Claude and Gussie: Part 1



1978: One day, while in town at a large farmer’s market on the poorer side by the river, Claude Jefferson was picking up some prosciutto, grapes, gouda cheese, and red wine for a snack. He was wearing his yellow members-only jacket, an Italian shirt (handmade), a slim tie and Italian loafers.

While looking at the huge legs of prosciutto, which were not long in the making, having taken only two months to cure, he remembered he had put away $100 in the front pocket of his members-only jacket, which had been his favorite circa 1969.

He said aloud to himself, “Gee, this is my lucky day. I’ll just pay cash for all of this and save my credit card for gas and allergy medicine. Thank God for small miracles.” Then he picked out his prosciutto, the one with the rib bone that is cured so elegantly and lightly with sugar and maple. He wanted about 2 lbs of the thinly-sliced meat, so he walked up to the butcher, Pierre, and placed his order. He paid about $20 dollars for his prosciutto and checked to see if he had all of his other purchases. All totaled, he spent $69.23 on his meal.

As Claude was walking toward the exit, he spotted Gussie, who was stopping at the fruit stand for the children. She was picking out grapefruit and yellow-green apples. He thought to himself, “What a lovely girl. She must be here for a good reason. Maybe I should ask her if she needs a job cleaning out my basement. He approached her ever so cautiously and innocently asked, “Hey, Misses-Green-Tree, would you like $900?”

She was paying for her purchase of 6 grapefruits and 12 apples, totalling $19.18. She completed the purchase and turned around to look evenly at Claude. “Why yes. Certainly. Is it for cleaning purposes. I might ask?” she said, appearing mildly amused.

“Yes and no”, he said. “You are a mighty fine and healthy looking sort. Would you please meet me back at my car so I can tell you what I need and give you $120 dollars for your trouble?”

“Well I have to be home at 6:30 p.m. to start the evening meal. Those children must be mighty hungry by now,” she said.

“Well, it will only take about 9 or 10 minutes, and I can give you a ride home,” he suggested.

“Okay, fine,” she said. It was already 4:45 p.m., and she lived about an hour away by bus.

(to be continued)

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