The Jitney Ride

The Jitney Ride

by Jeane Sellers Lenzini


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781450272667
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/21/2010
Pages: 396
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Jitney Ride

By Jeane Sellers Lenzini

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Jeane Sellers Lenzini
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-7266-7

Chapter One

My excuse for writing this book is the mind-boggling, overpowering and staggeringly cruel fact that the innocent is always sacrificed 'for' and 'in' every 'situation.' Now isn't that a really nice word, 'situation'? I could have used dilemma, ordeal or even reprisal. I guess if the Almighty could sacrifice His own Son for the whole world's guilt, why should we question that innocence must always pay?

My story is about a courageous young woman named Emma Adele Gray and her struggles to find her way in this world and be united with her true love. Her trials begin on the day that she was born to a woman who didn't even want her. And to add to her turmoil, her mother's brother, William Joshua Daniels hated her and his parents. He hated Emma because his parents loved her and his mother and father because they were to blame for him not being a brilliant success like his father. But to understand Emma completely, you need to know a little about who and where she came from.

Robert William Daniels her great, great grandfather met and fell in love with Bridget O'Rearden. On their wedding day, his wedding gift to her was his mother's strand of pearls and her wedding ring and she gave him her father's gold watch. They were married and started their family and were happy on their little farm. Tragedy struck Ireland with the Second Great Potato Famine of 1845. The next five years were filled with heartbreaking tragedies. They lost their children Branine age two and Robert, Junior at age three and a half. Bridget was pregnant, and Angus was born a healthy baby boy. Robert knew Bridget couldn't stand the loss of another child. She wasn't fully recovered, but they felt now was time to try for a new life in America.

Even after selling everything they owned, the farm and all their furnishings Robert had barely enough to purchase the fares for his little family. Bridget had refused to sell her pearl necklace or his gold watch. These pieces of jewelry could have secured their tickets and future, but Bridget and Robert were not afraid of work, and knew these two items would always be their family's prized heirlooms.

Their families were scattered all over Ireland and when they left there was no way of knowing if any of their family members had survived the potato famines.

For between 1820 and 1880 approximately two million and eight hundred thousand Irish immigrants came to America. Most came in pursuit of their dreams of wealth and prosperity, but most that came between 1840 and 1850 were to escape the devastating Potato Famine back in Ireland.

As I've said, they had barely enough to afford third class or "steerage" tickets which were down in the very bowels of the ship. Bridget had not fully recovered from the birth of Angus and spent most of the time bundled up in her bunk. So between recovery from childbirth and seasickness, Robert was entirely in charge of caring for little Angus and his mother. Bridget managed to come on the deck only one time during the entire journey. She was tempted to try another time when America had been sighted. But after what seemed like an eternity, they arrived. She was thankful she had saved her strength as they were eligible to be among the first — third class passengers to depart for their rainbow's end — America.

The first and second class passengers passed with little difficulty. They were approved and accepted within their designated state's quota, and had already been approved as the immigration authorities felt if anyone could afford a first or second class ticket, they wouldn't become a public charge in America due to medical or legal problems.

It was known that prior to 1892 and when Ellis Island opened, the individual states regulated immigration into the United States.

So after passing all the necessary check ups, legal and medical, which took about three hours, the three Daniels were given a clean bill of health. Bridget held Angus and Robert held her hand and led them off the ship to their new life in America. They arrived in New York in the spring of 1850, just like thousands of their fellow countrymen fleeing from the hunger and disease back home. America was a welcome sight.

The men of third class were discussing what to do when they got ashore. There was a big, heavy set man who seemed to know everything he spoke up saying, "Why there are soup kitchens down in the immigrant areas. They'll be glad to steer you to the Irish quarters. Don't you know anybody in America?"

Robert spoke up and said, "No! What's a soup kitchen? Do you buy food there? Can anybody go there?"

The heavy set man spoke up saying, "No! The food doesn't cost anything a soup kitchen feeds the homeless and helps people find a place to live and maybe even get some work."

Well, after they walked down the gangplank with other passengers, they just followed the heavy set man and he pointed out a soup kitchen near the Irish tenements.

They carefully opened the door and walked in. Robert walked up to the lady serving bowls of soup and said, "Please ma'm, I'm Robert Daniels, can my wife and I have some soup and some milk for the baby? We're looking for a place to live. Can you help us?"

She was a short gray haired lady named Mrs. Callahan and answered him in an Irish brogue, "Yes, you and your wife can have soup and bread. Unless you have a bottle for the milk, I can't help you."

Bridget held up a bottle saying, "Here's one Robert and thank you very much."

Mrs. Callahan said, "I believe a family moved out of the tenement across the street and down to number 300. Walk up one flight and ask for Mrs. Lucy McGilacuty. She knows what you're supposed to do that is if the rooms are still available."

They were lucky and found Lucy McGilacuty, and got the apartment. She let them have quilts for the floor to sleep on and a basket for Angus.

Robert, a farmer, had difficulty finding a job in the city. He was a proud man, but he was never too proud to take any job that would help him to put food in the mouths of his wife and child and a roof over their heads. As hard as he tried poor Robert failed miserably at mechanical or selling jobs. He was a farmer.

One day not too long after they moved in, a farmer was delivering produce to the little store nearby their tenement. Robert was shopping for a few items for Bridget when he asked the farmer who was delivering the produce, "How do you do. Your produce is fine. I know a little about farming and can you use any help?"

The farmer stepped back to survey this tall Irishman asking him for a job. He said, "Big fella, do you know anything about a farm? I need somebody who's willing to work from dawn to dusk. You know there ain't much money. Maybe I can manage to get you a job working on my farm for part pay and part food. What do you think about that?"

Robert held out his calloused hand to this man saying, "Sir, my name is Robert Daniels, I'm new here and that offer is fine with me. Yes sir, I know a little about farming. I had my own farm at one time. You won't be sorry. I promise to earn everything you pay me with."

The farmer a big, about 6 feet two inches, maybe a little over, with brown eyes, black hair, and a slow smile took Robert's hand, both men had huge hands. And he said, "Fine Robert, my place is on the right side of the road going west out of town. My name is Walter Jefferson. That's the name over the gate. I'll see you bright and early Monday morning."

Robert smiled and said, "Yes sir, bright and early."

Well, Robert's dream to buy a farm had to be put on hold for about two years he worked very hard and saved every penny they could spare. Angus was walking and in good health as were Bridget and Robert their spirits were high.

Their many friends from the old country helped all they could by helping Bridget locate people uptown who could afford to hire someone to do their laundry. Bridget did just that and took in laundry and ironing for many well-to-do families. It wasn't long before Robert realized that if they were going to make it in America; they were going to have to move to a more rural area where he would be able to possibly buy his own farm.

Bridget asked Robert one day as she was preparing to deliver the ironing, "Robert, do you think you can get a cart and horse for us? I can't stand this tenement any longer. Angus has a runny nose all the time. I'm so afraid one of us might come down with something serious. Then what will we do?"

Robert took his wife in his arms and held her close while saying, "Bridget I've made a deal for a cart by helping one of the other farmers who brings their produce into the city to sell. He is going to help me work out the price for a horse and cow. I thought we'd head south by spring. There should be grazing for the cow and horse and just think, we can save a little more money."

On her way uptown Bridget stopped by Lucy McGilacuty's, her best friend and neighbor who had helped her get her washing and ironing jobs with the people in uptown New York. Lucy was always there when she needed someone to watch Angus for a little while. Good friends are hard to come by and these two would miss each other very much. They were having coffee, when Lucy said, "Bridget, where do the three of you plan to settle down when you leave New York?"

Bridget looked around her clean no paper on the walls, sparsely furnished tenement, only one picture and a calendar, a table and five mismatched chairs said, "Lucy, I really don't know. Robert wants to farm, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens. I know he's not lazy, but we have to hold on to as much money as we can, so we can buy a piece of land. Maybe he might even buy into some kind of business. Who knows? When we roll out of New York in our little cart, we are in God's hands."

Lucy took Bridget's hand and said, "Bridget, everything will be alright if you leave it up to God. Now, you better hurry along or all our children will be awake at the same time. I don't need that." They laughed and Bridget left.

The tenements were overflowing, so when they left, new people were there just like them, ready and waiting, and moved right in. A few years earlier they remembered how tough it was to get along in a new country; these new friends had been there for them during those first difficult few months of adjustment as they would try to be for these newcomers. Bridget introduced the wife to Lucy McGilacuty and gave her the names and addresses of the people she did washing and ironing for.

Robert had never enjoyed or liked living in the city and the tenement buildings were in very poor condition, the children had no place to play, boxes and clothing were stacked everywhere and someone was sick all the time. He would be glad to leave the tenement and never look back.

Yet saying good bye to all of their new friends that they had made in New York was very difficult. Bridget had to say good bye to Lucy, her best friend, the little grocer Mr. Callahan and Mr. Cohan the baker on the corner. Robert had to say good bye to Walter Jefferson, a true friend and Mr. Jones the farmer nearby who helped him get a cow, horse and cart. These people were truly salt of the earth and friends like them would be hard to replace. Reluctantly they bade them all farewell and left New York.

It was decided they would work their way south along the east coast.

Happily the three Daniels' left New York's suburb with their little cart loaded with all their worldly possessions brought from the old country and everything acquired since arriving in this great big America. Bridget and Robert had gathered every seed they could lay their hands on for flower and garden to plant on their future farm. Some of their Italian neighbors had given them loaves of Salami and Prosciutto. Mr. Cohan the baker gave them loves of bread and hard rolls. Mr. Callahan gave them canned good and canned milk for emergencies. The farmer Walter Jefferson gave them two wheels of cheese. They would have food for awhile. Together they managed to save $300.00. Their friends warned them to never carry paper money, only change you never know who might be watching.

Originally Robert had planned to go down the coast and look for work on the docks, but after his first couple of jobs, he decided the city was not for them. The sights along the coast were beautiful, and the people were very nice, but Bridget and Angus were very happy when he turned inland away from the constant breeze and sometimes cold winds from the sea.

During this long journey to start their new life, the Daniels on this adventure to find a place in this America became closer together than they could ever imagine. Robert and Bridget actually spoke of things one hides away deep in your heart. This long slow ride gave them time to really talk to each other which they had never done before, mostly for lack of time.

Robert said one day, "Bridget, this traveling on the road can't hurt the boy, can it?"

Bridget replied, "Robby, the only way we could hurt Angus is not to hold him near and love him. He's beginning to talk. I miss our other children every day, so until we can settle down, you and I are his world and he is ours. I'm happy, aren't you? When you find what you want to do in this new world, Angus will be happy, too." She slipped her arm through his and laid her head on his shoulder and smiled as the cart rolled on down the road.

In this trek of the Daniels from New York, they had passed many men and women just walking carrying everything they owned in cloth sacks slung over their shoulder. Occasionally they would give some of them a ride to the next town, but didn't want to pick anyone up as a rider Robert knew anything could happen on the road and he didn't want his little family to get hurt.

They passed through Virginia and North Carolina and were headed in towards Atlanta, Georgia, but decided to just spend the night along the road again before going into Atlanta.

Bridget asked, "Robert, don't you remember when I told you about the people in Memphis, Tennessee. You remember that Mrs. Anderson, I did wash for, told me about? Well, why can't we just head over that way? We might find a farm for you to buy or you could find work around there and we could find those Memphis people, she told me about. And you could see what that part of the state has to offer. I know it's a long way from here, but its something to think about."

They arrived in Memphis and went straight away to see the Memphis people, the Washburns, Mrs. Anderson had told Bridget about. The town was under a recovery period from first one yellow fever break out to another.

Robert couldn't find work, but noticed John Austin's sign advertising, 'Partnership Available, Anyone Interested in a Flour Mill, Apply Within.' He and John Austin liked each other right off. When John Austin asked if he would like to invest in the flour mill, Robert asked his price. It was five hundred dollars. They discussed the difference in the payment and Robert decided to work off one hundred and fifty dollars. Well John Austin agreed. When they shook hands John knew this Robert Daniels would make an excellent partner. So with Bridget's yes decision it was agreed to invest their money and time in the flour mill in Memphis.

After John and Robert had their agreement drawn up and legally signed, John said, "Robert, would you, Bridget and Angus like to live here with me. This is an awfully big house and living here will help the three of you get settled down as soon as possible. I have a maid and a cook so it won't be too hard on Bridget. What do you think?" They agreed and thought it was a wonderful idea.

It seemed like fate was against them as yellow fever took Robert and his wife, Bridget, thus leaving Angus all alone. Fortunately John Austin had a very good lawyer in Jonathan Samuels as their partnership agreement had been set up so that it would take care of Angus' future just in case anything should ever happen to Robert and Bridget.

His partner, John Austin, had relatives in Nashville and they agreed to take baby Angus and raise him. John's sister, Mary Ellen Ramsey, had three children of her own. She was a school teacher and her husband Michael was an engineer. Their children were two girls and a boy. They were small, but not babies. She didn't mind helping John, and agreed to take Angus.

He was in the sixth grade when the Civil War started.

As Mary Ellen was a teacher, the children were home schooled. The war was very hard on everyone, but their family managed to come through. Angus would not get his inheritance until twenty-one anyway. So one day at fifteen, Angus told his benefactors, "Aunt Mary Ellen and Uncle Mike, I really want to go to Memphis and work in the flour mill. I'll keep going to school if I have the time. Uncle John has been doing everything as best as he could by himself, but I really need to help him. You understand, don't you?"

Mary Ellen put her arms around Angus saying, "Of course we do. We'll miss you very much, but I knew you'd have to go sometime. Now is as good a time as another. We love you and want only the best for you."

So with a teary good bye Angus got the stage to Memphis.

John Austin hadn't got to see Angus grow up, but knew him just as soon as he stepped off the stage.

John Austin greeted him with, "My sister wrote you were coming. My boy who would have believed you would grow up to be such a fine young man. Your father would be proud of you. I have a picture of your parents. My boy you are the image of your father. Let's just go on home; you can see the mill tomorrow." They shook hands, got in the buggy and went home.


Excerpted from The Jitney Ride by Jeane Sellers Lenzini Copyright © 2010 by Jeane Sellers Lenzini. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1....................1
Chapter 2....................15
Chapter 3....................25
Chapter 4....................33
Chapter 5....................39
Chapter 6....................51
Chapter 7....................67
Chapter 8....................73
Chapter 9....................81
Chapter 10....................101
Chapter 11....................107
Chapter 12....................127
Chapter 13....................133
Chapter 14....................141
Chapter 15....................151
Chapter 16....................159
Chapter 17....................167
Chapter 18....................179
Chapter 19....................191
Chapter 20....................205
Chapter 21....................213
Chapter 22....................219
Chapter 23....................227
Chapter 24....................233
Chapter 25....................239
Chapter 26....................247
Chapter 27....................265
Chapter 28....................271
Chapter 29....................277
Chapter 30....................285
Chapter 31....................289
Chapter 32....................295
Chapter 33....................299
Chapter 34....................305
Chapter 35....................313
Chapter 36....................325
Chapter 37....................331
Chapter 38....................339
Chapter 39....................349
Chapter 40....................357
Chapter 41....................365
Chapter 42....................371
Chapter 43....................379

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