The house with golden windows

Published 10:45 am Thursday, October 5, 2023

By Jadon Gibson

Contributing columnist

Six-year-old Mary Evans was excited about starting school. She thought about it for weeks and anxiously awaited attending in the valley with the other boys and girls. Her 8-year-old cousin told Mary about school and she could hardly wait for opening day.

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Mary’s dad arose early and ate a hearty breakfast before leaving for work in the coal mine like most other mornings. He paused to leave a small purse by Mary’s plate where she would find it before her first day.

Grandpa Evans was driving up from the valley to take them to school. Her parents had only one car and her dad used it to get to and from work. Mary’s mother was going to the school as well. It was little Mary’s first day and she wanted to make sure her daughter got off to a good start.

A happy smile crossed Mary’s face when she found the rubber purse. When she pressed it with her fingers it opened and she saw several coins inside. She ate hurriedly since Grandpa would arrive soon and she wanted to be ready.

Mary petted her cat Moses on the porch while her mother was busy getting her three year-old brother ready. He would be going along too. Mary accidentally brushed against her father’s mining clothes that were left on a chair on the porch. She saw the black coal dust on her sleeve and brushed it away. Then she resumed her watch for Grandpa, all the time holding her rubber purse. Mary knew he would honk but she would feel more secure if she saw him coming.

A bright light caused her to look toward the far mountain-top on the other side of the valley.

“Oh how beautiful,” she thought. “There’s the house with golden windows.”

Mary usually slept later but on a few occasions she arose early enough to see the house with golden windows. She couldn’t find it at other hours of the day. The sun had to be shining at a certain angle for her to see it.

Mary did well at school and beginning the second day her mother walked her to the bus stop and Mary would ride the big yellow bus. Later in the afternoon when her mother thought it was time for the bus she walked the short distance to the bus stop at the main road and waited for Mary. It wouldn’t be long after that when Mary’s father would return home from work.

“Mama, I wish that we could live in a house with golden windows,” Mary told her mother one day.

“Now Mary, your Daddy is doing the best he can,” she answered. “He’s saving money for you to go to college. We’re gonna make sure you and Joseph have a brighter future. Maybe you’ll be able to have a house with golden windows.”

Late one day she was sitting in the porch swing with her father when she looked for the house with the golden windows on the far mountain-top.

“Papa, almost every morning when it’s clear I can see a house with golden windows way over there,” she pointed. “I wanted to show it to you but I can only see it in the morning.”

“That must be Bill Weather’s home,” her Dad answered. “He works at the mine with me.”

She immediately thought about a classmate, Alice Weathers was in her room at school. She and Alice had become friends, in fact she was invited to attend a birthday party at her home in the late afternoon the following day.

“Oh boy, I get to go to the house with golden windows,” she exclaimed.

The following afternoon Mary’s father drove her to the far mountain and into the Weather’s driveway.

“Mary, it’s you, come on and let’s play,” Alice Weathers said happily before they scampered into the house.

After awhile Mary confided in Alice that she must feel very special to live in such a beautiful house.

“It’s the most beautiful house with golden windows,” she told Alice. “I see it every morning when the sun shines. I always wish that my Momma and Papa could live in a house with golden windows.”

“Mary, it is you that has the house with golden windows,” Alice answered. “Each evening before sunset I look across the valley to the far mountaintop and there I see the most beautiful house … a house with golden windows. And it’s your house Mary.”

Mary couldn’t believe what she was hearing so Alice took her hand and led her to the front porch and pointed across the valley to the far mountaintop.

There Mary saw the most beautiful house with golden windows and it was hers just as Alice had said. With the setting of the sun the windows in Mary’s house reflected the beautiful golden color from the sun just as Alice’s house reflected the sun each sunny morning.

Then Mary knew that she already had her greatest wish. She lived in a house with golden windows.

Writer’s note: This story is based on some words Rev. Don Thomas said in about 1988 at a meeting of the Wilderness Road Kiwanis Club. Although the story isn’t true, here’s hoping that all of our young students begin their schooling with as much promise and glee as Mary.

Jadon Gibson is a writer from Harrogate, Tennessee. Thanks to Lincoln Memorial University, Alice Lloyd College and the Museum of Appalachia for their assistance.