Extracts from The Diaries of 'Professor' Cornelius Crane

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December 24th, 1968

Hannah was round at our house today with a box of mixed cookies and a card that her mother had sent over to wish us all well for Christmas.

My mother had invited her in to have some cocoa with the cookies.

“Great! Thanks, Mrs. Crane, but I can’t stay too long or Poppa’s gonna be worried.” Hannah and I sat down next to each other on the sofa while waiting for my mother to prepare the hot drinks.

“Is it that cold outside?” I asked indicating at her wooly tuque.

“Do you like it? Momma helped me to knit it.”

“You knitted it?”

“Uh-huh,” she said nodding violently and proudly.

“That’s great! You should try making more and selling them. You can make some more extra money that way. Then you’ll be able to buy that music box in no time at all” I suddenly recalled. “I must still ask my ma about wool for that scarf you promised to knit me, as well.”

She looked nervously towards the kitchen before reaching into her pocket and handing me a small gift-wrapped present in the shape of a worm. “Hurry, open it quickly before your mother gets here.”

“Yeah?” I said taking it and starting to carefully remove the wrapping. “This is way too small to be a scarf?”

“Quickly!” She sounded desperate so I tore it open. It was a lock of hair held together at one end with a rubber band. “It’s mine,” she confessed smiling. “I managed to grab that piece when the man wasn’t looking; he didn’t even notice.” She looked lovingly into my eyes. “I once saw this movie where this girl gave a lock of her hair to this guy with whom she was madly in love.”

I looked at her covered head and demanded, “Show me?”

“Remember what I told you, ‘It’ll grow back soon enough.”

“Show me?” I repeated sternly.

Mother came into the living room carrying two mugs. “Show you what?”

“Her hair,” I said pointing at the tuque whilst slipping the piece in my hand into my pocket.

“Why? What about her hair?” Hannah removed the head covering and my mother almost spilled the drinks. “Oh, Hannah, your beautiful hair? What happened?”

“I sold it to a man from Baltimore who makes wigs. It’ll grow back!”

“Did he have to take off so much? Surely he could have…”

“Poppa said he could. He even paid a bit extra.”

“Oh, my, I hope you got good money for it?”

“Poppa did the whole deal. He gave me ten dollars after.”

My mother narrowed her eyes. “I see.”

Hannah laughed, “Then I had to give it back when I burned the cookies!” She looked at me and nodded. “Yeah, again! But this time they were so bad I couldn’t eat them. Gee-whiz, I’m such a punk!”

I pulled my mouth skew and asked, “I guess you’ll be wearing that wooly hat of yours for a long time now?”

She smiled sheepishly and blushed. “I guess so too.”

“You could always shave off the lot and start a new fashion.”

“Don’t be silly.”

“Okay, just the sides then. You can grow a mowhawk down the centre, die it bright pink and call it Punk Style.”
“Connie!” chided my mother loudly.

My Venus was gone! The cold, uncaring clippers of a wigmaker from Baltimore had replaced her with a scruffy-looking, wild-eyed urchin.

I really wished I could have done something to prevent her losing those magnificent, sweeping, blonde tresses.

But right now I really wish that I had had something to give her in return for her truly wonderful gift.

One day when I have the means to repay her, I’ll be sure to return the favor - in spades!!!

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