August 18, 2011

SHORT LONG JOURNEY #29: July 14, 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 speculation about things I've always wondered about 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.

Neither Tommy Hastings or Freddie Merrill had a peep to say when they were standing across the street from Glensheen Mansion.

They didn’t recognize it. The first person who passed them on the sidewalk laughed at them and said, “The Glensheen Mansion makes everybody feel like it’s the Great Depression and you don’t got a job; that is to say poorer than a churchmouse and twice as scruffy!”

They’d both nodded slowly and Freddie even had to wipe the drool from his chin after the first ten minutes. When he’d done that he said, “They don’t even have mansions this big up on Mount Curve Avenue!”

A woman passing them laughed as well and said, “Boys, there isn’t another mansion like this between the Rockies and the Appalachians! The Congdon’s are practically the richest people in Minnesota – why they’re practically royalty from what I hear!”

The boys continued to stare at the immense house surrounded by trees and a wrought iron fence. A drive entered the fence at one side of the estate, wandered through the woods and eventually stopped in front of the mansion itself.

“How we supposed to get in there?” Freddie asked.

“What makes you think I wanna get in there?”

“Ain’t that what we come here for, to get in and see your uncle?”

“My uncle’s name ain’t Congdon,” Tommy said. “Mom’s maiden name was Ruth Ellen Heinke. She was a domestic.”

“A what?”

“Like a servant.”

“Your mom was a servant?”

Tommy shrugged. “That’s what she said. She was only twenty-one when my dad married her.”

“Your dad was like what?”

Tommy shrugged. “Dunno. A lot older,” he replied staring at the mansion. Then he said, “We have to wait until it gets dark. I saw a crick back a bit. We wait ‘til night, then slide under the fence. I remember Ma saying they had horses and gardens and stuff, so there should be a barn and a gardener’s cottage or something. We can talk to someone there and nobody’ll guess we’re nothing.”

“We’re not nothing!” Freddie exclaimed.

Tommy looked at him and lifted an eyebrow. “Big words from somebody who was afraid of his shadow not a few miles ago.”

Freddie shrugged as well. “I ain’t the same kid I was in Loring Park. Stuff has happened.”

Tommy nodded slowly and said, “I think more stuff is about to happen.”


No comments: