July 22, 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.  ?zZ

The truck roared on. The sign on the road read, “Minneapolis 50 Miles”. Edwina Olds Lieutenant, WACS (ret.) said, “We’d better have a plan, boys, before we get down there.” Both boys nodded as the truck roared on. Neither one spoke. She said, “So, what’s the plan?” She leaned forward a bit, shot a glance at Tommy Hastings. “This is your mama we’re talking about here, son. What would you like us to do?” She turned her attention back to driving.

Tommy’s eyes practically bugged out. He swallowed hard opened his mouth then closed it. Finally, he said, “I can’t do nothin’.”

“Like hell you can’t!” Ed shouted.

Both boys slid away from her, scrunching against the door. Finally, Tommy said, “We have to get there before everyone else does.”

“So far, we’re fine,” Ed said. “We’re ahead of the Socialists for certain. What about the witch?”

Freddie Hastings said, “She’s from Anoka.”

“Hmmm.” Ed paused, “That’s a lot closer.”

“But she wasn’t bad. Scary, but not bad.”

“So we don’t have to worry about her?”

Tommy piped up, “Like Freddie said, she wasn’t bad. Just creepy. Why would she want mom’s picture?” He shook his head. “It wasn’t her.”

Freddie said, “What about the mobsters?”

Tommy stared out the window, his short hair rippling in the wind roaring through the window. “I dunno. Could be.” He shook his head. “I don’t think so. They were too…neat.” He shrugged. “She was beautiful, sure. He looked cool. Like a movie. But they didn’t even seem real.” He watched for a while more. “Nah. It’s the Socialists. They want Mom’s picture.”

“Then we’re ahead of them,” said Ed. She paused, downshifting to keep from crashing into a pickup truck, sweeping around it.

Tommy was looking in the window of the car. The driver was a stranger, but the head that leaned forward suddenly looked directly up. It jerked back as Tommy shouted, “One of the Socialists is in that truck!”

Ed floored it and cut back into her lane as a car appeared over a hill. She used a bad word. The truck driver laid on the horn and hit his brakes. Ed hit the accelerator and the truck roared down the road. “You’d better come up with a plan really, really quick, kid! I’m gonna be downtown in about an hour and a quarter.”

Tommy closed his eyes and leaned forward until his forehead smacked against the hot dashboard. He sat that way for a long time. Freddie tapped him on the shoulder. Tommy’s voice was barely audible when he said, “Leave me alone! I’m think up a plan!” Freddie and Ed looked up, eyes locking. Both sets of eyes bulged.

They rode on in silence. After twenty miles, Tommy sat up suddenly and said, “I think I got an idea.” He looked over at Ed and said, “Can you drop us off in the alley behind my house?”

Ed pursed her lips then shook her head. “Afraid not, kid. Those are too narrow for a rig like mine.”

“Can you drop us on Hennepin and Fifteenth?”

Ed grunted, nodding, “I can imagine what you’re planning, kid. I think it’ll work.”

“You think you can have a little engine trouble then?”

This time Ed grinned, nodded, and said, “I believe I can, son! I believe I can.”

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