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.
MAN, DID I TAKE A WRONG TURN! WHAT WAS I THINKING? I’M GOING TO REWRITE THIS SCENE. IF YOU’VE GOT ANY COMMENTS ON WHAT HAPPENED OR WHICH DIRECTION YOU LIKE BETTER, LET ME KNOW…
“What kind of trouble?" asked Freddie Merrill.
“No trouble,” Tommy Hastings exclaimed.
Arnie Volz, truck driver and boyfriend of Edwina Olds, Lieutenant, WACS (ret.) said, “Maybe serious trouble.”
“Not my mom and dad! Mom was a servant – like a maid or something! Dad worked in the garden – it’s why he says he never wants to see flowers in our house ever again! He hates flowers.”
Freddie turned to Tommy and said, “What’s he get her on Valentine’s Day?”
“I don’t know! My parents don’t do stuff like that!”
Arne laughed, then said, “They most certainly do! Where do you think you came from?”
Both boys turned fire plug red. Tommy felt his ears burning like they were being twisted by Lars Olafson. Tommy stammered as he said, “They did not! You take that back!”
Arne stopped laughing suddenly, letting up on the truck’s gas pedal as he shot both boys a look. “I was just thinking that a man would do anything for the woman he loves.”
“My dad don’t love my mom!” Tommy said hotly, his ears burning again.
“Sure he does, son. You and your brothers and sisters are a result of that love. How many of ‘em do you got?”
Tommy snorted, “I got only my sister,” he paused, looked at Freddie then added, “Sis says there was others, though.”
Freddie said, “Others? You never told me this!”
Tommy shrugged as the truck slowed down some more. He pointed out the window and said, “We gonna stop here or something?”
Arne snorted, looked back at the road then at Tommy, “Sort of depends, kid.”
“Depends on what?”
“What your parents got themselves into and if they got out of it.”“What are you talking about?” Tommy shouted. He wasn’t feeling real good about the truck slowing down.
“Seems to me like your mom and dad and that picture of theirs is something these Finn folk want.”
“I don’t got nothing!”
“You don’t have anything;” the older man corrected automatically. Shaking his head as he drove, he continued, “As I see it, you already know the Finns want the picture and as long as you don’t have it, they want the next best thing.”
Freddie said, “What’s that?”“They’re going to want Tommy as a hostage.”
“A hostage?” the boys exclaimed, their voices cracking into soprano screams in unison.
Arne couldn’t help but laugh, then said, “Of course. They’ll nab you, send a letter to your parents and demand that they send the picture – after that, they’ll send you back.”
“Kidnappers never send the kid back!” said Freddy. “They kill ‘em just like Bruno Hauptmann killed Lindbergh’s baby!”
Usually the first person to laugh at Freddie’s crazy ideas, Tommy’s eyes got bigger and he suddenly couldn’t breathe. Gasping, he fell back on the seat, staring out the front window. He could see it was getting dark. What if Arne stopped right here, dumped him out because he didn’t want to deal with Finnish socialists, and left Tommy for them?
Arne looked over at him and just as the truck was about to slow to a stop, he floored the accelerator and said, “If I left you out here, Ed wouldn’t let me live more’n five minutes after I told her.” He sighed, “We only got twenty-something miles ‘til we pull into Duluth.” He scowled at them, and said, “Then I’m gonna have to ask you boys to get out and back on your own.”
Tommy started to breathe again, but his heart was still pounding in his chest. What would they do once they got to Duluth and it was the middle of the night?Image: https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-QGbxe0T6Mq4/TWq00AtS_AI/AAAAAAAAAKY/