September 20, 2012


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.

Tommy Hastings and Freddie Merrill’s eyes grew so large as they stared at the face of Edwina Olds, Lieutenant, WACS (ret.) so intently. Their eyes started to dry out before they blinked suddenly in unison.

Ed burst out laughing, revved the engine up again, startling the moose and the bear. The black cub spun and scurried back into the woods. The moose gave her and the boys and the truck a disdainful look, snorted and turned back, lumbering into the pine stand. Then she said, “Well then, boys, I guess we’ll keep going.”

“What?” they exclaimed in unison, again.

Ed smiled, jammed the transmission into first and sent them crawling forward and slowly picking up speed. Without turning, she said, “Do you two practice stuff like that?”

“What?” asked Tommy.

“Speaking together. Do you practice doing that?”

Freddie leaned against the door, then turned to face the road again and said, “Nah. We just been friends for so long, we do stuff like that all the time.”

“Like finishing whatever the other one was going to say.”

The truck gathered speed. Ed shook her head slowly, geared higher and said, “Well, we’ll see what we see when we get to Grand Marais.”

“Where’s that?”

“‘bout...” she paused for some time and Tommy opened his mouth to ask her what she was going to say. Freddie elbowed him and they settled and sat in silence as the truck rumbled up to cruising speed. Rare cars passed them going south, but no one passed them again from the Two Harbors direction. They passed a large green sign with the words Split Rock Lighthouse on it and she said, “Hundred miles at sixty most of the way take me bit less than two hours. No problem.”

“What do we do until then?” Freddie asked.

“Sleep, sonny. Sleep. If the mobsters are really after you, then your only hope is to run into the woods and hope they don’t come after you.”

“What?” both boys exclaimed again.

Ed laughed. “Thing is, I don’t think they’re mobsters.”

“But they had violin cases in the back of their car.”

“How do you know that?”

“We...” Freddie shut his mouth with a snap even Tommy heard.

Ed shot them a dark look and said, “If I’m gonna stand up for you boys, then I need to know what I’m gettin’ into.”

“Stand up for us?” Freddie said.

Tommy blurted, “We got a ride from the mobsters.”

Ed nodded and the truck began to slow down as she downshifted. Freddie said, “Are we in Grand Marais yet?”


“Why are we stopping?” Tommy asked, his voice small.

Ed turned to look at them and said, “You rode in cars with mobsters, you were consorting with socialists and you seem to be on the run from something in Minneapolis. What exactly do I want a couple of trouble makers like you riding with me for?” The truck ground to a halt, but she left it running. “It’d be best for me if I left you right here.” The truck was walled by pine on the western side and Lake Superior on the east. They were alone on the road, but socialists lay behind them and mobsters ahead. “What would you do if you was in my boots?”

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