December 16, 2010

A SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH 20: July 10, 1946-July 11, 1946

This series is a little bit biographical and a little bit imaginary about my dad and a road trip he took in the summer of 1946, when he turned fifteen. He and a friend hitchhiked from Loring Park to Duluth, into Canada and back again. He was gone from home for a month. I was astonished and fascinated by the tale. So I added some imaginary elements and this series is the result. To read earlier SHORT LONG JOURNEY NORTH, click on the label to the right. The FIRST entry is on the bottom.

That night, Charlie introduced Tommy Hastings and Freddie Merrill to his dad – Charlie’s mom had died two years earlier from pneumonia, it was just the two of them ran the former dairy farm. Fairlaine’s Creamery, aka, Charlie and his dad, thought that having two extra sets of hands around the place would be the best thing since sliced bread.

Tommy hastily added, “We gotta head up to Duluth though. My aunt and uncle are expecting us.”

Mr. Fairlaine nodded slowly, eyeing the boys. He said, “You boys ain’t in any trouble, are you? Anything I should worry about? Tangled up with mobsters or witches or socialists or anything like that?”

Eyes wide, both boys shook their head, Freddie with both hands behind his back and Tommy with one hand back and one hand in a sling.

Mr. Fairlaine grunted then lifted his chin to Charlie, “Keep ‘em busy, but don’t let Tommy hurt his hand any more. My brother’ll kill me if I let his little project get hurt.” Then he’d gone into the main house, leaving the three boys in the barn with a small herd of cows and the huge milk tanks where the raw milk was stored.

Freddie blurted, “What project is your dad talking about?”

Charlie rolled his eyes and started across the barn, picking up a hose and turning on the water. It trickled out of the mouth. He said, “Uncle Chris is always patching up the poor and the lost and sending ‘em to us to take care of.”

Tommy exclaimed, “We ain’t lost! We’re on our way to Duluth!”

“Where in Duluth? Dad and I drive there every other day with the milk truck. We deliver mostly to the creamery there, but we sell to smaller places, too. I know Duluth like I know the back of my hand.” He turned and started spraying down one of the tanks.

Tommy looked at Freddie who looked at Charlie. Finally Tommy said, “I’m gonna find my mom and dad’s families.”

Charlie didn’t look at them, but said loudly, “Do your mom and dad’s family’s have last names?”

Freddie shook his head when Tommy looked at him. Charlie turned around, taking his finger off the end of the hose so the water just dribbled from the hose again rather than spurting all over the boys. Tommy pursed his lips then said, “My dad’s family are named Hastings; Mom’s uncle was Herbert Towne.”

Charlie’s eyes grew wide, then he covered the end of the hose again, turning just before he sprayed the boy’s feet and said, “Don’t let Dad hear you say that name on this farm – or you might end up with a shotgun barrel up your ass.”


No comments: