BY-WAYS - 11/11/43 - Apathy - A Vicious Foe From Within

Pearl Harbor is slipping too far out of sight
In the softening mists of time;
The cries of the innocent at Lidice
Fall on dull ears - accustomed to crime.
We're smug, with our jobs, and a fat pocket-book,
Home cooking and fireside ease;
The freedom to go to a game or a show,
Or to do just about as we please.

While our boys were dying in strange Sicily,
I witnessed - with burning shame
Some husky young men in a perky war plant
Camouflaging a poker game.
A woman - without any hostage to give -
Was decrying a pay check too lean,
And threatened to make all her drill pieces scrap
'Til they'd give her a lighter machine.

Yes, freedom for all has always been bought
By a few - in this land of the free;

There is appalling lethargy in this unbombed, comfortable land of ours. But I'll warrant there is none in Eldersridge and environs right now. For one of her boys is "missing in action" For everyone who knows that boy, those words strike at the heart like a piece of cold steel. We will keep hoping and praying that "Bob" Henderson, the intrepid gunner pilot, will be found and brought safely back to his country. In a way, Bob has led a charmed life. At least twice in his growing years he so narrowly missed death that his grandmother Henderson expressed the fear that his parents would never raise him to manhood. But they did, AND WELL. Because of my deep affection for all his family I find it difficult to write about him. I am thankful his gentle mother, who delighted in his buoyancy and virility, and forgave his every prank, is spared the anguish of this awful suspense. Of this I am sure; that the future security of this land of ours rests on the boundless courage and daring of boys like Bob Henderson.***

To end this letter on a lighter note I must tell you two Halloween tales that are true. In these war times children have become educated away from all forms of vandalism, or even pranks that would involve time and labor on the part of the "victims" in restoring order. Our own neighborhood children, masked and costumed, just asked for a handout. Our friend, Jimmy Meikle, an unscotch native of Scotland, told us this story about another Scotchman, who works at Warner & Swasey, and his very Scotch and uncouth wife. The children in their neighborhood came around as usual on Hallowe'en, asking sweetly but firmly for a handout. The tight old woman went to the door, and seemed very unresponsive to the plea of a tiny miss. The husband, from the depths of his armchair, called to his wife, "Ah, give her a penny." His wife wheeled and glared at him, "Whaddya mean, a penny? There are three of them." Since our boys are both working after school hours these days, we were sure they wouldn't get involved in any Hallowe'en bell-ringing or other minor annoyances. Imagine my consternation when our eccentric old neighbor, a bachelor, who lives with his spinster sister, across the street, came over, and threatened to sue our Charlie for injuries inflicted upon his decrepit sister. To make a long and trying story short, Charlie, in that brief space between working in a grocery store (until 7:30) and going to look after a little boy, who insists on a "male nurse" when his parents go out - in that spare moment Charlie joined a gang of little fellows who were trying to screw up courage to ring the doorbell of "old Scrooge," who doesn't like little boys. Boldly Charlie went up and rang the bell, then went on his way. But the old woman, who calls children "brats," jumped up from her chair, and, in her haste, fell, and hurt her foot. Her brother called the doctor, and then the chief of police. The chief of police told us to "forget it" - and Charlie made a respectful call and offered his regrets and half the doctor bill. Now all is forgiven - but Charlie has learned that you cannot be too careful at Hallowe'en.

Florence B. Taylor

Next - 11/25/43 - Thanksgiving week!

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