Toy Factory: Friends and Family

    During those first days at the toy factory, I smiled and talked to people whenever we met, although it was out of my comfort range. I'd been living like a hermit all winter and admitted to myself I was lonely for conversation, to be around people again; I had lost touch with the realities of the day-to-day and needed to get back to it for my mental well-being. Besides that, I was near-broke. I couldn't go on working half the year and sustain any credit I had built up over my life to that point. I needed a real job and working at a factory would fill that void, 'for a while' I thought. I would keep my eyes open for something else to come along because I never wanted to work in a factory the rest of my life. . .
    I met a bald-headed, white-haired guy, in his early sixties, named Harold Anderson. A kindly, soft-spoken man, of average height and weight, he had worked at the factory for 30-odd years and was near retirement. He'd been a foreman in his early years, during the time there was a Union in the plant, and was convinced there was an effort by upper management to get him out the door sooner, but wasn't bitter bout it. He simply did the work given him and finished his work-day looking forward to his last day working at the toy factory. 
    Harold was from the Wannaska area and knew all the people in the surrounding townships. When he learned I was from Palmville, and who my mother's family were, his eyes lit up in a big smile. One day he took me by the arm, during lunchbreak and said, "I'll introduce you to some of your family."
    Approaching an older attractive reddish-blonde-haired woman, he said something to her that made her smile. She turned to me, and he told me her name (that I can't recall immediately). In her eyes and perfect high-cheekbone complexion, I saw the Palm 'look,' a trait carried through the generations in the varying female members of the family, so I knew they weren't joking. She said her mother was my grandmother's sister. I caught her looking back at me, when I looked back at her; she looked pretty good in a pair of blue jeans.
    There were a couple others, whose faces escape me now (I suspect because they didn't look as good in jeans) and for this petty fact, I apologize for my memory of them, but Harold had shown me I was among family there, all of whom knew who my mother was, if not knew me on sight. But little escaped a small rural community such as Wannaska, back then. Everybody knew everybody's business and if they didn't, they made it up. Winters were long.

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