By Marian Brennan Pratt
Connie and I became friends the first time we saw each other. I was selling Amway and she bought the laundry soap. We both had little girls. Mine was running around and hers was brand new. In the following 5 years we managed to add three more little girls and two little boys. Then we took a breath and began to assess what we had gotten ourselves into. We went through many adventures in the 40 + years I knew her. Some called us Lucy and Ethel and others went for Laverne and Shirley.
We were both stay-at-home moms who were always on the lookout to make an extra buck. The paper advertised for census takers. How hard could that be? I applied for the job and she was the driver. I didn’t want to do the job alone because I envisioned the trouble a person could get into. It turns out that was the only good decision we made through the entire process. I got out of the car at one house. Connie had Michele in the back seat reciting prayers she had to know for first communion. I knocked at the door and heard a cacophony of dogs barking and people yelling. I hoped those dogs couldn’t get out. Wrong. The next thing I knew I heard a horn blowing and Connie’s car flew up beside the porch and the passenger door flew open just as the dogs came around the corner from the back yard. I knew I did not have time to run down the steps so I jumped over the railing, into the car and slammed the door. Their owners must have said “Go get ‘em Spike and Satan and Thor” because those doggies were not happy. They had expected a meal or at least a scream or two.
Then the paper advertised for jobs delivering “Coupon Books”. How hard could that be? Apparently we had learned nothing so far. A few more lessons were needed. Connie and I “gussied up”, hair done, make up, the works and we presented ourselves in a classless store front in down town Port Huron. The first thing we saw was a long table holding about 25 telephones. The people manning these phones had not thought to “gussie up”. We were hired by a man with skinny legs in tight pants, a red leather jacket, several gold chains and a tam (A flat little hat) Oh, and pointy toe shoes not unlike one of Santa’s elves. Connie subsequently called him “Disco Dan” for the rest of the day. The main problem we had was that the people on the phones were telling their prospective customers that they could look the book over and if they didn’t think it was worth the money, they could refuse the delivery. Guess who didn’t get paid if they didn’t take the book?
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Let’s see, what else? The caper of the pink horse. We had a yearly Fun Fair at John Farrell/Yale Elementary School. I just happened to have about 20 yards of pink polyester material. No, I don’t know why I would have something like that laying around. Just Lucky, I guess. So, I made a horse costume out of the pink stuff, pinned a curtain pull-back with fringe on for a tail and rented a horse’s head from a costume shop. All this was done with Connie’s blessing even though I’m sure it never occurred to her what she was getting into, like so many things we did – either one or both of us were not aware. We got into the costume at my Aunt Helen Butler’s house two doors away from the school. Connie elected to be the back end so Helen zipped us in and led us down her steps and offered to take us over to the school in her car. Oh no, we’d be fine. Halfway there I stepped into a little ditch (did I mention we had taken our shoes off?) and I though “OH, OH. She’s not gonna like this. Take a big long step” I told her. She did but of course she didn’t miss the water. Was it water or was it mud? Hmmmmmmmmmm.
“Did I just take a ‘big long step’ into a ditch?” The back of the horse said and the front of the horse said “Yup”. “Good thing for you that I don’t swear”, she said. When we got to the school we stomped off our feet as best we could and ran into the gym. We ran around like fools for about 5 minutes, I would swing her around and the horse’s tail would be facing the head. Then we would skip for a while. Connie yelled “I gotta sit down” so I backed her into what I hoped was a chair. You can’t see much through a fake horses head. Then I sat on her lap and crossed my legs. “You’re not helping me much” she said. “In fact I’ve had enough fun now and I want out”. I said ok and we headed for the girl’s bathroom where we couldn’t get the zipper undone. Luckily there were other moms around who helped get us out. These were the moms who were smart enough not to have gotten into a horse costume in the first place.
We had an upholstery business in my family room for about 4 years. Many mornings while Michele and Steve were still not in school we would take off to Port Huron for breakfast instead of starting right in working. That’s what I loved about Connie, she was always game for anything, always had my back and never found fault.
The five little girls and the two little boys got bigger and spent at least one summer swimming in our pool while their mothers worked on furniture. It would seem that they had finally found something sane to do, except for all those breakfasts. We passed the restaurant one day when they were much older and Michele remarked “Hey, look Steve, that’s where we grew up.”
Marian Brennan Pratt held the position of Church Secretary at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in the Village of Emmett, Michigan for 24 years. She has four grown children: Barbara, Suzanne, Bernie and Steve, seven grandchildren: Daniel, Kaitlynn, Emily, Ashley, Taylor, Brennan and Benjamin, one great-grandchild: Paislee and another on-the-way. While a member of the community, she joined the ladies of the parish in a Book Club, was a member of Daughters of Isabella #452 and a past member of the Village Council. Marian lives in Port Huron now and has always been interested in Journalism which led to her joining the staff of St. Stephen’s High School newspaper, the Stephecho. She has written several articles for the Emmett News and has had a book published, entitled “Emmett Township”, part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing which plays a large part in the preservation of local heritage.