"The Blessing House"
Previous Chapters... Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter FourChapter Five
More than anyone else, Lewis Rogers understood the value of the Blessing House, but it was more than that...he seemed to empathize with its charismatic aura. Lewis was the unofficial photographer for the Musgrove Gazette, and his camera was to him like the pen is to a writer...his photographs were so vivid, they seem to tell an entire story in simple black and white images. Lewis, now in his late seventies, knew mostly everything about the town of Musgrove, and remembered clearly that fateful day that hurled the Winnebeck sisters into spinsterhood, never forgot Hannah sprinting past his office as if someone or something was pushing her on.
He also never forgot the story his father, Charles told him about Mistler, the Baker. The Mistlers lived directly across from the Winnebecks and next to the Blessing House. Walter Mistler was a baker, with a wife and four children. To Walter Mistler, bread was life. His wife, Johanna used to tell her friends at the Sewing Circle that Walter wept with joy every time a new loaf came out of the oven. Evenings at the Mistler house were spent reading the Classics, and all four little girls sat on the floor enraptured by the works of Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson and the like. Walter had what his wife called a half-hobby. He collected clocks. "He's entitled," his wife would relate to her lady friends, but would add, "I just wish he's get them to work." The entire Mistler house, and even the bake shop which occupied the front two rooms of the old Victorian, were filled with clocks...on tables, mantles, and all the walls were busy with clocks. Johanna had to buy a curio cabinet just to display her family photographs, and kept the key hidden. None of the clocks worked. They were all exquisite, and admired by everyone, but each one was like a sleeping beauty, and the townspeople agreed with Mrs. Mistler that since the clocks were so finely crafted, they deserved a chance to show off their talents a little. But, Mistler was content with his bread and strudels , and pleased to collect his silent lovelies.
Late one night, a collective combustion of chimes, whistles, cuckoos, and bells clamored all at once, propelling everyone from a sound sleep. Mistler, dumbstruck at first, charged his family to wait upstairs while he investigated. He went down the stairs, each step bringing the crashing blare closer. He walked cautiously toward the bake shop, and from the door, he could see all the clocks, each alive with its own music. Then, suddenly, he smelled it...fire! He raced swiftly into the shop. A fire had started in the oven, but he was able to put it out straightaway. The clocks stopped sounding, but Mistler hadn't noticed until the fire was out and all was safe. Collecting himself, he looked around at the clocks, now, as silent as before, and took one of them off the wall and examined it. For a few moments he tried to get it to chime, but the clock did not work. When Mistler returned upstairs, Johanna, clutching her nightgown, and trying to keep calm for the sake of her four shaking daughters, asked with eyes bugged out, "What was that?" Mistler shrugged, "I don’t know, but it’s all right now...go back to bed." The next day, Mistler baked a spectacular braided Chalah bread and placed it in the front window as a thankful offering to something even he wasn't sure of .
Charles Rogers was a youngster at the time, and when he learned about the mystery of the clocks, he was intrigued and was compelled to photograph the baked offering in Mistler's window. The shadow that appeared in the photo next to the bread was shrugged off as poor lighting. Over the years, Charles related the Mistler clock wonder to his young son many times as a bedtime story, while Lewis clung to the snapshot, captivated, but most of all it was the shadow in the picture that inspired him to take photographs that told magical tales.
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