February 5, 2015


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.

The Fairlaine Creamery milk truck rolled to a stop again. Charlie Fairlaine, who’d been driving for over an hour yawned and said, “Either one of you know how to drive?”

Tommy Hastings and Freddie Merrill both raised their hands, frantically flapping and elbowing each other.

Charlie threw his head back and laughed. “I’m gonna take that to mean that neither one of you know how to shift a truck?”

“I do, too!” said Freddie.

“You do not,” Tommy said.

Charlie revved the engine then eased the truck back into gear. “I guess neither one of you’s going to drive us home.”

Freddie scowled and leaned back. “Not my home. That’s a million miles away.”

“More like a little over a hundred,” Charlie said. “You’re on your way, at least.” By the time they reached Malmo, the home of the Fairlaine Creamery, they’d been in the truck a little over an hour. Freddie’s head had nodded down to his chest and Tommy was leaning against the door, snoring. Tempted to slam on the brakes, instead, Charlie slowed down a mile from the creamery. Poking the boys gently, they grunted and groaned as they woke slowly.

Tommy turned and looked at him stupidly, saying, “Are we home yet, Earl?”

“I’m home, Tommy. You and Freddie have another hundred miles to walk.” Charlie paused, “I don’t think I should bring you to the creamery. Dad might have you help us out again.”

Freddie woke then as Tommy scrambled from the truck, dragging Freddie behind him. “I don’t want to shoot no more rats!”

Freddie was still dazed as Charlie nodded to Tommy and said, “Good luck, Kid. If I’m ever in Minneapolis, I’ll stop by and see you.”

“All you gotta do is stop in Loring Park and ask where Tommy Hastings lives. Most people will know who I am. If they don’t, ask ‘em where Earl Habig’s girl lives. He’s the best known sailor in our neighborhood!”

“I’ll do that, Tommy. See you guys.” He revved the truck again and started off down the road.

Just then Freddie said, “What’d you say to him to make him kick us outta the truck?”

“I didn’t say nothing!” Tommy exclaimed. “He didn’t want his dad to make us clean the barn.”

Freddie stared at him, shook his head, and said, “I guess we’d better get walkin’ then. A hundred miles is a long way and I’m pretty sure we been gone a long time.” He looked at the creamy truck as it faded into the distance on the flat road. “At least the Socialists, the mobsters, and the Anoka Witch won’t be bothering us anymore.”

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