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June 03, 1941 - Image 1

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1941-06-03

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University Of Michigan Literary Magazine

By Vernon Blake

I' WAS COOL, outside. He went down
the long lane, over the bridge, and
the planks rattled as he crossed.
There was no breeze. The crickets
and frogs were making a lot of noise, and
a white mist was rising from the creek.
The place had a strange, damp smell
a mixture of everything-grass, weeds,
muck, watercress, cowdung. Mac breath-
ed it in, and enjoyed it.
A while later a pair of carlights came
down the road. The one on th right
was blinking, indefinite. It was Huntley
all right, he Could always tell by the
When the car stopped, Mac threw .his
fiddle in the back seat and climbed in
front. Hunt looked a little worn, but
he was in a good humor. "It's a swell
night out: The crowd ought to be pretty
"Yeh, it ought to be."
They rode on a ways without saying
much, and then Huntley noticed the new
flannel pants, and the white shirt he
had on, and the way his hair was slick-
ed back. "Well, well," he said, "here
I'm sittin' beside the o1' sheik himself,
and just now noticed it. How come all
the spruce, got something lined up?
... Oh yeah, now I remember. The little
Torpedo. Ah youth, love, madness .."
Mac kind of laughed, and didn't know
what to say, right off. Huntley was al-
ways saying stuff like that. The Little
Torpedo. That was what the rest of the
fellows in the orchestra called her too,
but her name was Elizabeth, and she
was nice kid. And last Saturday night.
Last Saturday night they walked down
by the boats, and a breeze came in off
the lake, it smelled fresh, and the boats
made a gurgling noise rocking up and
down on the ripples, and they just stood
there and talked about little things,
They played at Turk Lake, for the
people to dance. A small place, built
around a large oak tree, and the men
paid twenty-five cents to get in. The
ladies never paid anything to get in, be-.
cause where there are ladies dancing
at 9:30, there will be men dancing at
10:00. They ran about four round dances
to one square dance, after they got go-
ng and the crowd was there. The square
dance was mostly for the older people
who brought their daughters, but the
young ones liked it too. A square dance
lasted fifteen minutes, and the round
dancers could go out for their beer and
stuff. It was a good place, you sure
could have a lot of-fun there.
Mac and Huntley got to the Lake
around 9:00, and there was still plenty
of room to park. The other two were
waiting for them inside. Bell played
a pretty good sax and trumpet. Wilson
beat it out on the drum; he owned the
P.A. system.
Huntley, at the piano, filled in the
harmony and did a lot for the rhythm,
too. He always kept a pint of Golden
Wedding between the piano and the
wall, and ais playing always improved
steadily till about two o'clock, when he
would start to cool off. Even then, he
went strong enough until closing time.
As long as he could play, no one cared.
Besides, it gave him a dramatic touch,
kind of.
Bell was another good man; he and
Mac tossed the lead back and forth.
When one took the lead, the other faked

harmony. He ran a kind of filling sta-
tion and store in the daytime, over east
of where Mac lived. He'd sit there and
listen to the radio with his sax, learning
the new ones, and come Saturday night
he'd show the rest of them how it was
done. And he could ride, too. And he
could tell a good story, and knew when to
laugh, and the crowd liked him.
Wilson could play the drums 1-2-3-4.
He owned the P.A. system.
Mac's violin was needed mostly for
the square-dances, but he liked the
slower fox-trots best. Jig-fiddle on the
fast ones was all right, but he always felt

people likedt Geefis, they needed a snap-
py one to start out on, and they might
as well play that as anything else. With-
out music, because no good mpusician
needed music. 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 Goofus.
They finished Goofias, and Hunt look-
ed on his list foe the slow one. A girl
came up and asked could they play
Stormy Weather. Bunt kidded her a bit,.
we'll play anything for you my love,
turned around and said something about
Hoagy Carmichael. Quite a guy. Star-
dust. So they played Stormy Weather,
and the girl said Thanks.
After two or three more dances, two

a hot beef over there; he looked very sad,
or tired, or something.
Pretty soon they went away.
Elizabeth usually showed up around
10:30, with a couple of girl friends. She
was the best dancer there, and Mao
had never seen her smoke or drink, He
thought that was all right, because he
didn't drink either, why, he had an uncle
who had worried two wives almost batty
by his drinking, he got it in milk-bottles.
But Elizabeth was sure a swell girl, and
as 10:30 drew near, Mac kept looking
toward the door.
And so the dance went on, and the
hall filled, and people began to step on
each other. Mac's friends came up one
by one, with their usual greetings. "How
they goin', Mac?" "Think the frost got
the rhubarb?" "You could play a hell
of a lot better if you had a little snorta
this!" That was the way with people,
always offering you drinks when they
knew you didn't. Not that he objected to
drinking, he would tell them, but not on
the job, you know, and all that. And he
looked at the door, and Elizabeth had
not come.
"Well, here's that Shoe-shine man
again." Bell was looking across the crowd
at a tall, heavy-set man with a mous-
tache. He always showed up around
11:00, and never failed to ask for Shoe-
shine Boy. Bell was glad to see him.
When the set was over they would go
outside and have sofme good stuff. He
was a generous man, but he was tired
of asking Mac to have some. He got a
kick out of knowing the boys and giving
them good stuff. They always had a
good time, too, and May envied them, in
a way. Of course, they were a little old-
er, twenty-five or thirty, and knew what
it was all about. They never said any-
thing to Mac about not drinking, though,
and it made him feel kind of young.
So they played Shoe-shine Boy; he-
works-hard-all-day; got-no-time-to-
play; and when it was over, Bell went,
out for his snort. When he came back,
he turned to Mac. "Say, where's the
little girl of your heart, the little tor-
"Who. Oh. Her. I haven't seen her."
Hunt laughed. "Ten to one she comes
in with a dry leaf on her-back."
"Naw, not this one," said Bell, "She's
a nice kid."
"Sure. Sure. They're all as white as
the driven snow: Heh' and he waved
his arm dramatically, and started to
play Hearts and Flowers real soft.
Mac got a little red, but he didn't
say anything, and Bell came up with,
"Jeez, I had to laugh. Jim Burdick came
into the station today and he was telling
me one of these limericks. This one was
about a man from Kent. Ever heard it?"
W HEN 11:30 rolled around and the girl
hadn't shown up yet, Mac started
wondering about it. It was between
dances, and he was hunting around for
his resin, when he heard Bell mutter a
soft,.drawn-out "Well, Je - sus Christ."
He turned around, and there she was,
coming across the floor, leaning heavily
on a young, good-looking fellow, who
was also leaning heavily on her. The two
staggered up.
"Hello, hello, hello, Mac. Good ol' Turk
Lake. Hurray. Tell me," sloppily, "what
are you going to play? can you play
(Continued on Page Eleven)


a little out of place. Then once in a while
they would play a waltz, although walt-
zes weren't so popular any more. The fid-
dle would sound out on those, and that
one that came out a while back, Mas-
querade, was a beauty.'Everybody liked.
it, the words and music went so well
Mid-night sha-dows fade;
No one's left at the Mas-querade.
Everything is through, dear, but my
life for you, dear.
Lives on . .
And the boy and girl would dance closer
to each other when the yellow crepe-
paper-cheegebox moon was turned on.
T HEY TUNED UP, while Huntley told
a story about a rich Indian in a big
hotel in Oklahoma. Then they started
out, 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 Goofus, because the

older people came up. A chisel-chinned
old girl of about forty-seven, with a
small feliow, hard to tell how old he
was. Big woman, little man, quite com-
mon. Been drinking. That wasn't out-
of-the-way either. The woman said,
'Say, can you play It's a Hot Time la the
Old Town Toight?"
Bell didn't crack a smile. "Never heard
of it," he said. y
The woman was surprised, hurt. "That
is funny. Well then let me see. Oh, I
know. Remember this? 'Everybody's do-
in' it, doin' it, doin' it,' and so on. Re-
member? 'It's a bear, it's a bear, it's a
hear' " and she teetered up and down
on her toes. .
"My God," said Huntley.
The small man didn't say a word. le
was watching a couple of girls eating

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