Chapter 4 1951 - Henry and Juliette

It seemed there was no luck for Henry, except bad luck. He sunk into a deep depression, and missed several weeks of work. His boss was sympathetic, but needed Henry back on the job. After convincing him that Henry was absolutely essential to the operation of the hatchery, he returned to work.

Although Henry was technically crippled, he did not let that deter him from doing a good job. Egg inspections continued without any problem, but Henry could no longer hold his .22 pistol, and shooting rats was no longer possible.

But the rat problem persisted, and Henry turned his ingenuity to solving the problem once and for all. Noting that the rats tended to nest under the coops, he devised a tiny electrical fence that would maintain a steady current, greeting any unlucky rat that encountered it a nasty, often fatal, shock. Before long, the rats were keeping clear of the henhouse altogether, and Henry’s boss commended him on his invention. Once again, things were looking up.

Outside of work, Henry liked to relax at home. They bought their first television set from a local appliance store, a giant 17-inch screen. Although it cost nearly a month’s wages, the convenience of having it in their home and the envy of their houseguests was incomparable. They were able to pick up a couple of local stations, although one of them was a bit snowy. They especially enjoyed watching the news and their favorite newsman was Hardy Rochester, ruggedly handsome and a wise communicator. The I.B.C. newscast was known as the up and coming information source of the day, and many tuned to it each evening. Their coverage of local events was unprecedented, and set the standard for follow-on stations for years to come.

On this particular evening, Hardy introduced a new sponsor, Fender Guitars. It seemed an unlikely arrangement, until their first advertised product, the Broadcaster, made the connection obvious. But when they also showcased the new Fender Precision Bass, Henry took notice. He had always wanted to play bass, but disliked the upright and bulky basses seen so often in combos of the day.

Henry longed to own the instrument, but kept his desire to himself. He knew that even if he had it, it would be a challenge to play, considering his missing fingers. And the cost was another issue. How could he justify spending 300 so soon after purchasing their first television set?

Henry mulled over it, over and over, running the figures, looking at future income and finally broke down and brought it up with Juliette. While her response was not a direct “no,” she did not think it was a wise choice at the time.

“We need to be thinking about putting some money aside for the baby.”

“Baby? Are you preggers? How?”

“No, I’m not, but we need to plan ahead. It will change our lives. I won’t be able to work anymore, and you might have to get a second job.”

“But won’t it be nice to have a little one around the house?” she continued.

“Maybe so, but we’re not ready now. We can barely afford the grocery bill.”

“And so you want to buy a bass guitar, rather that eat?”

“Well, when you put it like that, I guess not. It will have to be a dream, unfulfilled, for now,” he declared, wistfully.

Henry put the thought of the bass guitar in the back of his mind, but never really forgot about it. He would continue to dream about the day when he would buy it and proudly be able to play in a band again.

In the meantime, Henry continued to find pleasure tinkering in his workshop. Although it was a challenge, he was able to adapt certain tools so that he could use them despite his mangled hand. He found his left hand getting stronger, and his ability to use it for more precision work was improving.

Henry was starting to develop a reputation as an inventor. His Rat Deflector had caught the interest of a local hardware store, and soon Henry was building them for sale to other local farmers, and even some households that were plagued by the vile creatures. The materials were inexpensive, and Henry saw a little bit of profit from his hobby. He started stashing a little away for that “rainy day.”

Juliette also enjoyed her job at the grocery. She arrived for work at 8:30 AM and opened the store for the first customers at 9:00. She always had a friendly smile, and enjoyed conversation with the regulars. A few of the older ladies frequently asked when she was going to have a baby. Although they meant well, Juliette grew tired of the constant prying, but took it in stride. She was on her own schedule, and the time was not right.