from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

'Grandpa, where are you, Grandpa.'

The call reached me from down the long hallway. The sounds of scuffling slippers grew louder and, a moment later, Granddaughter's curly head peeked around the edge of the kitchen doorway.

'What are you doing, Grandpa?' she asked.

'Coffee,' I replied, peering in her direction over the rim of my glasses. 'Mornin' coffee.'

'Oh,' she said, standing in the doorway.

Her eyes focused on the scene beyond the kitchen window. The broad fronds of palm trees close by outside waved about furiously in the brisk November wind. There are no palm trees in the city where Granddaughter lives, and having arrived late the previous evening she had not seen the ones near our home.

Granddaughter stared. Dashing past me to the window, she placed her hands on the sill, and jumped to see out.

'When you visit us next year,' I said, 'you will be taller, and see over the sill without jumping.'

'I want to see now,' she demanded, reaching up. 'Pick me up, Grandpa.'

With Granddaughter seated on my forearm and her arms wrapped around my neck, we stared through the window. The palm nearest the window bent before a gust and straightened. The fronds of two palms across the driveway thrashed atop long, graceful trunks that leaned, straightened, and yielded again to the boisterous wind.

'Grandpa,' Granddaughter said, turning to look at me, 'tell me a story that has palm trees in it.'

Her eyes gleamed mischievously as she reached up to stroke my liberal expanse of bare dome. She knew I couldn't resist that gesture.

'We've got a busy morning ahead of us, young lady,' I said. 'Here's what I'll do. I'll write a letter to you with a story in it about palm trees. Then Mother or Dad will read it to you and Grandson. OK?'

Granddaughter stared at the three palm trees and their gyrating tops.

'I want more than one story,' she smiled as her hand patted and stroked.

'Hm,' I grandpa-growled, 'you're a hard bargainer, my dear.'

'Gampa, Gampa,' an impatient shout burst down the hallway.

Pajama-clad Grandson tore into the dining room like a tornado and climbed chairs. Too small to notice what was happening outside, he pounded a seat with tiny fists. His mind was on something far more important.

'French Toast, French Toast,' he demanded. 'I want French Toast. Now!'

Granddaughter twisted from my arms, further talk about stories replaced by this much higher priority.

'Me, too!' she shouted, joining the pounding.

Pots and pans rattled, dishes and bowls clattered, refrigerator doors slammed, and utensils baton-waved in all directions. Grandpa had launched into his traditional and celebrated French Toast Extravaganza that began early each Thanksgiving Day morning.


Thanksgiving is past. The grandchildren are back home in a distant city. Grandpa has a promise to keep.

Creating a Setting

"Where will the story take place?

'Where there are palm trees, of course.'

'What kind of palm trees? For example, there are coconut palms, and there are date palms, and there are also banana palms.'

'Grandpa,' impatiently, 'I want them all!'

That's one decision.

'Should I put the palm trees on a steeple on top of a tall skyscraper?'

'Just a minute now, Grandpa, who ever heard of palm trees growing on a steeple on top of a skyscraper? That would be silly. Forget it.'

'How about in the middle of a freeway?'

'C'mon, Grandpa, be serious. A palm tree wouldn't last long in the middle of a freeway. Cars would bump into it all day long. Nope, freeways are out, too.'

'By the sea? By the sea? By the beautiful sea?

'Hm, that's a possibility.' Long pause. 'OK, let's go with it.'

'Check. Keep in touch. Over and out.'



'You and Grandma. Love ya.'

A picture began to form. Three palm trees close to each other on a beach. They have thick trunks and huge fronds. One palm tree is a coconut palm, another is a date palm, and the third is a banana palm.

Little waves tumble over each other to the shore, and some distance behind them are rolling waves and a white, churning surf. Beyond the surf is the endless sea. A summer breeze is blowing, raising whitecaps. Two small islands are far out where the sea meets the sky. Add soft, fleecy clouds. The sky, even with the clouds, is empty. Skies and birds go well together. There! Three gulls, flying in from the left, low, skimming the waves.

What's missing? Aha, children! A boy and a girl, about your age. What are their names? That's your job, Granddaughter. Ask Mother which letters to draw on a sheet of paper to spell them out. Put the paper into an envelope, and ask Mother to address the envelope to Grandpa. Don't forget the postage stamp.

The names arrived in this morning's mail. 'Suzanne' and 'Roger' fit our characters well. I see you've named their adventures 'The Palm Tree Stories.' Fine, that's when we'll call them.

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