Chapters 38-39 Summary
Miss Love has all kinds of marketing ideas for the store, and Grandpa is excited. They make banners saying that there is a surprise coming on the train and organize a parade and bands. The whole town turns out when Grandpa’s new Pierce car is delivered. Will is supposed to drive it at the head of the parade, but he is nervous, not knowing if he can do it. His father, Hoyt, and Loomis help him get it started. He drives it to the store where there are free gifts for everyone. The Cadillac and Pierce are parked outside the store so people can sit in them and desire to buy their own car.
Will asks Hosie Roach about Lightfoot and then gets in a fight with him. For a punishment, the two boys are sent to chop wood for old Mr. Whisnant. Will plays one of his practical jokes of chopping the wood too long for the stove.
Love stays busy canning, cooking, sewing new curtains, and making hats for Mary Willis and Loma. Grandpa and Love decide they need to learn how to drive; they ask Will to give them lessons. When the engine dies on a back road, Will shows them how to set the controls for cranking the engine. When Grandpa tries to turn the crank, Love plays a joke and turns off the ignition. Grandpa then drives the car into a ditch and decides to give up on driving. Love learns to drive but gets a bee in her dust veil and bumps into a tree. She also gives up driving. She prefers her horse. They decide Will has to be their driver. This suits him fine.
Chapters 38-39 Commentary
Grandma Blakeslee never got much materially from Grandpa, but Love is getting him to spend money and modernize. She hints about getting a bathroom, and Will bets Grandpa will give in.
Love seems to be making her place in the town and getting everyone excited. She has many talents, and Grandpa is proud of her. Both of them try to become modern, but they learn that they hate driving and distrust machinery. Nevertheless, the car brings them together and provides a larger perspective because they can make trips away from Cold Sassy.
Will still does not understand the Mill Town people and continues to fight with Hosie. He is concerned for Lightfoot though he is embarrassed asking about her. The practical joke on the old man by cutting his wood the wrong length sounds slightly cruel, like the many other practical jokes played by Will and Grandpa Blakeslee and the other town people. Such jokes, like blowing up a chicken with a bicycle pump, are understandable among adolescents like Will and his buddies, but are also a normal activity among adults in Cold Sassy to get petty revenge, or to display their wit to each other. This is part of the rural culture of Cold Sassy.