March 14, 2013


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.

Two hours later and the sun was sitting on Lake Superior and Edwina Olds, Lieutenant, WACS (ret.), Tommy Hastings and Freddie Merrill were sitting at the edge of the St. John’s Catholic Cemetery.

“I ain’t Catholic,” Tommy said. “I’m Lutheran.”

Edwina puffed. “You and me both, son and thank God for that.”

Freddie scowled and said, “Aren’t the Finns Lutheran? I think there’s a Finn Lutheran Church somewhere over south.”

Both Edwina and Tommy looked at him as he bit into a peanut butter sandwich. Tommy shook his head and said, “Swedish.”

“Isn’t that the same thing?”

Edwina shrugged and added, “I don’t think the Swedes are Socialists. Least not here in the good ol’ US of A. Just them dang Finns, French, Italians, Poles, Turks and Russians. Oh, the Russians are Communists.”

No one spoke for a while, then Freddie said, “You know a lot about the world, don’t you, Mrs. Olds.”

“It’s Miss, and yeah, I do.” They ate for a while longer then she said, “I’m gonna say this with the kindest of intentions.” She paused. “You boys need to go home.”

Freddie nodded.

Tommy frowned then said, “I still don’t know why Mom and Dad got married. They both worked at the mansion and people said they knew them, but why’d they get married?”

“Did you ask?”

“Are you crazy? They want to kill us and the witch wants to curse us.”

Ed laughed, finished her sandwich and stood up. “Bring the bread and peanut butter. We’ll have a snack later. We have to get moving. It’s going to be dark by the time we make it to…” From down the highway came the rumble of a back-firing truck. “If I’m not mistaken, that’s them.” She glanced around – there’s was no one but her and them and the logging truck. “No offense, boys, but I think I’d rather a few more of my fellow truckers around when we face down your Socialist gang.” She smirked as she sprang to the truck and practically threw the boys into the cab. “I should probably get an exorcist for the witch.”

They roared away down the road, heading north as the last sliver of sun disappeared beyond the dark line of forest to the west.

They’d driven for twenty minutes when she said, “But you best not make the mistake of slipping by them again, Tommy. Clearly your Mom and Dad knew something that the Socialists didn’t want them to know.”

“What?” Tommy exclaimed. “They don’t know ‘nothin’ important!”

Grinding in the highest gear, the truck hurtled forward into the gathering night. “I beg to differ with you, son. I’m pretty sure the Socialists back there figure your Mom and Dad know something, too. Something that might be worth killing you and your friend for.”

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