BY-WAYS - 5/21/42 - For Sale

1 davenport; once overstuffed; now 1 glider spring, with coat of rust;
slightly understuffed. - mattress overlapping.
Its color: mauve, in better days - 1 auto seat with horsehair out - on
but now a mouse-y gray which a cat is napping.
1 large wing chair (without its legs), 1 little rug - of faded green; a fancy
once tufted; now a tuft burlap curtain
Of cotton eases out as if it wants (priorities on burlap now; the sale of
to get away. this is certain).

1 mirror (cracked); one table (crate)
with drawer (that's minus handles).
2 home-made candle-holders (tin),
complete with tallow candles.
1 lonely Hut - deserted now - in
which big spiders lurk.
While mem'ry weaves a haunting spell.
The "gang" has gone to work.

Oh, come back, Mark Twain, and write this piece for me! Only you - or Booth Tarkington, could do justice to the story of a gang of boys: their loyalties, their clubbiness; their intense fury one hour, their easy camaraderie the next. Can it be only last summer that Hut was built? As some of you remember, it was built first in the woods - just within earshot of mothers' yoo-hoos. There the roof and all the sacred furniture were burned by vandals at midnight. The young builders, angry, dismayed, but not disheartened, brought the walls and floor - in sections over into our back yard; then rebuilt it - on a grander scale - just back of our garage. The rest of the summer they kept adding to the furnishings. By fall it was an exclusive "club" (with heavy padlock) where women were barred, especially "little women" who loved to climb trees, peek in through the high window, and chant some taunting semi-truth, such as "Bill has a gir-rul." I liked the Hut, for I always knew where to find my boys. Many a summer and fall evening I strolled back there - not to hear the words, but the music of their voices. It ranged all the way from a low recitative by one of the older boys, whose voices in repose had gone bull-frog, to the shrill and strident antiphony of males in mental conflict (and bordering on the physical.)

By some special dispensation I was invited in every now and then, to share their feast of pop-corn, cheese corn, or potato chips and "coke." In the cool fall evenings the fat candles furnished just enough heat to make the place completely cozy. I could fairly hear the boys purring with content. Now all that has changed. Bill quit High School to go to work; he has taken up night courses. In January our boys took on morning paper route, which means a 4:30 alarm for Virgil Jr. and 5 o'clock for Charlie. Dick and Dudley have afternoon paper routes. Earl and Frank, fairly new - but worthy members - of the gang, take care of some large lawns - as does Virgil all day Saturday. In fact, our boys are so busy working for other people that I can't get our own lawn mowed, or the screens all up. (Daddy Virgil has some rheumatism). But the lads are happy. They are financially independent, which is a grand feeling. Virgil, Jr. said the other day he wished he could just stay sixteen. He and his pals are tasting the sweet fruits of success. In my weak moments I wish, too, that the boys could stay 16 and 14. But time goes marching on! The Hut, symbol of boyhood leisure, is deserted. On wash-days - and other days - I open the unlatched door, speak softly to the wild kitty who has made that her home. The place is so strangely still. If I wrote the "poem" with my tongue in my cheek, I also wrote with a lump in my throat; for out the door of the forsaken Hut the "gang's" boyhood is gone forever.

Florence B. Taylor

P.S. The poor Caesars got an awful kicking around, orthographically, last week. But please don't blame me. I had to study "Caesar" too hard to ever forget how to spell it.

Next - 5/28/42 - For Memorial Day - KEEPING FAITH

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