May 12, 2016


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.

“I just want to get home in time to save my mom from the Socialists,” said Tommy Hastings faintly. The truck fell into silence again.

Ed said, “Do we want to stop for breakfast in Page?”

“I wanna get back and save my mom,” said Tommy.

“She’s not gonna be murdered in the morning,” said Freddie Merrill from the shadows of the truck. The sun had just started to color the horizon, and he slumped lower than the bottom of the window.

“How do you know that?” Tommy said.
“No one gets murdered in the morning. Especially normal people.”

“My mom’s not normal! She met some guys and someone took a picture and now the Socialists don’t want anyone to know about it!”

“Her boyfriend shook hands with a communist! What’s the big deal?”

Tommy cocked his fist to slug Freddie. Ed grabbed it and squeezed. Tommy sat back down as she said, “I ever tell you what happened to the last hitchhikers who tried to start a fight in my rig?” Tommy slumped lower, silent. “Did I, young man?” Ed added with a military snap to her voice neither boy had ever heard before.

Tommy sat up and said, “No, ma’am, you never did.”

“Both of them ended up with a case of serious road rash.”

“What’s ‘road rash’,” Freddie said.

Tommy replied, “When you land on the tar with bare knees and hands…”

“And face,” Ed added. She paused as they passed a sign that read ‘Page Town Diner’. “We’ll keep on if it makes you feel better. But I guarantee you’ll both be hungry by the time we get to Anoka.”

“That’s where the witch was,” said Freddie.

"That’s where my cousin lives,” said Tommy. “At least we passed the mobsters already.”


“Didn’t we tell you what happened to us when we got picked up by the mobsters?” said Tommy.

Freddie added, “That was after the witch but before the Socialists.”

Ed laughed, shaking her head. “You boys have had quite an adventure, I’d say.”

Tommy’s gloomy voice added, “It’s not over yet.” He pointed. Alongside the road, a truck sat, its hood open, a cloud of steam boiling around the front of it. Two men stood alongside it, alternately kicking it and pushing each other. When Ed roared past them without slowing, the boys caught sight of a bit of fist shaking before they disappeared into the aurora before dawn. Twenty minutes later, they saw a string of men walking along the side of the road. They heard the truck.

Three of them turned, waving their hands in the air and slowly stepping out further and further into the road. Ed muttered, “They come much farther out, I’ll have to stop or run ‘em over…”

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