November 15, 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 stared at Edwina as the heavily loaded logging truck kept rumbling along. Finally he said, “How do I unsay everything I said?”

Ed barked a laugh then said, “You ever get an answer kid, let the world know and they’ll elect you king.”

“I don’t wanna be a king,” he said without thinking.

Freddie Merrill leaned into him hard and fast, smooshing him against the door. He said, “Don’t worry about that. Anyone who knows you’d be dizzy to vote for you!”

Tommy shoved him back. Without touching Ed, the boys went back and forth until she finally shouted, “Stop it, recruits!”

The boys stopped, settled and pretty soon started to doze again. Ed said, “You boys gonna sleep or talk to me?”

Tommy looked across Freddie and said, “I’m trying to stay awake, but I’m tired after all that food at your brother’s church.”

She grunted then said, “Can’t say as I blame you. Thinkin’ about stopping and taking a nap myself. In fact,” the truck slowed again, this time she edged over to the side.

Tommy said, “No! Wait! I’ll stay awake! I don’t want you to be late delivering your logs!”

“Won’t be, sonny. My time’s pretty much my own as long as I get the logs to Port Arthur before the logs rot on the truck.”

“Really? My dad would whoop me till I screamed if I were late getting home or getting from the store or getting’ to school.”

Ed nodded, “That’s a good way to raise a boy.” Tommy snorted. “What’s wrong with it?”

“My dad and mom didn’t raise me much. Mostly just let me run around. Unless they got mad at me, then Dad’d whoop me.”

Ed made a face as the truck slowed to a halt and she set the parking brake. “Listen, if you want to stay awake, you can. I’m gonna catch some zees [1852] so I can be more fun after we get to Port Arthur.”

“I thought we were going to Grand Marais first?” Tommy began. Freddie snorted just then and tilted sideways, his head falling on Tommy’s shoulder. An instant later, Ed crossed her arms, leaned forward and was asleep with her face cradled on them, snoring loudly.

Tommy blinked, looked at the sleeping bodies then looked out the window. It was just after noon. How long would he have to wait until they both woke up? He watched two cars pass as well as four empty logging trucks. One truck passed them going north. His eyes had started to droop when a second truck, a smaller one, rolled by, slowing. Filled with men standing, they turned to look back at them. Tommy stopped breathing and fell to the floor.

It was the socialists from the mansion.

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