|A History of the Burns Family|
|PART ONE: Guy's Path to the Dance|
PART ONE Overview
1 - Wildcat Brigade
2 - Battle of Wilderness
3 - Field Hospital
4 - Orphan School
5 - Ladies' Man
6 - Mary Dinger
7 -The Masons
8 - Mary Rebecca
9 - Guy the Wanderer
10 - Farmer Boy
11 - Center of the World
12 - Birthday
13 - Fish Story
14 - Miss Fenn
15 - To the Dance
Mary Rebecca Burns has scrubbed the porch, milked Babe, hung out the washing, gathered the ashes for making soap lye, beaten the rugs, separated the cream, and at the end of a clear autumn day, is peeling apples. She’s already put up the raspberry jam, and the sauerkraut, and the tomatoes, but applebutter and schnitz are favorites, because they remind her of Pennsylvania. She’s been at it since before dawn, but she’s not especially tired. Lorenzo always says she can work him under the table, even if she is only 5-foot-2.
Beside her, Eliza May perches on a stool by the old chipped washbasin, rinsing the apples. Out the kitchen window, Mary Rebecca surveys their ample backyard, where 8-year-old Guy, noontime chores long finished, is at work digging another hole for his fort out by the barn. He's got one post up -- a fallen branch from the maple out by the drive -- and he's trying to get its companion installed so he can hang a tattered blanket from the pair of them.
Shortly after Christmas of 1890, they had moved from Windham out to this farm, at a crossroads in Braceville Township called Center of the World.  Guy likes to say it got its name because you can start here and go anywhere in the world. The change has been a good one on the whole, although the children miss Cecil and Meggie. There are no neighbor children nearby.
The maples along the drive are shedding their leaves, buttoning up for winter. It will be lonely here then, especially with her parents gone, and Charley and Elmer still living back in Freedom. Lo is rarely home before dark, and it feels downright spooky sometimes, especially with the graveyard  in sight of the house. When she has to go to the barn to do the evening milking, she runs both ways. Lo says she's superstitious and should know better. But she can't help herself -- it's her brothers’ fault. They were terrible teases when she was a young girl, and delighted in scaring her at every opportunity. She'll light the lamps when darkness falls, and stoke the fire -- make the place warm and cozy for when Lo gets home. Just now he's somewhere beyond the flat expanse of the fields beyond the barn, working as a trackman for Mr. Baker and the Pittsburgh and Western Railroad.
But at least he's not lumbering anymore. She would miss him so when he was away in the north woods, and the homecomings were often difficult. When he returned from Wisconsin that first time, Guy was just three. As soon as Lo walked in with that heavy beard and picked up Eliza May, Guy ran and hid behind her skirts. He could not be convinced this was Father until the beard and moustache came off.
There's a yelp of frustration from the yard, as Guy tries to hang the blanket and the second post teeters. She watches him stand back and consider, then shoulder the shovel once more. And then before she can say no, Eliza May has scampered out the kitchen door for a closer look at the proceedings. Guy won't like it, Mary Rebecca thinks, but he's learning to be more tolerant of his little sister these days.
As she slices, Mary Rebecca allows herself to muse awhile. Another letter has come from sister-in-law Alice Mason this week. She and Scott have settled in Akron, where he works as a carpenter and they've done well enough to buy their own home on Bluff Street. Again she's written about the marvels of city life -- streetlights, electric streetcars, even telephones. Her latest news is circus performer Achille Philion, who is captivating the city with daring balancing acts performed in bright red tights and golden spangles. But that's not the real news. What's got Alice excited is the steam-powered horseless carriage Phillion has built. You can't go ten feet in this town, Alice boasts, without seeing signs of progress with a capital P!
Suddenly tired, Mary Rebecca rests herself on the stool, taking in the smoke-smudged walls, the churn that needs fixing, the stove that needs blacking again, the scarred wood planks under her feet. Maybe it’s time to talk to Lorenzo again about moving to Akron, where there are proper schools, and steady jobs to be had.
We’re lumbering for a lumberman
It’s on a cold and frosty morn
You may talk about your parties,
Now winter it is over;
 Center of the World, Ohio is located in a rural area of eastern Ohio in Braceville Township, Trumbull County where two main roads intersect. The Mahoning River, where Guy learned to fish, runs through the Township, as does the railroad line.
 There is only one cemetery in Braceville now, and it's a few miles from the intersection still known as Center of the World. The graveyard that scared Mary Rebecca likely no longer exists.