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March 22, 1941 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1941-03-22

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_.. _"
F y

... by John E. Bin gley.

,and she accepted because "after all," as
she said, "five dollars is five dollars."
Nobody in town knew anything about
the Greeks and so Etta could play the
organ for them as secretly as she did her
smoking, but their Good Friday service
had gotten the best of her. The Greeks
have an off-centered church year, so
that their Easter comes at a different
time than it does in the Congregational
Church, and that's what Etta was, a
Congregationalist. It seems that the ser-
vice had gone as smoothly as anything
ever did for Etta until the priest came
up and started to bless her with incense
and holy water. It would have been bad
enough for Etta if she'd been blessed
us the Catholic Church, but to have a
Greek priest come up and bless her was
iust too much for her. She said she
didn't know how she got through the
servic, but I suspect it was a combina-
tion of her Puritan forebears and the
five dollars. Anyway, there she sat in
our back parlour begging my Mother
not to tell anyone about hr "getting
mixed up with the Greeks," and begging
me to take over the Easter service.
That kid of started us off because
:my Mother, as I've said, is a New Yorker,
and even though she's lived in town for
thirty years, she can't understand why
"ou don't want everybody else to know
what you've been doing. I think it's be-
cause she's not really related, only sort
of half related through marriage, and
anyway she never let anybody consider
ier their cousin. She just smiles at them
and laughs at my Father for being re-
Iated to a whole township. My Father
thinks it's pretty funny too, but he un-
derstands, and so do I, and I felt sorry
or Etta, but never having been in a
Greek church in my life I thought it
a mark of wisdom to refuse. After all
-f Etta didn't want people should know
about her playing for the Greeks, neither
would I and for the same reason. You
understand it's not because we're
ashamed of being seen with the Greeks
cr anything like that because for all we
mnow, they're pretty nice people. It's
more a question of not being expected
to rather than not wanting to. It sounds
kind of smug when you think about it,
but we were happy not knowing the
Greeks, and I guess they were happy
too. But even with my Mother there to
quiet her down, Etta had worked her-
self up into quite a state when I kept
refusing, and rather than have people
say Etta Thayer went crazy in our house,
f told her I'd do it. Then we both
worked on my Mother so's to get her
to think it less funny than she thought
it was.
"I hate secrets," my Mother said. "All
you cousins ever do is hide things from
each other. Some day I'm going to give
a family dinner and expose all the se-
crets I know." She was always threat-
eihing to do that, and I think some-
times she meant it. It would be awful
if she ever did tell all she knew because
she was the only one in the family they
trusted with a secret. Of course they had
secrets with nearly everybody else, but
if they wanted a secret kept, they came
to Mother. I think that's why Etta
came back to ask me to play the organ
because she had other pupils who played
the organ better than I did, but she
knew I could keep a secret, at least
?' had with her cigarettes, and then my
Mother, if she could be made to keep a
secret, would keep it. I guess my Mother
must have seen how upset Etta really
was because she said, "Well, go ahead
and play for the Greeks. I won't tell
anybody, but only Heaven knows why
ou want to keep it a secret."
NO SOONER had she said that when
Etta whipped out the service book
or the Greek church, and the whole
,hing was written in Greek of which

I knew not a letter, much less a word.
"Now," Etta said, "I've marked every-
thing carefully so you'll know just how
to play it. We'll go through it on the
piano, and then this afternoon you can
go through it with the Greeks." And

to play for them at all, but when I
called Etta up she just refused right
out and hung up. That kind of made me
mad, but there wasn't much I could do
about it because I had already said I'd
play. Well, I did, but I guess I can cut

The waitress and remembered sin,
The slow-sure foot of 'in we go,"
The passion flower's sultry glow,
And all these things were in my teens;
The rubber and the rubric face,
Frustrated youth at slot-machines,
The onyx eye, the heart of brass,
Were not amiss. And tusks of time
With wealth's bright goad turned in-and-out;
The harlot hand that takes the dime,
It turns the coverlet about;
Peoria, Peoria, far cry from Paris in the spring,
The fall is silken in the west,
With dalliance high on sudden wing
And maize-haired wantons unpossessed;
"Corn, cheap corn," the chapman cries
From Boston's aqueous-rotten wharf,
The hands are dropped, the bidding dies,
No tribute for the brainy dwarf;
And undiscovered maundering notes
Of love in leash and life in pain
Grow musty in the garret motes
Of waning sunwarmth deep in Maine;
Our little "out" is closing fast,
The mines are dug, no land lies free,
We turn our faces to the past
And weep with eyes that cannot see;
0, bottle-built and bleary-eyed,
O, hollow-chested mother's son,
One remedy is yet untried,
One path to peace is still not run;
Give death its due for all its dule,
Take leave of intellectual lust,
Simplicity must be your rule,
And strength must plow the fertile dust;
Yet shun thle panelled fireside,
The pigeon-croak above the door,
No book can win you wealth or bride,
No pipe can make your ease the more;
The end of all is one in all,
The trinity of half past five
Will bitter Beacon Street with gall
And keep no watered word alive.
-Larer'e P. Spingar n

Cook are you doing out this time of
night? Who are all those people with
you?" Grandma yelled at me out her
front bedroom window, and Cousin Jen-
nie who gets aroundi more than she
should yelled right back at Grandma,
"Those are those Greeks from across
the river."
"Greeks?" my Grandmother said just
as though she expected them to be wear-
ing togas or something like that.
"Henrietta Thayer," Cousin 'Jennie
yelled, in that terrible accusing voice
she can have, "what are those awful
Greeks doing up here on Elm Street
and on your front lawn too?"
"Well," said Etta, "seeing as how you
asked, you find out," and then she
turned to me and said very mad-like,
"John Goreth, you take those Greeks
back to where they belong.", Then she
slammed down -her window.
Of course by that time all of Elm
Street was hanging out their windows
asking me questions and Cousin Jennie
was threatening to call up Cousin John
who's constable and have him chase the
Greeks back across the river. Then she
left the window and I thought sure she
would call Cousin John, so I explained
to the Greeks that they'd better go home
right away, and that I guessed the
town didn't like our singing. Just as
they were about to leave Cousin Jennie
stuck her head out of the window and
yelled so everybody this side of Boston
could have heard her, "I've just called
his Mother, and she told me that he
plays the organ for them and that Etta
plays for them too." And then she added,
louder I suppose so Etta could hear her,
"I'd like to bet that's where Etta got
the money to buy that car of her's."
Cousin Jennie shouldn't have said that
because Etta did hear her right through
her closed window, and it made Etta
madder than a dead snake to think
Cousin Jennie found out about the car
and about how she had gotten mixed
up with Greeks, so Etta threw open
her window and yelled right back at
Cousin Jennie, "If you think that's
where I got the money to buy my car,
where do you think I got the money to
buy my cigarettes?" and then she
smoked right out her bedroom window
for all the town to see. I tell you that
had Cousin Jennie stopped, and so she
slammed down her window; and my
Grandmother who had been taking all
this in, just shook her head and said,
"Why, I don't believe it." Then she
closed her window and I went home.
When I got home, my Mother was
waiting for me, and I told her all about
it and asked her what she thought ev-
erybody would say about Etta for being
so awful. "Oh," my Mother said, "they'll
say what they aways say when anyone
does something he's not expected to.
They'll make believe the whole family
has always done things nobody else had
the strength of mind to do." And they
did too, because when people found out
about Etta smoking and playing for
the Greeks, they didn't seem a bit sur-
prised and everybody said, "There! Isn't
that just what you'd expect a Thayer
to do!"
The editors wish to thank the
Bookroom, Wahr's, and Slater's
for the loan of books reviewed
in this issue.

having said yes there was nothing for
me to do but practice the stuff and drive
over to the Greek church about four in
the afternoon to meet and practice with
the choir. What Etta failed to tell me
was that the service began at eleven
o'clock that night, and when I got
through practicing about seven I called
her up to see , if she wouldn't please
take over. I wasn't frightened. I was
scared witless. The first time in a Greek
church, not knowing one person in the
choir, and that stupid little organ they
expected me to play while someone else
pumped. I could see right then and there
why Etta didn't want to play for them
anymore. Goodness knows I didn't want

out all the things the Greeks did at
their service because the really impor-
tant thing that happened was that I
became drunk on some wine they gave
me, and when I'm drunk I always get
brilliant ideas and nothing would do but
I had to have the Greeks serenade Etta
up on Elm Street, so I gathered together
as many as I could and off we rode to
sing Etta out of bed with a walloping
gooe Greek chant. We did all right; we
sang Etta and half of Elm Street out of
bed. Etta was fit to be tied she svas so
mad, and, of course, when my Grand-
mother, who lived across the street, saw
me she wanted to know all about it.
"John! What in the name of Hannah

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