Children’s Stop

The Indian Girl’s Necklace

 More than one hundred and fifty years ago in a Sioux Indian village, there lived a sweet little girl named Morning Sun. Her mother named her this because her smile, even as a tiny baby, lit up their home and made them feel warm.

Morning Sun’s uncle was the chief of their tribe. He was in charge of hundreds of men, women and children. In fact, he had 18 children of his own. On important occasions, Chief Good Heart gathered his people together for special celebrations. Sometimes at these ceremonies, he wore a headdress that had bunches of feathers in it. Mostly, black, brown and white feathers. The feathers started at the top of his head and pointed upwards, some feathers at the sides of his face pointed downward to his shoulders. The back was like a long tail that trailed all the way to the back of his feet. Each feather told a story about the chief’s life. He wore the headdress as a symbol of honor and bravery. The Chief also wore necklaces of seeds, shells, beads, stones and other materials from nature.

Most everyone in the village loved necklaces and ornaments. The women and children made many necklaces of brightly colored beads. Morning Sun wanted to make a special necklace for her uncle, the chief. She had been saving all the beads she could find and even traded for beads with her friends until she finally had enough to begin. Chief Good Heart was a great leader because he wanted and encouraged everyone to respect the earth, the rivers, the lakes and each other. He thought it wise to live peaceably and in harmony with nature.

Morning Sun was eight years old and had made a few necklaces before, but nothing that would qualify as beautiful. She wanted this necklace to be beautiful and different … to stand out. She threaded 12 tiny yellow beads, then 12 black, 12 white, 9 red, 12 green 17 yellow, 14 white, 20 blue again and again. She separated each color group with a different bead color. She thought it looked pretty good.

The design was different because she mixed up the number of beads in each group. For the medallion she made a circle using yellow, then blue, then yellow, then blue. In the center she placed a small shell she found near the lake. It was her favorite shell. It made her happy every time she picked it up and looked at it. She put four little circles on the outside of the big circle. The design looked like a turtle. When she attached the medallion to the beaded chain, it was not quite perfect, but she loved it anyway and couldn’t wait to give it to her uncle.

Chief Good Heart had been sick for a long time and couldn’t seem to get well. The villagers wanted him to be well again, but so far his frequent cough continued. The next day when Morning Sun saw her uncle, she gave him the present she made. He liked it so much that he put it around his neck right then. He patted his little niece on the head and said the necklace was the best gift he ever got.

And he was right! Because the necklace was magic! He got well. The coughing stopped and he felt strong again. If he ever had the necklace off for more than a day or two, he got sick again. So of course, he wore the necklace!

By the time Morning Star was a grandmother the necklace was long forgotten. Traders came to their village from time to time to sell and trade goods. The necklace, put away for many years, was found by Chief Good Heart’s great grandson who thought it might be good for a trade.

Sure enough, one of the traders wanted to give some wool in exchange for the necklace.
The trader who took the necklace with him soon became very rich. Everything he did in his business succeeded. He bought rich lands and cattle and had all the things that wealth could buy. He never knew why his luck changed, but it did.

One day the trader’s wife cleaned out some drawers and boxes and found the necklace. She didn’t much like the colored beads or the turtle design and it was less than perfect, so she gave it away. After the necklace was gone, the trader’s business began to dwindle. People stopped buying from him and his cattle became sick. He still had more than when he first started, but not nearly as much as when he owned the necklace.

The necklace was now in the house of a far away friend and around the neck of, Mya Marie, a little blond haired girl who was always angry, grumpy, disobedient and very hard to get along with. But once Mya Marie started wearing the necklace, she changed. The change was small at first and then it was more evident. She learned to behave in a polite and respectful way. Her family was amazed. They couldn’t figure out what happened, but they were glad for the change.

Mya Marie wore the necklace for several years. When she got older she stopped wearing it, but she did not want to be a hard-to-get-along with person anymore. One day the strand broke and all the beads and the shell fell to the ground. The Indian girl necklace was no more, but what a necklace it had been. A gift of love that had a magic all it’s own.

Mysterious Visitor in the Piano

Every afternoon, five days a week, nine-year-old Roberta had piano practice.

“Only twenty minutes,” her mother would say. “Twenty minutes isn’t so long.”

“Only twenty minutes. That’s forevvver,” Roberta wailed.

One and two and – whole notes – half notes – quarter notes, Roberta was tired of piano notes! One, two, three, one, two, three, she counted as she played “The Ride of the Witches.” She liked this song and sang “Salem town, Salem town, ride, ride, ride.” Once she got started, the lessons didn’t seem so bad and she knew her playing was getting better all the time.

Sometimes she practiced her lessons while lying down on the piano bench. With her back flat on the bench, legs dangling and her arms reaching upward, she was able to touch the keys and play the warm-up tunes she already knew. This, however, did not work with new music because she couldn’t see the notes from this position.

On the red mahogany piano were several sheets of music and her lesson books. Whenever Roberta finished playing a piece, she tossed the music sheets swirling to the floor. By the time her practice was over, the room looked as if a big storm had blown through it.

One afternoon as Roberta practiced her newest Beethoven piece, she heard a separate tone coming from the piano. There. She heard it again, like a far away humming from inside the piano. Each time Roberta played a note or chord, she heard the sad, eerie sound. Roberta quickly changed her music selection to a livelier tune and heard the hum again, only this time it it was happy. The unusual moan reminded her of a little girl singing from a faraway place.

“This is soooo weird,” she said out loud to herself. Later that evening Roberta asked her mom, “Where did we get our piano?”

“It was my Aunt Julie’s,” her mom answered. “Several years ago, after she no longer had room for a piano and had no one to play it, she gave it to us.”

“Where did Aunt Julie get the piano? You said once it is an antique.”

“She got it from her great-grandmother, I believe.”

“Gee. This is an old piano!” Roberta said. She wondered about the people who might have played it before her.

Roberta got used to hearing the piano hum its strange, ghostly sound and she didn’t mind practicing any more. In fact, she looked forward to it. Somehow the strange music made practice fun. It kept her company as she played. One day Roberta asked her mom to listen as she played a tune.

“Do you hear anything unusual?” she asked.

“No, dear. It sounded wonderful. You are becoming a very good musician. I’m proud of you.”

Roberta wondered why no one but her could hear the sing-along-sound, but it didn’t matter. In a way it made the experience even more special.

Six months later when Roberta saw her Aunt Julie at a family gathering, her aunt walked over and asked Roberta, “Have you heard the piano hum yet?”

Roberta was so surprised she could hardly speak.

“You mean you’ve heard it too?” she asked.

“Well, I never did,” Aunt Julie said, “but my daughter Sarah heard it all the time. She was the only one in the family who could hear the ‘singing’ as she called it. She used to say hearing it made her practices go better. Sarah is a wonderful musician today and plays her own piano.”

“What causes the hum, Aunt Julie? Did anyone ever find out?”

“Well, there is a story that goes with the piano,” her aunt said. “The piano was bought first in the late l800’’s for a little girl who had a beautiful singing voice. Her dad wanted her to study music so he saved for years to buy her this piano. The carvings on the piano were done by hand. The ivory keys you play today are the same keys she played back then. Sarah used to say when she played your piano that the haunting sound might have been the memory of that little girl singing when she played long ago.”

“But why would it do that?” Roberta wanted to know.

“The story is,” said Aunt Julie, “that shortly after the family bought the piano, a new baby was born. When the infant and mother became very ill, they needed a lot of money to get well, and the only way they could get the money was to sell her piano. That must have been when my great-grandmother bought it.

“Anyway, the little girl continued to sing, because no one could take that away from her, but she never got a chance to learn the piano again. Sarah used to pretend the girl sang along as she played.”

“You know, Aunt Julie, I think that is what I believe, too. It really does seem like someone is singing or humming. Thank you for the piano and for telling me the story.”

“I hope you enjoy it as much as my Sarah did, Roberta. I have a feeling that someday you will be an impressive musician yourself.”

Roberta now enjoys playing the piano. Sometimes she plays for hours. In fact, her mother occasionally has to make her stop!

The Key (A Primer)

Jane was outside playing ball with her sister when she saw something in the dirt. She kicked it with her toe. It was a key.

“Oh my! I wonder what this key opens,” she said. “Maybe it will open a box with lots of money in it. If the key opens a box of money, what would I buy?”

Jane thought about that for a while. “I would buy a gift for my sister and one for my mom and one for my dad. I would also get that pretty red-haired doll I saw at the store last week.”

But Jane would have to think about those things later. She had to find out what the key opened first.

Maybe the key will open a notebook. The notebook might have a secret letter in it. The letter might tell where to find a magic wand. Jane had to find out what the key opened!

As Jane bent down to pick up the key, her sister Sally ran over in front of her and grabbed the key. “No, Sally,” said Jane. “Leave the key alone.”

But Sally did not leave the key alone. She ran with it as fast as she could. Sally was only two years old and did not understand about such things. Then Sally, in all the excitement, threw the key far away into the woods behind their house.

Now Jane would have to look for the key. As she picked up leaves and rocks and sticks, she wondered again about that key.
How did it get in her backyard? Did someone use it to unlock a cabinet or a desk? How would they open it now without the key?

Jane was on her hands and knees looking where Sally had thrown the key when their mother called out.

“Jane! Jane! You know you can’t play in that part of the yard. Come away from there now!” Since Jane could not look for the key alone, she would have to get her mom to help her.

“Mom, I found a key lying almost buried in the ground. When I bent down to pick it up, Sally took it and ran away with it. She threw it into the woods. Can you please help me find that key?”

“I will later, Jane. I’m cooking dinner now. We will look for it later.”

But Jane didn’t want to wait until later. She wanted to look now.

When it was time to eat, she and Sally went inside to wash up. All through dinner Jane thought about the key.

It might be a key that unlocks a gate, a special gate, that leads to a meadow of green grass and brown ponies. Oh, how she wanted to find that key again and see what it opened.

After dinner Jane’s mom and dad helped her look for the key. “Here it is. I found a key,” said Dad. “Is this your key, Jane?”

“Yes Daddy. Yes. Now I need to see what it opens.”

“I don’t think it will open the door to a house because of its shape,” said Jane’s mom.

“I don’t think it will open the door of a car,” said Jane’s dad, “because it is the wrong size. This is a fancy key. It might open a special box of some kind.”

Later that night while Jane was sleeping, she dreamed about the key. In the dream the key was very, very big. It danced around in the air. It had a face on it. The key said, “You will never find out what I open. I am a mystery.” The key danced and played around.

The next morning, Jane said, “I will find out what this key opens. I will.”

It will not open a car. It will not open a house. It might open a box, or a drawer. Jane went through her house and tried to fit the key in every drawer and cabinet in her house. No luck.

She tried to open her mother’s jewelry box. The key was much too large for the jewelry box. What else will a key open? Hmmm, I know a trunk! Yes, a trunk would be a good choice. Mother might know of a trunk the key could open. I will go ask Mother.

“I have a large trunk in the attic, Jane, but I don’t think the key will fit that trunk. Maybe Daddy can look in the basement to see if there are any old trunks down there that it might open.”

Jane was so happy! She could soon be opening a mystery trunk with her key.
The stuff in the basement was very old. The people who lived there before Jane’s family moved in had left boxes and other things.
After dinner that night Mom and Dad, and even Sally helped Jane look for a trunk or box that the key might open. Sally kept getting in the way, but then she was only two years old.

“Look!” called Dad who was standing far into the back of the basement. He was bending over because the basement space was getting smaller and smaller. “I see something very interesting back here.”
He pulled and pushed and finally got the trunk to where everybody could see it.
“Jane, it has a lock. Do you want to see if it fits?”

Jane was so excited she was shaking. She slowly took the key out of her pocket to put it into the lock.

“Wait,” said her dad. “Let’s clean the lock a little.” He found a rag and cleaned the lock.
“Now try it, Jane. Now see if the key will open this trunk.”
The trunk was scratched and dented. It was dark brown with buckles and straps and all sorts of interesting marks on it. Jane had never seen a trunk like this before. She bent over and slowly put the key into the keyhole.

It didn’t seem to fit at first, but then the key did go into the keyhole. It went in, and she turned the key!

She heard a click. The key fit! The key would open this trunk.

Slowly Jane opened the lid of the trunk. She pulled out old clothes and papers. She pulled out strange-looking old toys. She pulled out old, smelly books.
Jane did not find a lot of money. But you know what?

She found a doll; a very pretty doll from long ago. And it had red hair!

“Look Mom. Look Dad. Look Sally,” said Jane. “I found a red-haired doll in the mystery trunk!

Jane had so much fun finding the key. She had so much fun trying to find what it opened.

“What fun I will have with my pretty red-haired doll,” Jane said. She was very happy with her find and her great adventure.

The End