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.
There was a long silence, then Edwina Olds, most lately Lieutenant, WACS (ret.) back from the war, settled down and with a huge grinding of gears, backed the truck up slowly until the creamery sign with an arrow pointing right, shone bright in the headlights. She turned to Tommy Hastings, “You positive about this?”
“Well then, let’s see if we can fill-er-up!” The truck lurched forward down the dark road, off the beaten track, gravel snapping from the rubber tires, shooting up and into the metal floor of the logging trailer.
Freddie Merrill crushed his ears under his hands and shouted, “I’ll be deaf before we get there!” The growl of the truck’s engine smoothed out even though the sound of rocks hailing the underside of the truck. “It wasn’t this loud when we went here the first time!”
“We were walking!” Tommy shouted.
“Quiet, boys!” Ed shouted over them. All three fell silent as they drove on for half an hour. “You sure this place really exists?”
“It was here…uh…” Tommy stopped. How long had they been gone? A week? Two? “What’s today?” he shouted.
“Wednesday,” she shouted back.
“No! What…like…day number is it?”
Even in the dim light of the instrument panel, he could see her shoot him a look before she said, “July thirty-first!”
Tommy sat back, his mouth open. Freddie shouted, “What’s wrong?”
“We’ve been gone for almost a month!”
Just then, a cow stepped onto the side of the road. Ed cursed like the sailor she was, pressed down on the brakes, not panicking, but slowing the truck enough to make the wheels judder and the truck’s trailer swerve wildly, the cab tilting toward the ditch. The boys screamed – and kept screaming even when the truck came to a stop.
Silence blanketed the truck the moment they realized they were screaming. Ed said, “You’ll have to pardon me for the blue language, boys.”
Tommy was the first to recover his voice and started to say, “We’ll…” his voice cracked. He coughed, cleared his throat, and tried again. “We’ll pardon you if you forget that we screamed like a couple of Girl Scouts.”
Freddie tried to talk, but his voice came out, cracking even higher than Tommy’s voice. He coughed for several moments, then managed, “Yep. Me, too.”
Ed nodded then looked out the window. The cow stood in the middle of the road and behind it loomed a sign that read, FAIRELANE CREAMERY.
The boys exclaimed, “This is it!”
Just then an old man and a young man, both with shotguns, stepped into the road and the headlights. The older man shouted, “Come on out with your hands up!”