Uncle Lucas

Editor's Note: This is an ongoing series which runs each Thursday morning titled the Richland Chronicles, by author Paul Lintern. It is set in the 1800s and tells the story of Richland County through the eyes of young people. The books are available from Lintern for $25 a set, tax and shipping included. Each book is about 120 pages written for intermediate readers (4th grade) with local illustrations. Volume I is Amelia Changes Her Tune. Volume II is Isaac and Wolf Paw Find Their Home. Volume III is Autumn Keeps Her Secret. Volume IV is Mr. Gamble Starts a School. Volume V is Jacob Blows his Horn. Volume VI is Cassie Fights the WarVolume VII is Emilene Adopts Her Family. Volume VIII is David Dances the Bases.

It looks wonderful, just right.

Natalie looked over the handbill that Mr. Glessner had made for the contest.

Uncle Lucas had delivered one for each of Natalie’s classmates at her school, while Miss Vasbinder was taking copies for the students at each of the seven Mansfield Schools.

“There are 20 questions, and we judges have given a weight on each question,” Miss Osbun said. “That way we can give the best score possible.”

“But I thought you were just expecting them to answer everything correctly, to make sure it counts,” Walter said.

“That was the idea, but then we looked at what you all came up with and we realized some of the questions are, well, questionable,” Uncle Lucas said.

“Not bad questions, just harder to grade than it might seem,” Miss Osbun said.

“For example, what if a student misses a couple of the red scarfs on Third Street? Do we disqualify the whole effort if one is missed? We don’t indicate how many scarves there are,” Uncle Lucas said.

“Yes,” the students said, mostly in unison.

“Think about it, children.” Miss Osbun said. “You know how you try to talk me into giving you more points than your wrong answers deserve. Sometimes, I want to give you four out of five points for a question because you did most of the work correctly and just missed one thing.

“Shouldn’t that count for something?”

“My father says, if the switchman misses one switch on the railroad line, that is one too many, no matter how many he gets right,” Olive said.

“Yes, but this is not the railroad,” Lucas said.

“They know the rules, if they get one item wrong, throw out the entry,” Maurice said.

Miss Osbun took a deep breathe and stepped forward.

Uh-oh, here comes one of her lessons.

She paused, then smiled.

“We will take your comments into consideration. We want this to be fun and worth the effort for each person. You have done a good job putting this together, and we judges will do our best to honor that.

“But remember, the judges’ decisions are final!”

Well, that wasn’t so bad.

Oscar raised his hand, and Miss Osbun nodded to him.

“Are we allowed to enter?” he asked.

Miss Osbun looked at Lucas, who shrugged his shoulders and nodded.

“Well, yes, I guess that would be fine,” Miss Osbun said.

“But does that mean you want us to throw out your entry and not give you the benefit of the doubt if your answer is not exactly what we were looking for, or if you misspell a word?”

Natalie saw everyone slowly shake their heads and felt her doing the same thing.

“Good, then I think we understand each other,” Miss Osbun said.

“Now, let us start over, and congratulate ourselves for good research and a clever contest to make an upcoming celebration extra special,”

“Hear, hear,” Uncle Lucas said. “I came to celebrate this contest and to thank you for all your work. The Mansfield students will all have their entries by tomorrow and we will soon see them walking all over downtown.

“You, too, I suppose.”

Because it was near the end of the day, Uncle Lucas waited so he could give Natalie a ride home, on this way back to Mansfield.

I’m glad he’s helping me. He is a smart man, and a fun old uncle.

“Do you think the children will be excited about the prizes?” Uncle Lucas asked.

“There is a nice collection of prizes in the lobby of the bank,” Natalie said. “Dolls, a bicycle, books, games, they make a nice display. Everyone would like something from there. The drawing at the end should be exciting.”

“And don’t forget the placard signed by everyone who completes their entry,” Lucas said.

Uncle Lucas loves that placard.

“Yes, I am sure that will excite everyone,” Natalie said.

Uncle Lucas smiled.

“I know you don’t think that is much, but I promise that in years to come, it will mean more to them.

“And they will never forget their part in this summer, the Summer of the Fountain.”

They both laughed.

As the horse pulled the carriage into the Burns farm — the Inn — Johnny came running out, intent on showing off a toad he had found in the brook. Natalie hopped off and began chasing him around the tree, and then toward the barn.

She looked back long enough to shout, “Thanks, Uncle Lucas,” then chased Johnny into the barn, tickling him as she caught him, and then wrestling with him as he fell into a hay bale.

Lucas waved back, then hitched the horse to a tree and walked inside.

“Nat play me,” Johnny said.

“What do you want to play,” she asked.

“Hide and seek,” he said.

“All right. I will count, and you hide,” she said, closing her eyes and counting out loud until she thought he was in place.

“49, 50. Ready or not, here I come.”

He is in the fruit cellar again.

Johnny always picked the fruit cellar, hiding in the stone lined hole in the ground, with the little wooden door that he had just learned to open, which is why, Natalie thought, that he always picked that spot.

Natalie made a big show of looking for Johnny in all the wrong places, with a loud commentary.

“I wonder if he is behind the tree? No, not behind the tree.

“I wonder if he is behind the barrel. No, not there.

“Where could Johnny be? Maybe under the wagon. No.”

She could hear him giggle with each comment, and then again when she said, “I wonder if I should look in the fruit cellar.”

She opened the door, stepped inside, felt around a little and then her hands landed on his head.

“What’s this? I think it’s a Johnny.”

Johnny laughed out loud and jumped into Natalie’s hands, causing a couple of cloth bags to fall out of a dirt area above her. One made a clinking sound, and landed on her foot.

Ow. What was that?

The Great Central Park Treasure Hunt

Open to all students in Mansfield, up to age 12, or having finished sixth grade

Judges Miss Mary Osbun, Miss Jane Vasbinder, Dr. Lucas Zimmerman All decisions final

Deadline for turning in this contest sheet: June 30, 1881, at noon, to one of these locations:

Farmer’s National Bank at North Main and Market Street,

Faust and Wappner Furniture and Undertakers, 6 S. Park

Shield and Banner Printing, 5 1/2 N. Park

Every successfully completed entry will receive a prize and all such entries will be entered for several grand prizes, on display in the lobby of Farmer’s National Bank.

Each contestant must do his or her own work. Answers must be written on the back of this form, headed by the student’s name, school and grade, and statement that of affirmation that the work was his or her own. Prizes will be awarded at the dedication ceremony of the new fountain in Central Park, Monday, July 4, 1881, 10 a.m. These questions must be answered. All items in question are in plain view, and nothing may be moved, removed, or altered in your searching. Do no digging, cutting, shifting, scratching or otherwise altering of items you encounter in your endeavors. Best wishes to all contestants. All judges’ decisions are final.

On the back of the page, answer these questions by number:

1. The number of fence posts that surround the Square:

2. The name of the editor of the Shield and Banner.

3. How many paths lead from the center of the park?

4. Who is the Pastor at the Presbyterian Church?

5. And the Methodist Episcopal Church?

6. How much is a room at the American Hotel?

7. Who is your favorite teller at Farmer’s Savings Bank?

8. Who is the physician at 5 1/2 N. Park?

9. Name two pairs of dentists that work across Market Street from each other:

10. Where does Abram Heineman sell his horses?

11. Who is our postmaster?

12: List 25 of the attorneys’ offices that are found on North Main St.

13. Name the two barbers that each have their office in the Square.

14. Where on the square would you go to buy a casket and a table?

15. Name the five newspapers in Mansfield:

16. How many times can you get on a train for Chicago each day?

17. Draw a picture of the three courthouses that have been in the Square

18: Get a signature of someone on the hook and ladder company, ask them to add an X if they let you feed one of their horses.

19. Ask the Mansfield Telephone Company the number of their newest customer.

20. Write down the featured item in each of the stores on Third and Fourth Streets between Main and Diamond, where a red scarf is hanging in the window.

Compliments of Mansfield Shield and Banner

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