Sunday, April 26, 2020

Part 3: Irene In Charge

The story so far: Miss Irene, Julie's 90-year-old landlord, is using her shelter-at-home time to organize relief efforts for Pleasant Glen, Iowa,  residents hardest hit by the virus outbreak.

Miss Irene was the perfect Pleasant Glen Virus Relief Czarina. Big George said she had moxie. J.J. said she was bossy. She had money, she had brains, and most importantly, she had connections.

A lifelong resident of Pleasant Glen herself, Miss Irene's family had been among the first settlers and were instrumental in the establishment of Farmers’ Bank of Pleasant Glen (later Pleasant Glen Savings & Loan). Under her father's tutelage she had risen through the ranks from teller to vice president (while completing college and raising six children on her own) and was still a member of the bank's board of directors.

Rumors of her personal wealth, in addition to her association with the bank, put her at the top of the potential-member wish list of every philanthropic organization in town. Once she agreed to become a member, her work ethic and unparalleled accomplishments kept her there. She had years of experience working on both the fundraising and distribution sides of community charities.

Miss Irene was also a savvy business woman. She had gone on to earn an M.B.A., backed up with practical experience from working at the bank and her role as the (not very) silent partner in Pleasant Glen Cycles and Motors.

Perhaps most importantly, she was a key member of the Pleasant Glen gossip grapevine.

In addition to her previously mentioned sources of contact, each of her six children (seven, if you included J.J. – and everyone did), had been outgoing, with legions of friends (and parents) who were fond of (and occasionally cowed or indebted to) her. Although Miss Irene's children had all left Pleasant Glen, she still stayed in contact with those friends (and their parents), and by extension, their children (and sometimes grandchildren) who made up the current crop of PG's business owners, employees, and the town's movers and shakers.

Miss Irene and the cadre of other mothers along the grapevine knew how to apply just the right amount of diplomatic arm-twisting, guilt, or fawning to extract vital information from the youngsters who spent every day working on the front lines. With just a few well placed phone calls, Miss Irene was able to find out where and when shipments of much needed goods – like toilet paper – would be delivered . . . and more.

The manager of the local discount grocery store – who had once had a crush on Miss Irene’s eldest son – was more than happy to share with her mother (who shared with Miss Irene) the names of the people who had bought up cartloads of toilet paper when the first wave of panic buying hit.

The hoarders themselves were less enthusiastic about sharing their stash. Eventually Miss Irene was able to wheedle enough donations to include a couple rolls in each of the care packages delivered to the town's elderly shut-ins. And, after reminding the mayor that it was an election year and (mis)quoting the Lash proverb: "Give (ill-gotten toilet paper) cheerfully with one hand you will gather (votes) well with two," the food pantry was restocked with TP as well.

But for every #toiletPaperGate Miss Irene sidestepped, other problems arose. Take, for example, the near mutiny amongst the mask making volunteers . . . .

To be continued.

For more stories about Julie and the gang, check out my novel "Scout's Honor" and the soon to be released "Scout's Redemption." 

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