December 10, 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. 

Tommy Hastings and Freddie Merrill looked at each other, then Tommy turned to  and blurted, “The Socialists are on their way to kill my mom and steal a portrait!”

Edwina Olds, Lieutenant, WACS (ret.) didn’t react at all, upshifting once more and then goosing the engine until they were rumbling along fairly smoothly. She glanced at them then said, “Remember what I said when I dropped you off in Thunder Bay?” They looked at each other. Ed grunted, then said, “‘It’s been a fine trip and the two of you’se have made an otherwise boring drive one of uncommon adventure.’”

“I remember that,” said Tommy.

“Yeah, well, it seems that we’ve got a little more ‘uncommon adventure’ still ahead of us.”

“What do you mean?”
“You don’t think I’m gonna just leave you boys to face the Socialists alone, do ya?”

Tommy and Freddie turned to look at each other. Tommy said, “You’re gonna help us?”

She glanced at them, winked, and said, “O’ course. You don’t think I spent all that time in the service just to see the world and get rich, do ya?”

“But…but…you’re a lady!” Freddie exclaimed.

Ed burst out laughing, roaring for several moments while the truck flew down the highway. The sun set, a long, drawn-out, spectacularly orange affair. She didn’t say anything else until they reached Isle. By then, the sun had kissed the horizon and then slid behind it fast, blazing like a forest fire until it vanished. As they angled west, they passed a resort, Freddie point, slid down in his seat until his knees touched the dashboard and his words came out squashed, “That’s where we met the witch. And the Socialists are there again!”

Ed laughed, then said, “Perfect. Means we turned their head start into our head start.” She sniffed, “Hope they sleep in late tomorrow morning.”

Freddie was staring into his lap, scowling. Finally he said, “You’re a lady!” He looked up at her.

Ed flashed him a smile. “I’ll also be a police officer in not too many months.”

“A cop!” Freddie cried.

Tommy laughed. Ed scowled at him in the now dark cab. Tommy covered his mouth with both hands, then said, “That’s not why I’m laughing!”

“Then you’ll be kind enough to tell me exactly why you laughed.”

Tommy uncovered his mouth, looked at Freddie, widening his eyes. Freddie suddenly shook his head wildly. Tommy blurted, “If I don’t say why I laughed, she’ll stop and throw both of us out!”

Freddie’s eyes almost bulged out of his head. “Would you?”

Ed scratched her chin, her hand ghostly green and red in the instrument panel lights.

Freddie exclaimed, “I don’t want you to be a cop ‘cause I want to...I want to...I want to...”

“He wants you to marry him!”

There was a long silence broken only by the hum of the tires on the asphalt. A sign drifted past, announcing that Onamia was only five miles away. Then she cleared her throat, hawked, rolled down the window, spit, rolled it back up and finally said, “Well young man, I’m mighty flattered and I thank you, but I’m saving myself for someone special.”

Freddie’s surly reply was, “Arnie Voltz. I knew it.”

Ed reached across Tommy and patted his knee, “If it weren’t for Arnie, I’d take you up on your offer, son.” She sighed, “But you know how truck drivers and cops are.”

“I don’t know!” Freddie exclaimed.

“Rock solid, son. Rock solid through and through.”

Freddie sighed, closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. As they drove on into the night, his fake sleep turned real; and Tommy wasn’t far behind. Ed smiled at the boys fondly and whispered, “But I sure hope I have some boys like you two someday.”

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