June 19, 2014


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 clips, click on the label to the right, scroll down to and click OLDER ENTRIES seven or eight times. The FIRST entry is on the bottom of the last page.

“Why do they want us, Arnie? What’s in the picture that they want it so bad as to chase all over creation?” Tommy Hastings said, his voice was so close to being baby whining, that he cleared his throat into his fist and said, “Why do you think they want us?”

Arnie Volz, truck driver and boyfriend of Edwina Olds scowled then said, “Only thing I can think of, boys, is that the picture shows not just your mom, but the two men shaking hands are not supposed to be friendly to each other.”

Freddie said, “You mean like one’s a socialist and ones a Communist?”

Arnie’s eyebrows went up as he said, “That’s EXACTLY what I mean, son. Exactly.” He paused then asked, “Do you know either of the men?”

"I never seen ‘em before. Dad says he hasn’t seen them either.”

 Arne shrugged, “Can’t imagine any man admitting his wife was with another man, he wasn’t anywhere in sight,” he paused, “Was he?”

“Was he what?” Tommy asked.

“Was he in the picture?”


Arne gave him a strange look before he said, “Was your father in the picture of the two men and you mother?”

“No! I said that! That’s why the Finns want the picture!”

“Because your ma was with a man who was a socialist – who was caught on film shaking hands with a man who was a communist, right?”

Tommy blinked in surprise, eyeballs reflecting light from the gauges on the dashboard of the truck as it trundled down the coast of Lake Superior. Night had fallen quickly, and it was dark as pitch outside the cab. Occasional headlights passed them going north, but for the most part, it was dark, and it was night. Finally he said, “Nobody’s sayin’.”

Freddie piped up, “That must be! I seen the picture, too! In the kitchen cabinet, behind the nice dishes – but sorta hidden like.”

“My mom’s got nothing to hide!” Tommy exclaimed, shoving Freddie – and setting as a lie what he was saying with his mouth. In truth, he wasn’t sure that Freddie was wrong. Arne seemed to believe it.

Arne said, “Duluth in the early Oughts was a hotbed of Socialist revolution. That’s what Ed says, and she’s lived up here her whole life. If the man hangin’ on your ma’s arm was a socialists – maybe even someone who’s famous now – and she has a picture of him making all nice with the Commies, that could be bad for him. ‘specially now.”

Tommy sat back. “You mean my mom and dad were messed up with Communists and Socialists?”

“The Socialists for sure – that’s what your mobster friends are.”

Freddie said, “You mean they aren’t from the mob?”

“You make it sound like that’s a good thing, kid.”

“It’s not?”

Arne drove for a long time in silence until he finally said, “Mob involvement is local, kid. Socialists and Communists? That’s world-wide. Your parents could be in some deep trouble, Tom. Real deep trouble.”

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