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November 15, 1941 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1941-11-15

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Page Two


... Continued from Page 1

and then I heard her go down the stairs
slowly, and the front door closed.
HAD FORGOTTEN about going to
school. I wasn't sure if I wanted to
go or not, but the captain said I would,
so I would. And I would be on the boat
all summer. Next fall is many years
away when you're five in the spring.
I whispered there in the dark "Goodby
aunt Del," and f found myself crying
again. I looked a the big moon through
my window, the big white moon in the
middle of the deep blue, making black
the tops of the flats across the alley,
making a skeleton the tree in our back
yard, and my mother said "Go to sleep
now," and the moon was soft, the light
was soft, and I said "Goodnight mama."
It seemed as if she kissed me then, but
of course I know she couldn't have
really. The captain was very quiet in
the next room, but I could hear the soft
creak of his big mission rocking chair,
the one with the leather cushion that
came off rusty shreds on your clothes, so
he was not asleep, and suddenly my
mother and 11, were walking along the
street and she was smiling and saying
something and I was looking up at her,
at the way she made the words and
But she was gone, and I was lying in
my bed again looking at the moon where
she had come from, soft gentle and pale,
only now the moon was not so white be-
cause the light on my bureau was on
and the captain was there pulling a
drawer out softly so as not to wake me
up. There was a suitcase, his suitcase
because I didnt have one then, empty
open on the foot of my bed, and by the
frown on his face and the tentative piles
of handkerchiefs and socks not yet
put in the suitcase, and the way he
poked his hand around in the drawer
from one thing to another, I could see
he didn't know where things were nor
what to pack. I hadn't made any noise
waking up, because the captain didn't
lok over at me. He took my best shirt,
a white on'that wasn't a blouse, out of
the drawer and held'it up to look at it.
It looked small.
"That's my best shirt," I said. "She
never packbd it."
After he jumped he tried to fold the
shirt with the arms in back the way it
had been, but he couldn t so he said
"Why the hell don't you get up and help
me instead of lying there making com-
ments?" .
I got up' and put my slippers on. He
always seemed very big when he was
dressed and I was in pajamas. I said
"I'm glad I'm going with you instead of
aunt Del."
He put his hands on my shoulders and
looked down at me. I pretty near cried.
"Did you hear us?" he said.
"Yes, I'm awfully glad, dad. I want
to be with you." And then I did cry,
because he pulled me tight against him
and rubbed my hair with one hand and
said "I'm glad too, son." I criei hard,
holding onto him with my arms around
his neck now because he had knelt down.
It was the first time I had cried tdany-
one about all this, the first time I had
let anyone wipe my nose and eyes with
his handkerchief or say "there there
now" and pat me on the back. I felt a
lot better when finally I blew my nose
and shut up, but when I looked up
at the captain I saw he hadn't been cry-
ing, and I knew how aunt Del had felt
begging me to cry, because it wasn't
until I had got the ache out of my
throat and the dumb pain cries out of
my head that I saw how terrible it is
to store up grief. He stood there with
one side of his face wet with tears,
none of his own, and he pulled my hair
and said "Come on and get dressed. You
got to help me with this goddamn pack-
ing." I was ashamed to have cried, but
the captain said "Forget it. It's good

for you. Long as you don't. do it in front
of strangers. For God's sake get some
clothes on. We want to get down to
Wyandotte before the jitneys stop run-
ining." So I knew it was all right. The
jitneys ran all night, but I didn't say
anything, I just dressed in a hurry.
We put in a lot of clothes I didn't
need, and some of my books and he said
we would buy me some more at old Adam
Ludwig's in Alpena, and I wanted to take
my electric train but he said on the
boat it was D.C. and the train was for
A.C. and I didn't know what that meant
but I said I would take the bag of mar-
bles and the toy soldiers instead. There
were lots of my things we couldn't take,
but like he said we'd be coming home
again and I could get whatever I needed,
and besides I knew that on the boat I
never played much with toys because I
liked to follow the men around and
watch them, or climb on the conveyor
or go down in the engine room arid"
watch the oilers and the brass shafts or
the cook fixing dinner in the galley. I
didn't need toys. There was all in the

switch clicked and he came slowly down
the stairs with the shirt in his hand.
"You better wear your jacket," he
said, and got it out of the closet at the
foot of the stairs. He put the shirt "in
the duffel bag, then he looked around
the room. "Where's the suitcase?" he
said, and I said upstairs. "You run up
and get it, Jim. I got to see that the
house is locked up."
I went back up in the dark at he head
of the stairs and got the suitcse, but
it was pretty heavy and I was having
trouble getting it down using both hands
when the captain came back in the
living room and saw me there and ran
up the stairs to take it. "I keep forget-
ting you're a kid, Jim. Any time I do,
you remind me, will you? You're liable
to snap your moorings, carrying things
that're too heavy for you." I said it
wasn't too heavy, but he said don't
argue with him and come on. He opened
the door, fixed the latch, then he turned
out the light and we went out. He had
the duffel bag over one shoulder and the
suitcase in his other hand, but after we

CERTAIN HIDDEN THINGS, by Jay MoCormick ............ Page One
THE THREE RAVENS, by Gerald Burns ................... Page Three
PENNSYLFAWNISH DEITCH by Richard Ludwig .......... Page Five
POETRY .. ..................................Pages Six, Seven
A LETTER TO THE PUBLIC -. .................... Page Eight
THE BALL, by Jean Brodie .............................. Page Nine
by Robert Hemenway ........................ Page Fleven
BOOK REVIEWS .......................... Pages Ten, Eleven, Twelve

the shadow of a tree trunk where a
streetlight laid it on the sidewalk.
In the daytime to get downtown you'
took a streetcar or a big green double
decker bus wtih a loose brass radiator
cap, but at night or to go to Wyandotte
it was always the jitneys. They were all
touring cars, big Chryslers or Hudsons
or Packards, and they had room for six
or seven people in back and three in the
front seat. When it rained they had
celluloid and canvas windows, the driv-
ers drove like hell, but tonight it wasn't
raining, and there were no windows up
in the big white car, and the captain
and I were the only passengers because
it was after midnight already. We sat
in the front seat and the captain said
how did he like these Studebakers and
the driver said they were all right, he'd
had a couple of Packards before this and
a Cadillac but they didn't come any bet-
ter than this job'right here. I looked out
on my side at the stores, at the car
barns, at the place they were building
a whole block two stories high, and we
drove along fast, the captain saying he
was going all the way down to Wyan-
dotte, he was captain on a boat down
there and she got out at two o'clock. The
driver said how did you get a job on one
of those boaps, it was a rottoi job driv-
ing one of these hacks, and the city
wanted to get rid of them anyhow so
the D.S.R. would have all the business,
and the captain started to tell him, and
I guess I must have fallen asleep, be-
cause the next thing I knew we were
parked in front of a place downriver
somewhere I new because the windows
were dirty and there was some kind of
a factory across the street, and the cap-
tain came out from the shadows with
something wrapped in a newspaper and
said thanks to the driver and the driver
said that was all right, a man needed
something at a time like this. So I
knew the captain had told about my
mother dying, because that was what
they always said at funerals and then
they got drunk, and inside the news-
paper there must be a bottle. We were
driving.along again and the captain said
did the driver want a little snort, and he
said no, they didn't dare drink while
they were driving because if a passenger
smelled it on their breath they might
get reported.
THE CAPTAIN didn't seem to be
brooding now. He was almost cheer-
ful as we got out at the North Plant gate
and paid the driver. He tipped him a
dollar besides the fare. We walked
through th gate and the policeman
came out with his face looking sad as
if he wanted to say something about
my mother, but the captain said "C'mon
Jim" to me and only saicas we walked
past the gate house, "How are you to-
night, Ted?" just as he always said times
before my mother was dead and times
after. I felt bad about the captain.seem-
ing to forget the flowers -and blac,
hearse and organ, coming back into talk
about cars and jobs, and buying whis-
key, yet because I had seen him tonight
when he thought about nothing but her,
I did not think he was through grieving.
I held inside myself my mother to my
chest and wept, yet on the jitney, here
as we walked through the dark yards of
the plant, my eyes were dry, I talked
about a yard engine, a ride on it some-
day, what was the big disk of steel for
there by the machine shop, and the cap-
tain' answered, carrying the duffel bag,
the suitcase, the bottle under his arm.
My eyes were no longer red from the
weeping I had done alone with him in
my room, I had in some part of my mind
a grief, but in the big part, the front,
half-ashamed, was the taste and smell
of the food laid out in the galley for
midnight lunch, the sharp chunks of
store cheese, the wilted, warm dishes of
(Continued on Page For)

world that I could ever d~ without them.
They only got dusty or lost or fell over-
board on the boat.
FINALLY we were'all through. Most of
the stuff was in the suitcase, and
what couldn't go there went in an old
duffet.ag of the captain's Then he said
for me to go downstairs while he got a
clean shirt in his room, so I took 'the
bag over my shoulder and went down in
the living room. It was very quiet. Only
one of the lamps was lighted. I sat for
a long time staring at the books in the
case, then I read their titles. When the
clock with the ship's bells struck I shiv-
ered and breathed faster. The captain
was taking a long time to get his shirt.
Maybe he couldn't find one. I knew that
really he wasn't looking for one because
he wasn't slamming drawers open and
swearing, but now I wanted to go, I
had that excited shiver in my stomach
and I wanted to be out in the night
walking up to Jefferson or riding fast
in the jitney. I went to the stairs and
called "Can't you, find a shirt, dad?"
"Shirt?-Yeah, I got one," he said as
if he were waking up. I heard the bed
springs creak and a drawer open. "I'm
coming," he called. Then.everything was
still up ~there in his and my mother's
room for a minute, and finally the light

shut the door he put them both down
while he lit his pipe, and then we went
dowsn the steps and headed up towards
I felt like skipping or running all the
way. It was cool out, and dark, and I
could feel little shivers run up and down
my back. Most of the houses along the
street were dark, and where they were
by a streetlight their windows seemed
even darker as if they were empty
houses. There was no one else on the
street and it was so quiet our footsteps
echoed and I could hear the squeak in
the captain's right shoe every time he
stepped with it. I was so excited that
I couldn't stop talking even though my
breath came fast as if I'd been running,
and sometimes I hopped along sidewise,
looking up at the captain to make him
answer one of the questions I kept
shooting at him. He puffed n his pipe
and looked down at me sometimes and
answered one or two words around the
pipe stem he had between his teeth, and
once he shifted the bag and suitcase
around the other-way, and once he said
don't trip, and once don't make so much
noise, but by that time we were halfway
up the street and I was getting tired so
I just walked along breathing deep the
cool night smell, once in a whiletwalking

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