snatched the receiver and dialed zero. “I want to place a collect call to Mrs. Edward Parkingson in Chicago, Illinois.”
“Stace, is anything wrong?”
Stacey immediately heard the alarm in Katherine’s voice and rambled nervously.
“I’m sorry, Katy. I didn’t mean to frighten you. Mom’s gone and I need to talk to you before she gets back. Is it okay?”
“Sure, kiddo. What’s up?”
“Are you coming home for Christmas?”
“That’s over a month away, Stace. Why?”
“Gary wants Megan to bring me down to Sheppard Air Force Base during Christmas vacation, but Mom’s not happy about it.” Stacey winced at the dead silence at the other end of the phone. “Katy, are you still there?”
“Wait a minute, kiddo. You just met that guy last summer.”
Stacey choked back threatening tears. “Please help me, Katy.”
“I’m sorry, kiddo. Things aren’t roses for me right now.”
“I’m pregnant again and Edward is furious with me.”
“You? Doesn’t it take two?”
Stacey’s unwavering innocence brought a chuckle from the other end of the phone.
“I promised him I couldn’t get pregnant while I was nursing, but of course I discovered that old wives’ tale wasn’t true.”
“Does Mom know?”
“Not yet. I’ve had tons of morning sickness and haven’t been up to calling. But you’ve just given me an idea how to smooth the waters here. Edward wants to spend Christmas with dear old mummy again. He says she gets so depressed at Christmas.”
“I know how she feels. Christmas has never been the same since Daddy–”
“Don’t say it, Stace. Sonny doesn’t deserve your generosity.”
“I wish you’d stop being so mad at him and call him Daddy.”
“Mad isn’t even close to the way I feel about Sonny, Stace. I’ll never forgive him for what he did to us. I guess that’s why Edward and I understand each other. He feels the same way about his father.”
“You mean he abandoned his family too?”
“One might say that. When the stock market crashed in 1929, he thought he’d lost everything. Two days before Christmas, he shot himself in the head.”
Stacey gasped. “Oh, my gosh. Does Mom know?”
“No and you won’t tell her either. She’d just get some crazy notion that
Edward will inherit the suicide thing or some such silliness.”
They giggled in unison.
“I swear I won’t breathe a word, Katy. But what’s your idea?”
“I’m too sick to accompany Edward to Boston, and I know Edward will pay for you all to come here. Mom and Chris could stay with Jeffrey while we go to Oklahoma to see your soldier.”
Stacey’s eyes glistened with tears. “You mean, you’d take me?”
“I think if you’re this serious about that soldier, I need to meet the guy and decide for myself what kind of man he really is.