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
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,
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
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
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
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'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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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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