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Monthly Archives: November 2007

A Novel

Far Gresham

Part I

Clip 6.

     As you may have guessed  neither Warbaby for I exist.  The struggle for existence became too intense for me to survive.  Warbaby took over for me for a while but I, the substratum, was too crushed to be revived.  Warbaby and I disappeared and He took over the wreckage and guided it beyond the limits of this story.

     He was given a formidable task but He successfully brought us all through.  It was up to Him to unite the two spheres of consciousness and connect the series of dissociated memories into a replica of the events as they happened.  Having succeeded in placing the memories in chronological order He then reconstituted the relationship of each memory to the others.  He obliterated the line between the conscious and subconscious to give Himself free access to our entire mind thus retrieving the memories of the Hirshes and Eloy which had been hidden.  Thus the Hirsh Constellation was reconstituted.

     The division in our mind between the conscious and subconscious had been so extreme that He was forced to live with two realities.  The daytime world and night time dream world.  Both were equally real but He was able to keep their realms separate while merging both realities into one whole.  Thus His mind remembered the details of boths realities.  He could recall events from life and remember dreams that had been dreamt while I was still at the Children’s Home.  Indeed, let me stress, the dreams formed a parallel existence beside his waking life.

page 251.

    In addition to keeping the two realms separate there were a number of false memories which had to be recognized as such and unraveled.  The trauma of the false memores had not been such as to be received into the subconscious but had been transformed into metaphors of the group of incidents they represented.  Having mastered these His brain became united and His, our, personality coalesced.  It was integrated once again.

     The integration took place in both the day world and the dream world.  Compulsive behavior disappeared from our psychological makeup.  He was able to deal with others without guilt, shame or obsequiousness.

     As in the real world his behavior changed, so in the dream world the images of psychic reality adjusted to the new conditions.  The elements of our life were arranged to permit a wholesome approach to living.  Permit me to digress for a moment to portray the dream landscape in the few months before, during and after the integration.

page 252.

     The dreamscape took the form of a plain coterminous with the shape of the brain.  The plain represented the plane of the lines separating the conscious from the subconscious.  The plain was a vast desert, sere and brown; dotted here and there with oases meager enough to support only minimal life.  In the middle of this vast plain, when it first entered my brain, was a thin stream of water representing the ‘living’ water of life.  In the center of the plain it began a descent beneath the surface of the plain.  I followed it down between banks of rock salt.  I wondered how the water stayed fresh.  The cave was sterile; no life existed.

     After some distance the stream disappeared beneath immense steel structures.  The only way further was to enter a chute which plunged one at a ferocious speed into the bowels of the inferno.  I was deposited in a room which represented the furnace room of Longfellow.  A shadowy figure tricked me into entering a room from which there was no exit other than the steel door which slammed behind me with a laugh.  I did not despair.  I escaped this room of which the exits were locked by pissing into the ventilation ducts which created an offensive odor in the rest of the building.  The attendants of this structure were compelled to locate the source of the odor.  Their search eventually brought them to the room where I had been completely forgotten.  Unaware that I was still there they opened the door and I slipped out unobserved.

     I now found myself at the very bottom of the structure from which it was not possible to retrace my steps.  I now faced a bank of elevators.  The elevators were dilapidated and functioned imperfectly.  If I could get an elevator to stop where I was the doors wouldn’t remain open long enough for me to enter.  If the doors stayed open I couldn’t get them closed.

page 253.

     If I could get them to close they rose and fell in an erratic manner, nor could I get them to stop at the desired floor, I couldn’t get out.  When or if they stopped I entered deserted floors from which I could find no exit.  When I returned to the elevators they continued their erratic behavior.  But then He succeeded in organizing our past into a coherent history which released me from the elevators.  At the same time the plain ceased being a plane and became terra firma.  Our subconscious was united with our conscious.  We now had free access to our whole brain.  The psychic reality then gave birth to a new form transforming the dream elements into their actual realities.

     After traversing the desert of reality, which can never be changed, instead of approaching the desert cavern with the thin stream of ‘living’ water, I now approached a mountain range of moderate height.  The foothills rose where formerly the entrance to the cave had been.  The mountain range rose and stretched for some distance to the West.  As I approached this yet barren slope an immense snowfall began which descended to the base of the foothills.  The snow fall on the mountain was tremendous, perhaps hundreds of feet deep.  The snow at the base of the foothills was melting as I began my ascent.  I had to splash through water and slush as grass already showed through the snow.  As I climbed, the snow supported my weight; nor did I slip.  The air was crisp and wonderful as at that height I seemed to be standing on the top of the world.  I could see forever in the distance.

page 254.

     Unlike the cavern where I ws alone, there were other people walking around me although I didn’t know them and we didn’t speak.  We crossed the length of the range to a high bluff at which the range terminated.  Looking down, perhaps thousands of feet, I saw a myriad of people, ant sized, cavorting in front of the bluff.  As I looked down the sheer cliff of snow I divined that they had carved the face of their god in the skirting of snow which they were worshipping from the desert floor.  I smiled to myself:  ‘How silly.’  Didn’t they realize that when it warmed up their god would melt away?  I laughed malevolently to myself.  Then, although I was afraid of the consequences I leaped from that fearful height and landed atop their god.  The snow gave way beneath the shock of my fall.  The image of their god disappeared as the snow cascaded into the plain.  I sat unhurt, still high in the sky, atop their demolished god while the snow which had cascaded down into the desert plain began to melt.  A myriad number of streams of ‘living’ water flowed out in all directions while magifnicent greenery sprang into life and joy pervaded my universe, my psychic reality.

     But this anticipates that which you will not be shown at this time; although in true Hollywood fashtion there is a happy ending shimmering on the far distant horizon that is no longer visible at this reduced altitude.

page 255.

     For the story’s present only the main structure of the cavern has been constructed.  The finishing touches follow.  the torment of my psychic reality filled my subconscious.  As I walked down Nelson toward Main and downtown my physical reality surrounded me.

     I was young and did not realize the damage that had been done me.  While I knew that I looked funny I was unaware that I had been given an education that ill-suited me to ‘polite’ society.  Perhaps a more accurate word for that society might be ‘normalcy.’

     I put the Orphanage at my back as I stared straight ahead at what I hoped would be a future.  Words cannot describe my anxiety or my hope.  I wore fear as a robe, or perhaps a mask.

     The previous ten years, my life, contained no memories I wished to sustain me; the Children’s Home had no memories I wanted to cherish.  I had already suppressed the most painful memories of my childhood; I now attempted to forget the rest.  My life had been a series of episodes.  Once past, the people of the episode had disappeared from my life, or at least I thought they had.  I had forgotten them as I would now forget everyone I had ever known.  My mind sealed them off.  Names and faces were already beyond recall.

     Between school and the Children’s Home I had known hundreds of children.  I forgot them all.  They did not necessarily forget me.  Many of them, such as the Eloy and Michael Hirsh, had formed rather intimate connections with me.  They, in future, would recognize me.  They would be offended because I was unable to recognize them.  They all interpreted my inattention as arrogance.  On the other hand they apparently  believed me to be of inferior social caste which required me to speak to them first.  As I didn’t this angered them and they treated me spitefully.

page 256.

     I imagine that I perceived myself as an invisible man, somewhat like the Negro.  If I had to identify a nationality for myself in this Melting Pot, other than the label American, I would say I belonged to the Orphan nationality.   This may sound risible, nevertheless being in the Orphange had severed my connections with society.  I was pushed out of the mainstream.  My characteristics were not German, Scotch, English, Jewish, Italian or whatever.  My education was as an outsider.  If we at the Home shared characteristics with any element of the Melting Pot it was the Negro element.  We were, in fact, White Niggers.  Don’t be offended by the word ‘nigger’, it has valid functions in American society.  There is a reality behind it that cannot be denied.  We ‘niggers’ have our rights to our identity also that we cannot allow anyone to deny.  The name can also be borne with pride; beware in your bigotry.  Normal middle class family life was as foreign to us as it was to the Negro.  We perceived it through the same mystified eyes.

     I was now on my way to join that middle class family as a White Nigger.  Like a Negro from rural Mississippi set down in a Middle Class family up North I would be nearly as unfamiliar with its mores and customs as he would be.  We both would require a period of adjustment  and acculturation.  In such a situation the color of the Negro’s skin would save him.  His difference would be recognized.  Concessions would be made to him as a member of a different race and he would be given both instructions and time to learn and adjust.

page 257.

     Because I was White the Wardens would not perceive the cultural differentiation I had undergone.  I would be given no instruction or time to adjust to what was, really, a quite foreign environment.  I would be condemned out of hand.  Then, too, because I was White a certain servitude could be imposed on me that they would not have dared to impose on a Black.

     For my part, I had been outside all groups and observed and studied them dispassionately.  I was Orphan, not Black, not Polish, not Jewish.  I had no sympathy for any group.  I saw through all pretensions.  They were all equal in my eyes.

     When David Hirsh had walked away from the well on Kishinev he had quoted John 4:22:  ‘You do not know what you believe, but we do; salvation is with the Jews.’  It didn’t register with my conscious mind but it slipped into my subconscious mind.  Among the many reactions to that terrible incident was that a lesson which I took away was that I knew what I believed but no one else knew what they believed.  Salvation lay with me.  Like the Jews I was the sole possessor of the only truth; also like the Jews I was despised and rejected by the rest of mankind.  I, then, placed myself above all other groups and subordinated them to my ego as did the Jews.  Thus all the characteristics of all the groups in America merged in me.  Whether Black, Jewish, Greek and all the rest their cultures became mine.  I incorporated the picaninny, the Hasid, the Sicilian as my own to have and criticized as I chose.  All the groups abandoned their cultures to me to shape and mold as I chose.  Rather than incorporating a nationality into an assumed name like Joe Italy or Susie American or Yehuda Yisraeli as had been done so frequently and so ludicrously I became in my mind not consciously but certainly Far World.  I assumed the attitude that all culture met in me.  As with the Jews this attitude created certain problems with the rest of the world which did not necessarily concur in my evaluation of myself.  I make no apologies; the combinations possible in the Melting Pot are multifarious and surprising.  I did not create the world, the world created me.

page 258. 

     All this was gestating in me unknown to and unexplained by myself.  My past was an undifferentiated load that I took with my dime to the West Side.  I was unaware of the traits and attitudes my education had given me.  I was unaware of the very great and fundamental difference between one of my background and one of a person from a conventional family background.  I was not intrinsically me anymore than they were intrinsically them.  We were both products of our environments.  Under different circumstances we would both have manifested different personnae.  I had not been taught their outlook which tends to create the world in its image.  It is an image which is a mirage, even false.  My outlook acquired as an outcast gave me a different and much more accurate view of society.  The very accuracy of my view excluded me from the advantages as well as the disadvantages of society.  The hypocrisy of society’s viewpoint was blatantly apparent.  It could not be ignored by me.  I acquired no advantage from it.

page 259.

     Now, as I turned off Nelson onto Main past Hershey’s Dept. Store, I could see the bump of the Main St. Bridge spanning the River before me.  I was on my way to the Wardens and what I hoped would be a better life.  Horatio Alger like, I hoped they would like my pluck and fortitude and reward my good qualities with the sunshine of their countenance.  My life was in their hands.  I wanted their approval and their respect.  Love was not the question; love was not the answer.  For love is irrational and founded on nothing but personal taste.  People can be injured as easily as helped by love.  Love, hate and indifference are all the same.  I wanted recognition.

     As I approached the Bridge I had covered half the distance.  My mind had been wholly optimistic when I left the Home.  It was a beautiful bright June day.  The air was warm.  The birds were singing; the trees were in full leaf.  The sky was blue with flirtatious rows of puffy white clouds as big as breadbaskets stretching endlessly in all four directions.

     But at the Bridge my optimism was being steadily eroded by anxiety.  As I had walked down Nelson and Main I had been greeted by the hoots and jeers of passing motorists.  My mind came down from Olympus as my eyes fastened on my great shoes flashing in and out of my vision.  My mental vision and my physical reality clashed.

     The Bridge was before me.  The transition was immanent.  The Valley River was the dividing line between the East and West sides.  The East side was inferior to the West side.  The East side had the Blacks and the wastrels, the improvident.  The West side was affluent and contained the White collar and more provident workers.  The exodus of the affluent classes before the invading Blacks was from East to West.

page 260.

     I had wandered all over the East Side while at the Home.  I was not able to enter the First Ward of course but I had been everywhere else.  The Main St. Bridge had always amazed me.  I could not imagine the intelligence of the man or men who engineered it.  It was suitable for neither horse and buggy nor automobile.  It was impassable in winter months.  The Valley River was perhaps a hundred feet across.  The river was navigable for small craft so an attempt had been made to accomodate them.  The embankment was at the river’s edge.  The bridge rose abruptly to an apex twenty feet in the air.  Atop the structure sat a little bridge tender’s cabin which was occupied.  The bridge tender supervised the raising of the center vanes to allow larger vessels through.  This was totally unnecessary as there were no commercial or pleasure craft on the river.

     I doubt that a laden horse and wagon could have surmounted the obstacle of the bridge.  I often wondered if Model Ts could have negotiated it.  The rise was so steep that drivers had to very nearly stop before ascending to avoid damaging their cars;  they really had to gun it to get over.  The bridge tender sat watching all day.

     As I puffed to the top I watched him sitting on his stool reading his newspaper.  He must have been a slow reader because he never finished the paper.  I stood in front of his cabin for a few minutes looking back over the East Side.  I was very grateful to be leaving Emerson and Longfellow behind.  They had left their mark on my manners and demeanor.  Like Cain I wore what they had thought of me on my forehead.  My manner of presenting myself was one of supplication for approval.

page 261.

      Turning I descended the Bridge into the West Side.  I had never crossed the Bridge before.  I was less certain of my direction.

     I was standing on the corner at the Big Intersection where Melmoth turns South along the river and Main and Thelema make a Y.  I was busy divining the way to Court St.  and thence Cathar when a kindly looking fellow of about thirty-five pulled over and asked if I needed a ride.

     He recalled me from my reverie.  I was enjoying my freedom.  A weight was off my shoulders.  The thought of that fence around the orphanage playground had gnawed at me for two years.  I reveled at the thought of having left that prison like fence behind.  I gave him a glance which showed no interest.  I told him I didn’t want a ride.

     Well, he was ready to take me anywhere I wanted to go.  No trouble.  I still declined.

     His face flushed with anger and self-reproach as he shouted at me:  ‘You’re wrong as hell, kid.  I’m no homosexual you goddamned ungrateful little bastard.’

     He slammed the door and peeled out.  I didn’t care I was still having a nice day.

page 262.

     I crossed the intersection walking tentatively, trying to find my way.  I came out on Court St.  I had lost my sense of direction.  I stopped a man to ask him which way to go to Cathar St.  He stood eyeing me up and down for a long time until I began to be uncomforable at his rudeness; then with a loud guffaw he jeered:  ‘Where’d you come from?  There’s no circus around here.’  He walked away still laughing at his rude humor.  I kicked at his departing figure with my oversized clown shoes.

     I chanced a right turn up Court St.  and continued walking.  Much to my relief Cathar deadended into Court only two blocks further West.  I descended Cathar for five blocks until I spotted Desade crossing Cathar.  The Warden’s house was on the corner of Froide and Desade in the rigid grid of streets behind the Lutheran Seminary.

page 263.

Part III

FORTY MILES OF BAD ROAD

June 1948-August 1950

     The golden sun on high streamed down through the leafy green of the overshadowing boughs of creation.  A few great billows of clouds had replaced the little fluffy breadbaskets serenely sailing through the cerulean blue of the overtopping sky.  The birds twittered and glided among and above the trees.  Flowers bloomed in banks about the houses while bees busied themselves among the blossoms.

     The wives sat on their porches in swings or rocking chairs while their children moved about their yards.  There was a merry air as the women chatted among themselves while the children played.  As I paced the two blocks converstation ceased before me and resumed in hushed tones as I passed.  The faces of the children assumed expressions of disdain as they ceased playing to watch me pass.  I kept my eyes forward.  I felt, tried to ignore, their wide open amazement.

page 264.

     I had been insulated from the contempt of others in the area of the Children’s Home by our numbers and the familiarity of the residents with us.  In this neighborhood they had never seen my like, except on postcards of street urchins.  Those two blocks began to seem an eternity as I walked between overwhelming natural beauty and defiling human hostility.

     My fears rose within me as I began to fearfully ponder my reception at the Wardens.  If these people reacted to me this way, what might the Wardens’ reaction be.  Perhaps they would take one look and send me back to the orphanage and the hell of Longfellow and Mr. Oager, who they said would tear me limb from limb  with the help of my unknown antagonists, the Hirshes.  I began to shake involuntarily while I stifled a sob.  The fear of being returned overwhelmed me.  I was now in a limbo into which I could disappear without a trace.  I could walk on by into an untroubled oblivion.

     The house was a corner house.  It had been built around 1910 in the purely functional style of the Valley.  Racked by my indecision I stood on the corner of Froide and Desade for a moment to study it.  The house was simply a rectangle of twenty-five by sixty feet with an attached screened in front porch.  The basement rose four feet from the ground topped by the main floor.  A second story extended two thirds the length of the house stopping abruptly twenty feet from the back of the house.  Apparently the builders thought that was all the room they needed and so stopped building.  The house had the characteristic high pitched roof to shed the winter snows.  The Wardens had the good sense to paint it white and not some bizarre color.  The building was placed on a superb large lot, perhaps a double lot as the lot was very deep while the area beside the house was very large and contained various fruit trees including an old apple of considerable size.  Garden areas and flower beds were everywhere.  I received a good impression of the owners.

page 265.

     The neighborhood was respectable; the houses and yards were maintained, in the neat, not manicured, sense.  The only exception was the house opposite me facing Desade.  I hesitated, then crossed the street and walked on by.  I determined to take my chances.  Before I had reached the end of the block the awesome odds against success on my own convinced me to give the Wardens a try.  I could always walk away later.

     I circled the block arriving once again at the corner of Froide and Desade.  As I passed the length of the lot I thought that this would still be a major improvement over the Children’s Home.  I looked down at my shoes remembering that man’s comment about the circus, examined my clothes, swallowed hard, and turned the corner.  A row of trees on both sides of the street stretched as far as the eye could see.  I uttered a little prayer as I turned up the front walk and mounted the four steps of the porch.  The screen door opened to my hand so, after hesitating a moment to consider whether the act of just walking in might be presumptuous, I decided to use the bell by the front door.

     After a brief pause a boy two years older than I appeared.  He looked at me for a long moment, then shouted back into the house:  ‘Hey Mom, this must be him.  I think he’s here.’

page 266.

     Mrs. Warden appeared wiping her hands on a towel.  She was an attractive woman of thirty-five; fine-nine, about one hundred thirty pounds.  She was wearing heels, a maroon sheath skirt topped by an apron and a tan blouse, no belt.  The Wardens considered themselves not only quality, but noble.  She always dressed.

     ‘You’re Farley Gresham?’  She said in a slightly deprecatory manner, eyeing me coldly.  ‘the Municipal Orphanage released you to us?’

     ‘Yes.  Far.  I’m called Far Gresham.’  I replied, trying to establish my identity.

     ‘Well, come in Farley.’  She said ignoring my attempt.  ‘Did you bring anything with you?’

     ‘I’ve got the the dime.’  I replied, not wishing to withhold anything, yet fearing she might confiscate my pittance.  Now I wished I had spent it on the way.  I was suddenly intimidated by the process.  My stomach began to churn at the fear of rejection; I thought I might throw up.

     Upon entering however, I was taken back and absorbed by the decor.  As I was to learn the Wardens took their ancestry seriously.  The Wardens were not rich, yet the overall impression was one of luxury.  Coats of arms and insignia of heraldry bedecked the walls.  In the corner to my left stood a suit of armor.  A real suit of armor, one that had been actually used.  I don’t know whether it had been worn in combat but it had actually been used at least for ceremonial purposes.  The old guy had been short and had had a bit of a paunch but he had really strutted around in the thing.

page 267.

     The Wardens had two or three remarkable pieces of furniture that they had inherited but which expressed their personalities.  They were of a curious mixture of Christianity and Paganism not unlike the times of King Arthur.  They had a magnificent etagere that was elaborately carved in nature motifs.  Central to it was a door to a cabinet in which a face was carved with vines growing out of its head and surrounding its face.  I used to sit and study it by the hour.

     I was still lost in amazement, at what to me was incredible splendor, when the voice of Mrs. Warden in a tone that implied ‘Yes, we are that wonderful.’ called me back to reality.  She told me to follow her to ‘my’ place.

     I was standing in the living room, which was thirty feet long and half the width of the house.  To the right the space was divided into two bedrooms of equal size.  Mrs. Warden occupied the front one and Mr. Warden the back one.  They no longer slept together.

     From thence we entered the dining room which was a large room, twenty feet long by twenty wide.  On the right side was the sole bathroom:  five by twenty feet.  Mrs. Warden turned up a stairwell at the back of the dining room.  Through the open door leading out of the dining room I could see the pantry and kitchen that completed the ground floor.

     I followed her upstairs, three steps to a little landing, then we took a hard right up eight steps to the second floor.  To my left was an unfinished storage area full of boxes, neatly stacked.  To my right the wall extended for six feet flollowed by another long unfinished storage area.  The forward half was filled with stacks of boxes and unpacked things- lamps, chairs, that sort of thing.  The part nearest me was an open space.  An old door lay across the exposed beams.  The pitch of the room descended to meet the floor on this side.

page 268.

     On the other side, directly opposite the space with the door was a bedroom.  It wa full-sized with windows facing West and North; altogether it was a most pleasant room.  My heart leapt at the thought that it might be mine.

     I was led down the hall to the front room.  It was a magnificent room; a boy’s dream.  There was a bank of windows facing  South into the gorgeous foliage of the trees overhanging the sundappled street.  It was only a step out one of the windows to be standing on the porch roof.  There was a drainpipe on either side to climb down.  The room extended the full width of the house; it was fifteen feet deep.  Model airplanes hung from the ceiling in profusion.  I knew that room wasn’t to be mine.  No matter, I would be happy with the little room.

     Mrs. Warden allowed me to examine that room with an air of self-satisfaction at my apparent pleasure.  Now she spoke:

     ‘You are to be useful here Farley; this is not to be a free ride for you.’  Mrs. Warden began.  ‘We have agreed to provide you with a suitable home environment here for a purpose; one which will benefit you and benefit us.  It is only right that you should give something for that which you recieve.  To be fair it should be of equal value.  There is no way you can give us equal value so that you will always be in debt to us.

      You will owe.

page 269.

     We have two boys, Jack and I, Skippy who is fourteen and who has built all those wonderfully constructed airplane models you see, and my young ‘un Cappy here, who is twelve.  She affectionately put her arm around her ‘young ‘un’ who had followed us upstairs as she spoke.  ‘Our boys are patricians.’  She said firmly and reprovingly at me.  I guessed that she meant I wasn’t a patrician.

     ‘They can’t be expected to do a lot of menial things.’  She meant picking up after themselves.  ‘Which is the reason we had you delivered.’  Delivered?  ‘In exchange for better victualling, housing and…dressing, than you might possibly have anticipated or had a right to expect you will be expected to keep things neat and tidy for them.  This is Skippy’s room.  As you can see it needs tidying now.’

     Moving out of the room she stationed herself in front of the other room.  ‘This is Cappy’s room.’  My heart sank.  ‘Over here.’  She said, indicating the door over the beams.  ‘Is your place.  We’ll have a mattress, a pillow and some blankets for you.’  I looked back and forth between her and the door in utter disbelief.

     She had placed her left hand in front of her, waist high, placing her right hand in it.  She stood gazing down reflectively for a moment.

     ‘It’s probably better than you’re used to, but it can’t be helped.  It’s the least we have to offer you.  Darling.’  She said to Cappy.  ‘Have Farley change into better clothes and bring him downstairs.’  To herself she said:  ‘We’ll have to do something about that hair immediately.’  Addressing me she said:  ‘By the way, I’m Geli Warden.  Geli is short for Angelica; I tell you this so that if I am mentioned to you by either name you will know to whom they refer.  You are to call me Mrs. Warden and answer ‘Yes, ma’am.’ to my requests.’

page 270.

     I listened in quiet amazement.  As obsequious as I appeared my critical faculties knew no restraint.  At the Home I gave full vent to my opinions.  I didn’t know now whether I might not have done better to have kept walking.  Still, new clothes and a decent haircut were not to be despised.  I might at least look decent; no comments like:  ‘Is the circus in town?’

     Cappy, the Patrician, kept eyeing me sort of sideways.  He made repeated little snorting laughter sounds.  He flicked his finger in the direction of Skippy’s room and followed me into it.  Saying nothing he pointed imperiously to a pile of old clothes and shoes heaped in a corner.  Still snorting, but saying nothing, he put his thumbs through his back belt loops, shifted his weight  to his left foot while his right knee popped up.  He tilted his head back, looking down his nose at me, still snorting.

     I went through the shoes first.  They were a combination of Skippy’s and Cappy’s old shoes.  None fit and they were all more worn than I was used to; nevertheless I found a pair that were closer to the size of my feet than the shoes I had on.  The clothes of the Patricians were actually of inferior quality to those donated to the Children’s Home.

page 271.

     The Patricians were both taller than I was.  I was slender and skinny to the point of emaciation, while they were stocky and big boned.  I selected as best I could which left me nearly as ludicrous and markedly more impoverished looking.

     When I had nearly finished Cappy began talking.  At first he addressed a great unknown but gradually directed his conversation at me.

     ‘Yeah, we’re Patricians.  Our whole family is of noble lineage.  My father knows about these things.  He reads books on them.  We go back to the Norman conquest and are descendants of Richard The Lion Hearted.  That’s why my Christian name is William, after William the Conqueror, the Norman duke who was the only one ever to able to vanquish the unconquerable English.  My father, who knows a whole lot, named Skippy, my brother, after William’s adversary, Alfred the Great.  Alfred and William united the English into one great noble people in 1066, thus we symbolize that union.  That goes back a whole long way, very far.  We’re reckoned Skippy and Cappy because it’s our destiny to be in charge of things.  We call our Dad, Duke, kinda after Duke William the Conqueror, because he’s actually a great man whose talents have gone unrecognized in this town that wouldn’t know greatness if it was thrust upon them.  He wants you to call him Duke too, see, but only around the house, not in public.  See?’

     I saw.  I mentally shrugged and decided to go along.  What else could I do?  I had finished changing clothes.  Cappy, holding up his index and middle fingers imperiously beckoned me to follow him downstairs.  Mrs. Warden was seated at a roll top desk as we emerged from the staircase.  The dining room was rather cluttered.  A sideboard sat against the bathroom wall, a large round table occupied the middle, while the arch into the living room was flanked by another sideboard on the left with the desk to the right of the arch- actually a proscenium arch.  In the opposite corner of the room from the desk was a large steam mangle iron.  The iron was the pride and joy of Mrs. Warden; with it she could iron a half dozen sheets in just a few minutes.  She loved to use it so much she even ironed our undershorts.  A darn good job of it too.

page 272.

     Looking up from her work, she eyed me approvingly.  ‘There, that’s better!’  Beauty must indeed be in the eye of the beholder, for I was not quite as impressed as she.  But what mattered to her was more pride of possession than aesthetics; I now bore the imprint of her household rather than someone elses.

     I took the opportunity of her approval to venture the question as to whether I would be getting new clothes that fit properly from the money paid them by the city for my upkeep.

     She replied:  ‘Oh, no, no.  That’s our money.  The city pays us to look after you; like baby sitting.  Oh no, I think the hand me downs of Skippy and Cappy will do just fine.  Fortunately they’re both older than you so you’ll grow into their clothes.’  Turning to Cappy she said:  ‘I think he looks just fine.  Don’t you, Dear?’

page 273.

     He of course assented; I was not asked my opinion, but no, I didn’t think I looked just fine.

     About that time Jack Warden emerged from the kitchen.  He had been out gardening.  As he finished removing his gloves he had an air of supreme self-satisfaction, even of a universal benevolent good will.  It was the air of a man well satisfied with life.  Unfortunately it was an air acquired only while gardening.  After he had finished a perceptive person could watch the attitude evaporate as he put on his mental coat of worldly care.

     He was five nine, one sixty or seventy, edging out to eighty.  He was not so stocky as his sons but he had never been slender either.  Apparently the sons had inherited the big bone genes of both parents.  He had a hatchet face which was acquiring flanges of flesh in the jowls with a prominent long straight, what he called, noble nose.  While his features were proportional they looked pinched because of his preoccupation with insults to his dignity.  He tended to draw his facial muscles forward and up which gave a slight purse to his mouth.

     He was employed as an accountant at the Boyse Machine Works, a big employer in a town of big employers.  Boyse was smaller than these others.  Jack Warden took size seriously.  He had a nagging sense of inferiority for not being employed by the big General Motors plants that dominated the life of the Valley.

     Mr. Warden, who in many ways, was an admirable man was not a clear thinker nor was he in command of his subconscious.  Accounting had taught him orderly mental traits but had not unmuddled his thought processes.  He lacked logic, he submitted to the demand of his subconscious without reservation.  He always put the cart before the horse.  He wanted to be somebody so he put more effort into Burke’s Peerage, of which he actually owned a copy, trying to prove he was somebody by ancentry than he put into developing his work habits and skills.

page 274.

     It was his ardent wish to connect his ancestry to Richard Coeur de Lion.  There was no connection but this did not deter his researches through Burke’s and diverse genealogies.  In the process of study he had acquired an extensive but useless knowledge of the British peerage.

      I never knew what he thought about chivalry as he refused to talk about it to me.  He did not read extensively but intensively.  He had a good collection of books centering around the Arthurian legends.  There was a magnificent leather bound Arthur by Mallory.  None of us was allowed to touch it although he had an additional cheap set which we were required to read in from time to time.  Beowulf, Gawaine and the Green Knight, the Mabinogian, the Norse Myths and some few others formed his library.  Beyond those and a truly ardent love of gardening he had no interests.

     Naturally he equated his sons with Lancelot and Percival, in fact he might have so named them but from fear of public ridicule.  Before he despaired of me he thought I might make a Sir Gareth to his sons.  As he explained even though Gareth spent a year in the kitchen he was a full noble knight who, as I would have to do, had to overexert himself to prove his worthiness because of having slept in the kitchen.  At the time all I could do was nod dumbly.

page 275.

     This day when he should have been at work, he had phoned in sick.  In a futile effort to prove his indispensibility he thought to punish Boyse by withholding his services.  In his inner heart he actually believed the company might collapse in his absence.

     His confidence had been flagging of late.  He, like his wife, was thirty-five.  He was reluctantly realizing, but not acknowledging to himself, that his career had progressed as far as it was going to go.  He had been passed over for promotions enough so that he feared, if he did not know, that he was never to be promoted.

     In the months succeeding my entry into the household, the knowledge that his future no longer existed sank into Warden’s mind embittering and perverting him.  He became desperate for the feeling of personal power which he believed he had lost.  I saw him downtown on more than one occasion performing the same rite.  He would stand aside from the throng preferably in a place where he could put his foot on a ledge or something, then he would wait to catch a passerby by surprise.  His fingers were thick; he would hold up his first two fingers and beckon imperiously to the passerby.  If the passerby responded to his beckon he would then utter a few insulting words of rejection.  As the passerby stalked off in indignation Warden enjoyed a brief glow of satisfaction as for that moment he had slipped the monkey of failure onto someone else’s back.

page 276.

     People will respond even to such an insulting gesture; not only the repressed but men of good standing.  It is a relatively easy thing to trade on another’s good will at least once.  When Warden had bagged a man he thought greater than himself he experienced a double glow of pleasure that was actually sexual.  At that moment he believed his penis was larger than the other man’s.

     At the same time his two Patricians were not openly acknowledged as such by their fellows.  Their friends refused to accept them at their own valuation.  Their exalted lineage was not only not accepted but openly jeered at.  The immigrant boys amongst their acquaintance further attributed their attitude to Anglo-American arrogance which they deeply resented.

     Jack and Geli thought that I would make their sons lives shine in comparison.  On the one hand the community would accord them respect for the good work of taking in an orphan while on the other the Patricians would have someone who would be totally dependent and hence beneath them.

     As Kaiser Bill had his batman, I was to be batman to Skippy and Cappy.  I had to accept or leave, resistance was out of the question.  But as regards Jack Warden I was unable to acknowledge his sagacity.  I had been on my own, in my mind, for two years at the orphanage.  I had learned truths that Warden would never know.  I had developed independently of familial insitutions.  The lines of authority accepted by fathers and sons on which society is built were foreign to me.  Many truths that Warden took for granted were unknown to me, even though, as he thought, quite correctly, they were things every normal boy should know.  I did not have a normal background.  I had never been taught what every normal boy knew.  I was now beyond learning what ever normal boy should know.

page 277.    

     Quite frankly, I found Jack Warden naive, misguided and wrongheaded.  Not surprisingly he characterized me in the same way, consequently neither of us had any use for the other.  I was never able to acknowledge his authority; although I was compelled to call him Duke, I did it with a smirk.  thus, consciously or unconsciously, probably the latter, he set about to break my will.  I thought that if he did break my will I would make sure it broke off in a tender part of his anatomy.

     Things were not ideal with the Wardens.  For beople who were used to better things they were not good.  I had suffered the abominable, the situation was a massive improvement over what I had known.  The minuses were many, but comparatively there were plusses.  The Wardens had many habits and traits I valued.  They were not illiterate.  They subscribed to magazines of the Reader’s Digest, Saturday Evening Post, Look, Life variety.  Warden’s pride was the National Geographic.  As he explained you couldn’t get a subscription by merely sending them money, you had to have a personal recommendation before they would take your money.  All were popular magazines and they did represent the mainstream of American life.  Plus Skippy and Cappy bought magazines of their own such as Argosy and True, The Man’s Magazine.

     My physical environment couldn’t have been better.  Both Jack and Geli were terrific gardeners.  The gardens were always a delight.  Terrific fruits, vegetables and berries through the spring and summer, and a gorgeous array of blossoms all summer long.  Jack Warden tended the vegetables and Geli the flowers.  Given my alternatives, and they could have been much, much worse for foster children, I was thankful for my surroundings.

page 279.

2.

     Skippy was four years older than I.  He had no use for a younger boy like myself; he had very little use for Cappy.  He had wanted to be an only child.  He had resented the birth of Cappy deeply; he now tried to act as though Cappy didn’t exist.  Cappy, two years older than I, almost a teenager, had no use for me either.  He couldn’t be bothered by one so young.  In truth, the distance between the tenth and eleventh years and the twelfth and thirteenth is immense both physically and mentally.

     So long as I did my chores and stayed out from underfoot none of the Wardens took furthur notice of me.  Remarkably Jack and Geli didn’t seem to care where I was or what I was doing.  I thought they secretly hoped I would get into some kind of trouble by which their sons would look that much better.

page 280.

     I had to go out into the neighborhood in search of companions.  In the orphanage I imagined that members of a neighborhood mixed with each other and were friends.  This was not true.  Everyone seemed to keep to themselves.  The Wardens knew no one except in the most casual manner.  All the other adults seemed to keep to themselves also.  No one was on speaking terms with anyone with the possible exception of their next door neighbors; even then they weren’t what I would call friends.

     As it turned out there were many kids around my age in all directions; yet the Warden’s house, two houses across Froide and Desade, one house across the street were the only kids in the area I was able to associate with.  The kids on the other side of the Costellos never attempted to associate with us nor we with them.  It’s probably normal but I thought it strange.

     The only acquaintance I had that approached friendship were the Sondermans who lived kitty corner across the intersection in the only house that looked rundown.  Two brothers lived there, Ward, the elder was my age while his brother, Dwayne, was two years youngers.  Dwayne was always tall for his age; he had a way of acting older so he was included in our doings.  I say ‘our’, rather say I was included in their doings.  I don’t know whether the Sondermans associated with me out of pity or whether I forced myself on them.

     I know that I was considered as something of a ‘phenom’ by them because I was a foster child.  Hence I didn’t really belong in their neighborhood.  They probably allowed me to play with them.  At any rate I always called on them, they never called on me.  I guess that’s pretty clear.

page 281.

     The period after the Wars was one of great flux.  The social organization whose maturity had coincided with the beginning of the Wars had spent its momentum.  The Wars had broken continuity.  The society that might have evolved was stillborn; consequently after 1945 nearly a whole new society had to be organized.

     Not only had the interwar society matured but at the same time the immigrants of the 1870-1920 period overwhelmed the Anglo-American society that had preceded the immigration.  The American ‘natives’ lost control of the country.   Ancestry therefore had become a great preoccupation with the natives.

    
The Wardens of course dated their American ancestry back to the 1670s; fictitiously they dated it back to 1066 and god knows how much earlier.  The Sondermans dated their ancestry back to 1730.  They compensated by thinking anything previous to that was unimportant.

     Both Geli Warden and Betty Sonderman belonged to the Daughters Of The American Revolution- the DAR.  Both thought that this fact put them into some sort of atristocracy.  Ancestry was an important matter; I knew little of my ancestors, but my mother was known to be Polish, possibly of Jewish extraction, I was thought not to have American antecedents.  Actually, as I have subsequetly learned the Greshams preceded the Wardens as founders of the New Secular Order.

     When the Wars destroyed the continuity of social development it left a void in post-war society.  American culture, in other words, baseball and movies, were left in a shambles.  Lou Gehrig was gone; Babe Ruth was dying; the rest were either dead or ageing rapidly.  Ted Williams and Bob Feller’s momentum had been destroyed by their terms in the service.  Williams went twice, WWII and the Korean war.  One legged pitchers could still find a place on the Cleveland roster.  The Negroes found an advantgeous moment to fill the talent void.  Jackie Robinson was brought up to the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus the color line was breached.

page 282.

     The movies too had broken stride.  More than television or anything else they had lost their sense of direction.  The decay of the studio system had been obvious in prewar years.  The actors were all old.  At that time it wasn’t credible for a fifty year old man to successfully chase a twenty-five year old man a mile and a half without losing his breath or to make twenty year old woman breathless.  Only the movies would be able to make such a thing possible.  The Wars had interrupted the development of young talent.  The movies didn’t know what to make movies about.  The Stars, producers and directors were all old, it wouldn’t be fair to call them stale for an entirely new situation had arisen to which they could not possibly have adjusted.

     America needed heroes, new heroes, young ones.  Since the Wars had aborted the development of younger performers, new stars had to be created out of whole cloth.  The age of ‘hype’ began as the magnates in charge of baseball and the movies tried to hype young performers into stardom rather than wait for new stars to emerge from the ruck.  Actors like Robert Wagner and Tab Hunter had impossible demands placed on them.

page 283.

     In baseball Clint Hartung, ‘the triple threat Hondo Hurricane’ from Hondo, Texas had his career destroyed as he was touted to break every batting, pitching and base running record in existence.  Even Mickey Mantle was unable to live up to his advance notices.  Those were the pehnomenons or ‘phenoms’ of the time.  They just had be too spectacular to be real.

     The Sondermans considered me a ‘phenom’ in the negative sense.  I’m sure there was a joke in there somewhere.  Possibly it had to with their name:  Sonderman.  Ward and Dwayne never tired of telling me Sonderman meant ‘special man’ in German.  Gresham according to them meant nothing.  I found this an irritant as I didn’t think badly of myself; I found nothing special about the Sondermans.  I chafed under their banter until one day I was complaining in the presence of Jack Warden when he said:  ‘Um, really?  ‘Special man.’  Well, they might find it interesting to know that sonder also has the meaning of peculiar.  In fact, I think Sonderman is a peculiar fellow.’

     I picked up the hint.  The first opportunity I had I called Ward Peculiarman.  It chilled our relationship thereafter.  Ward and Dwayne had created a class situation into which they had fit me; they superior, me inferior.  In their scheme it was illegal, even criminal, for me to fight back.  Once again I had refused to accept my place.

     I could never understand the Sondermans’ airs.  They acted as though they were better than us all yet their house was the most rundown house on the street.  Neither they nor their father did a lick of work around the house.  Their garage doors hung unfunctionally on their hinges.  Their yard was unkept although it looked like someone, possibly the previous owner had made a pretense of an English Garden in the backyard sometime in the century.  Their front lawn was barer than a corner grocery store’s.

 page 285.

     Not only was no effort put into the exterior of the house but the interior showed a complete lack of attention.  Mrs. Sonderman could call herself neither a housekeeper nor homemaker.  Although she didn’t work, she was never home.  Perhaps she spent her time at DAR meetings.

     The house was furnished, if one might call it furnished, with oddments of oddments of threadbare furniture.  It was almost as though someone had moved out and left their old useless pieces behind.  The dining room table had no chairs; obviously it was never used for dining.  A small table in the narrow little kitchen was used for dining, yet all four of them could not sit at the table at one time.  Mrs. Sonderman didn’t cook either.

     Neither the parents nor the sons thought to clean the place.  The grit was so thinck on the floors that you could bend down and pick it up between your fingers.  I can take no credit for Geli Warden’s housekeeping as she was no relation to me yet though her house was very superior to the Sondermans in cleanliness the Sondermans through some persersely developed neurotic distortion took pity on me because they believed the Wardens inferior to them.  During their periods of condescension to me I used to stare at them in utter disbelief.

     I pointed out the grit on the floor which they were somehow able to dismiss in their minds as unimportant.  Still I wanted them for friends, they were all I had.  We were not to remain friends.  My mention to them that sonder also meant peculiar had driven a wedge between us.  Pointing out the obvious shortcomings of their house maintenance widened it.  The final rift occurred over a minor incident when Ward and I were twelve.

     The elder Sondermans were never at home which left time heavy on the hands of the boys.  One day they thought up a game, one which they played often.  Mrs. Sonderman had an old threadbare oriental rug on the living room floor.  The game was that one person drove across the rug while the other two tried to stop him.  Dwayne and I, Ward and I and the Sondermans versus me.  To drive one had to dig into the rug for leverage.  Holding the driver back was done in reverse.  The rug took a terrific beating.

     As impossible as it may seem Mrs. Sonderman valued this rag of a rug.

     When the boys explained why it was ruined they told her that I had done it.  Mrs. Sonderman would hear no explanations from me.  She banned me from the house.  Thus as we entered Junior High our relationship was deteriorating to the point that we no longer associated w ith each other except on the occasion.

     Next door to the Sondermans were the Costellos.  They too believed themselves a cut above the best, although with few credentials.  As they were Irish, Mrs. Costello could not be a DAR.  Not because they were Irish, but because the Irish came over after the Revolution.  The Costellos arrived in 1853.  As may be imagined Mrs. Costello disparaged the whole notion of the DAR.  Immigrants after 1776 couldn’t belong.  Mrs. Costello was the neatest housekeeper of the three women; she also had the most conventional taste.

page 286.

     Their eldest son was nicknamed Wink.  If I ever learned his real name I’ve forgotten it.  As he attended the Catholic school, Lacramae Sacrae, we had very few contacts.  He was a year younger than Ward and I.  Given my background I was willing to be friends with anyone, but Wink took a dislike to me so that we despised each other.  Ward not only liked him but reverenced him.  Why, I don’t know.   When President, Nixon would put it:  He was as thin as piss on a rock.

     Mrs. Otto and her daughter Greta lived across from the Costellos.

     None of these adults talked to any of the others.  I never saw any of them have visitors.  Certainly the Wardens never did.  These people may as well have been isolated in a vast wilderness for all they knew of each other.  I found it curious.

page 287.

3.

     I spent the first summer making the very difficult adjustment into the Warden household and the neighborhood.  The emotional distance between the Children’s Home and familial society went unrecognized by both the Wardens and the neighbor kids.  Indeed it was unrecognized by me.  The habits and traits acquired in the Home had little utility in the outside world, yet, that’s the way I ‘was.’  There was no sense of estrangement in the family structure of the neighborhood as there was in the Home.

     Nor was there the clear cut social line that existed at Longfellow noticeable when I enrolled a E.A. Robinson in the fall.  The normal difficulties of entering a new school were compounded by the ostracization I had experienced at Longfellow.  My frame of reference was not applicable at Robinson.

page 288.

     Needless to say I failed the schoolyard test miserably.  When the leader walked across the yard followed by his entourage for the introductory game of push and shove I failed the test.  I acquired a label; I spent the fifth grade in a series of fights.  I was the smallest boy in the class.  My antagonists were all taller and heavier than me.  The vanity of men is such that they think physical prowess transcends weight and reach.  Professional boxers may be categorized by weight but the logic of the categorization doesn’t penetrate the male mind.  They think that the heavyweights are heavyweights because they are the best fighters.  The legend is that a scrappy midget can beat a giant.  Didn’t David bring down Goliath?

     Conversely a larger boy who beats a smaller boy makes no allowance for his greater height, reach and weight.  His is the greater personal merit; on the other hand if he is beaten he refuses to acknowledge any inferiority.  Needless to say, I lost all my fights.  Needless to say it was I who obtained the reputation of the troublemaker.  I not only lost the war; I lost the peace.

     I also incurred contempt because I was too small to swing a baseball bat.  When we played ball I still had to lay the bat on the ground and have it rolled to me.  I was the last to swing from a standing position.  This fact caused me more personal grief than losing all my fights.

     As the year progressed the fears and anxieties acquire earlier combined with my current griefs weighed heavily on me.  I became despondent and morose, often crying softly in class.  The period was crucial to my existence.  For reasons I cannot reconstruct, about the middle of the year a light dawned.  I began to be able to deal with circumstances.  I elbowed my way into the class a little.

page 289.

     During the winter Mr. Warden took Cappy and I sledding at Reuchlin Park.  Reuchlin Park was the star spangled wonderland of my youth.  Reuchlin Park was just a couple blocks to the East of Pfeffercorn Island.  The park was a remnant of an old slough of the Valley River.  In the logging days of the Valley it had been a swamp; a large lake at flood tide, dry or nearly dry in the summer.  As the Valley developed, the entrance from the river had been dammed so that the floor was dry year round.  The park was a magnificent natural amphitheatre.  The banks rose from the floor forty feet at just the right angle to seat thousands for the Fourth Of July Fireworks.  In the summer the floor was laid out in numerous baseball fields; in the winter it was flooded to create the most magnificent of outdoor skating rinks.

     Toward the South end several ramps had been constructed for sledding and toboganning.  At night the high arc lamps gave a mesmerizing illumination to what was truly a winter wonderland.

     We had parked at the North end of Reuchlin and walked the length of the park.  The North end was rough and unused.  The ice was not groomed and lay rough, unsuitable for skating.  Ahead of us the great arc lamps illuminated the groomed oval as big as a football field.  A couple hundred skaters rounded the oval in happy excitement.  Most wore hockey skates but some few speed skaters flashed among the ordinary skaters.  On the sides the figure skaters practiced their figure eights and spins to the oohs and aahs of the spectators.  As we passed the skating house where skates were rented and refreshments sold, my mind was entranced by the spectacle.  There was beauty here among happy smiling people, so unlike the Children’s Home.

page 290.

     I was never to be allowed to make the transition from the oppressed, deranged mentality of the Home to this happy smiling type of existence.  To have been able to do so would have required not only self and worldly knowledge of mine but the identification of the problem by at least the Wardens.  Had they been aware of the peculiar psychological perplexities of we ex-inmates and had they been willing to minister to them, I might have been brought across the bridge from the one side to the other.  As it was, I was merely thrown into the murky waters of the river without swimming lessons and expected to swim across.

     Still lost in wonder at this world I would never inhabit we approached the ramps at the south end.  As we approached I noticed two boys to my left snap to attention at the sight of me.  They were two of the Eloy from Emerson and Longfellow.  I didn’t recognize them by name on the conscious level but their appearance stirred fearful subconscious memories.  As though the devil had popped up from his subterranean cavern I knew they boded me ill.  I thought that Warden and Cappy might offer me some protection, some help or advice against this storm.

     I had never sledded on a hill before.  We had a couple sleds at the Home but on the level we only pushed or pulled each other.  It seemed to me that sledding down a hill very fast was a different problem.  There were some children coasting down the slope just before the ramps began.  I wanted Warden to let me slide down the hill a couple times to get the hang of steering the sled with the guide bar.  Warden would not hear of it.  Apparently this was some test of manhood of which the purpose was to have Cappy show me up.

page 291.

     The ramps were fifteen feet off the ground on the uphill side.  To a ten year old, one picked up a thrilling or terrifying speed, especially with your nose on the level of the snow.  The excitement of it was exhilarating.  A stream of boys, having completed their run, raced back up the slope to get in line again.  The stair was packed as we got in line to inch up to the top.  Warden accompanied us.

     As I neared the head of the line I saw the two, who I had been watching apprehensively, agree on the formulation of their plan.  I thought I was safe for that run as I was only two away fromthe top.  But they raced up the stairs pushing and elbowing their way to the head of the line, dragging their sleds behind them, creating discord in the line.

     The attendant moved toward them to admonish them and send them back to the end of the line.  People are quick to recognize dress and social expectations for I noted that the attendant began to admonish them gently but firmly; had it been we of the Home with our noisy clamor and sartorial disarray he would very nearly have thrown us over the rail.

     But they, with the confidence which we had had kicked out of us, (what the Cavaliers or Virginians call the quality versus the equality) motioned him to bend down while they urgently whispered a few words while gesticulating toward me.  I have never known what these people whisper but it is invariably effective.  The attendant straightened up, pondered for a second, then waved them ahead with one hand, while calming the dissenters in the line with the other.

page 292.

     The rule was that only two might descend at the same time.  The attendant now waived this rule; the three us were to descend together.  It’s not so much that there are rules and rules; it’s that there are people and people; the rules are applied differently depending on who you are.  The attendant placed me in the middle to which I objected strenuously, asking for a flanking position.  I got no help from Warden who merely belittled me as cowardly.

     This was my first attempt at sledding.  I was apprehensive of the slope; plus I would have no expertise with which to fend off or counter whatever tactic the two Eloy had in mind.  I was in the position of the fish in the barrel, they of the fishermen with shotguns.  The only recognition I had given the Eloy was my terror.  Had I been able to even name them it would have been some offense, but they thought I was attempting to ignore them or expecting just retribution.  As I hesitated, or waited hoping they might get down first, Mr. Warden began scoffing at me as he all uncomprehending, per his nature, thought I was only afraid.  The kids on the stairway took up the same refrain.  The noise level in my ears was deafening.

page 293.

     The technique was to place your sled against your body and then flop forward on it, or leap forward on it for the descent.  I had never done this before, nor would Warden let me practice.  I took the weak response of wanting to lay on the sled and push off.  By now I was holding up the line; the jeers and hoots of the other boys rose higher than Warden’s scoffing.

     I was in a terrific bind but compelled to go ahead.  As I began my flop I made the mistake of pushing the sled up and away from my body.  As I landed my groin slammed into the end of a slat causing great pain.  The fall injured and weakened the muscles; thirty years later I developed a hernia in the exact spot.  I was half off the sled with my right foot dragging on the ground which pulled me to the right.  The Eloy on my left shot off ahead of me but as I descended the slope I cut off the Eloy on my right.  He slowed to avoid me then quickly  picking up speed descended on from the left.  Coming abreast he got his guide bar under mine and flipped me over.  This act satisfied the Eloy;  I have no idea what their plan might have been if they had sandwiched me.

     Warden ran up to me denouncing my ‘shameful’ performance.  He was of the school that having fallen off a horse it was necessary to immediately remount or you would be horse shy forever.  Thus he shouted over me, gesticulating wildly toward the ramp, ordering me to get back up there and try again.  Cappy stood with his sled held before him like a knight with his shield talking to the Eloy, agreeing with them that I sure was a dink.  The Eloy got what they wanted in spades.

page 294.

     My groin hurt.  I needed practice with the sled before I could tackle the ramp.  Warden would not hear of it, insisting that I go back on the ramp immediately.  I refused to his jeering:  ‘Some boy, some boy.’

     Warden looked at me with disgust.  He then resolved that I would never be a Sir Gareth to his Lancelot and Percival.  My place on the door ceased in his mind to be a space by the oven.  I was now merely a churl in my place.

     For my part I realized that I was more alone than ever.  Warden was incapable of or unwilling to give me the help and understanding that I needed to make the transition.

page 295.

     4.

     I can’t recall any pressure at Robinson from the Hirshes and the Eloy until after the sledding incident.  My removal from the orphanage had taken them by surprise.  It had taken Hirsh to the end of the summer to discover that I was not just missing but gone;  the Eloy had been shocked to find me absent from Mr. Oager’s fifth grade class.  Hirsh’s increasing business problems had diverted his attention from me while he and the Eloy found that out of sight, out of mind.  Now, after the sledding incident the old animosity flared up; they came looking for me.

     In the spring one of them, Louis Shriver, from the fourth grade, appeared in the schoolyard to say his words.  I saw my classmates look back at me in disgust; I heard them say:  ‘Yeah, we know, we already know.’  Hirsh and the Eloy had already done their work well.  The mark of Cain was on my forehead, my posture, my speech, my manner.  My attitude was such that I advertised my excommunication in the very way I approached people.  Oddly enough, or perhaps normally enough, I could identify the same attitude in others but I could not perceive it in myself.  I didn’t know that I projected the very image that Hirsh and the Eloy had of me.  If they perceived it they were not content with mere success, they demanded more.  They had no mercy. 

page 296.

     I never made the transition to a member of the class.  I had already become the quintessential outsider.  It was no longer in my power to ingratiate myself.  I had become a mere observor of life.

     Quite obviously Hirsh and the Eloy had little or no power at Robinson.  Any difficulties I had with my classmates was the result of the personality I had acquired on the East Side.  But now the Eloy were as hot as the Hirshes.  David’s business troubles would probably have distracted him enough for him to have lost interest in me at least temporarily.  But the Eloy persisted with him until between the two of them they devised a weak plan.  It was minor but in my circumstances had rather a profound effect on me.  An analogy might be that the harder you pound a steak the more tender it gets.

     Hirsh was acquainted with a man whose wife was the den mother of a cub scout troop.  A bee was put in Geli Warden’s bonnet that being a cub scout would be a good character developer for me.  Consequently I was encouraged to join this woman’s cub scout troop.  She lived some little way’s distant up Cathar, East on Court and left on Caterina St.  I was among an entirely new group of kids.

page 297.

     The mores of the Children’s Home were entirely different than those of the parented kids among whom I was now thrown.  I was White; they could perceive no difference between me and themselves.  Had I been Black or a greenhorn immigrant some provision could have been made to instruct me in mores and manners.  There was very little difference between a Negro being transplanted from the Black First Ward and me or the other inmates; yet there was no obvious difference between me and the other cub scouts.

     The middle class education was toward responsibility and cooperation.  At the Home we were totally irresponsible and spent all our efforts to thwart cooperation and authority.  The attitude was a sacred duty to us; a vengeance on a world that drove us off the sidewalks and made us skulk down alleyways to demonstrate the superiority of our oppressors.

     Now I was expected to make a place for myself among these strangers.,  It would have been impossible for me without the interference of Hirsh and the Eloy.  My orphanage manners and education immediately antagonized everyone.  The essence of cub scouting was constructive.  We were expected to develop skills.  The others had eleven years head start on me; I was beginning from scratch.

     I soon learned that the others had assistance from their parents or older brothers; some had their assignments done for them by their fathers because their fathers wanted them to excel.  I then went to Warden and the Patricians for help.  The Patricians laughed at me; Warden gave me a lecture about how I had to learn to make my way in the world.

page 298.

     Between a combination of my own ineptness at work that was new to me and the assistance given the others my work was consistently the poorest.  While others filled up their sashes with badges, I wore a plain blue band.  My reaction was to cease trying.  I didn’t want to be a cub scout.

     In addition to the consequences of this attitude, I was systematically denied and treated rudely.  True my efforts were inadequate but I was constantly belittled and taunted not only by the others but by the den mother and occasionally her husband.  This treatment ran counter to the cub scout code as it had been explained to me, it also ran counter to the cub scout oath we had all taken.  I was a child; I could not make ideas clear to adults; it was their duty to come to me; it was their obligation to show me the correct path and lead me down it.

     I wanted to quit; still I didn’t want to be a quitter.  As I persisted I don’t know how long I would have gone on, my torment was unbearable.  Then one day David Hirsh got a bright idea; one that would give him great pleasure.  His idea was sort of a turkey shoot, a repeat of the fish in the barrel.  He came up with the old saw of the blindfold boxing match.  He apparently thought I was too ignorant to know what it was.   Hadn’t I been a participant in a Battle Royal at the Home?  Quite simply two people are selected and told that both will be blindfolded.  Their wild swingings as they try to find each other provide merriment for the audience.  You don’t to be born yesterday not to figure out the trick.  One participant is blindfolded the other isn’t.  The merriment comes from the discomfiture of the blindfolded boxer as he is pommeled.

page 299.

     I knew the game.  I advised Mrs. Sokolsky, the den mother that I knew how the trick went.  She gave me her solemn word that both of us would be blindfolded.  One’s word is only one’s word to persons one respects, all others can be lied to with impunity.  I persisted, because I knew.  She swore on the her Holiest of Holies that she wouldn’t trick me; (which is what Hitler said to the Jews) we would both be blindfolded.’

     My opponent was a little Irish kid- with is to say he was my size- John Cahallan.  Now this fun took place in late summer of 1949.  The Anglo-American influence of the Founding Fathers was being overwhelmed by the influence of the superior numbers of the immigrants of 1870-1920.  These immigrants harbored a deep grudge against the Anglo-Americans.  As immigrants they had been stripped of their language and national customs by America.  Great benefits had been gained by them by their transfer from Europe to America.  The majority had been the most degraded of their countries.  Easterners had never known freedom, as the Serfs of Russia had been freed only in 1860.  They had subsequently been denied even education as their nobility didn’t want former serfs and kitchen help educated beyond their station where they might rub shoulders with their august selves.

      The Italian governments of the South Italians thought so little of eduction that they made no attempt to educate their peasants.  A large percentage of immigrants were only one step ahead of the law; a great many were released from prison only on the condition that they emigrate to America.  Malcontents and feeble minded came in droves.  They found a hospitable welcome.  Freed from the oppression and degradation of their native cultures they suffered in Europe a great many stunted blossoms opened into blooms.  A large number were unable to make the cultural transition and remained as stunted as they had been in Europe, if materially much better off.  They blamed America because there were not actually gold bricks to be picked up off the streets.  All had prospered in America beyond their hopes in their native lands whose custom they now began to recall with such fondness.  All of their offspring had prospects before them that they could never have enjoyed in their native cultures.  There was no rising in those cultures, once in your place you stayed there.

page 300.

  A Novel

Far Gresham Vol I

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 5

     ‘Well, good luck Mr. Darwen.’  I sang out with unconcealed glee.  ‘And don’t ever forget The Flying Horse Of Oz.’

     Darwen looked up and gave me a sharp look of mystification; he hadn’t any idea what I was talking about.

     Cries of  ‘Good Luck’ came from what the Old Master Fiddler called ‘those little morons.’

    The Old Master Fiddler went off sans fiddle.  He had disappointed his sponsors one time too many.  Angela Darwen shared his ignominy.  I don’t know whether I was proper in idealizing Angela Darwen.  She gave the appearance of model proper woman, but perhaps the attitude was only a pose she adopted to offset Jack Warden’s galumping greed.  Perhaps she and he were partners in crime.  Certainly she must have known of his doings.  He boasted of his doings, if not openly, certainly with a conspicuous lack of discretion, within hearing of we inmates.  He made no especial effort to be discreet.

     Perhaps in her private face she laughed with him about the stupidity of those he attempted to defraud.  Probably she conspired with him as they sat around their table at night.  Then in her public face she tried to offset the relative openness of her husband’s methods.  I fell in love with her public face.  I shall never know her true character.  Yet, her public face was a good face, an honorable face that gave womanhood a good name.    If she was two faced, at least she had a Jekyll that far exceeded her Hyde.

page 201.

18.

     The Darwens were gone.  I would soon follow.  At ten the boys were let out to foster homes as the fear was that the bigger boys would induce the younger ones into homosexual practices.

     My departure would come after the school year ended.  There were still four months to go at Longfellow.  There the negrification of the inmates of the orphanage continued.  Quite apart from my ‘duel’ with the Hirshes, relentless pressure was put on us to ensure that we didn’t excel or perform well.  It was necessary that the best of us perform less well than the least of the Eloy.  No Eloy was to be embarrassed before his mates by being below one of us.

     As I mentioned, a delegation had been sent to the Home to notify them of my intractable behavior.  An attempt had been made to make me accept my place.  My fury at the request had been so extreme that I learned then that I would have to learn to control my temper.  As a member of a class that was fed continuous denial and frustration this was no easy task, but I saw its utility and strove to bring my temper under control.

page 203.

     At school it was not permitted for any of us to excel the least of the Eloy.  As among Blacks there were those of us with superior intelligence.  Like Blacks we were expected to play dumb.  Should we refuse we could be cheated and denied.  There was no one to take our side.

     Miss Bevis Marks was either incapable of maintaining order in the classroom or she had been compelled to be the agent of repression.  She gave the Eloy a free hand to prevent us from excelling, allowing them even to discipline us during lessons.

     We had already been segregated and made to sit against the wall.  The others did so in humble submission.  As I said I had refused.  I had taken a seat along the windows which had now been isolated by the placing of communal tables in front of and around me.  I, as it were, sat on my throne in isolation.

     The force of necessity required common intercourse.  While maintaining a distinction between the two groups our lessons had to be in common.  As part of our studies we had to memorize the multiplication tables through twelve.  As part of drill Miss Marks had an open competition.  Two teams were organized.  Boys against girls was decided against as that would entail Eloy mixing with orphans and even having to root for them.  Thus the teams were organized as Eloy versus Orphans.  Most of the Orphans refused to try to win.  They had been very intimidated, but there were a few of us with spirit.  The teams had been further divided so that Eloy girls opposed Orphan girls and Eloy boys opposed Orphan boys.

page 203.

     As was predictible the Orphans lay down for the Eloy.  Even Jack Johnson would have been ashamed of himself.  As the first half of the contestants were finished we had lost all the contests.  But then one of our girls, who must have been a closet scholar, was whizzing through the sevens well ahead of her competitor.  It was apparent that she was going to win when an Eloy girl jumped up and knocked the chalk from her hand.  She was pushed and shoved as she groped for the chalk on the floor while the tables were whispered to her competitor.  We shouted and complained at her unfair treatment but Bevis Marks did nothing to either stop the harassment or to chastise the Eloy later.  The Eloy girl was delared the winner.  Miss Marks participated in and endorsed the disgraceful behavior of the Eloy.  Like her German counterparts such as Adolf Eichmann, Bevis Marks preferred her security to just acts.

     When my turn came I was well ahead of my competitor.  Action was necessary to prevent my winning.  The blackboard was against the tongue and groove wall  of the the furnace room.  I was doing the nines as Louis Shriver jumped up screaming imprecations into my ear.  I might have been able to withstand his shouting but he had taken up a position in front of the door to the furnace room.  Subconscious memories overwhelmed my nerve.  My eye was fastened on that door; my mind went blank.  My opponent hadn’t gotten nine times nine while I was down to three times nine, the easiest three nines, when I froze up.  My opponent was allowed to change answers and was given answers until he finally finished.  No matter, I had choked.  I had been intimidated.  The memory was permanent.  I could have and should have won regardless of everything else from Bevis Marks’ indulgence of the Eloy to Shriver’s shouting to my subconscious recollection of the rape.  I had choked, they had gotten me.  My will to win had been permanently thwarted.

page 204.

     At the same time I, we, learned the lesson that rules were to advance other people.  I, we, were outside the law.  A double standard existed.  There was no one to protect us or demand our rights.  The staff of the orphanage sympathized with our oppressors; no parents, no rights.  The school, each teacher, the Eloy were against us.  They had rights, we didn’t.  We were as Jews in Germany under Hitler, but we were in America, the land of the free, the home of the Bible.

     Thus I and the others adopted a strange character.  Tough among ourselves and obsequious to others.  Quite Negroid.  These two emotions struggled within us.  We wanted to demand human rights from our brothers but we knew that absolute power, a complete lack of morality would be used to deny us.

     Justice may be defined as the will of the oppressor.

page 205.

19.

     The Eloy had established a point.  The school administration made no effort to restrain them.  I was the focal point.  Word was passed to the other orphans that conditions might change for them if I was brought into submission.  The Eloy tried to turn the orphans against me.  This was meaningless.  We already fought constantly.  I was one of the oldest and most experienced hands in the orphanage.  I could hold my own among them.  I didn’t mingle with them at school anyway.

     There was absolutely no solidarity among us.  Unlike Negroes and the Jews who could count on group solidarity we had none and never would.  I knew what the Eloy were doing; I knew it was an empty threat.

     To the south of Longfellow was vacant land and industrial areas crossed by the railroad.  The residential area was to the North.  I found that the Eloy were waiting for me after school.  There was no actual attempt to beat me up but I had to dodge elbows, collisions and swung objects.  Their need was for me to respond to  their provocations by fighting.  As a troublemaker I could then be set upon with impunity.  I knew, or at least, I sensed this.

page 206.

     The whole of it, school and orphanage was wearing on me.  Like the cat in the trap everytime I looked I was still there.  There was no escape for me.  Even the library was losing its solace.  So to evade harassment and to postpone my return to the Home I began to take long walks which brought me back to the Home at dinner time, six o’ clock.

     I evolved several routes, wide loops that took me into many areas of town.  My favorite loop was one that took me North to the railroad tracks.  As I balanced myself along a rail, a light industry was to my right; open marshy fields to my left.  It was a barren scene, for whatever reason no trees grew in the area.

     I was balancing myself on a rail one day when I noticed two men talking animatedly in a back court of a building.  One was obviously the owner while the other was his foreman.  Apparently lots of merchandise was missing.  Someone was stealing it.  The owner was a thick headed man, he couldn’t figure out who.  I was standing on a rail watching with my hands in my pockets when the owner said:  ‘I’ve noticed that kid hanging around lately.  Maybe he’s stealing this stuff.’

     I listened in amazement as the owner settled on me and rejected the obvious.

page 207.

     ‘Hey kid, come on over here.  I want to talk to you.’  He ordered.

     I was amused.  I didn’t have anything to do.  I also knew how to put a stick in his spokes.  I walked over, hands in pockets, skipping over the puddles, to stand before him.  As was our habit to show disrespect I sucked in the flesh below my lower lip up under my teeth balancing my head on my spine where it bobbed as though on a swivel.

     ‘Yeah.’  I breathed as stupidly as I knew how.

     The owner was going to accuse me of theft.  He thought better of it just as he began to speak.

     ‘Listen kid you…you haven’t seen anybody hanging around here have you.’

     What a stupid question.  I only passed through two or three times a week.  ‘Why?’  Spoken in the same manner.

     ‘Oh, uh, well, we’ve had some stuff missing.’  He said grudgingly.

     I knew what they thought of my appearance with my spiky hair, ill fitting clothes and clown shoes.  They were wrong.  I couldn’t control my appearance.  But just as the owner’s clothes and the way he wore them bespoke his status and morality, so did his foreman’s.  The foreman’s demeanor, clothes and the manner he wore them, especially his belt buckle worn over his hip, bespoke his status and morality.  You had to be blind not to see that he was the thief.

    ‘Who’s got a key?’  I asked in an irrelevant manner.

page 208.

     ‘Oh, n0, no.  Only two of us have keys.  Me and Steve here.’

     ‘What’s Steve do at night?’  I asked in as weird a voice as I could muster as I ran back to the railroad tracks cackling demonically.

     As I looked back the owner was looking at Steve.  Perhaps he realized the truth, perhaps he didn’t.  I continued on down the line.

     Nelson St. crossed the tracks.  Here I usually got off the tracks to wait for the train.  It was the time just before the locomotives, the old black choo-choos, were being forced off the roads by those grim efficient workhorses, the Diesels.  In the locomotives the fire box generated a lot of heat.  The engineer was always leaning out the window.  Engineers were authentic boyhood heroes.  They were well in front of firemen and policemen as idols.  None of us had any higher ambition than to be an engineer of a big black eight wheeler.  We would have accepted a six or even a little switch engine but eight wheelers were the goal.  I’d heard of big ten wheel drives but I’d never seen one, nor had anyone I knew.  Engineers were our heroes.

     I stood there, often joined by other boys, waiting for the magnificent chuff of escaping steam, the smoke from the stack and the thrilling sound of the steam whistle.

     My heart beat faster as the magnificent steel beast hove into view.  What an epitome of power, the shape, the odor, the whoosh of the drivers even the splayed cow catcher in front.  Sometimes we would drive the engineer crazy by standing within three or four feet of the rails to feel the wind split and be knocked backward by the noise and whoosh of the driving rod.  The huge drivers towered over us, glinting in the light as they drove the train onward.

page 209.

     The next pleasure was to stand back to read the names of the railroads on the boxcars.  Consolidation had not yet taken its toll.  Lines like the Pere Marquette and Erie still existed.  The mystery of it all enveloped our minds.  The greatest thrill of all, every American boy’s God given right was waving at the engineer and having that mighty man of legend wave back.  It was his duty; it was his sacred obligation; it was the unwritten law of the land that he wave to his faithful adoring subjects; it was his joy.  We all gave glad homage.

     I was keen on the right, for as I gave homage I received homage as the engineers waved cheerfully and even sometimes shouted ‘Hello there.’  This was the only acknowledgment of my humanity that I received.  I cherished the relationship.  I waved and shouted with the absolute assurance that my salute would be returned.

     I was dumbfounded one day when an engineer disdainfully flapped his hand at me in a gesture of dismissal, with a disdainful expression of revulsion on his face.  The engine was only a six wheeler, but an important principle had been violated.  I was struck dumb.  Perhaps Hirsh felt the same indignation toward me as  I now felt toward this renegade engineer.  The insult was more than I could bear.  A cold grey fog gripped my heart.  This was an offence that could not pass.

page 210.

     I had not been alone, there were a few of us boys there.  Perhaps our appearance was not exemplary but that engineer had had no right not to return our salute.  I organized the others to be there the next evening.  As the train come chuffing up the engineer leaned out the window looking down to watch his drivers roll expecting an adulatory wave.  We had collected rocks.  We fired several volleys at his engine.  We knew we couldn’t hurt the engine but we or, at least I, knew that we were committing sacrilege.  The engineer knew too.  He was startled and amazed.  The thing was unheard of.  He had been taken by surprise.  His engine had rolled through before he could say anything.

     The next day we were there and fired our volleys of stones to the consternation of a different engineer.  That night discussion in the roundhouse centered on the boys who were throwing stones at the locomotive.  The engineers felt the insult to their race just as we had to ours.

     We were back the next day ready to throw rocks at the locomotive.  As soon as the engineer was within shouting distance he leaned far out the window and in the most sincere tones shouted out to us:

     ‘Boys, boys!  Why are you throwing stones at my engine?’

     The exchange had to be quick as the locomotive was rolling.

     ‘Because one of your engineers wouldn’t wave to us.’  I shouted back.

     The engineer understood the need of consideration.  A great breach of  etiquette, an actual crime, had been committed.

page 211.

     ‘Tell me which one.’  He shouted back.  ‘I’ll take care of it.’

     The train had crossed the road as I shouted back a description of the guilty engineer.

     The engineer was almost out of shouting distance when he shouted back:  ‘I think I know who you mean.  I’ll take care of it.’

     We saluted each other in mutual trust.  There might be one bad engineer but the whole race of Casey Jones, a line of heroes, couldn’t be bad.  The engineers located the guy.  He was forced to confess.

     The next day we were back at the crossing when the six wheeler approached.  The offending engineer was at the throttle.  We waited anxiously to see his response.  He gave us a half hearted wave  as we returned the salute in the same manner.

     The next day the engineer who had obtained justice for us was at the throttle.

     ‘Everything all right?’  He shouted down.

     ‘Yes, thanks.’  I shouted giving him a big wave.

     A great breach in tradition had been repaired; but within weeks the tradition disappeared.  Steve Brady and Ben Dewberry and Casey Jones vanished along with Sitting Bull, Black Kettle and Roman Nose and the buffalo as the more effecient Diesel replaced our beloved locomotives.  A great era in American history disappeared without a trace or notice.  Oh, once we saw an engineer looking out the glassed in cab of the Diesel.  He may even have given us a futile wave but we turned our backs and walked away as he answered our scorn with a shriveling blast on the air horn.  Why does true love got to go bad?

pp. 212-213.

20.

     As the new year evolved the trees speckled their branches with new growth.  April showers did indeed bring May flowers while David Hirsh gnashed his teeth in despair of me.  I seemed to epitomize all his troubles to him.  My success with the engineer was achieved only because a great wrong had been committed which was obvious to both sides and probably to any third parties who might have known of it.  The details were worked out as between equals.  David and Michael Hirsh were clearly in the wrong.  Their procedure was also wrong.  They had never made their grievance known to me.  Nor could they, for they had committed the wrong; I was the innocent party but I had nevertheless insulted their dignity.  We could have talked it out had our social positions been equal.  It was impossible given their opinion of themselves and myself.  They had to try to cheat homage from me.

page 214.

     My conduct at the Christmas party had prejudiced my case.  I was the apparent aggressor.  I had been induced to defame myself.  He had irrevocably damaged his credibility by segregating us on the playground in the fall but my conduct had given him a freer hand with me.  He was baffled by his apparent inability to administer corporal punishment to me.  He had done everything to me, short of shooting, which appeared to have no effect.  His means for a direct assault were now very limited.  I had already been ostracized; I was now no longer trusting.  The response to my actions at the Christmas party now gave a different avenue of approach.  If he couldn’t obtain obeisance he could defame me in the eyes of the community; or he thought he could direct me to ruin my life.

     Now, David Hirsh had always been watching me from a distance.  By which I mean that he either parked his car where he could observe or concealed himself where he could study me.  He had even got Mildred to let him stand in the kitchen where he could observe me at table.  In so doing he had studied the scene around the children’s home.

     We were easy targets.  The streets around the Home, as with all the streets in the Valley, were lined with rows of magnificent trees; chestnut, oak, maple, a wonderful canopy of what we called shade trees.  The fence around the orphanage enclosing the playground was set a foot behind the sidewalk.  During the warmer parts of the year there were always several men standing alongside the trunks of the trees or loitering along the fence.  These men were always willing to befriend us.  Some perverts were anxious to befriend the little girls; some were homosexuals who were anxious to befriend the boys.

 page 215.

     The authorities were incapable of protecting us from them.  The administration had made attempts to have them run off but these men had successfully maintained that the streets were public thoroughfares that gave them the right to use them as much as anyone else.  The authorities must have been morally and legally bankrupt for they remained to prey on us.  Cute little girls, dressed badly, could be had for a candy bar and the attention they couldn’t obtain in the Home.  Boys could be had for the same or less.  The city claimed to be powerless against these bums and perverts, the administrators were forced to close their eyes.

     At eight and nine we were susceptible to suggestion.  David Hirsh saw a way to influence my development.  That spring for the only time in my life I repeatedly heard the expression:  As the twig is bent the tree inclines.

     Every locality has its ne’er-do-wells who are willing to do dirty deeds dirt cheap, favors for the hope of future rewards from ‘the really big men’ of the town.  The big men of every town need ties with these men for they frequently have dirty deeds to do; deeds which if discovered would compromise their position.  You might say that these men function as gloves to keep the dirt off the big men’s hands; sort of a human prophylactics.

     David Hirsh had connections with the fellow who identified me to the barber.  This man managed to maintain an appearance of respectability to the point where David Hirsh could talk to him, not be seen with him, but talk to him.  This man then had connections to an even lower strata of humanity who had nothing to lose.  He knew the alcoholics, the hopheads, drug dealers, petty criminals and if necessary could find a way to contact the big boys down South.  David now spoke to him, explained what he wanted done and left the problem of finding an accomplice to him.  The task was a simple one but they managed to muff it.

page 216.

     I was walking back to the orphanage from school with a boy named Billy Batson.  Lebel St.  abutted the playground in mid-block.  As we emerged from the alley into Lebel we crossed this intersection along the back fence.  I noticed two unsavory characters of thirty or so leaning against the fence.  I didn’t recognize the guy from the barber shop but I knew the character of these guys who hung around pretty well.  Their faces also betrayed the fact that they were up to something.

     Billy was not very alert or perhaps he was willing to recieve apparently considerate attention from whomever would offer it.  I had increased my angle through the intersection to avoid these guys.  Billy nearly walked right into them.  The one guy sat nervously on his haunches.  The guy from the barber shop assumed the same position he had at the shop.  He apparently kept a clear conscience by directing his confederate but not actually dirtying his hands himself.

     Confused by our appearance the guy’s glance shifted back and forth from Billy to me.  He nudged his confederate who poked a finger at Billy.  Speaking in the most violently derogatory manner, he said:  ‘Hey, you stupid little bastard.  You’re a worthless little son-0f-a-bitch.’

     Billy looked at him, his eyes wide, he began to tremble.  Perceiving his danger I turned to come to his assistance.  I had these vagrants pretty well figured out.  I began to form insults in my mind.

     The accomplice quickly continued: ‘You’re a no good little bastard.  Your whole life’s going to be a failure.  You’re going to spend your life in prison.  You’re destined to be a good for nothing jailbird.’

     I was moving fast now, I got up a good wind and was about to shout my insults at the confederate when the barber shop guy looking down Lebel past me said:  ‘Whoa Tom, I think we got the wrong one.’

     So they had, but they had caught Billy Batson at a susceptible moment.  They had caught him in a hypnoid state and given him a post hypnotic suggestion.  They had imprinted his destiny.  Bill’s life was destroyed.  In after years his mind fulfilled the prophecy.  He died within prison gates.  I had escaped a destiny through the error of the two thugs.

     Tom’s companion had been looking past me at David Hirsh parked in his car on the other side of the alley we were forced to use.  He had watched Billy and I emerge from the alley with a wry smile.  We couldn’t walk down the street, we had been compelled to skulk down alleys out of sight, the same as his ancestors had in Europe.  David felt a glow of poetic justice as he slipped the monkey from his back onto ours.  Hirsh had signaled by pointing at me.  The opportunity was lost.  It was possible that they may have been able to imprint me but I think I was too wary.  I had watched these men and their ways.  I was alert to them, I don’t think they would have succeeded.

pp. 218-19.

21.

       David Hirsh was disappointed in the failure of his plan but ‘back to back, belly to belly, he didn’t give a damn because he had another ready.’  Actually the men at the fence were one part of a projected two phase plan.  They were to have started the nail while Michael Hirsh was to drive it home.

     The children of the orphanage were not as impoverished in the nickle-dime sense as it might appear.  Just as Darwen had us scavenging paper, there were other ways to scavenge up smaller amounts of money.  There was a hiatus of twenty-five years or so beween periods when empty bottles didn’t have a redemption value.  Soda came in bottles then, not in cans, but there was a two cent deposit on bottles.  People invariably threw them away.  Thus the streets, as it were, were paved with gold.  Money could literally be picked up from the streets.  It wasn’t considered the most respectable way to make money.  Michael Hirsh, for instance, never picked up a bottle in his life, but it was still honest.

page 220.

     We of the orphanage did not scruple to collect them.  Thus we always had some money.  Penny candy could be literally had for a penny, or even, two for a penny.  Regular sized bars that were three or four times the size of a candy bar today could be had for a nickel.  The smaller pleasures of life, the ones that children value the most, were easily within our reach.  Movies for instance were a dime, five bottles.

     Supermarkets did not exist in the Valley in 1948.  It would be 1952 before a ‘giant’ 20,000 square footer was built.  So little corner grocery stores were located on corners every few blocks or so.  Each of these had magnificant stocks of penny and regular candy.  There was one of these stores two blocks down Sandy from the Home.

     It was a classic of its kind.  For whatever reason they were always run down and dilapidated.  Like the ark they all looked like they had been deposited by the flood.  The dirt in front of them always had the grass worn off, a few tufts surviving here and there under the shadow of large trees.  The stoop up to the store never looked like it could hold your weight.  The stores were always unpainted, sagging unevenly.  Inside the floors were wavy or pitched at an angle.  The counters were worn, unpainted and showed their age.

     The owners always had a matching appearance.  You didn’t have to ask who owned the store.  They were a step or two below the type chosen as administrators of institutions like the Children’s Home.  They were broken down men running broken down stores.  But the stores were comforatble and endlessly fascinating to a little boy.

page 221.

     A few of the Orphanage boys had been recruited by the Hirsh faction to harass me.  I wasn’t aware of this as there was no difference in the way things were normally done in the Home.  We harassed each other as a matter of course.  The limits of harassment were prescribed by our proximity.  Retaliation was always close at hand.

     This Saturday they encouraged me to go down to the corner store.  I protested that I had no money.  They insisted, I went.  Lo and behold at the corner of the fence on Sandy was a small collection of bottles.  Imagine my surprise when they said that I had seen them first, which wasn’t true, and they were mine.  I didn’t argue.

     As we walked up to the store there they were.  Michael Hirsh and his fine friends.  I was small for my age, they were all three or four inches taller than I; besides their shoes fit and their clothes looked like they were bought with them in mind.  They apparently anticipated my arrival which I did note.  I didn’t note that my fellow inmates had disappeared.

     It was evident that Hirsh and his friends were there to intimidate me.  This was my home turf, once again they had preserved the element of surprise.  Having seen them coming I jeered right back.  ‘Hey, Hirsh, what are you doing here, slumming?’

     Words were exchanged as I walked past them into the store.  I gave the owner my bottles and collected my dime.  There used to be a candy glued to a strip of paper.  Little tidbits like the chocolate chips that go into cookies.   The strip of paper was about two inches wide.  You could order two, four, six inches, a foot depending on your means.  I had my mind set on that particular pleasure.  That style of candy was kept on a big roll on the counter.

page 222.

     As I got my dime back and tried to order, Hirsh and his friends jostled and shoved me away from the counter into the center of the store.  Unlike at the well they were prepared to defile themselves by touching the Samarian.  They obviously wanted to defame me as a troublemaker by getting me to fight with the resultant damage to the store in the melee.  I pushed and shoved in self-defense.  No blows were struck by either side as that would constitute starting a fight with the consequent opprobrium as aggressor.  That clever little fellow Abel managed to saddle Cain with that label.

      ‘Hey, mister, why do allow a troublemaker like Far Gresham in here.’  Hirsh sneered using my name for effect.

     ‘There wouldn’t be any trouble if a jerk like Michael Hirsh weren’t here.’  I jibed in return.

     The owner looked over at us with the patience that only a retailer knows and said: ‘Hey, why don’t you boys stop acting like babies; or conversely, why don’t you babies start acting like big boys?’  Wow, a literate store owner.

     Using my name as often as possible to make the man remember me Hirsh and his friends impressed on the man that I was the troublemaker, not only there but everywhere, inveterate and incurable.  They said that I should be thrown out; he shouldn’t do business with me.  The owner was a man of weak character.  He did know me, he didn’t know Hirsh and his friends, but they were well dressed.  While he vacillated the attention of Hirsh and his fellows was distracted.  I pushed through and asked for a length of candy.  The owner quickly snipped off what I asked for in the hopes of ridding himself of the problem.  Hirsh and his pals continued to bump against me.  Taking my candy I pushed through them and bounced out the door into the sunshine.  The six formed a queue behind me.  I had crossed the six feet to the sidewalk when I heard Michael Hirsh call out:  ‘Hey, Gresham, just hold on a minute.’

     I turned and said:  ‘What do you want now, Hirsh?’

     His fellows fell back to one side watching intently tongues between lips.  Adopting his most insulting attitude Hirsh strode up to me.  If I had to fight I was going to lose my candy.  I too became belligerent.  Instead he reached around and pulled a big Baby Ruth out of my back pocket.

     ‘What’s this Gresham?  I didn’t see you pay for this.  Looks like you’re a thief  Gresham.’

     As Hirsh stood there brandishing the candy bar at me, the owner strode to the door.  Seizing my opportunity I shouted to him, pointing at Hirsh:  ‘Hey mister, Michael Hirsh here has a candy bar he stole from you.  Better lock him up or make him pay for it, he’s got lots of money.’

     Hoist by his own petard Hirsh turned red, threw down the candy bar in the dust and stalked off followed by his guffawing friends.  I sang out after him:  “Hey Hirsh-she, looks like you’re a thief my man.’

      A couple years later he wouldn’t have been so foolish as to have taken the candy bar out of my pocket himself.  But we live and learn.

     As the incident at the fence was to have given me my identity, slandered me to myself, this plan which misfired because of Michael’s ineptness, was meant to convict me to myself and to slander me on my home turf.  Had the plan worked a reputation would have been established for me.  Not only would I have been slandered irreparably to others but I would have had to accept the same opinion of myself forever.

     This failure cost Michael Hirsh the respect of his friends; for he, in fact, had been caught with a stolen candy bar in his hand.  His friends didn’t see it quite that way but Michael Hirsh had stolen; he was in fact the thief.  Michael could never again aspire to be their leader.  Thus by their own vindictiveness the Hirshes had destroyed their own happiness and prosperity.  As the saying goes:  They were their own worst enemies.  They dug their own grave wide and deep.

page 225.

22.

     Acton Burnell had watched the developing situation of myself and the Eloy with dismay.  His sense of honor and decency had been offended by the segregation of the orphans on the bench.   His low opinion of the Hirshes and their ilk had been confirmed by the incident.  He had witnessed my rape with its display of deepseated contempt and hatred.  Not that Acton Burnell became my advocate or sympathizer, for, like nearly all men he believed that in the same situation there would have been six boys on the floor with him standing triumphantly over them.  The same would have been true, he thought, had there been a hundred or a million.  There was also the fact that I had been penetrated.  Forced or not the fact lowered me in his estimation.

     But his sense of justice was offended.  He did know how overwhelming were the odds I faced.  He was privy to all that transpired at the school.  His rank in the Masons informed him of local machinations.  He was not prepared to overtly come to my aid but he determined to do what he could covertly to defeat the Hirshes’ will.

page 236.

     Thus on a Saturday Acton Burnell was standing in the trees on Sandy across from the playground.  The guys who hung around the Home had an array of abilities to tempt us.  There were fairly expert carvers and whittlers with a variety of knife tricks, they could whistle like birds and perform excellent animal imitations; they knew a variety of magic acts, coin tricks and such, they displayed little tricks of natural phenomena, and oddly enough some of them were read.  They knew Kierkegard, Schopenauer, Kant, they had read all six volumes of Casanova, or said they had; furthermore they were willing to perform anytime until they learned that they were not going to be successful with you.

     I was outside the fence wandering among this little bazaar of performers when Acton Burnell, under a giant chestnut, motioned me over to him.  He may have thought I recognized him and I may have but away from school the janitor had no identity to me.  But hands in pockets I wandered over to him to see what his trick was.  Acton Burnell was aware of what Hirsh was attempting with the men at the fence and Michael’s attempt to compromise me.  I had perhaps narrowly missed being imprinted by the men at the fence who got Batson.  Other attempts were being made to bend my twig in the direction I was wanted to follow.  Michael’s attempt had been foiled mostly by his youthful ineptness.  Acton Burnell caught me on a day and in a mood when I received the imprint that would guide my attitudes and protect my life from ruin.  Acton Burnell was my savior.

page 227.

     He was a cultured man.  Self-educated.  In my opinion he wasted his time over the philosophers but if he found peace, so be it.  I stood in front of him head angled up sharply waiting for him to speak.  He began:

     ‘Always read quality books.  Learn to revere Pythagoras, Parmenides, Socrates, Marcus Aurelius and the great philosophers.  Read Shakespeare, Hardy and Trollope.  Do not waste your time with trash.  Ignore that bottomless pit of evil and ignorance, the Bible.

     Above all always be honest.  You can cheat an honest man but you can’t take away his integrity by doing so.  It is better to have no companions at all than to have bad companions.  Never let anyone make you compromise yourself, they may tell lies about you but a man’s honesty will always vindicate itself in the end.  Remember what I have said.  Now go.’

     The message flowed into my mind like a barrel over Niagara.  I looked at him silently for a moment; then turning without a word I walked away.  As though in a trance I walked to the library to sit the rest of the day.  I neither thought nor pondered.  The ‘living water’ of Acton Burnell just seeped into my brain.  I was armed and armored.

page 228.

     23.

     When David Hirsh learned of Michael’s new humiliation which was once again due solely to their own malignancy it was more serious than it might appear in the telling.  He was wroth, he seethed.  His own humiliation at the Christmas party, for which he had laid plans for revenge, now combined with Michael’s humiliation into a living tower of rage.  the situation was becoming uglier.  David was now nearly at his wit’s end.  Notions of actual murder flitted across the surface of his brain. 

     He called his boy to him and solemnly said:  ‘We’re going to have to give him a Black Sabbath.’

     Michael’s five friends were accordingly gathered and quickly drilled in their duties.  The Saturday after Acton Burnell imprinted me the six showed up at the Home on Sandy.  Confederates within the Home lured me out into the street.  The Eloy stood in a row down Sandy facing into the playground.  Many of the inmates were dispersed along their line.  The line had been choreographed.  Once I was in place among other inmates and some of the perverts Michael Hirsh and the Eloy began a series of chants.  As they chanted they brought their right clenched first down against their left clinched fist as an indication that they were going to crush me without mercy.

page 229.

     ‘Gresham.’  They pointed at me in unison turning like a singing group, ‘is outside the law.’  They then reverted to their former stance facing the playground.

      ‘Gresham.’  Turning and pointing again.  ‘Is to be denied food and drink, land and air.’

     ‘Gresham, Gresham, Gresham come forward and receive thy chastisement.’

     I and the perverts were watching in astonishment.  No one knew what was happening.  One bum turned to me in awe and intoned in a low voice:  ‘Just say to them, Aw your mother wears combat boots.’  This was a saying in use to defuse badinage and abuse that might lead to a fight, or to prove one’s manhood.  Someone might say:  ‘You’re in big trouble buddy.’  One replied ‘Aw, your mother wears combat boots.’ which was an acceptable response to defuse the situation.  I took his advice.  In a quavering voice that betrayed some apprehension I yelled out:  ‘Aw, your mother wears combat boots.’

      The Eloy turned in a fury:  ‘Gresham, Gresham, Gresham, come before us to receive they chastisement.’

      I can tell you, I was dismayed.  Stood and watched them.  They continued their ritual.  Apparently it was necessary for me to come before them which I refused to do.  After a while they left, marching off in file shouting:  ‘You’ll be sorry.’

     Thus I had been given a Black Sabbath.

     Acton Burnell and some few others realized that something had to be done as the matter was reaching a frenzied pitch.  I would have to be saved from David and Michael Hirsh while David and Michael Hirsh would have to be saved from themselves.

page 231.

    24.

     David Hirsh had been severely affronted by my conduct toward him at the Christmas party.  Beverly Hirsh had seized an opportunity by casting me out into the storm.  David had laughed and approved but had not derived any satisfaction from my discomfiture as he had not planned it.  He still longed to gratify himself for that incident.  Beverly’s act had been dissonant in David’s eyes.  While I had been punished the punishment bore no relation to the offence.  According to the Biblical antecedent the punishment had to fit the crime.  Apparently I would be punished until he found one that did.

     He had no immediate remedy but his mind was ever fertile in the area.  Slowly a plan emerged.  His plan was to be effected on my birthday.  But as my birthday was on a Wednesday that year and school was still in session the event had to be arranged for the twenty-ninth.  Memorial day weekend.  Not as satisfactory as actually my birthday but appropriately it would memorialize my offence.  As usual it would take the guise of charity.  Beware of geeks bearing gifts.

page 232.

     David’s own life during this preiod was becoming more complicated.  The repercussions arising from our segragation on the playground were slowly making themselves felt.  David himself was not yet aware but as might be expected Beverly had noticed a shift of status among the women’s groups.  The shift was not yet significant but she had noticed a shift in the current.

     At the same time ground had been broken for the new Sears store.  The excavation site was more than a city block with adjacent parking which was something Downtown didn’t have..  The hole was imposing.  There was more to it than that, for the Sears store represented the course of the future while Hershey’s represented the accretions of the past.  With a single turn of the key in the lock of the Sears store, Hershey’s would be hopelessly old fashioned.  Inevitably, but worse still the commercial philosophy of the Hirshes would be rooted in an invalidated tradition.  As Henry Ford said:  History is bunk.

     The Hirshes would now learn the truth of that statement as their successful past precluded a successful future.

     The Hirshes and the other merchants who had exuded confidence in the inability of Sears to compete in the ‘special’ environment of the Valley now began to have second thoughts.  As the piles were driven fear entered their minds.  Great changes, of which Sears was only one, were taking place in society.  Blacks began to appear on the fringe of Downtown.  Where they had shopped previously I have no idea but convention had forbidden them Downtown.  Black immigration flowed on during the wars.  Now the First Ward which had been their designated area was full to overflowing.  The Valley was no longer a White town.

page 233.

     For the first time also vague disquieting dissatisfaction with the management of the environment was, not making itself heard, but whispered in the wind.  Great subterranean changes were shifting the landscape.  Men’s minds were becoming disquieted but they didn’t know why.  Ignorant of the true sources they took inappropriate action.

     All these things acted on David’s mind.  He was not reflective, these influences mingled with his despair of me.  All his misgivings and frustrations were devolving on my head.

     So, on that Saturday we were lined up to the march over to Pfeffercorn Island for a picnic given us by unknown benefactors.  Pfeffercorn Island was adjacent to the Court St. Bridge over the Valley River.  The river flowed North into a bay and as it did a slough sliced around behind the projecting land which made the island.  It was a fairly large island that was part park, part dump.  The front half was landscaped while the back half had been used to dump landfill and what appeared to be slabs of concrete from roads.  It was an excellent place for a variety of purposes.

     I was getting tired of charity.  I just didn’t have it in me to do that song and dance for them.  I didn’t want to go.  Unlike the Christmas party I didn’t give up easily but put up a strong resistance.  In this world however, might is right, I found myself on the sidewalk after breakfast with the others.  It was an hour’s walk to Pfeffercorn Park.  We walked along strung out over three blocks, sometimes four.  We were herded back into a more compact body.  I walked along in grim silence.  I was annoyed by the amused, even laughing, glances of passing drivers.  Some even had the effrontery to honk their horns as us in derision.  Try to be as cheerful as I might I was reaching the end of yet another tether.  Dark, dark emotions were beginning to swirl in my mind.  At ten my perception of reality was improving.

page 234.

     Games had been devised for us but I had no inclination to join in, preferring instead to investigate the waterfront or hang around the bandstand.  During the morning we had the park to ourselves but about one o’clock others began arriving.  Among them was a very large body of Eloy, including David and Michael Hirsh.  I groaned when I saw them.  I tried to avoid them but they wouldn’t ignore me.  I was slowly driven toward the back of the island.  I and a couple others were playing on the edge of the dump.  Things were made uncomfortable for me there; nothing overt, just taunts and teasing.

     I induced my companions to go out into the dump to play Beau Geste of the Foreign Legion or Cowboys and Indians.  The dirt and concrete had been dumped in long rows across the island which formed ridges and valleys of eight or ten feet in height.  One could march up a ‘sand dune’ bearing the standard and tumble down into the vale under that blazing Saharan sun.

page 215.

     I was content but my companions soon left me alone to play the hermit of the burning wastes.  Still, considering that altered me, I wasn’t unhappy.  But then a face appeared above the crest of a dune. 

     ‘Hey, come on Farley, you’re wanted.’  Said an orphan.

     ‘Oh yeah?  Is it time to go then?’  I asked.

     ‘No, it’s something else.  They want you.’ He said.

     ‘What for?’

     ‘I don’t know.  Some game.’

     ‘Well, let someone else do it; just let me know when we’re ready to leave.’

     Soon a house mother appeared.  I was more than suspicious.  Dark premonitions blazed from my eyes and forehead.  She said I was wanted to participate in something.  I knew something must have been afoot then.  I declined suggesting she get someone more deserving.  She virtually dragged me out of the dump back to the area to the West of the bandstand and just on the other side of the parking lot.

     A large tarpaulin lay on the ground covered with sawdust.  The thing had humiliation written all over it.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, especially as I saw the Eloy drifting over to watch.  There were about eight of us, we had apparently been chosen for various reasons.

     Several strange men were supervising.  They had nothing to do with the Children’s Home.  I tried to back away but the men kept catching me and pushing me forward.  They were receiving a reward.  They were being allowed to participate in the humiliation of those less fortunate than themselves and just as defenseless as they had allowed themselves to become.  One, an Italian, Joe Speso, was especially elated.  Speso was an actual immigrant.  He no longer had a pronounced accent but still had a noticeable one.  Immigrants had not necessarily desired to become American.  That is they didn’t wish to shed their national trappings in favor of American ones.  In many cases they wished to impose their own national systems on the American one.  The result of that conflict was the hybrid society we know.  American attempts to enforce Americanization sometimes took relatively brutal forms.  The European and Pacific wars had done much to homogenize the American and European nationalities.  Foreigners had earned the right to be Americans by participation in the wars.  Traces of the old attitude remained.

     Speso himself had never intended to remain in the United States.  His intention had been to make a bundle and then return to Sicily and sit in the sun.  The Great War had delayed his plans to return to Palermo, there was no need to got back and be drafted into the Italian army.  After the war other delays had prevented his return at all.  He had led a disgruntled, disconsolate life ever since.

     Speso had been a victim of one of the last of the ‘Americanization’ gangs only recently.  He had been walking down the street when three late teens accosted him.  Since he had an accent they demanded he recite the pledge of allegiance and kiss a little flag one took out of his back pocket.

     Joe Speso demurred, pointing out he had been in this country for forty years and he had two sons who served in Europe.  The boys persisted.  Joe was not a big man so at great cost to his mental equilibrium he complied.  The matter became known.  Joe Speso was now being given a chance to redeem his injured psyche by injuring ours.  I alone intuited this.  The other men, like Speso, had stories of the same nature if differing facts.

page 237.

     The eight of us were strung out in a line facing the tarpaulin.  I was on the extreme right.  The sawdust was arranged in shallow areas at the ends leading to a higher ridge toward the middle with a conspicuous little peak in the very middle.  I could see a few coins amidst the sawdust.  I did not want to participate.  I knew I was being besmirched.  My body felt as dirty as my mind was dark.  At that moment the Eloy appeared bright and clean while I felt dark and dirty.

     As I looked down the line I saw Dave Gore staring at the peak.  His face was drawn, looking almost as in a state of shock.  I sensed that the peak contained a reward for him.  But reward for what, I wondered?  There was something in his strained anticipation that indicated he had either compromised himself a great deal or committed a great wrong.

     I wondered.  I went through my recall of recent events to see if there was anything he could have done to me.  I could think of nothing but it was possible that he thought he had done something vile to me.  It also occurred to me there was something sexual in his distracted stare.  I thought that perhaps he had offered himself.   Gore was a pretty capable guy.  It was possible that the Eloy might have compromised him in that way to emasculate or subordinate him.

page 238.

     I didn’t like the looks of the whole thing.  I had decided not to participate.  As I was watching and wondering I was vaguely aware that the thing was about to commence.   The others were on the mark quivering with anticipation.

      I heard someone say:  ‘He goes first.’

     Gore dove into the peak.  He hadn’t been sold down the river.  He triumphantly held the twenty dollar bill aloft as though he had expected to find it.  Twenty dollars then was equivalent to at least two hundred now.  My, that was big money.  I gasped.  What could he have done to earn that?  As soon as it was seen that he had his twenty the rest of us were released to scramble in the sawdust in a frenzy for nickels, dimes and pennies.

     I stood staring in disbelief.  Joe Speso was saying gleefully.  ‘Dive in there boy, there won’t be anything left.’  The sun was in the West where it reflected off the windshields of the cars parked opposite but through the reflection of sun and cloud speckled sky I caught a glimpse of two guys, David and Michael Hirsh who were watching with glee and anticipation.

     David Hirsh had set this whole thing up.  My refusal of his Christmas present was in his mind an arrogant act.  His reasoning now was that no one could refuse money.  Thus, somehow his mind would take great pleasure in seeing me grovel in the dust for pennies.  For, the bills and fifty cent pieces and quarters were all distributed to the left of me.  We all had been directed into certain areas, prevented from going to others.  The twenty dollar bill had been meant to tantalize us, me into a terrific frenzy.  It had them but not me.

page 239.

     We were also being trained to be servants of the big men.  For to get the really big bucks we would have to do whatever it was that they required.  We would have to look to them for favor.  I sullenly rejected the plan.

     ‘Hurry boy.’  Speso laughed at me incredulously.  ‘Or it will all be gone.’

     I stood there sullenly.   Then at a signal from Hirsh which I didn’t see he pushed me down onto the tarpaulin.  I could see the Eloy watching with disdain and contempt.  Charity is a wonderful thing; it makes the giver feel so good at the expense of the recipient.

     I was on my hands and knees.  For a brief moment the contagion of the frenzy drew me in as I picked up a few pennies.  Then the darkness gripped my mind again.  I stood up and threw the pennies down as a dark frown froze my forehead.  By now the money was all picked up so that there was no longer any need to constrain me.

     ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with that boy.’  I could hear Speso saying:  ‘Money on the ground just waiting to be picked up and he doesn’t even appear interested.’

     I not only appeared uninterested I wasn’t interested.  Now I was being defamed for not wanting to be defamed.  Hirsh was very clever.  I was damned if I dove in, especially as the paper and big coins were not at my end, and damned as stupid if I didn’t.  I retreated back into the shrubbery with a glowering mien.  I was in a trap from which it was impossible to extricate myself.

      I didn’t blame anyone in particular.  I blamed the whole of society as these great heavy blows bludgeoned my psyche.  I could physically feel the thud to my psyche as my brain crushed and splintered beneath the blows.  Dark evil thoughts commingled with my inherent brightness.  Acton Burnell’s advice contested with the reality of Mrs. Miller’s obervation.  Did David Hirsh have what it would take to drive me under?  I knew that the universe was evil, I became partially tongue tied.

page 240.

     For some reason my mind fixated on happier kids.  I guessed that somewhere in town a wondeful birthday party was going on with a dozen well to do happy children dancing around a wonderful cake in beautiful clean clothes and shoes that fit and beautiful shiningly clean faces.  I understood that they could only be as happy as there were because they knew that somewhere else other children were miserable.  Their content depended on the discontent of others.  They had it not within themselves to know content except with the knowledge of the misery of others.  Their mothers would remind them lest they forgot.  They could only be relatively happy.  I was the miserable kid to whom they compared themselves to make themselves happy.  In an excess of misery I hated them.  My attention was drawn to a departing car as David Hirsh blew his horn driving off gleefully.

     His need was so great that he distorted what could at best have been only a half victory into a total humiliation.  He had given me trauma from which I could never recover and would be a long time ameliorating.

     The fun was over, we were gathered for the walk back to the orphanage.

page 241.

     ‘Hey, Gresham.’  One of the Eloy taunted, not knowing that I had taken nothing from the pile.  ‘I get lots more every week as an allowance than the pennies you picked up from the ground.  Enjoy your money Gresham.’

     I was too young to conceal my bitterness, he was rewarded with the blackest of brows.

     We were ordered into formation for the return trip back to the orphanage.  Our long line filed down the roadway off the island.  People stood watching with arms folded across their chests as though we were part of the booty in an imperial triumph.  There were smiles and laughs and discreet murmurs of look at that one.  Had I been less inured to the abuse I might have rushed them or still worse screamed in impotent rage.

     As if that was not enough to endure I was admonished by one of the girls.  She was quite sincere.  It was impossible for me to hate her knowing as I did what she too was compelled to endure, but I could not help despising her.  She was even beneath contempt.

     ‘You know, Farley, when people are trying to be nice to you, you should be a little appreciative.  I noticed at the Christmas party that you didn’t take your present.  Here, when they wanted to give you money- MONEY-  you wouldn’t even take that.  You’re going to give us a bad name (I choked back a laugh)  and people won’t give us charity like this.  If they don’t, it will be because of you.  I don’t even know why they specially chose you, you don’t deserve it.’

      ‘I wasn’t specially chosen.  Everybody got a turn; I was just in the last relay.’

     ‘You’re a liar Farley Gresham, you eight boys- BOYS- all boys, no girls- were the only one’s chosen and you don’t even appreciate it.’

     ‘Oh yeah, hum, the only reason I did it was because they told me everyone else already had.  Heck, if I’d known that you could have had my place.  You could have gotten down on your hands and knees and scrounged for pennies.  You’d have liked that.’

     As for charity if I had had some way to make them stop I would have.  If my attitude would end charity I would have redoubled my efforts.  But she said we eight were the only ones.  I had already perceived that Dave Gore was being paid off.  That meant that the other six were being rewarded for something.  But what?

     I was toward the back of the line naturally, now I began walking up the line looking for Dave Gore.  He was about a quarter from the lead.  He was marching along totally preoccupied, his hand in his pocket around the money.  His face was strained and he was sweating like a dope fiend.  It wasn’t hot enough to sweat.  I walked along beside him shifting from front to back studying him curiously.  He seemed oblivious to me and all else.

     Finally I said:  ‘Hey Gore, what did you do?’

     He immediatley assumed an offensive posture, drew back his fist and in a low husky voice barked at me:  ‘You get away from me Gresham, or I’ll knock you out in one punch.’

page 243.

     He wasn’t going to knock me out with one punch but then I wanted an answer not a fight.  I decided to persist one more time.

     ‘Aw, come on Gore, you must have got twenty-five or thirty dollars.  That’s a lot of money.  It was in that little peak where everybody could see too, how come?  What did you do?’

     He cocked his arm further and thought about taking a step toward me.  Eyeing him closely I backed off and started drifting back to the end of the line.

     Gore was a pretty good athlete.  At games he could make the Eloy fourth graders look bad.  I didn’t think he was paid that much for anything he might have done to me, I just couldn’t think of anything that happened that he could have done.

     Memory is pervasive, whether suppressed into the subconscious or in free access, memory always directs our actions.  I couldn’t recall my rape but all the relevant information affected my thinking.  The drawn look, the sweat at the payoff, it all indicated sex.  He must have been seduced with the promise of the payoff.  I doubt that he would have taken cash for it so it must have been that he wanted something else.  He wouldn’t have been able to explain how he got the money to pay for it if he had shown up with the thing so they chose this method to get it to him and save the appearance of his honor.  The question was who?  If I hadn’t been so young and blocked I would have put it all together.

     All contests are fixed.  I was dimly aware of it if still disbelieving it.  They must still have had use for him or they wouldn’t have kept their word.  Hirsh had used the time honored method of using other people’s money to pay his debts.  Money had been collected from a sucker list for the picnic.  the suckers’ money was on the blanket to pay the wise guy’s debts.  It’s the same principle used with lotteries today; except with lotteries you don’t have to collect charity; you sell tickets to suckers.

     What the other six guys did I don’t know but they had the demeanor of petty criminals.  Gore had kind of an aristocratic look, unlike the others.

     A dark bubbling porridge boiled at the bottom of my brain.  It would be very difficult for me to ever be cheerful.  The school year was almost over.  I didn’t see how I could last another year at the Home.  I began to hope fervently that my foster home would be better.

pp. 244-45.

     25.

     There were only a few days left to the end of the school year.  I knew that I would be leaving the foster home soon.  I gritted my teeth and hoped for the best.  On the last day of school Billy Batson and I were accosted on the corner across from the school by a couple of Morlocks who may have been sixth graders.  My own mental condition was far from whole but I was facing up to things.  Batson on the other hand had had his mind thoroughly cowed.  I yearned to help him but life in the Home and at Longfellow had overwhelmed him; he was beyond my or anybody’s reach.

     The purpose of these sixth graders was to terrorize us.  Whether they acted of their own accord or as agents is irrelevant; it was the kind of hazing that bigger boys do to smaller boys.  They pointed out a corner room on the third floor and said that was Mr. Oagar’s room.  He was the fifth grade teacher.  He was a mean vile guy.  We were already assigned to his room.  He was going to make mincemeat of us, they said, especially me.

page 246.

      I listened with the appearance of trepidation.  I asked questions leading them on.  When they reached the proper pitch of excitement I dropped my bomb on them:  ‘Oh yeah?  Well, I won’t be attending Mr. Oagar’s class.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Why not?’  They jeered.

     ‘Because I check out of the orphanage now.  I won’t even be in this school district.’  I said without certain knowledge that I wouldn’t be in the school district.

     Oddly enough my answer seemed to desolate them as Batson and I moved off toward the Home.

     Unbeknownst to me the situation between Hirsh and I had become so appalling, the future looked so dangerous for me, that efforts were being made to get me to a safe place out of range of Hirsh.  Even Acton Burnell was alarmed and involved.

      Shortly after the end of school in June I was called down to the Orphanage office.  There in the cold efficient style of the attendant, who could not afford personal involvement because of the potential heartaches involved, I was given instructions to find the house of John H. Warden and dime for bus fare.  I was told to collect what I wanted to take with me.  I put my hands in my pockets and fingered the dime; I had everything of value to me from the Children’s Home in my pocket as I stood.  I was admonished not to spend the dime for other things as I wouldn’t get another and would have to walk.  I was no fool.  A dime was very nearly big money to me;  I was used to walking.  I pocketed the dime, shoved the big front door open and stepped out into the June sunshine.

page  247.

     Word had gotten around that I was checking out.  I walked down the curved driveway.  Three or four boys were waiting for me at the corner of Sandy and Nelson.  They were standing there gabbing about Barney Oldfield.  Their minds raced while they spoke in awe of Oldfield going a mile a minute.  I thought I was going to have to push my way through but it was their intention to ignore me.  Perhaps my refusal to join Derringer’s faction when I entered the Home was now being returned on me in the manner they interpreted my refusal to join.  I stood listening to them for a minute trying to think of something devastating to say.  At that moment a squadron of three Jet planes approached from the South.  Jet propulsion, as it was known in those days, was brand new.  The Jets produced a new level of noise, to which people had not yet objected they were so in awe of the new technology.  In the early days the planes flew over low enough to see the insignia on the wings, if not so low as to make them out.

     I saw the planes approaching at their incredible speed.  Just as they were directly overhead they passed through the sound barrier.  I swear it was visible.  The air was shattered as the Jets punched through.  I involuntarily screamed out ‘Hawkaa.’  The great shimmering waves of the sonic boom descended on us.  We were literally lifted off our feet as the street post rattled, the street light wavered over the intersection, doors and windows rattled audibly.  From somewhere came the sound of shattering glass.  The sound was a single well rounded short boom.  The sound was visceral, tremendous.  It was much louder and more compact than any thunder I remembered.  Our hearts palpitated.  We stared after the contrails from the departing planes as the great roar of the jets, diminished compared to the sonic boom, but great, enveloped us, ruling out conversation until the noise abated while the planes had disappeared from sight long before.

     The boys were looking from face to facc with awe.  I said:  ‘So what’s so special about sixty miles an hour.  Those planes were going ten times that fast.’

     ‘You lie, Gresham, nothing can go that fast.’

     ‘Ha! Well, you saw it.  They broke the sound barrier.  You have to go six hundred miles an hour to do that.  Six hundred is ten times sixty.  So who’s Barney Oldfield?  So long, boys, I’m on my way out of here.  Enjoy your stay.’

     ‘Yeah, well, we’ll see you around, Gresham.’

     ‘Not if I see you first.’  I replied stepping through the plane of the sonic boom out of a dismal past into what I hoped would be a happier future.

pp. 248-49.

      THE BRIDGE

     My path law down Nelson to Main St. which joined the East and West sides.  As I trudged down Nelson my thoughts were concentrated on the trials of the past and my hopes for the future.

     I had no concern with poverty or material deprivation.  I never considered myself ‘poor’.  The disparity in material goods between myself and others had merely seemed contrived not organic.  I considered myself the equal of anybody.  Indeed, the evidence before my eyes was that I could hold my own intellectually with anyone.  I was superior to most.  Life appeared to be a set of circumstances in which fate had given me a most disadvantageous start.  I had high hopes of reversing the circumstances.

     I did not understand or even know of the permanent damage that had been done to my psyche and personality.  I couldn’t perceive how my behavioral modes had been imposed on me or how I appeared to others.  I knew by the criticisms of my upper self that I invariably made weak or inappropriate responses to life’s little situations.  I didn’t know how my sub-concious controlled my conscious actions nor of the suppressed memories that directed my conscious self against my will.  David and Michael Hirsh had in actuality entered my mind and directed my actions according to their desires.  In many respects I was their puppet.

page 250.

 A Novel

Far Gresham

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 4

  12.

     David Hirsh had failed to obtain homage from me at the well on Kishenev St.  He was not disappointed.  He had his heart set on a public humiliation before the whole school as his son had been in kindergarten.  He considered his promise to his father fulfilled by the attempt at the well.  He now set in motion his heart’s desire.

     The gulf between our two groups must have been enormous.  My encounter with the Stouts had given me some inkling of the distance but pride refused to allow me to recognize the truth.  I annihilated the reality.  The neurotic distortion of reality overruled my conscious grasp of the facts.

     David Hirsh, while keeping an eye on me and my fellows as we tramped the back alleys of the twelve blocks to Longfellow in the third grade quickly apprehended the difference in my status.  Our clothes, our walk, our talk, our bearing vastly amused him.  It occurred to him then, that, as he and his associates  had prevented Blacks from attending Emerson, he might now prevent me as well as the other inmates from attending Longfellow on approximately the same grounds.  As he claimed that the Blacks would have been a detrimental influence at Emerson, he now conceived the notion that our tag-tail lot would be a detriment to the Longfellow kids.  Such a punishment of myself produced a feeling of mellow resplendent satisfaction in him.  Truly, in his mind, a Biblical sense of justice would prevail.  The punishment would fit the crime.

page 151.

     There were Hirshes and Websters enrolled at Longfellow as well as others who disapproved of our mixing with their own.  David and Beverly discussed the matter with other parents.  They in their turn, half from conviction and half to please Hirsh, agreed to the plan.  Thus David Hirsh believed that he had a good chance of excluding us as we were segregated in class already and no one objected.

     Hirsh had gone further.  He had sounded out the school board, even presented his arguments forcefully.  The objections centered on where we would be schooled as law required all children to attend school regardless of race, religion or creed which was assumed to include parentage.  Longfellow, was, after all our district; other schools were as close but there was a reason we attended Longfellow.  Parents at those other schools had made effective protests to keep us out.  At some time in the past Longfellow had been designated to bear our burden.

page 152.

     Hirsh had listened passively; thought on it, decided that that approach could not be successfully pursued.

     He countered that as the Catholic orphans were educated intra-murally so might we be.  This was countered by two arguments:  There wasn’t space to educate the various grades nor could the school board afford the added expense.  As might be expected the economic argument was the conclusive one.  It was suggested to David Hirsh that if he were willing to bear the expenses…?  Hirsh was not willing to bear the expenses.

     Hirsh had failed.  He had also created a certain amount of ill will toward himself among the more charitably and democratically inclined.  Many thought that the plan ran counter to American ideals, which, indeed it did.

     It was at this point that Solomon Hirsh learned of David’s intent and decided to caution his son.  Solomon had advised David that more danger than reward awaited him if he persisted.  David had given the bow to his father’s wishes but he felt strongly enough to persist.  David Hirsh had mis-guaged the influence of the Webster-Hirsh powers.

     After his failure at the well on Kishenev, which was nearly self-ordained, Daved accepted a less satisfying course of action.  He knew that he could not succeed with the schoolboard.  He now directed his energies toward the principal of Longfellow, H.M. Thudbarrow.  Defeated in his greater plan, he now remembered that as the Blacks were compelled to sit through recess, he would now compel the orphans to do the same.  Force main as used with the Blacks was out of the question.  He would require a more subtle deceit.  He thought that I would be sufficiently humiliated to satisfy him.  He thought that matters would then be returned to the status ante quo kindergarten.  As he thought about it he created in his mind the additional beauty that I wouldn’t even know I had given homage.

page 153.

     Principal Thudbarrow was, as might be expected, a pushover.  He was invited to meet with Hirsh and other interested parents at a dinner at the Valley Country Club.  There wined, dined and treated with the utmost and most flattering respect he was persuaded to comply with Hirsh’s plan.

     Our teacher, Bevis Marks, could trace her lineage back to, if not the Founding Fathers, at least the beginnings of America.  Her ancestors were on the ship that brough the first Jews to America in 1654.  They arrived at the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, later New York.  Her name had originally been Marquess, as those Jewish immigrants were Portuguese Jews via Amsterdam through Brazil.  Her ancestor had debarked as Marquess but was next seen as Marks.

     Different events have different effects on different minds.  Whereas the knowledge of the death camps in Europe was making Hirsh hard and bitter, the same events had reactivated and intensified Bevis Marks awareness of the brotherhood of man.  She had seen the pictures of Jews segregated and waiting in line with bars of soap in their hands.  What was now proposed seemed but little different to her.  Yet her choice was to quit or comply.  Like Eichmann she chose to comply.  She had misgivings of course but in the circumstances so has everyone; better to keep her place rather than lose it over some miserable orphans.

page 154.

     David Hirsh’s plan was set for execution.  I walked into class that morning and immediately was aware that something was up; what I couldn’t guess.  The Eloy cast satisfied glances at me all morning.  Bevis Marks seemed somewhat agitated.  I just couldn’t guess what was up but I waited apprehensively and alert.

     As recess time approached Miss Marks became more agitated.  Her head wagged from side to side.  A major element in the success of any plan is surprise; surprise had been lost.  I watched and waited.  Miss Marks cleared her throat to announce recess.  Her eyes closed; she raised her left hand to her waist and held her right hand breast high as though picking an imaginary berry from an imaginary bush.  This was it.  I waited expectantly.

     She explained that several of the parents had been complaining about their children having to mix with us.  We were not keeping our place.  In other words as Blacks were expected to shuffle and address their masters apologetically so were we.  As the Jews of Central Europe were supposed to be obsequious before their betters so were we.  As the Poles were expected by the Nazis to be trained to be less than men, so were we.

     She explained that a bench had been set aside for we orphans.  We were not only not to be allowed to play apart from the Eloy we were not even to be allowed to play while they played.  We were to sit and watch.  My deck had been quickly shuffled past my eyes and the scene of the Black kids in kindergarten presented itself.  I was outraged.  I wouldn’t allow it to happen to those Black kids and this White Nigger wasn’t going to do it either.

page 155.

     I began to protest but was rudely shoved aside by some of the Eloy.

     ‘Get going, Gresham, we’ve got you now.’

     I looked across the yard.  A bench had been set up by the side of the road where we were to sit.  David and Michael Hirsh had obtained a ringside seat.  They didn’t mean to miss the show.  Brooklyn St. terminated into Rivington which ran alongside the school on the East side.  The bench had been set up facing Brooklyn.  David and Michael Hirsh sat in their car on Brooklyn facing the bench.  The two were in a state of high exaltation.  This was it!  This was when they got theirs back.  It couldn’t fail.

     For me it was a time in which, if time does not stand still, the moments are incredibly prolonged.  It was one of those times when an eon elapsed between the classroom and the bench.  I was holding back, dragging my feet.  A few of the Eloy walked behind us like cowboys driving cattle.  My decision was ahead however not behind .  I exhorted some of the orphans not to accept the plan; not to take a seat on the bench.  The desperate thought had entered my mind that even though I refused to sit on the bench, if the rest of the White Niggers did I would be implicated with them.  They were only too willing to accept their fate.  Black or White, a nigger is a nigger.  The scene in kindergarten kept flashing through my mind.  I failed to prevent any of the orphans from taking the bench.  Even the boys who considered themselves tougher than myself took the bench.  One of the girls grabbed my arm to pull me down.

page 156.

     ‘Come on, Far.  You heard Miss Marks, we have to sit on the bench.’

     David and Michael Hirsh rose in their seats in anticipation.  I pulled free and hissed:  ‘You have to sit.  I don’t.’

     I grabbed a ball and ran off toward the well in the upper yard.  Longfellow had the largest grounds I’ve ever seen in a school.  It must have been set on ten acres.  My move was totally unexpected.  The Eloy stood yelling after me, clenching their fists and pointing to the bench.  The orphans looked expectantly after me to return.  Bevis Marks became distressed.  It’s the exception that destroys the rule.  I stood glaringly exposing the injustice of the deed.

     The Hirshes stared at me through their windshield in disbelief.  David Hirsh had always been mystified as to why his plan had failed in the second grade.  He had come to the conclusion that he had failed because he had confronted me directly.  He now, proving Mrs. Miller’s dictum, attempted to sneak up on me.  Incredibly that seemed to be failing also.  Activity near the bench recalled his attention to that area.

     The Eloy had begun to play before the orphans.  Miss Marks had not anticipated anyone of us not taking the bench.  As she watched me playing catch by myself she was overcome with shame.  She invented a new rule.  If one of the Eloy couldn’t play then one of the orphans could substitute.  She sent an Eloy to recall me to be a substitute.  One of the girls, a good hearted soul, jumped and ran to tell me what she considered to be the good news.

page 157.

      Hirsh found hope, he would settle for me as a substitute, still in a subservient role.  But I was not to be swayed.  Let the others accept their status.  I was made of sterner stuff.  I was not to be tempted.  I rejected the role.

     My rejection of the offer registered with Hirsh.  He knew bitter disappointment.  His hands which had been tremblingly clutching the wheel in anticipation stopped shaking; his forehead slowly settled against the wheel; a bit of disappointment burped from his throat.  Michael’s head involuntarily swiveled to the left as his eyelids hooded his eyes and the corners of his gaping mouth arched toward his chin.  Damn! Damn! Damn!

     David Hirsh ignited the engine, pushed the gear shift out of neutral, slammed it into first, roared around the corner pounding the horn with his fist.  All heads turned to look.

     Never! Never in David Hirsh’s life had he ever been so frustrated.  Feelings stirred deep in his bowels; he must have satisfaction.

     For the next two days recess was repeated in the same fashion.  The Eloy playing, the orphans sitting, and I off by myself.

     Failed evil is a strong rebuke.  The situation vexed Bevis Marks.  Had the plan been successful she would not have had to review her actions.  It had failed; I was a living rebuke.  The burden weighed heavily on her. 

     There were others who had seen, who were watching.  Homeowners across the street had stared wonderingly.  There had been cars that stopped while drivers stared uncomprehendingly.  Pedestrians had watched, picked their teeth and ponderingly even asked questions.  Acton Burnell, the janitor, stood before a window in the furnace room flipping raisins in his mouth and evaluating the situation.  Acton Burnell was the wild card.  Neither Hirsh nor the other parents had taken him into consideration.

     Acton Burnell, holding an insignificant job, was a thirty-first degree Freemason.  He was two degrees from the top.  Most of the important men in town belonged to the Masons including Solomon and David Hirsh.  Inside the lodge Acton Burnell outranked them both.  Burnell was a man of mediocre talents, he had never risen in the world.  He had a very high opinion of himself which his position in the Masons confirmed to him.  His lack of success in the world frustrated him and made him a sort of socialist is a malcontented sort of way.  From the furnace room of Longfellow he was a meddler who sought importance by frustrating the will of others.  He had a longstanding grudge with Solomon Hirsh which translated in his mind to all the Hirshes, big or little.  He saw his opportunity to embarrass his enemy.

page 159.

     At the same time, Bevis Marks could stand no more.  Powerless against Thudbarrow she was still aware of the motive sources of the situation.  The third day- all these matters are governed by the rule of three- was a Friday.  The weekend intervened.  Acton Burnell did his work, the neighbors and passersby registered their opinions.  Miss Marks went to talk to David Hirsh within the synagogue, as it were.  Her anger and shame overcame her timidity.  Over the weekend she talked to David Hirsh bluntly.  She told him he must withdraw his demand or suffer consequences.  She wasn’t clear as to what the consequences would be but there would be consequences.  David Hirsh as he stood frowning, listening to Bevis Marks, realized that it was too late to avoid consequences.

     Acton Burnell had taken actions, the complaints of  others had been registered and reached the right places.  The branch broke carrying Hirsh to the ground with it.  Recess was conducted properly on Monday.  The individual is important.  Unbeknownst to me I had inflicted a serious defeat on David Hirsh.  A very serious defeat that was to produce pain for David Hirsh.  Oh yes, but David and Michael Hirsh still had the means to pass the pain back to me in an even more severe form.

     His and Michael’s pain had been considerable; so much so that David had lost control of himself pounding in a maddened way on his car horn, subconsciously calling the world’s attention to his anguish.  He felt as though he had been unmanned.  His mind processed his failure as violent sexual aggression toward him by me.  There could be only one response.

page 160.

     God is capricious.  In the Biblical interpretation of reality God now began to turn his countenance from the Hirshes.  Had David been consistent, which he wasn’t, he would now have sught ways to propitiate his god.

     Just as my challenge to Michael in kindergarten had removed him from the role of leadership for which David had been training him, so now my defeat of David, of which I was oblivious, removed him from the possibility of attaining the leadership for which his father, Solomon, had trained him.  Not that the leading townsfolk cared a whit about the propriety or impropiety, justice or injustice of the act; the important thing was that David had shown poor judgment.  David Hirsh had failed and exposed himself and his class to ridicule.  He was too obtuse and self-absorbed to hear the murmurs or notice the querulous sidelong glances, but David Hirsh had fallen from his charger that day.  The truth would slowly dawn on him as the realized that his seat at the Valley Club, that controlled affairs in town, had suddenly fallen below members now more prominent.  Solomon Hirsh knew mortification as the main prop of his own importance fell away.  The townsfolk realized there would be no Hirsh dynasty.

     David’s homelife had been unsettled by his return to Judaism.  Beverly had not the facility of living with one foot in the Jewish world and one foot in the Christian world that David had.  To David it was second nature.  Besides the gois asked for nothing from the Jews but easy going compliance with custom, with manners.  The Jews had a much more demanding education and a much stronger class system than the goiish world; just being fun didn’t go very far in their world.  Beverly’s malaise spilled out into their relationship muddying what had been a clear matrimonial stream.

 page 161.

     Other external problems were brewing also.  The wind from the waters blew across the Valley portending great changes.  In the postwar years great retail chains moved into the small cities to challenge the established local department stores. Stores built up over decades that had seemed magnificent paled before the universal flash of the chain stores.

     Like all small town merchants the Hirshes and their fellow merchants had combined to prevent the entry of such stores into the core, or Downtown, area.  At that time there were no shopping centers.  All, or nearly all, of the retail trade was confined to a small downtown area.  Within that area, the main street was a monopoly of choice locations to which entry could be controlled.  An individual or small chain had to pass muster with the established merchants before they could obtain a lease, retail opportunity was circumscribed.  Sears and Roebuck, the biggest and most aggressive of the national chains, which had just received authorization to enter the Valley was thus forced to build further out on the edge of downtown.  These department stores were big stores, rather than being isolated they created their own centers or extended the commercial core to include them, such as a great mountain is said to create its own weather.

     Stores like Sears disrupted the monopoly of the established merchants.  By extending the shopping area they created opportunity for others.  Thus the social balance was upset.  Just as ancilliary shopping centers develop around regional malls, the streets surrounding Sears became valuable retail spaces.  Thus Sears created its own body of allies against the old merchants.

page 162.

     Tradition can be an albatross.  On the eve of the impending entry of Sears the confidence of the merchants in the inability of Sears to compete was matched only by their fear that Sears could.  Thus the news occurring when it did unsettled David Hirsh even more.  The aftermath of the war, me and now Sears.  David’s former paradise was becoming ruled by anxiety.  Of his three problems he thought he could do something about me.  Had he studied himself he would have seen the difficulty of his position and directed his efforts into productive channels.  His disappointed amour propre ruled his emotions.  He, Michael and five confederates went into a huddle.

     David Hirsh had immediately determined on the nature of his ‘revenge.’  For he thought that I had humiliated him again.  He thought it was intentional and personal.  He understood it as gross sexual violence against him.  David Hirsh was neither insane, in any conventional meaning of the word, or stupid; but he perceived the world through a set of filters that destroyed all perspective.  He could perceive only his direct unintelligent needs.  Neither he nor Jack Darwen would ever understand that they caused their own problems.  There was no one on whom to avenge themselves, they had only to accept their own lack of vision concerning their problems and correct it.  Neither had the greatness of soul to understand this simple fact or the skill, or even cunning, to subvert it.  They would never ‘know themselves.’

page 163.

     Michael Hirsh had to be personally involved, in fact the perpetrator of the revenge.  At Emerson this would have presented no difficulties but at Longfellow the thing was slightly more difficult.  A confrontation at Longfellow had to be arranged.  Most of Michael’s relations and associates attended the upstairs fourth grade class.  We had been carefully segregated from them so I knew none of them.  Four of them were recruited to aid Michael as well as a member from our classroom, Lous Shriver.   With the addition of Michael that made six.

     Our classroom was merely a converted part of the furnace room.  The classroom was separated from the furnace room by a painted wooden tongue and groove wall.  This sort of wall must have been conventional because the same construction was used for the furnace room of the Children’s Home.  A door allowed entry from the classroom.  Acton Burnell frequently passed through the classroom on his way to the furnace room.

     Hirsh determined that I should be lured into the furnace room.  By now deceit was a necessary and integral, even pleasurable, part of his method.  He had somehow reasoned that my refusal to sit on the bench had been deception of some kind on my part.  The governing document of the Bible decreed that deception must be met with deception.  Sexual violence by sexual violence.

     He sent Michael to lure me into the room.  He thought, not improperly, that I knew Michael fairly well.  But I couldn’t remember him.  When I had died on the playing field of the second grade I had obliterated all memory of the perpetrators.  He hailed me before the door to the furnace room after class.  I didn’t know him, said so, and left.  They conceived this as the height of effrontery.  I, a White Nigger, a Samarian, an inmate of the Orphan’s home had rebuffed Michael Hirsh.  Their appetite was further whetted.

page 164.

     Since I wouldn’t be cozened by Michael Hirsh, they decided to try again with the boy from my class, Louis Shriver.  Shriver was no friend of mine.  He had always displayed superiority and condescension to we of the Home.  Of all the Eloy he expressed the most resentment at having to attend class with us.  As I thought of myself, he thought he belonged in the upstairs Fourth Grade class.  I was none too amenable to accept his invitation either.  But as I could see only he and I, I perceived no danger and I entered the furnace room, which I had never been in before with only ordinary suspici0n.

     In those days every building, or at least every building I ever saw, was heated by a coal burning furnace.  These were monstrous structures.  The main body was twenty to thirty feet in circumference; ducts radiated out from the top like a crazy octopus leading to the various rooms to be heated.  Coal was bought and stored by the ton.  Longfellow had a long row of bins across the back of the room which held five tons of coal when fully stocked.  The room was accordingly very warm and very dirty.  Coal dust hung heavy in the air as coal had been delivered just that day.  The large dingy room was lighted by a single sixty watt bulb suspended among the ducts.

page 165.

     Shriver entered and I followed.  Shriver firmly pushed the door shut.  I stood with my hands in my pockets looking at him quizzically.

     ‘So, what do you want?’  I said.

     He suppressed a giggle as the other five stepped away from the wall leering as viciously as they could.

     ‘Well, well, well, Gresham.  What do you have to say for yourself now?’  Michael Hirsh jeered as his movie began to unreel in his mind.  In his movie I had instigated, according to his script, the events of the last several years.  He thought I had memorized the role assigned to me in his movie and would play my part out to the end.  I had no idea of his movie,  I hadn’t seen it.

     ‘What do you guys want?’  I said innocent of any wrongdoing.  I was dismayed but couldn’t imagine what my crime was.

     ‘Well, ‘ Michael continued according to his script, oblivious of my incongruous participation, ‘I don’t want your apology anymore, Gresham.  You’re going to have to be taught a lesson.’

     ‘Apology for what…’ I began.  I thought they were going to beat me up.  My body tensed with apprehension; I waited to see who was going to swing first.  Two boys had slipped behind me, just then the grabbed  my arms.  I immediately began kicking out with my legs and feet supported by the two boys.  Two other boys grabbed my feet and lifted me off the ground.

     I was yelling by this time hoping someone would hear me.  In their excitement and shouting they had become oblivious to everything.

page 166.

     ‘OK.  Get his pants down.’  Hirsh shouted to Shriver.

     ‘OK.  Turn him over.’

     I was struggling and couldn’t say whether I was penetrated or not.   The indications are that I might possibly have been.  I knew I had been thoroughly humiliated.

     What their full intentions were I don’t know, but just as Michael was beginning to express satisfaction they heard a cough.

     ‘Hey, there’s somebody in here.’  They said, dropping me on the floor and leaving quickly.

     I sat there on the dirty floor on my bare ass, my pants still around my knees.  The coal dust made me sneeze.  I sneezed three times.  Ever after I sneezed three times every morning after I rose.  Another psychosomatic reaction to add to my collection.  My consternation was great; my mind was in a turmoil; I don’t know what I thought.

     Acton Burnell had been present in the shadows of the coal bins.

     Once he perceived the situation he had coughed loudly several times.  In the noise and excitement he hadn’t at first been noticed.  He had recognized Michael Hirsh.  David Hirsh was a powerful man; Solomon Hirsh even more so.  Acton Burnell needed his job.  He had done everything that he thought he prudently could.  He remained in the shadows not offering me any assitance.  He cooly reasoned that the information could be discreetly used against Hirsh.  Hirsh had set off another chain of events.

page 167.

     I pulled up my pants; frowning mightily I walked through the classroom.  Opening the outside door I mounted the three steps that led to ground level.  Michael Hirsh and the Eloy were waiting for me at the top of the steps.  It was not their intent to beat me further but to tempt me with the possibility of retaliation or satisfaction and then retreat before me to frustrate me further.

     ‘Alright, you son-of-a-bitch, and I mean that literally, let that be a lesson to you.’  Michael shouted as they retreated beyond close range. 

     I knew the game from the well on Kishinev St.  I didn’t waste any effort in pursuing them.  Besides, I was stunned and confused.  They saw that I wasn’t going to give them any satisfaction by running after them.  They turned, the six of them, and walked away.  They hurled a few imprecations over their shoulders, congratulated themselves repeatedly on a job well done and disappeared down Kishinev St.

page 168.

13.

     Too young to deal with or understand such horrific memories, I suppressed this one as I had suppressed my murder in second grade.  Thus when Michael Hirsh and his accomplices presented themselves before me in triumph expecting abject submission they were sorely disappointed.  I merely looked through them.  Having blocked them from my memory as dead I could not recognize them in life.  Indeed, of the six, I had only seen Hirsh and Shriver, the other four I had only seen in the darkened furnace room under stress.

     So as not to have to mingle with us, the other fourth grade class recessed on the other side of the school.  The East side was sort of a ghetto for the various classrooms of we orphans.  One of the four from time to time would come around to our side to gloat.  Glances were exchanged between Shriver, those boys and the Eloy who had been informed of what had happened.

     The result was that David and Michael Hirsh were stung by what they considered another defeat.  The supreme injury having apparently failed him, David Hirsh thrashed about wildly for something, anything that would be effective.

     While I appeared unaffected to observors, or at least, the response could not be interpreted to their satisfaction; the rape had a tremendous volcanic effect on my character.  The act is the most violent violation of dignity that a man can perpetrate against another.  The purpose of the act is quite simply to emasculate the enemy; to emphatically subordinate his manhood to the perpetrator’s.  Bereft of his manhood the victim should have no choice but abject submission to other men.  The process is the one by which homosexuals are created.

     Mrs. Miller could have given me daily enemas for weeks without affecting my manhood.  David and Michael Hirsh had sought to emasculate me.  They expected me to submit to, even solicit, their embraces thereafter.  That they failed merely betrayed their ineptness as men.

     I had to deal with the problem.  This was done on the subconscious level.  Once again, I had suppressed the memory; I wrestled with it through acts and symbols.  The eruption, the explosion went on for three weeks.  Mercifully the effects were demonstrated at the orphanage and not the school.  Hirsh’s informants failed him.  They either didn’t tell him or were so confused by the symptoms that they didn’t know how to tell him.

     My previous emotional battering had left me hanging onto a knot tied into the end of a long rope.  When I now let go I found I had nowhere to fall.  I had to live with things.  The initial reaction was one of extreme mental turmoil as I wrestled with the injustice subliminally.  My mind perceived that I had been subdued by greater force and numbers under dishonorable conditions.  I didn’t know the term force majeure, but when I learned it I intuited its full meaning.  No one can be responsible for being unable to resist force majeure.  Thus while I could exculpate myself I still could not exonerate myself, nor could I redeem myself.

    On the ground floor of the Children’s Home in a corner room past the tongue and groove wall of the furnace room was a recreation room for cold and rainy days.  It was used mainly by the younger children.  I had never visited it before but now I found myself passing the tongue and groove wall in front of the furnace room in terror.  In my own way I was trying to put myself back in time among the younger kids before the rape had happened thus negating it.

     One day shortly after the rape a matron was trying to push open a window.  The windows were at the top half of the half basement room and difficult to reach.  The matron was having a difficult time opening it.  The window swiveled outward from the top.  She had released the catch but couldn’t push the window open.  Seized by a desire to redeem my manhood I leaped up forcing my way past the matron.  Suspending myself from the exposed pipes crossing the ceiling, I attempted to kick the window open.  I swung back and forth kicking at the window with my oversized shoes.  With each kick I shouted out:  ‘There was no one to help me; there was no one to help me.’  My hopes of redemption were shattered when I put my foot through the window.  I screamed loudly so that I drowned out the sound of the breaking glass.  My hopes of redemption fled through the broken window.  Terror and shame seized my soul.

page 171.

     Dropping to the floor in a semi-crouch I fled the room scampering down the hall past the tongue and groove wall of the furnace room sideways much like a monkey.  I screamed and howled as I went.  I had failed to redeem myself.  I had aggravated the situation further.  I collapsed in the corner by the door to the room with the paper press.  My arms were held as useless appendages before my chest with my legs pulled up before me.  I wasn’t crying, as the matron thought, I was howling with terror.  The matron had no understanding, nor could she have had.  She repeated over and over as consolingly as possible:  ‘Oh, we don’t care about the window Farley, we don’t care about the window.’  Neither did I.  I was disconsolate.  My reaction pertained to matters much deeper.  Matters that I didn’t have the words to explain to the matron.

     My self-esteem was at its lowest ebb.  I was incapable of analyzing the facts.  What was immanent to me was that nobody liked me.  I spend days wrestling with the problem following one line of reasoning after another, searching for a solution.  Finally in desperation, as an ultimate attempt, I thought that if people didn’t like me as a boy, perhaps they might like me as a girl.  I would try anything.

page 172.

     The solution was as clear to me as anything has ever been.  My clarity of mind was as an oily spot on a turbulent ocean.  My mind was in a turmoil but my myopia was clear.

     I went to the third floor to the house mother of the girls and asked her for a dress.  She was taken back; she tried desperately to convince me of the error of such an extreme act.  But I was desperate; I begged, pleaded and demanded.  It seemed my only hope.  I had to be liked.  Like Pontius Pilate she washed her hands of me and gave me a dress.

     I had the same shoes.  I caused quite a sensation as I emerged from the orphanage into the yard.  Had David Hirsh been watching at that moment he would have gotten quite a charge.  I received nearly every response there was but the one I wanted.  I was cute, I was charming but the scales slammed down on the side of rejection.  With still further saddened eyes I perceived the reality of it.  Rather than being able to win their love I had only brought on total rejection.  Staring bleakly into the black hole of despair I handed back the dress and put on my pants.

     I assumed the mantle of an ambivalent sexuality.  By all rights I should have become a homosexual.  I had been fully emasculated.  In a manner of speaking my genes had been rearranged; the chemistry of my brain had been altered.  I had been changed into an emotional cripple.  In the normal course of reaction I should have sought to claim the love of men by offering myself for their sexual desires.  I became a mixture of effeminacy and masculinity.  But for a curious concatenation of incidents and reactions I would have been condemned to a life of degradation.  When Michael Hirsh had humiliated me in the second grade one result was that I began to be constipated.  I then mentioned the constipation to Mrs. Miller which I wished I hadn’t done but, in the course of the enema she had seared into my brain that all men are liars, cheats, sneaks and thieves.  I now knew this to be true.  Thus even though I may have wanted the love of men to compensate for their rejection my recognition of the truth of Mrs. Miller’s dictum made me deny them.  I didn’t want to turn out like Mrs. Miller.  Thus I was given the time to understand and work the problem out to its resolution without enduring degradation.  Wasn’t God good to me?

page 173.

     Saved from the worst by the evil I endured I still was a lost lamb grazing on a barren heath.  I lived rather aimlessly.  I did what was expected of me as I had no idea what else to do.  I became ridiculously compliant; so eager to please that no one had any respect for me.  It was probably at that time I developed an autonomous other existence.

     I had become obsequious.  I thought I was generous and good natured.  When people took advantage of what I thought was my good nature I became enraged.  Another me appeared beside myself who tried to guide me to proper responses.  I knew what was best but was compelled to do what wasn’t in my best interest.  When the time came to make a decision, I always sacrificed my interests to others.  Thus there was me, the shriveled corpse of myself that had died at recess in the second grade and this autonomous angel who watched over me in disgust and despair.  Truly the trinity.  Emotionally I was flotsam and jetsam, but I was intellectually and morally intact.  I would not destroy my own life.

pp. 174-175

     14.

      While my mind grappled with the new world I faced, provided by the rape, autumn went through its manifold changes and winter arrived.  The Christmas season is placed at the beginning of winter.  Christmas brings with it thoughts of harmony and good will.  Love fills the air and with that thoughts of charity.  Men and women who have hated each other all year cease their depredations on each other, perhaps, for a brief moment.  The folk determined that something nice should be done for we ‘underprivileged’ inmates of the orphanage.  No White Skin Privilege there.

     It was decided to give us a Christmas party complete with presents.

     Was it merely a twist of fate or was it guilt?  The party was to be given by Fortress of God Congregational Church.  Now these disciples of the religion of love were the very same people who denied us humanity at Longfellow.  These were the very same people who sat us on one side of the room so that we wouldn’t mingle with their precious own.  These were the very same people who had made the inmates sit on the bench during recess.  These were the very same people who had pushed me away from Susan Webster as they hustled her off down Kishenev St.

page 176.

     And now they had the effrontery to offer me, us, some lousy presents to propitiate their…what?  Nothing.  They felt no guilt.  They merely wanted to make themselves feel good at my, our, expense.  Charity?  Charity did they call it?  Charity was only another means of self-gratification to them.  I knew that we would be expected to give a display of gratitude to them.  Gratitude for what?  Some garment they wouldn’t let their own kids wear.  Some wretched piece of cloth that would immediately brand me as inferior if I wore it to school?  What price infamy?  I wanted no part of their charity; I didn’t need them to brighten the Christmas of this ‘underprivileged’ child.

     I informed the Home I wouldn’t be attending.  Farley regrets he is unable to attend today.  They informed me I would be.  They won.

     We were all put up in our Sunday…uh…well, we were tidied up.  Fortress was a longer walk than to the Catholic Orphanage so that our original compactness was strung out over three or four blocks as we approached Fortress.  I had kept to the rear hoping to escape the humiliation and slip back to the Home but a matron kept pushing me along.  I used all my skills, walking beside her then pretending to pick up a stone in my shoe to drop behind and then disappear but she was too wary for me.  Experience cuts both ways.

page 177.

     The congregation of Fortress was wealthy.  The Church was a large battlemented old structure.  The congregation took the name Fortress seriously when they designed the church.  It was sort of a cross between a castle and a cathedral.

      I’m sure we made a marvelous sight as our ragtag group filed into this bastion of respectability, this citadel of riches, in a seemingly unending stream to defile those sacred pews.  We were led into a small amphitheatre on the second floor.  The pews and railing were a rich sumptuous mahogany while the floor was a resplendent white oak.  The contrast was dramatic if not particularly tasteful.  Garish would be just this side of the right word.

     Several of the parishiners stood as guide posts along the way to indicate the path.  They were in their Sunday best as they beamed smiles of loving kindness down on us.  The contrast between our appearances here was striking too; they looking like a million dollars we looking like small change.  The wonder and gratitude of the other inmates made me sick to my stomach.  Couldn’t they see through all this?  Didn’t they know they were being used, a mere sop to another’s vanity?

     Following my habit I had hung back looking to the right and left, studying all the little architectural details.  The room was full with nearly everyone seated when I entered.  I didn’t know who she was, but Beverly Hirsh was standing by the door gushing and cooing.  ‘Oh, they are all so darling; I’d just love to take every one of them home with me.  I think it’s so unfortunate that these lovely children should have no one to love them.  When I see this I  just can’t help thinking how fortunate my Michael and Sharon are.’

page 178.

     Something rose from my toes in revulsion.  How could this woman deny us basic respect at Longfellow and talk like that at Fortress of God?

      As Major Bowes or someone of that ilk said of the wheel of fortune:  ‘Round and round she goes; where she stops no one knows.’

     David Hirsh and I had a one sided relationship with each other.  He knew who I was but I didn’t know who he was.  But when I had accosted Susan Webster some several weeks before one of the Eloy who pushed me away had said:  ‘Gawd, wait till David Hirsh hears about this.’

     I somehow confused David Hirsh as Susan Webster’s father.  I had then loaded the opprobrium of my rejection on that name.  My anger welled up in front in me.  I decided to take a wild chance.  I looked at that woman and asked loudly:  ‘Is David Hirsh here?’  Beverly Hirsh didn’t know me, so she bent over slightly, pleased that her husband might receive a speech of thanks.  She thought perhaps I had been appointed to make that speech as I came in last.  She beamed down at me and said:  ‘Why, yes, this is David Hirsh.’

     A railing divided the three tiers of pews from the stage.  A Christmas tree had been placed in the area which was surrounded by the scores of presents.  David Hirsh was just on my left on the other side of the railing arranging the presents.  He too thought I was going to make a little speech of gratitude.  He straightened up with a smile.  As he turned around he was saying:  ‘I’m David Hirsh, what….’  When he saw me the smile disappeared.  His blood froze in his veins. 

     I raised my clenched fists, took a step back, spread my legs and fairly shouted at him:  ‘You’re a rotten guy.  I don’t like you.  I think you stink.’

     Glowering furiously at him I climbed to the third tier and took a seat.  I was angry.  I was really angry.  I heaped all my accumulated resentments into those words, the resentment I could remember and those deep in my subconscious.

     David Hirsh had every reason to believe I knew who he was.  On the irrational level he had a long going relationship with me.  He believed he occupied the place in my thoughts that I did in his.  On the rational level he had every reason to think I recognized him from the well on Kishinev St.  Because of my peculiar psychological tic, I didn’t.  Nor did I recognize him as the man who spoke to me as I sat on the lid of the garbage bin which I should have.  I had insulted him for a reason of which he knew nothing.

     David kept up his front.  I could hear him exclaiming sincerely hurt:  ‘My God, you try to do something nice for people…’  He was almost in tears.  ‘You give up your own time…I could be sitting home enjoying my family instead of being here with these…’  He caught himself in the nick of time.  He put his hand over his lower face to recover.

     ‘Who was that boy?’  David asked one of the matrons innocently or, perhaps, to establish my guilt with others who were nearby.

page 180.

     ‘Farley…Far Gresham.’  She replied

     ‘I…I can’t imagine what I might have done to him.’  David opined.  In his clever way the sentence had two meanings.  On the lower level it seemed to proclaim innocence; on the upper level he was slyly proclaiming that he didn’t know the extent of the damage he had caused me.

     David wished to maintain the appearance of the old trooper and declined being relieved of his duties.  He began calling out names while passing the packages to runners.  The inmates accepted them with squeals of delight.

     A matron came to me to ask why I had done what I had.  I couldn’t have explained it.  If I had tried to Iwould only have muddied the waters, besides David Hirsh wasn’t guilty of what I would have to accuse him.  Also I thought, Hirsh would know himself.  How he did know, but it wasn’t what he thought.  He didn’t know about Susan Webster.  But all his other efforts to punish me had come boomeranging back on him.  Not only did he not have submission but I was apparently more defiant than ever.  I had scored a hit; a palpable hit.

     Hirsh selected a present and called my name.  My passions were still roiling.  I declined to answer.  He stared blankly in front of him.  The contest had assumed very real proportions to him.  He imagined I was baiting him for the last five years.  He called out my name again.  I still declined to answer.  A matron pointed to me and took the package to deliver it to me.

     I shouted out with all the vehemence of my suffering:  ‘I don’t want it.  I don’t want anything from you.’

     I was creating an unprecedented row.  The Fortress people looked at me, then at each other while they muttered among themselves.

     The matron brought the present pleading with me to accept it so that I wouldn’t offend their charity.  Arms folded across my chest, I yelled out:  ‘I don’t want their charity.  Not here, not at Longfellow.’

     She sighed and laid the package on the arm of the chair.  It may still be there unless one of the other inmates claimed it.

     David Hirsh excused himself rubbing his eyes.  It would be a couple days before his turmoil ceased.

page 182.

     15.

     Up to the time of theparty Beverly had not been interested in my situation.  If the topic came up she dismissed it as male stuff and went about her business.  She had not dissented from David Hirsh’s plans but neither had she interested herself.  But now, as she said, ‘her eyes were opened’ about what kind of boy I really was.  Her husband was a good man who dispensed charity liberally with either hand she thought; which was certainly true as far as it went.  David was kind and good to his family; on his public face he did maintain appearances of benevolence and generosity.  But on the same basis Eva Braun had no complaints about her beloved; Mrs. Al Capone could recite the same litany.  Nevertheless from what Beverly saw and understood I had gratuitously insulted her ‘tall Israelite.’  Nor did Beverly blame only me.  She included all the inmates in her condemnation.  For the action of one individual she condemned all.  Beverly became a bigot by so reasoning.  She was a believer in the Bible, the rock from which the death dealing waters of bigotry flow.  God chose his special people arbitrarily with no consideration of merit.  Beverly and David Hirsh received ‘the bounty of the Lord’ on the same basis.  Both she and he cherished their election.  Thus unaware of the basis of her thought she resented the insult of the unworthy to the worthy.  She filed the little grudge away in her heart.

page 183.

     The Valley did not receive much snowfall.  The old folks would entertain us with stories of drifts covering trees at sometime in the not so distant past but I waited my whole childhood and youth and never saw more than a foot fall at a time or ever accumulate more than a foot.  Shortly after Christmas break as January began, crisp and cold, we awoke one morning as dark clouds moved swiftly in from the North-west.  We walked to school in inspissated gloom.  As I turned in my seat to look out the window the first pellets of a major storm began to fall.  Within minutes the storm increased to a full scale blizzard.  Driven to the earth by strong winds the snow began to accumulate rapidly.  Within an hour there were three inches on the ground.  It was snowing furiously.  Some of the students became alarmed.  Fears arose of one of those legendary storms our elders said they had experienced but for which they relied only on each other’s word for confirmation.  I was amazed at the ferocity of the storm.  One couldn’t see across the yard but I had never seen more than a foot at a time.  I wanted to see snow up to the second story windows but I didn’t believe the oldsters.  I didn’t think I would see it then.  It would have had to snow for days.  I didn’t believe it.

page 184.

     Beverly Hirsh looked out her window into the dark pelting gloom.  At first she was irritated because her plans were disturbed.  Then rising like a piston for a new explosion her recent injury flashed up from her subconscious.  The flash of the explosion drove the piston back down.  Here was her golden opportunity.  She quickly called a few mothers to arrange a surprise for their little ones.

     She and the other mothers quickly made up hot spiced cider and cookies.  They took them down to school, setting up in the atrium.  Classes were called.  Cookies and hot spiced cider were served.  But not to us.  The moment for charity was past. This was a new year.  Beverly’s moment of vengeance had arrived.  The Orphans were turned out into the cold to find their way home.  A little extra taunt was reserved for me.

     Three little first graders and kindergartners were assigned me to take back to the orphanage.  I protested, I didn’t want them, why couldn’t they go with the rest?  I was given the responsibility for them.  I was made to wait while all the others left.  I couldn’t understand why a special provision was made for me.  I soon learned the reason.

     I was called up to the atrium for ‘instructions.’  The aroma of the hot spiced apple cider filled the atrium.   The parented kids were laughing, eating and drinking.  Some gave me coy smiles.  I didn’t recognize or even know Beverly Hirsh but it was she who walked over to me to triumphantly say as she patted me on the head:  ‘Take care on the way to the orphanage little boy.’

page 185.

     I and my charges were then released to begin the walk back.  The snow was driving in from the north into our faces.  By then it had accumulated eleven inches.  I was only four feet tall while my charges were all around three feet.  My galoshes sank in over their tops filling with snow.  The others were nearly crotch deep in the snow.  I was angry at the school for turning us out.  I had no sympathy for my little fellows.

     I sniffed the air.  It wasn’t cold.  The temperature must have been right at thirty-two degrees.  All my instincts told me the storm wouldn’t last.  Even at the school I had argued for waiting until the afternoon by when the storm might have stopped before sending us off; the storm had to end soon.

     I had my hands in my pockets trudging grimly and glumly into the storm.  The snow came down in little round pellets not flakes.  As soon as you removed your foot from your last step the little pellets rolled into the footprint and nearly obliterated it.  Unlike flakes which accumulated on your hat and shoulders the pellets bounced off.  I wasn’t worried.

     I walked without consideration of my charges who were hopping and lunging through the snow trying to not fall behind.

     ‘Farley, Farley, wait up, we might die out here.’  They were nearly panicking.  They thought it was possible they might die.  We were all raised on horror stories where it had snowed so hard that people became blinded and died because they couldn’t find their way back to the kitchen from the outhouse.  I could see fine.  It couldn’t snow any harder than this.  I told them so.

page 186.

     ‘Aw, don’t worry. This storm will be over before we get back.  I’ve never seen more snow than this and I’m a lot older than you are.’

     My answer flabbergasted them:  ‘You’re not that old Farley.  You’re a kid just like we are.’

     ‘No, I’m not.’  I said hotly, disgusted that they could put me in a class with themselves.  ‘This storm will be over before we get back, take my word for it.’

     My word was cold comfort for three little kids who could barely plow through the snow.  Desperation forced them on.

     We had been spotted through a window by a kind hearted lady.  As she opened her door I could hear her saying:  ‘Oh my goodness, there are some children walking in this terrible storm.  They might die out there.’

     The others heard her too.  They gave me an apprehensive look when they heard that we might die out there.  They looked at me;  I shook my head no, not possible.

     ‘Oh children, oh, you children, what are you doing out in this storm.  You might die.  Why don’t you come in here with us until the storm is over.’  The tender woman called solicitously, coming to the edge of the snow on her porch.

page 187.

     I was enraged that we had been forced out of the shool in the middle of as ferocious a storm as I would ever see.  I wasn’t afraid but the thought of the parented kids sitting in the atrium sipping hot spiced cider galled me to the depths of my being.  I suspected too, that , if they hadn’t sent us out to die, they wouldn’t have cared if we did.  I was not in a charitable mood.  I hated this woman for her decency.

     ‘We’re doing just fine, Lady.’  I scornfully replied.  ‘We don’t need your lousy charity.’  Besides once they saw we were from the orphanage they probably would have turned us out again, or couldn’t have waited to get rid of us.

     ‘But children…’  She remonstrated.

     The others were compelled to jump from step to step as, for them, the snow was very deep.

     ‘Farley.’  They shrilled, throwing their arms up imploringly.  ‘I’m afraid.  Maybe we should go in there.’

     ‘Go on, if want, the storm is going to end soon; it can’t go on.’

     I kept walking as we talked.  By the time the exchanged was finished we had passed the woman’s house.  They were more afraid to go back than go on with me.

     The wind kept howling driving the pellets into our faces.  Leaning into the wind we trudged on.  Then just as I suspected it would, I noted a lessening in wind pressure; the snow descended on more of a straight line.  Then a half block before the fence of the Children’s Home came into view the wind died down.  Through the dense snow I could see the fall becoming sparse as the trailing edge of the storm was visible against a blue sky and bright sunlight.  As we reached the end of the fence the storm cloud slipped over us bathing us in the bright sunlight of an afternoon in the high thirties.  Within steps the snow level settled several inches under the heat of the sun.  By the end of the block at Sandy the gutters were running with water.  Some of the pavement was already bare.

     ‘See.’  I said triumphantly.  ‘I told you it would be over before we got back.  There wasn’t any reason for us to leave the school.  They just hate us because we’re from the Children’s Home.’

     Safe, their spirits revived immediately.  ‘Aw, Farley, you didn’t know, how could you know, you’re just a little kid like us.’

     ‘Of course I knew.  And I’m not a little kid like you.  I’m a lot older and smarter.’  I retorted, walking scornfully faster now that there was no reason for me to escort them.  I opened my jacket to cool off.

     We passed the garbage bins and turned the corner into the yard where Mildred had come out to the sidewalk to greet us.  Then I learned a second reason I had been kept back after the others.

     ‘Farley, you’re safe.’  She said.

     ‘Of course I’m safe.’  I replied defiantly.  ‘What else would I be?  I can take care of myself.’

     ‘Oh Farley.’  She said placatingly.  ‘We were worried about you.  We thought that maybe you and the children were lost…or worse.  All the others were back long ago.

page 189.

      I grappled for words.  I gave up.  I couldn’t have expressed my feelings anyway.  I was also becoming tongue tied by constant denial.  I had no real idea what had happened at the well on Kishinev St. but Mildred was the only one who I knew was responsible.  I had since learned that the kitchen pump had never been broken.  I could only conclude that she had meant to hurt me for some reason.

     I had no recourse against her, just as I had no recourse against those who had turned us out into the storm.  There was no one to complain to, I just had to endure.  Thus Mildred’s solicitousness  now had a hollow ring to it.  Too, I knew that I had been slandered by being held back.  The others had been back long ago.  I was made to look incompetent.  I felt this very keenly.

     ‘Yeah, well here they are now, safe and sound.’  I said as I brushed past her barely acknowledging her.

     It was impossible to explain what I didn’t know and could not interpret.  I went to bed that night in high dudgeon.  Forces seemed to be multiplying against me.  I had neither defense or offense.  I was faced merely with a hostile universe.  My actions were also incomprehensible to my charges who told a story that amazed their auditors both inmates and administrators.

     School was called the next day although there was no reason for it.  By the time I got out to play there was barely four inches of snow on the ground.  Three of the girls who had heard  my charges’ story came out to help me roll snow balls for snowmen.  Only a foot in circumference the balls picked up gravel from the bare strip of ground emerging behind them.

page 190.

     ‘You know, Far.’  One said.  ‘Those kids were really scared yesterday.’

     Yesterday was a long time ago, we were now living today, I didn’t worry about yesterday anymore.  Besides I had been turned out into the storm too.  I had called the storm.  I knew there wasn’t any reason we had to leave the comfort of the school.  How was I to blame?

     ‘Yeah?  Well, so what?  They got back here alright.  Nothing happened.’  I flipped off unthinkingly.

     ‘Well, you could have been more considerate of them.  They said you didn’t even care whether they were there.’  She remonstrated.

     ‘So what’s the problem?  I said the storm would stop and it did.  They shouldn’t have sent us away from school.’  I replied quizzically wondering why they persisted.  We had been treated like dirt.  That’s the way it was.  What did I care about those kids?  Why were they more important than me?  Why didn’t they blame the school for turning us out?  Why didn’t they blame the school for separating me and them from the rest?

     ‘Still, you should have been more thoughtful.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Well, when people are more thoughtful to me I’ll be more thoughtful to others.’

     In a small way the scales had balanced a little for the Hirshes.  Prior to the Christmas party few, if any, knew Hirsh was harassing me.  The Christmas party had shown how ‘I really was’  I had been induced to defame myself.  All of the students and teachers had cooperated in sending me back alone with my little charges.  I was too young to worry about intent beyond the vague feeling that they hated me.  Beverly Hirsh, the daughter of the Religion of Love had indulged her basest passions.  She had violated every precept of the Christian religion.  Twenty centuries of history had slipped her mind as primordial passions directed her actions.

page 191.

     Thus the attitude toward me both at Longfellow and the Home had changed.  My attitude too had changed.  I knew that I had to be wary of everyone.  I knew that I could count on no support from anyone in my life.  For the first time in my life I realized I was alone with no end in sight.  Mighty adults had turned me, a mere nine year old, out to die.  They had done it in such a way as to cause me to defame myself as the other three kids would have died under my care.

     The next day at school an Eloy girl came over to me to coo tauntingly:  ‘Gee, Farley, too bad you couldn’t stay.  While you were walking back in the snow storm we were all safe and warm drinking hot spiced cider.  It was really good.’

     ‘Yeah, I know.’  I said.  ‘I had more important things to do that sit around drinking cider with you.’

     The perfidy of the whole thing sank into my consciousness.  They had meant to humiliate me.  She was disappointed by my reply.  Straightening up she gave me a petulant look, saying:  ‘God, you’re a jerk.’

     I disregarded her.

page 192.

16.

     My situation would soon worsen.  All our training had been to educate us as niggers.  We were not to excel; we were not to challenge the Eloy for supremacy.  So long as we accepted our place we were treated as part of the Biblical brotherhood of man- the slave part.  The brotherhood of man is not to be misinterpreted.  The Bible is not an egalitarian document.  It definitely does not say that all brothers are created equal.  It nowhere says that all brothers are equal.  It says that there is a hierarchy at the top of which is God.  Under God are the Chosen People; through them the word of God is disseminated to others.  The others have a subservient position to the Chosen who, themselves are stratified and subservient to God.  In the Jewish understanding the Jews are the Chosen People; in the Christian understanding themselves are the inheritors of the New Dispensation of Christ.  The elite govern the rest.  One is a brother only if one accepts one’s divinely appointed place.  If not one becomes sub-human and no longer part of the brotherhood of man. You’re just an Amalekite to be exterminated.

page 193.

     I was about to become excommunicated from the brotherhood, pushed beyond the pale.  I was about to become a non-person, without rights or status.  I could be stolen from, cheated or lied to without incurring censure.  The crime that so condemned me was identical to the crime that first brought me disgrace.  I was an uppity nigger.  I didn’t know my place.  They lynched them in the South for the same crime but I was in the civilized North.

     The decade after the war was a decade of quiz shows.  The quiz show was a most popular form of entertainment.  Every immigrant delighted to show his assimilation.  We didn’t have radios at the Home but I had somehow contrived to hear quiz shows; I was entranced by them.  Taking advantage of their popularity WKNX, a radio station, had decided that a children’s quiz show would garner a large audience.

     Schools throughout the city were encouraged to hold competitions in each classroom to select a team of four.  The classrooms then competed with each other.  Third grade classes against third grade classes, fourth grade classes against fourth grade classes and so on.  Our classroom was notified to select a team.  I desperately wanted to make the team.  But, I wasn’t an Eloy.  Only the Eloy could represent us.  Yet America was a democracy, the competition had to be open to all.

page 194.

     One of the principles of a dominant group is to deny opportunity to the subordinate group.  This will ensure the appearance of inferiority.  Denied the opportunity to exercise the political, the subordinate group will be unable to rule or govern well should the opportunity arise for an individual, thus the ‘innate’ ability of the overgroup will be self-evident.  The undergroup is loaded up with morals and becomes at best pious but inept.  I dimly perceived the issue and fought to escape it.  The other inmates accepted their role.  They knew that there was no place on the team for them.  The race doesn’t always go to the swiftest.

     I was a bright kid.  I was well read with a retentive memory and reasonably quick recall.  In the open competition I actually was on the final four.  I was happy and content.  I thought the competition settled.  But then that night the scandalized Eloy went home to tell their parents.  Since the snow storm they all knew who I was.  The parents in turn got on the phone to each other.  A selected representative, got on the phone to Bevis Marks.  Integrity is a rare commodity.  Don’t look in the mirror, you won’t find it.  Miss Marks had never had a class like this one.  Everytime she turned around she was asked to act against her priniciples.  She always did.  She began to look at her German counterparts more respectfully.

     She announced that the competition would have to be reopened because one of the orphans had been sick the previous day and couldn’t compete.  One of the orphans hadn’t been able to compete?  I almost laughed out loud.  We stood in a line to answer questions; whoever missed one moved down the line one while the person next to him moved up.  I stoutly held my position answering questions amid the shouted derision of the Eloy.

page 195.

     Desperate they finally had Shriver ask if I had read a certain book.  Like a fool I answered him.  They then fed an easy question to the Eloy on my left who had the answer told him audibly enough for Bevis Marks to hear it.  She said nothing.  A princlple is nothing if it’s flexible.  She then asked me a question about the book she knew I hadn’t read.  I was forced to move down.  The competition was immediately ended.  The Eloy had prevailed.  Honor meant nothing to them; integrity meant nothing to Bevis Marks.

     I was now too aware to be angry.  I was becoming aware that fairness had little to do with people.  I still wanted to attend the radio show.  I learned the location of the studio; I was an audience of one as our class went down to defeat without apparent resistance.  They couldn’t even answer any of the questions.  They turned and gave me black looks as I watched their humiliation.

     What could I say?  Unless you’re Black you probably have no idea what it feels like to know your protests are not worth making.  They will neither be heard nor considered.  Many souls were crushed by the children of the God of Love and Justice in the fourth grade.

     Nor did the representative of the God of Justice, Bevis Marks, administer the Law with an even hand.  She was the accomplice of the Eloy in their machinations.  Was her earlier display of shamed integrity merely indignation at being exposed on point as the obvious malefactor?  Was the dressing down of David Hirsh caused merely by the embarrassment of being the obvious administrator of shame?  Perhaps.  But she continued to administer the wishes of the Eloy throughout the school year.  It is also true that she submitted her resignation at the end of the year, packed her bags and left town.

pp. 196-197.

    17.

     The fruits of the investigation of the administration of Jack Darwen were revealed to us at this time.  One afternoon the word was passed around that the Darwens were leaving.  The reasons were not given but they were obvious to me.

     Councilman Adamski had listened to what I said.  He had been incensed that Darwen used his position to exploit the ‘slave labor’ or the inmates.  As the son of an immigrant he believed in the ideals that he had been taught in school were the ideals of every American citizen, nevertheless, he was a realistic man.  He realized that his objections about ‘slave’ labor might be laughed away by others.  The city had had anonymous callers advise them that something funny was happening to the stores.  He pursued that angle.  It didn’t take him long to note the discrepancy between purchases, use and the inventory in the pantry.  He also realized with minimal further investigation that the stores were disappearing on a regular basis.  From there it was no large thing to catch Darwen in the act as he was scarcely concealing his doings.  As a matter of fact I was present when the authorities caught him.  He gave the ‘little dummy’ a long lingering look.

page 198.

     Even caught in the act Darwen thought he could brazen it out.  Jack Darwen had supreme and unwarranted confidence in his abilities coupled with a sovereign contempt of everyone else’s intelligence.  It made no difference to him that his life was a long succession of failures.  Not only his ego but his sense of perception was surrounded by a thick callous that protected him from reality.  He fell back on the explanation of the con man.  It was luck.  The only difference between himself and John D. Rockefeller was luck.  Why, hell, if Jack Darwen had had the bucks of Rockefeller he wouldn’t be giving away dimes, he’d be giving away the big cartwhells, silver dollars.  Perhaps he would have but Jack Darwen wanted credit now for what he ‘would’ do if he had Rockefeller’s bucks.  The generosity was already a fact, nay a deed, in Darwen’s mind.  Rockefeller was a cheap son-of-a-bitch.  But Jack Warden’s string of luck had frayed and snapped.  The Old Master Fiddler had broken all the strings to his bow.

     Still, his job was on the periphery of accepted society.  He was after all an appointment of the city council.  To fire him in disgrace in itself would have disgraced his sponsors.  To have arrested and jailed him would have been an admission of poor judgment on the part of the city administration.  A fall back plan was in readiness for fallen members.

     Darwen’s wife Angela who was liked, admired, respected and, dare I say, courted, was also an element in his favor; to disgrace him would be to disgrace her too.  He was allowed to resign.  Not only resign but a gala farewell dinner was prepared in his honor.  The dinner was a major event at the orphanage.  We were all tidied up in the Darwens’ honor.

     The dining room was reorganized into a reasonable facsimile of a banquet hall.  A dais was arranged against the front windows for the Warden’s and guests of honor.  Our tables were in three long rows down the room.

     Darwen made a little farewell speech.  I knew why he was leaving I was delighted to have supplied the reason for his dismissal.  I was alive with excitement.  As he finished his little speech I piped up:  ‘Gee, Mr.  Darwen, why are you leaving?’

     Darwen was taken by surprise.  Flustered, he muttered something about other plans.

     ‘What other plans, Mr. Darwen?’  I sang out.

     The curiosity of the other inmates was piqued.  A shout of  ‘What other plans?’  was sent up in a universal chorus.

     Darwen pushed his lower lip out, looked down at the table, picked his spoon up from one side of the plate and laid it on the other.  Angela leaned over and whispered in his ear:  ‘Private plans.’

     ‘Oh yuh.  Private plans.’  He muttered. 

page 200.

Continued on Clip 5

A Short Story

In Darkest America

by

R.E. Prindle

 

‘O father! I hear the sound of guns,

O say, what may it be?’

‘Some ship in distress, that cannot live

In such an angry sea!’

– Longfellow

 Yo’ doan miss yo’ watta’ till the well runs dry.

-Trad.

 

     As the bus sped down the spine of Illinois toward Memphis Dewey’s mind was dark with swarming visions.  All the indignities and injustices he had endured, and the frustrations and thwartings formed the matrix of the cogitations.  His own failures in meeting the Challenges he had faced worried his conscious mind.  The hurts and evils were transfigured away from the personal and projected into the great swirl of events going on around him that determined the decisions he had to make to go on living.

     This was the period of life of the great inflow when impressions entered his mind faster than he could organize and interpret them.  All around the boy forces, movements and people that would influence his life were dropping into place or preparing to affect him.

     As the bus whizzed down the highway past St. Louis off to the West there was a young fellow by the name of San Martin Sobibor about to obtain his MD in Psychiatry from Washington University.  In the Spring of ’59 Sobibor would depart for the mecca of sexual perversion, San Francisco, where , as he put it, he could be at home.  From there he would migrate to Portland Oregon because, while he was ready for San Francisco, Baghdad By The Bay wasn’t ready for him.  Hard to believe but true.  In Portland the paths of Dewey Trueman and Marty Sobibor would intersect with results to be shown.

     For now, concerned solely with the moment, Dewey’s mind darkened with the deepening shades of evening.  He would be dozing when the bus, after an hours delay in Memphis, turned West across the Mississippi into Arkansas.  In the gloom of the night Dewey lost the opportunity of sighting the Congo of America from the deck of the Mississippi Bridge made famous by Chuck Berry’s seminal song, ‘Memphis, Tennessee.’

     Arkansas.  Dewey would wake to see some of the swamps and bottomlands before the bus passed  through Little Rock.  Little Rock.  It had been only two years before that Eisenhower had called the Army out to excort a cute little Negro girl in a pink pinafore into desegregated Central High.

     A hundred years before the Sons of Dixie would have gone to battle over less but now the fight was gone out of them.  These were different times; the Great Cause had been lost way back when.  Little could be done now to win back the South’s pride.  Just as their defeat a hundred years before had driven Dixie down, this defeat a hundred years after would have as profound an affect on the whole of America. 

      The Army  in Little Rock, tanks in Prague and Waco.

     Little Rock.  Central High.  Memories of the scene in the hallway before Mrs. Hicks’ class at Melville the week before came flooding back through Dewey’s half glazed mind.  How right was desegregation? was his thought.  What could be gained by destroying one people for the benefit of another people, the former much more highly evolved, developed and advanced than the latter.

     Actually nothing good came of desegregating schools in the South.  The truth about integrated schools could be seen right then in the North where desegregation had been a fact for over a hundred years.  Truth was less important than fantasy in Disney America.

     Over the next several decades the hopelessness of forcing Black Folks on White Folks was such that even responsible Black Folk rebelled at the chaos integration had produced.  By the twenty-first century in an effort to get away from desegregated schools society, unable to face the situation squarely, enacted voucher systems in which the government paid the tuition of students so parents could avoid sending their kids to the same hell holes to which they had been bused.

     Who wished to escape the hell holes they had carved out of order and organization the most.  Whites?  No.  They were too embarrassed to keep their kids from attending Black gang dominated classes.  Blacks leapt at the chance to get their Black kids away from the Black dominated high schools so their tots could get a ‘good’ education.  It remains to be seen whether academic standards will be demolished in their new schools.  Probably.

     Well, it’s not like the Conservatives didn’t see it coming.

     Liberal fanatics saw the uplifting of Blacks when they received the same education as Priviliged White Skins.  What Liberals didn’t foresee was that the racial tension and strife would be so intense that rather than Blacks getting the education of White kids the education of White kids would be brought down to the level of Blacks.  Standards would be lowered by Blacks rather than Blacks raised to the higher White standards that they could not meet.  Liberals couldn’t or wouldn’t foresee the results nor do they care today if the result was the brutilization of White kids.  So they give the Blacks a fifteen point handicap and say both are equal.

     Well, no matter.  Civilization can take any amount of punishment without lapsing into a dark age, can’t it?  There’s still water in the well, isn’t there?  The level is way down there now but, you know, you don’t miss your water till the well runs dry.

     Then judged by thoughts of Little Rock’s Central High Dewey’s thoughts reverted back a hundred years to the Civil War when hundred of thousands of the flower of the White species were destroyed for the benefit of Black savages most of whom were fresh from the jungles.

     Black savages? you say.  Yes.  Black savages, if you only look at the facts.  To say that Dewey had all this worked out would not be true.  His mind contained the thoughts only in embryo like the oak is prefigured by the acorn.  Thus, while his thoughts were not as detailed as the following, just as when the acorn bursts it bonds and begins to grow into the oak so all of Dewey’s later development was contained in the nebulous forms of his understanding at this time.  It is axiomatic that you can’t learn what you don’t already know.

     As Dewey might have said then had he known the details that he would later learn he might have acted more strenuously.  Let us consider the set and setting.

     The Civil War was fought from 1860 to 1865.  Western technology and science was already far ahead of any other people or area of the world.  Western science, even at the time, made White people a distinct evolutionary stage of development.  If you are going to claim to be scientific you have to face these facts.  The fantastic advances in scientific knowledge that occurred after the Civil War were so far ahead of Asia and Africa as to strain credulity.  It was as though the super bowl champion football team was playing a bunch of high schoolers.  Gods walked the earth.

       Electricity alone was a quantum leap ahead of the past and all other civilizations.  Except for Euroamerica electricity was unknown anywhere else in the world.  When Coney Island was illuminated during the gay nineties incoming Eastern and Southern Europeans out at sea were overawed by the sight of the amusement park glowing in the night.   Nowhere else on earth was such a sight possible.

     If nether Europeans were astonished imagine the effect on traditional Chinese or the Stone Age peoples of America and Africa.  Imagine how they must have responded a few years into the twentieth century when they saw White men flying airplanes above them in their skies.

     In 1865 the conquest of the American West was yet to begin in earnest.  The centenaries for the states of New Mexico and Arizona haven’t even taken place yet.  China was still a medieval society.  Africa was still an unknown continent.  No area with the exception of South Africa had been brought under European dominion as yet.  Large areas were still shown as a blank spot on the map indicating territory unknown to Whites.  In reality most of Africa had not been trod by a booted foot.

      The Africans lived in a state of stone age nature that had been virtually undisturbed for a hundred fifty thousand years since the first Homo Sapiens sneered at his predecessor hominid.  Mental traits and habits still existed untouched by abstract thought.

     Even as the Civil War was being fought African tribesmen were ritually sacrificing tens of thousands of their own annually and eating them.  Slavery?  What a tragedy.  Cannibal feasts were part of the fabric of native life as they remained into the twentieth century and down to the present time.  At the time of this story cannibalism was a fact of of life in Africa.  Sekou Toure, the Big Daddy of Guinea, kept his refrigerator stocked with human flesh.  Thus modern technology improved the life of the African greatly.  When questioned about it Toure adopted the condescending tone and said:  There are some things Westerners will never understand.

     Thus this state of mind indigenous to the African continues to this day.

     In 1893 at the great Chicago Exposition the natives of Dahomey on the South Coast of the African bulge were displayed as the most primitive and savage people on earth.  This was no exaggeration.  As late as 1893 and well beyond human sacrifice and cannibalism was a characteristic trait of Dahomians.

     In the early 1870s some few years into Reconstruction in the American South after slavery had been abolished the British hacked a campaign into the bush of the Gold Coast, or what is now called Ghana, to  correct habits similar to the Dahomians practiced by the Ashanti people at the capital of Coomassie.  When the British succeeded in fighting their way through the bush to Coomassie they were horrified at what they discovered.

     Great mounds of human skulls, the result of incessant human sacrifice were piled in huge pyramids and rows along the streets of the Ashanti capitol.  Pots of cannibal stew still simmered.  H.M. Stanley who recorded the entry into Coomassie would later be criticized for his portrayal of ‘Darkest Africa’ but how much darker could Africa be than this?

     Depends on what you call darker.  Even as White Men were falling in their myriads in America for the liberation of a people who could never appreciate  it, East Africa was actually being depopulated by Arab slavers who delivered their product to the Middle East and India.

     British policy and the American Civil War only succeeded in ending slave trading from the West of Africa.  Arab slavers had been raiding East Africa for slaves for at least two millennia.

     Even as White Men murdered each other in America for the benefit of West African slave trading cannibals, thousand person lines of slaves yoked together moved down out of the highlands of East Africa for Arab ports.  Accounts differ but perhaps only three of ten made it from point of origin to the final destination.  This Arab Slave trade was to continue unabated still for decades until it was driven underground by the British where it continues functioning to this day.

     When the US allowed Arabs into this country after 1965 they brought their slaves with them.  Thus one hundred fifty years after brave White Men died for the sins of Black Africa slavery was reintroduced into America.

     What area of Africa did the American Negro slaves come from?  Ashanti chiefs supplied large numbers of them.  Others came from the Slave Coast further East on the coasts of Dahomey and Nigeria.

     Today American Blacks benefit from the notion that they are as early in America as the earliest British.  True, some Blacks date back to the seventeenth century when the first cargoes were landed but by far the largest number date from after 1776.

     Even after the British, having learned their error rather quickly, tried to destroy the Afro-American slave trade late in the eighteenth century and American law illegalized the trade in 1807 still the now illegal trade continued uninterrupted until the Civil War.  Thus a very large proportion of Blacks were transported between 1830 and 1860.

     The level of civilization of these Black Folk may be gauged by that of the Ashantis and Dahomians.  In other words they had been death worshipping cannibals until their Daddys or Chiefs sold them West.  As of 1959 this was only a hundred years previously.  These savages had been forcefully taught to change their diet from human flesh to beef only three or four generations earlier.

     Cannibalism was a sore point with the Afro-Americans of 1959.  The pop group Cannibal And The Headhunters was meant to disparage this obvious truth.  The intent was to make the notion appear as a White Man’s fabrication.  It worked pretty well too.

     Now, as I stated before just because you step on the soil of the New World does not mean that your inbred mental arrangement is modified in any way;  only your subsequent mental condition can be altered.   The mind is not so elastic that the past loses its influence.  It only manifests itself in different ways.  It adapts its manners and customs to the new conditions; this is to say that no one forgets his antecedents and grudges.

     Let us now direct our attention from the Africans to the English immigrants.  Let us put them into perspective so we can understand the development of democracy in the United States.

      The English discovery of America happened at a most propitious time in English history.  In conventional terms the English Commons was about to supplant the English Crown.

     Political events are always based on personal animosities.  In the fifteenth century Henry the VIII had discarded the hated Catholic Church.  Henry’s daughter Elizabeth I continued Henry’s religious policies.

     At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Elizabeth having died without progeny the crown was offered to the Scottish Catholic James who was already James the VI of Scotland and now became James I of England.

      The Scots were not particularly well thought of by the English while the fear of Catholicism being reestablished created a panic.  The seeds of discontent had been sown.

     At the end of the fifteenth century Gutenburg had invented movable type inaugurating the age of print.  Printing was much cheaper than hand copied manuscripts.  The first book was printed.  Naturally  it was the Bible.  Bibles were now available at a reasonable cost.  The Bible was widely disseminated in the area of England known as East Anglia after its conquerors the Angles.  East Anglia is formed by the three shires of the bulge East of London plus Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.  Animosity existed between east Anglians and the Southern shires that formed the heart of the Norman conquest of 1066.

      When the Normans conquered England they enslaved the Anglo-Saxons.  Thus Gurth in Walter Scott’s ‘Ivanhoe’ is an Anglo-Saxon slave.  Slavery is said to have existed in the Norman shires to a period c. 1500.

     The Anglians resented this fact of their having been enslaved very much, as they had previously been conquerors and exterminators.  Their grudge against the Normans simmered along without focus until Gutenburg delivered the Bible into their hands.  Perusing the Old Testament very carefully they formed an identity with the Hebrews who had been enslaved in Egyptland.  Where the Anglians had lacked direction formerly their identification with the Hebrews pointed the way for them.

     Disturbing under Elizabeth, the Anglians now alternatively known as Puritans from their identification with the Hebrews 0f the Bible became troublesome under the Scottish Catholic James but progressed to rebellion under James’ son, Charles I.

     Charles was called upon to exert repressive measures to protect his throne.  During this period the East Anglians boarded ships to flee to the newly discovered coast of North America.  Landing in the North the Anglian cum Puritan State of New England or New Anglia came into existence.

     They did not forget their past but continued to nurse their grudges against crown, Catholics, Scots and Normans.  They didn’t like the Irish too much either.

     In England the Anglians revolted, captured the crown and installing Oliver Cromwell as the Protector attempted to root out and destroy Norman influences.

     The Anglian Puritans were called Roundheads while the Norman troups of Charles were called Cavaliers.  When Cromwell and the Anglian Puritans ruled it was the turn of the Norman Cavaliers to flee to America.  New England having been pre-empted by the Anglians the Cavaliers set up their characteristic social institutions in what was to become the State of Virginia.  The two arch enemies were separated by a few hundred miles which was a sufficient buffer to prevent hostilities at that time.

     In England the manners of the Anglians were so unpalatable that to continue their hegemony would have meant establishing a totalitarian state, not unlike that in the United States today,  which they didn’t have the power to do.

     Thus the Stuarts in the person of Charles II were invited back.  They proved unpopular so in 1688 in the revolution known as Glorious in contrast to the earlier Anglian Puritan revolution William and Mary began the Protestant Succession which was firmly established in 1717 with the introduction of the Hanoverian line from German that continues to this day under the assumed name of Windsor.

     The Anglians retired into their Eastern shires where they have remained fiercely isolationist.  The Author toured East Anglia a couple times in the 1970s where he was amazed at the continuing hostility of East Anglians to outsiders and their unwarranted sense of superiority.  The spirit of the Puritans is alive today in the East Anglian heartland.

     Thus, whereas by 1776 the conflict between the English factions was more or less resolved in England the conflict had not yet been formulated on American shores.

     The Norman Cavaliers had enslved Anglians and Saxons in England until fairly recent times; now the Anglians thought their descendants in America were up to their old tricks.  The notion of indentured White laborers that were in effect slaves for a limited period had been part and parcel of Norman Virginia.  As the Anglians might have noted wryly:  Old habits die hard.  The notion of innate superiority was part of the Norman as well as the Virginian character.  It should be no suprise that Virginians would keep Black slaves while condemning them to racial inferiority.

     Any excuse will do if you really want to pick a fight.  The Anglians of New Anglia or England hating the slave owning Cavaliers of Virginia chose slavery as the issue over which to renew the war of the Anglian revolution in England.  This time the war would be a fight to the finish that would involve the total destruction and extermination of their old enemies.

     There is no question that slavery was an evil that had to be discontinued and was being discouraged in a diplomatic manner in Africa and those same diplomatic heads that were interested in right and less interested in revenge should have prevailed in America.

     Now, the Anglian vision of history which we are taught in school is that freedom of religion was the issue that caused Purtian immigration.  This is nonsense.  The issue was one between Anglians and Normans that was brought into focus under a religious disguise.

     Religion is little more than a psychic projection of the hopes and fears of a people.  The model on which the Anglians formulated their angst was that of the Hebrew Bible.  The Hebrews or Jews formulated their religious response because of their own defeat and humiliation at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians.  In an access of pride, rather than admit to being defeated, they formulated the notion that they were a Chosen People of their God destined to rule the world.  Their present state then was not one of defeat but of being chastised for not having followed the precepts of their God to the tittle.  The Puritans or Anglians found the  Hebrew model an answer to their psychic needs.

     The Nazis of German in the same way and using once again the Jewish model elected themselves a chosen people in response to their betrayal and defeat in the First World War.

     The Communists who are also based on the Jewish model are merely the unproductive members of society who either will not or cannot so they merely say they will expropriate the producers but the idea of an elect or chosen people of ‘laborers’ is the same.

     Once the notion has become part of the psychology of a people the notion is refined and grows and grows.  The end result is that reason is discarded and Anglians, Jews, Nazis, Liberals and Communists become intense bigots because as their dogma is based on a falsehood it will fall to the ground upon examination.  Therefore they must censor all speech and writing and even function as thought police.  In other words, the Emperor has no clothes.

     The Civil War having been fought and ended the antagonism between the Anglian Puritans and Norman Cavaliers remained.  The financier J.P. Morgan once said that every man has two reasons for whatever he does:  A good reason and the real reason.  The good reason the Anglians had for provoking the Civil War was their ostensible opposition to the bonafide evil of slavery.  The real reason was the age old British quarrel between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers.

     The great tragedy of the European conquest of the world was the dependence on African slaves for manual labor.  What a fine country the US would have been if the African savages had been left in Africa to pile their heaps of skulls in the jungle.  For, you see, contrary to popular opinion the White man has a conscience that is lacking in all other peoples.  The Blacks had been amassing mountains of skulls for centuries without one thought of conscience.  There wasn’t even a word for conscience in their vocabulary.

     The American Civil War ended the practice of slavery amongst the White race.  Slavery of African Blacks in Africa continues to this day.

     The Arabs must have had word about the American War and its purpose yet they too continued their slave practice unabated until the Europeans made it too difficult for them to indulge in slave raids on a massive scale.  Slavery also has continued with them until the present day.  In fact Arabs have reintroduced the practice into Europe and America.  Arabs own slaves in all the White countries.  It wouldn’t be ‘democratic’ if you denied them this right, now, would it?

     Unlike Blacks and Arabs Whites knew from the beginning that slavery was wrong.  They could never be at ease with it.  Oh, maybe there were the bestial types who didn’t worry about it, but witness the American writer Mark Twain, or to use his legal name, Samuel L. Clemens, who epitomized the split in the psyche of the White people of North America.

     Even today Clemens causes discussion among his own for the benefit of the Blacks.  Remember slaves and Blacks are two different things.   One can oppose slavery while being wary of Blacks.

     Clemens although he writes from an Anglian point of view had a Virginian for a father.  Clemens actually enlisted in the Confederate Army.  That he presented himself as a Connecticut Yankee about the time he wrote Huckleberry Finn is an interesting fact because he was far from a Yankee.

     He grew up as far North as the border of the free state of Iowa and across the river from free state of Illinois.  Hannibal, Missouri was a slave holding community.  The Widow Douglas, a Scot, who adopts Huck Finn had the owner of Nigger Jim living in her house while she herself owned slaves.

     Clemens’ attitudes toward the national components of the American nation deserve a closer study.  The person on whom the character of Huck Finn was based was an Anglo named Tom Blankenship.  Clemens changed his nationality to Irish as Finn is an Irish name.  A huckleberry was a worthless fellow so you don’t have just a White guy and a Negro floating down the river but a worthless Irishman and a Negro.

     Sawyer is an English name probably meant to be of Anglian origin.  It denotes a manual occupation.  In point of fact, sawyers cut logs to build houses while thatchers put on the rooves.  So Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher form an interesting psychological combination.  In the racial politics of the time when the Irish had a reputation for being troublesome hard drinkers, Clemens has already set up a national hierarchy with the Anglians on top, the Irish below and the Negro at the bottom.

     Huck Finn is not socially acceptable nor is he capable of being educated to it.  Although the Widow Douglas, a Scot, tries, Huck slips the bonds escaping to float down the Mississippi river on a raft with Nigger Jim.

     Now, Negro Jim as my college English teacher used to call him, is solely a comic figure.  He is the epitome of the ignorant, superstitious, eyeball rolling Darky.  He is really undifferentiated from the other Blacks who came from miles around to hear his witchcraft story.  He has no real identity beyond that of a stereotype and symbol.

Twain, in fact, has never formulated an identity for him.  He doesn’t know who Nigger Jim is.  In Twain’s mind he is just a faceless Negro who neither needs nor has a past.

     I now propose to tell the early history of Jambalaya Karate otherwise known as Nigger Jim.

The African Roots Of Nigger Jim

      Jim hadn’t always been a slave.  Back home in Ghana or the Gold Coast as it was known in those days, Jim had been born the son of a Fanti Daddy, Chief or King where he had been given the name Jambalaya Karate, which loosely translated means The Devourer of the Enemy.

     Jambalaya Karate was born in 1810 a few years after the slave trade had been abolished by the United States.  He grew up a very privileged young man who had slaves of his own.  In his youthful arrogance he was frequently unkind to them.  Cruel even.  On one cannibal occasion he bit off a slaves’s little toe to see what his reaction would be.

     In 1828 when Jambalaya Karate was eighteen his Fanti tribe was attacked by the Ashantis.  Although Jambalaya performed prodigious feats of valor, leaping at times a full five feet straight up in the air like an early model Mr. Bojangles or Michael Jordan the Fantis were defeated while Jambalaya himself was taken captive becoming the personal slave of the Ashanti king Basso Profondo, which translates voice of Thunder i.e. God.

     Jambalaya did not take well to being a slave especially as Basso took great delight in humiliating the son of his enemy Daddy.  Jambalaya remembered his royal origins but too well.  In an effort to teach him manners Basso Profondo bit off one of Jambalaya’s little toes.  While this indignity had a profound effect on the Fanti’s psyche the act nevertheless saved Jambalaya’s life.

     Some fellows were needed for sacrifice as well as to fill the stew pot.  Jambalaya himself had taken part in several cannibal feasts as, indeed, his name meant Devourer Of The Enemy, only a few months earlier.  He did not now relish becoming Fanti stew.

     Uhha!

     Only slaves without blemish were suitable for sacrifice.  Jambalaya was now missing a little toe thus removing him from eligibility.  He was still a troublesome slave  for whom Basso Profondo had no use so he was marched off to the coast in 1830 where he was sold American, placed on board a ship, ran the blockade and was transported to New Orleans where he was landed illegally.

     While Jim as he was now named, having avoided the ignominy of being named Jack or Speedoo, had dreamed of escaping back to his people while in Africa  he now realized there was no such thing as escape.  A little something died inside.  And yet, his life would be better than in Africa.

     Remember jim had already been a slave in Africa.  If one reads enough about American  slaveholders one will learn that slave holding is a most humane affair.  Arab Slavers say that slave holding by Arabs is not the cruel thing it was in Africa or America.  Africans say their slave owners get no complaints from their slaves.  Their slaves would rather be slaves than face the hazards of being free.  Americans, of course, said Blacks were treated like members of the family.  The only people who ever complained about the inhumanity of slavery were the slaves themselves and one knows how unreliable their testimony is.

     There were some salient differences between African slavery and American slavery that made Jim’s lot better in America not least of which climate and food were better.  There were fewer diseases in America.  Jim’s life span in Africa would have been no more than thirty to thirty-five years.  In fact, as he was due to become stew, much less.

     In Africa the owner had the  right of life and limb.  As we saw, Jim bit off his slave’s little toe later having his own amputated.  Had his owner killed him in a fit of pique it was his right.  According to American law owners did not have the right of life and limb.

     In Africa once you were a slave manumission was not a possibility.  Once a slave always a slave.  Thus technically all American Blacks or their descendants would still be slaves in Africa.  In America a slave could buy his freedom or be manumitted.

     Not least of the advantages to being a slave in America is that one was freed from the constant threat of tribal war.  The American Black was automatically detribalized.

     Thus when Jim was landed in New Orleans he lived a more secure and better life in America although he was still a slave.  The major disadvantage was that he was taken from a state of nature and placed among the most advanced scientific people on earth.  The passage from tribal savagery to scientific civilization must have placed an immense strain on his psyche.  No matter how he may have rebelled at the idea he must have thought he was much inferior to White people.

     One can see the effect of the passage from a tribal life to a higher civilization in the passage of the Jews from Palestine to Babylon.  Read Isaiah and Ezekial in that light and you will note some remarkable things.

     While still proud as a slave in Africa, Jim was thoroughly cowed and broken by his circumstances in America.  He became listless and useless until his owner sold him up river as a domestic where he recovered a little of the will to exist although he became the comic buffoon portrayed by Clemens.  Thus Huck, unknown to himself, floated down the Mississippi with a cannibal African prince by the name of Jambalaya Karate:  The Devourer of the Enemy.

     Even though the effectiveness of Jim’s character deepened on his being called Nigger Jim modern Liberals who apparently have no idea of Clemens’ point insist on Bowlderizing Nigger Jim to just plain Jim as though two clowns named Huck and just plain Jim floating down the river is a story.

     Even if one examines the negricity of Nigger Jim one finds the fallacy of Liberal thinking.  As a novelist Clemens seems to have had a clear idea of the pasts of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn but he had no idea of the history of Nigger Jim.  To Clemens he was just a faceless Negro who was only a symbol.

     Even then the racial distinctions of Clemens are fairly remarkable.  Published in 1885 when Clemens was fifty after slavery had been abolished and both the Civil War and Reconstruction were over while the Jim Crow era was beginning Clemens seems to have been in an analytical mood.  He seems to be standing back describing the scene as though he were a Mysterious Stranger; one who had turned coat from being a Southern Rebel to a Connecticut Yankee.

     He portrays a number of nationalities that are clearly distinguished.  Missouri was a slave State.  Slave holding was common in Huck’s town.  Yet the Sawyers and Thatchers do not own slaves.  The names Sawyer and Thatcher are obviously significant.  Sawyers cut boards to make houses while Thatchers make rooves for houses.  Having occupational names they are clearly of Anglian stock.

     If they had been Norman Virginians their names might have been Anglicized for instance from the French Beauchamps to Beecham.  Clemens may at one time have been Clements.

     Huck Finn is obviously Irish.  By 1850 the Irish were only recently a considerable part of the population.  They may not have yet made their way West in any numbers.  In 1885 they would have been conspicuous.  Pap Finn himself seems to be a caricature of the hard drinking, raggedy Irish cottager from the Old Sod.

     Clemens doesn’t seem to be an abolitionist nor does he put much that is sympathetic in Jim’s character.  He is really only the eyeball rolling Darky butt for comic relief.  Clemens himself was to enlist in the Confederate rather than the Union Army so there has to be some question as to whether this ‘Connecticut Yankee’ considered slavery immoral or wrong.

     Nor were the Anglians much disposed to fraternize with Negroes even though they abolished slavery.  It is inconceivable that an Anglian like Tom Sawyer would float downstream on a raft as a near equal of a Negro.  As Anglians equated the Irish and Negroes there is probably a subtle ironic note in the pairing.  Clemens is probably playing up to his Yankee audience.

     When Huck and Jim got to Arkansas the denizens of the swamps and bottomlands are portrayed as a rowdy, dissolute crew.  These men are the Southern descendants of the Norman Virginians and Scotch-Irish.  These are the people that the Africans in Africa and Anglians in America denoted as White Trash.  Throughout American history they have been held as beneath the Negro in status.

     Clemens holds the former cannibal and slave owner Jim up for comparison with the White Trash.  Not knowing anything of Jim’s antecedents he compares Jim favorably to these wild, boisterous Whites.

     Once again, Clemens was writing in 1885 long after the events so he may have been reflecting attitudes of the day rather than of the time.  He had to ingratiate himself with the Anglian Puritans as they controlled American society and the key to his own success as a writer.  In any event he encapsulates the modern hierarchical prejudices of Political Correctness as imposed by the Anglians after the Civil War.  That is:  Anglians, Irish, Negroes and at the bottom White Trash and anyone who disagrees with them.

     In my academic career I knew neither teacher nor student who considered Huckleberry Finn as anything but a true fable.

  Nobody considered Jim from the point of view of any African antecedents.  No one realized he might have any.  Nobody questioned Clemens’ grotesque portrayal of the Arkansans.  You know, folks, they aren’t too far from a lot of the people one sees walking around today.

     As luck would have it we do have a contrasting account of life in the Arkansas swamps and bottoms of the same period.  That account is provided by Henry M. Stanley of ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume’ fame.

     Stanley who was one of the models for Edgar Rice Burrough’s character Tarzan, was born in Wales.  While still in his mid-teens he emigrated to America arriving in New Orleans.  After an adventurous year or so he was adopted by a man named Henry Stanley, who, incredibly, was looking for a son, then gave him his name Stanley in place of  his natal John Rowlands.  In the course of events Stanley apprenticed his namesake to a merchant on the Sabine River bottomlands of Arkansas.  He lived there for a few years until the Civil War began when he was impressed into the Rebel army.

     After the war he became the famous reporter and African explorer but he had always had an eye for details.  He too portrays the Arkansans as a fairly crude bunch while not being unsympathetic to the Negroes.  As a newcomer to America with no axe to grind he takes a more broad point of view portraying a spectrum of Whites and Blacks as people not as types.  And remember that Stanley wrote his autobiography before 1905 and long after his Southern exposure and his several expeditions into Darkest Africa including the expedition into Ashantiland at Coomassie.  No one in the world had more experience with both Blacks and Whites than H.M. Stanley.

     Stanley didn’t understand the English origins of the American Civil War but he gave voice to the central problem of the war which was:  Why should White men kill each other for the benefit of a primitive African people who could never appreciate the sacrifice or could ever leap the chasm between savagery and science.

     Stanley was right but he couldn’t see that the good reason of slavery was not the real reason for the Civil War but instead national antagonism.  Nobody was really fighting for the slaves, the real reason was the fanatical hatred of the Anglian Puritans for the Norman Virginian Cavaliers and the Scotch-Irish.

     The vindictive hatred of the Anglian Puritans was clothed with the righteous religious reason of abolitionism.  No one penetrated the disguise but the disguise was necessary and successful.

     Just as the Jews having once assumed the role of the Chosen People were bound to expand and intensify the notion over the centuries so the Anglians once they had assumed their self-righteous disguise were bound to continue it after the defeat and abasement of their Norman Virginian enemies.

     Having defeated the South the Anglians deep seated, shall we say, insane rage caused them to want to punish the Virginians as seriously as they believed they had been punished by the Normans in England.

     There is no doubt that if they  had not been moderated by New York and the Middle Atlantic States who despised them as much as the Anglians despised the Virginians that that they would have enslaved the Southern Whites to the Negroes.  Failing that they still made Reconstruction one of the most punitive regimes in the history of the world.

     Reconstruction!  There’s a sigfinicant word.  What did it mean?  Reconstruction from what to what?  Civil rights were virtually denied the Whites while in some insane version of Affirmative Action men who had been slaves both in Africa and America, men who had neven known freedom or the arts of government, men who did not understand democracy were placed as governors over the Whites.

     In England Cambridge University was a creation of East Anglians while Oxford was a more national creation.  For anyone who has been there there is quite a contrast between Oxford and Cambridge.  Oxford is by far the most open or least uptight institution.

     The Anglians of New Anglia or England had created the premier educational institution in the US, Harvard University.  They even placed it in a town called Cambridge.  Now, really, you have to think about this stuff, really worry over it.  The Anglians now placed a bare foot, illiterate Negro as head of the Classics department of  a major Southern University.  As the question, why as a matter of Reconstruction would one place an illiterate in charge of the intense mental disciplines of Greek and Latin?  Only as the gravest of insults.  Only as an act of insane rage.

     The Whites of the South were not supine; they fought back.  Just as the measures used against them were extreme, they in their turn resorted to extreme measures.  What did you think would happen?

     In Scotland the calling the Clans was done by igniting fires on the mountain tops.  The Southerners, composed largely of Scotch-Irish, imitating their Scotch ancestors now formed the Ku Klux Klan.  Now when there was a fire on the mountain it meant that the Klan was riding out that night.

     Thus the Anglians created a sort of Second Civil War in the South where the Whites were pitted against the Negroes in self-defense.  The Anglians had created the era of Jim Crow.

     We’ll never know if Jim Crow could have been avoided if once slavery had been abolished a more enlightened conciliatory policy had been followed rather than the indulgence of Anglian rage.

     Nevertheless the Liberal policy of alliance with the Negroes against the ‘White Trash’ was established.  Until European immigration rose to flood tide there was a three tier ‘democratic’ classification system in America:  Liberals on top, the Negroes, then ‘White Trash.’

     The White Trash formed exlusive nativist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Protective Association which reacted negatively toward the new immigrants rather than embracing at least some of them as reinforcements against the Liberals.

     The Liberals formed a coalition of the various immigrant peoples including the Jews and Italians against the various factions of Nativist ‘White Trash’ including the neo-KKK which wa reformed in response to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP.

     The early Liberal Coalition was formed around the policies of Woodrow Wilson and culminated in the Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

     The Civil War was the turning point in early American history.  Anglian Liberalism as a projection of Anglian angst became evil in intent.  Their rage and hatred against the Normans was institutionalized into an unreasoning ferment against any who disagreed with them.  The dichotomy of Anglian Liberalism and American Nativism became set in the Liberal/Conservative confrontation that exists today.  Time for fires on the mountain once again.

     As in Reconstruction days Liberals are still trying to raise the Negro above their Conservative antagonists in the exact manner of that bare foot Negro in charge of the Classics Department although they no longer call it Reconstruction but Affirmative Action.

     Negroes are promoted into responsible positions over more qualified Whites.  This in turn makes the Negro dependent on White people to do the job for them.  This means that the Negro has his White Man to slave for him.  Dewey would decline the role in 1961.

     It will easily be seen why American politics are so irrational.  American politics are being directed by a national group living out a character assumed at the latest in sixteenth century England but probably inherent in the psyche of the Angles before they migrated from Denmark to Britain. 

     The Anglian character didn’t change when they stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock and neither did that of the Negro when they were desembarked at their American port.

     Many of the characteristics of the Negro that are attributed to his treatment in America have nothing to do with America.  If one compares his African environment then and now with the American manifestation of the Negro one will find a continuation in an American enviroment rather than a discontinuation or new creation.  Further when one compares Africa, the Caribbean and the United States one finds the exact same traditions being carried on in three related manifestations.

     The modern American Negro does not look to White civilization for a pattern for future conduct but back to his African roots.  This is to look back to a pattern of primitive savagery, human flesh in a refrigerator, than forward to civilization.  As Jesse Jackson expressed it:  Hey, Hey, Ho , Ho, Western Civilization has got to go.  To be replaced by Africa?

     In the Big Daddy tradition of primitive Africa everyone was a slave to someone else with the exception of the Chief Big Daddy.   There is absolutely no tradition of dem0cracy.  There is no tradition of personal independence; one is a member of the tribe, one has a collective consciousness.  Thus the modern African role models combined with the residual memories of African traditions that survived in the Black community through the slave and Jim Crow periods will and are asserting themselves today.

     One may say that the role model of the pimp in American Negro society is a result of economic discrimination but upon closer examination you will find that it is an adaptation of African tradition to American possibilities.

     In Africa the man had several wives to tend to his needs.  All of these strings of prostitutes, that equate to African polygamy, shake that money maker to keep the male in style.  The prostitutes are kept in line by the use of extreme brutality and enslavement through drugs.  Slavery and polygamy are basic African traits.  Even the use of drugs can be traced back to African roots.  Africans took early to the use of marijuana and quickly adapted to opium when that drug became available in Africa.

     Thus pimping, the basic institution of the American Negro, as well as the fondness for drugs are merely adaptations of African customs.

     Now, as to the notion of democracy.  The basic political approach in Africa was that the Chief could dispose of the lives of his tribemen as he saw fit.  He could kill them all or sell them into slavery at his whim.  Thus when in East Africa the Arab slavers offered the Chief goods he wanted for his own pleasure that he couldn’t pay for in any other way he designated the persons the slavers could abduct.  This is the Big Daddy.

     This role model emerged into the light of American society as the era of Jim Crow ended and the decade of the sixties unfolded.  To use the example of the Black Panthers of Oakland.  The Panthers were by no means an educated bunch.  Huey Newton, their leader, despite his pretentions was an ingoramus.  To enforce his will on his people he resorted to the same means as his African brothers.  He bludgeonded them into submission or killed them.  The process was known as ‘correction.’

     Killing fields were established in the Santa Cruz mountains where victims were taken to be tortured and executed.  People who have been there report bones sticking up out of the ground in a scene quite reminscent of the Ashanti capitol of Coomassie.  There can be little doubt that the Oakland Negroes reverted to primitive cannibalism.  It must be.  It’s a miracle they didn’t set up piles of skulls on Oakland street corners.

     The primitive African mind has never been reconstructed in America to a higher consciousness.  This truth may be stunning but is nevertheless so.

     Listen.  The Black man will never be able to forgive the White man for having enslaved him and degraded him to the level of the apes anymore than the Anglians could forgive the Normans.  Let me repeat that:  It is psychologically impossible for the Black to accept White civilization without avenging himself.  If you need further proof the anwer is written on every wall in every bus station and subway in America.

     In society, where racial proprieties are enforced, all evidence of hatred is suppressed but in situations where normal proprieties break down racial divisions and hatreds become immediately paramount.

     In prisons there is no amicable fraternization between Whites and Blacks.  Self-segregation is rigidly enforced.  Even White pretensions become paramount in that a prison environment is the only place Aryans can openly exist.

     The closely kept secret of Viet Nam is that Blacks self segregated themselves and kept a running battle going with the Whites.  In every Army base domestic or abroad Blacks and Whites separate and are at war with each other.

     What would happen if the police power were removed in society?

     Let us take an African case in point.  Let us look at Rwanda.  When the Watutsi conquered the area several hundreds of years ago they made the indigenous Wahutu their slaves, the entire nation of Hutu.  the Watutsi waxed lordly.  They did not walk anywhere but had Hutu slaves carry them in hammocks.

     The British in the first half of the twentieth century disturbed this polity.  When the British police power was removed the Watutsi attempted to reestablish their supremacy over the Wahutu.  Over a period of time the Wahutu organized with guns and rebelled.  Their anger and rage was such, and justifiably so, that they began a policy of genocide, either killing the Watutsi or driving them out of the country.

     The Blacks in America vis-a-vis the Whites see themselves as the Wahutu of Rwanda see the Watutsi.  Only a fool believes that American Blacks do not carry the same resentment against Whites.  It therefore follows that the only thing preventing an attempted massacre of Whites by Blacks is the police power of  the State.  We have a very dangerous situation that ought to be addressed in a realistic manner rather than that of the pandering Liberals.

     The problem is that the Liberals with their roots in the Anglian angst think it would be right if the Negroes killed all Whites but themselves.  They are fatuous enough to believe the Blacks would exclude them if it came to that.  Thus there is this long standing alliance between Liberals and Blacks against what they both consider ‘White Trash.’

     No one can say what the exact course of events will be but the corruption of Western civilization by the Liberals and Blacks is reaching a dangerous point.  Western civilization as Jesse Jackson demands may go.  The social mores of the Whites have sunk very nearly to the levels of tribal Africa.

      Educational levels of Whites have declined steadily since 1956.  The maintenance of Western Civilization requires a high degree of intelligence and education.  Reflect on waste management for a few moments.

     Men like Willie Brown, the erstwhile Mayor of San Francisco, have gone far to  establish the Big Daddy principle against the democratic principle in the Bay Area.  Everywhere the trend is away from personal independence and toward the submission of the will to a Big Daddy.  Africa comes.

     Moral principles are shouldered aside by Big Daddys like Jesse Jackson who openly extort money from major corporations in a way little different than the African traditions reported by early explorers.  Liberals are not outraged by such practices but actively endorse them.  Thus White modes of democracy and honesty are corrupted as Whites change from apparently ineffective democracy to totalitarian ways.  Society inevitably drops to primitive African models.

     Racial characters do not die out, probably, ever.  The Anglians who profess to be pure and superior refuse to criticize or condemn these really heinous crimes against humanity being committed on a regular basis by their Negro pets.  They just make one incredible excuse after another for them.

      The inevitable result, and we are over halfway there, will be the complete and total corruption of the Democracy established in the heydey of the Freemasonic Enlightenment.

     The much disparaged White Big Daddy is, or was, an established fact.   Few realize that he was not an example of a White tradition but that he was acting out a role learned from Negro slaves.  Now the Big Daddy role is being emulated by Whites throughout the country which Black Big Daddys have spread from the South throughout the land.

     As in Longfellow’s poem Dewey was the child tied to the mast unable to do anything but watch as the guns of the Ship of State announced that it could not survive is such angry seas.  The well was running dry as like some Black slave in Arkansas Dewey moaned in anticipation:  You don’t miss your water till the well runs dry.

     Dewey saw the future unfolding in his dreaming visions although he only understood in embryo as the myriad impressions flitted across his dazed mind as the big wheels rolled round and round carrying him through the little State of Arkansas into the big State of Texas.

Far Gresham

Vol I

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 3

      I didn’t know what ‘that’ was but I didn’t time my exit well.  I caught the buckle as my foot came down on the bed.  The kid who slept there had meanwhile slid over the side.  I had done nothing wrong but I realized I had been foolish to follow my cicerone.  I accepted the buckling as well deserved for my folly.  I learned the intended lesson, I was never caught in the same way again.  In addition I added a page to my collection of methods of perfidy.

     Now, these two thugs were as cool as could be.  They did a cool strut out of the toilet giving Mrs. Miller a little disdainful motion to back off.  She did.  Then they strolled out of the dorm and into the night never to be seen again.  Nor did we ever have two itinerants stay overnight again.

     Hirsh had failed but he tried again.  This time he wanted to see it, so he devised an elaborate trifle that could have afforded him but little pleasure.  House mothers, as I said, came and went.  Then one fine day a beauteous young girl of eighteen showed up to titilate us.  She was buxom and lovely.

     She seemed to take to us boys and made a point of always including me.  At first I was as enamored as the rest but then it became apparent to me that this young woman was emotionally disturbed.  She had a mean vicous streak; I began to avoid her.  But she persisted.

     She began to have us engage in ridiculous games that made us look like fools.  I wouldn’t participate but held back.  I was an alert little boy.  I noticed a lot of things.  I was sensitive to being fenced in, consequently I kept an eye on the sidewalk.  I knew how many people walked by and looked at us every day.  When she was with us the traffic increased significantly.

page 101.

     Then one day she suggested that we sing a comic song.  It was called ‘Napoleon avec cinq cent soldats.’  The trick was that first we sang it through; with each repeat we sang one less word and we silently mouthed one more word and substituted a gesture for the sound.  Thus halfway through we sang half the words mouthed the rest and made a bunch of signs.  The final result of course was a bunch of guys moving their mouths silently and waving and hopping like looneys.  As she explained it everyone would think we were crazy and we wouldn’t care.  The joke would be on them. It would be funny.

     I knew that they wanted to think we were crazy.  I cared, I didn’t want to give them confirmation.  She placed us in the most conspicuous place in the yard.  As the gig began I noticed that traffic began to increase to abnormal proportions on the sidewalk.  I stepped back and dissociated myself from the group, eyeing the sidewalk sullenly.  I noticed a dark haired man with hope in his eyes lose that hope when he saw I wasn’t participating.  I didn’t know him but I knew what he wanted.

     I said something sharp to the house mother.  She left that night and never returned.

page 102.

7.

     Whatever punishment Hirsh had devised for me, whatever attempt he had originated to extract homage from me in the third grade had been aborted by my transference from Emerson to Longfellow.  He would renew his efforts both through the orphanage and Longfellow.  But now as the third grade closed I was faced with the partial relief of another summer.  I would only have to contend with the madness of the Children’s Home.

     I was standing contentedly with my hands in pockets in the door of the library when the little boy who had been admitted when I had was led out of the infant’s ward.  I gave a little yawn as he waddled up in his little six year old walk.  As he approached he looked up with a searching look that indicated he wanted a friend, a helping hand.

page 103.

     I decided to be compassionate, give the little tyke a break.

    ‘Hi ya, kid.  How are you today?’

     ‘I going to die now now.’  He replied disconsolately.

     I could no longer be surprised by such statements.  I had seen and heard a lot.

     ‘Oh yeah?’  I calmly replied.  ‘Going to die?  How’s that?’

     ‘I have to go to the hospital and have my tonsils pulled out.  They’ll probably pull my life out with them.’

     ‘Oh yeah?  Tonsils huh?  Well, that isn’t so much to worry about.  Tonsils come out pretty easy.  It won’t kill you.  Why I had my tonsils pulled when I was just your age.’  I said as reassuringly as possible.

     ‘Oh yeah?’

     ‘Oh yeah.  It made me sick for a few days, couldn’t swallow.  But I had a lot of ice cream because it melted and I could get it down.’

     ‘A lot of ice cream?’  He said hopefully.

     ‘Uh huh.  But I had a mother at the time; I don’t know if they’ll give you ice cream in this dump.  Well good luck, kid.’  I said as they led him away.

     ‘Thanks.’   He replied with a grateful look.

     The Old Master Fiddler had a million schemes.  His brain was constantly busy surveying every nook and cranny for some scheme to turn a dollar.  Generally he preferred crooked schemes that would show how much more clever he was than others, how easily he could outwit them.  He could stretch an ethic however if a scheme appeared to be real good but more or less honest he would still do it.  Besides a good operator like himself could always introduce quasi-dishonest twists.

page 104.

     Once again I was in the library when I overheard Darwen talking to a couple of men.  They were explaining to him that post-war China had a ravenous appetite for scrap paper.  Old newspapers and boxing could be gotten free and sold to them.  Darwen’s head snapped back and his eyes lit up.  He wasn’t overly bright but when he heard collect newspapers he immediately thought of we inmates as free labor, when he made the connection of free paper with free labor that represented one hundred percent profit.

     His head bobbed back forward.  ‘You don’t say?  They’ll take as much as they can get, huh?  Hmmm.’

     As he sat over his coffee that evening running over his list of cons and cheats the thought of China and paper re-entered his mind.  The thought of such an immediate return appealed to him.  Pressing us into use without compensation gratified his need for cleverness, for:  ‘The little fools will never know how they are being used.’  Then too, as the paper would have to be baled he could charge the cost of the paper press to the Home and get free use of it.  Also he could make Cappy and Skippy overseers of we mere collectors so that they would be commanding their inferiors.  The Darwens would get all the benefits and we, simple fools that we were, would do all the work.  Then too, he could represent the collection to us as charitable thereby doubly gulling us.  It penciled out on paper.  The Fiddler ordered a paper press for the Home.

page 105.

     There were some dozen of us who for whatever reasons agreed to collect paper for him.  I really should have known better, others did, but then what other excitement was there that summer.  Darwen went out and cadged some Western Flyer wagons to transport the papers.  He gathered us out on the front porch to give us our instructions.

     That morning they were bringing the little five year old back from the hospital.  I went over and looked at him as they carried him out of the ambulance on a stretcher.  He looked a lot worse than I remembered feeling when I had mine out.  He saw me, recognized me and gave me a weak smile.  I was apprehensive for him.

     Darwen finished up his chatter; the Jr. Fiddlers were trying to be important when I and my two teammates pulled our wagon down the driveway to begin asking householders for their scrap paper.  It was a very humiliating experience.  I had known how clownish I looked in my oversized shoes and attire.  I knew that we looked worse than our school mates.   But between the Home and school it had been more or less tolerable.  Now whatever door we knocked on we were greeted with unconcealed repugnance, hostility and derision.  I suppose that the fact that we were from the Orphanage and collecting for ‘charity’ got us their old papers.  Even then they degraded us to get them.  Sometimes we had to clean the place where they kept the old papers, sometimes we had to dig around in the dirt to separate them.  As a side lesson I began to learn about public appearances and private realities.

page 106.

     All told the various teams collected a fair amount that first day.  We were able to bale up a half dozen bales.

     I was feeling pretty glum about our treatment that day.  I sat brooding after the paper had been baled when I remembered the kid who had had his tonsils out.  I decided to go to the dispensary to see how he was doing.  They had him in an unsupervised room behind a closed door.  I turned the knob and opened the door.  I jumped back in horror.  The kid’s premonition had been right, something had gone wrong.  He was coughing uncontrollably.  Little droplets of blood spattered me as I saw the walls and ceiling covered with red dots.  I ran for the dining room where I knew some house mothers were.

     I ran up before one:  ‘Come quickly, come quickly, the boy with the tonsils is dying.’  I yelled excitedly.

     ‘Oh, for heaven’s sake Farley, he’s not dying.’  she replied ironically.

     ‘Yes he is, yes he is, there’s blood all over.’  I yelled.

     ‘Farley, you always…’  She began’

     ‘No I don’t always.’  I yelled grabbing her arm and pulling desperately.  ‘Come on, come on, he’s dying.’

     The metal state of these women was not too far removed from ours but now she condescended to humor me.  ‘Oh, all right Farley, but I’m going to be angry with you if there’s nothing wrong.’

     Needless to say she sprang into action when she saw the room.  The boy had lost a lot of blood.  He was gone from the Home a long time.  I never saw him come back and don’t know what happened to him.

page 107.

     I set out with my companions with a heavier heart the next day.  By then the word had got out that we were coming and our reception was even less cordial.  So here we ragamuffins were in our ludicrous clothing, I, in those ridiculous oversize shoes, begging from door to door for yesterday’s newspapers.  I was determined that this was my last try when we stumbled on the house of Mrs. Stout.  I was overjoyed.  I jumped up and down.  ‘Mrs. Stout, Mrs. Stout.’  But this was a different Mrs. Stout than at the Home.  She at first had no idea of our purpose and thought I had sought her out.  A momentary look of displeasure was effaced as she slid into her Children’s Home mode.  Her relief was evident when we explained our mission and she realized she had been discovered accidentally.  I perceived the whole situation but gave no indication of my comprehension.

     At the Orphanage she was all love and care.  here at her home we were an unpleasant reminder of another world.  Mr. Stout, who must have been unemployed, came out to look at us with evident disgust.  His two boys hung back as though we had the plague.  There at Mrs. Stout’s I became really aware for the first time that we of the orphanage cut a different figure.  Under Mr. Stout’s rebuking eye I began to critically examine the fat woman, her scroungy husband, two scruffy kids and unkempt house.

     As I looked at her two kids I spotted the similarity of our clothes.  The difference was that theirs fit and matched.  I looked at the shoes of the younger one and my blood froze.  He was wearing my old shoes.  I grasped the half-truth and leaped to a conclusion.  Mrs. Stout had only found the shoes the next day and realized they would be perfect for her youngest son within a few months.   She appropriated them as she did with any item that caught her eye.  Now, I thought that she had had them taken off my feet for her boy.  My heart filled with  rancor towards her.

     The Eloy were well dressed.  I could see that these kids were dressed Morlock level.  I could feel, if not exactly see, that the difference between these kids and us was as great or greater than the difference between them and the Eloy.  The full horror of my situation hit me.  I rejected the fullness of it but the flavor lingered.

     While I had been concentrating on my thoughts Mr. Stout had been chastising Mrs. Stout who was trying to impose discretion on him to no avail.

     Mr. Stout was vociferating:  ‘What rock in hell did this crowd crawl out from under?  Is this the trash you associate with at that goddamned place?’

     I felt my companions wither on their vines.  I saw their self-respect flit like bats from a cave at sundown.  I was sorry for them.  I had already been trained by hardships.  I had also seen the ‘good life’ at Mrs. Johnson’s.  I had been able to build up a tenuous sense of self worth.  I looked steadily at the man finding nothing admirable.  He was a poor breadwinner.  He should have been at work and he didn’t even have a job in the flushest job market ever.  His house, garage and yard were a mess.  His child was standing in my shoes.  He couldn’t even clothe his own children.  At that moment I believed everything Mrs. Miller had said about men.  They were contemptible.

page 109.

     I was collecting my thoughts to tell him what he was when Mrs. Stout interjected:  ‘For God’s sake hush, Jim.  They can’t help themselves.  You’d have to see that place to believe it.  I don’t know what Jack Darwen’s scheme is but he’s obviously using them for something.’

     We threw the papers she gave us on top of the wagon.  I stopped and looked up at Mrs. Stout.  ‘You won’t be coming back to the home, will you.’

I made it an affirmative statement, not a question.  She looked back at me and shrugged.

     With heavy hearts and studied expressions we made our way back to the Orphanage.  None of us had an appetite for further collections.  Further collections proved unnecessary for, from our perspective, Mr. Darwen had lost interest in the project.  What had actually happened was that in the time that the Fiddler heard about it and our collection, incredibly, the market had collapsed as the Communists drove Chiang Kai Chek across China.  Darwen was stuck with a paper press and several thousand pounds of baled paper stored in a room on the ground floor of the Orphanage.  Life is full of freaks; Darwen was robbing the Home from one end to the other but those silly bales of paper which he hadn’t even stolen would give him away.

     Darwen would have let the matter drop there with a disgusted wave of the hand had not Angela Darwen insisted that he do something nice for his collectors.  Darwen put his bow to the fiddle.  ‘Something’ was a little gathering in his bedroom.  His apartment, adjacent to our dorm on the fourth floor consisted of three bedrooms, a bathroom and a small kitchen/dinette.  How Angela Darwen put up with the man I never could understand.

page 110

     Darwen gathered six of us who had collected papers and his two sons in his bedroom.  This was a small room.  Some of us sat on Darwen’s bed, I and another leaned against his footboard.  Cappy and Skippy stood in front of the bathroom door.  On the side of the room opposite their mother, Angela Darwen, stood against the wall by the door leading into the dorm, double delta style, watching.  I hope she was the kind of woman I thought she was.  I could love her no longer if she wasn’t.

     The Old Master Fiddler was in high spirits as he was about to again display his consummate skill.  He gave a couple of winks to Cappy and Skippy, drew his mouth back on the right side in a cunning smile and announced:  ‘All right, guys, we know you worked hard.  To show our appreciation for your efforts we’re going to give you a little reward.  Let me ask you, what do you think your efforts were worth?’

    I’d already thought about that one.  I piped up fully expecting him to give it:  ‘A dollar, Mr. Darwen.’

     My evaluation was greeted with a chorus of yesses.

     Darwen gave an alarmed look as though he hadn’t expected a fair price to be asked.

     ‘No. No.  Now, hold on.  If I gave you all a dollar I wouldn’t have anything left over for myself.  That wouldn’t be right would it?  No, of course not.  I’ve got a box of chocolates in my hand.’

page 111.

     ‘Yeah.’  I said to myself.  ‘Like we’re going to get a box of chocolates when you won’t give us a dollar.’   I don’t know why guys like Darwen don’t think that people see those winks, but they don’t.  They are apparently so absorbed in their own cleverness that they think the world is too stupid to catch on.

     I had been standing alert readying myself for a just reward.  I now eased back off the balls of my feet unto my heels and slumped against the footboard.  I could see the con coming from that dishonest son-of-a-bitch.

     ‘Now, I can’t give you a dollar but you’re each going to get to choose one piece of chocolate.’

     My face flushed with wrath which he probably thought was anticipation.  My heart was filled with gall because of the remarks of Mr. Stout, and this yo-yo is going to offer me one piece of candy.  Then too I knew that the tale had not been told.

     ‘Now,’  Mr. Darwen continued.  ‘One lucky person is going to get a nickel because one piece of chocolate has a nickel in the wrapper.’

     Well, I knew for a fact that there were only two lucky people in the room and that must have been what the winks were for.  Skippy and Cappy had not done a thing but they not only  were getting a chocolate but one of them was going to get the nickel.

     I glowered absolute contempt at Darwen.  He offered the box to me with his thumb on one of the chocolates.  ‘Aw, I don’t deserve a chocolate.’  I said.  ‘Let someone who deserves it more than I have it.  Give it to Skippy or Cappy.’

page 112.

     ‘Nonsense, Farley, you’ve put in your effort, as little as it was, you should have one too.’

     I tried to get the one he had his thumb on.  He pulled the box back and shook his head no at me.  I sullenly took another.  The others tore theirs open looking for the nickel.  I held mine behind my back waiting for the announcement.  Cappy held his piece out tauntingly:  ‘I got it.’  He said with a smirk that stated his superiority.  While he drew their attention I bent down and flipped mine under their bed.

     ‘Well, I guess Cappy’s just naturally luckier than you orphan kids.’  Darwen chuckled.

     Lucky my oversized shoes, you crooks.  I thought.

     At that moment Jack Darwen was the very epitome of authority, self-seeking and rotten to the core.  He, they, would rig every contest, drawing or lottery to gratify their desires.  The winner is always known in advance if you know the players.  There is no need to participate in these events.  No matter how difficult it may be to rig these things they are all rigged.  Don’t hold your breath.

     As much as I loved Angela Darwen I looked over at her and despised her.  She must have known it wasn’t all luck.  She and Jack must talk these things over.  A man’s only a man and is subject to innumerable faults but the jerk she was married to was beneath contempt.  I looked at her in wonder;  I didn’t care what anyone thought of me, I was better than than the whole damn world.  My contempt rose, developed and flowered.  How could anyone respect those contemptible beings.

page 113.

     I stored up the disgust I felt for Darwen in my heart.  My heart still rankled over his taking the Flying Horse Of Oz out of my hands.  I soon became witness to the futher perfidy of the Fiddler.  The last little bit of humilation, unsuccessful humiliation, that Hirsh had had of me was the song of the young house mother.  Hirsh had a fantasy of me in which I was to become a ‘honey dipper’ in adult life.  A ‘honey dipper’ was one who cleaned the pits of outdoor toilets.  ‘Honey dippers’ were legendary in my youth  but I never actually saw one.  It was a discreet insult to call someone a ‘honey dipper.’  the reply, of course, was ‘I’ll bring up a little something for your lunch.’  Outdoor toilets were disappearing fast as, I imagine, was the vocation of ‘honey dipper.’

     One day as Hirsh was driving West up Sandy, which crossed Nelson at the North side of the Home, he spotted some of the boys atop the lid of the garbage bin.  It immediately occurred to him what pleasure it would give him to see me up there.  It seemed the appropriate place for what he considered human garbage.  He pulled some strings.  Now, the guys who sat up there had fought for and claimed it for their very own.  All of a sudden they were down and recommending the place to me.  Well it was a nice sunny spot of a morning and I took it.  Those guys who had fought for and defended the place now walked off saying:  ‘The garbage is where you belong.’  I found the comment highly amusing coming from guys who had honored the place for weeks.

page 114.

     There was a dark haired man who strolled past and said with a little chuckle:  ‘Say, that looks like a nice place to sit.’  He was not of the Home so I couldn’t see or hear him.  I sat as though alone.

     Jack Warden had gutted the library and old clothes weren’t prime income, the newspaper scheme had fallen through so the Fiddler was looking for an additional source of income.  Jack wasn’t really very smart.  He now hit on the idea of selling our food stores.  Darwen was incapable  of discerning the difference between charitable contributions like clothes and books and expenses like food stores that were purchased and could be traced.  No one had said anything about the clothes and books, why should they say anything about provisions?  One of the things that made John D. Rockefeller luckier than the Fiddler was that he could distinguish between the two categories but that little detail escaped the attention of ‘unlucky Jack.’

     Jack wasn’t especially discreet either.  As I sat up on the garbage bin and watched he had the driver back his van right up to the pantry door, literally door to door so you could step out of the pantry into the truck.  And in broad daylight.  I was too young to fully understand yet I watched in amazement munching on an apple.  It was like watching an old time movie.

     The driver noticed me.  As a thief, he had more caution than the Fiddler.  He looked at Jack and nervously tilting his head in my direction asked:  ‘Do you think its wise to do this with him watching?’

page 115.

     Mr Darwen burst out into derisive laughter:  ‘Him?  That kid is worthless.  He’s so ineffectual that I doubt he could string enough words together to tell anybody.’

     Darwen probably found that chocolate under his bed and ate it.

     Darwen was right to an extent.  I didn’t have much power; but then the Lord moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform and chooses strange vessels to perform them.

page 116.

     8.

     I had entered Hirsh’s mind like a disease.  I was the bitterness that gave the juice of the poison red berries their flavor.  He was becoming increasingly obsessed with me because I wouldn’t render homage.  The fact that I had completely ignored him, one of the leading citizens of the Valley, from my perch on the garbage bin seared his soul.

     He had missed me in the third grade but he had wonderful plans for the fourth grade.  But this was midsummer and school was a long way off.  He needed emotional reinforcement.  He had reacted to my indifference by feeling ridiculous, even clownish.  He conceived a desire to make me even more ridiculous looking than I already was and he felt.

     That left him with nothing to work with but my hair.  I still had a decent haircut.  There was a woman named Mildred who worked in the kitchen.  Hirsh had known her in high school.  He now showed a little interest in her and was able to do her a couple small favors.  He did want a favor in return.  It was nothing she couldn’t do without a clear conscience.  He merely wanted her to give me money for a haircut at a specific barbershop.  Dave was a big man, he gave the fifty cents out of his own pocket.

page 117.

     Mildred collared me and told me I was to get a haircut at Job’s Tonsorial over on Roth St.  I was surprised because the Home brought in their own barber who cut the whole fourth floor at one time.  I had no reason to doubt that a new system was in effect as I took the fifty cents from her and started for Roth St.

     Roth St. was a fairly long walk.  I was irritated because I was sure their were other shops closer.  But I found the place.  As I walked in a fellow talking to the barber said:  ‘This is him, Job.’  I should have walked out but I had my assignment.  I always tried to be very conscientious in fulfilling any task.  As an orphan it was very necessary that I show that I was competent.  The Barber was more timid but his friend showed that air of expectant hostility as he reached for the phone to dial a number and say:  ‘He’s here.’

     I was looking over the shop and spied a poster over the window.  The poster exhibited men from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force with what were supposed to be representative haircuts of each service.  I studied them for a moment.  As I got into the chair I said:  ‘I’ll have the haircut like the guy in the Navy.’

page 118.

     The barber diddled around while his fellow made some insulting comments that I didn’t like.  Then through the window I saw a new car drive up and park across the street.  This was still 1947; it took a little pull to get a new car.  The guy was a dark haired man who flipped a newspaper in front of him with a sly smile while he stared at me from a face turned a quarter in my direction, not the right way to catch the light.  Something was up and I knew it, but I didn’t know what.

     I asked who the guy in the car was to show that I was hep.  Both men disclaimed knowledge.  I also saw that the barber was butchering my hair.  Tufts stood up all over my head.  I had cowlicks where no one had ever had cowlicks before.  ‘Hey.’  I said.  ‘That’s not like the guy in the Navy.  Look at the picture.’  I asked him to correct the cut before it was too late.  Both men just laughed at me.  I was angry.  When they persisted I got furious.  The barber and his pal got abusive.  Now, I was only a little boy.  I was only nine.  I was baffled by my treatment.  I had never seen grown men treat a little boy like I was being treated.  But what could I do?  Curse them, but so what?

     The barber’s pal gave a nod over at the car and said:  ‘This ought to make him happy.’

     I was yelling at the barber demanding he correct the haircut.

     ‘Aw, shut up you little bastard, you’re lucky you’ve still got hair.  Now, gurrahere.’  He slurred kicking me toward the door.

page 119

     There was nothing for it.  I was outnumbered and outmanned.  I stormed out of the shop to the guffaws of the guy in the car across the street.  Hirsh’s god was watching him as I stormed down the street in high dudgeon.

page 120

9.

      ‘Where did you get that haircut?’  One of the house mohers commented wryly.  I hadn’t been happy about it.  My impotent anger and stormy walk as I disappeared down the street to his unheard chuckles must have pleased Hirsh greatly.  Not as much as the arrival of the new school year.  I was to begin the fourth grade as a caricature of a comic strip buffoon.  Everyone would have a good laugh on me for as long as they liked.  Hirsh, at the time, whether at work or walking down the street  would tilt his head back swallow an involuntary laugh as his face lit up with delight.  He chuckled to himself as he ladled soup in his mouth at dinner while Michael gave him an appreciative smile in return in the midst of chewing and swallowing.

     When I left third grade I was made aware of a distinction that had escaped me.  In the hubbub of entering the Orphanage and Longfellow all my efforts had been directed to keeping my head above water.  Thus I had it explained to me that there were two classrooms for each grade.   A room where the ‘better’ kids attended and a room to which we of the orphanage were relegated along with the lesser of the better.  This would explain some of the hostility directed at me- us- by those of the better who had been condemned to attend with we of the least.

page 121.

     I had been unaware that there were two third grade classrooms.  But as third grade ended one of the Eloy jabbed me in the chest with his finger while explaining viciously that in the fourth grade I would not be in the first class like he but the second which is exactly where I belonged.  I didn’t understand why I had been singled out for such treatment.  It was because I was an uppity nigger.  I should have known my place but I wouldn’t take it.  Well, the charge was inaccurate but I was guilty.

     At that time I convinced myself that I would be assigned to the better classroom.  So I walked down to school, discovered the room and took a seat.  The room was large bright and airy.  It even smelled good.  A row of large windows facing East rose into a high ceiling.

     I sat there with my clown shoes, bizarre clothing and spiky hair drawing the scandalized stares and exclamations of fellow students who looked as dissimilar to me as possible.  I knew at that time that a crime was being committed against me.

     The teacher called roll without mentioning my name.  Looking at me with mild disapproval she asked:  ‘Is there anyone who’s name I didn’t call?’

page 122.

      The Blacks call it slippin’ and slidin’.  Perhaps if I had said nothing and continued to attend for a few days when discovered I might have been able to slip into the class and continue to occupy the extra seat that I was sitting in.  But I raised my hand being unfamiliar with slippin’ and slidin’.  I was ejected from class.  I resisted as stoutly as I ever have; I did not accept the ejection in good grace.  I wanted to be in that class.

     I was half pulled, half led to the other class.  It was in a daylight basement.  Irregularly shaped and in front of the furnace room.  It was dark, close and, while not smelly, it was slightly aromatic.  All my fellows from the Orphanage were lined against the South wall.  They looked up as I was dragged in.  I met the hostile glare of the Eloy condemned to share exile with us.  I was not going to be less uppity in the fourth grade than the third.  I refused to take a seat with the other orphans against the wall but assertively took a seat in front of the small narrow windows.

     Trouble began immediately.  I refused to accept the status accorded me.  The others might accept being white niggers but I wouldn’t.  I was unaware to a large extent of what was actually happening and how my actions were perceived by the Eloy.

     The Beauty, or at least the most desirable girl, of the fourth grade was Susan Webster.  She was the daughter of  one of Beverly Webster- Hirsh’s sisters.  I immediately decided that I would fall in love with her.

page 123.

     ‘You gotta be crazy.  You’re nuts Gresham.  You’re not good enough for her.  You dope.  You live in the Orphanage.  You’re nothing.’

     That was wrong.  I was something.  In some vague way I decided to make a play for her.  She was in the upstairs class.  I waited for her one day to declare my love or some such.  Word leaked out.  As she came down the stairs, they were sort of a grand staircase leading to an atrium area around which were arranged the classrooms, various Webster’s and allied families like the Marshalls bounded down the stairs roughly pushing me away, holding me back, while others surrounded Susan Webster and protectively rushed her past me out of the schoolyard and down the street.

     Many indignant glances were cast my way and cries of ‘You’d better watch your step, Gresham.’  I dismissed the idea.  I didn’t know her and I could see that I wasn’t going to get anywhere.  They, however, did not dismiss my attempt so lightly.  I had given them a grave affront.

     A delegation was organized to go to the Children’s Home to advise them to warn me to keep my place.  I was in my invaluable listening post, the library, when they arrived.  You don’t have to be a man or woman of the world to know that no Hirshes, Websters, or Marshalls were represented in their ranks.  No, these indignant mothers and daughters were of that station beneath the top and just above the bottom of the middle class.  The elite never do their own dirty work; they find others to do it for them.

page 124.

     As is the case on these occasions they were dressed to reflect their quality.  They were wearing better than their Sunday best.  The clothes were Easter Parade quality.  The manners were hoity-toity.  To indicate the distance between themselves and ‘our class’ they affected that peculiar manner of speaking that is thought to express real quality.  Eleanor Roosevelt spoke in that high pitched, roof of the mouth, almost nasal, trilling, thrilling manner.  With her, though it was absurd, it was natural.  With these women it was stilted and affected.

     I listened in astonishment as I quickly realized they were talking about me.  I had really offended them by my presumption in approaching Susan Webster.  They explained to the really astonished clerk the difference between their children and the inmates.  The differences were so great that had we had intercourse no offspring would have been possible.  They didn’t say that exactly but the idea was that we were two different species like cats and rats.  We were inferior.  The other inmates knew their place but I was a problem.  They wanted the clerk to talk to me and make me understand.  The clerk was flabbergasted.  She was somewhat hurt by the comparison, feeling it unjust, and she also knew better than to approach me with such a message.  She said so.  She invited them to tell me themselves.  the ladies and daughters politely declined and left with a threatening:  ‘Well, we can’t be held responsible for whatever happens.’  If not, then, who?

page 125.

10.

     David Hirsh’s actions and attitude toward me had drawn some attention.  Thwarted by my move from Emerson to Longfellow in the third grade he had devised an elaborate plan to obtain submission, actually a surrogate of submission, in the fourth grade.  It was a dangerous plan for him and he should not have attempted it.   It involved far too many people and was far too open.

      Solomon, David’s father, had picked up bits and pieces from chance remarks from David and he had had the plan explained to him by a friend who became aware of it.  Solomon found a moment to talk to this son.

     ‘David, my son, the thing you are doing with this boy, don’t you think that perhaps the situation is getting out of hand.  I know the grief you feel, you have explained it to me, because of what happened to Michael because of this boy.  I agree with you that our family has been wronged.  But what you are proposing now will put our family in jeopardy if it fails, which, forgive me my son, I think it must.’

     ‘I want him to submit to Michaels’ authority father.’

      ‘I know, I know, my son.  But Michael is Michael, he is only himself.  God has made us significant and God had made this boy insignificant.  In the very nature of things he is inferior to our Michael and must submit in fact in not in fancy.  He is an orphan, he must remain an orphan.  The passing of time and the will of the Upper will abase him very low.  Oh, I know that King Arthur, Romulus and Remus and Theseus among others also were waifs and that they succeeded in being mighty but that was in accordance with God’s will because they were noble children who only realized their birthright after many trials.  But these are almost legendary and the goiim lie.  Those things can’t happen in this modern age. The boy is doomed to failure.  God has willed it.  Let God deal with him.’

     ‘But, he publicly humiliated our Michael, your grandson, father, he has to be publicly humiliated himself.  He must accept Michael as his superior.’

     ‘Listen, David, my son, please listen to your old father.  The Lord of the World, Our God, the God of Vengeance, has said ‘Vengeance is mine.’  He has selected us to prosper and he has blighted this boy’s life.  God is wiser than all of us.  He is all knowing.  We have only to submit to his His will and accept It.  Please leave justice in God’s hands, my son.  Hear me this one time.’

page 127.

     David hesitated, looked left at the floor and right at the ceiling.  Filial devotion contended with his shattered pride in his breast.  He looked at his father and said:  ‘I will see if there isn’t some other solution first.  But, if he rejects it, then…’

     ‘I know that you will do what is best, my son.’  Solomon said bowing slightly to David.

     According to my mind the Eternal was a weak reed to lean on.  Interpreted in their light, the Lord was about to avert his countenance because they had failed to observe his Law.

     David felt he must honor his father’s request even though he understood nothing of his argument.  He really wanted a public humiliation that I would acknowledge.  He sat and thought.  He thought and he came up with what he thought was an acceptable compromise.  Unfortunately the script was not given to me to learn my part.   The answer was as clear to David as anything had ever been.  It was a beautiful vision.  While not a fully public humiliation it would involve himself and Michael and the six Eloy boys while the Eloy girls could observe from windows.  David thought it might be acceptable.

     Actually he had a sneaking admiration for my resistance.  What he thought was a failure of his plan in the second grade impressed him with my fortitude.  In deference to Solomon he thought that after I had submitted to himself and Michael I might even be adopted as a sort of an auxiliary or mascot.  After the plan succeeded.

     David had a fair grasp of the Bible.  He had learned it all at Fortress of God but it did embrace both Testaments.  A singular attainment for a Jew.  He had also understood the text without the fantastic interpretations placed on it by the Protestants.

page 129.

     As David looked out his window on the corner of Kishinev and Hephep he spied the pump across the street mid-block on Kishinev.

      In those days in the Valley, tap water was considered too impure to drink.  It was used only for cooking and bathing.  Drinking water was obtained in buckets from pumps; the upright kind with the handle that moves the plunger up and down to draw water.  Many people had private pumps on their property.  For those who didn’t public pumps were placed in various locations beside the street.

     David Hirsh looked out at this pump.  As he looked a passage from the New Testament of John forced its way into his consciousness.  It was a popular text of the time amongst preachers.  He got out Beverly’s Bible and said: ‘Let’s see, John…here it is, Chapter 4.’ He read:

5.  Then cometh He to a city in Samaria which is called Sychar near to a parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6.  Now Jacob’s well was there.  Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey sat thus on the well; and it was about the sixth hour.

7.  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water.  Jesus saith unto her:  Give me to drink.

page 129.

8.  (For his deciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

9.  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him; How is it that thou being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria for the Jews have no dealings with the Samarians.

10.  Jesus answered and said unto her; if thou knowest the gift of God and who it is saith to thee;  Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him and he would have given thee ‘living’ water.

11.  The woman saith unto him; Sir, thou hast nothing to draw water and the well is deep; from whence then hast thou that ‘living’ water?

12.  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself and his children and cattle?

13.  Jesus answered and said unto her, Whomsoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.

14.  But, whomsoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

15.  The woman saith unto Him; Sir, give me this water that I thirst not neither come here to draw.

      The story meshed in David Hirsh’s mind with his desires.  He cast me in the role of the Samarian woman; the six Eloy boys and the six Eloy girls as Jesus’ disciples with himself in the role of Jesus.  If I recognized to whom I spake and made proper obeisance he would extend the ‘living’ water of forgiveness to me whereby I would never thirst again in the sense that he and the Eloy would cease to torment me and even accord to a ‘Samarian’ a sense of dignity by adopting me into their group as a mascot.  Nor, in the social sense of both school and orphanage was such a role to be necessarily despised.  There were many others, both orphans and parented kids, who would have accepted the role with alacrity and pride.

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      As David conned the idea in three dimensional relief in his mind it seemed perfect.  He had written out all the parts down to my responses.  It would not have been necessary for me to say anything.  He mused on it with relish for more than an hour projecting the scenario over and over.  It seemed perfect.  There was the added fillup that as a Samarian or Canaanite I would be fulfilling the Biblical prophecy that the Canaanites should be hewers of wood and carriers of water for the Israelites.  Hirsh’s mind was actually dazzled by the brilliance of the scheme.

     Solomon had spoken wisely to David but David would not hear.  His Biblical precepts had had no effect on him and he had none of classical education.  He was now allowing his primal unfettered, uninstructed desires to impel him on a course that would contribute nothing to his welfare.  Millennia of experience and education lay fallow.  Man is by nature a savage beast.  Hirsh was acting the natural man.  After who knows how many millennia of unrestrained bestiality man began to find ways, or proximity to other men compelled him to find ways, to curb his unrestrained inclinations.  As the state gained power laws were passed and enforced to restrain those passions and bring order into affairs.  On the intellectual level two avenues of attack were attempted.  On the  one hand the authors of the Bible attempted to restrain base impulses by creating a God who created order and to impose that order ordained habits that one must observe.  The observance of these habits or rules took up the whole of man’s days and life.  Thus the authors of the Bible encased man in a concrete straight jacket, a superstructure to compel him to abandon his bestial instincts, an attempt to replace the individual’s will with ‘God’s’ will.  There is always an astonishing naivete in Biblical prescriptions.  There are many who assert, even in this day and age, that God wrote the Bible.  When He did He failed to note that he had created a round world revolving around the sun.  This was a cardinal error that astonishes one.  For in a round world with a crust over a molten core the weight of the crust pressing inward caused the crust to fracture into what later pundits, perhaps not so familiar with the will of God, have called tectonic plates.  As the world turns the tectonic plates move.  As in the North Pacific plate it creeps North and West at a steady rate.  Thus the Hawaiian Islands are strung out West and North of the permanent hot spot from which magma constantly bubbles up from the core.

page 131.

     Human nature may be compared to the tectonic plates which God failed to recognize when, according to some, he prescribed the six hundred thirteen rules of conduct that all men should, or will someday, observe when his Law is established on earth by his Chosen People.  Thus while the super structure is built up to direct men’s desires into non-destructive paths, man’s nature like the tectonic plates continues to creep along hurling the superstruction to the ground from time to time.  Man’s will cannot be so encased, to believe so is to embrace a false premise.  Plucking among the wreckage of the attempt a fellow discovered psychology.  Hirst was at this moment failing his God.

page 132.

     Hirsh knew nothing of the other attempt to control one’s nature that might be contained in the prescription:  Know Thyself.  Certain other thinkers realized that human nature could not be contained but must be altered at the tectonic level.  Thus they did not impose a created order on things but said that all was ever in the process of becoming.   That’s the difference between religion and science.

     They said:  Know thyself.  Understand your nature and adjust it to your needs.  Apply reason and intelligence to altering your behavior to produce more desirable results.  Restrain and direct your impulses along productive paths.  David Hirsh, had he been aware of such an approach, like most of mankind, would have rejected it as interfering with his real self.  He, as nearly all, would rather court disaster and blame the stars than become disciplined.

     Reflecting the American portion of his education David Hirsh dearly loved a turkey shoot.  I would be defenseless; entirely at his mercy.  Like the Indians at Sand Creek, Thatcher’s Pass and Wounded Knee he would to the equivalent of striking at dawn while the enemy was asleep in his teepee.

     The only crime the Indians had committed was being in America first.  My crime was rather like the coal miners at Holly Grove who had refused their services to the mine owners.  They went out on strike.  As a result they had been compelled to vacate their company housing and had removed to a tent city.  As they peacefully slept of a morning an armored train pulled slowly up the tracks and stopped before their tents.  Volley after volley of machine gun fire was poured into the sleeping miners.  Indians at Wounded Knee, White miners at Holly Grove.

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     But perhaps I am being too hard on American mores.  Perhaps they are the universal mores of the common man.  Perhaps the common man dearly loves a defenseless victim.  The Nazis, who were as common as you can get, dearly loved to beat a bound victim.  The favorite execution of the Communists who vied with the Nazis for the expression of basal instincts was a pistol shot in the back of the head of a bound kneeling victim.  Also a favorite of the criminals of the lower East Side.

     So as Hirsh set his plans in motion it was with the elation of perfect concealment.  I would be the victim but I would never know what happened.  Yet, somehow, we always destroy ourselves.

     As the maples turned red and the leaves took on their varied hues Mildred called me into the kitchen one day.

     ‘How’d you like to make yourself useful for a change, Far?’  She said sweetly leaning forward to my level and giving me a hint of what grown men so desire.  I gasped.  They were lovely, even if I had only the vaguest notion of such desires.

     She touched my vanity.  I did want to be useful.  I wanted to do anything that would make me feel worthwhile and build my self-esteem.

     ‘Sure.’  I said enthusiastically.  ‘What do you want me to do?’

page 134.

     ‘Far, I want you to take these two buckets and go to the well on Kishinev Street and fill them for me.’

     I was taken back on a couple of accounts.

     ‘Well, what’s wrong with the pump over there that you always use?’  I said pointing to the pump that was sunk through the counter into the aquifer.

     ‘That’s broken.’  She lied.

     My next response was:  ‘Kishinev St?  That’s a long way away.’

     Then I  thought I would show how really useful I could be.  ‘You know, Milly.’  I said as manfully as possible, I was remembering those wonderful breasts.  ‘There’s a pump only three blocks away.  I could use that one, it’ll be closer and faster.’

     ‘No, Farley, honey.  I want you to use the well on Kishinev St.’

     ‘But Milly, that’s a long way away and the buckets of water are heavy and I’m not very big.’

     ‘Do you want to be useful or not, Farley.’  It doesn’t take much to steal candy from a baby.  Of course I wanted to be useful.

     She handed me a couple two and half  gallon buckets and I set off for Kishinev St.  I made a jog and found Hephep St. which ran East-West.  Kishinev ran North-South.  The day was one of those beautiful days of early Indian Summers.   Fluffy white clouds glided across a cerulean sky.  The air was clear and becoming crisp as it was about four o’clock.  I strode along with my buckets happy to make my contribution to the happiness of the Home if not mankind.

p. 135.

      Hephep took a little dogleg at Kishinev so that David Hirsh’s house faced squarely down Hephep giving him a clear view for several blocks.  The streets of the Valley were lined with old giant trees in those days before it became Little Lagos.  Block on block the huge trees rose from the ground every thirty feet or so, to merge their canopy of leaves and branches with their neighbors while arching across the street to shake hands with their opposites.  In the summer the verdant cover was beautiful, in the fall gorgeous, as the flaming leaves fell and space opened in the boughs for the light to shine through.  As Hirsh looked anxiously out his window he thought he spied a form appearing alternately among the trunks of the trees.  There was always a chance, in Hirsh’s mind, that I would ‘cheat’ and use a closer well.  I was a good boy; I was too good.  I passed up the closer well taking the long walk to Kishinev.  Hirsh watched a while then smiled to himself when he knew it was me.  He watched my little nine year old form as it got closer.  He smiled broadly, reached up and tweaked his nose and said softly:  ‘Isn’t God good to me.’

     He slipped out the back door into the alley and came out mid-block to avoid being noticed by me.  As I turned the corner on Kishinev I saw a tall dark man standing by the well.  I should at least have recognized his face for I had seen him from the lid of the garbage bin and across the street from the barber shop.  But a strange thing had  happened to my mind when I died on the playground in the second grade.  All the others died with me.  I could  not remember them.  I shut the unpleasantness associated with them out of my consciousness.  I could only recognize those with whom I was compelled to come into daily contact.  I remembered but few names from the past and not many faces.  People like Hirsh passed through my life like ghosts.  They might seem vaguely familiar after I encountered them but I was never aware of how I might have known them.  The trait would frustrate and anger the Eloy as our paths later crossed.  They remembered me very well and by rights I should have known them.  But I didn’t.  I ignored them and they attributed it to willful arrogance.

page 136.

     The form was vaguely familiar, enough so to make me vaguely apprehensive.  David Hirsh was now twenty-nine.  For some reason he was beginning to walk with a faint stoop.  His hair was still dark and his hairline was intact.  Much of the handsomeness of his youth was leaving him.  He was one of those who seem to grow thinner as time passes.  The fat that lies under the skin of the face was beginning to evaporate.  The skin of his forehead was beginning to grow taut and assume a parchment like quality.  the angularities of his face were becoming apparent as the flesh evaporated.  His former fine straight nose had developed a bump just below eye level.  Not to the effect of a Roman Nose but a disfiguring hump.  His nose was becoming more prominent as the flesh disappeared from the side bases.  His bitter temperament was rising to the surface and was beginning to be displayed about his eyes and mouth.

     I eyed him apprehensively as I separated my buckets to place one under the spout.  It seemed odd that a grown man would be hanging around an obscure pump on a side street.

page 137.

     Hirsh had memorized, or nearly memorized John 4.  He had been reciting it to himself while waiting for me.  He was nearly beside himself with the success of his plan.  Here I was delivered, as it were, at his feet.

     He was behaving oddly.  Actually he had made me look as he felt.  He had always felt uncomfortable and an outsider because he was Jewish.  He had always felt he had to demonstrate his power.  When that power was frustrated as it had been by my mother, father and myself, he turned the failure back in upon himself and derided himself.  He felt like a clown.  Thus he had made me clownish as vengeance for having made him feel clownish.  I looked as he felt, but tried to feel as he looked when among his equals.  There was a strange reversal of roles present.

     Hirsh had a handkerchief in his hand which he held before his breast twisting it like a woman in anguish.  He writhed before me now placing one foot behind him on tiptoe now the the other.  He spoke to me in a strange falsetto as though he were the woman at the well and I was the Christ.  He was totally unaware of his actions and their effect on me.

     ‘Give me a drink of water little water boy.’  He trilled at me in that strange falsetto.

     I looked at him like he was crazy.  As he became feminine I adopted an exaggerated manliness beyond my  years.

     ‘Don’t you live around here, mister?’  I asked.

     ‘Yes.’  He cooed in that falsetto.  ‘But I want you to give me a drink.’

page 138.

     I looked at him in amazement.  What he was he going to do, drink from the bucket?

     ‘There’s the spout.’  I volunteered generously.  ‘I’ll pump it for you.’

     ‘But I don’t have a cup, how shall I drink?’  He trilled.

     ‘Well, cup your hand like we all do and suck it up into your mouth.’

     ‘Oh gracious, I couldn’t do that.’  He said in that high voice.

     ‘Well, look mister.  I got a long walk ahead of me, so I’ve got to fill my buckets.’

     I levered the handle up and down as the water splashed into the bucket.  He stood there twisting and gyrating.  I kept him apprehensively in the corner of my eye.

     I filled the buckets all the way.  When I left the ninth grade I was five feet even and ninety-eight pounds.  I don’t know how big I was but I couldn’t have been over four feet or eighty pounds.  When I hoisted  the buckets they weren’t more than an inch or two off the ground and they must have weighed, at least they felt like it, as much as I did.  You can see how diabolically clever Hirsh was.

     I was surprised by the weight and for the first time realized the magnitude of being useful.  It was going to be a long eight blocks back.  I not only had to lift up but hold the buckets away from my body.  The circumference of the rim was fourteen or sixteen inches so I had to raise up and push out, it was impossible to push the full buckets far enough away so that they wouldn’t bump against my legs and spill all over me.  Then too, the wire handles cut into my fingers and nearly ripped my knuckles apart.  Hirsh turned away and bit his knuckle to suppress his laughter.

page 139.

     I blew out my breath and set the buckets down while I mentally reevaluated my task.  I realized that an evil man stood before me as Hirsh suppressing a chuckle but unable to suppress his glee at my discomfiture said, his voice quivering with malicious laughter:

     ‘Say, that’s a mighty big job for a little man like you’  His voice had returned to his normal range.

     ‘I can handle it.’  I said in my most manly voice attempting to ignore him.

     His face took on a subdued vicious cast as he made an offer to alieviate my suffering:  ‘You know, those handles are likely to cut into your fingers.  You should have a couple rags so it won’t hurt so much.’

     Like a cat with his foot in a trap I knew that I was being ridiculed but like the cat I didn’t know what to do about it.  The cat will sit down and unconcernedly groom himslef hoping that the trap will be gone when next he tries to walk away.  My mind churned.  I had no idea who the guy was or what he wanted of me.

     My brow clouded and my voice lowered as I said: ‘Yeah, mister, I’ve done this before.  The rags only get in your way and they pack down after a few steps and hurt just as much.  So, if you’ll pardon me, I’ve got a job to do.’

page 140.

     Hirsh stepped in front of me to prevent my leaving.

     ‘Oh, so you’re experienced at this are you my little man?’   His voice began in its normal range and ended in that falsetto coo.

     ‘Well, then, little boy, you should know about those little wooden handles that knowledgeable people like myself have on their bucket handles to protect their hands.  I’m surprised a knowledgeable little fellow like you didn’t think of that beforehand.’  He said in a spiteful tone.

     He was too obvious.  My brows hooded my deep set eyes as I realized I was being made sport of.

     ‘You should ask for those handles when you get back to the orphanage.’

     He had made a mistake in referring to the orphanage but my distres at the magnitude of my task prompted by Hirsh’s needling prevented my from responding.  His egoism prevented his noticing.

     Unaware that I was talking to a man with ‘living’ water to offer me I found him just a man with too much water for his land.  I was failing Hirsh’s test.

     ‘Yeah, that’s a good suggestion.  I’ll ask for them when I get back to the Home.’  I said unconsciously acknowledging his slip.  ‘But now I’ve got work to do.  I have to get going before it gets dark.’

     My eyes bulged as I hoisted the buckets and pushed them as far away from my body as possible.  After I had taken only a couple steps the water had splashed over the rims dowsing my pants and running into my shoes.’

page 141.

     Hirsh shook with laughter as he said with controlled viciousness:  ‘For an experienced little fellow you’ve really overfilled your buckets.  I would think an old hand like you would have known better.’

     I didn’t know who he was or what he was doing, rather than dealing with Jesus I thought I was dealing with Satan.  I wanted to be away from him.  I gratified his ego by showing my exasperation.  ‘Look mister, I know what I’m doing.  Why don’t you mind your own business.’

      David Hirsh flipped his finger at me as though to say:  ‘Bing.’  and then turned laughing that falsetto laugh, flipping his forearms up over his shoulders like a girl, he skipped down the street saying something I couldn’t comprehend at the time.  It was the twenty-second verse of John 5:  ‘Ye worship ye know not what:  we know what we worship for salvation is with the Jews.’

     Four thousand years of history went down the tubes because today there is no salvation.  The Truth for David Hirsh was lurking in the not too distant future.

     My buckets were nearly half-empty by the time I turned the corner of Hephep.  I trudged manfully back to the home to deliver my burden to Mildred.  Hirsh had called ahead already.’    

     ‘I’ll need two more tomorrow, Farley, OK?’

     ‘Sure, Milly, but say, here’s an idea.  How about getting me a couple of those wooden handles so my hands won’t hurt so much.  My fingers feel like they’re going to fall off.’ 

     I had swallowed my pride and acted on Hirsh’s suggestion.  I should have thought of it myself.

page 142.

     ‘No, Sorry, Far, but those are all we have.  You’ll have to use them.  You’re a big boy aren’t you?’

     I swallowed some more pride and decided to try rags; my hands were killing me.

     The next afternoon I set out with my buckets and rags for the well on Kishinev St.  I turned the corner of Hephep half expecting to find the old weirdo, but I was relieved to see he wasn’t there.  Like any practiced thief who, suspected of shoplifting, seeks concealment by entering the shop next door, David Hirsh and his son Michael were standing before their bay window to watch the fun.

      I had spilled half the water on the way back the previous day, so after a debate over whether to fill the buckets half or three quarters of the way I decided to pit my strength and skill against three quarters.  As I rounded the corner of Hephep I found the six Eloy boys ranged in a gauntlet, three on each side of the sidewalk.  The American male dearly loves the turkey shoot.  Just as the coal operators had machine gunned the sleeping strikers, so I now, with both arms occupied,  was to be ‘machine gunned’ by the Eloy.  David and Michael Hirsh viewing the scene through their window began to laugh uproariously and hysterially at my predicament set up by their cleverness.  They exchanged gleeful glances because they were so clever that I didn’t even know what was happening.

     Our social differences had been deeply accentuated by my encounter with Hirsh the previous day.  In the story the Jews despised the Samarian.  As a Samarian I was untouchable to the Eloy; thus, while they meant to torment me, they had no intention of hitting me as that would involve a personal contact beneath their dignity.

page 143.

     They ran up to me in a very threatening manner but then kicked the bucket.  The rags were already scrunched  and in the way.  The kicks aggravated the pain in my fingers.  The Eloy shouted out comments like:  ‘Come on Gresham, admit it, you’re a jerk.  Or, say it Gresham, you’re not as good as we are.’  Or, ‘Yah, Gresham, you deserve it, admit it.’ Or, ‘Give it up Gresham and we’ll stop.’

     I attempted to ignore them while returning epithets.  It was their intention to gain my submission.  It was my intention only to maintain my dignity.  I was of the Orphanage, they weren’t.  We had nothing in common.  I had done nothing to them that I was aware of.  I didn’t understand their attention, other than that they always tormented me.

     At one point I set my buckets down to chase them.  As I did so my arms shot up over my head because of the countervailing tension on my muscles from holding out the buckets.  I had to exercise them to gain control of them.  They only laughed at me and retreated beyond my reach, while a couple of them ran up to my buckets and tried to kick them over.

     David and Michael Hirsh watching from their window were in stitches.

     I was aware of the shrieks and gales of laughter but I was too preoccupied to pay attention.  The shrieks and gales were coming from a couple of houses on Hephep that contained the Eloy girls.  While David and Michael Hirsh watched from the end of the street the girls watched from the side of Hephep.

page 144

     The gauntlet continued nearly to the end of the block when the Eloy boys gave up.  With the exchange of a flurry of insults they left me with my buckets and my sense of duty.

      For this incident was almost as vital to me as the scene in the second grade.  I had undertaken the task solely because it made me feel useful.  The task redeemed my sense of self-worth.  It gave significance to my being.  It made me feel significant in my own eyes.  Hirsh was making me feel like a fool.  He was negating my sense of redemption.  He was a cruel and criminal man.  Once again he was not aware of the extent to which he was succeeding.  My self-respect had been crushed in the second grade and now my self-esteem was severely impaired.  Whereas I assumed an aura of guilt in the former instance I now imbibed a spirit of sycophancy toward authority.  I would become aware of this and to offset the characteristic I was forced to be at the same time disdainful.  The combination produced an unusual affect and distaste toward myself.

     At the same time a peculiar reversal of attitudes had taken place in my mind.  I had reversed the roles.  I became a martyr.  I had subconsciously registered Hirsh’s retreating remark of the previous day:  ‘Ye worship ye know not what:  we know what we worship for salvation lies with the Jews.’ and assumed the role of the Jews while relegating Hirsh and the Eloy to the roles of Samarians.  My personality would now become thoroughly confusing to others and a twisted, contorted burden to myself.  Layer and layer of distraction was being added to my burden.

page 145.

     I gave Mildred the result of my effort.  She informed me that the water would be needed the next day.  I reluctantly agreed to do it.

     The weather had been gorgeous the previous two days.  As I turned the corner into Kishinev Street, this day was no exception.  I had a vague notion of being put upon by Mildred; I certainly did not associate the dark man and the Eloy with Midred’s request, that would all come together later, but I couldn’t understand what made the Kishinev well better than the well that was only three blocks away.  I thought that Mildred was a mean woman.

     There was no Hirsh at the well and no Eloy as I turned the corner of Hephep.  There was only a brilliant blue sky full of little fluffy daubs of clouds and the colorful autumn leaves gracefully gliding from the emerging black branches of the giant trees.  The autumn leaves drifted past windows of the silent houses.  David and Michael Hirsh and the Eloy watched silently from their posts, the Hirshes from Kishinev St and the Eloy from the houses on Hephep.  They were silently condemning me.  David Hirsh now thought he had to take the step against which his father, Solomon, had advised him.

     Their faces were grim as they watched me waddle down the street carrying my burden amidst the falling leaves.  Had a photographer been posted across the street on a porch roof he could have taken a charming picture.  As I walked in my oversized shoes and waif like clothing with my spiky hair and who knows what expression on my face a red leaf floated into the middle of my right hand bucket.  Unlike the previous day the scene was silent and placid.  As I sat my buckets down to remove the leaf  had the photographer clicked his camera a post card might have been made of the picture which would have elicited the oohs and aahs of lovely ladies in shops as they viewed it.  They would never have known the truth of the little White pickaninny nor would they have cared to hear it had someone explained the picture to them.

     The leaf fell in the water as this incident dropped into my soul.  Would that it had been as easy to pluck the incident from my soul as it was to pick the leaf off the water.

     I dropped the buckets before Mildred and turned and walked away.  She was a dead woman to me.  I never acknowledged her again.  She had ceased to exist for me.

page 147.

     I returned to my post in the library as the events of the previous three days entered my mind.  My mind began to react to them as the lesson I drew from them permeated and directed my subconscious.

     I stood brooding, hands in pockets, in the doorway of the library when the front door opened and a man who was attempting to suppress the self importance he felt into an urbane manner that implied impartiality entered.  He was a man elevated to a role beyond his hopes and mental preparation who nevertheless admired the relaxed air of aristocracy and attempted to assume it in the execution of his duties.  His attempt at manners clashed with the commonness of his physiognomy and attire.

      He introduced himself to the clerks as Councilman Adamski.  He had made an appointment to inspect the premises.  As with all government agencies he said that there was nothing wrong with it just time for a periodical visit.  He had enough sense to not say annual, as he hadn’t been there for over a year.  Actually the truth was Darwen’s accomplice in the kitchen stores had been noted by neighbors and caused suspicion.

     Darwen was not as vulnerable as it might appear nor was Councilman Adamski’s anonymous information well founded.

     The entire machinery of the home promptly took action to conceal the shortages.  They were very charming in hopes of sidetracking Councilman Adamski by personal suasion; for they were all guilty in lesser degrees than Warden.  Mrs. Miller with her contempt for men was the only honest one among them.  The rest, without exception, had furbished their children with donated clothing.  They had all taken foodstores for their personal use.  They were a furacious lot.  Thus, now it was in all their interests to direct Councilman Adamski’s attention elsewhere.

     Ever curious and and ready for excitement, I joined the party and followed them on their tour.  Everything was charmingly explained.  In truth the Home was well administered.  The rooms and floors were clean, everything was in good repair.  Darwen was a good handyman and conscientous in the performance of those duties.  Then we came to the room where the paper press and bales of paper were stored.  The clerk passed it off as merely a storage room, but I, acting intuitively flung the door open to expose the press and bales of paper.  Councilman Adamski looked at them.  he was somewhat perplexed.

page 148.

          ‘What’s this?’  He demanded.

      His Orphanage conducters were mumbling some explanation.  I thought that they might not know.  Well, I did know.  I didn’t care about Darwen’s misappropriation of stores;  had I known I would have resented, but accepted his theft of the clothing.  I did care about the Flying Horse Of Oz that he had taken out of my hands; I did care about the miserable time Cappy got the chocolate with the nickel in it.

     You can do some of the people some of the time but you should never try to do all of the people all of the time.  I shot my arrow into the air.

     I piped up stringing my words carefully together;  ‘Mr. Darwen used us kids to collect the papers so he could sell them for money.’

      The key point was not money as I thought it would be.

     ‘What do you mean ‘used us kids?”  The Councilman queried.

     Somewhat baffled by his question I replied: ‘He used us all to go around the neighborhoods and collect the papers.’

     ‘He did, did he?’  The Councilman chuckled, relieved by the reasonableness of my answer.  ‘Well, little fellow, how much did he pay you?’

     ‘Little fellow’ was insulted by the use of the term and replied petulantly that Darwen hadn’t paid us anything.

     Councilman Adamski misunderstood the reason for my petulance but my manner gave him cause to reflect.

     ‘He didn’t pay you anything?  Do you mean that he took your labor and kept all the profit for himself?’

page 149.

      That wasn’t what I meant but it sounded good to me so I decided to run with it.  ‘Yes, sir.’   I don’t know what flight Councilman Adamski had gotten off but it was clear to him that Darwen had been using us as slave labor.  I hadn’t thought of it quite that way but I had little trouble in agreeing with him.

     ‘One impropriety leads to another…’  Councilman Adamski sagely thought out loud.  Had Mrs. Miller been there she would have bellowed out:  ‘All men are liars, cheats, sneaks and thieves.’  Thus the investigation of Jack Darwen’s administration was begun.  The only thing evident or sufficient for  censure were the missing provisions.  The investigation began continuted on through the autumn.

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