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June 03, 1941 - Image 4

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

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A

Page Four

'PERSPECT I VE S

MR. GJLHAUSEN
..By Helene Suarez

"WICE A WEEK he spent two
.hours rolling his cigarettes on a
little porcelain machine. His at-
titude was so ritualistic that on
no occasion did I ever interrupt him.
It was like a ceremony of a religious
service. Every movement he knew from
long habit and he performed it pains-
takingly in absorbed silence. His wife
never spoke to him until after he had
put the machine away and the neat
heap of cigarettes lay in the box he
kept particularly for them. They were
not quite professional because he had
to twist the ends of the rolls to keep the
tobacco in. Afterwards he carefully
brushed the crumbs up. His wife always
said Mr. Gihausen was a very tidy man.
MSr. Gihausen hadn't had any work
for four years now. He had been a barber
in Denver before the depression, and had
owned a little shop there, but his wife
had made him sell it and move east.
It had been her ambition to own a
big house, and to have her husband
find work - something that would pay
him better than barbering. Perhaps
something different - something more
suitable, Mrs. Gilhausen had argued to
her husband, for in her heart she had
never thought barbering was a really
fine profession. How could she be proud
of a husband who cut other men's hair,
and shaved them? It was in a way as
though he were, - well, almost a ser-
vant. But she didn't say this aloud -
only tried to convince him that there
was a fabulous fortune waiting for him
in the bigger cities. Everybody there
earned more in a week than he did in a
month in his little barber shop.
All the barbering he had done since
they moved to Detroit was on his son,
Lawrence. He had quit looking for a job
long since, and now had a real pattern
worked out for his leisurely existence.
Having nothing to do, he did it as a
gentleman should. He amplified all the
little daily necessities of life into a
regular routine, - took a straight hour
and a quarter over every meal, listened
to the baseball games come in over the
radio from one till five with religious
absorption, read two newspapers from
cover to cover every evening and lis-
tened to Major Bowes and the Lone
Ranger until he retired at nine or so -
just as he used to in Denver when he
had his shop. Mr. Gihausen had always
liked to sit in his rocker on an evening
and listen to the Lone Ranger. Great
place, the west, - a fellow could be
his own boss there - maybe start a
little shop of his own and be set for
life. Adventurous fellow, that Lone Ran-
ger.
In a way he had relapsed into that
ideal period of youth when somebody
else worries about the meals, the house,
and the bills. For his wife did all these.
She ran a rooming house. Mrs. Gil-
hausen was a large woman, and the
depression with its omnipresent fear of
the next meal, made her eat each meal
as if it were going to be the last she
would see for some time. She set a god
table in self-defense against an en-
croaching feeling of destitution. Conse-
quently she grew even larger. Mrs. Gil-
hausen had the substantial shoulders,
the breadth and height given to most
men. You would look at her and you
would say to yourself, "Now if Mrs. Gil-
hausen with her ambition, her more than
ambition; her indiscriminate pursuit of
everything she conceives as opportunity,
and her practical head, were the man of
the family, - - "but then you realized
that Mrs. Gilhausen was the man of
the family.
It was only when there was a visitor
in the parlor that she turned feminine.
Six feet tall, but feminine nevertheless.
Mrs. Gilhausen had standards of suc-
cessful living that festered constantly

in her mind. What people would think
made a lot of difference to her. She
wouldn't for the world let anyone know
that she had more than any woman's
ordinary amount of responsibility in the
house, or that Mr. Gilhausen wasn't
earning the living for the family. So
when any chance visitor came, she put
on a little play, The Perfect Husband
and the Ideal Wife. She would brush
down her apron and walk daintily on the
front of her big feet to the least ob-
vious chair and sit there shyly without
saying a word all the while Mr. Gil-
hausen talked. She played her part well.
One got the impression that had she
been a foot shorter, she would have
clung to Mr. Gilhausen, and he would
have been the ambitious and impressive
one. But the idea of a petite and im-
practical Mrs. Gilhausen seemed odd
if not entirely impossible.
Yet there were moments when she re-
lapsed into a touching wistfulness. Mr.

roomers a business. It wasn't really so
much actual business cares as the moral
weight of responsibility that she would
have liked to be rid of.
There house was an old one, square,
high, built of grimy brick with a gaunt
leanto overlooking a small dusty hand-
kerchief of a .backyard. The freight
tracks ran down to the river nearby,
and nominally the house was a rooming
place for railroad men. I say nominally
because business fell off during the de-
pression and the place not only looked
neglected, but was neglected. Mrs. Gil-
hausen had only two roomers now in
the whole place. It was a hard summer.
THE GILHAUSENS were nice people to
live with. They weren't like the ord-
inary run that lived on the street. The
family kept up appearances, - a house
to live in, fairly good food on the table,
their clothes mended. and an ambition
to move into the country. It was a
vague and undefined ambition. They

Cont ri#bu orj
ernon Blake left school a couple of weeks ago to add his strength
to Uncle yam's armed naval forces, and that means you will be seeing no
more of his stories in Perspectives. If he comes through what seems to
be in store for him he will probably be back at his typewriter about 1945
working full time, producinig material that will pass over the last great
obstacle of young writers and bring him fat green checks instead of re-
jection. slips.
Emile Gete, the slightly pudgy gentleman from Mississippi who was
recently appointed managing editor of The Daily and stomps about the
publications building with affectionate dignity, turns up about three
times a year with a story that might have been written by anyone but
him. He's covered all fields from the sensitive youth story to legends about
witches; and now he offers something, so far as we know, unclassifiable,
But he writes very well, and that is enough.
Hervie Haufler (called the Colonel) used to be fiction editor of this
magazine and lost his chance for advancement by being appointed The
Daily's editor last year. His essay in this issue will give you an idea of
the earthy, home-spun environment from which he came to this school,
wearing no stockings and a black bowtie.
Helene Suarez plays the piano very well and writes anong other
things, plays. If any of you can learn more about her than that the
editors of Perspectives will be glad to hear from you.
Esther Jewell gave our linotype operators mild nervous breakdowns
by trying to misspell consistently in her story about the old German
woman. the does not speak much about her work, and we think that is
a good sign of how well she writes.
Laurence Spingarn, one of the old guard, is packing away his rope-
soles and nor'wester for a summer on the coast of Maine. Nothing new
can be said about his work.

to move to the big city. She hadn't ex-
pected it to work out quite so badly.
Of course Mrs. Gilhausen wasn't wil-
fully to blame. She couldn't have fore-
seen where her aspirations would leave
them. She was neither calculating nor
well-informed. She just wanted to do
things. She had the enthusiasm which
carried her into dilemmas without the
mentality to figure her way out of them.
She had enough imaginatior to vision
all the possibilities of success, but too
little to envisage the terrifying premise
of failure. She didn't ksow what she
had to contend with, and she never
would, even in the very midst of the
city, know the multiplicity of the prob-
lems which faced her. In all the years
she had lived with him, she had never
realized that her husband was not a
city man, and never would be adjusted
to its ways. He was as lost here as he
would be in the middle of the ocean. The
one thing in the world he cold do was
barbering. Once he suggested, a little
headily, as though he were suggesting
an enormous venture such as opening a
new stock exchange, that hg start a little
barber shop in the house. Al th1e men
in the neighborhood would coe there,
he said.
He and Mrs. Gilhausen talked it over.
She was dubious - all those mem - they
would come tramping in through the
front door. They'd wear out the carpet
in no time. "Well, maybe they could use
the side door," said her husband. He told
one of the roomers, and the rooser came
down one afternoon, and Mr. Gill ausen
cut his hair in the kitchen.
"But really," said Mrs. Gilhausesn,
"You can't doing that all the time, How
can I get the meals? Besides that hair
might get in the food. It isn't wrth it
for only a quarter."
Mr. Gilhausen looked diffidentlyat
the quarter. It was the first money he.
had earned in four years. He wondered
if he ought to point out to his eifs that
she hadn't been in the kitchen getting
a meal on Saturday afternoon. But no,
he thought, she was probably right;
anyway. After all, it was her kitchen.
He gave the quarter to yung Lawrence,
"Here son," he said, "here's a little.
spending money."
But Mrs. Gilhausen st1l fe that he
could do something if only he would
make up his mind. Just what, she didn't
know, - not barbering, of course, -
but surely he could think of sotmething.
She tried to be inspiring but always at
the sound of that dominant and convinc-
ing note in her voice, Mr. Gilhausen
would sneak out and turn on the radio
or take his paper to the frost porch.
It was hard to tell who was the more
exasperated, Mrs. Gilhausen, o her hus-
band.
She used to get out an album with
pictures of her old family home out west,.
with great spacious lawns i front of
it. To trade that gracious space for
opportunity, and then to be cheated of
even opportunity. She showed me little
Lawrence in long lace petticoats, and
another little boy she had lost,
"I always did want a little girl, too,"
she used to add.
She had been a school teacher when
she was young, and she liked to sing.
She always used to sing 'in church bach
home, she told me, until she came east.
All her stories seemed to come to an
abrupt end when she came east. Her
one ambition now was tc have a little
place in the country, as it had once
been to have a big house in th.e city:
And she still. tried to direct 1'r. Gil-
hausen toward her ambitions, but he
was beyond all coercion. Life seemed ta
have come to a standstill for him, too.
I felt at first that his attitude v'as all
wrong. Surely if he would look, he could
find work. But Mr. Gihausen 'was too.
(Continued on Page Eight)'

Gilhausen made it a custom to sleep half
an hour after the midday meal, after
which he removed to the porch and sat
in a rocker in the sunshine and watched
the cars go by. His wife would watch
him through the window as she tidied
up and spoke before she thought better
of it.
"Sometimes I think Mr. Gilhausen is
just not ambitious."
Then she would almost blush as if
caught in some guiltiness, as if she had
betrayed her husband in that most
shameful and unmasculine of all sins a
man can commit in a woman's eyes,
the inability to face the world. Then
the words came variously and apolo-
getically. Her conjectures as to just what
her husband might do were all colored
with the creeping conviction that he
would never do anything at all. She in-
variably ended with, "Then I wouldn't
have to work."
Her work was obviously always there,
a house to clean, but the business im-
plications of it were slight. There was
something pathetic about calling two

thought of it in about the same way
people think of going to heaven when
they die, with the proviso that there
may not be a heaven or they may not
have pulled the right strings here on
earth. The Gilhausens lived in the base-
ment of their huge house, and they kept
the kitchen and one small room, where
they stored some of the furniture they
were afraid the basement dampness
would unglue, and all the three floors
above 'stood empty. The obvious infer-
ence was that roomers would move in
and occupy all those rooms, and to that
end Mrs. Gilhausen cleaned the whole
house every day so that it would be tidy
and neat when its new occupants came.
There were plenty of men in the street
who would given anything they had to
sleep in those nice clean rooms. The
thing Mrs. Gilhausen never admitted
was that they didn't have anything.
Times had certainly changed since the
Gilhausens had moved here from Den-
ver in those great days before the de-
pression. Sometimes Hrs. Gilhausen
wondered whether she had been right

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