Forty five years ago, I received a telephone call from Anna Maxim, saying that a drunk man had crashed his car through her stone wall and was I willing to come and put the wall back together. Anna also told me that her insurance company would pay for the repair and if I were to take the job, she would ask that I hand in a large bill.

Anna owned what is now Brookside Farm and for a number of years, I would help her from time to time with various odd jobs, such as yard work or simply moving something heavy for her. I loved Anna, she was the sweetest lady and I loved sitting in her living room and listening to her tell stories of the past when the roads were made of dirt and how far she would walk to and from school. Or the time an airplane crashed in her back pasture and the pilot walked away unscathed.

I never charged her for the small odd jobs that I did. I like to think she called me because she was lonely and liked my company; I certainly enjoyed hers. We used to talk about food a lot and we learned about what we each liked to eat. It wasn’t long into our friendship that Anna started bartering with me when ever I came to help her. I would do a job, and when I finished, she and I would have a nice chat in her living room. After awhile I would get up to leave and Anna would purse her lips and tell me there was a little something for me in her back refrigerator. A whole chocolate cake! On another occasion, Anna learned that I liked lamb chops. Again, when Anna got serious, she had a cute way of pursing her lips and would tell me there was a little something for me in the back refrigerator . . . lamb chops, two ribs thick, specially delivered that day by Joe Ferreira from the Up-Island Market. I also learned what Anna liked to eat and would often bring her fresh fish and shellfish.

The day came for me to repair Anna’s wall, and she told me not to bring a lunch because she was going to make it for me. “When I bang on my window, you come in and I’ll have a big lunch ready for you, I know how you hard working farm boys like to eat,” she said.

I was a couple of hours into fixing the wall when I heard Anna rapping her knuckles on her window. I went into the house and sat at her small kitchen table. The kitchen smelled of heavenly cooked food. Anna set a large plate in front of me that had a huge mound of mashed potatoes with a quarter stick of butter melting in it, two lamb chops that were two ribs thick, a pile of peas and a very large glass of cold milk sitting by the plate. I cleaned the plate and Anna insisted that I eat more, “ No, I can’t possibly, I’m stuffed.” Anna scoffed. ”Don’t be silly, I know how you young, hard working men eat.”

After a second plate of way too much food, I headed back outside to finish rebuilding the wall. My belly was so full that it hurt, so I lay down behind the wall and rested for about half an hour. Forty five years ago you would be lucky to see a car pass by — perhaps every 15 minutes — so when I heard a car coming I would get up and work on the wall. I had the wall finished a couple of hours after the mammoth lunch.

The next day I handed Anna my bill; she said I wasn’t charging enough but I convinced her that I thought it was a fair price. When I went to say goodbye she was upset because she didn’t know I was stopping by and she hadn’t made anything for me to take home. “I know,” she said. “In my back refrigerator is a pound of butter, please take it home with you.” And so I did.

The photograph with the gate is the section of wall that I once repaired, and whenever I drive by today and see it, I think of Anna with her sweet, pursed lips, telling me there is a little something for me in her back fridge.

Albert O. Fischer lives in West Tisbury.