Rose of the valley

She worked in a truck stop near Norco. The truckers would come in and tell her jokes and she’d pass them on with a hearty laugh and a huge smile. They ordered lunch or dinner or coffee and pie. Thirty-five cents for coffee and pie. A good tip was ten or fifteen cents then.

One of the truckers took a liking to her. He was forever asking the cook all about her, especially the perfume that she wore. Turns out it was Arpége, and he eventually showed up with a small bottle. They started dating after that.

She had a daughter — two or three years old then — but he took the two of them in, no questions asked, and for 23 years they were together.

They both loved to dance. One night, after a turn around the dance floor and while walking back to their table, he went down and never got up.

She tells the story to this day. How he first noticed her. How they met. How he took the two of them in.

She wore a red rose pinned to her white blouse. It matched the color of her apron. Throughout the region she was known as the rose of the valley.

Alice is 82 now, but she talks of it as though it were only yesterday.

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