Juliana Fairchild stepped up to the orange crate podium, placed one hand over her heart, the other over the globe, and prepared to pledge her loyalty as the newest member of The For Earth Club. According to the rules all members must be present at the swearing in of new recruits-and they all were, present and singing an out of tune version of Offenbach's Tune that rang through Juliana's nine year old head like a long lost lullaby...
"From the walls filled with graffiti...
To the shores of oiled spilled seas...
We will fight our country's pollution...
in the air on land and sea...
We'll fight for the right and freedom...
just to keep our planet clean...
We are proud to do our duty...
To keep Earth forever green!"
Maria Sanchez, Juliana's sponsor and best friend, stood behind her with her right hand over her heart, her left hand on Juliana's shoulder; and, in one resounding voice they recited:
"I do solemnly swear
To help find a solution
To our planet's pollution.
To clean up our Earth wherever I go.
To re-cycle everything from A to Z.
To plant more flowers, greenery, and trees.
To this I pledge my loyalty."
"Juliana! Juliana! for Earth, for Earth!" the members cheered, as the girlfriends giggled with pride.
Banging his recycled gavel upon the antique orange crate podium, President Jeremiah Crockett quickly swallowed the frog doing somersaults in his throat; and looked into Juliana's eyes for the first time.
"Welcome to the club, Miss Flowerchild," he said, extending a grimy handshake. Suddenly, an eerie unfamiliar urge struck him like a bolt out of the sterile blue; and he wiped his sweaty hands on his jeans before Juliana could even place a single delicate finger upon him.
"Man o' man-she sure is pretty!" he thought. "And she does smell just like flowers!"
"Wow-I didn't know eyes came in, so, so green," thought Juliana.
One crisp, sunny day last autumn, President Crockett spotted Juliana planting flowers in her yard the day she moved to Medleyville. Jeremiah was riding his bike, toodle-ing his harmonica, just minding his very own business when he saw a fleet of moving vans heading straight toward the old part of town. Suddenly, minding his own business became too hard; so he trailed the massive fleet over hill and dale to that creepy old house at the end of Dogwood Circle. (Nicknamed Deadwood Circle for all its run-down, abandoned homes.) Carefully peddling toward the eerie iron gates of the old Clutterbug Estate, he thought:
"Wow, the haunted house-no people ever lived there since I been born."
Spotting a ghostly figure crouched under a balding Dogwood tree, he slammed on his brakes; and, right before his blinking eyes was, what just had to be, the ghost of murders past digging a fresh grave. Preparing to gaze upon a face that only a Munster could love he braved his deepest breath.
Then, like the dawning of Spring before unsuspecting eyes a vision of loveliness waved a garden gloved hand.
"Hello," said the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, planting dumplings, er darlings er, something like that.
Jeremiah's way cool game face cracked into a short smile, as his heart burned rubber. Just when his head was ready to cave in like a smoldering jack o' lantern, the ghostly smoke began to clear-and a brand new sign in fancy letters appeared. "The Fairchild Manor" shot right through his eyes; and like magic, he saw a newly remodeled Victorian castle, complete with statues, bubbling fountains, and a garden flourishing as royally as if it had always been there.
With the lovely maiden's eyes upon him, his heart turned to flubber; and tossing his golden harmonica into the air and onto his lip, he commanded his metal steed to pop its biggest wheelie ever, and made a daring charge down Deadwood Circle.
"Geez!" he thought, peddling toward town fast as he could, "I'm never goin' to Deadwood Circle by myself again-the place gives me the deadly creeps!"
Juliana attended Forest Hills Academy, a private school in Riverside; so Jeremiah never even had a chance to bump into her at school-just to see if she was real that is. Until this very moment, their only communication had been a quick wave and half a smile on that fateful Fall day when Miss Juliana B. Fairchild moved to Medleyville; and Jeremiah E. Crockett began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, some girls were worth looking at after all.
President Crockett's stomach fluttered like the inside of a bat cave as he shook Juliana's oh, so soft hand for the very, merry first time.
"Welcome to the club," he said, mentally commanding his insides to 'chill out'. Juliana couldn't help but notice how Jeremiah's adorable red cheeks made his oh, so green eyes sparkle like a Christmas morning. Swallowing the tiny butterflies in her throat, Juliana stuttered for the first time since she learned how to speak.
"Th-thank you, Mr. President, I, I'm, so proud to be a'fficial member."
Just when Juliana thought she would drop dead of embarrassment, Kelly Crockett took her hand.
"Your not quite an official member till you put on one of these," she said, placing a For Earth Club tee shirt in Juliana's quivering hand.
Being a member of The For Earth Club was such an upstanding honor it even made Kelly quiver sometimes; (although no one ever knew the club's vice president and Jeremiah's big sister ever quivered over anything.)
"Congratulations Juliana, welcome to the club," she said, in the most calming tone she could.
Suzy Yamato, the club treasurer, handed Juliana a copy of The Rules; neatly scrolled and tied with a shiny green ribbon.
Impatiently banging his gavel, the president commanded the meeting onward.
"The new recycling center in Riverside is opening in a couple a weeks-so we won't need to go so far any more," he said.
"That'll make my Dad happy all right," said Jamey Sullivan.
"Mom's getting pretty tired of all the newspapers piling up in the garage," said Janey, his twin sister.
"So don't let them pile up," said Cory Washington.
"The bins at the Gazette can handle all the newspapers ya got," said Jeremiah. "Ace'll be home for summer break tomorrow," said Cory, "and, the first thing we'll be doing is putting the finishing touches on the mean green machines. They'll be road ready on Monday."
"Just in time for a busy summer," said Kelly.
"With the green machines you guys can easily handle graffiti and garbage detail yourselves," said Janey.
Cory and his brother were making double-duty wagon bikes out of junk parts; designed to haul newspapers, recyclables, paints and tools.
"Then we can concentrate on our real money makers," said Suzy, looking to Juliana. "Like collecting cans, selling flowers, and recycled products and stuff."
"Speakin' a money, let's start talkin' profits," Jeremiah said impatiently.
Agreeing with a nod, Kelly couldn't help but notice her brother trying to rush the meeting.
"Suzy's got some great news to report," said the president, "go ahead Suz, tell em."
Turning her little green accounting book to the proper page, she said:
"As of our last meeting, we are now in the black. All the money we borrowed to get started last year has been paid back in full-with $747.00 left over."
"$747.00 in the black-way da go!" said Jamey, initiating a round of applause.
"And summer ain't even started yet," said the president proudly.
Suzy's grandfather, Kenechi Yamato, is the owner of the largest nursery in the county. Mr Ken teaches the For Earth Club members botany and horticulture. Yamato's Nursery provided the club with wholesale rates; and a greenhouse to start seedlings of their own. Caring for the orchids and bonsai that have been in her family for over a hundred years was Suzy's favorite hobby.
"The baby trees and bushes are ready for us at the nursery," said Suzy. "My Grandpa says we should plant them in the patch of woods near Buffalo Creek that caught fire last fall."
"You mean set fire," said Cory.
"And we ain't forgot who set it neither," said Jamey.
"I guarantee it'll be a long hot summer for Eddie and the Losers," said Jeremiah, sneering at his main man.
"Oh paleeze-save the warpath thing till later, will ya?" said Janey.
"Yeah, as in much later!" said Kelly. "In case you didn't notice little dudes, we are trying to conduct a civilized meeting here."
"Well, exx-cuuse us Madame Vice," said Jeremiah. "Later warriors!"
"Later!" they whooped, slapping a high-five.
"Where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?" said Jamey teasingly.
"The baby trees," replied Janey, tossing him a reprimanding stare.
"Yes, the trees. I think it's a perfect idea-members do you agree?" asked Kelly.
"Then we plant them next Saturday at creek clean-up," said Kelly. "Oh, and do get your parents to come too."
"My Mom'll be there for sure," said Janey. "But my Dad? Well, he says he'll try to make it."
"I sure hope he makes it," said Cory. "Eddie and The Bruisers won't be snooping around if they see Sheriff Sullivan's police car, that's for sure."
"That's for double sure, dude," said Jamey. "My Dad says if Eddie or any one of his gang even get busted for jay walking-it's off to the probation officers they go." "Yo ho! Yo ho!" Jeremiah crooned impishly, "I hope they cross at the red and end up dead!"
Yelping like hungry hyenas the warriors fell to their knees with laughter.
"Get up!" hollered Kelly.
"Yeah," said Janey, yanking Jamey to his feet, "that's not funny!"
"I feel sorry for Eddie," said Maria. "How'd you like to have ol'man-beer-can for a father?"
"Hey, that's his tuff luck," said Jeremiah. "They deserve each other if ya ask me."
"Well man, we ain't askin' ya," said Kelly, pinching her brother's cheeks just the way he loathes.
"Order! Order!" shouted Maria, slamming the gavel.
"Let's get on with the meeting, please," said Juliana, glancing at her watch. "It's almost dinner time."
"Yeah, dinner-that's why my stomach's actin' weird," thought Jeremiah, snatching the gavel from Maria.
"On with the meeting!" he ordered, whacking away.
"Oh sure thing, Mr. President," said Kelly.
Shoving Jeremiah aside, Kelly stepped up to the podium.
"Tomorrow, we're having an assembly at school. The principal says we can have a few minutes to talk about the club. Janey and Maria made some special flyers that you all can pass out while I'm speaking."
"I'll pass some around at Forest Hills too-if you want me to," said Juliana.
"Ya might as well pass out some recent issues of The Kidzette too-if there's any extras I mean," said Jeremiah.
"I got a few right here," said Janey, "and there's plenty more at the office too."
"I hear they got some pretty cute babes at that Forest Hills Academy," Jamey whispered to Cory.
"I heard that, dude," said Kelly. "Now you hear this-one more interruption and there will be fines to pay-got it?"
"Aye aye boss ma'am," said Jeremiah, foolishly saluting.
Firing an eloquent stare at the culprit, Kelly continued:
"The special flyers remind people to reduce re-use and recycle everything-and to please use our new specially marked recycling bins at Yamato's and The Gazette. And of course we listed where they are-like the new ones at The Village Green and the library. We asked people to donate their old jeans too-and to drop them in the new blue recycling bins at The Gazette. In case you didn't know Juliana, we make things out of old jeans-like pot holders, and aprons, and shopping totes that Cory's Mom sells for us. And the flyers ask everyone to please plant a new tree or bush on the Fourth of July this year too-to commemorate Medleyville's tenth anniversary. Of course, all this stuff will be in
The Kidzette this month; but, we just want to make sure in case some people don't read The Gazette."
"And did ya list our services, like lawn, and garbage, and graffiti detail, and pet sitting?" asked Jeremiah.
"Of course we did," said Janey, tossing a flyer at him. "See for yourself."
"Let's make sure to give flyers to all the cafeteria and office people too," said Suzy.
"And don't forget the bus drivers and janitors," added Jamey.
"And I'll make sure everybody gets one at church on Sunday too," said Cory.
Cory's Mom is Medleyville's one and only lady minister. Their non-denominational church was the life long dream of his parents, Eleanor and Daniel Washington. Designed by Jonathan Crockett, The Little Chapel is an artist's dream come true say those that have painted or photographed it.
Alighted amid the rooftops, nestled on a wildflower covered knoll, the Gothic American chapel graces the small town skyline like a celestial vision. Its brilliant white clapboard and sky-blue tin roof blends into the clouds like an angel taking flight. Climbing pink Queen Elizabeth roses gently hug the trellised doorways-boldly kissing all who enter with their heavenly scent. A white picket fence embellished with hand carved hearts surrounds the church yard-where a multitude of perennials, annuals, and wildflowers meander along a pathway of stepping stones collected by friends and family.
The Washington's planned and saved for years to build their dream come true-collecting stones from all over the country for the foundation and walkways. The Little Chapel's christening was a true hometown celebration, with plenty of Eleanor's lemonade and Doc Hopkins' homemade root beer on hand to greet guests overflowing with good wishes and picnic baskets.
The morning after the christening, the chapel bell woke Eleanor for the first time; and she rolled over to wake Daniel-but Daniel did not wake up. A massive heart attack had taken his life during the night.
The town flooded with tears as Ace and his baby brother placed a bouquet of hand picked flowers on their father's grave.
"I promise never to let Cory forget how much you love us Dad," cried Ace. " I promise to tuck him in every night and tell him the same bedtime stories you told me Dad. Your favorite ones about our proud African ancestors whose blood, sweat, and tears helped build the foundation of our country a long time ago."
Daniel often boasted: "My sweet Ellie's a daisy of a women with a heart full of wildflowers and a faithbone of pure ivory." Although Eleanor's heart wilted with despair at the loss of her beloved Daniel, the budding ivory faithbones of their children helped her blossom with life once again.
Embedded in the top of the chapel stairs is a small ivory heart Daniel gave to Eleanor as a symbol of their love and faith that he would return home safely from the Vietnam War. All who walk through The Little Chapel's garden are deeply touched by the lovely little heart symbolizing everlasting love, faith, and freedom.
Eleanor was so full of spunk and good humor the kids loved having her on excursions. She pumped everyone so full of laughter and lemonade they hardly felt like they were working at all. Eleanor Washington was unlike any minister the town had ever seen. She did not believe in using her pulpit to preach the hell fires of damnation; nor was she concerned with extracting contributions to save souls. "Saving souls is the business of god and shoemakers," she often said. Concern for the quality of life was the business of her church. Eleanor Washington was one spirited minister who believed life's greatest accomplishment was in helping a person to recognize and attain their full potential. One of the ways she accomplished this lofty goal was by providing inexpensive child care for working families; or, for those parents who need time out to pursue other interests.
Just down the holler from The Little Chapel is the most efficient and sought after day care center in the county-The Little Red School House. The old fashioned one room school house is as quaint as a picture book, with its ornate shuttered windows and hand ringing bell tower-but, inside its uniquely carved doors is an unrivaled state of the art teaching facility computerized like the highest institutions of learning.
The Little Red Schoolhouse prided itself in providing plenty of loving arms to hug, cuddle, or rock a fussing child to contentment. Ensuring cost effective and specialized attention for each and every child, Eleanor arranged for students from the local high school to work at the day care center-earning credits equivalent to other vocational classes. Many students turned this valuable experience into lucrative baby-sitting positions on weekends. Some of Eleanor's tiny students were known to cry all the way home because they did not want to leave the little red school house of fun, learning, and adventure.
Sunday mornings at The Little Chapel were not spent on one's knees in repetitious prayer-for one will find no kneeling rails there. Reverend Eleanor did not believe in begging god to solve one's problems. God was surely much too busy to be doing things for people that they could be doing for themselves. Eleanor believed the only way to solve any problem was to get off your knees and combine the essence of one's heart, mind, and soul with a gallon and a half of elbow grease.
The Little Chapel was so unlike a church it was actually not a church at all. Upstairs in the loft of the homespun Gothic building was a gift shop where Eleanor sold curiosities, quilts, recycled products, and artifacts handmade by The For Earth Club and local crafters. Downstairs, The Little Chapel was a devilishly divine restaurant, where every afternoon Eleanor served the most sumptuous high tea money could buy. Going to church on Sunday took on a whole new meaning at The Little Chapel-where people gathered to wait on line for the most delightful Sunday brunch in the county. Eleanor's passion for life and up-lifting spirit was felt by all who entered her uniquely unorthodox church. Reverend Eleanor Washington was truly a miracle to behold-a miracle of independence, fortitude, and self-right-use-ness.
Secretly hoping to find out if the ghost of Nimrod Clutterbug was still haunting The Fairchild Manor, Jeremiah said:
"Why don't we all meet at Juliana's instead of the nursery?"
"No-we need to get shovels n' stuff from the nursery anyway," said Maria.
Maria's mother, Rosa Sanchez, was the Fairchild's head housekeeper. Maria knew all too well that Juliana was not allowed to play with any of the neighborhood children-nor where they allowed on the property. Maria was the only kid in town ever known to have seen the inside of the old Victorian mansion, and still be alive to tell about it.
Jeremiah's suggestion embarrassed Juliana; and Maria knew it-even if the others didn't. Jumping up to the podium, Maria insisted it was time to discuss inventory.
"We won't need to buy any paint this month," she rattled on, "cause of Decker's Hardware donating us those five cases. Mr. Decker says he'll give us all the paint brushes we need too-if we promise to keep his store graffiti free."
"He's just as tired of the Bruisers as we are," said Jamey, punching his fist into his hand.
"Cool it with the warrior stuff," said Janey. "Dad says unless we have a witness, or they get caught in the act, there's not much that can be done about it-except what we are doing, painting over it each time."
"Eventually the Brusiers'll get tired of plastering graffiti everywhere-if we keep painting over it right away," said Cory.
"That makes sense to me," said Juliana, "if no one ever gets to see it, then why on Earth would they keep doing it."
"Why on Earth indeed," said Jeremiah, mesmerized by her silky sable locks.
Noticing an unfamiliar twinkle in Jeremiah's eye, and, an unearthly cleanliness about his demeanor, Kelly wondered if he could be suffering from a case of puppy love. The possibilities sent her mind soaring anew. Oh how grateful she would be for anything that might cause the little dirt bomb to brush his teeth without nagging. Being club vice-president and editor of The Kidzette was a cinch compared to her onus appointment as Jeremiah's big sister.
Kelly's thoughts were adjourned by a loud knock at the door.
"Who could that be? We're all here," she said aloud.
Tearing open the door, Cory catapulted into his big brother's arms-as he squeezed his six foot six frame through the doorway, rocking the clubhouse with laughter.
Daniel "Ace" Washington, (the only basketball player in Medleyville's history to score more than 1000 points) helped win The Raiders their first state championship last year...
"Ace Washington slam dunked the MVP award for 'the shot heard 'round the state'. With two seconds left in the last game of the playoffs, Ace hurled the ball from center court to win the Raiders their first state championship in history."
The winning ball and four foot trophy proudly grace the show case at Medleyville High. Next to the brassy guerdon on a pedestal of Desenex, sits the eighth wonder of their world-Ace Washington's sneakers. The most reputable clod-hoppers in the county venerate a place in Raiders' history as the largest most exalted footgear ever known to trod the halls of Medleyville High.
Watching Jamey and Jeremiah board Ace's legs like a jungle gym, the big-brother-less girls wondered if Cory knew just how lucky he was to have such a great brother. Ace, their knight in shining armor, had a special way of showing up whenever his damsels were distressed.
"All right guys, give Ace a little breathing room please," said Janey.
"Yeah little dudes-let me say hello to my girls," said Ace.
Reluctantly sliding down Ace's arms-they planted themselves at his feet.
"Ace Washington at your service once again my fair ladies," he bowed.
"I say the meeting's over. Whaddaya say, Kel?" said Jeremiah.
"Hold on a minute, Mr. President," she said. "Anybody have an article for The Kidzette; or, anything they want to add to the flyers at school?"
"Then I guess we covered it all for today," said Kelly. "Creek clean-up, Saturday, eight a.m. at the nursery-be there."
"EEEight sharp!" said Jeremiah, drumming his gavel. "Meeting adjourned!"
Rolling her eyes at Ace, Kelly wondered if he was thinking what she was thinking: "The real reason Jeremiah likes being president is so he can bang that stupid gavel!"
THE FOR EARTH CLUB RULES
The main objective of The For Earth Club is to clean up the Earth-starting with our own home town.
1 New recruits must be sponsored by a member in good standing. A unanimous vote is required for all new membership. All new recruits will be on probation for three months. Until then, sponsors are accountable for the recruits actions.
2 Members must keep physically fit-passing random fitness tests as designated by the board of directors. Fitness tests must be passed by all new recruits prior to acceptance. The test shall include: swimming, running, and rope climbing.
3 A unanimous vote by all members is required to vote out unruly, uncooperative, or undedicated members.
4 During meetings and expeditions there will be no cursing, smoking, or fist-fighting, (except in areas of self-defense).
5 There will be no exceptions to rule # 4! Anyone caught breaking rule # 4 will pay restitution as designated in the by-laws. Any member consistently breaking rule # 4 will be subject to extraordinary discipline and/or expulsion as designated in rule # 3.
** Meetings are held every Friday after school at the clubhouse. Be there!!
THE FOR EARTH CLUB "KIDZETTE"
This monthly edition to The Medleyville Gazette is written for children by children. The Kidzette publishes stories on energy conservation, environmental studies and advancements, organic and hydroponics farming, and humanitarian concerns. The Gazette's editor, Kate Crockett, and her ten year old daughter Kelly, co-edit this delightful read-printed on recycled paper, naturally.
The Adventures of The For Earth Club
This column covers what the club does each month-when they are having garden and recycle sales, tree and flower plantings, river, creek, and park clean-ups etc.
Recycle with Rex
Recycling tips and trivia are shared in this column. Rex, a robot like creation with a refrigerator door for a chest, is made from old tires, rusty cans, fishing rods, and other collectibles retrieved from local waterways and "No Dumping" sites by The For Earth Club. Rex sits in the parking lot of the Gazette next to the recycling bins. Unfortunately, club members say they could have enough junk by the next clean-up to create him a recycled mate. This is one couple they hope does not have children.Dear Eartha
Our question and answer column that publishes letters from readers.Eartha's Gems
Covers stories on how neighbor helps neighbor in the struggle for an environmentally friendly, safe and sound town. Special thanks appear monthly for each and every concerned citizen helping The For Earth Club on excursions.The Graffiti-Hot-Line Number
Is posted on the front and back pages of every issue. Citizens can call and have the artless obscenities removed by dedicated members of The For Earth Club.
Advertisements on where to buy environmentally safe products, services, and equipment can be found in every issue.
The For Earth Club decides at weekly meetings what will be published each month. All members are encouraged to submit articles, ideas, stories, and poetry. Kelly Crockett and Janey Sullivan write and edit the articles of interest. Maria Sanchez and Suzy Yamato head the art, photo, and advertising departments. Jeremiah Crockett, Jamey Sullivan, and Cory Washington take charge of graffiti detail-washing it off or painting over it as soon as humanly possible after it is reported. Sometimes these dedicated young men are out before school with their wagons, bikes, and paint brushes, removing the artful apparitions before they leave a lasting effect. City Hall is so pleased with the clubs graffiti service they gladly provide enough remuneration and supplies to keep the paint flowing steadily.
Although Medleyville has curbside recycling, many citizens prefer to recycle with The For Earth Club. Specially marked For Earth Club bins are strategically placed throughout town; and, filled to the brim every pick-up day. The club has a contract with local businesses to haul away aluminum cans. With the help of friends and parents, members haul them off to the county recycling center and trade them in for cash.Medleyville, A Community For The Future
This old fashion, modern hometown was redesigned by Jonathan Crockett. Keeping small town spirit the focus, Crockett received the American Institute of Architects' Award for his innovative Medleyville designs. Crockett's signature homes have large front porches and white picket fences. "The front porch lends to a sense of community, where people can greet passing neighbors and welcome friends," says Crockett. "White picket fences can instill a feeling of home sweet home even in the hardest of hearts."
The Neighborhood Vegetable Garden is a new project being sponsored by The For Earth Club this summer. Participating families will have their own section of the garden to plant the vegetables of their choice. Ken and Suzy Yamato will supervise the project; and, The For Earth Club will lend a helping hand with planting, watering, and weeding. Crop trading at harvest time promises to be a special event. If successful, they plan to expand the vegetable gardens to all neighborhood parks. Families wanting to participate should call the number listed in the advertising section of The Kidzette.
Get the rest of the story from http://www.xlibris.com/ForeverGreen.html
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