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By Stephen Baron
Estelle Jones was an original. Barely more than 5í tall, she was thin as a rail, wore her black hair in a tight bun, and smoked like a chimney. She always had a cigarette holder, rather like Franklin D. Roosevelt, even when she didnít have a cigarette in it. Fetish? Nervous habit? Who knows, it was Estelle. Going into her office, which was beside mine, one had to be prepared for billows of smoke and smelling like a dirty ashtray when leaving. But it was worth it. Estelle was very bright, and ready for a good conversation.
Allergic to nylon, she was bare legged regardless of the temperature outside. Unable to have children, she put her energy into teaching and publishing. In this she was wildly successful. She had a national reputation as an anthropologist.
Two incidents with Estelle stick out in my mind. One day she was looking especially nice.
"Youíre looking rather natty today," I offered.
"Thatí because it came from the Sally Ann Boutique," she responded.
"The Sally Ann Boutique? Thatís a new one on me," I answered in bewilderment.
"The Salvation Army," she pointed out.
Ever since then, I have called it the Sally Ann Boutique.
Second was the day I met Estelle in the elevator.
"You know, your welcome around here is worn out," she said to me.
Immediately, my sides began to run with cold sweat. What could I have done? I wondered. Then Estelle continued,
"No one says 'Youíre welcome,' any more."
Youíd have thought the jury just came in and declared me innocent.
"Youíre looking rather relieved," she said.
"Oh, it was nothing," I answered.
Iíll always have a special place in my heart for Estelle, even though I donít smoke.
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