Some forty years ago, and before our first grandson Mark was born, Anne took up drawing and painting, first by a well known local artists, then at a collage.
At college she was instantly a success. She said when I asked how she liked her professors
“Let me put it this way, when we have our coffee, I never have to pay for it.”
Anne was flying. It had taken her twenty five years of her married life to reach this kind of life and she really enjoyed herself.
Then two personal catastrophes followed, our just completed house burned to the ground and our only son died in an car accident. Of the house Anne said
“I will not miss any of our things, except for grandma's old brown sugar pot,” but for five years she would not mention the name of our son, and neither could she be consoled.
She quit her art studies, and aimlessly lived on, with little or no comfort from anybody and it was in that part of our life that our bookkeeper came with his offer of work to Anne.
When she was hired at Gold and Gems a real transformation in her happened.
She immediately liked the owners, who both worked in the business, and they liked her. After a few years they offered to help her set set up her own business in our home town.
Then Anne finally had found something that she enjoyed doing and was good at as well.
Selling jewelry was a challenge to her because she was not at all attracted to luxury things, most of the jewelry she owned was purchased by me and seldom worn, but her employers taught her the value and beauty in gems and diamonds which is measured in carats, color, clarity and cut.
They showed her the variations in these four C's from which the real worth was determined.
They showed her the different colors of gold and how to spot fake gold.
She experienced the joy of dealing with clients and salespeople soon earning their respect. She also found that a lot she learned had been in her all the time waiting to be used, and that this was the time, the place, and the opportunity.
This was what she wanted one way or another, but never thought that what she found in the end was something she had never given a thought.
To be affordable Anne started by selling her wares for half the regular price making her profit accordingly low as well, but she made up by renting two small upstairs rooms in an old building which she had joined together by taking out a wall. She had no safe yet and at closing time put her inventory in a shopping bag which she took home, making sure to take a different route home every night to confuse would-be thieves who might be stalking her.
As soon as she had the money she added a safe to deposit her merchandise at closing time, and every evening she put her deposits in the bank. She made a hard decision to forego putting insurance on the inventory, reasoning that the cost of it was too high and the risk of being robbed low, as her business was on the second floor of a building in an out of the way village.
Not before long she was able to hire a young sales lady which gave her a chance to travel to the city taking clients jewelry repairs to a goldsmith and to purchase new articles from wholesalers. It provided her a freedom to meet friends for lunch and to shop at city stores.
She was really having the time of her life, and when our daughter Jacki, who had completed her studies of gemologist and goldsmith was added to the business as a sales-lady, and when they were lucky to be able to rent the large corner unit adjacent to her store and Jacki was properly set up to have it as her work shop in which to make produce new gold armbands, rings and do all customer gold repairs, her dream was nearly a reality.
Close to quitting time two men, judging by their clothes definitely no locals, sneaked up onto the stairs to the second story of the building, one stepping into Jacki's room, the other into the store where Anne started to take the merchandise out of the showcases. Anne expected a late customer to pick up an item and was not alarmed when a man stepped into the store.
Jacki meanwhile, her eyes on her work, hearing someone entering her workplace where only Anne was allowed said
“Stay out of here, you're not allowed in here.” When the man didn't answer she looked up, and saw a young guy, brandishing a gun at her, which quieted but didn't scare her.
The guy, threatening her with the gun, which was a sawed-off shotgun, retreated around the door to assist his partner, who jumped over the showcases to where Anne was and started filling a large hockey bag with a swoop of his arm throwing the gold and diamond ware into the hockey bag, then went into the show cases to grab all he could get.
Meanwhile the other held the end of the sawed-off shotgun against Anne's head, who was being afraid that he would shoot her late customer, who would walk right into the robbers.
“Hurry up,” she hissed between her teeth, “I have a customer coming ...”
The gunman let her feel that he meant business, “Shut up ...”
By now the other had the entire inventory in his hockey bag and jumped back over the showcase joining the gunman, and both fled through the hall than bolted down the stairs to the outside past the barbershop.
Everything happened so fast, when Jacki ran to see Anne, the robbers had already entered the stairs. She ran after them and into the barber shop yelling
“We have been robbed, we have been robbed, do something, they have everything.”
Mossy was just sitting in the barber chair having a haircut when Jacki burst through the door yelling 'do something, they took everything.'
“The guys that just passed here?” when Jacki cried yes, Mossy jumped out of the chair and ran after the two. He ran so fast he wasn't able to stop when the pick-up of his friend drove in, unable to stop, Mossy rolled over the hood to the other side and kept on running.
His friend jumped out of the truck and joined up with him not knowing what the action was all about.
The robbers, disadvantaged by the hockey-bag, threw away the gun and a few seconds later the hockey-bag as well, which the two friends triumphantly took back to the still furious Jacki and a shaken Anne.
I asked Jacki if she had been scared.
“Did you ever see a guy with pale eyes, that look at you but don't see you, that 's what I saw. And no I was not scared, I was mad, I am still mad.” I know why she was angry, they had bagged all there was in the store including an item that Jacki intended to buy, that was what got her goat (enraged her). I am still proud of her even though she could've told Mossy that the would be robbers carried a gun. (Ha ha Jacki)
When I asked Anne how she felt when they had a gun at her face she said
“I was petrified that they would shoot Herman, that's why I wanted them to hurry up and be gone before he showed up. And how I felt? I only thought - how much will it hurt.”
Anne offered both men a thousand dollars, which they with a wide grin refused, but they accepted a dinner with her at the Town and Country Inn.
Anne was liked and respected by the locals, who lovingly called her “the gold lady,” coined by the barber, and she walked with with a queenly gait, her arms a little to the side through the village at lunchtime as if she owned the town, to shop or see a friend who ran a store near the former community hall.
The client who escaped from being shot by arriving late was Herman Delange, a kind and humorous man.
Mossy was an immigrant from the Netherlands. I don't know his real first name, but than I think no-one in Ladner does, and I have never known the name of his friend.