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NEWSREEL XXX 9 страница




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and the smell of burning leaves and the grayfaced
Bourbon houses crumbling into red wine twilight

 

at the Hotel of the Seven Sisters after you were in
bed late at night you suddenly woke up and there was a
secretserviceagent going through your bag

 

and he frowned over your passport and peeped in
your books and said Monsieur c'est la petite visite

 


FIGHTING BOB

 

La Follette was born in the town limits of Prim-
rose; he worked on a farm in Dane County, Wis-
consin, until he was nineteen.

 

At the university of Wisconsin he worked his way
through. He wanted to be an actor, studied elocution
and Robert Ingersoll and Shakespeare and Burke;
(who will ever explain the influence of Shake-
speare in the last century, Marc Antony over Caesar's
bier, Othello to the Venetian Senate and Polonius,
everywhere Polonius?)

 

riding home in a buggy after commencement he
was Booth and Wilkes writing the Junius papers and
Daniel Webster and Ingersoll defying God and the
togaed great grave and incorruptible as statues mag-
nificently spouting through the capitoline centuries;

 

he was the star debater in his class,

 

-365-

 

and won an interstate debate with an oration on
the character of Iago.

 

He went to work in a law office and ran for dis-
trict attorney. His schoolfriends canvassed the county
riding round evenings. He bucked the machine and
won the election.

 

It was the revolt of the young man against the
state republican machine

 

and Boss Keyes the postmaster in Madison who
ran the county was so surprised he about fell out of his
chair.

 

That gave La Follette a salary to marry on. He
was twentyfive years old.

 

Four years later he ran for congress; the univer-
sity was with him again; he was the youngsters' candi-
date. When he was elected he was the youngest rep-
resentative in the house

 

He was introduced round Washington by Philetus
Sawyer the Wisconsin lumber king who was used to
stacking and selling politicians the way he stacked and
sold cordwood.

 

He was a Republican and he'd bucked the ma-
chine. Now they thought they had him. No man
could stay honest in Washington.



 

Booth played Shakespeare in Baltimore that win-
ter. Booth never would go to Washington on account
of the bitter memory of his brother. Bob La Follette
and his wife went to every performance.

 

In the parlor of the Plankinton Hotel in Mil-
waukee during the state fair, Boss Sawyer the lumber
king tried to bribe him to influence his brother-in-law

 

-366-

 

who was presiding judge over the prosecution of the
Republican state treasurer;

 

Bob La Follette walked out of the hotel in a white
rage. From that time it was war without quarter with
the Republican machine in Wisconsin until he was
elected governor and wrecked the Republican machine;
this was the tenyears war that left Wisconsin the
model state where the voters, orderloving Germans
and Finns, Scandinavians fond of their own opinion,
learned to use the new leverage, direct primaries, ref-
erendum and recall.

 

La Follette taxed the railroads

 

John C. Payne said to a group of politicians in the
lobby of the Ebbitt House in Washington "La Fol-
lette's a damn fool if he thinks he can buck a railroad
with five thousand miles of continuous track, he'll find
he's mistaken . . . We'll take care of him when the
time comes."



 

But when the time came the farmers of Wisconsin
and the young lawyers and doctors and businessmen
just out of school

 

took care of him
and elected him governor three times
and then to the United States Senate,

 

where he worked all his life making long
speeches full of statistics, struggling to save democratic
government, to make a farmers' and small business-
men's commonwealth, lonely with his back to the wall,
fighting corruption and big business and high finance

 

-367-

 

and trusts and combinations of combinations and the
miasmic lethargy of Washington.

 

He was one of "the little group of wilful men
expressing no opinion but their own"

 

who stood out against Woodrow Wilson's armed
ship bill that made war with Germany certain; they
called it a filibuster but it was six men with nerve
straining to hold back a crazy steamroller with their
bare hands;

 

the press pumped hatred into its readers against
La Follette,

 

the traitor,
they burned him in effigy in Illinoisi
in Wheeling they refused to let him speak.

 

In nineteen twentyfour La Follette ran for presi-
dent and without money or political machine rolled up
four and a half million votes

 

but he was a sick man, incessant work and the
breathed out air of committee rooms and legislative
chambers choked him

 

and the dirty smell of politicians,

 

and he died,

 

an orator haranguing from the capitol of a lost
republic;

 

but we will remember

 

how he sat firm in March nineteen seventeen
while Woodrow Wilson was being inaugurated for the
second time, and for three days held the vast machine
at deadlock. They wouldn't let him speak; the gal-
leries glared hatred at him; the senate was a lynching
party,

 

a stumpy man with a lined face, one leg stuck out

 

-368-

 

in the aisle and his arms folded and a chewed cigar
in the corner of his mouth

 

and an undelivered speech on his desk,

 

a wilful man expressing no opinion but his own.

 


CHARLEY ANDERSON

 

Charley Anderson's mother kept a railroad boarding-
house near the Northern Pacific station at Fargo, N. D.
It was a gabled frame house with porches all round,
painted mustard yellow with chocolatebrown trim and
out back there was always washing hanging out on
sagging lines that ran from a pole near the kitchen door
to a row of brokendown chickenhouses. Mrs. Anderson
was a quietspoken grayhaired woman with glasses; the
boarders were afraid of her and did their complaining
about the beds, or the food, or that the eggs weren't fresh
to waddling bigarmed Lizzie Green from the north of
Ireland who was the help and cooked and did all the
housework. When any of the boys came home drunk it
was Lizzie with a threadbare man's overcoat pulled over
her nightgown who came out to make them shut up. One
of the brakemen tried to get fresh with Lizzie one night
and got such a sock in the jaw that he fell clear off the
front porch. It was Lizzie who washed and scrubbed
Charley when he was little, who made him get to school
on time and put arnica on his knees when he skinned them
and soft soap on his chilblains and mended the rents in
his clothes. Mrs. Anderson had already raised three chil-
dren who had grown up and left home before Charley
came, so that she couldn't seem to keep her mind on
Charley. Mr. Anderson had also left home about the time
Charley was born; he'd had to go West on account of his

 

-369-

 

weak lungs, couldn't stand the hard winters, was how Mrs.
Anderson put it. Mrs. Anderson kept the accounts, pre-
served or canned strawberries, peas, peaches, beans, to-
matoes, pears, plums, applesauce as each season came
round, made Charley read a chapter of the Bible every
day and did a lot of churchwork.

 

Charley was a chunky little boy with untidy towhair
and gray eyes. He was a pet with the boarders and liked
things allright except Sundays when he'd have to go to
church twice and to sundayschool and then right after
dinner his mother would read him her favorite sections of
Matthew or Esther or Ruth and ask him questions about
the chapters he'd been assigned for the week. This lesson
took place at a table with a red tablecloth next to a window
that Mrs. Anderson kept banked with pots of patience-
plant, wandering jew, begonias and ferns summer and
winter. Charley would have pins and needles in his legs
and the big dinner he'd eaten would have made him
drowsy and he was terribly afraid of committing the sin
against the holy ghost which his mother hinted was in-
attention in church or in sundayschool or when she was
reading him the Bible. Winters the kitchen was absolutely
quiet except for the faint roaring of the stove or Lizzie's
heavy step or puffing breath as she stacked the dinner-
dishes she'd just washed back in the cupboard. Summers
it was much worse. The other kids would have told him
about going swimming down in the Red River or fishing
or playing follow my leader in the lumberyard or on the
coalbunkers back of the roundhouse and the caught flies
would buzz thinly in the festooned tapes of flypaper and
he'd hear the yardengine shunting freightcars or the
through train for Winnipeg whistling for the station and
the bell clanging, and he'd feel sticky and itchy in his
stiff collar and he'd keep looking up at the loudticking
porcelain clock on the wall. It made the time go too slowly
to look up at the clock often, so he wouldn't let himself

 

-370-

 

look until he thought fifteen minutes had gone by, but
when he looked again it'd only be five minutes and he'd
feel desperate. Maybe it'd be better to commit the sin
against the holy ghost right there and be damned good
and proper once and for all and run away with a tramp
the way Dolphy Olsen did, but he didn't have the nerve.

 

By the time he was ready for highschool he began to
find funny things in the Bible, things like the kids talked
about when they got tired playing toad in the hole in
the deep weeds back of the lumberyard fence, the part
about Onan and the Levite and his concubine and the
Song of Solomon, it made him feel funny and made his.
heart pound when he read it, like listening to scraps of
talk among the railroad men in the boardinghouse, and
he knew what hookers were and what was happening when
women got so fat in front and it worried him and he was
careful when he talked to his mother not to let her know
he knew about things like that.

 

Charley's brother Jim had married the daughter of a
liverystable owner in Minneapolis. The spring Charley
was getting ready to graduate from the eighth grade they
came to visit Mrs. Anderson. Jim smoked cigars right in
the house and jollied his mother and while he was there
there was no talk of biblereading. Jim took Charley fish-
ing one Sunday up the Sheyenne and told him that if
he came down to the Twin Cities when school was over
he'd give him a job helping round the garage he was
starting up in part of his fatherinlaw's liverystable. It
sounded good when he told the other guys in school that
he had a job in the city for the summer. He was glad to
get out as his sister Esther had just come back from taking
a course in nursing and nagged him all the time about
talking slang and not keeping his clothes neat and eating
too much pie.

 

He felt fine the morning he went over to Moorhead
all alone, carrying a suitcase Esther had lent him, to take

 

-371-

 

the train for the Twin Cities. At the station he tried to
buy a package of cigarettes but the man at the newsstand
kidded him and said he was too young. When he started
it was a fine spring day a little too hot. There was sweat
on the flanks of the big horses pulling the long line of
flourwagons that was crossing the bridge. While he was
waiting in the station the air became stifling and a steamy
mist came up. The sunlight shone red on the broad backs
of the grain elevators along the track. He heard one man
say to another, "Looks to me like it might be a tornado,"
and when he got on the train he half leaned out of the
open window watching purple thunderheads building up
in the northwest beyond the brightgreen wheat that
stretched clear to the clouds. He kinda hoped it would be
a tornado because he'd never seen one, but when the
lightning began cracking like a whip out of the clouds he
felt a little scared, though being on the train with the
conductor and the other passengers made it seem safer.
It wasn't a tornado but it was a heavy thundershower and
the wheatfields turned to zinc as great trampling hissing
sheets of rain advanced slowly across them. Afterwards
the sun came out and Charley opened the window and
everything smelt like spring and there were birds singing
in all the birchwoods and in the dark firs round all the
little shining lakes.

 

Jim was there to meet him at the Union Depot in a
Ford truck. They stopped at the freight station and
Charley had to help load a lot of heavy packages of spare
parts shipped from Detroit and marked "Vogel's Garage."
Charley tried to look as if he'd lived in a big city all his
life, but the clanging trolleycars and the roughshod hoofs
of truckhorses striking sparks out of the cobbles and the
goodlooking blond girls and the stores and the big Ger-
man beersaloons and the hum that came from mills and
machineshops went to his head. Jim looked tall and thin
in his overalls and had a new curt way of talking. "Kid,

 

-372-

 

you see you mind yourself a little up to the house; the
old man's an old German, Hedwig's old man, an' a little
pernickety, like all old Germans are," said Jim when
they'd filled the truck and were moving slowly through
the heavy traffic. "Sure, Jim," said Charley and he began
to feel a little uneasy about what it 'ud be like living in
Minneapolis. He wished Jim 'ud smile a little more.

 

Old man Vogel was a stocky redfaced man with un-
tidy gray hair and a potbelly, fond of dumpling and stews
with plenty of rich sauce on them and beer, and Jim's
wife Hedwig was his only daughter. His wife was dead
but he had a middleaged German woman everybody ad-
dressed as Aunt Hartmann to keep house for him. She
followed the men around all the time with a mop and
between her and Hedwig, whose blue eyes had a peevish
look because she was going to have a baby in the fall, the
house was so spotless that you could have eaten a fried
egg off the linoleum anywhere. They never let the win-
dows be opened for fear of the dust coming in. The house
was right on the street and the livery stable was in the
yard behind, entered through an alley beyond which was
the old saddler's shop that had just been done over as a
garage. When Jim and Charley drove up the signpainters
were on a stepladder out front putting up the new shiny
red and white sign that read " VOGEL'S GARAGE.""The old
bastard," muttered Jim. "He said held call it Vogel and
Anderson's, but what the hell!" Everything smelt of
stables and a colored man was leading a skinny horse
around with a blanket over him.

 

All that summer Charley washed cars and drained
transmissions and relined brakes. He was always dirty
and greasy in greasy overalls, in the garage by seven
every morning and not through till late in the evening
when he was too tired to do anything but drop into the
cot that had been fixed for him in the attic over the garage.
Jim gave him a dollar a week for pocket money and ex.

 

-373-

 

plained that he was mighty generous to do it as it was to
Charley's advantage to learn the business. Saturday nights
he was the last one to get a bath and there usually wasn't
anything but lukewarm water left so that he'd have a
hard time getting cleaned up. Old man Vogel was a
socialist and no churchgoer and spent all day Sunday drink-
ing beer with his cronies. At Sunday dinner everybody
talked German, and Jim and Charley sat at the table
glumly without saying anything, but old Vogel plied them
with beer and made jokes at which Hedwig and Aunt
Hartmann always laughed uproariously, and after dinner
Charley's head would be swimming from the beer that
tasted awful bitter to him, but he felt he had to drink it,
and old man Vogel would tease him to smoke a cigar and
then tell him to go out and see the town. He'd walk out
feeling overfed and a little dizzy and take the streetcar
to St. Paul to see the new state capitol or to Lake Har-
riet or go out to Big Island Park and ride on the roller-
coaster or walk around the Parkway until his feet felt like
they'd drop off. He didn't know any kids his own age at
first, so he took to reading for company. He'd buy every
number of Popular Mechanics and The Scientific Ameri-
can and Adventure and The Wide World Magazine.
He had it all planned to start building a yawlboat from
the plans in The Scientific American and to take a trip
down to the Mississippi River to the Gulf. He'd live
by shooting ducks and fishing for catfish. He started sav-
ing up his dollars to buy himself a shotgun.

 

He liked it all right at old man Vogel's, though, on
account of not having to read the Bible or go to church,
and he liked tinkering with motors and learned to drive
the Ford truck. After a while he got to know Buck and
Slim Jones, two brothers about his age who lived down
the block. He was a pretty big guy to them on account of
working in a garage. Buck sold newspapers and had a
system of getting into movingpicture shows by the exit

 

-374-

 

doors and knew all the best fences to see ballgames from.
Once Charley got to know the Jones boys he'd run round
to their place as soon as he was through dinner Sundays
and they'd have a whale of a time getting hitches all over
the place on graintrucks, riding on the back bumpers of
streetcars and getting chased by cops and going out on
the lumber booms and going swimming and climbing
round above the falls and he'd get back all sweaty and
with his good suit dirty and be bawled out by Hedwig
for being late for supper. Whenever old Vogel found the
Jones boys hanging round the garage he'd chase them out,
but when he and Jim were away, Gus the colored stable-
man would come over smelling of horses and tell them
stories about horseraces and fast women and whiskydrink-
ing down at Louisville and the proper way to take a girl
the first time and how he and his steady girl just did it all
night without stopping not even for a minute.

 

Labor Day old man Vogel took Jim and his daughter
and Aunt Hartmann out driving in the surrey behind a
fine pair of bays that had been left with him to sell and
Charley was left to take care of the garage in case some-
body came along who wanted gas or oil. Buck and Slim
came round and they all talked about how it was Labor
Day and wasn't it hell to pay that they weren't going out
anywhere. There was a doubleheader out at the Fair
Grounds and lots of other ballgames around. The trouble
started by Charley showing Buck how to drive the truck,
then to show him better he had to crank her up, then
before he knew it he was telling them held take them for
a ride round the block. After they'd ridden round the
block he went back and closed up the garage and they
went joyriding out towards Minnehaha. Charley said to
himself he'd drive very carefully and be home hours
before the folks got back, but somehow he found himself
speeding down an asphalt boulevard and almost ran into
a ponycart full of little girls that turned in suddenly

 

-375-

 

from a side road. Then on the way home they were drink-
ing sarsaparilla out of the bottles and having a fine time
when Buck suddenly said there was a cop on a motorcycle
following them. Charley speeded up to get away from the
cop, made a turn too sharp and stopped with a crash
against a telegraph pole. Buck and Slim beat it as fast as
they could run and there was Charley left to face the cop.

 

The cop was a Swede and cursed and swore and bawled
him out and said he'd take him to the hoosegow for driv-
ing without a license, but Charley found his brother Jim's
license under the seat and said his brother had told him
to take the car back to the garage after they'd delivered
a load of apples out at Minnehaha and the cop let him
off and said to drive more carefully another time. The
car ran all right except one fender was crumpled up and
the steering wheel was a little funny. Charley drove home
so slow that the radiator was boiling over when he got
back and there was the surrey standing in front of the
house and Gus holding the bays by the head and all the
family just getting out.

 

There was nothing he could say. The first thing they
saw was the crumpled fender. They all lit into him and
Aunt Hartmann yelled the loudest and old Vogel was
purple in the face and they all talked German at him and
Hedwig yanked at his coat and slapped his face and they
all said Jim 'd have to give him a licking. Charley got
sore and said nobody was going to give him a licking and
then Jim said he reckoned he'd better go back to Fargo
anyway, and Charley went up and packed his suitcase and
went off without saying goodby to any of them that eve-
ning with his suitcase in one hand and five back numbers
of The Argosy under his arm. He had just enough jack
saved up to get a ticket to Barnesville. After that he had
to play hide and seek with the conductor until he dropped
off the train at Moorhead. His mother was glad to see
him and said he was a good boy to get back in time to

 

-376-

 

visit with her a little before highschool opened and talked
about his being confirmed. Charley didn't say anything
about the Ford truck and decided in his mind he wouldn't
be confirmed in any damned church. He ate a big break-
fast that Lizzie fixed for him and went into his room and
lay down on the bed. He wondered if not wanting to be
confirmed was the sin against the holy ghost but the
thought didn't scare him as much as it used to. He was
sleepy from sitting up on the train all night and fell
asleep right away.

 

Charley dragged through a couple of years of high-
school, making a little money helping round the Moor-
head Garage evenings, but he didn't like it home any
more after he got back from his trip to the Twin Cities.
His mother wouldn't let him work Sundays and nagged
him about being confirmed and his sister Esther nagged
him about everything and Lizzie treated him as if he
was still a little kid, called him "Pet" before the boarders
and he was sick of schooling, so the spring when he was
seventeen, after commencement, he went down to M in-
neapolis again looking for a job on his own this time. As
he had money to keep him for a few days the first thing
he did was to go down to Big Island Park. He wanted
to ride on the rollercoasters and shoot in the shooting-
galleries and go swimming and pick up girls. He was
through with hick towns like Fargo and Moorhead where
nothing ever happened.

 

It was almost dark when he got to the lake. As the
little steamboat drew up to the wharf he could hear the
jazzband through the trees, and the rasp and rattle of
the rollercoaster and yells as a car took a dip. There were
a dancing pavilion and colored lights among the trees
and a smell of girls' perfumery and popcorn and molasses
candy and powder from the shooting gallery and the
barkers were at it in front of their booths. As it was
Monday evening there weren't very many people. Charley

 

-377-

 

went round the rollercoaster a couple of times and got to
talking with the young guy who ran it about what the
chances were of getting a job round there.

 

The guy said to stick around, Svenson the manager
would be there when they closed up at eleven, and he
thought he might be looking for a guy. The guy's name
was Ed Walters; he said it wasn't much of a graft but
that Svenson was pretty straight; he let Charley take a
couple of free rides to see how the rollercoaster worked
and handed him out a bottle of cream soda and told him
to keep his shirt on. This was his second year in the amuse-
ment game and he had a sharp foxface and a wise man-
ner.

 

Charley's heart was thumping when a big hollowfaced
man with. coarse sandy hair came round to collect the
receipts at the ticket booth. That was Svenson. He looked
Charley up and down and said he'd try him out for a
week and to remember that this was a quiet family amuse-
ment park and that he wouldn't stand for any rough stuff
and told him to come round at ten the next morning.
Charley said "So long" to Ed Walters and caught the
last boat and car back to town. When he got out of the
car it was too late to take his bag out of the station parcel-
room; he didn't want to spend money on a room or to
go out to Jim's place so he slept on a bench in front of
the City Hall. It was a warm night and it made him feel
good to be sleeping on a bench like a regular hobo. The
arclights kept getting in his eyes, though, and he was
nervous about the cop; it'd be a hell of a note to get
pinched for a rag and lose the job out at the park. His
teeth were chattering when he woke up in the gray early
morning. The arclights spluttered pink against a pale
lemonyellow sky; the big business blocks with all their
empty windows looked funny and gray and deserted. He
had to walk fast pounding the pavement with his heels
to get the blood going through his veins again.

 

-378-

 

He found a stand where he could get a cup of coffee
and a doughnut for five cents and went out to Lake Min-
netonka on the first car. It was a bright summer day with
a little north in the wind. The lake was very blue and the
birchtrunks looked very white and the little leaves danced
in the wind greenyellow against the dark evergreens and
the dark blue of the sky. Charley thought it was the most
beautiful place he'd ever seen. He waited a long time
drowsing in the sun on the end of the wharf for the boat
to start over to the island. When he got there the park
was all locked up, there were shutters on all the booths
and the motionless red and blue cars of the rollercoaster
looked forlorn in the morning light. Charley roamed
round for a while but his eyes smarted and his legs ached
and his suitcase was too heavy, so he found a place
sheltered by the wall of a shack from the wind and lay
down in the warm sun on the pineneedles and went to
sleep with his suitcase beside him.

 

He woke up with a start. His Ingersoll said eleven. He
had a cold sinking feeling. It'd be lousy to lose the job
by being late. Svenson was there sitting in the ticket
booth at the rollercoaster with a straw hat on the back
of his head. He didn't say anything about the time. He
just told Charley to take his coat off and help MacDonald
the engineer oil up the motor.

 

Charley worked on that rollercoaster all summer until
the park closed in September. He lived in a little camp
over at Excelsior with Ed Walters and a wop named
Spagnolo who had a candy concession.


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