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February 19, 1939 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1939-02-19
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byRobert Cummrrins, A Member Of The International Brigade

HE 15th BRIGADE took Quinto
late in August and then at-
tacked Belchite which fell on
September 9. This was severe
fighting and so a battalion of replace-
ments was sent to the brigade from the
training base at Tarazona.
We were up and down the Aragon
front in reserve positions-Almochuel,
Albalate, Senes de Alcubierre, and back
to Quinto-and it was a month of this
before we attacked at Fuentes de Ebro.
When we came out of the lines at
Fuentes we knew we were going into
rest. We were back at Quinto and
waiting for transportation. Those were
very happy times for most. of us. The
recruits had come through their first
action sucessfully. It made us feel good
to see our Fifth Army Corps posters, on
the} walls of all the Aragon villages,
showing a menacing soldier with fixed
bayonet and with the simple legend
"Fifth Army Corps" and down the side
a column of names of its victories:
"Jarama, Guadalajara, Villanueva de la
Canada, Brunete, Estacion de Pina,
Quinto, Villamayor, Codo, Belchite . .."
We loafed there for a week, walking
around the village seeing where the ma-
chine-gun nests had been and what
streets the tanks had; come down two
months before, reading the fantastic
accounts of the war in old copies of the
fascist Heraldo de Aragon that we
found lying around. We could buy
small, bright-colored bottles of creme
de menthe, rum, and cacao for two
pesetas. There was lots to eat.
Then in the middle of one night we
packed up and were told we were going
to Madrid province. It took three trains
to take the whole brigade. We traveled
in box-cars, the most comfortable way,
and we brigade runners had one box-
car to ourselves, although there were
but 14 of us. Of the 14, seven were
English-speaking and seven were Span-
It took three days and nights on the.
train to reach our destination. First we
had to go to Tarragona, on the Mediter-
ranean. then down the coast to Valen-
cia, and then inland to the rail ter-
minus in Toledo province south of Ma-
drid. We wished it had taken a week.
Every day was a beautiful Indian
summer day. We could slide the doors
wide open on each side of the box-car.
and .sit, our legs dangling out, with the
sun warming us. and the woods rolling-
by, bright red and yellow in the autumn.
At all the stations there were crowds,
partly just to see the brigade and part-
Iy in the hope of seeing a son, husband,
or. brother. We had brilliant posters
plastered on the sides of the box-cars
telling who we Were, and there was lots
of singing and cheering because Spanish
trains stop at every station.
During these three days we English-
speakers got to know the Spaniards. We
were to live and fight with them for.
many months.

was taller than most Spaniards, as An-
dalusians are apt to be. When we went
bathing you could see his build and
know how hard he had worked in his 23
years. His chest was narrow, deeper
than it was wide, and his back was
Rafael hadn't learned to read and
write until he was 16, and then he had
taught himself. Because this ability
had been so hard won, he delighted in
using it. He kept the most elaborate
tabulations and charts about our clothes
and equipment, and hours of duty. In
the daily political periods, when events

didn't believe a word of it, but he stayed
Why was Luis fighting? He had been
in a factory since he was 12, and was
thoroughly a member of the working
class. His friends were all workers, his
girl was a worker. And so he said, "I'd
rather die fighting fascism than die
with it." That was why he fought fear-
lessly for four months until an aerial
bomb finally did bring death. Shrapnel
from the bomb didn't touch him; but he
was a kid only 16 and the concussion
was enough to kill him.
"Captain Fish" was what we called

to the anarchist trade unior, ,but the So-
cialist Party, and Andre, who learned
to read and write between battles.
History has assigned the Spani
people-the Rafaels, Antonios, Gustaus,
and Luises-a magnificent role. The
strength and courage of Spanish men
and women in. two-and-a-half fright-
fully intense years has amazed the
world. It should, by itself, convince
people everywhere of the superiority of
their democratic resources, over fascism.
For people of other lands are no less
able than the Spanish pqple. There
are many things the Spanish people
know that other have not learned yet.
That is because their- fight for de-
mocracy is being fought at the most ad-
vanced and intense stage-in the front
lines. Yet there are many obvious les-
sons to be learned from Spain, although
too few have mastered them.
One of these is that you need win only
one battle in a war to be the victor-
and that is the last. The American press
is filled with falsehoods today in an ef-
fort to make Americans believe that the
cause of Spain is hopeless. Put this sort
of thing was printed when Franco was
sweeping on Madrid, when Malaga fell,
when the Asturias fell, when the fascists
drove. to the sea last spring. It will be
proved as false this time as before. The
danger is that it will place Americans in
the shameful and humiliating position
of arm-chair quitters while Spain fights
bomb and shell in bloody solitude.
Spain will fight on, first, because she
has been part of a miserable past for
centuries, and second, because she has
seen her future and knows what it will
be. She will fight with an army of half-
a-million who have had six-months of
comparative rest in which to train and
prepare themselves. She will fight be-
hind the strongest of fortifications at
Madrid and Valencia.
But even if all Spain should fall she
will fight on. We do not have to go far
back into history for a demonstration
of that. The Republican government
was overthrown in 1933 by the Lerroux-
Robles dictatorship. In 1934, the people
revolted, led by the Asturian miners,
This was suppressed, but in February,
1936, the irrepressible will of the people
for self-determination overthrew this
The world today is living in a period
of developing reaction. This places spe-
cial responsibilites upon those persons
for whom democracy and social advance
is a necessity. We must realize that the
stronger forces are on our side. We must
realize that when clear perception and
the will to action are combined in the
masses of people there is. no force on
earth that can withstand these masses
for a moment. Our task as students,
persons enjoying special opportunities
to learn, is to work incessantly to
achieve this blending of perception and
This forbids one to believe that one
day's headlines mean the end of man's
advance. This sounds ridiculous, but
many liberal-minded peopl; have adopt-
ed such an attitude since the events of
Munich and Catalonia. But the world is
physically and mentally unble to live
under fascism. Man will resist and con-
quer, and those who are students now
will be expected to be leaders. These
leaders must have the strongest of wills
and perceptions, which can. be gained
only in an alert, confident, and inces-
sant fight for democracy and against
This means, right now, that there
must be an alert, confident, and inces-
sant fight to lift the embargo against

clomped across it to the door. FHe
knocked on the door with his fist.
"You better scat, Bart Montgomery,"
came Jake's harsh voice from behind
4the ,door. "I don't want to kill no
preacherzman, but that ain't sayin' I
"Jake Blair, I've come to take. you to
jestice," Bart said levelly. "You killed
my brother and my Pappy. You better
come out peaceable or I'm acomin' in
after you."
Jake roared with laughter. "You'll git
your jestice all right," he laughed.
Barts shouder hit the rickety door
with more than his strength behind it.
He felt the wood splinter, heard the
latch beam crack. The door swung back
on its hinges.-
Jake cursed and reached for a rifle
lying across a chair. He turned the gun
toward Bart, tried to level it. But Bart's
shoulder caught him in the stomach,
catapulted him over the chair. His back
smashed against the wall. The rifle was
wrenched- out of his grip and he was
staring into the barrel of it before he
could gather his wits.
His eyes widened in terror. "My God,
Bart, don't shoot me in the guts. Don't
let me die like your Pappy. You're a
jest man, Bart. Let me die fair. Don't
gut-shoot me, for God's sake."
"I ain't agoin' to gut-shoot you,
Jake," Bart said. "I ain't even agoin'
to kill you. I don't want your blood on
my hands. You're lucky hit ain't Joe
that's got you this way. He'd gut-shoot
you and leave you here to die. But I'm
different, y'understand? I've got it all
figured out. I got brains, see? I'm agoin'
to take you to jestice, Jake Blair, and
I ain't agoin' to take jestice into my
own hands. I'm agoin' to do this God's
way 'cause I'm a God-fearin' man. Now
git goin'." He nudged Jake toward the
door with the rifle.
"I'll die here first," Jake grunted. He
grabbed at a hunting knife on the table.
And Bart was surer than ever that God
was with him. God kept him from pull-
ing the trigger. God heped him turn
the gun around and crush Jake's grop-
ing fingers with the butt of it,
"Now look here, Jake, I ain't goin' to
have no funny stuff out'n you. You're
acomin' peaceable. You're acomin' to
jestice if I got to drag you to it. God
has given me this task and I ain't atak-
in' no chances of you goin' agin His will.
I'm agoin' to crack you easy-like, see?
I'm agoin' to crack you easy-like with
my brother's rifle here and lay you out.
My brother's rifle-MY BROTHER'S
He had aimed the rifle butt easy-like
at Jake's head. He cried out in anguish
as he saw the, wood smash Jake's skull
as though it were an eggshell.
(Continued from Page 3)
were looking when they looked any-
where, or whether they just did it to be
businesslike. We all drifted along. Eight
or nine of the eleven Schults children,
whose parents were away all day,
mingled with the group, dressed in some
of their parents' best clothes. The seven
Davis women were cutting in and out,
shouting and wringing their hands. Vio-
let Rose, their unexpectedly placid
child, was eating a turnip, and being
led along by a fat and eQually placid
ten-year-old who went by the name of
Little Louse Harley. She had written
Louse for Louise when in the first grade

and it had stuck. Little Louse and Violet
Rose both had flighty families and
seemed to stick together, in spite of the
difference in their ages, because of a
more important likeness in their tem-
perament and environment. They were
both looking with disapproval at Billy
Crab, age five, who was throwing pebbles
at Reverend Duveau,-
Billy Crab, who had tantrums, hated

(Continued from Page 7)
Cop: That's all right by me. (Turns to go, then catches sight of the box, shoved
over in his way by Washa) Say! D'you want, me to take the present along?
Ivan: Well, I don't know. It's pretty heavy,. Maybe we'd better take it.
Cop: Oh, hell, I can carry it.
Ivan: Well then, O.K. if you think you can handle it. It'd be easier on us too,
wouldn't it, boys? _
Yasha: Such an unselfish man.
Washa: Ah, noble.
Kasha: .Ah, brave.
(They help him hoist the box onto his back. Much grunting and gfoaning to.
hide their smiling faces).
Cop: Say, it sure is heavy.
Ivan: Yeah. We wanted something he'd remember for a long time.
Cop: (Moving off). Well, I'll see you later. (Exit).
Ivan: (Calls after him). Go right in the main gate, we've had it opened for us.
Wait in the main building.
Cop: (Calling from offstage). O.K.
Ivan: (Turns to his friends. They laugh hysterically. Ivan looks at his watch).
What time did you set the clock for?
Yasha: 11:40.
Ivan: It's ample time. Let's get a drink.
(They leave the stage arm in arm, laughing heartily. Blank stage for a mom-
ent. Then a blinding flash, a deep roar. The street light dies out, as police sirens
begin to shriek in the distance).

Reverend Duveau intensely. The previ-
ous Christmas, he had suspected that he
was Santa Claus. I always thought that
the old man seemed a little frail and
delicate to be taken for, Santa Claus,
but I guess he looked more like the real
thing to Billy than the ones he saw on
the street. He approached him a few
days before Christmas. "Are you Santa
Claus?" he said.
Reverend Duveau, who couldn't hear
a word Billy said but noticed the ques-
tioning look on his face, petted him
on the head and muttered vaguely,
"Oh yes, oh yes."
Billy followed him clear down the
block telling him what he wanted for
Christmas. Reverend Duveau, surprised
and' puzzled by so much attention,
smiled faintly and from time to time
said. "Oh, that's nice," or, "Oh yes,
oh yes."
Billy had been jubiliant. Every day
until Christmas he watched for him
and told him more things that he want-
ed and received the same encouraging
answers. When Christmas came and he
got only about a third of the things
that he had been personally promised
by Santa Claus, he had thrown a wow
of a tantrum that was heard for two
blocks. His parents finally convinced
him that Reverend Duveau wasn't
Santa Claus, but Billy was enraged by
what he felt was cruel trickery. He
wouldn't believe that the old man was
So now he threw pebbles at him.
Reverend .Duveau had several months
ago given up being pfzzled over Billy's
change of heart. He simply accepted it
now and concentrated on dodging the
"Old stink," said Billy venomously.
It was, obvious that this was the worst
word he knew. "Old stink, stink, stink.1
Mis mother slapped him. Billy began
screaming and refused to walk. His
mother, used to this. sort of thing,
dragged him along by an arm.
In this way, Mrs. Johnson moving
in her open area, the Davis women
speeding back and forth through the
center of the crowd like bloodcells, Billy
screaming and trailing, and the rest of
the crowd more or less solid and calm,
we continued down Bushel Street, an
interesting social group, but pretty poor-
ly organized for manhunting.
We had reached the corner and were
just standing there when we heard the
siren of a police car. Mrs. Johnson
bristled. The Davis women looked ap-
prehensive. The rest of us looked curi-
ous. A little shrivelled policeman got
slowly out of the car and walked over to
us. "We'll handle this now," he said to
us. "Just go on home. Don't worry.",
He got back in the car.
"Go to hell,"'said Mrs. Johnson.
Not having any ,.intention of going

1 0


home, we just stood- on the corner.
Reverend Duveau went up to Miss Essy.
"Now don't worry," he said. "They'll
find her all right."
Miss Essy couldn't hear him, but she
saw his kind expression. "Oh, thank
you," she said. "Oh, thank you."
After a while the little policeman
came back to us.
"You get the hell away from me, you
bastard," said Mrs. Johnson. He ignored
her. He had met her before.
"We found her," he said wearily.
"What's he saying?" said Miss Essy.
No one could make her understand.
"Where is she?" said Mrs. Arnold.
"In the bathtub," he said and blushed.
"Where?" we all said.
"In the bathtub," he said. "She
sneaked in to take a bath, and couldn't
get out of the tub by herself. I don't
guess anyonethought of looking there."
We all followed him back to the house
and through it to the bathroom. There
in the highsided old tub sat Birdie,
wrapped in towels, looking sheepish.
We stood in the bathroom doorway and
stared at her. She stared back, then
grinned, a little uneasily. Miss Essy be-
gan to cry. We helped her get Birdie
out and went home.
When I went over later to find out
how Birdie was, I found her in the living
room crocheting and Miss Essy in the
kitchen cooking okra with tomatoes and
onions. It was a specialty of hers. "I'm
going to leave that old fellow some,"
she said. "He was real nice this morn-
She did and it was back in an hour
with a note saying: I am in need of no
charity or aid of any sort.

And so
is: Are w
here are
Has yo
Men a]
tations h:
of other
splurge o
seem like
payers, a
dent ther
"What w
"Can a s
value of t
is such a
if seventy
are even
36 or 8.
13 or 8.
35 or 8.(
37 or 8.
14 or 8.
15 or 9.
It is cl
sons are c
real griev
before mi
this diss
in terms
able grour
second in
pared by
The pol
with the
Opinion h
ling quota
the Burea
merous p
were alc
opinion in
of the uni
Note: B
the odds a
to one th
to within
men and f
In sam
proved by
certain th
centage a
mean" in
one third
case of t
third of fc
The ne
contain th
"honors c
lution to s

Also in th
-results frc

-- By Howard Whalen

were discussed and analyzed, it was al-
ways Rafael who read the newspapers
After he had learned to read, he had
begun to study. Spain was his favorite
subject, and from him I learned some-
thing of every one of its provinces. I
think he had very nearly memorized
the first geography book he had read;
he could tell me to the meter how high
were the greater mountains of Spain.

Rafael was my best friend.
ed, I guess, when we foundt
had brothers and sisters. O
Rafael once had brothers. T
among the thousands slaughi
Granada in July, 1936, by the
Rafael's sisters and parents ha
a village in that part of Cord
vince held by the governme
showed me a picture of then
Stiffly in an old-fashioned way
too, had fled Granada to join
ernment militia.
Our group of runners una
elected him to be our "resp
which meant that he dividedt
fought to get us new shoes and
and made out the schedules
should be on duty and when.
n.:a ' . - e . -

It start-
the each

r rather, As were all the runners, Rafael was
hey were a volunteer. Although he put it in dif-
tered in, ferent words, he was fighting for a dem-
fascists. ocratic Spain because it would give him
.d fled to a chance to study. Fascist Spain would.
oba pro- deny him that chance as surely as mon-
ent. He archist Spain had done for the first 16
M, posed years of his life.
. Rafael, Luis was the youngest of all. He had
the gov- fought. and been wounded in the Casa
de Campo defending Madrid, and after-
nimously wards sent back to his parents-'-"too
onsable," young to be in the army." When a
the food, couple of fellows from the brigade had
d clothes, come back from Valencia after a leave,
of who he had come along. He brought a fan-
tastic document which described him as
old. He an 18-year-old Brazilian. The officersm

Llorens, because he sold fish in Alicante
before the war. He had the best singing
voice in the brigade. I very nearly of-
fended him once by suggesting that he
had developed it shouting his wares in
the streets of Alicante. In reality he
was a small business man who owned his
own store.
In politics he was a liberal, with em-
phasis on the regional liberties of Va-
lencia. He spoke invariably the Valen-
cian version of the Spanish language;
his favorite song was the Valencian Na-
tional Anthem.
As Llorens was a Valencian national-
ist, Gustau was a Catalan nationalist.
When he became 18, old enough to vol-
unteer, Gustau left his job as bank clerk
in Barcelona and joined the army. He
could sing most of the songs from every
Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire picture
through "Top Hat," the last one to reach
Spain. He sang them in English and
once came to me asking the meaning of
the words to "Night and Day." Three
months later he had learned English
well enough to participate in a normal
And then there was Genaro, who
wrote poetry, and Antonio, who belonged

(Continued from Page 5)

the woman went out of their sight in the
other .direction on the ground floor.
Irv felt free again while they were
walking toward the parking lot along the
side of the building. Then something was
moving overhead, blowing, flapping. Irv
looked up and saw it hanging from the
fourth-floor window of the German con-
sulate, the rectangle, red, with the white
center circle, and the black hooked cross
laid over that. He knew, finally, that no
matter what sudden joys he might know,
or even whether he was experiencing a
placid easiness, no matter where he was,
or no matter what he might be doing,
there would never be any escape.

* * * * *

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