Study Guide

Dandelion Wine Chapter 28

By Ray Bradbury

Chapter 28

  • And now, time for another sad romantic death story—grab those tissues, Shmoopers.
  • Bill Forrester (remember him? The one who bought the slacker grass he wouldn't have to mow?) takes Doug out for ice cream one day. They ask what the "most unusual ices" are, and when the fountain man says, "Old-fashioned lime vanilla," they order that one. 
  • Elderly neighbor Helen Loomis is there, and she comments on their taste and imagination, then invites them to sit with her. 
  • They do, and Bill Forrester, who is half her age, tells her he knows who she is; he says he was in love with her once. 
  • Helen knows who Bill is, too. He's a reporter for the Chronicle, the town newspaper. She wants to hear the story of how he happened to be in love with her, but tells him to hold off until the next day. 
  • She invites him to her house for tea, and says that since he's a reporter, he'll no doubt be interested in hearing all her stories about the history of Green Town. 
  • This leads to several weeks of them meeting on the regular for tea and conversation. 
  • The love story goes like this: When he was a young man, he saw an ad in the paper for the Town Ball. It said Mrs. Helen Loomis would be the marshal of the ball, and featured an old picture of her, when she was just twenty-one. He went to the ball trying to meet her, but of course that young woman wasn't there. 
  • Mrs. Loomis laughs: She always uses that old picture, as a joke. 
  • As the two of them continue meeting and having iced tea and heartfelt conversation, the town starts to gossip about them. They decide the town can, to put it nicely, take a hike 
  • But here's the tragic part: Bill reminds her of someone she loved seventy years ago. Which leads her to say, late one August evening, "Time is so strange and life is twice as strange. The cogs miss, the wheels turn, and lives interlace too early or too late." 
  • She tells him that someday, in another time, a young man and young woman will meet in an ice cream parlor, just like they did, and one of them will order something unusual and the other will recognize it and comment. Which is to say, they'll meet again someday. 
  • Then she lays it on him that she's writing him a letter, and when he gets it, she'll be dead. She suggests he go find a nice girl and promise not to live to be too old. 
  • Way to dampen the mood, Helen. 
  • Two days later, Bill is writing at his desk, and Doug comes walking in with the letter. We're not sure how Doug got it, but that's okay, this is Bradbury—strange and improbable things happen, and you just have to go with it. 
  • Bill takes Doug to the ice cream parlor without opening the letter. 
  • What do they order? 
  • You guessed it: lime vanilla ice.

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