Daisy could care less about the Whiskeydaddle Festival, although the rest of
her family was certainly interested. While they watched the Whiskeydaddle
events unfold that 4th of July afternoon, she spent her time at the steamboat
landing watching all the beautiful boats pass by.
She was a bit disappointed though. There was supposed to be a big regatta
and boat races throughout the afternoon, but it was all a jumbled mess. The
river was packed with boats from shore to shore and you couldn’t tell who
was racing and who was just watching. And sometimes the spectators’
boats were faster than the actual boats in the race.
After watching this aquatic debacle for a while, she decided to go back
and find her family and see the end of the Whiskeydaddle Festival. At least
there would be some real competition going on there. Those
whiskeydaddlers might look dumber than the barrels they daddle, but they
really work hard, plus it was fun watching them batter each other during the
She recalled one of the times she stayed overnight with her aunt and uncle
in the city because of bad weather. They owned a general store downtown
and lived up on the West Bluff in a big beautiful home by themselves. They
had three daughters older than Daisy who were married and living with their
husband’s families out of town, which meant her aunt and uncle had a lot of
space to themselves and a handful of servants – along with a surprising
number of cats who took up residence there as well.
Whenever Daisy stayed at their home she had a big room to herself
including a private bathroom. Her family hadn’t always had indoor
plumbing; Daisy had fuzzy memories of being very young and dashing out to
the outhouse on bitter winter mornings. Here she had her own bathroom with
a beautiful white cast iron bathtub fitted with what looked like four bronze
claws at the base.
Both the bedroom and bathroom had large windows that almost touched
the ceiling and were twice as tall as Daisy. She could barely turn the heavy
metal handles to open and shut the massive windows, which offered an
expansive view of the large backyard with its perfectly cut grass and large
stone fountain, surrounded by flower beds. In the spring the air was heavily
cut by the scent of lilacs which lined the outer edges of the estate. She
recalled that her aunt, whenever attending a funeral, would always break a
sprig of lilac and take it with her to place on the coffin.
Just beyond the backyard, the vast city of Peoria – including the river and
the bluff on the other side – was laid out before Daisy’s eyes. She could pick
out where the post office was, and see all the distilleries along the
But for all the comforts her aunt and uncle’s home offered her, she herself
could never really feel comfortable there. Everything was expensive and
beautiful, even the most basic things like the crystal door knobs that looked
like exploding stars, and the monogrammed plates that they used for their
meals – different types of plates for different types of meals, mind you. This
was all strange to her. Wasteful and pointless even. But she loved them and
they were kind and generous to her.
The last time she stayed over, they were preparing for a big party. Her aunt
was playing the piano, getting warmed up as it were. Her aunt and uncle
were both talented singers and music always played a big part of every
gathering at their house – as did whiskey. Her uncle ordered two barrels from
the Great Western and she was there, sitting on the front staircase reading a
book, when the whiskeydaddlers arrived – right on time, as her uncle noted,
despite the bad weather.
Being repulsed by whiskeydaddlers – and whiskey – in general, she started to
skip upstairs but she was stopped by the sound of a deep, sonorous voice.
“Excuse me, ma’am. I think you forgot this.”
She was on the third step when she spun around and was suddenly eye to eye
with one of the biggest whiskeydaddlers she’d ever seen in her life. He
was standing at the base of the staircase, holding her book in his massive,
“No, I’m done reading,”
she said curtly, glaring at him for a second before
turning and bouncing lightly back up the stairs.
“He has green eyes,”
she thought as a smile spread across her face.