At ten, Natalia was swiftly outgrowing her shyness toward boys. She had a steady stream of boys she was sweet on, but not for long. Friends became crushes, then went back to being friends. By the time August of 1951 rolled around, she had become quite an item.
Though never very serious, her crushes were always crushed when she drifted away to a new one. But never for very long. There were other girls, other loves. Not that puppy love was ever that serious.
She still didn’t understand the importance of the events taking place in the real world. She still believed that the world was like it was portrayed on TV. Kukla, Fran and Ollie, The Goldbergs, The Burns and Allen Show, and I Love Lucy made life look so peaceful. They portrayed the family as innocent and happy and the world as at peace and the country as being tolerant and kind.
She still had no idea that there was bigotry and injustice in the world. TV didn’t show it. It didn’t exist. Sure, there were things being done and people being rounded up but that still seemed a whole world away. All she knew was that she was safe.
She had all but forgotten the family meeting and Papa and Mama Venechek leaving to live in Dallas with Uncle Chuck. Life had moved on and she had grown a little. She still loved their stories, but now she had them to read as often as she liked. Shasta had made them all into skits, much like what she saw on The Texaco Theater or on The Philco Television Playhouse and Natalia often acted them out for her parents. But it did little to make Daddy happy.
Sure, he encouraged her. He even laughed at her antics. But the truth was that Daddy had been distant since That day last summer when the family held their meeting. He was not the same cheerful, happy-go-lucky man he’d been.
French Industries had a little to do with that as well. Mr. French seemed hellbent on destroying Daddy. It was so unfair. Didn’t Mr. French have enough?
French Industries owned half the city. At least that was how it seemed. He owned the biggest buildings downtown. He had the fanciest cars.
Everyone said, though, that he did dirty business. Whatever that meant. All she really knew was that things had not been going well for Daddy. Business had been slacking and there was less to go around.
Still, the family seemed to hold together. Infusions of funds came in from the Venechek family members as well as Daddy’s own family. Everyone was pulling together.
Unlike Nattie, Shasta knew what was going on. French Industries had declared war on Morrow Millworks. Morrow Millworks had been in business for nearly two hundred years. Almost as long as the great country it called home.
Of course, the London office was older still, dating back to before colonial times. Once owned by another, more distant part of the family, it was acquired By Grandpa Morrow only fifty years ago. From there, the Millworks expanded into other parts of the free world.
French Industries, however, was relatively new. It had been started by Silas French, Toby’s grandfather. Once a partner in the millworks, Silas split away when opportunity knocked and took a handfull of Grandpa’s newer clients. Many returned when Silas’ goods turned out to be inferior in quality.
From that point on, Silas and his family became rivals. They struggled to build an empire like that the Morrow family had taken centuries to build. But they failed to understand that reputation is built on quality, not quantity.
The Morrows had built their reputation on honesty, integrity, and quality. Money had never been foremost. Sure it was the bottom line, but not so important that it ruled how things got done. If it was not quality, whether resource or finished product, It ws never used or sold. It had to be as close to perfect as a man could make it.
Shasta was proud of the family’s legacy. It was their history, her history. It was how she was able to enjoy the finer things in life. It kept her fed and clothed.
Now, all that was being threatened by a man whose greed was greater than his business sense. And he was willing to use any means necessary to destro anyone in his path. Daddy most of all. Even though he had less than Daddy, Mr. French still thought he could outlast him. But the Frenches didn’t have as big a family as the Morrows. At least not family that would back them.
This was where French Industries was miscalculating things. Even the British Morrows were lining up to back the American branch of the family. And they didn’t really know much about Daddy or the others. It was amazing.
She was disappointed in her sister, seeing her ignore the realities of the newly emerging world. She knew that Nattie couldn’t fathom the political battles going on, nor the financial wars. Both were tied to the other inexplicably. HIstory continued to repeat itself in various ways, no matter how learned man thought he was.
But she was determined, despite whether her sister understood or grew aware, not to repeat any past mistakes. She continued to pour over her history books to find answers. She looked in every book she could for answers. But she could find no answers.
Natalia remianed blissfully ignorant of the truth. Her world revolved around her crushes. Her thoughts were all about the cutest boy in the neighborhood, what dress she would wear to impress him, and buying lipstick and jewelry. she wasn’t concerned with where the money came from or who was making things hard for the family.
Of course, she really didn’t care about history or learning much unless she was in school. Then, it was only so she could pass.She really didn’t think much of school. Not at the moment. Nor did she care about the fate of the family. She had no clue what was lying just around the bend.