The Stories We Tell

A secret writer from a pragmatic blue-collar neighborhood, Marie White Small brings her skills as a florist, waitress, antiquarian bookseller, bookbinder, cook, and pie-baker to the page.

My father passed out of this world into the great beyond in March of 2015, just over a year ago. There are still days when the sorrow creeps up on me with quick hot tears. I thought about him on Sunday, when my husband roused me from my mood for a quick bite to eat at the local brewery in Bennington, Vermont.image002

We sat at the bar, because it’s that kind of place. Next to us was a couple visiting from Massachusetts. We struck up a conversation, and I soon realized that they grew up in my hometown. So I told them, “I’m Bill White’s daughter,” because most people from Dalton, Massachusetts knew, or knew of my father. He was the mailman on the eastern end of town, a volunteer fireman, and an EMT.

The man next to me grinned. Apparently, he knew Dad quite well; his family home was on my father’s mail route. “Your dad often used our bathroom. It was one of his designated pit stops. In fact,” he said, “your dad would write notes on the toilet paper and roll it back up.”

I laughed, recognizing Dad’s prank of leaving a narrative for the next user—an Irish trick he often practiced. There were others, as well: wrapping a toilet roll in fancy Christmas paper and gifting the most important member of the family with a useful item. Or rehanging the paper so it rolled the opposite way—under, rather than over, or vise-versa, done for a laugh or a smart comment, but mostly for the high story value involved.

We chatted on when the best tale yet emerged. It seemed this man’s father, named Mack, had an old pick-up truck, which my father asked if he could borrow for an errand.

“Sure, sure,” Mack replied.

So off