September 15, 2011

SHORT LONG JOURNEY #30: Late 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.

It was finally dark when Tommy Hastings and Freddie Merrill slipped under the fence that tried to guard Glensheen Mansion from people like them.

It didn’t work because two fourteen-year-old boys shinnied under, sliding down the bank of Tischer Creek, which wound its way along the southern edge of the estate. They followed it, Freddie sliding into the water only once. He started to cuss but Tommy hissed him into silence. “Maybe they got German shepherds for attack dogs from the war!”

After that the only sound that came from Freddie was the occasional squish from his wet shoe and muttered curses.

By the time they reached a narrow road that ran into the estate as well as toward the lake, both boys were crouched low to the ground. They’d both stopped to stare at the side of the mansion across a lawn and into the brightly lit windows.

“They must have more money than th’ Army,” Tommy whisper.

“More’n the President,” Freddie added.

Tommy reached out and tugged Freddie after him, “Come on!” He led him up a slight rise and on to the road.

Freddie pulled back, whispering, “Someone will see us!”

“There’s no one to see us! There’s nobody in there and I don’t hear no dogs barking!” Tommy whispered. Freddie resisted another moment then followed Tommy uphill. A few feet away, Lake Superior lapped against the rounded stones of the beach. On the lake, far in the distance, lights floated magically in the darkness. From the north, a powerful light swept out over the water then lit the shoreline before spilling over the land, flooding everything like day.

Including the boys.

Freddie grabbed Tommy’s hand and dashed forward to the black outline of the boathouse. Two windows glowed with flickering yellow light. He whispered, “There’s people in there! We have to get away!”

“No! This is what we came here for!” said Tommy.

“For people to arrest us for trespassing?” Freddie said, resisting again.

“No! We came to ask people if they knew my mom and dad when they met here.”

“Why would they?”

“This is where the servants met…” Tommy began.

From the night, a voice said, “If you were looking for servants, boys, you came to the right place!”


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