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November 15, 1941 - Image 9

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

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

. .by Jean Brodie

AVIE sat down on the curb and
thrust his head between the
palms of his hands. He didn't
feel like Playing any more al-
thougn he'd found a sure hide-out over
in back of Ted Logan's shack, one Joe
and Griddles and the rest would never
find. Ted said it'd be all right to hide
there when he wanted to if he didn't
knock over any of the piles of card-
board and newspapers he had stored up
there. Ted was a swell fellow even if
he was-a black man, and Dave didn't
care if he was black like his ma did.
"You stay away from that junk heap,
Davie. You know I don't want you over
around there. You keep away or I'll tell
your pa," she'd scream after him from
their third floor front window time after
time as he ran past the house on his
way through the vacant lot to the
shack. The other fellows, Joe and Grid-
dIes, even Jack Gordon, thought Ted
was a good guy. Jack was older and
knew more about it anyway. It was.
because Ted pushed a junk cart up and
down alleys and picked up the stuff they
threw away that ma didn't like him.
Davie couldn't figure there, was any-
thing wrong with doing that, especially
when some of the things they threw
away were brand new.
Davie liked to be over in the shack
when Ted came in with a new cart load.
He'd perch on the top of th barrel
that Ted called a chair and watch while
Ted unloaded armful after armful of
newspapers and wrapping paper and
cardboard boxes. Cardboard was good.
It weighed more and brought more
money down where Ted weighed in.
Some of the other fellows would come
and watch too because Ted would give
them the stamps on some of the big
boxes if he came across any. Griddles
had a great big bunch of stamps from
Russia that came on a good heavy piece
of board that he'd traded for his second-
hand pair of roller skates. Tere'd be
the funnypapers they could read from
all the Snday papers and the fellows
could just gprawl out on the floor and
read them. In Tuesday's collection, they
were only two days old and funnies were
always good. Rags, old hats, even shoes
were thrown away with every bit of the
bottoms in perfect condition. People
were crazy who threw away things like
that. Ted brought them all in.
But his mother didn't want him to
see Ted. Davie couldn't understand why.
Ted worked hard, harder than pa ever
did, harder than pa even did when he
worked. Davie couldn't see why pa was
any better when he sat out on the porch
all day on a wooden box and talked to
Joe's pa and lots of other men, or stood
down on the corner outside of Joe's pa's
pool room. Sitting th#re on that crate
he never did anything better than Ted
did with his cart, even if he talked a
whle lot more. What Ted did was
work. Pa always talked about people
like the Allans. They owned the factoiy
down the block a way next to Griddle's
house, not an awful big place, but pa
said they made a mint of money. It
always smelt funny when Davie walked
by anyway. Sometimes Mr. Allan's card
be out in front, a big long one with a
dark green bottom and a light green
top. It was so long-Joe said his pa said
it was a special. Once Davie looked in-
side but before he could see much, one
of the workmen came out and told him
to beat it. Davie never saw much of Mr.
Allan although a lot of the workmen
parked outside of the house prtly on
the grass. Mrs. Griscola downstairs in
the rooms under them on the first floor
would run out and yell at them for spoil-
ing her grass or yell at the gang when
they started handball there. There
really wasn't any grass, not enough to
yell like that about and none of the
other roomers cared about what grass
there was. With all the kids from the
houses around running all over it, Mrs.
Griscola was always yelling.

AT LEAST, Ted was always happy and
could even make the kids laugh
when he wanted to. Pa never smiled,
never found nothing to smile at. Not
that Davie didn't like his pa. There were
times that he remembered when pa had
been proud of him when he'd come in
first in grade spelling and won the silver
reading medal last year in the second
grade. But Davie wished his pa would
do something besides sit. So did his ma.
The money she made from working at
people's houses couldn't be enough. It
was on Monday and Thursday that they
ate best, the days ma was gone from
seven in the morning until dinner time
at night. Davie waited for Mondays and
Thursdays to come special.
Davie sat there with his feet on the
curb. It was Friday and there was no
school tomorrow and tomorrow was a
big day, if Davie could manage it. He
watched a leaf carried along by the thin
dirty stream of water, totter on the
brink of the sewer and fall. If his mother
caught him, he might just as well be
that leaf and fall down the sewer with
it. Ted had shown him what he thought
of him and asked him to help ptish the
cart tomorrow all day. He could go with
Ted to the places where people threw
away the rags and hats and shoes that
were brand new. If he helped enough,
Ted might give him something like the
stamps he gave to Griddles. Ted didn't
ask everyone to come with him. Ted
and Davie were great friends and Ted
wanted him to go along. From the cor-
ner came a loud yell as Griddles rushed
.from behind a car to give the set-up
cans a hearty kick and dash off again
across the vacant lot. Davie heard the
"All's free" call as two or three others
pounded by. It would be worthwhile
even if he were caught to go with Ted
for the whole day, even if ma was good
and sore. He'd have 0o be up early be-
cause Ted started early, earlier than for
school, and slip downstairs out by the
side way.
It was easy to do because pa came in
late and ma waited up for him and no-
body was up yet except Mr. Griscola who
had left for the market. He always left
early so he could meet the farmers com-
ing in with the vegetables, the bunches
of carrots and the cabbages and yellow
squashes he put, ot in bushels in front
of his store. The farmers must get up
awfully early to beat Mr. Griscola. Davie
stopped for a moment by the door, shut-
ting it carefully so it would not slam
and wake ma. If his ma woke, he could
tell her he was going off with Joe and
Griddles like they sometimes did the
time they hiked to the park with the
swimming pool outdoors. But it'd be
better if she didn't catch him.
TED WAS UP and dressed when Davie
got there and was bent over tying
up a pile of papers in the corner by his
bed as Davie banged the door. He mo-
tioned Davie to sit while he sorted out
two big piles and threw the third heavy
bundle tied with string on top. There
was a big load of paper in the shacks
paper and other things, and Davie knew
Ted worked hard to get them because
sometimes the cart was not so full when
Ted passed the house on his way through
the lot. When he was ready, Ted pulled
the cart from behind the shed where it
was half sheltered by the bushes. The
shiny red license plate was new and
shone against the mended burlap of
the big bag. Davie thought the red
license looked nice with its big black
letters and it made the wagon look im-
Davie was proud when Ted let him
push it across Randall Street and up
Adams. He was proud when people
turned to look at him and he knew they
were amazed to see that he could do a
man's work and that Ted had asked him
to go with him. He wanted everyone
to see him. The people standing in the
doorways and walking along the street

and getting on the streetcars or driving
beside him in their cars, they all turned
to look. One pretty yellow haired girl
in a car smiled at him as she drove by.
Ted put his prms on the bar and Davie
walked beside him. He was doing a
man's job with a license from the gov-
ernment to do it. He looked up at Ted.
They passed street after street, ones
Davie never heard of, until Davie noticed
that the place had grass that Mr. Gris-
cola would have yelled louder than ever
if she caught the gang running over it,
,It was nice and green and Davie would
have liked to step on it to see if some-
one would come out and holler, but, af-
ter all, toe was doing a job. After the
strips of grass got larger, Ted stopped
for a minute and looked up an alley.
Ted must have known every street in
the city because Ted was awfully smart
on those things.
They found a lot of things in that
alley. It was clean with nice 'buildings
on either side with big doors where Ted
said people kept their cars. They were
awfully nice places for people to park
their cars in. There were garbage piles
and junk heaps in neat piles behind
each house, and Ted told Davie he could
look in the piles to his left arm. Paper
was good, big boxes or cans, rags or old
shoes, anything. Davie didn't miss a
thing and he became excited at the bi
box behind a big white house with green
boards at the windows. There were
funny stamps on it too, for Griddles,
and it was. filled with shavings. Davie
wondered where it was from. Ted was
mostly quiet, and as the bundles of
papers grew, he tied them with the
cord looped around the handle of the
cart. It was fun because you never
knew .what you might find.
Davie stayed close to Ted because Ted
was mad when Davie wandered into a
yard when the gate was open. He would
have liked to 'IhekvMrs. Griscola The
grass in the yard and the big yellow
flowers near the house. Davie never saw
a house like that, probably more than
six families lived there. Maybe Mr.
Allan lived in a house that nice with
only a few families that didn't make
much noise, because Mr. Allan had a big
car and maybe could afford something
like that. Ted said Mr. Allan had a
bigger house by himself but Davie knew
he was joking.
The cart was nearly half full by noon
but they hadn't found anything too ex-
citing. It was just fun to be with Ted.
Once a black girl had stepped out of a
yard in a-black and white dress and
dumped out a can of garbage with a
lot of empty bottles in it that smashed
on the cement but she didn't speak to
Ted. Davie thought that was funny be-
cause she must have known him, being
black like him. And Ted didn't look up
at her. They ate lunch from the brown
bag in the -corner of the cart that Ted
always kept there. It was a special
lunch with thick bread with sweet jllyl
on it. Ted's ma had sent it from Mem-
phis, he said, and his ma was the best
cook in the world. The sandwiches were
good and hs was hungry as a bear from
the man's work he was doing,
After lunch, Davie began to get a
little tired and the cart began to get
heavier. He didn't mind letting Ted
push all the time and even across the
streets where he wanted people to see
him. Davie was tired. In one alley, a
girl in short white pants, a tall girl like
Mrs. Griscola's daughter, was hitting a
ball against the back wall of a garage ,
with a raquet. When Ted and Davie
passed, she stared hard at them and
Davie slipped his hands on the bar and
tried not to walk too proudly. She prob-
ably wondered why Ted had invited
Davie to go with him. He wanted her
to see how hard he was working. Papers
and boxes were still to be found and
picked up and tied and put in the cart
with the rags and cans in the corner.

A round black flat thing just a small
piece broken from it lay in the alley and
Ted picked it up carefully and put it
in the special bag under the handle
along with good shoes and old clothes.
Davie found an old straw hat with bright
red flowers on it. It was a beautiful
color with flowers on it that were
brand new. They went in the bag too.
The flowers were pretty.
At the next corner, Davie saw a lot
of kids his own age playing baseball in
the alley. The gang played baseball.
least they had until Griddles baseball
split in two when Jack Gordon socked it.
Jack was plenty good and strong and
could hit the ball all the way across the
lot. Whoever's side Jack was on was
sure to win always. The kids were all
right, he noticed coming closer. The
guy pitching looked like Joe,something
like him only he looked different. Davie
was working and hadn't time for base-
ball. When he and, Ted came up t
them, they stood aside. There was an-
other ball by the side of two or three
bats, and the batter was swinging an-
other. The dark one in the middle.
Davie looked at it. Give it to Jack
Gordon and he could sock the ball any-
where. Davie wondered why the kids
were whispering. He straightened his,
shoulders and put his hands on the bar,
giving the biggest pile of papers a hard
business like pat to keep it in place. One
of them started to laugh. Ted was bend-
ing over a pile of papers by the gate.
Davie stooped to help Ted life the
bundle. He straightened quickly as the
boy who was batter and looked like Joe
knocked out a straight grounder and
the ball rolled in a wobbly trail almost
to Davie's feet.
He picked it up. It was a good ball.
hard and firm, a real good one, probably
cost more than Griddle's and Griddle's
had a good one and he'd got it for
Christmas the year before, only there
was a little rip in the white cover of this
one and a little piece of string hung
out. Davie turned it over in his hands
and pressed in the bit of string. It was
a good ball. How easy his ma could sew
up that little hole. The gang could use
a ball like that. Drawing back his arm,
he threw it down the alley to the kids.
It was a good straight throw and it
bounced only once. Let those kids know
he had a good arm.
One of the kids laughed and shouted
something to the boy like Joe with the
bat and tossed him the ball, the one
Davie had thrown in with a real good
throw. He tossed it up into the air
and knocked it down the alley again.
Ted stopped it with his shoe as it rolled
up to him by the cart. Ted must have
done something fuiy because they
were all laughing now. He had only
picked up the ball with the dangling
bit of string and without turning toward
the kids, threw it into the bag bhind
the handle. Davie stared at him, then
looked down the alley. The kids were
playing again and the boy like Joe was
pitching with a new ball, his back to-
ward Davie. Davie looked at Ted and
started to say something but Ted didn't
answer and gave the wagon a hard push.
Davie listened to the shouts behind him.
Why was Ted sore at him? Maybe he
was sore because the kids had laughed,
but Ted always could make the gang
laugh and he liked it when they did.
Why was he sore?
Around the next corner, Ted reached
in and took out the ball. He handed it
to Davie. His hands closed on it hard
and round with one little split on the
end that could be fixed so easy, even
with the piece of string hanging from it.
His ma could sew it up. It was sound
and firm and almost brand new. The
gang could use this ball. He looked up
to be sure. Ted nodded. With the ball
clasped in one hand, Davie pushed on
the bar. The cart was getting heavy.

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