Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Sword Fight


Miscellaneous items:

Pair of socks-men’s large, green and black argyle   (practically never worn)

Cork  bottle stopper

Zipper-red, 9” (new)

Big black 2” coat button

Peanut butter jar with lid  (I washed it)


In the summer of 1952, newly weds Fred and Lottie Wilcox took a honeymoon trip to Florida.  It was a state neither husband nor wife had ever been to, but both had dreamed of visiting.

Truly the trip of a lifetime, Fred and Lottie quickly accumulated several shoe boxes worth of memories. Lottie also found a pair of coral pink palm tree print pedal pushers, and 12 yards of  barkcloth-a tropical design in green, chartreuse, aqua, fuchsia and black.  (She had in mind drapes for the den in their  newly purchased ranch-style  house.)

Fred found a swordfish. 

He’d spied it- as their 1950 Buick Roadmaster tooled  along the streets of Tampa-propped up against a table of  yard sale knick knacks.  His mind was on the den too-but not on drapes.  He was picturing how good the swordfish would look hanging over the bookcase that housed their brand new set of encyclopedias.

Letting Fred have his way concerning the swordfish was easy.  How could Lottie say no.  After all, Fred had agreed to the barkcloth ($37.50, no less) without excess moaning and groaning.  And so, with the swordfish strapped to the top of the Buick,  Lottie and Fred Wilcox pointed the compass needle for home.

It is inevitable, that when you motor the highways and back roads that crisscross this great land of ours,  with a swordfish strapped to the top of your car- you will attract some attention. This is a fact, and Fred and Lottie Wilcox were no exception.  What is not inevitable though, is that you will start telling lies.

Somewhere between the yard sale, and the Wilcox home at 65 Buttercup Drive, Chicago,  Fred started to tell his fish story.   Any curious person with a few minutes to spare was enough of an audience for Fred.   And with each telling, the tale grew bigger, and more fantastic than the previous version.  (One can only imagine how fantastic it had become by the last pit stop before home.)   Lottie simply could not believe her husband.

With a sigh of relief from Lottie that she would suffer no more embarrassment at the hands of her husband’s imagination-the Wilcox’s arrived back at their nest.   Within the hour, the swordfish was installed in the den, hanging as Fred had pictured it, over the encyclopedias. (Ironically, the tip of it’s sword pointed towards the “L” volume-- for liar, perhaps?)

Even though the Wilcox’s were still tired from their trip, they  agreed to host the weekly neighborhood Canasta party, held the following weekend.  And Lottie, dreaming of the compliments she would receive from her friends, rallied and sewed her new barkcloth drapes. 

Wanting her  husband to be a social success,  Lottie could not help but be pleased with the admiration being  heaped on the swordfish.  Fred was simply beaming with pride.  Lottie even sensed that Fred was actually starting to believe his own story.

But when Fred said to Lottie “Go get me a cold one, little lady. I’m busy.  These people want to hear how I landed this bad boy,”  Lottie’s last straw broke, and as you can imagine, that was the end of Fred’s fish story.  It was hard to say who was more entertaining- Lottie or Fred.  Funny how people can get so worked up over a swordfish.


I am selling these things because my wife has a big mouth.  Her mouth is so big that everything listed here, combined, would not be enough to shut her up.  Zip it, button it, put a sock (or two!)  in it, well, you get the idea. So you see,  these things are useless to me.  Her mouth is just too darn big!  Oh, and no reasonable offer refused.


“That ought to show her!”  Fred thought as he put his pencil down, and reached for the phone to place the ad…


In the summer of  1953, Fred and Lottie Wilcox celebrated their 1st  anniversary.  It had been a memorable  year, in many ways.  Looking back on the past 12 months of  their life together, Lottie secretly scolded herself for the regrettable things she had done, while Fred silently gave thanks for the regrettable things he had not done.

As Lottie and Fred perused the menu at the restaurant they had chosen for the occasion,  Fred let out a small gasp.   “Look Lottie- swordfish!” 

What a sweet young couple, the other diners thought-as Fred and Lottie laughed, and then cried… and then proceeded to order the steak.


  1. Why is it that stories set in the past are so much more charming and poignant than those set in the present? I'm glad that Fred and Lottie were able to patch things up; I was a little worried there! Oh, and I was absolutely delighted by your description of Lottie's coral pink palm tree print pedal pushers. I love details like that.

  2. Tracy-I love stories set in the past too. Barkcloth was so much cheaper then;)