Friday, May 23, 2014

Winter Houses

(A Chick Evens story out of Minnesota, based on fact, 1957) 

The Icy-Mississippi

Snow is on the sidewalks, and in the streets, a thin layer covering the Mississippi River, on top of four-inches of ice —the houses and buildings are all lit, fires glowing in hearths, furnaces burning red hot, as I rush out into the cold early Saturday morning brisk air to sell newspapers “Five Cents!” I’ll soon be yelling once I get downtown, I tell myself.
       It is December, 1957 and I’m ten-years old, just turned ten-years old in October matter-of-fact.
       I see people sitting in their houses as I walk by: men, women and children—as if their minds are unoccupied, it’s 6:00 a.m., some of the houses are covered with blotches of snow, Minnesota snow can get heavy if not sticky at times; some even appear to smile back at me as I glance from one white house to another, they all seem white, one to the other—with their shadowy silhouettes.
       In the quiet morning cold, the houses seem to whisper to me—as if they have secrets to tell—but I’m too young to stop and listen, I’m not yet a hunter of tales.  Moreover, they can only tell me things I am too young to fully understand.
       Some of the houses are completely dark, solid gray dark, inside those windows; I suppose the people haven’t crawled out of bed yet. In other houses, I hear laughter as I walk down Jackson Street to the St. Paul, Pioneer Press Newspaper, to get my stack of papers to sell on the corner of Forth and Robert Streets. I even can see the icy-Mississippi River from where I stand.
              I pass a dozen more houses, two, then three dozen, now I pass tall clusters and stiff looking buildings—with locked tight doors, but I know they will open soon for the Saturday morning window-shoppers.
       I start to yell “St. Paul Pioneer Press! …FIVE CENTS!”
       Slow moving, and slow speaking people walk by and drive by in cars. I think my business is the most interesting in town—but of course at ten-years old, who wouldn’t think so. There even seems to be a touch of romanticism in this paper business, I haven’t a clue what’s in the paper though, nor care.

No: 539 ((12-5-2009) (reedited 5-12-2010)) SA