At present, four Tredwell children attended school in the small town of Perry, which was down the gravel lane to the main road, about three miles from the farm. On nice days the children rode their bicycles to school, on not so nice days, one of the parents would pile them all into the old Chuggy, a van that belonged to the Hill Farm Tredwells, and haul the whole lot of them down to the old brick mansion that now served as a the town school. The old one-room schoolhouse had long since been turned into a tea room where a woman by the name of Miss Laura served scones and crustless sandwiches to the Tredwell mothers and daughters on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.
Perry was a pleasant sort of place. A cobbled town square dominated the center with an old fountain and copper statue of some long-passed away someone or other, who was now barely recognizable behind the green patina and under the nasty, drippy hat and cape of pigeon poop. Facing the center was the post-office, Pete’s Treats, the town bakery and chocolate shop and Laszlo’s Butcher Shop, with the painted smiling pig on its wooden sign (Marcus often mused that the pig had little to smile about with all those sausages in the gleaming case inside). There was also a shop all the Tredwell children loved; Gideon’s Heirloom Toys. The windows of Gideon’s Shop were always decorated with a fanciful display; dollhouses, bears, fire-trucks, it was always a delight to simply walk by and look in the windows. At Christmas, the owner would animate it with electric trains, and lights in the dollhouses and all manner of other wonderful things.
There was Doctor Farling’s office right next to another Dr. Farling ~ a veterinarian and wife to the first Dr. Farling. There was a clothing and shoe shop called Martinelli’s Fine Fashions, a grocery and general store known as Chen’s Market, and the old garage and gas station whose sign was so faded you couldn’t read it anymore; but everyone knew it as 'Frank’s' because Frank himself was always there in his blue striped coveralls with the same dirty rag hanging from his back pocket. He serviced the cars and buses that stopped there; hands always black with grease and a pipe always hanging from his mouth; though not a soul in town had ever once seen him actually smoke anything from it.
Behind the square was the school, which was once the mansion of the original town founder, Mr. Lawrence Perry. Perry school included all grades, from primary up. There were only about two hundred students in all. There was the fire-house, a plant nursery and garden shop, the Perrytown Riding club and stable, where the older Tredwell girls both rode their pudgy, ornery ponies on Saturday morning for Pony Club lessons. They would then would leave for post-pony club rides with their friends through the many paths and trails that webbed through greater Perry. There was a small park with a huge old oak tree in the center of it, near the little white church, where there was an arbor covered in a twisted old wisteria that would turn into a canopy of flowers each spring. Some of the old folk liked to sit and play chess on the three stone picnic tables beneath the wisteria. A slow-moving, willow-lined, road-wide canal cut through the back part of Perry—lazily flowing against the properties of the school, park and church. It was always full of ducks. Ducks, and very noisy frogs. Sometimes, a boat or even a narrow river barge would come gliding through. They rarely stopped though.
Perry was a small town indeed. The Tredwells had to take Chuggy to the city sometimes to get some supplies, but on the most part, what the townspeople needed could usually be found in Perry’s shops. There was usually something to do, be it music lessons, or riding, or playing horseshoes with the grandmas and grandpops in the oak park, one had to try very hard to be bored in Perry (unless one was from the city and was always bored). Residents’ homes circled the town, connected by narrow cobbled lanes, shaded by lovely old trees, and then spread out as they became farms. Everyone pretty much knew everyone; and it was a good place for the Tredwells to roam.
In summer, the town usually filled up with city visitors who liked the shops and the tea-room, and who liked to paddle about in the Oak Park Canal, or rent the small cabins around Lake Perry and litter up the park, or crowd up Douglas Hall, where the town would hold dances and musical recitals all year ‘round. Thankfully, come autumn, most of them would go away back to the city and leave Perry to its quiet residents.
~~ To be continued; possibly in a more timely manner. :) Chapter one can be found here.