Louie grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota. In the 1940 census there were 8,790 residents, what I’d call a small town. Small towns have advantages over cities like Rochester, Minnesota, where I now live. Well over 100,000 people call Rochester home.
Two points in Louie’s story jump out at me. First is his plan to explore the “outside the neighborhood.” Even in the fifties and sixties when I was growing up, exploring large swathes of town wasn’t out of the ordinary. My friends and I would ride bikes ten miles to go swimming. We’ roam around downtown for hours, waiting for the North-Coast-Limited high-speed passenger train to come in to the depot. Ten-year-old kids don’t do that anymore.
Nor do they tie sisters to a telephone pole and leave. I can imagine the television coverage that sort of event would get today. There’s be peace officers, fire trucks, and a dozen emergency vehicles in the ‘hood tracking down the perpetrators. Louie got off with another paddling.
The differences in life style for town boys, fifty and a hundred years ago, when compared to today … How would I compare them? We’re lucky to have some of Louie’s stories around to remind us of life in the 1930’s. What was life like for his father and grandfather? I don’t have anything from my grandfather, and just a few stories. Even Louie’s letters barely mention his father, Louis.
The curtain of obscurity comes down quickly.
When I was at the age of around 6 my folks had obtained a dog, what kind it was is unknown to me. At that age, a dog is a dog, not some fancy breed name.
It has been so long ago that I don’t remember what the dog’s name was.
Anyway, the dog was true blue, when it comes to obeying me.
One day when I was planning one of my outside the neighborhood investigations I was followed by the dog and my little sister, Dorothy. Now you all know that it is impossible to do a good job of investigating when you’re distracted by such an unwelcome following.
I, being a scheming minded little devil, came up with a terrific solution to the problem. I talked my little, trusting, sister that we were going to play cowboys and Indians. I tied her, securely, to a telephone pole, instructed the dog to watch her, left and proceeded to discover America.
My sister, getting tired of playing the game, started screaming to be let loose. Some neighbors came to the rescue, but, the faithful canine came through and wouldn’t let anyone near my sister.
Those neighbors finally went and got my Mother to come to the rescue. The dog feared my Mother about as much as I did so he let her untie Dorothy.
Need I elaborate as to what happened to me when I finally came home. Id I do, it was more skin off, not my nose, dummy, my butt.
To this day, I maintain that I would have eventually untied my little sister.
Originally published 2014-11-05