Wobbly, the Rough-And-Tumble Story of an American Radical

By Ralph Chaplin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3. "TERRIBLE AS AN ARMY
WITH BANNERS"

WE WERE all dressed in our Sunday best and burdened with satchels, blankets, and baskets of food. Ike was loaded down like a pack horse. Dad was in his glory attending to the many details of the journey. Time was getting short. The Madison Street Bridge was a black tangle of steel. Swarms of people and little streetcars moved slowly back and forth. The train pulled out. Our day coach was crowded. Smoke and cinders came in through the open windows. I can recall sandwiches, cake, cookies, and cindery ice water from the tank near a round-bellied iron stove, unfamiliar scenery shifting past endlessly, the bell rope swinging, and an occasional snort from the locomotive. And I remember, too, the broad expanse of the Mississippi River in a downpour of rain. All the rest is forgotten, or perhaps I slept. When we reached Panora, I was too tired to notice or to care. As the farm would not be available until spring, we moved into a little old weather-beaten cottage. It had a big porch running its full length and faced a tree-shaded dirt road.

Our acre was at the edge of town where cottages and gardens thinned out into farm land. There was tall grass and shrubbery back of the cottage and a very old and much-neglected apple orchard. The apples were one of my first discoveries. They were ripe and tempting. Even today the word "Panora" brings back to me the tang of cool, crisp autumn air and the taste of russet apples picked from an old tree.

Another discovery was the deep well with clear and surprisingly cold water. All you had to do was lower and flip the wooden bucket at the end of the wet rope, then raise it dripping to the ledge of the well with a sort of windlass. It was great fun to be appointed waterboy for the household.

-25-

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