Study Guide

A Year Down Yonder Chapter 3

By Richard Peck

Chapter 3

A Minute in the Morning

  • Mary Alice can't get comfortable in her room at Grandma's house, which is super dark, has an uncomfortable mattress, and is so very quiet compared to the city. Plus, her brother Joey is no longer next door to keep her company like when they were kids.
  • But she does have her radio, and she listens to it before falling asleep every night. She likes keeping her eyes closed as she listens to the music.
  • It's also hard to sleep sometimes because it's gotten so cold here, but Grandma Dowdel doesn't seem to think it's all that bad.
  • One morning, Grandma Dowdel wakes Mary Alice up super early even though it's not a school day. She tells Mary Alice that they have plans for Armistice Day.
  • Grandma says they're going to the turkey shoot-out, which is a tradition in town where the men and boys use air rifles to shoot at paper turkeys to see who is the best shot.
  • In the yard there's a big pot of "burgoo," which is a stew made from whatever is around. There's all sorts of meat and vegetables inside, based on what people have brought to add to it.
  • Augie—the boy that Grandma poured glue on over Halloween—gets ready to shoot but is distracted by a rabbit running across the field. He tries to shoot at it instead…and ends up hitting a big black Buick parked nearby and flattening its tire. Uh-oh, he's in trouble now!
  • At eleven o'clock, they all observe a moment of silence for the moment when the armistice of World War I was signed. Grandma Dowdel takes it really seriously.
  • Then it's lunchtime and Grandma Dowdel takes over collecting the money for the burgoo. It's supposed to be a dime for each mug, but she doesn't observe this pricing. Instead, she collects way more money from the rich—like Mr. Weidenbach, the banker—and doesn't take anything from the poor and hungry.
  • The money raised is to help Mrs. Abernathy, who is dumbstruck when she sees just how much Grandma Dowdel has managed to collect.
  • Then Grandma Dowdel asks how Mrs. Abernathy's son is, and they go upstairs to see him. He's disabled and blind from having served in the war and being gassed up in the trenches. Mary Alice realizes that this is why they hold the turkey shoot-out on Armistice Day—to raise money for an actual war veteran.
  • On their way home, they pass by an advertisement for soap that shows Kate Smith—a popular singer. Grandma Dowdel is pleased to see that Kate is a big, full-figured woman…just like her.

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