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Madison.TheDarkSide.Wisconsin.Chapter11.TheLibertines.

December 10, 2013

Chapter 11

The Libertines

The Wisconsin State Journal.  Sunday, July 11, 1920

SCOUNDRALS!

Authorities are on the lookout for two confidence men.

“The money collected for the Frank Lloyd Wright center on Lake Monona was entrusted to two scoundrels last week who assured the trustees of said money that they would insure a rate of return in excel of 20% per year.  Even though the authorities held one of the men in custody for the time the money was in transit from the American Exchange Bank here in Madison to the offices of “The Investment House of New York,“ it was later determined that said investment house is in an apartment in a tenement apartment in a part of Manhattan that is not in the financial district.  The experts in the police department are investigating, and assure the trustees that arrests are imminent.”

It is said by some, that there is little difference between Saturday night, and Sunday morning, except that the sinners have better reason to see religion.

Sunday is the front porch that observers can use to look back at the last week, and play forward for the next.  In the homes on Keyes Avenue, there had been significant changes in the lives of the residents.

Emil was content, after a wonderful meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, and some vegetables from the garden and the market.  He had proposed opening a new bottle from the cellars of the Sicilian, and there were no complaints from the women of the household.  He had told the men at work of the new nanny, and one of the older ones warned him, “There is never good from the keeping of two women under one roof.”  But, Emil thought that the old guy, although a good mechanic, not a good judge of women and their character.  He had been in Madison since he was a pup, just after the conclusion of the civil war, and had gone through himself, three wives and one or two women who didn’t last long enough to get married, legal like.  Cholera, child birth, consumption, had all claimed one each, and two had died of infections of cuts in the barn or garden.  Little cuts, that got infected, and the women gradually got worse, until the grim reaper set them free. 

Dinner concluded, the men of the family, Emil and Artie retired to the porch.  Emil considered lighting one of the Cubans he kept here and at the dealership, usually lite there to celebrate a sold Buick.  But tonight, tonight was Saturday night, and he was already in good spirits without tobacco.  At seven o’clock, he went inside, and turned on the radio by the front window.  This was grand, having the radio where it could be heard on the porch. 

Shortly after, work in the kitchen concluded, Rosie, Nadia, and Jerry came out to join the menfolk on the porch.  There were just three stations that could be heard, before the sun went down, when the atmospheric conditions opened up the airwaves.  There was a nice music program on one, with a drama on another, and the third had a funny man with his companions.  Nadia was amazed by the whole thing, never having heard a radio program.  They enjoyed the radio, until it got dark, and for a good hour later.  About 930, Rosie, feeling the wine starting to wear off, asked Nadia and Emil if they wanted another?  Emil, noticing that the bottle was down to perhaps a glass or two, offered to get a glass for each of the ladies, and both agreed.  Nadia escorted Arties and Jerry upstairs and supervised their bedtime preparation.  Brushing the teeth, use of the toilet, followed by a last hand washing, and the two kids were off to slumber time.

Nadia glided silently down the steps, her training by the Cossacks so thorough, she used the outside of the steps automatically.  At the base of the steps, she could see outside on the porch, where Emil and Rosie were sitting on the glider rocking gently.  The light of the tubes in the radio inside, in the parlor shown out the window onto the porch, and Nadia could see that Emil’s hand was inside of Rosie’s dress, busy in a slow motion massage.  Rosie’s head was on his shoulder, the fresh glass of wine empty in the light of the radio tubes.  Nadia quietly retook her seat in the Adirondack chair.  Emil was aware of her presence, but Rosie was facing away, and was innocent of the presence of a witness. 

 

After the passage of a few minutes, Rosie stirred, the wine was making her few inhibitions that remained totally vanish.  She was in the arms of her one true love, her husband, her man.  She didn’t even remember that Nadia had gone on an errand of just a few minutes, and she let her hand that was free wander.  Soon enough, it found that which it has gone in search of, and Emil smiled, both with the pleasure of her touch, and the knowledge that the other woman in the house, the one the mechanic had warned about, was witness to the molesting of the man of the house by his woman.  She opened the buttons at the fly of his trousers, and fished out the object of her attention.  Bending over, the image of the French postcard in her mind, she proceeded to provide pleasure of a most wicked manner.  In the manner of a few minutes, Nadia saw Emil stiffed, and caught a little of a choking noise from Rosie,  silently, as was her manner, she arose, and left the porch, back  the entrance vestibule, and then up the stairs, all the way to the rafters of the attic.  On the porch, Rosie had regained her composure, and allowed Emil to lift her to her feet, and escort her inside, leaving the screen door as the only security, the front door open as was the fashion in those days.  A little unsteady on her feet, his arm was around her waist as they made their way to the second floor. 

In minutes, he disrobed her, and tucked her under a sheet, while he went to the bathroom, finished, washed hands and other parts, and wondered what the night would bring.  Rosie hadn’t imbibed of the laudanum this night, but the alcohol indicated a full and deep sleep.

Emil was a light sleeper, and the unknown quality of the night’s adventures made him sleep on alert.  It showed about 2 am on the windup alarm clock on the table, when he heard a tapping on the ceiling above.  He rolled out of bed, wearing a nightshirt, held together by only one button at the bottom.  He padded to the door, closing it as he exited.  Just then, the door to the attic opened, and Nadia was there, dressed in a slip. Without a word, she dropped to her knees, and greeted him with a kiss.  In a few moments, he was ready, and she turned and faced the wall.  There was little clothing to push out of the way, and they both were enthusiastic in their attention to the other’s pleasure.  Less than 10 minutes after he had left the bed, Emil returned.  Rosie’s breathing was regular, and normal for the breathing of someone who was still a little drunk.  She had not rolled over, and he returned to his side of the bed.  Sunday was church day, and they would have time to themselves after they awoke before they would have to arise to wash, dress, prepare and eat breakfast, then drive to church for mass. 

Three hundred feet down the street, the Swede was in his own bed, accompanied by the fair import from Norway.  After the night of the storm, the next night, in fact, when they retired, he had let her use the bathroom first for the toilet, then brushing of the teeth.  When she exited, she made for her room, and the Swede, somewhat resigned to sleeping alone again and closed the bathroom door and concluded his affairs.  When he opened the door, she was standing there, wearing just a slip, her hands crossed in front of her breasts, thumbs and first fingers on the straps.  Two steps out, and she asked.  “May I sleep with you?”

Her fingers worked some sort of magic, and the slip fell to the floor, the straps having been slip to the left and right, gravity then lending assistance.

“Yes, my princess, my bed is yours, as long as you wish.”  She gave two steps, and a hop, and the surprised man caught her as she launched herself.  Her arms around his neck, legs around his hips and thighs, any man not yet dead would have smiled and approved.  With her clinging on, he turned and took the few steps to his bedroom, and set her on the bed.  He went over to the door, and pushed the button that controlled the lights, and the only illumination from then on was the light of the moon, just rising, even at that late hour.  Not much of a church goer, for the Swede, Sunday had been the day he did the housework, the laundry, sweeping, mowing the lawn.  Now, with his housekeeper, he only would have to mow, leaving the majority of the day for recreation.  He was looking forward to exploring relaxation and fun, and she was perfect for the job.

Saturday night found the travelers well on their way to California.  A map of the country had been found, and at least now they knew where a city was in relation to their destination.  Midnight plus one minute found them on a freight train they had hoped on earlier in the day.  After the release from jail, the men had found three days of labor for each, and they had saved most of the money.  They were able to buy enough food for two days, and got some bottles from the Park Hotel bar and filled them with water for the journey.  The travelers had been staying in the basement room at the Park Hotel, and the head laundress was keep liquored up enough so she didn’t know, or if she did, didn’t care.  The box car they were in had had five bales of straw thrown in for bedding for cattle down the line, and this was good bunking for the men and women.  Anastasia was not drawn to the gypsy, and the other two men and two women were drawn to each other, and alternated as they saw fit.  Currently, Anastasia was listening to the four of them at the other end of the box car.  While she couldn’t see what was happening to who, she had heard the sounds often enough so there was no question of what the activity de jour was.  At her end, the gypsy was leaned up in the corner, while she was in the other.  It was not coldness, but wanting some attention, some physical reinforcement that she was attractive, and desirable that led her to crawl over to the gypsy’s corner.  In the morning, all the clothing was in place, and she was lying next to him, with his arm around her shoulder, and her top leg over his.  There was no church for the travelers that Sunday, although they were all grateful to whoever it was who ran things, for they had survived, they found food to eat in this land of plenty, and they enjoyed the company of the other travelers.  They truly understand that they had been blessed, they survived the Revolution, and the future looked good for them, at their destination, Hollywood, California.

Back in Madison, at the milk bar, the professional, Sheila,  a woman of many talents, had made a third customer happy back in the alley behind the establishment by midnight.  The night was still young, and she had made a liaison for an overnight with one of the regulars at the bar.  She cut him a break on the cost of her skill full application of talents, because she knew that she would be safe in his arms, and he was a cook in a café, and thus, one of the few men in the milk bar she would trust to make a good breakfast.  Plus, she would not have to skedaddle after breakfast.  She and he could share a bath and each other’s company.  She had been working hard and putting her money aside to invest so she could retire.  Perhaps she could surprise him, get him to marry her, and they could have a restaurant together.  Not the worst way to retire from her business.  The other investment was to buy rooming houses off of Langdon Street.  There was one that needed some repair, but it was right there on the lake, with two lots for frontage on the water.  Decisions, decisions. 

She noticed the woman who usually had a shiner had cleaned up since her husband’s last jailing.  Something must have changed, or she had learned how to duck.  Susan hadn’t learned how to duck, she had found that some laudanum in his coffee in the morning, and in his food at night, well not turning him into a zombie, had taken the combativeness out of his existence.  He was actually easy to live with, and the men at his job noticed that they did not have to hit him anywhere near as many times during the day, some days, not at all.  An improvement to be sure.

Susan had found that she enjoyed the male companionship at the milk bar, and the money from such companionship she was putting in a mason jar, in the basement, up in the rafters.  In a while, when there was enough, she would leave this town far behind, and head out, out to California, where there were oranges so plentiful that you could just walk off the road and pick all that you wanted.  And the motion picture business was booming, with a future for those who had a can-do attitude.  And she did.  She had learned to use the guy’s jacket to kneel on so her knees didn’t get dirty in the alley, and she could do. 

Angela, the singer, had got a promotion to teller at the bank her and the bandleader both worked at.  She was singing that night, and she had a voice like a bird.  People from out of town, the travelers who stayed at the Park Hotel across the street, frequently told her that there were bands in the big cities that needed singers like her, and she should go to New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, because her future was there, not in a speakeasy in a small town in the Midwest.  She thought that the sax man, also the male singer, was behind the promotion in the bank, but she liked his company anyways.  After the last song was sung, the band packed up and given a collective pat on the fanny and sent home, she should have gone home alone herself.  But, the house was awful empty with her father gone, and she invited the guy to walk her home, and have a Coca-Cola on the front porch.  As those things do, the Coke lead to a kiss, then another, they a hand, then a hand on the breast, then…..

In the morning, she made bacon and eggs and thick toast for him.  He wasn’t a bad man, he was a band leader, and a good singer, and besides, he had a job in a bank, making investment decisions, like trusting those two guys from New York with the money for the big new Frank Lloyd Wright building.  Imagine, 20% return on money.  Angella wasn’t an investment expert, but she knew that that has a huge rate of return.  How can they do that?  It seemed impossible to her. 

The Polish girl had been there earlier in the night.  Dancing up a storm, she had been alternating dances with three college boys, and the singer had noticed that when the hands were on the band side of the girl, they were in places that a mother wouldn’t have called appropriate.  When the band played, and she sang a slow song, she watched and thought that it was a miracle that the girl didn’t get pregnant right there on the dance floor.  Just before midnight, Marie and the boys went down the trapdoor into the basement passageway.  What Angela didn’t know was that the four took over thirty minutes to make the one minute trip to the exit.  Some say that going to church without sins, is a waste of the Lord’s time.  These ladies three, gave God a good job to forgive their sins, for they had called out his name many times on Saturday night, in preparation for Church going Sunday morning, to pray for his forgiveness.

 

The two nuns had decided that there was too much of a possibility of being detected by the Irish of the parish if they took part in the night life in their own neighborhood.  Their options were to go to the Green Bush neighborhood, where mostly Italians, Jews, and the few blacks in the town lived.  Nothing to worry about with the blacks, or the Jews, but the Italians were all Catholic, and as such, were possibly going to encounter the two during their daytime religious work.  Thus, the options were to take the train to Milwaukee, where the entire city was their oyster, or, go to the college area, in their own town, and enjoy the company of the late teens and twenty or twenty-one years old boys.  Because both women had spent their time in their teens in a convent, totally covered, their skin was that of a girl in her early teens, soft, free of any sun spots, or sun induced blemishes.  Acting somewhat shy, and not taking the lead, but rather, implying the path the lotharios should best follow, the two women could act like the fishermen of the bible, and cast their lines, hooking the wanted, and rejecting with good taste those that didn’t meet their requirements, although, on the nights the alter wine had primed the pump, their taste in men wasn’t that refined.  Alive, and not drooling seemed ok some nights. 

This night, they had taken the street car to the bottom of State Street, then headed to the lake, walking slowly, so as the take in the sights, and smell the smells.  Also, the better to see and be seen.  As they walked up Langdon Street, they sauntered past a three story rooming house.  Two young men greeted them, while sitting on a glider on the porch, with a bucket of beer from an ex-tavern over on State Street. After passage of the prohibition law, the Volstead Act, had put the tavern business on hold, the barkeep had changed to a business for pressing sheets for the hospital trade, with the liquor business moved all the way from the street level, to the basement, accessed by basement door, with an emergency exit to the restaurant next door through the basement. The tavern business was alive and well in the basement, and from the bend in Langdon Street over through the backyards, to Gilman Street, then to the backdoor of the laundry, was only about 500 feet. 

“Hello ladies, it was a hot dry day today, would you llike some refreshments to make your walk more rewarding?”

Using the Irish brogue that she had been born with, Sister Marie Clair replied, “You’re a brash one, young sir, talking to two women of education as if they were char maids out on a stroll!”

“No harm meant, ladies, just an invitation to join my dear friend John and I with a bit of liquid refreshment for the night’s charms.”

Looking at each other, Sister Michael Mary, dressed in a blouse of many buttons, and a high waisted   skirt, with sensible shoes, just not sensible like a nun would wear, looked at Sister Mary Clair, and said.

“It would be a shame to let that beer be wasted on those two ruffians, who knows what harm would come to innocent girls if we let them drink all that by themselves.  Who knows, we may be saving a kitten from a fate worse than death, or even more. I think that one for each of us would not delay us in our travels, and may save the innocent.

”Yes, young ruffians, we will partake of your beverage, but only one for each of us, and we insist, it must be in a clean glass.”

Fresh glasses were produced, and in about a half hour, another bucket of beer was procured from the basement.  During the time that Sister Marie Clair and her host were gone to fetch the beer, amazingly, the buttons, all of them, on Sister Michael Mary’s blouse seemed to have fallen out of their button holes, and the delighted gentleman found that her slip was loose, and after the blouse had slipped from her shoulders, so followed the slip, and there on the porch, facing Langdon Street, was found the two warm and friendly acquaintances, by Sister Marie Clair and the bucket of beer, with lad attached, about a half hour later.  Rather than being upset by being found with the boys lips firmly attached to her right nipple, while his had brought the left to full attention, Sister Michael Mary smiled the smile of the intoxicated to her girlfriend, and waved her to the other bench facing away from the street. 

With a template of seduction just three feet in front of them, Sister Marie Clair and her new found friend, after pouring the beers, played a game of catch-up with the two who hadn’t journeyed.  Not more than five minutes found the four as God delivered them, on the floor, one couple with the lady on top, one with the man.  Soon enough that changed also.  The police patrolman, on his foot rounds, heard sounds of merriment, but as Sargent had said, if you go looking for trouble, soon enough you find it, and then you have paperwork, and not much societal improvement to show for your efforts.  Better to spend your time looking for murderers, robbers, second-story men, burglars, near-do-wells, and horse thieves than trying to arrest all the fornicators in the Latin Quarter.  The sun coming over the roof of a house over on Gilman Street awoke the four out on the porch and after a trade of partners, the girls went to the communal bathroom in the rooming house to clear up as best they could. 

Making a quick walk back to the convent the errant nuns entered as they would, through the church, this time going down to the basement and coming up the steps by the side entrance to avoid the walk of shame in front of the eight o’clock service.  With a few steps across the hidden walk, they were back safe in the convent, taking a good bath, cleaning the stained civilian garb, then a late breakfast, and quiet prayer for two or three hours, in the privacy of their rooms.

As was the norm for people of his faith, Dr. Shapiro and the good Mrs. Shapiro, and the four little Shapiro children has gone to synagogue on Saturday evening.  The synagogue on the two hundred block of West Washington was, in 1920, a little aged, but still serviceable.  Some of the community thought that they should all chip in and build a new synagogue, but that would be decades in the future.  After Synagogue, there was the return trip home, the tucking into bed of the children, the oldest of which, just twelve, thought that she should be allowed to stay up and listed to the new radio, for there were many interesting radio shows on the air, even with only three stations that they could receive the signal from.

After the kids were all tucked into their beds, Dr. Shapiro would take the time to introduce Mrs. Shapiro to the lasted advances in the treatment of female hysteria, and its accompanying pleasures.  She had at first felt that his work was dirty, and unclean, but, after two treatments, the resistance to the third was just plain feeble, and then never heard again.  With her current enthusiasm, it was only a manner of time before there would be a new little sister or little brother for the children to help bring up.   The other Doctor, Doctor William Michaels was out with his fraternity brothers at the speakeasies on Regent Street, and Mills Street.  There was music at many of the establishments, and there was great merriment to be had, helped along by the glories of the demon alcohol, some of it aged 20 minutes or so, and some less, so that it was still warm from the condensing coils of a still in someone’s basement, usually not more than a block away.

Doctor Michaels, dressed as a college boy, was not a big drinker, but he didn’t mind buying a drink for whatever of the dark eyed, long brunette haired Mediterranean girls approached him.  They were so glad they had found a man with money, and a taste for their beauty, they rarely turned away, especially if he kept buying them alcohol.  Every speakeasy was in a house, and every house had a back yard, and every back yard had a bench or a chair or something to sit on, neck on, pet on, and consummate on.  If they couldn’t find something to sit on, the grass was ok too, if you checked to make sure there wasn’t any broken glass.  Some women say him as a favorite, but they seemed to get too grabby, and he didn’t like that.  He liked variety, and not something that would be permanent.  By changing speakeasies frequently, the girls didn’t know where to find him, and that was ok by him.  He knew how to find that which he sought, and he kept his freedom too.  He was not afraid of seeing these girls in the practice, for he figured that they got enough on their own.  Plus, they were poor, and paying a doctor for what they could get from any Johnny on the street for free, or perhaps with a dollar or two for their efforts. 

At the rectory, the midnight hour saw the two ministers of the faith, Father Flannigan, the new member of the clergy, and Father McDonald finishing their conversation in the second floor office of the priests.  The older had instructed the younger on the expectations of the flock, the content of the sermons they expected, and the special needs of the members of the parish, particularily the widows, the wives of the drunks, and those who couldn’t conceive with their husbands.  All of these needed help with their problems, and Gods own presence on Earth was endowed by the creator with the knowledge, wisdom, and ability to help these women with their problems.  The men, the men with problems, well they could be told to buck up, take the bull by the horns, pray to God, give thanks for the bounty, and share the grace, and the bounty with the collection basket.  There was also the care of the housekeeper, and the attentions of the choir leader, and the organist needed some degree of reinforcement that her playing opened the door to heaven. 

The newest of the new was also instructed in the procedures to drive the devil out of women with sin, and the draining of the devils work, done by the faithful on their knees, in front of the men of god.  This was the work necessary to insure the purity of the men of god, for the devil was testing them, testing them with the evil testosterone which had to be drained least it turn their minds to the devils work.  The faithful, particularly the widows seemed good at the draining, while those willing to conceive did not mind the application of the priest’s godly tool to drive the devil out of the women.  None of this was taught in the seminary, but Father Flannigan seemed willing to take on the challenges of seeing to his flock.  Gods work was mighty, and Gods work was to be done.

Out in the western suburb, just past the University, the Professor, and his house staff were exhausted.  They had met in the garden, hidden by the tall hedge that Karl had trained to be solid.  Worshipping the moon, they had disrobed, and partaking of the week cannabis, that Karl had some knowledge of, they piped it, smoked it, and bayed at the moon, like hounds.  Partners were used, and exchanged, and after a swim in the pond on the property, it all was done again.  Midnight fount the international cabal in the Professors private chamber, all sleeping the sleep of the exhausted.  The professors sleeping chambers were huge, and needed to be with two double beds fastened together, hinged at the top under the pillows so they could be scissored   apart to change linens.  No one could tell when one started, and the other ended, and they slept a peaceful sleep until dawn.

Church for these men of science, was the worship of strong coffee in the morning, fresh squeezed juice, and a full German breakfast, served by frauleins wearing just a smile and cologne.

 

Thus, the rising sun, that Sunday brought illumination to a small city, in a small State, in a country that offered opportunity to all that would just rise up and grasp it.

 

 

 

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Madison.TheDarkSide.Wisconsin. Chapter10.TheTransporters

December 10, 2013

Chapter 10

The Transporters

The Capital Times. 

Saturday, July 10. 1920

“Alcohol Flows into This City Like Water Down a Mountain in the Spring.”

 

              Frank was a man who tended to stay alone, by himself.  Frank was an inactive Marine.  He had been a farm kid on a small farm just outside of Fond du Lac, about 20 miles toward Sheboygan.  When he was 17, his dad explained to him that his older brother would be getting the farm, which was just the way it was.  He looked to the east, and saw Sheboygan, with fleets of fishing boats, boats that went out into Lake Michigan in all weather, heat and cold, to get fish to sell.  To the west, was Fond du Lac, with factories, machine shops, industry, trade, and work that did not involve a cold wet boat and cold wet fish, not that he didn’t like fish.  He liked his fish, baked, broiled, or roasted, or fried.  Just not fresh, wiggling, cold and wet. 

              So, when school got out, in June, he hitched a ride with one of the wagons that travelled the road from Sheboygan to Fond du Lac, an older guy, with a bottle, and a lot of stories, some about girls.  In FDL, as the sharpies called it, he was bunked in with his cousin, at his aunt and uncles place, just east of the four corners, in the center of town, perhaps a mile south of the bottom of Lake Winnebago.  His cousin seemed to know everybody in the town, which is not that big an achievement in a town of a couple thousand, and by the first Saturday night, Frank had a job, a place to stay after the first paycheck, and he went out to the concert at the band stand.  His cousin, Norbert, a self-perceived   lady’s man, introduced him to a beautiful blond girl.  Blue eyes you could sink into, red hair down to her shoulders, and a smile that would melt the largest ice glacier in Montana, Frank was certain that she was the girl for him.  Within a week, the first kiss led to the second, and then a third and then…….  .  Meanwhile, at the place he had found a job, a brunette girl in the front office, had made time to come and see him at the machine he ran.  After putting a piece of wood in the machine, the machine cut and shaped the wood, and he had about 40 seconds to watch, or talk.  Friday night was good for both of them, and he started seeing a second your woman.  Not a bad accomplishment for a 17 year old guy, in town for the first time of his life.  Friday nights were good, and Saturday nights just as good.

              Then, about two months after he moved from the farm to Fond du Lac, two disasters happened, or, perhaps three.  The brunette told him on Friday night that he was going to be a daddy, and she said that he was the man for her, and he had a great future, and they would have to get married quickly so the baby would be thought to be legitimate.  Shocked as a young man of 17 could be at that news, he nodded, and the usual activities of a Friday night ensued, except, that now, there was no worry about a pregnancy.  Saturday night was the blond’s   night.  The news from her was also illuminating.  She was pregnant, and she looked forward to spending the rest of her life with Frank, and to bare him more babies, and he was a good man, and he would provide for her and the kids, and she wouldn’t have to work because she would be home taking care of his children and making more.

                             Frank was now experienced at receiving this kind of news without comment, or expression.  This was Saturday night, after all, and being engaged, so to speak, a practice session for the honeymoon was in order.  At church the next day, after the services, both young women saw Frank, and saw fit to introduce him to their parents.  As the brunette was taking him in arm to meet her father, the Judge, Judge Royster, the blond approached and a discussion broke out, not about the weather, but, weather he was going to have blond children or brunette.  Turned out, the blond breeder, was the prize daughter of another man of importance, the Sheriff of Fond du Lac County.

 

Well, two men of the law, can have a quiet discussion, but this was not one of those times.  Frank was taken to the courthouse, not under arrest you know, although with 16 year old girls, that was a possibility. X2.  The two men of law discussed the situation, and the two girls were sent to a Catholic girl’s school down by Milwaukee, where the diocese took care of these things, making sure that the babies were adopted to the wealthy benefactors of the church.  But, what to do about Frank, especially to protect the community from someone as virile as this teen.  The Sheriff had been in the Army, serving in the west, and the Judge was a Marine, serving on a variety of warships in the late 18th century.  After much discussion, perhaps 5 minutes, it was decided.  The boy and the Sheriff would be on the next day’s train to Milwaukee, and a path to the recruiters for the Marines, and the Army would be trod.  As it turned out, the Marines were closed to the train terminal, and thus, Frank became a Marine, just six months before the war against Spain,   his training was short, and he was on a battleship that was at the battle of the Philippines where he saw the Spanish fleet sunk with almost no damage to the American’s and their great white ships.  Liking the east, Frank was in China for the Boxer Rebellion, by that time a Sargent, and he was known to have put up a good show, and brought all his men out.  There were some other appearances by the Marines up until the start of the Great War, and he was stationed at the embassy in London when the Archduke and wife were shot.

Knowing the London area, he was the man to talk to about logistics, and getting things, and getting things done.  When the Marines started arriving, he was issued more stripes for his arm, and was in charge or a great quantity of those large Mack chain drive trucks.  His war years were spent with a pencil, a fleet of trucks, and the worry of getting equipment from the docks in France to the soldiers at the front.  He was soon the expert for getting things done, and the Army, even the Army, send men to him to learn how to get things done.  Unlike some other Marines, Marines who would have messed with the Army men, Frank figured out that there would be a need for friends in the future and having friends all over was better.  It took almost 6 months to get all the men home, and there was no need for a trucking man in a peacetime Marine Corp, a Corp that had shrunk to a small fraction of its wartime strength.

Frank had no home, Fond du Lac had skeletons, and he had heard many things good about the capital city, a place called Madison, from a sharpshooter named the Swede.  A large man, a man who was good to have at your back in a bar fight, they had had their fun in Paris.  So, when the Marines mustered him out, the train to Madison was as good a ride as any.  When he got there, it took about an hour to find someone who knew the Swede, and he took Frank over to meet a guy in the Italian section.  Well, Frank’s grandmother was from the old country, and his Italian was not good, but good enough to get a job as a driver for the Sicilian. 

The Sicilian had, through his contacts, a fleet of Ford Model TT trucks.  The brewery who had them to start with had stopped making beer, therefore, didn’t need the trucks.  The owner of the brewery had traded the trucks into the Buick Agency in town for two new Buicks, which was a useful trade for both.  Of the eight trucks, the Swede had bought one, a flatbed, from his neighbor, the agency owner, and another was in use by the Japanese laundry, that one was a panel delivery truck, and the remainder, six in total, had been bought by the Sicilian for his businesses.  He had them modified by the Swede, and the one that was being used by Frank today was typical of the modifications that all of the other trucks received partially, or in full.  To start with, the back of the cab was moved backwards.  The outside was doubled with another backside from a wrecked truck, and the back of the cab was moved rearward by 12 inches.  The inside was moved rearward about 6 inches, making a space between the inside back wall, and the outside back wall of about 6 inches.  This space, from side to side, top to bottom was fitted with a tank, which was about 60 gallons capacity.  The firewall was similarly doubled, and had about 25 gallons capacity.  The frame rails had long slender tanks on the inside and outside of the I beam rails that were the frame members, which allowed for about 16 gallons on each side, and there was a false floor under the real cargo bed which was only about 3 inches deep, but was 6 feet wide, and 12 feet long.  The capacity of that tank was close to 120 gallons, for a total hidden capacity of about 236 gallons of some sort of liquid.  Mostly, the cargo was Canadian Whiskey, shipped from Sault Saint Marie, in Canada.              

The drive was a long one, about 450 miles one way, on roads that were ok to Green Bay, on the old Military Road, but from there north, the roads were mostly dirt or gravel.  Two days in each direction was about right, with time for a shower and a hot meal and refilling the thermos for the ride back.  At first, when Frank had started, the ride up was done in two days, but the ride back was non-stop, which was why he had a rider who would split the driving with him, for the return drive was almost 22 to 24 hours of movement.   Shortly, the Sicilian had made arrangements for a sleepover in a locked warehouse in the city of Marinette, Wisconsin, about half way.  The Sicilian had bought a fruit and vegetable wholesale business in Marinette just for the warehouse, which he staffed with his own men.  Splitting the run into two drives of about 225 miles on those roads made for a long day, but, a workable day. 

Frank always stopped on the drive up to sleep over in Marinette, and to have dinner at the roadhouse that was on the highway through town.  He enjoyed the cooking of Mrs. Anne, a 33 year old Welch girl, widowed by the logging trade, and her daughter, Dawn, a sturdy girl of about 16.  They put a meal on, at noon, and at 6 pm, that was attended by both bachelors and business men who were in the downtown area.  Both were easy on the eyes, and a soft, attentive voice was a welcome addition to the lives of both the single and married men of Marinette.

This trip, he and his co-driver, an Italian man of about his age, made good time, and pulled into Marinette about 5 pm, after leaving Madison about 6 am.  Pulling the truck, labeled on the side, “Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetables” into the warehouse, both used the shower that was over a floor drain.  There were two beds in an office off to the side, in the front, which were used by drivers, and others who needed a soft place.  At six o’clock sharp they walked in the door of Mrs. Anne’s, and found a table with four chairs open in a corner.  In seconds, Dawn came over with large glasses of water, with ice.  She was a buxom lass, and wore a dress that many might have thought scandalous.  The tops of her teen age bosoms were visible when she was observed from straight ahead, and when she bent over, such as to deliver the water, soup, salad, dinner of desert, the casual observer could detect the full size and scope of the delicate orbs.  Tips for a dinner at a fine restaurant in town might be perhaps a quarter, for dinner for two, but, here, the sweet Dawn frequently earned 50 cents for taking an order and making many visits to a table, with fresh water, rolls, or just to say hello. 

Dinner that night was roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, roll and butter, with strawberry rhubarb pie for the dessert.  The guys ordered two dinners, with root beer to wash.  The Sicilian was strict.  No drinking while driving with his truck or with his cargo.  Nobody wanted to find out what the penalty was. 

“Hi guys, the menu is on the sign, would you like two?”  This was the Italian guy’s first trip in the door, and the sight of this young ladies breasts made him not pay much attention to what she was saying.  Frank, who was a regular, nodded. 

              “Two root beers also.”

Tony looked at Frank, and was going to say something but thought better of it when he notices Anne behind the bar, watching.  She was also a sight, and there was a family resemblance in her physique, and her display of such wealth. 

Frank said “Her ma watches her, they take care of each other, but, they are women, and they have needs also.  I just behave myself, leave a good tip, wait until closing with root beers, and see what happens.  There is a reason I do that every run, every week.”

Tony nodded.  “We have women like that in the bush, quiet and behaved in public, but…..”

Dawn, who had been in the back, came out with two dinner rolls, and bent down to set the plate on the table, in the middle, giving the two men a show.  She had intentionally forgot the butter, so, feigning surprise, stated.  “Oh, darn, I forgot your butter, I’ll be right back.”

Such a bad job of acting made the men smile, as they watched her backside sway as she scurried back to the kitchen.  The speed with which she came back out the doorway tattle tailed that the butter had been prepared in the kitchen, and there now was justification to tease the grown men with another bending over the table as she set the butter next to the rolls.  Mrs. Anne was watching this, for there were only one other table with men eating, and it had been apparent when they came in that they were church men, for they had bowed their heads and said the prayer of grace, even before the young girl had come over.  That they were religious men was interesting, for it spoke that the food served was superior to any other restaurant in the area.

Soon enough, the men of the cloth finished their meal, settled up, and left.  The sounds of a Model T is unmistakable, and the four left in the road house soon knew that they were the only ones left.  The sun was low on the horizon, when Mrs. Anne went over to the door, closed it, slide the bolt over, and flipped the sign that said open on one side to the closed on the flip side.

“Boys, how about a little music, I just got a new record for the gramophone from Sears, and we sort of like the tunes.”

Both men nodded, and after a brisk cranking, the gramophone started its work.  Mrs. Anne came over to Frank, and extended her hand in an invitation to dance.  Frank was fond of dancing with the womenfolk, he often went to the dances in Madison on Sunday afternoons.  He was pleasantly surprised to find two things, first that the dance was the type where the man would hold the woman.  He found that her head tucked perfectly onto his shoulder, and he felt her breasts against his chest.  His hand, starting on the small of her back, slowly slid down, and he discovered, again pleasantly, that she either did not wear bloomers during the day, or had removed them in the back, prior to locking the door and starting the music>

With his hand cradling her butt, her breasts rubbing his chest, he was soon responding to the application of prime womanhood.  She turned him to face her, and held him close enough to she would have had to be dead not to notice his manhood.  Looking over at the table, he saw that Dawn had moved Tony to one of the heavy chairs which usually were at the heavy table for 6, which, he had previously noticed was substantial in its construction.  Tony had started the dance with Dawn sitting on his lap, watching her mother and Frank on the dance floor.  Soon enough, she was dancing on Tony’s lap, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Giggling, Dawn leaned back against his chest, her head eventually next to his, and whispered, “Look at where his hand is,  I think that she likes it.”

Tony, whose hands had been on the arms of the chair, which itself was almost three feet, and heavily cushioned, moved his hands to her hips, and discovered that there was little, if anything under her dress.  He held her hips, and they moved to the music.  Suddenly, she took both of those hands and moved them up her side to her breasts, whispering to him.  “Don’t think I’m too young to enjoy a man!” 

Tony, who hadn’t had those thoughts at all, but was more thinking about a young girl’s mother, and what she would say and do if she noticed an older man with his hands all over her daughter.  Besides, this mother was a cook, and in the kitchen, there were a lot of sharp knives, ranging from small paring knives, which could be thrown like daggers, or the big butchering knives almost 18 inches long.  He needn’t have worried, Miss Anne was watching her daughter, with a really big smile on her face.  Tony noticed that her hands were busy, one around Frank’s neck, and the other below his belt, checking her progress on the notification of his manhood.

Seeing what looked like permission, his hands went a bit further, to the three buttons left buttoned on the front of her frock.  After freeing them from their confines, Dawn stood up, twirled, and sat down on Tony’s lap again, this time facing him.  Her dress was about her waist, and she took his head in her hands, and her lips started exploring his lips, first with no tongue, then with a little, then all that she had.  His hands were busy, and her nipples responded in good fashion.  Tony’s hands went to her butt, and he discovered that she too, was naked under her outer garments.  She then lifted her dress over her head, and he had the thrill of a young teenager dancing as Eve had in the beginning, but on his lap. 

Meanwhile, on the dance floor, Miss Anne had unbuttoned Frank’s fly, and his manhood was catching the night air.  Her dress had opened to the waist, and suddenly Frank lifted her up, catching a nipple in his mouth.  She wrapped her legs around him, and told him.  “To the table, it will support us.” 

Two steps found her sitting on the table, perfect height for what would follow.  Her dress was lifted, and she stripped the shirt off of Frank, throwing it to the floor, he had slipped his suspenders to remove the shirt, and he soon lost his pants and undergarments.  Wisely, he had removed his work boots when the dancing started, and he was in the arms of Mrs. Anne, garbed only in his sox.  Nature ensued, and her cries of enthusiasm were motivation to Dawn and Tony who joined them at the table. 

Callers to the roadhouse probably wouldn’t have wanted to be served at that particular table, but it was perfect for it’s called upon duty that night.  Each woman, the still young mother, and the daughter, who in the eyes of many would have been considered not old enough for the eves activities, had cause to call out to their God on multiple occasions.

Frank and Tony looked at each other, and wordlessly, changed partners, so that there would be no argument in the coming days of which was better, mother or daughter.

The net result, was that each had fine attributes, different, but very fine attributes.  Either would have been welcome in bed on a cold winter night, or, in this case, a warm summer night.  Or, not even in bed.

The morning found partners with partners, and the roadhouse opening for business at 6 am.  The guys were the first customers of the day, and ate well, having worked up an appetite the night before.  On the road at 6:10, stomachs full, thermoses full of coffee, they had a good eight hours to Sault Sainte Marie, to unload the vegetables, and load the liquid gold, and the empty bottles, which the bill of lading said was to go to the Madison Sarsaparilla Company, on West Main Street, in Madison, Wisconsin.

The two men were quiet for an hour.  The each had a china mug from the road house.  Frank spoke.  “On the way back, we should stop and return these mugs.”

“Yup”

“Maybe around supper time, or a bit latter”

“Yup”

“Maybe dance a bit.”

“Yup”

“Tony. What’s got your tongue, can’t you speak the King’s English for more than one word.

“I’m going back to Madison, and back to a neighborhood full of Italian women, some with mustaches better than mine.  After those two, there ain’t nothing in Madison, east side, west side, downtown, that carries a candle to either of those two.”

“Yup.”

The rest of the trip that day was uneventful.  The pinery had been cut perhaps twenty years before, and the trees were grown up to maybe 20 feet.  About supper time, they reached Sault Saint Marie, and the Sicilians’ warehouse.      Their orders were to watch the loading, making sure that all the tanks were full to the brim, the drains were closed and safety wired against the road shock.  They also checked that the cases of empty Canadian Whiskey, had all been washed and rewashed to make sure that anyone checking would find that there was no whiskey at all in the empty bottles.  “No need to remove the labels in Canada, sir, the factory in Madison washes the bottles, removes the old labels with steam, and puts the new labels on right there, just before they refill them with Sarsaparilla.”

They slept in the warehouse, and there was two fresh men in the truck the next day, heading south.  Customs was no problem.  Those Customs men drove better cars than their pay grade dictated, and their kids were the first in their family to be educated at any university.  And at the University of Wisconsin, where their scholarships stated they must be educated, they were at dormitories just a few blocks from the Sicilian, and in fact, sometimes ate Sunday dinner at his house.  Yes, Customs was an easy obstacle to get through.

Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Fresh beans from the garden, and more coffee, were the menu selections.  The men knew that the truck had to be in motion, for if it stopped, it could be hijacked.  When they were in the truck, Frank had his revolver in a slot in the dashboard, and his Model 1911 Automatic in a slot in the seat.  Tony also had a revolver, and had a Thompson submachine gun, with the stock cut off making for a wicked machine pistol.  But all this armament was useless to guard the cargo, if the boys were sleeping in some roadhouse.  They ate, and said their goodbyes.  Then Dawn took Tony by the hand and led him out to the barn.  About 10 minutes later she came back, with a little hay in her hair.  Tony was smiling like a moron, but, he was a happy moron.  Mrs. Anne spoke, “Take care of the customers, I’ll be back in a minute, or two.  Tony and Dawn knew that it would not be 60 seconds, or even 120 seconds.  Tony grabbed the coffee pot, and freshened up the customer’s cups, and Dawn watched the stove.  After about 15 minutes, the two returned, both in good mood.

The truck fired up, and the two rolled back onto the road south.  The Swede had mounted a strong generator, and lights from a Cadillac, so the vision after dark was superb.  The two men, both in great moods, sang some of the standards of the day, and while racking their memory, were able to remember the tunes and words from the record at Mrs. Anne’s.

Saint Christopher did his work, and the two weary travelers pulled into Madison, to the Madison Fruit and Vegetable Warehouse, just a few minutes late.  They had made some good time after they got on the improved highway from Green Bay to Madison, gravel all the way.  The surveyors had done good work when they laid out the Old Military Road, and it was too dusty, men, in good mood who drove the truck into the warehouse, directly over the grease pit, that long trench in the floor, originally meant to have a man in to drain the oil and grease the many fittings that modern truck had to lubricate the moving joints.  And indeed, after a 800 mile road trip, eventually, the oil would be changed, and the grease fittings greased.  More importantly, the men got into action. Glass milk bottles, washed of all traces of the milk, were used with funnels to drain the whiskey, one gallon, or just short each time.  The bottles were passed out to runners, who took the whiskey to work benches, where it was dumped into a two gallon container with a 3/8 inch pipe with valve at the bottom.  The Canadian whiskey bottles, washed in Canada, were then refilled, and recorked with the same corks the distillery had used.  It would take several hours for the work to be completed. 

Frank and Tony were given their pay in cash.  Two days of 8 to 10 hours each for the trip up, and one day, full 20 to 24 hours for the trip back, netted them a full weeks pay.  If they wanted, they could have taken two trips per week, but, there were other men who needed the work, and the Sicilian liked it if the men were around, because they were walking billboards of the good work that men could get working in the Fruit and Vegetable business.

Four days off, in summer, meant that going to the different county fairs was ok, camping in the fields next to the fair grounds was encouraged, to get the money of people from outside the county, and there were people to meet, games to play, and girls to later meet in the dark.  Summer was also a time for the milk bars, walking downtown, meeting the people who were new in town, and visiting with the old friends in the neighborhood.  During the day, fishing, reading the papers, and thinking about things. 

One of the other teams had crashed, in the dark.  Nobody was hurt, but the driver probably dozed off.  It was at three o’clock in the morning, and while they were able to get a farmer with a couple of Clydesdale sized horses to bring them back onto the road, the warning was there.  The Sicilian had asked Frank what his idea was, and after this trip he had the solution.  After calling to get a morning appointment with the Sicilian, Frank explained his plan over orange juice, dark coffee, fruit, and a soft boiled egg. 

“I usually stop at a road house outside of Marinette, it is about half-way to the warehouse in Canada in Sault Saint Marie.  The woman who runs it with her daughter is a good woman, hard working.  They have a big barn out back, I looked in it the last trip.  A couple of locks, and a couple of boards, and it is secure.  Two beds and the drivers could sleep with the truck and be on the road fresh in the morning.  She could use a man around the place, and if you put one of your men there, he would know just what is happening, and would be able to keep it safe, secure, and in our control.”

“You make a good point, Frankie, jour guy can keep a watch on the road, see if there is anything happening on the road that I should know about.  How busy is the place?”

“We are there about supper time, and there are always a couple of trucks, or salesmen there.  It is the best place to eat north of Green Bay, hell, north of Oshkosh.”  He added. “It quiets down just before dark, nobody wants to drive the north woods in the dark, what with the bears, coyotes, wolves, and whatever else is up there.”

“Good, and they can use some fruits and vegetables?”

“They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If your prices can compete with the grocery store in Marinete, why wouldn’t they want to buy your fruits and vegetables?”

The Sicilian took a long drink of coffee, then lit his cigar.  “You know most of the men in my organization, who do you think would want to work that far from here, Gods little slice of heaven?”

“After clearing his mouth, Frank replied.  “Tony seemed to like the north woods for a change.  If you paid him a little more for being away from his family and friends, you might be able to get him to spend some time up there.  Maybe not twelve months of the year, but, him and a couple of other guys could trade off.  Have to ask him.”

“Well Frankie, you got the time, why don’t you take one of the cars for a drive and see if you can find him.  He likes to fish in the morning by the dam over on Wingra, see if you can find him and try to talk him into this.  It would be very important to me to see if you can handle this little bit of my business for me.”

“Yes, sir.  I will report back as soon as I finish with him”

After breakfast, and a complement to the housekeeper, a woman of some respect in the community for the man she worked for, Frank took a Chevrolet roadster, only a year or so old, and went for a drive.  Only about 10 minutes later, he saw Tony, pole in hand, sitting at the side of the lake, two fish next to him on the grass. 

“Tony, how da’ biting?”

“Good, got lunch here, and dinner soon enough.”

“Tony, I bet you $20 I can talk the Sicilian into hiring you to live in the road house with Mrs. Annie, and Dawn, and get paid to live there with them.”

Because this is a family oriented book, I cannot accurately portray the response that Tony had for Frank’s wager, other than:  “Gee, gosh, golly, and wow.”

Within a half hour, Frank was back at the Sicilian’s house, with the two fish as a present from Frankie to the Scillian’s lunch menu.  Leaving the newspaper wrapped fish with the housekeeper, he heard her exclaim. 

“What a present, they didn’t even gut and clean them.  Huh.  Hold it, they’re still alive.  Well, I guess that was to show that the fish are fresh.”

“Good news, sir.  Tony will accept the assignment to live away from family and friends at that roadhouse in the middle of nowhere.  I didn’t say anything about the money, I figured that was between him and you.

“Well done, I may have some other work for you to do in my name soon.”  For now, I have to go for a drive.  Do you want to take me?”

“Certainly.”  And that was how a person got ahead in the days of the prohibition.  Do a little job well, get a bigger assignment, do that job well, and responsibility grew.  Nothing was said of those who screwed up.  Sometimes, people climbed the ladder of success one rung too high.   Sometimes.

 

 

 

Feminine/Masculine

December 3, 2013

What Is Feminine? What Is Masculine?

Feminine traits are ways of behaving that our culture usually associates with being a girl or woman. Masculine traits are ways of behaving that our culture usually associates with being a boy or man.

WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE FEMININITY

  • dependent
  • emotional
  • passive
  • sensitive
  • quiet
  • graceful
  • innocent
  • weak
  • flirtatious
  • nurturing
  • self-critical
  • soft
  • sexually submissive
  • accepting

 

WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE MASCULINITY

  • independent
  • non-emotional
  • aggressive
  • tough-skinned
  • competitive
  • clumsy
  • experienced
  • strong
  • active
  • self-confident
  • hard
  • sexually aggressive
  • rebellious

 

Clearly, society’s categories for what is masculine and feminine are unrealistic. They may not capture how we truly feel, how we behave, or how we define ourselves. All men have some so-called feminine traits, and all women have some so-called masculine traits. And we may show different traits at different times. Our cultures teach women and men to be the opposite of each other in many ways. The truth is that we are more alike than different.

Madison.TheDarkSide.Wisconsin.ChapterNine.TheScholars.

December 2, 2013

Chapter Nine

The Scholars

 

The Capital Times

Saturday, July 10, 1920

“The Legislature met in session yesterday   to discuss the continuing problems being experienced with the students of the University of Wisconsin.  The Volstead Act has done nothing to encourage the young students to maintain sobriety, and in fact, the sources of alcohol being outside of the law, has made it more possible for the young students to obtain alcohol, and other substances regardless of their age.  The Legislature studied the problems for most of the day, and adjourned for more intense study.  Bi-partisan study groups were formed and met unofficially at the Park Hotel in the Billiards Room on the second floor later that afternoon and evening.”

 

Madison, Wisconsin was a college town almost from its first breath.  The population was still small in 1849, on February 8, when Professor Sterling held the first class.  Although the written records are lost to time, verbal history has it that the first drunken students getting into trouble on State Street were observed at about 8 pm, on February 8, 1849.  It is said that the first local girl, “townie,” gave birth to a bastard child, conceived during a drunken condition, on or about October 8, 1849.  Since Professor Sterling’s first class, successive generations of students at the University of Wisconsin, the real one, not one of those letter campuses, have done their best to maintain drunkenness and debauchery as well established minors in their fields of study.

 

Jeffrey was not among the hung over in his Fraternity House on Langdon Street that Saturday morning.  After his job was completed at the Ice Cream Parlor in the two hundred block of State Street he bicycled over the Green Bush district where he was employed at a front door man at a speakeasy.  The work was really not difficult, there was a code word, rarely changed, whispered through a sliding panel in the heavy oak door.  Jeffrey and one other door man would open the door, and it opened outward for additional security.  The visitors would enter the small anti-chamber, and would have to wait until the door was closed and locked.  Then, at the second door, the sliding panel opened, and another doorman asked that night’s code word.  If the visitors knew the word, they entered, if they didn’t, a door to the side was opened and they had to leave.  Finding themselves in the alley of a speakeasy was not a way to impress a date, and sometimes the dates were quite angry, angry enough that they told their male companions to take a hike, and tried to get in on their own recognition.  Sometime it worked, especially for the pretty ones, especially for the ones whose dresses were loose, especially for the ones who were the founders of the theory that pretty girls should reward the guys at the door.  Jeffrey liked the rewards. 

              One of the rules was that the doormen did not drink alcohol when at work at the door.  There were stories of one guy, Named Fast Eddie, because of his work at the billiards table, who did drink at the door, and two of his fingers were disrupted.  Whether or not that actually was the story, the story worked.  Plus, if you were drunk, you missed the tips as the partiers left the warehouse on their way home.  The management did encourage the doormen, only at the end of the night, to drive the more tipsy to their homes, and as a result, they got very good tips.  The speakeasy, in the back room of a fruit and vegetable warehouse at the point where West Main met the railroad yards, was a hit with the more affluent of the area.  It was not unusual to see the parking lot full of Cadillacs, Packards, and the other vehicles of the affluent.  Frequently, the chauffer driven cars were clustered together, and the drivers had an area on one of the loading docks with chairs and some boxes that they could be comfortable in.  The doormen, only at the end of the night, for both were required to be on duty at the door when the liquor was out, would run to the drivers and tell the chauffeur that his people were ready to leave.  The ride back on the running board was exhilarating, to say the least.  The speakeasy usually ran from 9 pm to 1am, usually not much later.  After his shift there, Jeffery sometimes walked Marcy, one of the cigarette girls to her rooming house on Langdon, not far from his fraternity.  Walking from the speakeasy to the Langdon Street area was mostly through residential areas, and was not dangerous at all, but a girl liked the safety of a young man, and the companionship was welcome.  She always rewarded him with a kiss from the safety of her rooming house, knowing that the house mother was watching from her window, right there, overlooking the porch.  If the goodbyes heated up, she used her knuckles on the glass, and once, with sufficient force that a crack in the glass was a result. 

 

That night, the bushes alongside one of the mansions on Wisconsin Avenue provided some degree of privacy for the couple.  Still a ways to go before they became truly intimate, the adventure did little to satisfy the hormonal desires of the two to consummate, but the building tension was not at all unpleasurable.

 

This Saturday, the alarm signaled time to awaken.  Jeffrey had an appointment with his Professor, Professor Steven Hawk, another Madison boy of achievement.  He too had been a soda jerk while he worked his way through the University with a double major in both Physics and in Mechanical Engineering.  The professor was in constant correspondence with the leading men in both field, particularly that of Physics and the theories of the smallest particle, the atom.  Letters to and from the leading universities in both Germany and Austria were about two weeks from posting to arrival, but, they were informative, and the trials of living in post war Germany and Austria had to be read to be believed.  The professor lived in a house in University Heights, a large home for one person, up on one of the highest points in the Heights.  From the Engineering School, it was only a 10 minute walk to the Professor’s home, and Jeffrey had always enjoyed the sight of the house with its’ attached two car garage.  The Professor was an avid car man, in the garage was a 1920 Stutz Bearcat, a series K, almost $3900 in cost.  The other car, a Cadillac coupe, was sharp in its own respect, but, the Stutz, oh, the Stutz, and man would kill for a car like that. It did not even occur to Jeffrey to question as to how and why a Madison boy, even a professor, could afford a huge house, and not one, but two cars, especially when one of the cars was double in price to what a professor would make in a year. 

 

Jeffrey was just a little winded when he arrived at the Professor’s home.  He could see the Professor, silk shirt and tailored slacks on the porch, eating a breakfast.  His housekeeper, a German woman in her late thirties, was attending to his needs and pouring coffee.  The woman’s husband, also a German, was the yard man, chauffeur when needed, and kept up the house, painting and making repairs when needed.  Their daughter, Hilde, was only about 16, but, a fine replica of her mother, about 5 foot 2 inches in height, with blond hair, cut short as was the fashion in those days, and the beginnings of the fine figure that her mother was known for.   Magda, the mother and house keeper, carried herself with the carriage of the aristocracy.  Jeffry had wondered about the family, and he knew that they had been in Germany during the war, but left soon after the Armistice day   surrender.  He knew also that Karl was an expert around machine tools, and the Professor had several of the finest in the basement workshop.  Jeffrey had been amazed when he saw this basement.  In a day and age when a basement was low ceilinged, dark, and damp, the Professors had almost 9 foot ceilings, painted walls, and incandescent lights every 10 feet, in rows about 10 feet apart.  Even the walls were painted, and being on a hill, there was a large door, not an ill-sealing garage door, but one built by craftsmen who were able to obtain a tight, weatherproof seal against the elements.

 

Professor Hawk greeted Jeffrey, and motioned him to the table set on the porch.  Mrs. Krupp, who had told Jeffrey to call her Magda, but her husband preferred Mr. Krupp, brought Jeffrey a cup of fresh hot coffee, and some grape juice, freshly squeezed from grapes from the Professor’s arbor.  She inquired if he would like a full breakfast, or perhaps toast with jam?  It did not escape Jeffrey, that when she had set the coffee down on his right side, her dress had dipped, providing him proof that German women were sturdy, and built for the long haul.  She truly was magnificent. 

“A full breakfast would be great, Magda,

“Yes Sir, and thank you, sir.” 

With that she left, leaving the Professor and the student alone at last.  They could see Karl patrolling the lot line and trimming the hedges as he saw fit.  Mostly, he was taking the errant branches of the hedge, and weaving them back into the hedge, making for a sturdier, more Germanic hedge, than if you just cut the outliers off. 

The Professor started.

 

Our research in the Physics department is looking at the energy in the most  small  particles, which we believe have tremendous power within.  As you probably realize by now, Karl and Magda are not from German peasant stock.  Karl was a leading physicist before the war, and even Magda has a degree in Chemistry from the leading institution in what was Austria-Hungary.  She is working on an advanced degree in Physics.  Their combined knowledge is without comparison, and knowing that, we sent people to find them in the wreckage of post-war Germany.  With my connections with the   War Department it was not difficult to get their paperwork stamped allowing them to come here as my servants.  We are in collaboration with the Eastern Universities and there is great work to be done here.  Are you interested in being a part of this great thing we do?”

 

At first, Jeffrey had trouble finding the words.  But, with weighed, cared precision he answered. 

 

“Yes Professor, I am interested, I do want to be a part of the future, and not a student only of the past.  But, why me, I am just a second year student, without even much of the chemistry classwork completed.”

“Jeffrey, you have be watched for four years.  When the United States entered the war, the word was sent out to military men who were in positions to observe young men.  This was teachers, professors in the university, and men in factories who could see who the best and brightest apprentices were.  Your chemistry teacher, here at Central High School told us about you after his man talked to him.  You were watched and monitored.  We know about your school work, your work as a jerk on State Street, even your work at the warehouse after hours.  How is that beautiful cigarette girl, what is her name, hmmm.  What is her name,   ah, Marcy.  A wonderful girl, smart, bright, and an expert in her own studies.  Do not tell her, but we have our people watching a number of young people of both genders, and she has been noticed.”

 

Jeffrey eyes remained calm, but he was more than a little surprised.  Did he have any secrets that these people didn’t know about?  Why were they watching, and what did you do when you worked with them. 

“Professor, count me in, I do want this, and I will work very hard for you.”

“Excellent, there will have to be a few changes.  Your time will become very valuable, you will be given tasks that are not understandable, but you must just complete them to the best of your ability.  You will give notice to the job on State Street, but you will keep the job at the speakeasy.  We need a place like that for meetings, and discussions, and sometimes for delivery of things.  We want a man there to evaluate the safety and background of the place on a nightly basis.”

“You pay will be excellent, but you will be required to perform flawlessly.  ‘No’ is not an option when we give you an assignment or an order.  We will start you at $100 per week, each week.”

Jeffrey’s heart sank. What the hell had he gotten into?  It took a soda jerk, full time, over a month to make that kind of money, almost two months, and he had been there since January, a full six months and had barely made two times that amount for half a year’s work, although part time, true enough.

Nodding, Jeffrey said.

 

              “That will be fine, more than generous, and shall I stay at the house on Langdon?”

 

              “Yes, you will continue to do that which a student does, sleep in late on the weekends, go to classes, do the work for the classes, eat and sleep at the house.  If you need a car for our work, there are Fords and a truck in the stable at the back of the yard.  We have a new door installed, so the exit from the stable can be up past the house, the normal way, or out the back and through the short distance to the street behind the house.”

“Now, your physical fitness is of prime importance.  You must be strong, fit, and able to swim, run fast and long distances, Karl will instruct you in fencing, sword work, fisticuffs, and other manly skills.  You will also be trained in shooting, both revolvers, and rifles.”

 

“We are done here now.  Magda and Hilde will take you over to the lake, by the farms on Picnic Point and you will swim.  They are both excellent swimmers, and will evaluate your form, and duration in the water.”

Magda returned, not with the full breakfast he had requested, but with an apple, and one piece of toast, with jam. 

“Can’t have you cramping up in the water and dying before we even start our work now, can we?”

Hilde entered the room, dressed for the warm weather in a light cotton shirt, and a pair of shorts, as was the fashion now with young girls at the gymnasium.  Smiling, she said.

“Hurry, Karl has brought the Ford around, it takes too much time to walk today, and we will have to get you worked up to run to the Point in the future.  Grabbing the toast, he finished the juice, and took the coffee cup with him to the car.  Oddly, Hilde was in the driver’s seat when he arrived, and Magda was behind her, with the door to the back being open indicating where he was to sit.  Once in the car, he wished for a place to put the coffee cup.  While Hilde drove, in a professional manner, smoothly but briskly, he thought of a design that would hold a cup of beverage, someday, he would have to do something about that idea.

 

As Hilde drove, Magda explained.

“The area known as Picnic Point, as you know is farmland which comes out from the point to the drive, and wraps around up the hill.  People think that the farmers working the land own the land, but, the Professor and his partners own the Point.  There is nothing but grazing land out on the Point, so, when we want privacy on the Point, we let the cows graze.  Nobody wants to mess around with a ton of cow, and some of the cows are pretty territorial.  The farmers post a sign that says “Grazing Beef on Point Today,” and nobody goes out there.  They posted the sign yesterday, so we have the place today.” 

 

Hilde called back from the driver’s position.

 

“We park just off the drive, and go by foot.  With the cattle there, we have to watch out for them, and use the trees as cover if they want to attack us.  Usually they ignore us, but the young bulls are pretty mean.” 

 

The arrived soon, and after leaving the car, each had a towel.  Jeffrey was so taken by the beauty of the day and the beauty of his companions,  that,  he didn’t even think of the question of bathing attire.  After walking about 300 feet past the fence into the land, there was motion in the brush off to the left.  Two young yearling bulls, broke through the brush line, and taking note of the invaders, started walking with steadily increasing gait.  Jeffrey and his companions took note, and there was good tree cover about a hundred feet ahead.  Although there was a path through the trees, used by the students when they looked for cover for picnics, and other adventures of the inquiring mind, the trees themselves were somewhat close together, close enough for a human to almost run through, but the larger animals would find it rough going off of the path. 

 

The females of the trio, after taking off their shoes, ran like gazelles across the pasture.  Jeffrey was hard pressed to keep up.  Over her shoulder, Hilda laughed at him.  “You don’t have to be able to outrun the bulls, it’s just that you have to outrun at least one of us.  They won’t run past a slo-poke to catch the fast runner.” 

Now in front of the fast moving hamburgers, Jeffrey calculated the distance between he and the animals, between he and the approaching woods, the approximate speed of the animals, and the approximate speed of his own running.  Although he somewhat enjoyed the complexity of word problems with multiple variables and constants, all he knew about this word problem, was, success would be success, failure would be failure, and there was no extra credit for showing his work.  The woods were now right here, and he went two steps down the path and veered to the left, between two trees of perhaps eight inches in diameter.  The young bulls came up short, and not seeing the women, and noticing that Jeffrey was now impossible to reach, they backed down the path to the pasture, and wandered off.  They weren’t the brightest animals in the barn, but they certainly ate the most, and growing boys will put eating above almost all else, regardless of breed.

 

Returning to the path, Jeffrey saw the forms of both Hilda and Magda about 50 feet down the way to the beach at the narrowing of the Point.  They were laughing, and a few steps at top speed put him right behind them.

“Watch out Hilde, another wild bull is loose and is sniffing after us.  I think that it has a hankering for you.  Protect yourself, my little one.”

“Oh no, Magda, the bull is fresh, and he seeks experience, you are the one who should run and hide.  For I think that he is seeking an old cow to teach him the tricks?”

“Old cow, you little bitch, I’ll teach you who is  the old cow.”

 

With that the two ran down the path, and Jeffrey was hard pressed to keep up with them.  They arrived at the narrowest part of the point, and to his amazement, the two barely stopped running, and stripped off their clothing.  In seconds they were free of all cover, and still running they were in the water up to their waists.  Beyond the many wonders of today, Jeffrey had been introduced to two women, who were supposed to be mother and daughter, who talked like harlots, didn’t wear underwear, swore, and swam nude.  He ground to a halt where there clothing lay on the grass.  They turned, and Hilde called out.

“Your turn, school boy.  Can’t swim with your clothes on, can you now?”

He looked at her, the water somewhere between her knees and hips, with the secrets of Eve presented for his inspection.  Just then, the beautiful buttocks of Magda rotated, along with the rest of the older woman, and he saw all of her two.

Magda said, “Your turn, this is your first order.  If you are to obey, you must strip and join us, for we are to evaluate your swimming abilities.”

Putting it that way, he accepted that the two were his superiors, at least now, and his shirt joined their clothes on the grass.  With the suspenders down, he hopped while the shoe and sock on first one leg, then the other took place on the grass.  Finally, the time had come, the two females were watching, as he unbuttoned the trousers, and they let gravity take over.  He slid his thumbs into his underwear, and it left him as Adam, but with two Eves, each more lovely and delightful than the other.  He ran a bit into the water, and a few bits of laughter escaped both of them as his maleness almost took flight.  He joined them, thankful that the water wasn’t too cold.  Clear is was, thanks to some wind and storm earlier in the week that had shook the algae up and disposed of it.

Magda spoke first,   “We will evaluate your swimming, both for speed and form.”  First, we will look at your form.  You can swim with Hilde up to the tree that overhangs the water.  From there, you will turn back and swim as fast as you can to me.”

Hilde had moved out a bit, and the water was up to the start of her breasts, the coolness had brought her nipples to full attention.  She nodded, as did Jeffrey, and Magda announced the start.  Jeffrey had swum since he was a minnow, and had taken training while in high school in the Red Gym on campus.  He had placed well in competition, and while at the university, he still swam at least three time per week, sometimes for speed, sometimes to see how many laps he could make without stopping.   This race was different,   he went at about half speed, so Magda and Hilde could watch his swimming patterns.  When he got to the tree, he stopped, at about the same time as Hilde did, the water now slightly over the top of her breasts, the wet hair hanging down over her head like a frame on an oil painting of a sea nymph.

Magda called out, “When I say go, swim as fast and as hard as you can.” 

Under her breath, Jeffrey heard Hilde say, “If you can catch me, you can have me.”

He was shocked, and somewhat excited by this wager. 

”Go”

Now he knew why Magda called her a little bitch.  She had jumped the gun and was a full length ahead of him.  He put all that he had into his arms and legs, and the crawl had never been done with as great an incentive at the finish line.  Almost a minute later, Jeffrey crashed into Magda, running her over.  Luckily, he did not scratch, dent, or bruise her with his powerful arms.  He knocked her over and felt the curves of her body under his as his momentum carried him over her.  Stopping, he found her under water, and lifted her up.  Coughing out a bit of water, she was none the worse for wear.  Apologizing profusely for being in his way during the race, she rather enjoyed his arms around her, the wetness of the water amplifying the feeling of his skin on hers.  As she got her wits back, Hilde swam up.  “So, I lost the race, and you got the boy, what kind of a deal is that?” 

Magda looked at Jeffrey, “Did she make you a bet down by the tree, what did she bet.”

 

Not wanting to lie to his instructor, Jeffrey repeated, “She said, if you can beat me, you can have me.”

Magda looked at Hilde, and asked “Is that so?”

Smiling, Hilde replied, “I just wanted to give him some motivation.”

By now, the trio was in water that to him was about knee high, and for the smaller Hilde was half-way to her waist.  With a quick move, Magda took   Hilde’s arms and sliding one of hers locked behind Hilde’s elbows, lifted her feet off the sandy bottom.  Looking at Jeffrey, Magda said, “Time to collect!”

Magda turned slightly, and Hilde cooperated, bending one knee while keeping the other straight.  She was able to lock her legs around Jeffrey’s waist, and with some help from Magda, who released her arms and gave her a lift up to where she clung to the new recruit like a koala bear to a eucalyptus tree.  Suddenly, Jeffrey found himself with a pint size water nymph clinging to him, and that which had always been done in small rooms, with closed doors, was happening in the lake, for God’s sake, with her mother, for God’s sake, not just watching, but making it happen.  Jeffrey thought to himself, steady yourself old man, you might get to like this line of work. 

 

An hour later, needs had been satisfied, clothing was now back on now dry bodies.  The three made their way through the woods, and got back to the car with no incidence with the bulls.  Might have been professional courtesy, bulls to Jeffrey, for he had bred both of the fillies.  During the resting stage, he was notified that the two were not mother and daughter, not even sister and sister.  They were both students at the University in Berlin, and the Head Professor in the Physics department had taken them both in protective good keeping when the war made life difficult in Berlin.  Hilde was truly only sixteen in years, at the close of the war,  and had been a first year student last year when Karl had made good his escape to the United States.  Magda was a graduate student in physics, aged 27.

Papers were much easier to prepare to be more in order for a Professor, his younger wife, perhaps his second wife, and his daughter, a mere slip of a teenager.  If was not difficult for Hilde to act a few years younger, perhaps 13, and similarly, it was not difficult, with no makeup, stooped shoulders, and a quiet countenance, as would befitting for a wife of a professor, not difficult indeed for Magda to act like a woman of 33 or 34 years.  When it was clear, they both shared the professor’s bed, for he had made it possible for them to live in comfort, with heat when it was cold, clean water to drink, and good food.  Plus, his work in Physics and Mechanical Engineering was interesting and both women were quick learners in these fields as well as those of chemistry and math.  From the professor’s viewpoint, the two women were the perfect cover for a professor on a vacation, where if he had tried to flee the country with two male graduate students, there would have been suspicion, inspector supervisors would have been called, and disaster predicted.  This way, he had two magnificent brains, plus two women in their prime, who looked at him as a god, or at least a king.  And his new partner, the professor in Madison, Wisconsin, made it all work.  Wonderbar. 

 

The two professors were involved with their bottle of single malt, a fine Scotch sent to them by another colleague at the University in Glasgow.  They both heard the Ford pull up the driveway, no doubt driven by Hilde, who, was after all, a very good driver.  Stopping near the front door, the car came to a halt and the three disembarked.  Up the steps all three joined the two seniors on the porch.  Magda reported, “He is accomplished in all tests given, he swims properly, he swims fast, and he is motivated by reward.  He will work fine in our objectives.”

Jeffrey was not sure that this was interpreted by the two professors in the same way that it had happened, but, it was positive, and that was good.

 

Hilde returned with a tray, with three glasses of lemonade, for the three travelers, for they had worked up a thirst in their efforts.  After sitting, she addressed Karl, “Will the swimming continue, or what is the next area to attention?”

Karl, in thought answered slowly, “We don’t want to wear out the boy the first week, perhaps just some time with his studies, and perhaps some running on the roads west of here so he builds his lungs and legs.  He can run, and you, Hilde, can motor behind him with water.  You can time him to see how long he lasts and how he improves.” 

 

With that, a light supper was put together, and after, Hilde asked Professor Hawk if she could drive Jeffrey to his job at the warehouse speakeasy, because he was due there soon, and it was a distance to get there, even with the cooling of the day, now that the sun was setting. 

Professor Hawk agreed that there was a timeliness factor in the situation, and felt that the car would be best.  The two youngsters entered the car, and left.  Although this was perhaps a 10 minutes trip at most from the house in University Hills, to the location at West Main Street, there was almost a 40 minute change on the clock before the lad, somewhat out of breath, and definitely moist with sweat left the car and took his place at the door to the speakeasy.  As the Model T left the parking lot, his partner at the door looked at him and said, “Is she old enough to drive that thing, and is her daddy knowing that his little girl is ferrying college boys around?” 

With a smile on his face, Jeffrey replied, “Her daddy is fully aware of his little girl, and what she does.  She is more of a handful then she looks, but she is a pleasure to spend time with, even with her mother present.”

 

 

 

Madison.TheDarkSide.Wisconsin.ChapterEight.TheClergy.

December 2, 2013

Chapter Eight

The Clergy

 

The Wisconsin State Journal.

Friday, July 9, 1920.

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Milwaukee proudly announces the ordination of Father McGuiver  a recent graduate of the Seminary of the Archdiocese in New York.  Growing up in Cross Plains, Wisconsin, Father McGuiver is knowledgeable of the Madison area, and will be right at home at the Cathedral of Saint Raphael here in Madison.”

 

              Friday morning was a fresh and bright at a morning could be.  Emil woke up a little early, and Rosie was spooned up against him.  His hand already was around her, and she was stirring just a little.  With a little finesse, the spooning was complete, and Rosie awoke to matrimonial bliss.  She had tried to sleep without her little bottle last night, for she knew that she would have to keep her wits about her today.  Matrimonial bliss was welcome last night.  She and Nadia had partook of a bottle of the Sicilian’s finest red wine, a gift from the Swede, who frequently was rewarded for his attention to the vehicles of the Sicilian’s fleet.  The four wine glasses were enough to relax her, and she was welcome to her husbands’ attention.  Sleep came early, and both Nadia and Emil knew enough to not twist fate by meeting in the hallway in the middle of the second floor that night.  Thus, Emil was feeling his oats that morning and sweetness ensued.  The two children had had an extra hour of listening to the radio that night, with the parents and Nadia, and both slept in.  Up in the attic, Nadia was finishing the last chapters of the Jack London book, “The Star Rover” and she was intrigued.  Where could she get some of those button things that the natives had supplied him with?  Laying on the top of the bed, she was not technically naked, but the shirt with no fastened buttons would have been considered merely a tease to any man remotely attached to the Russian.  Hearing the bed directly below make its noise, she silently went over to the floor directly over the light fixture attached to the ceiling.  Looking through the area where a knot hole was, strategically placed over the light fixture, she could see Emil’s butt working away, successfully if the mewing noises from Rosie were any indication.  Feeling a little lonely, due to her forced good behavior the night before, she retired to her bed and took care of her needs. 

 

              With that out of the way, and sounding like the activity downstairs had drawn to its natural conclusion, Nadia dressed.  Just a dress, nothing else, for that day looked to be a scorcher like so many in July, both here in the United States, and back in mother Russia.  Shoes completed the preparation for the day.  After making her way downstairs, she joined Rosie in the kitchen and set the table while the eggs and bacon did their time in the pay on the gas stove.  Amazing, the kitchen stove got its fuel from a pipe coming out of the wall.  No wood had to be cut, split, fetched, burned, and then emptied.  No wonder there were few cooks employed in the home, there was nothing to do but turn a nob and light a match, and the stove was ready. 

             

              Emil entered the kitchen, and Rosie turned, handing him a cup of coffee, fresh from the percolator on the back burner.  Nadia noticed that when she spun, the robe opened, and apparently there was nothing under the robe, at least above the waist.  Emil noticed, because that is what a man would do, even though just about 10 minutes ago, he had striped her out of her sleep wear and handed her the robe, with a wink.   Feeling more than a little naughty, Rosie put the robe on over nothing at all, for the robe was sufficient itself for the kitchen. 

 

              The two children entered, and told the adults of their dreams and adventures.  They had had full dreams after a night of radio adventure, and they remembered details that amazed the older people, not themselves far removed from childhood.

 

              The morning meal completed, Emil took a fresh cup of java to the front porch.  He always enjoyed the time alone on the porch, where he could organize his day at work.  This was Friday, and he would have to go to the bank to get the cash for the pay envelopes.  Lots of single dollar bills, and a couple of fives would pay the men for their week of work.  He heard Rosie head upstairs, to bath and brush, and to put on her dress for the day.  Nadia came out with her own cup of coffee, and sat on the other side of the table.  There was nothing to say about their enforced propriety the night before.  If no one found out, if no one got hurt, there was much pleasure and no personal expense.  This worked for both of them.  Emil took a five dollar note out of his wallet, and slipped it across the table to Nadia. Whispers had discussed this, and the amount was found to be agreeable to them both for the extra duties the Russian had undertaken.  Nadia smiled, and mouthed thank you, and tucked it into her dress.  Forgetting that she wore nothing under the garment, she took her hand out, with the money still in it, and both smiled at her mistake.  The dress was tailored with several pockets, and she had just tucked it money into one, when the children flew out the door and were gone down the front steps and around the house. 

 

It was almost time for the train, and they both enjoyed watching it come down the tracks.  Nadia did not have to monitor Artie this time, because his big sister was in attendance.  The noise the steam locomotive made was impressive, and it took several minutes for the peace to return.  Emil stood, empty coffee in hand, Nadia stood also, and much as she wanted to take him in her arms and press her chest to his, she knew that the banker was probably on his porch, and soon, the Swede would be leaving.  So, she took his coffee cup, and said good bye, and watched him get into the Buick Touring Car, start it with the amazing electric starter, select reverse, and roll down the street. 

 

Sitting back down, she finished her coffee.  Great stuff.  Soon enough, Rosie came down, freshly tubed and scrubbed, not unlike a new potato.  With a whiff of perfume, she was divine, and demurely dressed for public observation.  Sitting down, in the chair recently left by her husband, Emil, she addressed Tania.

“I have an appointment with the good priests at the Cathedral.  We are planning the social for the last Saturday in August.  A full event, there is a lot of planning and discussion.  I will be leaving soon, and perhaps won’t be back until mid-afternoon.  The ice man will be here around noon.  I frequently give him one of Emil’s beers, because it has been so hot.  You may also, if you wish.  Lunch should be easy, the icebox has ham and some chicken for sandwiches, or the children love the peanut butter.  You can wait for the laundry, we will start the Maytag tomorrow morning.”

 

Nadia nodded.  This was fine.  She had another book to investigate, and she needed to write some letters to the California names she had been given, hopefully to make contacts that would help her if she got there.  She also had found some cards, a deck of 52, and she had some games that she wanted to get used to, as well as handling the cards so that she could shift cards that she needed to the hand she was holding from a secure hiding place.

 

“Excellent, I will watch the children, and feed them promptly at noon.  Will Artie need a nap today?”

 

“Only if he wants.  If I try to bed him down, in the heat of the day, he is so cranky, much better to let me take a nap on his own under the bushes at the end of the lot, down by the tracks.  He takes an old horse blanket the Swede gave him down there and makes a tent, and uses another on the grass and seems to be quite content.”

 

“I see. That will be fine.” 

 

With that, Rosie picked up the bag she had, with her bible, and some papers in a folder. Making her way down the steps, she soon disappeared around the corner.  Nadia saw the trolley come over the railroad tracks on Harrison Street, using a bridge that looked too small to carry the load.  In just a few minutes it too was gone, and she could hear it start up from in front of the new building which would soon have the pharmacist and the new physician moved in.  Nadia wondered about the need for a doctor this far out.  How could there be enough sick people way out here for a man to keep an office open and make enough to support just himself, much less a family.  Curious, these Americans, but interesting, very, very, interesting.

 

On the trolley, Rosie shifted.  She was getting that feeling again.  Something between pleasure, excitement, and guilt.  But, that feeling was addictive, as addictive as that Laudanum.  She liked the feeling, and liked the treatment.  The ride went quickly, down Monroe Street, past the business district, and through the Green Bush area, where it was said most of the vice in Madison got its start.  Men and women alike, at this early hour were on the street.  Like yesterday, most of them looked like they were up to no good, but, they knew what they were doing, perhaps.  Onward to the student district, past Park Street and up to the Capital along State Street.  By this time, Rosie was breathing a little heavy, and parts of her body were starting to react to anticipation.  When the trolley was in front of the Park Hotel, she disembarked.  Walking to the corner, she turned right, and walked down West Main Street, past the alley in back of the Hotel, where frequently the laundry girls were taking their breaks and smoking.  Women, smoking, the imagination just went wild thinking what other vices these women took part in.

 

The Cathedral was in the next block.  Rosie had been coming here since she was a babe in her mother’s arms.  She had known all of the priests, and when she turned fifteen, her mother had arranged for her to do cleaning, laundry, and some cooking for the priests, she was pleased to be able to serve God, in this way, or any other way possible.

 

The work was light, the priests were not smokers, at least not much.  There were no liquor bottles scattered around the house as a cleaner might find in the houses of other non-cleric bachelors.  The laundry was straight forward, and much of the cooking was just preparing lunch.  Other women of the parish, especially the widows, took their turns, bringing a hot dish from their own home, or showing up early to cook in the priest’s kitchen.  She would be there, finishing the chores of the day, when the women would show up.  The food would be properly stored in the kitchen, in the stoves’ oven to keep warm on a low heat, or in the ice box, to keep safe until cooked.  The women would be offered confession by the priest, Father MacGyver, and the two would retire to the chapel, little more than a first floor formal dining room, with an altar, and kneelers behind which there was one long bench, flat on the bottom, with a cushion that was quite nice, soft, yet firm, stretching the full seven feet along the back wall. Because it would just be the women, and the priest, there was no need for the confessional’s privacy.  In the church, there would be many using the confessional, and the screens within would maintain a certain amount of privacy as the parishioners shared their deepest sins with the good father.  However, after being offered the sacrament of confession, face to face, all agreed that there was no point in hiding behind a screen in secret. 

 

Rosie had noticed that some of the women, the younger widows, dressed a little less churchlike, and a little more like Saturday night when they arrived for their confessions, to be followed with a meal with the confessor.  All had the smile, and the face of hopefulness, somewhat more looked like a woman on the prowl for a man, that a Catholic going to the man of God to confess their sins, and pronounce their love of God.  One time, Mrs. Gordon, a woman of 30, who had lost her husband suddenly just last year to an argument in the bar at the end of the three hundred block of West Main, just 200 feet from the house that Rosie had grown up in.  The argument was a stupid one.  One of the men was selling tickets for the Irish Sweepstakes, and Mr. Gordon, having bought tickets, announced that the sweepstakes were crooked, and anyone buying a ticket was a fool, and the seller of tickets was a crook, a liar, a thief, out to cheat honest working men of their money, and besides the point, they were probably English Irish, from Northern Ireland.  Now the seller, a local boy, nobody would identify to the police, even though Sargent O’Rourke, had taken meals with the boy and his family.  If nobody would say his name, there was nothing to charge anybody with.  All the people in the bar agreed that Mr. Gordon, although a good man, couldn’t hold his liquor, and even his wife suffered when he got a load of steam on.  This time, Steven, the seller of the tickets, who also was a soda jerk on State Street, and the pride of the neighborhood, for he was a student at the University, in Engineering, took exception to the insults of Mr. Gordon.  Words were exchanged, and those present said that Mr. Gordon through the first punch, a wild haymaker, that had it connected, would have changed the face of Steven, perhaps for all time.  But, unconnected as it was, the weight of the haymaker spun Mr. Gordon around, and he lost his footing and fell, hitting his head on the brass bar that was standard equipment on all saloons at that time.  The sound, like that of a ripe watermelon hitting a cement stoop, signaled to all the signaled to all the men, single, or not, that Mrs. Gordon would be soon on the market for male companionship.  Going next door to the bar owner’s home, the bartender called the police and the cops came around.  Nobody had seen who it was he was trying to hit, they all agreed that he lost his footing and fell, and nobody had seen nobody not hit him.  It was all his doing, and when would the wake and the service be?

 

Mrs. Gordon had climbed the steps to the rectory promptly at 3, an hour earlier than some of the other women of the parish.  The roasting pan, smelling wonderfully of brined corned beef, with the obligatory potatoes, cabbage, and carrots was carefully deposited in the over, with the heat set at 200 degrees.  Rosie was finishing washing the windows, something the priests looked forward to and insisted on being done in the afternoon, when the sun was low in the horizon, particularly in the spring and fall.  One of the women in the neighborhood, Madonna, freshly married, who was the house girl before Rosie took the position, pointed out to Rosie what the sun, strong if there was not a cloud in the sky, gave a perfect silhouette of a woman’s figure, if that woman was dressed for a warm day, with a thin cotton, or muslin dress.  The priests, men of God, still remained men, even if they were doing God’s work. 

 

Following that discussion, Rosie obtained a muslin dress from the Sears Catalog, and wore it when she was at the rectory. 

 

Following the stop in the rectory kitchen, Mrs. Gordon was invited to the chapel, and the priest closed the double doors.  The chapel was used rarely by the parish, and was used most by the priests either praying solely, or with guests.  Rosie had never seen the pocket doors closed.  Sliding silently out of the openings in the walls, she had not even noticed doors being there, being unfamiliar with the concept of doors that disappeared into walls. As they closed, she saw Mrs. Gordon go to the kneeler, wearing a summer dress, a muslin affair with big buttons down the front.  The words of the priest faded as the doors slide shut, but, if you went to the other door to the chapel, the one on the right of the altar, which opened into the side entrance of the rectory, if you went there you would find that there was a split in the wood of the door.  A split that someone had widened a bit, and if you went there, you couldn’t hear the words, for the speakers were almost 18 feet away, and not talking in your direction, but the view was like at the Capital Theater, at the Chaplin movies, where the organ played music, and the words spoken by the players were printed on cards on the screen, alternating with the players. 

 

The actions of priest and sinner were observable, and that itself was a sin, a sin that she should confess, but to who?  There was an entire rote of penance, and Rosie was herself thinking that this penance was preferred to a dozen “Our Father” prayers to be matched with a dozen “Mail Mary” prayers.  She had seen the neighbors back in the day, through the windows open on a sultry summer’s eve, with a full moon illuminating the southern exposure of the neighbor’s house.  Thinking of this, she almost giggled, thinking that the neighbor man and wife must have been playing priest and sinner, and he was driving the devil out. 

 

But now, now it was her turn.  No need for lugging a dinner uptown, but, it was her turn to visit the priests, for now there were two.  She wondered if the new priest was a full confessor, or if he used the prayers, and only the prayers to punish the sinners.  Well, time would tell.

 

As she walked up the stairs of the rectory, she was greeted by the good Father McDonald.  An older man, it was said that he had served the lord in many of the parishes of the Milwaukee diocese.  Rosie thought privately, that if the confessions he heard in those other parishes, were as good as the ones he heard in Madison, there was a good chance that incidence of sinning was up, or at least the reporting of such at the confessional.

 

Father McDonald greeted her at the door, and she was invited into the parlor to the left of the front door.  The soon to be occupied Chapel was to the right.  In the parlor, she found herself face to face with the now standing Father Flannigan.  She extended her hand in greeting, and he took it gently and smiling said.

 

“Good morning, I am Father Flannigan, and I will be helping Father McDonald with the tending of his flock.  I hope to see you at mass, we will now have services at 630 and 8 as well at 10 am on Sunday morning, and during the week,  we will have mass at 630 and also at 8 am.”

 

Father McDonald smiled at his new associate, ever the lord’s worker, letting the flock know when the services would be.  He wondered how soon he would have to share the widows and occasional unmarried woman who came to the rectory for Biblical advice.  For now, he was the spiritual leader, and taking the lead, escorted Rosie to the chapel.  Time enough for some private consultation and confession hearing, and assigning penance.

 

After almost an hour, the sliding doors opened.  Fr. Flannigan was out in the kitchen, having lemonade with the new housekeeper, another redheaded, green eyed colleen of the hearth.  This was Irish country, and the parents raised their children with a fear and respect for the cloth, even if the wearer was a bare six or seven years older than the child.  This child of god, Enya, by name, was about five foot eight inches in height, and from the looks of her, her mother had been a shapely girl also.  Despite her height, she was slender in the waist, and full in the bosom, although only about 16 years in age.  She listened with rapt attention as Fr. Flannigan discussed the first book of the Old Testament, the story of Adam and Eve, how they were born without original sin, and were pure, and as the purest of God’s children, were not aware of any need for covering their God given bodies.  The girl’s eyes widened as she realized that they went about their daily business, as God made them, with no shame, no clothing and no secrets of their bodies.  She had read this chapter of the bible, as all good students had, but the reality of Adam and Eve, and their acceptance of each other’s nudity was something that she had never thought about.  It was amazing, Eve could see all of Adams body, top to bottom, front and back, and Adam, well, Enya wasn’t sure if she would have been comfortable in the Garden of Eden, with Adam able to see, well, everything.  But as the thought about it, the first time might have been uncomfortable, but, like coffee, and whiskey and cigarettes, the first time was the difficult time, after a while it would probably be acceptable. 

 

The sound of the pocket doors opening into the central hallway was unmistakable.  Rosie and Father McDonald joined Father Flannigan and Enya in the kitchen.  Enya got two more glasses of lemonade for the new comers, and Rosie pulled a sheaf of papers out of her purse.  The plans were the plans for the same event last year, and Father McDonald noted that last year’s plans were fine for this year.  Thus, the event planning, the reason for the trip uptown, was presented, evaluated, and accepted in under a minute.  Shortly thereafter, pleasantries were again exchanged, and Rosie took her leave, with enough time to get to the stop for the trolley and enjoy an uneventful trip home. 

 

Over at the convent for the Cathedral of St. Raphael’s, Sister Michael Mary had concluded her afternoon prayers.  During the summer, there was little to do in the convent.  Of the six nuns on assignment to the Cathedral from the Mound at Sinsinawa, over by the junction of the mighty Mississippi River and the state line shared with Illinois, the mother-superior was in Sinsinawa, helping with the administrative paper work, or so they said, two were traveling to see distant family, one in New York City, the other in Seattle.  Of the three remaining, one was writing a book, and only left her room for meals, and bathing.  Of her, her location could always be ascertained by the banging of the typewriter, from sunup to sundown.  Sister Michael Mary had only the company of Sister Marie Clair.  Almost cut of the same bolt of cloth, subtle questions and answers had made it clear to both, that the other was a player.  Like many of the Sisters, in the suitcase under the bed, or on the shelf in the closet, the women had some street clothes.  It was found that Sisters travelling in religious garb were often the targets of drunks, or anti-religious zealots, some non-religious, some just of the belief that the nuns represented the wrong God.  For safety, if they dressed like a secretary, or a business woman, they were left alone.  If someone tried to bother them, they had the paperwork and brochures of the Lady Foresters, a fraternal group of Catholics who met socially, with the background justification of selling life insurance.  An intruder would be introduced to the insurance product being sold by the ladies, and in every case, would find another rail car to relocate to. 

 

‘Yes Sir, our Single Premium Universal Life Insurance Product is just the ticket for the financial safety we all desire in our lives.  Sir, do you realize just how much uncertainty there is in our lives?”

 

Sister Michael Mary had never used that line, but, it was there for introspection and potential use.  She and Sister Marie Clair had experimented, and like most women in their 20’s, there were some questions they had to have answered, and there were some experiences that they wanted to experience.  They had found that changing to their “real girl” clothing and sneaking out the convent delivery entrance under the cover of darkness, they could duck into the cathedral’s side door, right next to the convent, and then exit the cathedral by the front door.  Just two young women, perhaps there for choir practice, perhaps there praying to god for deliverance from the life of singlehood.  There must be a couple of men, good marriage material, for two such divine women!

 

Once out, and on the street, the two would go to the milk bar kitty corner to the cathedral, or sometimes walk down State Street and eye the students, especially during the school year.  Now, in the summer, the options were the milk bar, or taking the trolley down to Regent Street, to the Green Bush, usually to Josie’s speakeasy.  This place was known for having booze that was Canadian, and the beer wasn’t brewed in the basement of the house next door, it was probably from the Faurenbach Brewery just over by the train depot.  You could drink there, and not get sick or die, unless you drank way too much.  Earlier in the week, Sister Marie Claire had a date with a student at one of the soda places halfway down State Street.  Not wanting to stay at home in the convent, and listen to the relentless pounding of the typewriter, Sister Michael Mary had changed to the white blouse and skirt worn by the dozens of telephone switchboard operators who worked at the Commonwealth Edison Telephone Company central switching building, right in back of the Park Hotel. 

That night, after she made her way the roundabout path into the milk bar, down the trapdoor, down the hallway, she had ascended, almost like Jesus, into the liquor side of the milk bar, the speakeasy.  She had a taste of the beer, and decided on the Canadian, with some seltzer from the bottle.  She had spotted the two dandies, and took a liking to either.  Her heart sunk, with they picked up one of the professional women, and the poor woman whose husband always beat her.  Once again, she was in the bar, looking for someone to pay her for her attentions, so that she could pay to bail her husband out of jail.  After some songs, the four disappeared, but within an hour, they were all back. 

 

Imagine the surprise of Sister Michael Mary, when the shorter, called Michael, came over and bought her the next drink.  Dance was next, and Sister Michael Mary was as good as any other woman in her mid-twenties.  She danced first with Michael, then with the man identified at the older brother, Matthew.  They said something about being in Madison for “Financial Business,” whatever that was.  After dances were concluded for the night, the band packed up, the two financial geniuses invited Sister Michael Mary back across the street to the Park Hotel, where they had a bottle in their room.  More dancing was in order, the first one, then the other singing, rather well, indeed, some of the songs of the day.  Sister had had perhaps too much to drink, when she noticed that her buttons, and those of the dance partners were become unfastened.  Things picked up quickly, and she was soon in the bed, the full sized bed, and the only bed in the room.  Imagine the surprise that she should have felt, when she felt between Michael’s legs, and found only smoothness.  Imagine the surprise, when she looked, and noticed for the first time, that Michael had boobs.  Small breasts, but, quite firm, and well-shaped, with nipples that were firm, and begging for attention, as were Sister’s.  She knew that Michael had been in jail over the weekend, but not for any crime.  They had told her that they were the guardians of the cash that had been raised for the construction of the Frank Lloyd Wright building on the shores of Lake Monona.  Much of the money had been raised, and they had a plan to invest the money with a firm of high reputation that they knew of in New York City.  This firm was a very successful investor, with guaranteed returns of at least 20% per year.  Michael had been secure in the jail at night, and the banker’ house during the day, escorted by the Polish assistant jailer.  Once at the jailer’s house, the left leg was secured with leg irons to the leg of the fainting coach in the living room.  Attended by the banker’s wife during the day, at 5 o’clock sharp, the black truck showed up, and the Polish assistant jailer picked up Michael and returned him to the jail.  This was by agreement, and the duration was only from the time of the transfer of the cash, Thursday, at noon, until noon on the following Monday, when the confirmation of the receipt of the cash was wired to Western Union’s office in Madison, and then bicycled to the office of the banker, where the mayor, the banker, Michael, and the jailer were waiting.  Free at last, Michael went to the Park Hotel, and spent the evening with Matthew.  Interesting times did ensue.

The next morning, Sister Michael Mary awoke in the finest room at the Park Hotel.  She was feeling very sick, from the booze, and also confused about the happenings of the previous night.  She arose, naked from the bed, and saw the empty bottle on the table, holding down a note.  Reading it she saw, “We both enjoyed meeting you last night, and enjoyed you to the fullest.  May your life be as full of joy as our meeting was last  night.    Wishing you a full future of experiences.  Thanks.  Signed. Michelle Ponzi, and Matthew Madoff.”

 

Making her way down the back stairs, Sister Michael Mary made her way to the Cathedral, entering it just like a sinner would.  After a time in a pew, on a kneeler, she made her way to her room on the third floor of the convent, and collapsed, silent until supper time.  

             

Madison.TheDarkSide.Wisconsin.Chapter7.TheHealingProfession

December 2, 2013

Chapter Seven.

 

The Healing Profession.

 

The Wisconsin State Journal.

Thursday, July 8, 1920

“Scientists at University of Wisconsin express concern over the practices of so called physicians who are practicing medicine without all of benefits of a formal education in this profession. “

 

              After Emil had left for the Madison Buick Dealership business that he owned, Rosie and Nadia sat down with cups of steaming coffee on the porch.  Across the street, and down a few houses, the banker came out of his house, trailed by the twin girls who were quickly approaching marrying age.  He kissed them both fatherly kisses on the cheeks, and entered his Packard Sedan.  A closed car, it even had a heater, at that point in time, a rare option on an automobile.  He backed into the street, and was soon gone.  The twins noticed the two women on the porch, waved at them, and reentered the house. 

 

              Rosie addressed Nadia.  “I’ve never had help in keeping my household, but when I was younger I did help out at the Priest’s Rectory for the good Fathers at Saint Patrick’s Church.  There isn’t a lot of work here, just the usual that a household demands.  The sweeper on the carpets, the laundry.  We have a gasoline powered Maytag in the garage we bring outside in good weather, and there isn’t much use in doing laundry when you can’t dry it outside.  We can run lines in the basement in the cooler weather, but the smell of laundry dried in the sunshine is so much better.  Other than that, I will do my own cooking, but you are always welcome in the kitchen.  We can both make short work of the dishes, and Jerry will probably want to join us, for she is soon of the age where she will want to join the women, and leave the children.  Otherwise, just watching little Artie, making sure he is secure when the trains come through, for he does love watching those steam engines puff through.  The fence with the gate help keep him here, but, always know where he is at 814 am and 334 pm, every day.”

 

              Nadia nodded, and took a sip of the hot beverage. 

 

              Continuing, Rosie said.  “Jerry is old enough to be on her own.  You can answer any questions she may ask, and on Saturdays you can take her and Artie to the motion picture shows downtown.  I will have Emil take you for a ride downtown and show you where the important places are, so you are efficient when you take the children downtown.  We discussed things, and you will have Sunday off, as well as Wednesday.  This will leave 5 days for work.  You are expected to let us know if you are leaving to go to the grocery or any other of the merchants up on Monroe Street.”

 

              At this, Rosie was silent, for she hadn’t talked this much at home during the day since they had moved to the house on Keyes Avenue.  Nadia remained quiet, then spoke.

 

              “This is good.  I like my sleeping place.  Your food is tasty, and much better in quality than it was, even in the Tsars household in Russian in recent years.  I love Artie, and he is clearly fond of me.  But, I do have one question.  And that is of money.  What will I be paid, how much, and when will it be good for you to pay me.  And, once again, thank you, you saved me from difficult decisions.”

 

              “Emil and I have discussed this,” said Rosie, “and we decided, based on your previous experiences, that a salary of $5 per week is good, keeping in mind you are getting room and board.  Will this be satisfactory for you?  Just so you know, I was paid $4 per week for keeping the house of the priests, and had to live with my parents, and that was about 11 years ago.  We think that is fair.”

 

              Nadia was pleasantly surprised.  In the Tsars household, there had been no pay.  That you lived in a warm place, was fed, pretty much as much as you wanted, unless you made the cook angry, was considered a fine career compensation.  Outside, there was hunger, cold, and the men pretty much had their way with a single girl.  Inside, well, inside was the Cossacks, but they were decent, in that they would not hurt the girl, because it was passed down from old to young, that sooner or later, you had to sleep, and they could borrow the cooks sharpest, and cut your throat.  Best to not anger a woman who would be under your roof when you slept.  The Cossacks were a good people to be with, if a woman didn’t mind being a woman with soldiers who were men’s men. 

 

              Nadia said. “This is good.  And may I come with you and Emil and the children to church on Sunday.  For I have much to thank God for.  My life is good, and I still have it, and for that, I am eternally thankful.”

 

              “That is good, Mass is at 8 am on Sunday.  After the Mass, I will introduce you to Father Gerhardt, he is from Germany, and is a good man.  Ordained just a few years ago, he has been in America since he was about 4, certainly before his school years.  I will leave you about 10, I have an appointment downtown, and will return about 1230 for a late lunch.  This should be fine with the children.  Emil has a small library, if you read English, you may find some of the selections interesting.  It is there in the dining room in the built in shelves.”

 

              Nadia nodded.  She has noticed the books, about 2 dozen or so.  Some scientific, in chemistry and physics, some of the Mark Twain books, and some of the Jack London books, including one that the Tsar had not had in his library, called “The Star Rover”.  Nadia had heard of this, read about it in the London magazine “Punch” that the Tsar had delivered from the embassy in London along with the papers.  Punch had said that the story would be seen by some as evil, and witchcraft might be involved.  Nadia was curious. 

 

              Rosie excused herself, and went upstairs to the bathroom, and ran a bath.  The warm water was good, and helped wash away the remnants of the fog from the night.  Her body was still something that she was proud of, even after two births.  Her legs and thighs were firm, with skin soft, her hips unpadded, her rump was firm.  Her breasts had not suffered from the two sets of lips and tiny teeth, and they were just a bit lower on her chest than they had been 10 years before when she was a new bride.  Bath completed, she went to the bedroom, and selected her best foundations.  Today was to be a warm day, so a dress of light material was in order, and sensible shoes, for there would be some walking. 

 

              Nadia was on the porch, with a fresh cup of coffee.  Rosie said, “Well, I’m off, the streetcars are up on Monroe Street, and I will be off to downtown.”  Nadia nodded, and silently wished her good luck.

 

              On Monroe Street, the streetcar had just gone past, on its journey to the cemeteries, a few blocks to the west.  Once there, the motorman would walk to the other end of the streetcar, and in just a few minutes, he would be back.  She waited for the streetcar in front of the new building, with the Pharmacy in the front, and the offices in the rear which stories said would have the banker’s son, the physician setup in and taking patients in the near future. 

 

              She saw the approaching streetcar, and watched it trundle up to her stop.  She walked the few steps to the car, and entered.  The motorman’s coin box, transferred from one end of the car to the other when it changed directions, took her coin, and she took her seat.  Down Monroe Street, then taking the turn by where the boys at the University played their games, and the Union Army had bivouacked in the Civil War.  The trip down Regent Street past the many businesses was always interesting, seeing what was new, who the people were on the front porches, and the streets.  As they approached the Italian quarter, known at the Green Bush, the people started to show more Mediterranean lineage.  Long, black hair, shorter skirts, and dresses, looks that could kill, and, it seemed to this woman, that they had more shapely figures than the other heritages could brag of. 

              The turn onto Park Street and the slowing down as the trolley made its way up the hill under the new railroad trestle was negotiated with no need for comment.  At State Street, in front of the new Historical Society Building, the first stop was made.  Stops up State Street were every block.  Merchants lined this street, and some of Emil’s relatives were shop owners.   One had what had been a tavern in the 400 block, and in the next block up, was a furniture store.  That had had to be relocated when the owners had sold the land to the developers of the new Capital Theater.  Gosh, what a palace that was.  They had done all right, making many time over what their father had paid for the land when it was cheap.  The building, not much more than a frame house with no inside walls, was useful for firewood for the winter stove, and that was part of the deal, so Emil had told her, and she remembered the weekends spent with his family demolishing the old store.  The beer flowed, and by mid-afternoon, several of the men were relieved of the hammers and saws, and spent the rest of the day throwing wood pieces on the horse drawn wagons to be taken to the homes with the wood burners, both for cooking and heating the homes. 

 

              Rosie saw the Capital, new, and shiny, still fresh from the rebuilding just completed, at least on the outside.  Arisen like the Phoenix from the ashes of the old Capital.  She remember the horror of the night it burned, the smell, the ashes, the men yelling, the eyes of the horses of the fire brigade.  Her heart quickened, for the Doctors office was just ahead.  The building, new and just finished by the Gay brothers, was a showpiece of modern construction.  A full ten stories, with professionals on each floor.  Doctors, dentists, attorneys, real estate men, stock brokers, and others, the floors were full.  With modern electric elevators, there was ease in moving up to the highest floors, and with such a display of professions in the directory on first floor, right by the elevators, a person could enter the building with no hope of an observer guessing the destination.

 

              That morning, Rosie had no need of the dentists, the attorneys, real estate men, stock brokers, or the others.  Her destination was that office of Doctor Shapiro, a woman’s doctor.  While some physicians were generalists, or children’s doctors, pediatricians by title, or any of a number of other specialties,   Dr. Shapiro was a woman’s doctor.  His practice, while including the care of pregnant women, included the treatment of “hysterical women.”  This was a curious title, for these women were rarely hysterical, or bothered by any particular disease.  Doctor Shapiro’s trade involved the stimulation of the woman’s personal private parts in order to supply the orgasm that perhaps was missing in the marital bed.  This specialty had been explained to him by another practitioner he had met while taking the waters in Upstate New York, when he was fresh out of Medical School in New York City.  The veteran practitioner had explained the fine arts of the trade with the express guarantee that Dr. Shapiro would not take up practice on the island of Manhattan.  Any of the other boroughs was ok, just not Manhattan.   Dr. Shapiro had volunteered to take instruction at the other physician’s office in Manhattan for a period not to exceed one month, and had learned both the techniques of the trade, and the tools.  The wonders of electricity had brought about a wonderful appliance that saved the physicians fingers and wrists from destruction, and prevented the need to use of ice between patients that was a standard in a busy practice.  This vibrating massager was a godsend, and allowed the doctors to fill the day with patients, thus insuring a fat bank account.

 

              Doctor Shapiro’s office was on the seventh floor, and took up the entire rear of the building, which was about 40 feet wide and 100 feet long.  His office was 30 feet from the front door to the rear, with three treatment rooms at the rear, about 12 by 16 feet, a four foot hallway connecting them, and providing a sound barrier between the treatment rooms and the front reception area, split into an area with chairs for the incoming patients, and a separate hallway for the exiting patients.  Mrs. Murphy, the receptionist, was a typical Irish colleen, long red hair, green eyes the color of the heath in the old country.  Her husband had been lost in the Great War, not as a combatant, but as a stoker on the steamship Lusitania.  After the war, Mrs. Murphy, widowed at the age of 24, with not even a chance to start a family before she lost her love, made her way to Madison.  Her uncle, on her mother’s side, had been a tavern man in Madison, and he said that he would employ his niece as a barmaid.  That work was ok, and one of the regulars, one of Doctor Shapiro’s regulars, had put in a good work with the good Doctor, that a receptionist to herd the patients would be a good addition.

 

              Mrs. Murphy had met the good Doctor, only about 10 years older than she, and was retained after a short interview, and a demonstration of the Doctors handicraft.  She decided that this work, paying slightly better than the tavern, with its tips, but, in a Tuesday through Saturday work week, 8am to 5 pm, was far superior to the smoky, stinky tavern, open to all hours, with unwashed hands making attempts to become familiar.  

Promptly, at 11 am, the door opened, and Rosie entered.  Smiling, she approached the window with the every smiling, ever happy Mrs. Murphy behind the window.  She slid the single $1.00 bill across the counter, and after being thanked by Mrs. Murphy, she was escorted to room three.  As she passed room one, she heard the unmistakable sounds of Dr. Shapiro’s success as a healer.  Blushing slightly, with the thoughts of her upcoming treatment, she entered the door. 

 

As was the good Doctors suggestion, his patients were given the option of just removing undergarments and keeping the outer garments in place, or using one of the gowns, or receiving treatment in the manner of Eve, the original woman.  Rosie had tried all three, and preferred that of Eve, as apparently, did the doctor.  Disrobing, she took a seat on the leather table, with the adjustable backrest, and closed her eyes to relax.

 

Moments later, the door open, and Doctor Shapiro entered, with his apprentice in tow.  The banker’s son, newly minted from the University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine was proving to be a worthy understudy.  Doctor Shapiro had his hands full, literally, with the trade in the Gay Building, and had talked with the banker about expanding.  As a good father, with a son in the medical profession, he suggested that the trade of Doctor Shapiro would be best improved with another office.  To start, the West side of Madison was expanding, and there would be women who would be interested in not having to travel a great distance.  He suggested that the Doctor rent space in a new building the banker has having built on Monroe Street.

 

Staffing that new office would be best handled by his son, William.  The two doctors had a 50/50 split, with the share of the senior doctor paying the rent and the help out front, and the working doctor taking the rest as his professional fee.  Although this left Dr. William Michaels with a handsome some of 50 cents per visit, with the wonder of electricity, he was capable of three treatments per hour, and with eight hours in a day, left him with a potential of $12 per day, or $60 per week, generating $3000 per year, which was a handsome sum for a new physician in the year of our Lord, 1920.  Of course, he would also be treating the other women’s aliments, and helping the pregnant with their ordeals. 

 

Rosie opened her eyes, and those eyes opened wide when they noticed the two figures.  Dr. Shapiro greeted her.

“Good morning Miss Rosie.”  He had found that the women he treated liked not having their last names used during the treatments, and this was the way he addressed them.  “This is Dr. Michaels, recently of the University of Wisconsin,  School of Medicine.  He has joined my practice, and will be staffing my new office in the Monroe Street Business District.” 

She nodded, somewhat shocked at seeing the son of her neighbor, a strapping young man only a few years younger than she, a man who she had admired at the beaches of Lake Wingra.

 

“Dr. Michaels, I am pleased to make your acquaintance.  I recognize you from your visits to your father’s house, which is just across the street and down a short ways from my own residence.”

 

Although the young woman, just a few years older than the good Dr. Michaels, was totally as Eve was in the Garden of Eden, she appeared at ease, which was somewhat of a surprise.  In the barely post Victorian age that was the early 20th century, nudity was totally frowned upon, definitely discouraged, and outside of marriage, or brothels, not something that a young man, even a man of medicine would encounter during the course of a work day, even as a physician.  Later, Mr. Michaels would learn from Dr. Shapiro,  that the lovely Rosie was an aficionado of the charms of Laudanum.  As was the reaction of many users of narcotics, the users of the Laudanum were without inhibition, and shame was not restrictive.

 

Dr. Michaels had noticed the charms of Rosie during the summer visits to his father’s home on Keyes Avenue.  As her home was to the southwest of his father’s, on warm summer eves, when thin garments were wise to wear due to the summer heat, the setting sun, low in the horizon would silhouette the woman within the garment.  Even from across the street, the silhouette was striking, showing her figure as if there were one clothing draped over her.  And now, presented in the manner of Eve, he was expected, no, required to treat her for the aliment of the female hysteria.  

 

Dr. Shapiro explained,   Dr. Matthews has observed and performed many of these procedures and is as proficient as I.  I am confident that he will provide you with treatment equal to the best I have been able to perform as your physician.  You will be able to decide if you wish to travel uptown to keep appointments at this office, or, if you prefer, to visit Dr. Matthews at our new west side office.  Your choice.  And now, I will take this chair, and observe, while Dr. Matthews treats you.”

 

With that, the medical procedure began.  The medical appliance was plugged into the wall outlet, and the proper protocols were initiated.

 

At the end of the procedure, Dr. Shapiro mentioned.  “This has been successful.  You can make your appointment with Mrs. Murphy as you exit.  You may choose as you wish,  the new office will be seeing patients starting next Monday.   For now, you may get dressed and we look forward to seeing you soon.”

 

The two men left the room, and went to treatment room 2, where one of the working girls from the business two blocks down State Street that was a laundry worked.  An eighteen year old farm girl from New Glarus, a farming community about 30 miles to the southwest, she had come to the city to learn a trade.  Because she was not paid a lot, the physicians were generous with their discounted service. 

 

Rosie, now fully garbed, went to the front desk to see Mrs. Murphy.  The prescription bottle of her friend was there, and she gave Mrs. Murphy another dollar for the new bottle, leaving her last bottle, now empty, for refilling and reuse.   She told Mrs. Murphy.

 

“I like Dr. Matthews.  His hands are warm, and he seems to understand both his profession and his tool.  I trust he will be the physician in attendance at Monroe Street?”

 

Mrs. Murphy nodded and said.  “Yes,   he will be seeing patients there on Monday.  I agree, his hands are good, both in warmth, and softness.  I have seen him, and he is a good Doctor of these aliments.”  The two women smiled, knowingly at each other.  “And Rosie, he is appreciative of attentions also.”  With that, Rosie’s eyebrow raised, and the two women nodded at each other.  For both knew what those attentions could include.  Rosie was now looking forward to next week, Thursday was her standard appointment, and with Nadia off on Wednesdays, this would work for her.  Still smiling, she took her leave. 

 

That day, at noon, was a wonderful day.  With erect posture, Rose was noticed by every male she walked past.  Also, as she made her way down   State Street, to the University district, by several of the females students who were there for the summer school.   A few blocks down State Street was the ice cream store, and a chocolate cone was just the ticket.  The soda jerk inside, Jeffrey, was taken aback by the young woman with eyes that could make a mountain melt.  She ordered her cone, and he forgot to charge her.  She dug a nickel out of her purse and slid it across the counter to the young man.  Still speechless, he rang the register and recorded the sale. 

 

With cone in hand, her journey continued.  The new Montgomery Wards was on the left side, across the street.  With a cone, melting as fast as she could lick it, there was no way she would be able to wander inside, plus, with $2 gone out of the household budget, she was a little short for the time being.

 

The trolley picked her up about half-way down State Street, just after noon.  About 12:25 pm she was deposited across the street from the new offices of the doctors.  With a smile, she walked the few blocks home, arriving just a few minutes after she had guessed.

 

On the porch, with a glass of ice tea on the table next to her chair, Nadia was over half way through the Jack London novel, “The Star Rover.”  The concepts within, reminded of the mind over matter discussions that were once the rage in the Tsars household.  One of the best of the talkers in the Tsar’s house was a man of the cloth.  That bastard monk Rasputin was an expert in getting his own way, using logic that sounded good at the time, but in retrospective either made one laugh, or cry.  This novel was engaging, and she vowed to finish it that day. 

 

Climbing the steps, Rosie greeted Nadia, and Nadia noticed the bounce in her step which she hadn’t seen before.  The kids had seen their mom walking up from her trip downtown and lunch was in order.  Afterward, quiet time, perhaps a nap, and then preparation for supper.

 

About this time, in the offices of Dr.  Swenson, a proprietor of a combination steam bath house, and practitioner of the Swedish massage, the good doctor was preparing for the afternoon appointments.  Somewhat upset by the morning papers article on doctors who practiced without formal training, he felt that his years of experience far outweighed the benefits of a physician who had been to school.  You were in school for 8 to 10 years after high school, and for what?  If you were not a surgeon, a lay practitioner was just as good a healer as a college boy.  Maybe more. 

 

That afternoon, he had scheduled the foreman from the foundry, and a couple of the women from the offices of the factory over on East Washington.  Sitting in front of the typewriters and comptometers machines all day made for stiff backs and shoulders, and their bosses let them take short lunches during the week so they could have a long lunch for their appointments on Thursday afternoon.  Today, he would take Mrs. Martin at 1 pm, and Miss Devine at 2pm.  His assistant was preferred by the foreman, Mr. Jenson, a large Englishman, recently imported from the casting trades in London, where he was a man of some renown.  His assistant, a small Chinese woman of about 19 years, weighed barely 100 pounds, but her hands were hands of steel, and he could vouch himself, that those hands could work magic.  She had been delivering the sheets from the family laundry, way across town on Park Street, and one day, she had asked if she could show him her massage work.  Laughing inside, he said sure.  Treat me like a valued customer of Dr. Swenson, not as Dr. Swenson.  Following him to the treatment room, which was originally on the blue prints of the building as an office, she had informed him that he could disrobe to where he would be comfortable receiving a massage.  Deciding to test the teenager, after she had left the room, closing the door on her way out, he had disrobed completely.  Dr. Swenson was a good sized man, just slightly over 6 feet in height, and about 190 pounds.  He was a health enthusiast, and he had weights he had fabricated himself in the basement of the steam bath.  Another Scandinavian of note in the Madison area, a Norwegian called the Swede, himself a metal man had expressed interest in those weights, in different weights, with different weights that could be fastened on a metal pipe so the user would be able to vary the lifting weights.  Dr. Swenson then laid face down on the table, he intentionally did not cover himself with a towel. 

 

A few minutes later, a faint knock on the door announced the return of Mai.  The door opened and a clear, voice asked if he was ready.

 

“Yes, remember, I am a valued client of Dr. Swenson.  Treat me as such.”

 

As she entered, he heard her draw in her breath sharply. 

 

“I will start your treatment today with your shoulders.  Relax your muscles, and put your arms at your side.” 

 

He did so. 

“Can you relax your shoulders?”

 

“I am relaxed, ma’am.  I just use weights so my muscles are larger than normal.”

 

Starting the massage, she acknowledged.  “Yes, I see now.”  No comment was made of his full nudity, and she was impressed by the shapeliness of his back muscles, and his gluts.  Never before had she seen such a large man, and his physique was that of the gods sculpted in marble that she had seen in the large museums when she visited relatives in both Chicago, and San Francisco.  Standing next to the table May realized that unlike the Asian men she had worked on before, she could not reach all the way across this man’s back. 

 

“Sir, with your permission, I will get on the table so that I can massage all of your back at one time.  You are such a magnificent man that my small arms cannot reach the other side of you.” 

“As you wish, girl. Make this the best you know how to.”

 

With that, Mai climbed up the table after removing the slipper like clogs that she wore daily.  She was wearing traditional working woman Asian garb, a white cotton shirt with three buttons, and long sleeves, loose fitting cotton pants, which were worn by both sexes at the laundry and at home.  They were kept up by a small piece of rope, tied like a shoe, cotton woven.  In the heat of the summer, in a room with drapes, but with open windows, the hard work was rough on a 100 pound woman.  She could feel her skin start to moisten with the natural sweat resulting from strong work on a hot day.  She completed his shoulders, thinking that this man has shoulders like an ox.  Moving down his back meant that she had to move from straddling his lower back to perching on top of his gluts.      

Dr. Swenson was somewhat shocked when the young girl climbed up on the table and took position on his back, not unlike Annie Oakley on her horse when that show had come to town.  Now that she was moving down, he felt her thighs tight against his hips, not at all an unpleasant experience.  Unknown to him, she had unbuttoned two of the buttons on her blouse to let the heat out.  Thinking to herself, she was planning to borrow a sleeveless shirt from her father’s laundry, the better to let the heat of the work escape.

 

Work on the lower back now completed, she slid further toward his feet.  Now resting on his thighs, she put more of the vegetable oil on her hands and prepared to attack his gluts.  Never before in her life had she seen such muscles. 

 

They were strong as steel, some hair, of course, for he was a man, but the size, the firmness, she was almost outside of her ability to comprehend.  However, an Asian woman needed to quickly adapt to the unknown, for that is way of survival.  When she moved his legs, she dismounted.  She was covered with sweat from the workout she had experienced on top of the large man.  She started with his feet, and discovered he was a little ticklish.  Somewhat amused at the power a 100 pound woman had to make a huge ox of a man wiggle like a puppy, she moved up to his lower calves.  They were also firm, and she used both a firm touch, then a lighter touch, in a circular motion, such as her mother had taught her on her father.  The thigh muscles were next, and she silently worked each side, not getting too close to the juncture of those magnificent legs. 

 

Finished on the back, she announced, “Sir, your back is complete, if you would like me to massage your arms, chest, and stomach, as well as the tops of your legs, you may role over, if you would like a towel to cover yourself, one is available.”

 

Dr. Swenson was pleased that Mai had offered the client a choice.  He chose to test her, and rolled over without benefit of cover.  He saw her in the light of the incandescent bulb in the lamp by the window.  Barely five feet tall, as previously mentioned, a scale set at 100 pounds would have wavered in indecision.  A smile on her lips, she knew that she had done good work.  The big man also had a smile on his face, and they were eye to eye. 

 

Dr. Swenson took note that Mai was drenched in sweat.  Her shirt, not unlike the summer pajamas his late wife had worn, were of only three buttons, and the top and bottom were loosened, just the one between her breasts and her navel kept the shirt modest. 

 

“Mai, you look warm, you should take some water.  There is a pitcher of water from the faucet, and glasses on the table by the door.  I could use some too.”   He watched as she walked the few paces from her station at the side of the table to the small table in back of where the door opened.  Her pants were showing off her physique, for they were dampened with the sweat of her labors, and adhered to her outline.  His guess was that she did not wear bloomers, or anything else underneath those cotton pants.    He could see, even in the dim light, for in the treatment room, the bulbs were not strong, the outline of her backside, and the slenderness of her hips was apparent, even with the tails of the shirt overhanging her waist. 

 

Dr. Swenson lifted up on his elbows, and taking the water from the young girl, drank strongly from the glass.  Mai also took a drink, and with the water still in her mouth, her eyes left his, and travelled down his physique.  His chest was strong, his stomach was flat, and then….

 

Mai’s water left her mouth, that which was still left.  She avoided spitting it on her soon to be employer, but there was a distinct fountain of youth when she saw what was below the line where his belt would have been, if he was wearing pants, which, of course, he wasn’t.  She was familiar with the male organ, having seen that of her father, and her brothers, who were younger.  That was the reality of living in the back of the laundry, where the only privacy was in the basement where the big boiler for the hot water lived, like a dragon, eating coal by the ton.  But this, this was a dragon by itself.  Never before had she imagined such a magnificent thing could exist, and it was not even prepared for battle. 

 

“Excuse me, I am terribly sorry!”  She pleaded.

 

“That is alright, no harm was done.  Sometimes the water goes down the wrong pipe.”  Inside, Dr. Swenson was laughing, for he knew the damage he had done.  He had treated her father when he had lifted equipment he was installing in the laundry that was way too heavy for a man of 120 pounds.  He had seen her father in his entirety, and he was properly sized for a man of that weight, an Asian to boot, but the doctor was almost twice the weight of her father, and was properly sized for his weight.

 

“Let us continue, my afternoon appointments will be here in thirty minutes.”

Mai knew her work, and continued the massage in proper manner.  Except for his face, proper attention was paid to his shoulders, chest, abdomen, feet, lower legs, and thighs.  Mai was watching the clock, and with the 30 minutes almost up, asked the good doctor.

“I think I have given you the best massage I know how to.  Is there any place else you would like me to work on?”

“No, Mai, your massage is tops.  It is perfect.  We need to talk to your father to see if he wants you to work outside of the laundry.  I would start you paid by the appointment, with you receiving forty cents of the dollar I charge.  You would be expected to wash the windows, and sweep the floors, and other duties as I see fit.  If this is ok with you, check with your father, and let me know tomorrow, on Friday.”

 

Mai nodded.  “I will do that.  We will have more sheets and towels for you tomorrow, and I will deliver them at the usual time.”

 

Inside, Mai was both relieved, and somewhat curious about the path the massage would have taken if there was more time.  She had noticed the man’s breath quicken when she massaged his chest, wisely standing next to the massage table.  Her work on his legs had also effected a physical reaction that also piqued her curiosity. 

Exiting the building, at the back, the service entrance, she entered the Model TT panel truck.  The Swede, the giant man, whose metal shop was just across the cross street from the Lee Laundry had reworked the cab of the truck for the smaller Asian drivers at the laundry.  For his own truck he had moved the back of the cab rearward a full twelve inches so his tall, bulky body could get behind the wheel.  The bed of his flatbed truck had had to be fully reworked to allow for the relocation of the back of the cab, but for the Lee truck, which was fully enclosed, only the seat had had to be relocated, forward and down.

 

In the truck, Mai Lee now could work the pedals that controlled the planetary transmission that cleaver Mr. Ford has designed.  She took off. Driving through town, down through the business district of Williamson Street, to the railroad station where Wilson Street joined, she made several stops at the taverns and workshops that lined the street.  There were also two stops at houses, one next door to the tavern of the grandson whose grandfather had built most of the block.  That house, with its fancy ladies, generated a lot of sheets each day, and also more than a few towels.  Luckily, the laundry was packed in large bags, almost as tall as Lee at four feet long.  Weighing almost half that of the young girl, she was strong enough to carry the bags out and load them in the back of the truck. 

 

Never, during her drive, did May see other women driving cars, much less large commercial vehicles.  She was known by the draymen in the town.  At first, they laughed and pointed at the tiny woman doing their work.  After they saw her back the truck up to loading docks, and surprisingly, maneuver the truck into a parallel parking required spot on the street, they talked among themselves in the taverns, and on the loading docks, and even the most manly of them had to agree that the young woman half their size had mastered the chores of driving, backing, and manipulating a truck.  Gaining their respect was something that had to be earned by performance, not any other way.  Sometimes, she would see the women of Mansion Hill in their limousines, driver by men in formal black suits.  She knew these suits, for she pressed most of the black suits in the city. 

 

On that day, two months before, Mai planned her explanation and pleading to get permission for the new job. Back at the laundry, unloading the truck was done quickly, with the helping hands of her siblings.  First she talked to her mother, in Japanese, of course, because the older woman had no need of English.  The woman saw the wisdom of her daughter escaping the laundry, and it would cement the work they had with the steam bath and massage business even more.  Plus, the woman realized, with two massage rooms in operation, there would be twice as many sheets and towels in the work for the laundry.

 

Telling Mai to start at the pressing, the next youngest girl was sent to watch, and apprentice at the ironing machine.  Hot, and steamy, the machine was sometimes dangerous to the person who had no experience with it.  While Mai tutored the younger sister, Mrs. Lee went to Mr. Lee, and explained in terms that sounded like a battle between Ronin warriors.  Mr. Lee soon saw the wisdom of letting his eldest daughter work outside the laundry, and the cash she brought in would be helpful.  He went to see his daughter, and nodded silently.  In the shorthand of a noisy laundry, Mai understood fully that her father had given permission for her to work for Dr. Swenson.  She smiled, and continued the training of her replacement at the laundry.

 

Back at the steam bath and massage works of Dr. Swenson, the afternoon’s work went well.  He had explained to the English foreman that he had explored the taking on of an assistant, so that different modalities of the art of massage could be offered.  Nodding, the Englishman, Eric, entered into a discussion of the massage establishments in London, in particular, those of the SoHo district.

 

The next day, Mai agreed to the terms of Dr. Swenson, and started immediately.  The word had gotten out quickly, and her calendar was soon booked.  She worked from 11 am, allowing those who could get an early lunch, to about 8 pm at night.  There was a quiet time, generally, in the midafternoon, when she would pick up and deliver laundry between the business district that Dr. Swenson was in and the Lee Laundry on Park Street, but within a month, the afternoon was busy also.  May was given the job of teaching her sister, Aki, the intricacies of the Ford Model TT truck, which she picked up quickly.  Aki was a quick learner, and having watched her sister at the ironing machine, the water extracting machine properly called the mangle, and in the art of massage, she was almost every bit as useful as her older sister.  Putting her sister to work outside the family business was far more advantageous to the family coffers because the money she brought in was new money, and the work she had performed at the family business was quickly picked up by the bright, and also attractive Aki.  Mai took her around to the customers, who had all appreciated the quick smile, and gentle voice of Mai, and Aki picked up the greetings and salutations that are all of a successful delivery.  Dressing almost as Mai had, Aki talked her mother in short sleeves on the shirt, and shorter legs on the trousers, because of the heat of the day, and the heat in the laundry. 

Thus, the transmission of responsibilities at the laundry was complete, and May became the employee of Dr. Swenson at the steam baths and massage therapy service.  Businesses in the year of the lord, 1920, grew in the progress and prosperity of the day. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven.

 

The Healing Profession.

 

The Wisconsin State Journal.

Thursday, July 8, 1920

“Scientists at University of Wisconsin express concern over the practices of so called physicians who are practicing medicine without all of benefits of a formal education in this profession. “

 

              After Emil had left for the Madison Buick Dealership business that he owned, Rosie and Nadia sat down with cups of steaming coffee on the porch.  Across the street, and down a few houses, the banker came out of his house, trailed by the twin girls who were quickly approaching marrying age.  He kissed them both fatherly kisses on the cheeks, and entered his Packard Sedan.  A closed car, it even had a heater, at that point in time, a rare option on an automobile.  He backed into the street, and was soon gone.  The twins noticed the two women on the porch, waved at them, and reentered the house. 

 

              Rosie addressed Nadia.  “I’ve never had help in keeping my household, but when I was younger I did help out at the Priest’s Rectory for the good Fathers at Saint Patrick’s Church.  There isn’t a lot of work here, just the usual that a household demands.  The sweeper on the carpets, the laundry.  We have a gasoline powered Maytag in the garage we bring outside in good weather, and there isn’t much use in doing laundry when you can’t dry it outside.  We can run lines in the basement in the cooler weather, but the smell of laundry dried in the sunshine is so much better.  Other than that, I will do my own cooking, but you are always welcome in the kitchen.  We can both make short work of the dishes, and Jerry will probably want to join us, for she is soon of the age where she will want to join the women, and leave the children.  Otherwise, just watching little Artie, making sure he is secure when the trains come through, for he does love watching those steam engines puff through.  The fence with the gate help keep him here, but, always know where he is at 814 am and 334 pm, every day.”

 

              Nadia nodded, and took a sip of the hot beverage. 

 

              Continuing, Rosie said.  “Jerry is old enough to be on her own.  You can answer any questions she may ask, and on Saturdays you can take her and Artie to the motion picture shows downtown.  I will have Emil take you for a ride downtown and show you where the important places are, so you are efficient when you take the children downtown.  We discussed things, and you will have Sunday off, as well as Wednesday.  This will leave 5 days for work.  You are expected to let us know if you are leaving to go to the grocery or any other of the merchants up on Monroe Street.”

 

              At this, Rosie was silent, for she hadn’t talked this much at home during the day since they had moved to the house on Keyes Avenue.  Nadia remained quiet, then spoke.

 

              “This is good.  I like my sleeping place.  Your food is tasty, and much better in quality than it was, even in the Tsars household in Russian in recent years.  I love Artie, and he is clearly fond of me.  But, I do have one question.  And that is of money.  What will I be paid, how much, and when will it be good for you to pay me.  And, once again, thank you, you saved me from difficult decisions.”

 

              “Emil and I have discussed this,” said Rosie, “and we decided, based on your previous experiences, that a salary of $5 per week is good, keeping in mind you are getting room and board.  Will this be satisfactory for you?  Just so you know, I was paid $4 per week for keeping the house of the priests, and had to live with my parents, and that was about 11 years ago.  We think that is fair.”

 

              Nadia was pleasantly surprised.  In the Tsars household, there had been no pay.  That you lived in a warm place, was fed, pretty much as much as you wanted, unless you made the cook angry, was considered a fine career compensation.  Outside, there was hunger, cold, and the men pretty much had their way with a single girl.  Inside, well, inside was the Cossacks, but they were decent, in that they would not hurt the girl, because it was passed down from old to young, that sooner or later, you had to sleep, and they could borrow the cooks sharpest, and cut your throat.  Best to not anger a woman who would be under your roof when you slept.  The Cossacks were a good people to be with, if a woman didn’t mind being a woman with soldiers who were men’s men. 

 

              Nadia said. “This is good.  And may I come with you and Emil and the children to church on Sunday.  For I have much to thank God for.  My life is good, and I still have it, and for that, I am eternally thankful.”

 

              “That is good, Mass is at 8 am on Sunday.  After the Mass, I will introduce you to Father Gerhardt, he is from Germany, and is a good man.  Ordained just a few years ago, he has been in America since he was about 4, certainly before his school years.  I will leave you about 10, I have an appointment downtown, and will return about 1230 for a late lunch.  This should be fine with the children.  Emil has a small library, if you read English, you may find some of the selections interesting.  It is there in the dining room in the built in shelves.”

 

              Nadia nodded.  She has noticed the books, about 2 dozen or so.  Some scientific, in chemistry and physics, some of the Mark Twain books, and some of the Jack London books, including one that the Tsar had not had in his library, called “The Star Rover”.  Nadia had heard of this, read about it in the London magazine “Punch” that the Tsar had delivered from the embassy in London along with the papers.  Punch had said that the story would be seen by some as evil, and witchcraft might be involved.  Nadia was curious. 

 

              Rosie excused herself, and went upstairs to the bathroom, and ran a bath.  The warm water was good, and helped wash away the remnants of the fog from the night.  Her body was still something that she was proud of, even after two births.  Her legs and thighs were firm, with skin soft, her hips unpadded, her rump was firm.  Her breasts had not suffered from the two sets of lips and tiny teeth, and they were just a bit lower on her chest than they had been 10 years before when she was a new bride.  Bath completed, she went to the bedroom, and selected her best foundations.  Today was to be a warm day, so a dress of light material was in order, and sensible shoes, for there would be some walking. 

 

              Nadia was on the porch, with a fresh cup of coffee.  Rosie said, “Well, I’m off, the streetcars are up on Monroe Street, and I will be off to downtown.”  Nadia nodded, and silently wished her good luck.

 

              On Monroe Street, the streetcar had just gone past, on its journey to the cemeteries, a few blocks to the west.  Once there, the motorman would walk to the other end of the streetcar, and in just a few minutes, he would be back.  She waited for the streetcar in front of the new building, with the Pharmacy in the front, and the offices in the rear which stories said would have the banker’s son, the physician setup in and taking patients in the near future. 

 

              She saw the approaching streetcar, and watched it trundle up to her stop.  She walked the few steps to the car, and entered.  The motorman’s coin box, transferred from one end of the car to the other when it changed directions, took her coin, and she took her seat.  Down Monroe Street, then taking the turn by where the boys at the University played their games, and the Union Army had bivouacked in the Civil War.  The trip down Regent Street past the many businesses was always interesting, seeing what was new, who the people were on the front porches, and the streets.  As they approached the Italian quarter, known at the Green Bush, the people started to show more Mediterranean lineage.  Long, black hair, shorter skirts, and dresses, looks that could kill, and, it seemed to this woman, that they had more shapely figures than the other heritages could brag of. 

              The turn onto Park Street and the slowing down as the trolley made its way up the hill under the new railroad trestle was negotiated with no need for comment.  At State Street, in front of the new Historical Society Building, the first stop was made.  Stops up State Street were every block.  Merchants lined this street, and some of Emil’s relatives were shop owners.   One had what had been a tavern in the 400 block, and in the next block up, was a furniture store.  That had had to be relocated when the owners had sold the land to the developers of the new Capital Theater.  Gosh, what a palace that was.  They had done all right, making many time over what their father had paid for the land when it was cheap.  The building, not much more than a frame house with no inside walls, was useful for firewood for the winter stove, and that was part of the deal, so Emil had told her, and she remembered the weekends spent with his family demolishing the old store.  The beer flowed, and by mid-afternoon, several of the men were relieved of the hammers and saws, and spent the rest of the day throwing wood pieces on the horse drawn wagons to be taken to the homes with the wood burners, both for cooking and heating the homes. 

 

              Rosie saw the Capital, new, and shiny, still fresh from the rebuilding just completed, at least on the outside.  Arisen like the Phoenix from the ashes of the old Capital.  She remember the horror of the night it burned, the smell, the ashes, the men yelling, the eyes of the horses of the fire brigade.  Her heart quickened, for the Doctors office was just ahead.  The building, new and just finished by the Gay brothers, was a showpiece of modern construction.  A full ten stories, with professionals on each floor.  Doctors, dentists, attorneys, real estate men, stock brokers, and others, the floors were full.  With modern electric elevators, there was ease in moving up to the highest floors, and with such a display of professions in the directory on first floor, right by the elevators, a person could enter the building with no hope of an observer guessing the destination.

 

              That morning, Rosie had no need of the dentists, the attorneys, real estate men, stock brokers, or the others.  Her destination was that office of Doctor Shapiro, a woman’s doctor.  While some physicians were generalists, or children’s doctors, pediatricians by title, or any of a number of other specialties,   Dr. Shapiro was a woman’s doctor.  His practice, while including the care of pregnant women, included the treatment of “hysterical women.”  This was a curious title, for these women were rarely hysterical, or bothered by any particular disease.  Doctor Shapiro’s trade involved the stimulation of the woman’s personal private parts in order to supply the orgasm that perhaps was missing in the marital bed.  This specialty had been explained to him by another practitioner he had met while taking the waters in Upstate New York, when he was fresh out of Medical School in New York City.  The veteran practitioner had explained the fine arts of the trade with the express guarantee that Dr. Shapiro would not take up practice on the island of Manhattan.  Any of the other boroughs was ok, just not Manhattan.   Dr. Shapiro had volunteered to take instruction at the other physician’s office in Manhattan for a period not to exceed one month, and had learned both the techniques of the trade, and the tools.  The wonders of electricity had brought about a wonderful appliance that saved the physicians fingers and wrists from destruction, and prevented the need to use of ice between patients that was a standard in a busy practice.  This vibrating massager was a godsend, and allowed the doctors to fill the day with patients, thus insuring a fat bank account.

 

              Doctor Shapiro’s office was on the seventh floor, and took up the entire rear of the building, which was about 40 feet wide and 100 feet long.  His office was 30 feet from the front door to the rear, with three treatment rooms at the rear, about 12 by 16 feet, a four foot hallway connecting them, and providing a sound barrier between the treatment rooms and the front reception area, split into an area with chairs for the incoming patients, and a separate hallway for the exiting patients.  Mrs. Murphy, the receptionist, was a typical Irish colleen, long red hair, green eyes the color of the heath in the old country.  Her husband had been lost in the Great War, not as a combatant, but as a stoker on the steamship Lusitania.  After the war, Mrs. Murphy, widowed at the age of 24, with not even a chance to start a family before she lost her love, made her way to Madison.  Her uncle, on her mother’s side, had been a tavern man in Madison, and he said that he would employ his niece as a barmaid.  That work was ok, and one of the regulars, one of Doctor Shapiro’s regulars, had put in a good work with the good Doctor, that a receptionist to herd the patients would be a good addition.

 

              Mrs. Murphy had met the good Doctor, only about 10 years older than she, and was retained after a short interview, and a demonstration of the Doctors handicraft.  She decided that this work, paying slightly better than the tavern, with its tips, but, in a Tuesday through Saturday work week, 8am to 5 pm, was far superior to the smoky, stinky tavern, open to all hours, with unwashed hands making attempts to become familiar.  

Promptly, at 11 am, the door opened, and Rosie entered.  Smiling, she approached the window with the every smiling, ever happy Mrs. Murphy behind the window.  She slid the single $1.00 bill across the counter, and after being thanked by Mrs. Murphy, she was escorted to room three.  As she passed room one, she heard the unmistakable sounds of Dr. Shapiro’s success as a healer.  Blushing slightly, with the thoughts of her upcoming treatment, she entered the door. 

 

As was the good Doctors suggestion, his patients were given the option of just removing undergarments and keeping the outer garments in place, or using one of the gowns, or receiving treatment in the manner of Eve, the original woman.  Rosie had tried all three, and preferred that of Eve, as apparently, did the doctor.  Disrobing, she took a seat on the leather table, with the adjustable backrest, and closed her eyes to relax.

 

Moments later, the door open, and Doctor Shapiro entered, with his apprentice in tow.  The banker’s son, newly minted from the University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine was proving to be a worthy understudy.  Doctor Shapiro had his hands full, literally, with the trade in the Gay Building, and had talked with the banker about expanding.  As a good father, with a son in the medical profession, he suggested that the trade of Doctor Shapiro would be best improved with another office.  To start, the West side of Madison was expanding, and there would be women who would be interested in not having to travel a great distance.  He suggested that the Doctor rent space in a new building the banker has having built on Monroe Street.

 

Staffing that new office would be best handled by his son, William.  The two doctors had a 50/50 split, with the share of the senior doctor paying the rent and the help out front, and the working doctor taking the rest as his professional fee.  Although this left Dr. William Michaels with a handsome some of 50 cents per visit, with the wonder of electricity, he was capable of three treatments per hour, and with eight hours in a day, left him with a potential of $12 per day, or $60 per week, generating $3000 per year, which was a handsome sum for a new physician in the year of our Lord, 1920.  Of course, he would also be treating the other women’s aliments, and helping the pregnant with their ordeals. 

 

Rosie opened her eyes, and those eyes opened wide when they noticed the two figures.  Dr. Shapiro greeted her.

“Good morning Miss Rosie.”  He had found that the women he treated liked not having their last names used during the treatments, and this was the way he addressed them.  “This is Dr. Michaels, recently of the University of Wisconsin,  School of Medicine.  He has joined my practice, and will be staffing my new office in the Monroe Street Business District.” 

She nodded, somewhat shocked at seeing the son of her neighbor, a strapping young man only a few years younger than she, a man who she had admired at the beaches of Lake Wingra.

 

“Dr. Michaels, I am pleased to make your acquaintance.  I recognize you from your visits to your father’s house, which is just across the street and down a short ways from my own residence.”

 

Although the young woman, just a few years older than the good Dr. Michaels, was totally as Eve was in the Garden of Eden, she appeared at ease, which was somewhat of a surprise.  In the barely post Victorian age that was the early 20th century, nudity was totally frowned upon, definitely discouraged, and outside of marriage, or brothels, not something that a young man, even a man of medicine would encounter during the course of a work day, even as a physician.  Later, Mr. Michaels would learn from Dr. Shapiro,  that the lovely Rosie was an aficionado of the charms of Laudanum.  As was the reaction of many users of narcotics, the users of the Laudanum were without inhibition, and shame was not restrictive.

 

Dr. Michaels had noticed the charms of Rosie during the summer visits to his father’s home on Keyes Avenue.  As her home was to the southwest of his father’s, on warm summer eves, when thin garments were wise to wear due to the summer heat, the setting sun, low in the horizon would silhouette the woman within the garment.  Even from across the street, the silhouette was striking, showing her figure as if there were one clothing draped over her.  And now, presented in the manner of Eve, he was expected, no, required to treat her for the aliment of the female hysteria.  

 

Dr. Shapiro explained,   Dr. Matthews has observed and performed many of these procedures and is as proficient as I.  I am confident that he will provide you with treatment equal to the best I have been able to perform as your physician.  You will be able to decide if you wish to travel uptown to keep appointments at this office, or, if you prefer, to visit Dr. Matthews at our new west side office.  Your choice.  And now, I will take this chair, and observe, while Dr. Matthews treats you.”

 

With that, the medical procedure began.  The medical appliance was plugged into the wall outlet, and the proper protocols were initiated.

 

At the end of the procedure, Dr. Shapiro mentioned.  “This has been successful.  You can make your appointment with Mrs. Murphy as you exit.  You may choose as you wish,  the new office will be seeing patients starting next Monday.   For now, you may get dressed and we look forward to seeing you soon.”

 

The two men left the room, and went to treatment room 2, where one of the working girls from the business two blocks down State Street that was a laundry worked.  An eighteen year old farm girl from New Glarus, a farming community about 30 miles to the southwest, she had come to the city to learn a trade.  Because she was not paid a lot, the physicians were generous with their discounted service. 

 

Rosie, now fully garbed, went to the front desk to see Mrs. Murphy.  The prescription bottle of her friend was there, and she gave Mrs. Murphy another dollar for the new bottle, leaving her last bottle, now empty, for refilling and reuse.   She told Mrs. Murphy.

 

“I like Dr. Matthews.  His hands are warm, and he seems to understand both his profession and his tool.  I trust he will be the physician in attendance at Monroe Street?”

 

Mrs. Murphy nodded and said.  “Yes,   he will be seeing patients there on Monday.  I agree, his hands are good, both in warmth, and softness.  I have seen him, and he is a good Doctor of these aliments.”  The two women smiled, knowingly at each other.  “And Rosie, he is appreciative of attentions also.”  With that, Rosie’s eyebrow raised, and the two women nodded at each other.  For both knew what those attentions could include.  Rosie was now looking forward to next week, Thursday was her standard appointment, and with Nadia off on Wednesdays, this would work for her.  Still smiling, she took her leave. 

 

That day, at noon, was a wonderful day.  With erect posture, Rose was noticed by every male she walked past.  Also, as she made her way down   State Street, to the University district, by several of the females students who were there for the summer school.   A few blocks down State Street was the ice cream store, and a chocolate cone was just the ticket.  The soda jerk inside, Jeffrey, was taken aback by the young woman with eyes that could make a mountain melt.  She ordered her cone, and he forgot to charge her.  She dug a nickel out of her purse and slid it across the counter to the young man.  Still speechless, he rang the register and recorded the sale. 

 

With cone in hand, her journey continued.  The new Montgomery Wards was on the left side, across the street.  With a cone, melting as fast as she could lick it, there was no way she would be able to wander inside, plus, with $2 gone out of the household budget, she was a little short for the time being.

 

The trolley picked her up about half-way down State Street, just after noon.  About 12:25 pm she was deposited across the street from the new offices of the doctors.  With a smile, she walked the few blocks home, arriving just a few minutes after she had guessed.

 

On the porch, with a glass of ice tea on the table next to her chair, Nadia was over half way through the Jack London novel, “The Star Rover.”  The concepts within, reminded of the mind over matter discussions that were once the rage in the Tsars household.  One of the best of the talkers in the Tsar’s house was a man of the cloth.  That bastard monk Rasputin was an expert in getting his own way, using logic that sounded good at the time, but in retrospective either made one laugh, or cry.  This novel was engaging, and she vowed to finish it that day. 

 

Climbing the steps, Rosie greeted Nadia, and Nadia noticed the bounce in her step which she hadn’t seen before.  The kids had seen their mom walking up from her trip downtown and lunch was in order.  Afterward, quiet time, perhaps a nap, and then preparation for supper.

 

About this time, in the offices of Dr.  Swenson, a proprietor of a combination steam bath house, and practitioner of the Swedish massage, the good doctor was preparing for the afternoon appointments.  Somewhat upset by the morning papers article on doctors who practiced without formal training, he felt that his years of experience far outweighed the benefits of a physician who had been to school.  You were in school for 8 to 10 years after high school, and for what?  If you were not a surgeon, a lay practitioner was just as good a healer as a college boy.  Maybe more. 

 

That afternoon, he had scheduled the foreman from the foundry, and a couple of the women from the offices of the factory over on East Washington.  Sitting in front of the typewriters and comptometers machines all day made for stiff backs and shoulders, and their bosses let them take short lunches during the week so they could have a long lunch for their appointments on Thursday afternoon.  Today, he would take Mrs. Martin at 1 pm, and Miss Devine at 2pm.  His assistant was preferred by the foreman, Mr. Jenson, a large Englishman, recently imported from the casting trades in London, where he was a man of some renown.  His assistant, a small Chinese woman of about 19 years, weighed barely 100 pounds, but her hands were hands of steel, and he could vouch himself, that those hands could work magic.  She had been delivering the sheets from the family laundry, way across town on Park Street, and one day, she had asked if she could show him her massage work.  Laughing inside, he said sure.  Treat me like a valued customer of Dr. Swenson, not as Dr. Swenson.  Following him to the treatment room, which was originally on the blue prints of the building as an office, she had informed him that he could disrobe to where he would be comfortable receiving a massage.  Deciding to test the teenager, after she had left the room, closing the door on her way out, he had disrobed completely.  Dr. Swenson was a good sized man, just slightly over 6 feet in height, and about 190 pounds.  He was a health enthusiast, and he had weights he had fabricated himself in the basement of the steam bath.  Another Scandinavian of note in the Madison area, a Norwegian called the Swede, himself a metal man had expressed interest in those weights, in different weights, with different weights that could be fastened on a metal pipe so the user would be able to vary the lifting weights.  Dr. Swenson then laid face down on the table, he intentionally did not cover himself with a towel. 

 

A few minutes later, a faint knock on the door announced the return of Mai.  The door opened and a clear, voice asked if he was ready.

 

“Yes, remember, I am a valued client of Dr. Swenson.  Treat me as such.”

 

As she entered, he heard her draw in her breath sharply. 

 

“I will start your treatment today with your shoulders.  Relax your muscles, and put your arms at your side.” 

 

He did so. 

“Can you relax your shoulders?”

 

“I am relaxed, ma’am.  I just use weights so my muscles are larger than normal.”

 

Starting the massage, she acknowledged.  “Yes, I see now.”  No comment was made of his full nudity, and she was impressed by the shapeliness of his back muscles, and his gluts.  Never before had she seen such a large man, and his physique was that of the gods sculpted in marble that she had seen in the large museums when she visited relatives in both Chicago, and San Francisco.  Standing next to the table May realized that unlike the Asian men she had worked on before, she could not reach all the way across this man’s back. 

 

“Sir, with your permission, I will get on the table so that I can massage all of your back at one time.  You are such a magnificent man that my small arms cannot reach the other side of you.” 

“As you wish, girl. Make this the best you know how to.”

 

With that, Mai climbed up the table after removing the slipper like clogs that she wore daily.  She was wearing traditional working woman Asian garb, a white cotton shirt with three buttons, and long sleeves, loose fitting cotton pants, which were worn by both sexes at the laundry and at home.  They were kept up by a small piece of rope, tied like a shoe, cotton woven.  In the heat of the summer, in a room with drapes, but with open windows, the hard work was rough on a 100 pound woman.  She could feel her skin start to moisten with the natural sweat resulting from strong work on a hot day.  She completed his shoulders, thinking that this man has shoulders like an ox.  Moving down his back meant that she had to move from straddling his lower back to perching on top of his gluts.      

Dr. Swenson was somewhat shocked when the young girl climbed up on the table and took position on his back, not unlike Annie Oakley on her horse when that show had come to town.  Now that she was moving down, he felt her thighs tight against his hips, not at all an unpleasant experience.  Unknown to him, she had unbuttoned two of the buttons on her blouse to let the heat out.  Thinking to herself, she was planning to borrow a sleeveless shirt from her father’s laundry, the better to let the heat of the work escape.

 

Work on the lower back now completed, she slid further toward his feet.  Now resting on his thighs, she put more of the vegetable oil on her hands and prepared to attack his gluts.  Never before in her life had she seen such muscles. 

 

They were strong as steel, some hair, of course, for he was a man, but the size, the firmness, she was almost outside of her ability to comprehend.  However, an Asian woman needed to quickly adapt to the unknown, for that is way of survival.  When she moved his legs, she dismounted.  She was covered with sweat from the workout she had experienced on top of the large man.  She started with his feet, and discovered he was a little ticklish.  Somewhat amused at the power a 100 pound woman had to make a huge ox of a man wiggle like a puppy, she moved up to his lower calves.  They were also firm, and she used both a firm touch, then a lighter touch, in a circular motion, such as her mother had taught her on her father.  The thigh muscles were next, and she silently worked each side, not getting too close to the juncture of those magnificent legs. 

 

Finished on the back, she announced, “Sir, your back is complete, if you would like me to massage your arms, chest, and stomach, as well as the tops of your legs, you may role over, if you would like a towel to cover yourself, one is available.”

 

Dr. Swenson was pleased that Mai had offered the client a choice.  He chose to test her, and rolled over without benefit of cover.  He saw her in the light of the incandescent bulb in the lamp by the window.  Barely five feet tall, as previously mentioned, a scale set at 100 pounds would have wavered in indecision.  A smile on her lips, she knew that she had done good work.  The big man also had a smile on his face, and they were eye to eye. 

 

Dr. Swenson took note that Mai was drenched in sweat.  Her shirt, not unlike the summer pajamas his late wife had worn, were of only three buttons, and the top and bottom were loosened, just the one between her breasts and her navel kept the shirt modest. 

 

“Mai, you look warm, you should take some water.  There is a pitcher of water from the faucet, and glasses on the table by the door.  I could use some too.”   He watched as she walked the few paces from her station at the side of the table to the small table in back of where the door opened.  Her pants were showing off her physique, for they were dampened with the sweat of her labors, and adhered to her outline.  His guess was that she did not wear bloomers, or anything else underneath those cotton pants.    He could see, even in the dim light, for in the treatment room, the bulbs were not strong, the outline of her backside, and the slenderness of her hips was apparent, even with the tails of the shirt overhanging her waist. 

 

Dr. Swenson lifted up on his elbows, and taking the water from the young girl, drank strongly from the glass.  Mai also took a drink, and with the water still in her mouth, her eyes left his, and travelled down his physique.  His chest was strong, his stomach was flat, and then….

 

Mai’s water left her mouth, that which was still left.  She avoided spitting it on her soon to be employer, but there was a distinct fountain of youth when she saw what was below the line where his belt would have been, if he was wearing pants, which, of course, he wasn’t.  She was familiar with the male organ, having seen that of her father, and her brothers, who were younger.  That was the reality of living in the back of the laundry, where the only privacy was in the basement where the big boiler for the hot water lived, like a dragon, eating coal by the ton.  But this, this was a dragon by itself.  Never before had she imagined such a magnificent thing could exist, and it was not even prepared for battle. 

 

“Excuse me, I am terribly sorry!”  She pleaded.

 

“That is alright, no harm was done.  Sometimes the water goes down the wrong pipe.”  Inside, Dr. Swenson was laughing, for he knew the damage he had done.  He had treated her father when he had lifted equipment he was installing in the laundry that was way too heavy for a man of 120 pounds.  He had seen her father in his entirety, and he was properly sized for a man of that weight, an Asian to boot, but the doctor was almost twice the weight of her father, and was properly sized for his weight.

 

“Let us continue, my afternoon appointments will be here in thirty minutes.”

Mai knew her work, and continued the massage in proper manner.  Except for his face, proper attention was paid to his shoulders, chest, abdomen, feet, lower legs, and thighs.  Mai was watching the clock, and with the 30 minutes almost up, asked the good doctor.

“I think I have given you the best massage I know how to.  Is there any place else you would like me to work on?”

“No, Mai, your massage is tops.  It is perfect.  We need to talk to your father to see if he wants you to work outside of the laundry.  I would start you paid by the appointment, with you receiving forty cents of the dollar I charge.  You would be expected to wash the windows, and sweep the floors, and other duties as I see fit.  If this is ok with you, check with your father, and let me know tomorrow, on Friday.”

 

Mai nodded.  “I will do that.  We will have more sheets and towels for you tomorrow, and I will deliver them at the usual time.”

 

Inside, Mai was both relieved, and somewhat curious about the path the massage would have taken if there was more time.  She had noticed the man’s breath quicken when she massaged his chest, wisely standing next to the massage table.  Her work on his legs had also effected a physical reaction that also piqued her curiosity. 

Exiting the building, at the back, the service entrance, she entered the Model TT panel truck.  The Swede, the giant man, whose metal shop was just across the cross street from the Lee Laundry had reworked the cab of the truck for the smaller Asian drivers at the laundry.  For his own truck he had moved the back of the cab rearward a full twelve inches so his tall, bulky body could get behind the wheel.  The bed of his flatbed truck had had to be fully reworked to allow for the relocation of the back of the cab, but for the Lee truck, which was fully enclosed, only the seat had had to be relocated, forward and down.

 

In the truck, Mai Lee now could work the pedals that controlled the planetary transmission that cleaver Mr. Ford has designed.  She took off. Driving through town, down through the business district of Williamson Street, to the railroad station where Wilson Street joined, she made several stops at the taverns and workshops that lined the street.  There were also two stops at houses, one next door to the tavern of the grandson whose grandfather had built most of the block.  That house, with its fancy ladies, generated a lot of sheets each day, and also more than a few towels.  Luckily, the laundry was packed in large bags, almost as tall as Lee at four feet long.  Weighing almost half that of the young girl, she was strong enough to carry the bags out and load them in the back of the truck. 

 

Never, during her drive, did May see other women driving cars, much less large commercial vehicles.  She was known by the draymen in the town.  At first, they laughed and pointed at the tiny woman doing their work.  After they saw her back the truck up to loading docks, and surprisingly, maneuver the truck into a parallel parking required spot on the street, they talked among themselves in the taverns, and on the loading docks, and even the most manly of them had to agree that the young woman half their size had mastered the chores of driving, backing, and manipulating a truck.  Gaining their respect was something that had to be earned by performance, not any other way.  Sometimes, she would see the women of Mansion Hill in their limousines, driver by men in formal black suits.  She knew these suits, for she pressed most of the black suits in the city. 

 

On that day, two months before, Mai planned her explanation and pleading to get permission for the new job. Back at the laundry, unloading the truck was done quickly, with the helping hands of her siblings.  First she talked to her mother, in Japanese, of course, because the older woman had no need of English.  The woman saw the wisdom of her daughter escaping the laundry, and it would cement the work they had with the steam bath and massage business even more.  Plus, the woman realized, with two massage rooms in operation, there would be twice as many sheets and towels in the work for the laundry.

 

Telling Mai to start at the pressing, the next youngest girl was sent to watch, and apprentice at the ironing machine.  Hot, and steamy, the machine was sometimes dangerous to the person who had no experience with it.  While Mai tutored the younger sister, Mrs. Lee went to Mr. Lee, and explained in terms that sounded like a battle between Ronin warriors.  Mr. Lee soon saw the wisdom of letting his eldest daughter work outside the laundry, and the cash she brought in would be helpful.  He went to see his daughter, and nodded silently.  In the shorthand of a noisy laundry, Mai understood fully that her father had given permission for her to work for Dr. Swenson.  She smiled, and continued the training of her replacement at the laundry.

 

Back at the steam bath and massage works of Dr. Swenson, the afternoon’s work went well.  He had explained to the English foreman that he had explored the taking on of an assistant, so that different modalities of the art of massage could be offered.  Nodding, the Englishman, Eric, entered into a discussion of the massage establishments in London, in particular, those of the SoHo district.

 

The next day, Mai agreed to the terms of Dr. Swenson, and started immediately.  The word had gotten out quickly, and her calendar was soon booked.  She worked from 11 am, allowing those who could get an early lunch, to about 8 pm at night.  There was a quiet time, generally, in the midafternoon, when she would pick up and deliver laundry between the business district that Dr. Swenson was in and the Lee Laundry on Park Street, but within a month, the afternoon was busy also.  May was given the job of teaching her sister, Aki, the intricacies of the Ford Model TT truck, which she picked up quickly.  Aki was a quick learner, and having watched her sister at the ironing machine, the water extracting machine properly called the mangle, and in the art of massage, she was almost every bit as useful as her older sister.  Putting her sister to work outside the family business was far more advantageous to the family coffers because the money she brought in was new money, and the work she had performed at the family business was quickly picked up by the bright, and also attractive Aki.  Mai took her around to the customers, who had all appreciated the quick smile, and gentle voice of Mai, and Aki picked up the greetings and salutations that are all of a successful delivery.  Dressing almost as Mai had, Aki talked her mother in short sleeves on the shirt, and shorter legs on the trousers, because of the heat of the day, and the heat in the laundry. 

Thus, the transmission of responsibilities at the laundry was complete, and May became the employee of Dr. Swenson at the steam baths and massage therapy service.  Businesses in the year of the lord, 1920, grew in the progress and prosperity of the day. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chapter 6. A Mid-Summers Nights Storm.

November 25, 2013

Chapter 6

A Mid-Summers Night’s Storm.

 

              The sun was warm when it arose on that Thursday morn.  In the household of Emil and Rose, Emil awoke with a smile on his face, Rose was fully refreshed to face the day.  Arthur awoke a little earlier, excited because he had a new nanny, whatever that was.  But Nadia was fun, she smiled, she talked a little funny, and when she picked Arthur up and held him on her lap, she smelled fresh, and had a good firm grip on him, so he felt safe.  Jerry was a slug-a-bed, sleeping in until almost 8 o’clock.  There were three bedrooms on the second floor.  The big one stretched across the front of the house, and overlooked the front yard and the street.  In the back was the two smaller bedrooms.  The stairways in the middle, on one side, were matched in width by the bathroom on the other side, with a central area, not really a hallway, but about 10 feet square, big enough to have a desk and chair for writing, or homework away from the noise of the family.  The storm the night before had left the air fresh, and clean. 

 

              Wednesday night, after supper, Rosie had offered Nadia a bed in Arthur’s bedroom to sleep on, with the little tike, or the unfinished space in the attic.  There were screens in all the windows upstairs, even way up there in the attic.  Four dormers faced each direction, and when open with the screens, a new invention here that would not travel overseas for decades, the wind flowed through regardless of the direction.  If there was no wind, the warm air could travel up the stairs if the door on second floor was open, and the breeze of the air from the house up the stairs and out the windows provided motion.

 

              Nadia had never had this much space to call her own.  There were boards on the floor, and an older rug was brought upstairs from the parlor to cover the area from the painted steps to the bed and was about 10 feet from 12 feet.  Nadia had never had a rug to walk on.  Her bed was metal, with posts at all 4 corners.  It had been Emil’s and Rosie’s when they were first married, and when they purchased a wooden bedroom set from Sears, they had kept the old metal bed, and the mattress, which had seen its share of use.  Both children had been conceived on that bag of feathers, and there had been many trial runs at conception.  Their delivery had been at the new Saint Mary’s Hospital.  This was very 20th century, having the births in a hospital, with a physician in attendance, rather than at home, with midwives, or neighbor women attending.  By having a physician, a man with training, who had done this many times, and had experience dealing with the problems of birthing, the rates of death among infants, and mothers had plummeted.   

 

              The Swede and Emil had disappeared upstairs while the women put a light supper together.  The four beers they took upstairs timed their disappearance to about 25 to 30 minutes.  This was enough time to move the trunks, and the boxes to the back of the attic, sweep, and set up the bed.  Emil brought up sheets, and a blanket, if the night air proved chilly, but left them on the mattress for Nadia to arrange. 

 

              Supper was served at the big table in the dining room, usually reserved for Sunday with visitors, or holiday dinners.  With the Swede, and his new maid, and Nadia, the table was full.  Emil noticed that Karin held knife and fork like a farm girl, and the new Nanny, Nadia, held her service ware in the proper, highly stylized manner of those of higher birth, or perhaps, the servants of those of higher birth, who had been trained in proper table etiquette   so that they could train the young.  The girls ate full meals, and both had two glasses of the wine, which under prohibition could be made at home, just not bought in a store.  That it was made in a home owned by the Sicilian, by friends of the Sicilian, not family, was not important.  It was an excellent red, tasty, and with a fine alcohol content.

 

              The children were on their best behavior.  Emil noticed his wife also had two glasses of wine, and he thought if she takes a sip from her bottle tonight, she will sleep the sleep of the dead.  The Swede was seated across the table from his new maid, Karin.  Emil was at the head of the table, Rosie was at his right hand, and the new Nanny, Nadia was at his left.  The two children were next, across from each other, and the Swede and Karin at the end.  From the looks they were giving each other, they approved of what they saw. 

 

              In the course of conversations, it became apparent that Nadia did not have many clothes other than what she wore at the train station.  Something about her baggage being stolen in Oslo when it was left on the dock to be loaded by the stevedores.  Such things happen at the docks, and Emil had asked Rosie if she had any clothes she could loan Nadia.  The Swede also invited Nadia to come over the next day, and she and Karin could look through his late wife’s things, and see if there was anything that would fit, that they would like. 

 

              Soon enough, the meal was over.  The women cleared the table, and were in the kitchen with the dishes.  With three sets of hands, that would not take long.

 

              On the front porch, the two men, Emil, and the Swede enjoyed the last cigar of the day.  Down the block, across the street, on the front porch of the banker, they could see the glow of the man’s cigar.  They knew that his daughters would be with him on the porch. 

 

              Emil said, “Swede, how do you like your new hired help?  She looks sturdy enough to get a good days work out of her.”

 

              “That she does.  I don’t supposed you noticed the legs on that calf, she has not sat down for much of her life.  Her smile makes a man take notice, and her complexion is that of a statue, perfection, but not fragile.”

              Both men puffed, the glowing ends of the cigars signaled a moment of silence.  Then the Swede continued.

              “Bet you didn’t expect to grow your household by giving me a ride to the train station today?”

 

              “No sir, but by the way she holds herself, I think that there are stories to be listened to from that one.” 

 

              Swede nodded.  “And more stores to come from her new life in America.   I don’t think that one waits for things to happen.  I think that she makes them happen.”

 

              Emil was about to say something, but the women came out.

 

              Rosie said, “I found something for Nadia to wear tonight, and in the morning we will try out some of my things.  Karin is sure that there is something for her over at the Swede’s, so I think that we should head to bed, for the morning comes early this time of year.”

 

              Nods agreed, and the Swede and Karin started down the stairs, good byes were exchanged from the sidewalk, and they made their way down the darkened sidewalk about 300 feet to the Swedes’ castle, with the electric light on the porch burning brightly.  The moths surrounded the bare bulb, and it was found that putting it on the far end of the porch kept the critters out of the house.  Swede also had made screens for almost all the windows.  He still needed to make them for the kitchen and dining room, but the windows upstairs and in the living room were able to be left open for the air. 

 

              Once they were enveloped by the darkness, about halfway there, Karin found the Swedes hand and held it for the remainder of the walk.  Off in the southwest, there were the occasional flashes of light on the horizon, indicating someone, somewhere was getting a beating from a thunderstorm.

 

              The house had lights, Electric Lights.  Karin had never been in a private home with switches on the wall that provided illumination.  It was magic.  Swede led her up the stairs.  His home was build off the same plans as Emils’ and Rosies’ , delivered in boxcars from Sears, everything from the biggest pieces of wood to the screws needed for the hinges.  All was packed, delivered from the rail yards usually by horse drawn wagons, these houses had been unloaded directly from the tracks that ran behind the houses.  A crew of men, larger than that of the carpenter’s crew, recruited from the bars on Williamson Street down by the farm equipment sales area, made short work of the 5 boxcars that each house needed.  It was necessary to clear the tracks twice a day, at 7 am and at 6 pm for trains to come into town, so regardless of if the work was done, the switcher engine, coal fired as they all were, came and moved the cars a few blocks downtown to the yards.  The next day, at about 7:15 the cars were brought back and the unloading was finished.

 

              Swede had the big front bedroom upstairs as his own, with a big bed.  He was a big man, so he had built the frame himself, strong, from metal.  Heavy canvas straps were used, instead of the springs most beds used, and the feather mattress he had custom made at the bed works.  Thicker than usual, with about twice the usual amount of feathers, it was both soft and firm.  He and his beloved Emma had loved that bed, and each other, usually twice a day.  She was gone now almost two years, and his tears had dried, but, he missed her voice, her touch, and her shapely body, with its secrets. 

 

              Karin was shown her bedroom, on the other side of the bathroom, a good sized room, with a rug, and a single bed.  The dresser was wood, and there was a table and a chair.  The house was so modern, there was a closet on the wall it shared with the other bedroom.  She looked inside, and found about 6 dresses, from the late Emma.  She looked in the dresser, and the top drawer had foundations.  Freshly laundered from the Chinese laundry she would later find out was on the same block as the Swedes business. 

 

              The storm was closer, the grumblings of thunder 25 miles away could be heard.  Karin was not a stranger to storms, but in the Norwegian valleys that were home to the farms, the hills kept the most of the light and noise away, unless the storm was directly overhead.  Here on the American plains, the storms could be noticed sometimes a hundred miles away from the flashes, and the sound would travel well in some weather. 

 

              Down the street, Nadia was looking in wonder at the bulb hanging in the middle of the room in the attic.  With one light switch at the bottom of the steps, and another at the top of the steps, magic of a most strong sort must be employed.  Putting just a bottom sheet on the bed, a pillow case on the feather pillow, she marveled at her luck.  Ten days ago, she was in Oslo, chased by the Bolsheviks, having to kill 4 of them, witnessing the death of another.  Poisoned, and sneaking on a ship, bribing the steward, and tagging along with Karin, had landed her in a world of wonderment.  The men treated her with respect, the children were in awe, and the woman of the household, was kind, gentle, and with soft voice.  Nadia undressed, and hung her dress on a hanger hung from a nail in a joist.  Her slip was next.  She did not have any other underwear, and unknown to her, in the house of the neighbor on the opposite side from the Swede, the man had his eyes treated to something amazing.  A beautiful, long, dark haired woman, was naked in the attic of the Buick man, the guy next door, with a wife and kids.  He had a naked woman in the attic.  Damn.  The light went out, and he shook his head.  His wife came into the bedroom and was surprised by his ardor.  What was normally a two minute ordeal stretched out to five, then seven minutes before he collapsed on her.  Whatever had happen, she hoped for more.  So did he.

 

              At the Swedes, both prepared for bed in their respective rooms.  She found a beautiful silk gown, last worn by the late Emma, who had been a little larger than Karin.  The gown draped on her shoulders fine, but, being bigger around than perfection would have been, there was a gap in the front that would seem larger than proper.  Sleeveless by design, the armholes were larger than a woman of her size would warrant.  From the side, her breasts were showing in the mirror above the dresser when she turned to the left or right.

 

              She would have to remember this, and wear a robe, or be dressed when she was not in her room.  A proper Norwegian girl would not show this much anywhere outside of her own bedroom, with the door closed, and locked.    

 

              Clean sheets, from the same laundry as the underwear were something that she loved.  These were of high quality, and seemed almost squeaky against her skin.  On the other side of the bedroom, the Swede undressed.  His shirt off, the suspenders hung loose, he undid his trousers and sat on the bed.  Lifting one foot, then the other, his shoes and socks were removed, then the trousers.  He had always slept in the nude, after he started sleeping inside.  After his arrival in America, he had travelled by train to Minneapolis, in Minnesota to stay with relatives.  Once there, on their farm, in rural Minneapolis, he took well to horsemanship, the art of roping, and herding cattle.  One of the hired hands, an old cowboy, past his prime, but with too much knowledge to be put out to pasture, taught him to shoot, both pistol and rifle.   When he had proven himself with the Colt revolver, the seasoned veteran had sold him his rifle.  A piece that had been put to good use by the grizzled veteran of many ambushes, the Sharpes 45-110 was a lever action, breech loader.  The usual barrel length of one of these was thirty inches, this one was custom at 34, giving more accuracy, and more muzzle velocity.  The rifle had been modified to take a special 45 caliber, 110 grains of powder in a metal cartridge, with a 540 grain paper patch bullet, double set triggers, and a Vernier sign, marked to 1200 yards but proven effective at over a mile.      The Swede had been on many cattle drives in his teens, and in his 18th year, met the owner of a huge ranch Teddy Roosevelt.  Over a camp fire, the discussions of rifles and accuracy had led to a heated discussion of the men in Mr. Roosevelt’s age.  Then the old vet, witness to the Swede’s prowess with the Sharpes, had made a small wager with Mr. Roosevelt.  If the kid with the old gun could hit a marker the size of a man, at one mile, the kid and the old guy would be on the payroll of Mr. Roosevelt thru the winter, a time of usual neediness for cowboys.  Mr. Roosevelt had though that the bet was a capital idea, and with his usual exclamation of “Bully” the bet was on.

 

              The next day, with the rising son at his back, in a calm, the Swede had lain down on the rise.  About a mile away, nobody knew for sure, but it was agreed that it was close enough, for the lay of the land dropped down after that point, a scare crow had been relocated.  Rather than digging a hole for it, it was leaning toward the shooter, with a sawhorse keeping it upright. 

 

              Using the skills the old vet and taught him, he adjusted the site, which was still about a thousands feet short of being useful.  The dead calm reduced the need for an adjustment for windage.  Holding his breath, then letting it out slowly, his fingers worked their magic on the triggers and the bark of the muzzle and the smashing of the stock into his shoulder marked the flight of the bullet.  The scarecrow didn’t have a chance.  The bullet found hit mark squarely in the middle of the figure, and the splinters of the branch that formed it’s spine could be seen by those with spyglasses.

 

              Totally in character, Mr. Rosevelt exclaimed with a snort, “Bully.”  Looking at the two, he said, “You are guaranteed three hot meals and a bed at the big house this winter, just don’t get the maids knocked up. But, in the spirit of the thing, would you like to prove yourself and cut the saw horse in two?  If you can, you can have your pick of the yearling horses in the corrall, and I will stand you to the tack.  This was no small wager, for there was a magnificent stallion, a large horse, a huge horse, and a horse that had a mind of its own.  The Swede had admired that horse, a horse he would never hope to own, or even ride.  With a nod, the challenge was accepted.

 

              The lever of the Sharpes ejected the spend cartridge, which the Swede picked up and put in his pocket, feeling the heat.  Mr. Roosevelt notice that and asked,  “You don’t reload those monsters do you?

              The Swede shook his head no.  “It wasn’t here when I got here, it won’t be here when I leave.”  The man who would be instrumental in the formation of the national parks system nodded. 

 

              New bullet in place, in the chamber, the shot was more difficult.  The side of the board in the saw horse was only 4 inches, at a mile, barely visible.  Knowing the amount the bullet would sink was easy.  Seeing the target, difficult. 

 

              The sighting complete, the finger took its position and the trigger squeeze began.  The Swede knew what was on the line.  His horse, never quite big enough for his rider, was getting up in years.  The Black Stallion would be  big enough, and smart enough to make a great partner for the Swede. 

 

              The bark of the big Sharpes made some of the observers jump.  The old cowboy had a smile on his face, for he had seen the Sharpes hit an apple in a tree.  None of the other observers, that time 20 years before, had believed the shop until they saw the shreds of apple in the grass under the tree. 

 

              A mile away, the sawhorse bucked like the horse it represented, the big bullet hitting the middle of the board squarely, and taking out almost 12 inches of the wood.  The two pieces jumped in the air, and were seen even by those without the spyglasses taking a journey backwards. 

 

              Mr. Roosevelt quietly said, “Bully, damn Bully.”

 

              A comfortable winter, in a heated prairie home, with the attentions of the cook, and the maid was cowboy heaven.  In the spring, surprisingly, the old cowboy’s companion was fresh with child.  The cook was happy, the cowboy had done the honorable thing, proposing, and when the preacher came through on his rounds, the proper thing would be done.  The marriage certificate and the bible would be postdated 10 months before the birth, the marriage performed first, and then the baptism, as God intended.   The maid, imported from Paris, and wise to the needs of men, had put the training she received from the photographer of postcards to good use, and made the Swede happy in the manner of men, and avoided the burden of the cook, who was in her late twenties.  The maid was only twenty-one, and later would go to San Francisco where there was great money to made in the future as a madam, not far from the wharf.

 

              In 1898, the conflict with Spain came to war.  Mr. Roosevelt recruited his army partially from the ranks of cowboys, men who could ride, and shoot, and do both well at the same time.  The old cowboy wanted to go, but Mr. Roosevelt told him that he was needed here at the ranch, to run things, and train the young cowboys, barely in their teens.  However, the Swede was needed, for long range shooting.  In the campaign in Cuba, many widows were created with the Sharpes, for it was Mr. Roosevelt thoughts that if the officers were removed, the rest of the army would act like untrained rabble.  The Swede and the Sharpes were to prove him correct many times. 

 

              Upon his return to the ranch, Swede found that the maid had left on the train for the big city of San Francisco.  He had picked up the art of metal working at the ranch, and in the army had worked with metal when there was no fighting.  He found that keeping busy made the time go fast.  With only the cows, and Thor, the black stallion at the ranch, he decided to move to Madison, Wisconsin.  He had talked with other soldiers, and two from Madison had convinced him that it needed a man of metal, for the new factories, the building trades needed tools, and there was always work for a good man with skills.

 

              It only took a few weeks of easy riding, mostly following the railroad tracks from the ranch through Minneapolis, and then down through Wisconsin to get to Madison.  Two days after arriving, he was at the blacksmith shop on Park Street, where the man who owned it was in bad shape with coughing and spitting blood.  Cholera had stolen his wife and boys.  The girls were married, and their husbands were good providers in their own work. The smith had work that had backed up due to his illness, and when Swede cleared out the backlog, and organized the shop, the smith had realized that Madison had a new blacksmith.  Papers were drawn up, and for the princely sum of $1, the Swede owned three hundred feet of frontage on Park Street, and that went back a full four hundred feet to the rear lot line.  The building was sturdy, for a smithy.  They were usually built lightly, for they burned frequently.  There was a lot of business, for the people who watched him work saw a knowledge, and a manner of work that spoke of expertise.  Through the years his business grew, and his apprentices saw that it was better to work for the Swede than try to go out on their own.  There was a somewhat better appreciation of their abilities when they told people that they worked for the Swede, than admitting to having an anvil and a forge, because the Swede was a total metal man.  Welding, cutting, forging, pouring metal into forms, he did it all.

 

              And now, the big man, undressed to his underwear, debated leaving it on, or taking it off.  He had never been in a house, where there was a woman not in his bed, who was familiar with all of his body.  But this girl, Karin, was beautiful, quiet, somewhat shy, and frankly, everything his Emma had been.  What if he went to the bathroom during the night and she was there? Should he put on his shirt and pants?  Would underwear be ok?  Or, should he just chance it, and sleep as usual?  He decided on the later, for that is what he knew he would be most comfortable with.  As he walked back to the bed, the thunder was closer, good for the grass, now coming up in the new yard he had got around to seeding this spring.

 

              Somewhere around midnight, the storm hit with a fury.  There were many lightning strikes, a barn past the west edge of town, by the two cemeteries, the Catholic one on the left,  the city one on the right, was hit by lightning and burned to the ground.  The cattle of that farm were out in the fields, and two were killed under a tree.  Over on Keyes Avenue, several strikes close by work all in the houses their except for the deep sleeping Rosie.  At the Swedes, Karin fled her room in terror, her hair streaming behind her and she opened the door of the now awake Swede.  Her voice filled with terror asked.

 

              “I am afraid, I am so very afraid, can I stay with you until the storm is over?”  The man, himself a bit shaky from the proximity of the blasts, was thinking of the war in Cuba, and San Juan hill, nodded yes, his non-verbal answer understood in the light of the electric storm.  She was in the bed, under the sheets before he fully understood that the girl now grabbing him closely, in terror, was virtually naked, with only the oversized gown of Emma between him and her.  As she dove into the bed, the front had opened up, timed perfectly with a blast of lightning, and he could see the fullness of the teenagers breasts. As he then lay back on his own back he felt her soft flesh against his bare chest.  She snuggled instinctively under his huge biceps and rested her had on his chest.  Never before had she felt this safe.  She thought that he was just shirtless, in the summer heat, and her hands were wrapped around his chest. 

 

              The Swede was never more awake then he was now.  The beautiful blond, wrapped around him just like his Emma had so many times.  Her head on his shoulder, hair cascading everywhere.  Then, one of her bare legs climbed his, and wrapped about it, like a serpent.  She must know, she must know that there is nothing between us.  Her regular breathing signaled that she was right with the world.  Looking toward the foot of the bed, the Swede noticed the tent formed by his penis, only inches from a silky, unknowing thigh.  Sleep came to the Swede, but, not easily.

 

              Three hundred feet to the north, that close by lightning  hit was not unnoticed.  Emil awoke from a deep sleep.  After the house had gone dark, his beloved Rosie was sleeping a very deep sleep.  The three glasses of wine would have been enough to insure slumber, but she had her little bottle, and a sip or two from that was a nighttime regular.  Emil knew that with the two drugs, the alcohol, and the laudanum, a tincture of 10 % opium, and 90 % alcohol would make her totally asleep, and unaware of anything happening near her, or to her.  One of the French postcards had suggested something that was prohibited in the bible, and would have never entered the mind of a gentle person or breeding.  But the crockery, with large print of the word in French for butter,   beurre hinted of a necessary lubricant.  The position of the man and the woman, with the need for lubricant, left little to the imagination of anyone knowledgeable of human anatomy of the depicted activity.  Emil had become an aficionado of this activity, with his wife almost lifeless underneath him.  One of his customers, Dr. Shapiro, an expert in the area of female hysteria, with an office near the capital, but on the opposite side of that structure from the Buick Garage, had supplied him with the French letters that had been issued by the millions to the GI’s when they went to France.  Emil was too old for the Great War, but, a couple of the mechanics working for him had described them in detail when the day was over, and a bucket of beer was carried out the back door of the tavern down the block and down the alleyway.  After the first time, without the French letter, Emil had talked to Dr. Shapiro who gave him a supply in exchange for some gasoline from the large tank next to the garage.  Now, each adventure used one letter, and there was no evidence of malfeasance, nor was there a mess on his most favored body part. 

 

              The blast of lightning brought him awake.  Rosie was snoring slightly on her back.  He had to pee, and to get rid of the used prophylactic.  A trip to the necessary facility was in order.  Being used to padding around the house with children who would sleep through the end of the world, and a wife who would sleep through the resurrection, he was used to not wearing anything but yesterday’s cologne.   Tonight, the lightning was providing more than enough illumination to get to the bathroom, but he turned on the light so his aim would be sure.  The used prophylactic was deposited in the toilet bowl, and he started to pee. 

 

              It is well known that great minds think alike, and upstairs in the attic, the lightning blast had awakened Nadia.  The three glasses of wine had worked their way through her kidneys, and her bladder was full.  Like a cat, using the skills the Cossacks had taught her, she made her way down the steps using the outside of the stair treads, so there would be no creaking noise.  Her weight, slight as it were, was very close to the heavy wood that the treads rested upon.   When she was selecting something to wear, with a smile, she had held up one of Emil’s heavily worn shirts.  The cotton had been laundered so many times, it was soft.  Not quite silk, but soft.  A few buttons were missing, but two in the middle would suffice for sleep wear.  It was this she was wearing.  Long enough to cover her privates, but with the roundness of her cleavage readily apparent, she padded down the stairs like the predator feline she often felt she was.  When she was at the bottom of the stairs, she took the knob, pulling the door slightly toward her as she turned the knob.  When the knob was fully turned, she opened the door, slowly releasing the knob, silently.  This she had been taught by the leader of the Tsar’s assassins. 

 

              As she exited the door, she saw the light was on in the bathroom 10 feet directly in front of her.  The man of the house was standing and a strong stream of urine was launching into the bowl.  Her feet carried her closer to the door, and the motion caught his eye.  Naked as the day he was born, unable to do anything because the stream was not to be stopped, he looked at her like a deer caught in the headlight of the night freight train.  He then notice her smile, and when he finished she walked closer.  Shaking the penis, he turned to her.  She looked in the bowl, noticed the soiled French letter, and being a woman who had been kept busy in the bedroom arts, as well as the stable, the woods, the steppes, and on top of galloping horses, she know what he had been busy at.

 

              Taking his hand, she turned him to face her.  While watching, she had slipped the two lone buttons, and with him facing her, she slipped the shirt, which dropped silently to the floor.  She put her hands on his hips, and leaned forward.  She took his right nipple in her mouth, something that had never happened to him, which was surprisingly pleasurable.  Standing, she looked him square in the eye, and said one work.

 

              “Master.”

 

              With that, she kneeled, and demonstrated to him that the women in the French postcards did not have a monopoly on the arts of love.  Her hands went to his Gluteus Maximus, and she hung on while she did her work.  The resulting explosion, which was impressive when the actions of two hours before were considered, did not take her by surprise, but she choked and coughed a bit.  Standing, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and taking the back of his head with her right hand, she kissed him fully on the mouth, insuring that he was fully appraised of the most recent happening. 

 

              Her work completed, she went to the toilet, and did that which she had started her jurney downstairs.  He was still motionless, after the kiss, and when she was finished, she approached him, taking his left hand to her breast, and kissed him again.  Although it would be some time until it was ready for battle, she took his sword with her right hand and stroked it a bit.  Looking at him, again, directly in the eye, she whispered.

              “There is more of that, and much more, if you treat me like a woman, and not a whore.  I will take care of your children as if they were their own.  Just respect me, and we shall enjoy life more fully than either of us should expect.”

 

              With that, she turned, picked up her shirt, and walked to the door up to the attic.  Silently, she opened the door, and after it was closed, again, silently, Emil was unable to hear her feet on the steps.  His only hint that she was in the attic was when a board creaked under her step.  She heard it too, and made a mental note to obtain nails and hammer, and secure it so it was silent.

 

              Morning was only a few hours away.  Emil returned, and slept the sleep of the exhausted.  He was awoke sometime after the sun shone in the front windows of the bedroom.  He rolled over and saw Rosie starting to stir.  Continuing his roll, he found himself on top of the still slightly drugged wife.  Her legs automatically parted, and the third release in less than seven hours was not fast in arriving, but arrive it did.

              The new showers were great for a quick clean up.  Swede had made them out of copper pipe and a sheet of copper formed into a head 6 inches in diameter, with over two hundred holes for the water to come out of.  Breakfast with the family was fun, with the new addition.  The table in the kitchen wasn’t really big enough for three adults and two children, so the meal was served again at the dining room table.  The wife to one side, the nanny to the other, with two beaming children at their sides.  The summer was still young, and it was just starting to be interesting.

 

              Three hundred feet to the south, the Swede had been awake for an hour or so.  Karin was still draped over him, hair washing over his shoulders, her face on his chest, one arm possessively over his chest.  Her leg, previously dangerously draped over his large muscular thigh, was now next to it.  The sheet provided some degree of modesty.  When she awoke, and by god, he loved watching a woman awake, the transition from sleep to awake was with a degree of comfort.  Blinking her eyes, she whispered.

              “Thanks you Swede, I was so frightened, and alone, and when I asked, you comforted me.  I will never forget that.”

 

              Ever the gentleman, he let her use the bathroom first.  As she went to get out of the bed, her entire breast was visible through the armhole of the gown.  Full, and high on her chest, the nipple was full and erect.  Smiling, knowing what he had seen, she turned to him, with a million kroner smile, and blew him a kiss. Turning to leave, her thighs were strong, with nothing but firm muscle.  As she left the room, she grabbed the hem of the gown, lifting it in preparation for sitting on the toilet.  The ever observant inactive sniper, saw the curves, the gentle curves of her butt. 

                            

              “Mein gott, what have you blessed or cursed me with.”

 

              A breakfast of eggs, some thick bacon, and the sweet breads from the German baker on Monroe Street was the standard breakfast on Keyes Avenue in the 1920’s.  As Emil was leaving his house, to get into the Buick Touring Car, he saw the Swede alighting from his porch, the beautiful young teen on the porch waving goodbye to the huge man, and blowing him a kiss.  The Swede met him, driving the Model TT truck he had bought from Emil for almost nothing, surplused by the Faurenbach Brewery when the Volstead Act made breweries about as legal as counterfeiters.  The two men met, seated in their cars, one facing south, one north, and they exchanged the glances of men who had not slept much the night before.

 

Questioned Emil, “Did ya sleep good Swede, you look a little peaked.”  Said question with smile attached.

 

Replying, with the same smile.  “Yes, slept like a baby, burped and farted all night.” 

 

              With that the two men went about their day’s work.  They were content that the evening would be interesting  to say the least.

 

 

 

 

 

Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chapter Five. The Emigrants.

November 24, 2013

Chapter Five

      The Emigrant

 

 

The sun rises early in the northern latitudes, and when it does the sunlight will flood the rooms in the upper parts of houses first.  Up under the eaves in her Uncle Tobias’ home, the light moved across her body. 

 

Her toes, first to feel the warmth of the early sun, wiggled a bit, and the sunlight moved up her torso.  Due to the warmth of the first day of summer, and because all the heat in the house moved up, naturally, the usual morning temperature in the upper levels of homes in that small village, about 10 kilometers from Oslo, was about 80 degrees, unless there had been rain during the night.  At first, when she had moved there, two years ago, she had worn her nightgown, but, in the heat, without covers, it proved to be too much.  Soon enough, she had found that sleeping as nature had intended, with nothing but a light glistening of sweat, was the only way to get a good rest.  At the start of the night, sometimes, after cooking, and the heat of the day, it was up to 90 degrees, or more upstairs.  The two windows, one at the east, and one at the west, if they were open, often proved attractive to bats, and other nocturnal creatures, so they had to remain closed. 

 

              This morning, like so many others, found her, on her 18th birthday, curled into a fetal position, with the pillow half under her head, and half with her arms cuddled around it.  She had stopped having the nightmares, the nightmares that had started with the Spanish flu of two years ago, when half the village had perished.  The young men were hardest hit.  Responsible for the animals, they had pushed themselves to handle the chores when they were hit with the flu, and the additional stress from the heavy work, and the cold of the Norwegian winter and combined with the virus to kill far more of the boys/men in the 13 to 30 age brackets. 

              In her village area, of the 58 males in this age, a full 44 had died.  There were no men here, or anywhere around close by of marriageable age that weren’t already either married, betrothed, or, in the case of a couple, a little feeble in the head.  Ok for the heavy farm work, they weren’t what made a woman wish to carry their children, for, who wants to mother the village idiot.

 

              Karen had come down with the flu, along with her younger sister, Marthine her older brother, Alf, then her mother, Emma and father Joakim.  She watched with horror, as in a matter of days, first her sister, then her brother, and then with horror both parents suffer the ravages of the illness, then grow quiet after the racking coughs subsided.  Luckily, the village elders had met, before half of them died, and had the survivors, who were now immune, gather the dead, and after a blessing, dispose of the dead.  Due to the deep frost in the ground, burial, dug by the few with any strength was not possible.  Viking style cremations were held, the bodies kept in the cold for a few weeks in one of the barns without animals, the only way to store the dead inside, so the wild animals were keep from feeding.  Every fortnight, for it took that long to forage enough fallen wood in the forest, gather and transport to the village, the wood and the bodies of the fallen were interspersed, and at nightfall the survivors gathered to pray for the deceased, the religious elders would bless, and the fire was lit.  Through the night, tended by the strongest of the survivors, and fed more wood, the flames did their work, until the virus, and the dead were just memories and ashes.  Talk was of a memorial in granite, sometime in the future, but, for now, it was just talk.

 

              Karin had been welcomed into her mother’s sister’s home after the deaths.  Besides the two adults, Aunt Inger, and Uncle Peder, there was her cousin, Balder, a 16 year old boy, and his sister, Inga, 19 years of age, and a stunning blond.  Karin was treated like a member of the family, and her schooling continued after the schools reopened.  The farm of her mother and father was a valuable property, even with the decreased population.  The people who were interested in farm property  knew that there was competition for such good flat land in a country knows for fiords and mountains, and Karin’s uncle had helped her dispose of the farm.  After bills, there was left the equal of 10 years pay for a skilled man, which the uncle had directed the bank in Oslo to deposit in very safe investments.

 

              The winter of death, 1918, was followed by a warm spring.  Karin’s new family was quick to welcome her as one of their own.  Besides her own strong back and hands, Karin’s trousseau included all of the canned goods she and her mother and sister had put up the previous fall.  The larder had been full for a winter with the food expected for essentially 4 adults, and an adolescent girl, and that larder, of course, came with Karin. 

 

              She had had her beloved brother and sister, and like siblings throughout time, there were times of immense love, and compassion, mixed with times where she could have murdered either, or both of them.  As she aged however, she was more tolerant of her siblings, and had grown to love them, in spite of their failings, occasionally, because sometimes, they tried to act like civilized human beings.  As such, after the flu, she was aware even more so, that she must love those around her, and seek to make them happy, as well as herself, for there had been so much pain already.

 

              Uncle Peder had built a sauna in the back of the yard, away from the barn and out buildings, near enough to the house so you wouldn’t get lost, but out of earshot of the house, and out of smelling distance from the barn.  The prevailing winds kept the barnyard odors moving away from the house and the sauna.  This sauna was a Norwegian style, with lots of heat and steam, while his neighbors, the Tajiks, Margit and Erik, both survivors, in their early 30’s, had built a Finnish style sauna, favoring a dry heat.  Of course, in reality, all the difference was throwing some spring water on the hot rocks, above the coals, but, by maintaining the difference, the two men were easily able to persuade their wives to visit the neighbors for a different type of sauna.  

 

              After the children had bedded down for the night, or, sometimes even before, the two couples would meet for a sauna, the four would disrobe completely, for there is no room in a sauna for modesty.  The fire, lite for a while had brought the heat up, and dry, or wet, the occupants would soon start to perspire, heavy sweat for the men, glistening for the women.  Sometimes the children would join, for sauna was a family event, at first, towels were used, but after a while, the extra laundry of the towels for everybody was a burden, and the youngest questioned why they needed all the towels, because she had to wash them all and dry them.  Soon after, nature was the order of the day.  The sauna was great for relaxing the muscles, and the children learned the art of massage from watching their mothers massage the backs, chests, and legs of their men.  The massages after bedtime for the children, were someone more intense, and reciprocity was the order of the day, the women receiving the massage from the men, and not necessarily from their own husband.  The soon to be adult Karin was introduced to the sauna a few years before the flu, and she had seen her mother and father disappear into the little house with the chimney with her aunt and uncle, and sometime with the neighbors.  With six adults, there really wasn’t a need for a fire to make it hot and sweaty in such a small place.

 

              Sometimes, the older people got a little frisky when the children were present. Among themselves, the kids let it be known that it was fun to relax with your eyes almost closed, and with regular breathing so as to appear as though the child had fallen asleep in the sauna with the older people .  When the parents thought that there were no peeking eyes that were awake, they felt that they were free to explore and renew acquaintances.  Thus was sex education in the early 20th century in Norway, and for that matter, most other locations around the world. 

 

Karin had witnessed this many times when she was growing up, and she had been considered an adult since her 16th birthday, and free to watch and join.  She had been there when her parents and the neighbors had played together, but just as a witness, and there had been times when her cousins had invited her to the sauna.  One day, Uncle Peder and Erik the neighbor had invited Karin to a sauna, with just the three of them, and there was much to recommend the activities of the event.

 

Today, on her 18th birthday, today, June 21, 1920, was the start of the rest of Karin’s life.  Recognizing that there was nothing there in the village for her, no job, no man, no real future, she had asked the village elders, much fewer in number now, for advice on the rest of her life.  The women, old at age 50, told her to take her fortune anywhere but at the village.  One suggested going to America.  She had a son who had gone to Madison, Wisconsin, in the middle part of America.  His letters told of a good life, weather not as bad as that of Norway, with good crops, good people, and a good future for those who were willing to work.  He was a man of metal, starting as a blacksmith, and becoming an expert in the art of fabricating things from iron, steel, copper, bronze, and brass.  He had success, and had a modern new house, with running water, a furnace, a gas stove, and plumbing that was inside the house, imagine that! 

 

Karin asked the woman to write the man, her son in America, especially after his mother told her that the man had lost his wife to the flu two years earlier.  Karin suggested to the mother that the mother tell the man that there was a girl, in the village, also one who had suffered grievous loss in the epidemic, who was well educated in the art of keeping a house for a man, knowledgeable in canning, cooking, cleaning, watching little ones, and as a plus, easy on the eyes.  Karin smiled at that.  The farm life kept her stomach flat, her arms and legs shapely and strong.  She was a tall girl, about 5 foot, 6 inches, barely 125 pounds.  Her mother and father had given her beauty in the face, blue eyes like the fiord, blond hair half way down her back, the color of a hay meadow in the fall.  The midwives in the village had told her that she had good child bearing hips, and that her breasts, full sized like her mothers, would be good for feeding the hungry mouths of her children, and would be noticed by the men in her life.  Not all of this was in the letter she wrote to her son, the letter that Karin watched her write.  After Karin had left the house of the mother of the rich man in America, the mother took out another piece of paper and another envelope and wrote the next letter to her son. 

 

In this letter of recommendation, she compared Karin to the Norwegian woman lost by her son in the epidemic.  The beautiful hair, almost to her waist, the eyes that were pools that a man could become lost in, the face of an angel, and the figure, the figure that men would fight over.  The Vikings had valued their women highly, and bred the more beautiful ones over and over, so their offspring were highly desired by men around the world.  She wrote, “This woman, this woman I am sending you, it a god send to a man who has known the best.  Remember your late wife, but remember, that she would not have condemned you to a life of loneliness.  This woman, she is a woman that your late wife would have loved as a sister.  She is kind, gentle, quiet when she needs to be quiet, and, if it was she that I heard from the sauna of Erik, a woman of needs, and appreciations. 

 

Karin is coming to you as a servant girl, as a maid to a bachelor.  She is shy, and a lady.  I don’t think that it will be long before she loves you as a husband.  Be gentle with her, let her take the lead, and offer her kindness, a shoulder to cry on as the two of you grieve and share your losses.  I could not find a better woman for you, son, if I searched the entire country.  I look forward to your letters and pray for your happiness.” 

 

These two letters, picked up by the Postman on his rounds through the village, had been received by the man in Madison, Wisconsin.  Knowing his mother, and that she would be looking out for him in the best way, the Swede wrote back saying she would be welcome in his home for as long as she wished to stay with him as his maid.  Thus, a great journey was started.  He had sent money enough for a passage on the Red Star Liners that passed between the continents of Europe and America on almost a daily schedule.

 

In Norway.  Mama had shown Karen a picture of the man, sent with a lot of money.  Karen was pleased.  A Kodak picture of the man, in front of a huge new house, showed a tall man, square jawed, with the arms of a blacksmith, a smile that she found to make her melt, and a strong countenance that would make a woman think of a protector, and a provider.  The mother of the Swede, god, she hated that nickname he had chosen, was herself a descendent of the Vikings, and in the family it was still understood that the Vikings, not that damn Italian guy, had found the new world.  It belonged to Norway, but, as with many things it seemed, the guy with the hookup to the rich and famous seemed to get the attention.  Hmmmmm.

 

And so, on this day, a warm and sunny day in June, June 21, 1920, the great adventure began.  Her uncle, and the neighbor took her by horse and carriage to Oslo where she boarded a huge ship, bigger than anything she had ever seen before.  Its smoke stacks, three in number, had black smoke coming out in good amounts, which her uncle told her meant that the ship was soon to leave.  After kissing both men goodbye, and not kisses from a little girl to an uncle, but the kisses of lovers who would be separated, perhaps for the rest of their lives.  The neighbor would never forget that kiss, either.  Damn, that little girl had kisses like a woman who had a long history of kissing and pleasing. 

 

Once aboard, she was shown a cabin by a steward.  In the small room, there were six bunks, three high, on each side of the room.  Under the lowest there was room to store the valise she had brought, as well as the belongings of the other two girls who would bunk in that stack, and the bed as soft as a cloud to someone who had grown up with a mattress of straw, with a pillow of feathers.  Three of her roommates were already there.  A young mother, with a girl of perhaps three or four was in the lowest bunk on the left side of the room.  On the other, the top was taken by a shorter girl, perhaps 16, with black hair, and black eyes.  She was laying on her back, wearing a skirt and a blouse, and it was apparent that she was a girl of some shapeliness.  She rolled on her side and said hi, I am Jenny.  I am 18, and I am traveling to America to live with my uncle and aunt in Chicago, and they will pay for me to go to the University of Chicago.  The mother was silent, and watched Karen get settled in.  Karen chose the lower bunk, on the side that Jenny was on.  Karen exchanged pleasantries with Jenny.  The other woman, on the top bunk above the mother was face down, and there was a smell of gin about her.  Jenny said.

“She was drunk when she came aboard, she made a pass at the steward, and made a big show of wanting to be on the top.  She barely made it there.  I used to have a father who was drunk, and my mother told me to roll drunks on their stomachs so if they got sick they wouldn’t choke and die, so she, (motioning to the young mother) and I rolled her onto her front.  I don’t know what her name is.”

At this, the young mother looked at Karin and said,

“I am Inga, this child and I are all that are left in my village after the flu.  I tried to make a living in Oslo, but, there were no jobs for a mother without a man.  I was the only survivor in my village, and I had to take care of the dead, so I gathered all their gold, silver, and money when I left for Oslo.  I don’t know for sure who the parents of the baby are, but I know, they are dead, because I buried all of my village in a mine shaft in the mountain where they used to get iron ore.  When they were all gone, but us, I took the dynamite that they used for blasting, and did what my father, the blaster showed me how to do.  I closed the mine with a blast that changed the outside of the mountain, and good riddance to that place.” 

 

This was more words than Inga had said in one time since before the flu.  She had had no one left in her family, or in the village, and she didn’t know where she was going in America.  What the others didn’t know, was that in her valise, there was enough British Pounds Sterling to buy a small hotel in a modest   town.  There had been gold and silver from the village, but that had amounted to over 100 pounds of coins.  A man she met in Oslo, who had provided her shelter and food for both her and the girl child, in exchange for not much more than a wife would have provided, had been a banker, and had told her that the only way to travel was with British Pounds Sterling.  Quietly, going to banks in Oslo that were not the bank he worked at, she had converted the coins to paper money.

 

After she had missed two monthlies, she had told the man about that, and he had kicked her out.  The next one showed up in a couple of weeks, but by then she had decided to go to America.  Thus, she and little Kari were in the cabin with the other wayfarers who were escaping the past, with a sunny future ahead of them.

              A few minutes later, the steward opened the door, and escorted the last two women for that bunk room in.

Smiling at the room, now full, he said.

“We will depart in about a half hour, at 4:30.  Dinner, for this room each night is prompt at 7 pm.  If you miss it, the next meal will be breakfast, served for this room at 7 am.  Your lunch is the second lunch, at 1 pm.  There are clocks in all the passages, directly by the stairs between decks.  That is the time you will use to determine when to eat. There is a tavern for you steerage class customers, which is located directly under the dining hall.  There are maps in each hall showing where you are, and you should be able to find your way from them.  Your space is forward of the bridge, under no circumstances are you go behind the areas with the signs saying   ‘Steerage not allowed past this point.’  If you can’t read, you will spend the rest of the journey in lockup.”  Enjoy your trip, thank you for sailing with the Red Star Lines.

The two young women he had escorted in looked at the two remaining bunks in the middle of each stack, and looking at each other moved to through their carpet bags, identical to each other, on their respective bunks. Amy looked at Amber, and addressed the crowd.

“I’m Amy, this is Amber, and we are identical twins.  We are from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and we are returning home from visiting our grandparents in Oslo, the Andersons, perhaps you have heard of them.”

Looking at the four heads shaking no, the two girls looked at each other and shrugged their identical shoulders.  Upon close inspection, everything about the two was the same.  Same dresses, same haircut, same smiles, eyes, and figures.  If they were standing in front of a piece of glass, you might have suspected that it was a mirror.

 

Pleasantries were exchanged all around, again, except for the drunk in the top bunk.  At the proper time, checked by the clock out in the hall, the five young adults, and the child left for dinner.  The drunk, still face down, breathing regularly.

 

Dinner was fresh chicken, fried in the American southern style.  This was possible because they were tied up at the dock when the cooking was going on.  A pitching ship was no place for frying in large pots of grease, but, at the time the dinner was served, the dry steam heat from the warming closets made for a tasty meal.  All the girls ate hearty, for, they were of Viking stock, even the twins from Minnesota, and the pitching of a boat was not foreign to them. 

The dinner was finished, and forty minutes after they had started, they were escorted out of the dining hall, for in another twenty minutes, the next feeding would start.  The intervening 20 minutes was for cleaning the tables, new linens, silver wear, and crockery.  The dining room staff were efficient, most had had this job, or one on another line since they were barely out of childhood. 

 

The women went back to their room, stateroom wasn’t really appropriate, because that title would have suggested amenities, such as chairs, tables, perhaps a dresser.  There was only a desk, with no drawers, and a chair bolted to the floor, at the end of the room opposite from the door.  The chair did rotate, and the first woman in the door found the drunk siting in it, facing the door.  Holding her head in her hand, facing the floor, she looked like death warmed over, but not too much. 

 

Amber asked, “If you get that drunk and sick, why do you drink so much?”

 

The reply, with a soft voice, in an eastern accent, was telling.  “I don’t drink, I was drugged.  They wanted to keep me silent, but after I felt the needle stick, I ran, I ran because I needed to get to a place with people quickly before they could capture and hold me.  The ship I had a ticket on doesn’t leave until the day after tomorrow, so I paid the steward handsomely to get me on this ship.  I am safe now, but I feel like a Cossack on the day after payday.”

 

Karin asked “Russian, are you Russian”

 

Her reply was telling.  “White Russian, used to be with the tsars household, have been on the run since the revolution.  Do you know what a White Russian is?  Nothing special, just a Russian who is not a red communist.”  The Reds are after me because they think I know something about the Tsar’s family, but, what would it matter, the bastards killed all of them, right down to the youngest.   

 

The drug was wearing off.  Karin had grabbed some fruit and some bread from the table, along with a fried chicken breast.  Nadia, the Russian, looked at the meal like a Russian wolf on the Siberian steppes would look at a sleigh full of rich fat tsarists.  She asked

“Is that for me?”

A nod yes was sufficient.  While eating, she continued her story. 

“I have been on the run since the slaughter of the Tsar and his family.  I have disguised myself as a peasant, a nun, a whore, and a revolutionary.  Believe me, the easiest disguise is that of a whore, nobody cares, except for that which a few coins buys.  They don’t want to know your history, your past, which side you favor, your age, how many children you have, nothing.  ‘Here’s a few coins, girl, on your back.’”

The chicken was the first she had tasted cooked that way with spices used as if it was served in the finest restaurant in Atlanta.  The bread was a good quality bread, with no sticks or rocks, or sand from the grinding wheel.  The fruit was fresh, not starting to rot, or with animal bites already in place.  To Nadia, this was a feast.  There had been some half-weeks when she had not had this much to eat.  The food helped her to come out of the drugs.  The water, fresh, with no bugs, dirt, or leaves, was sweet to her palate.  She continued with her story.

 

“After the slaughter, I made my way to the west.  The Americans, and the British had sent some troops, but, true to politics, they were kept from being efficient or effective.  It took some time, walking, mostly, but sometimes catching a ride with the supply trucks, huge things with solid tires, they called them Macks.  The Americans and British were for the most part gentlemen, and those who weren’t, were trainable, or they died.  Mostly, I found if I started the conversation, a negotiation was easy to make, and I got transportation, food, water, and protection for nothing more than any other man I would have travelled with would have wanted.  I made my way to the border, crossed in the night, and it took a year to make it to Oslo, In Oslo, there were some men, the damn Bolsheviks, on the look for Russians, White Russian, Red Russians, didn’t matter, they weren’t supposed to be in Oslo, so these men would find them, follow them, drug and capture them, and nobody would see them again.  We found a couple of them, the other Whites and I, and cut their throats while they slept, they thought with whores.  The money we stole from them bought passage for three of us, but, the other two were caught in a café, and were shot in the back of the head by the Bolsheviks.  I was in the bathroom, and when I heard the shots, saw what happened, and quietly left by the back door, with a bag of table linens.  They ran past me as they made their escape, and I made my way with the bag back to the little room way up high in a rooming house.  We had our own money, and I took all of it, and on the way down the steps, the two shooters were on the way up.  I brushed past, and the last turned and said something.  I ignored him, and he stepped in front of the other’s gun and took the bullet intended for me.   The shooter swore are me, and tripped over the dead guy and fell.  His revolver bounced on the step, and hit me in the back, I picked it up and shot the bastard in the head.  Down the stairs, out the door, I ran, I found another Bolshevik outside, waiting, and he stuck me with a needle when I ran out the door with my bag.  I turned, and shot him in the face.  I hope I killed him.  I ran for the ship, and two more came around the corner.  Guns drawn, they didn’t recognize that a woman with a laundry bag and a valise was a danger, and I shot them both in their balls.  With only one bullet left, as I approached the boat, I faked a sneeze, and dropped the gun over the dock into the water.  I made it up the gangplank, and bribed the steward, and here I am.”

 

With that, she went to her bunk.  Having admitted to four murders in the 30 minutes before she boarded the boat, all 5, with wide eyes, looked at Karin who made a sign with her finger across her lips, like a zipper.  Silence would be good for all.  

 

The mother went to her bunk, and lay down, with the child between her and the wall of the cabin, looking over her shoulder, she smiled at the four, and turned her head back to cradle the child, as if it was her own.

 

Like a pack of she-wolves on the prowl, Karin, Nadia, Amber, and Amy and the petite Jenny left the room, looking for the tavern.  Soon enough, the noise and the smell of tobacco smoke beckoned.  They arrived, some with a few coins, others with funds they did not want to spend. 

 

Finding the tavern, was easy, getting in could be another.  In first and second class, the men and the women were separated when they drank, even man and wife, unless they were in their stateroom.  Here, in steerage, the women were encouraged to not enter the male territory of the tavern.  However, the two crewmen who were supposed to watch the door were otherwise occupied with two Irishmen who had booked from Oslo to Liverpool, and who had discovered that the strong Norwegian beer was quick to go to their heads.  Getting somewhat obnoxious, they were escorted back to their cabin where they would sleep it off.

 

The girls waltzed right in, and the men in the tavern, sensing a good thing, closed in behind them as they headed to the bar.  The back bar, even in steerage, was an immense wooden thing, covering the entire wall at the end of the tavern with wood shelves and cabinets.  The women targeted this destination.  As they went past a table of Germans, trying to act like Norwegians, but with a definite German accent to their textbook correct Norwegian, two glasses of fine lager were pinched by the twins.  As the other two were getting close to the bar, Amy and Amber wandered off with their glasses, while two of the Germans wondered what had happened to their drinks.  Looking on the floor for broken glasses or spilled beer proved to be highly entertaining to the real Norwegians in their proximity.

 

Having lost Jenny in the crowd, Karin and Nadia approached the bar.  Wonders of wonders a space opened up as the young men, seeing opportunity approach, moved to make room for the women at the bar.  Nadia looked at the bartender, her eyes squinting in recognition.  He looked at her, with a similar hardening of the eyes, which suddenly opened wide.

 

Nadia whispered. “The name is Nadia, and yes, it’s me.”  Because they were now speaking in Romani, the language of the gypsy, no one was the wiser.  To the others, surrounding them, there was just a murmuring, most of their speaking was by lip reading, a skill the two had practiced when they were young, and their parent’s caravans were often together.  He nodded.  He was there himself under another’s name, and identity which the real owner was past missing.  An error while riding a horse on a dark road, and a broken neck do not make for an interest in the present.  Two beers were instantly passed across the bar.  Nadia introduced Karin to the bartender now know at Theodore, and the two women took their leave.  Amber and Amy were in deep discussion with two Oslo boys who were desperate to polish their English.  That the object of their attention were two angels, identical to the smiles on their faces just made the shine that much better. 

 

Nadia sighted in on a table with four stools bolted to the floor, just three men, actually boys, were there and all three gave up their stools for the two women.  The women made their choice of seating arrangements and small talk ensued. 

 

One of the realities of ship life, is that there is little privacy outside your cabin, and when your cabin is shared with six other humans, the opportunity to spend time with your beau is rare indeed.  However, Amy and Amber had found two lads who had the good fortune to be two of the four who actually showed up in their bunk cabin when the ship departed.  The other two had been sea sick since the departure, and were tucked in for the night on the deck in two deckchairs.  It seemed to make the rocking and rolling of the ship more tolerable.  This was soon explained to the twins, who had already had the fun of leaving the room together, and returning to the other’s stool, and taking up the conversation with the new friend of their respective sisters.  The boys never caught on, and if they did, probably wouldn’t have cared. 

 

They had seen Jenny, the queen of the party, in a circle of about 7 young men.  She had a glass of the lager in her hand, and seemed to be having the time of her life.  Amy and Amber left with the two lads, after a brief discussion of the value of generosity.  Upon their return, about 40 minutes later, the Jenny girl was still surrounded, this time with 6 men.  Nadia and Karin were having interesting discussions with their boys, and Amy and Amber located the next fishes in the barrel. 

 

Nadia excused herself when she saw Theodore going out a door to the side of the back bar, and quickly made her way there and was through the door in less than a half minute.  Theodore was thrilled to see her, and the two lovers reunited behind the now locked door.  Upon her return, she looked at Jenny, evaluated the situation, and like a dutiful big sister went to the now tipsy Jenny and plucked her from the party that was soon to happen in the bunk room of the six cousins.  Taking Jenny by the arm, she collected Karin from the three new best friends and made their way back to the cabin.  Amy and Amber were returning again for the second time.  As they were not new to this behavior, they had left off the lipstick and facial makeup, as if they needed it at their age.  Thus, nothing was askew, nothing was a telltale as to their behavior that evening.  Joining the group of three, they made their way back to the cabin.

 

Thus was spent the remainder of the trip.  The evening trips to the tavern always resulted in the twins adding to their purses, Nadia was brought up to date on the happenings with the family, and the rumors of the Tsar and the remnants, few indeed, of the household and the government now destroyed.  She was told of another good friend of the Tsarist household, a cousin of one of the Cossacks, who was in Hollywood, California, and had made the transition from the stage, the thing they called vaudeville, to the new entertainment, the moving pictures.  He told her how to find him, it she should ever get there.  Jenny was pretty much a moving target for anyone with pants who she was noticed by.  Her smile, her short stature made her look like a young target of opportunity, which, frankly, she was.  Nadia was forever looking over her shoulder and dragging her away from dangerous liaisons.  Karin, well Karin was still mourning, and didn’t see the point in making new friends who would disappear forever in a few days.  Besides, Karin was soon to be in Madison, Wisconsin, and if she kept her mind about her, perhaps to be married to a man of substance.  Perhaps.

 

The ship trip, and the time in immigration quarantine at Ellis Island took a while, and they were released on July 5, 1920.   Amy, Amber, Jenny, Nadia, and Karin all booked passage on the same train to the Midwest.  Inga and the child disappeared, perhaps forever into the depths of New York City.  Claiming to have relatives, it was agreed by the rest that she would be alright.  Perhaps.

 

The train schedule, printed on tissue paper, showed that the train would be in Chicago on July 7th, 1920, at 7 am, and after a transfer, all but Jenny would be on the same train to Madison, then Minneapolis for the twins.  Nadia thought that she would stay on the train with the others to Madison, check out the city, and then pass on through to Los Angeles, California in due time.  Not a bad decision, but one that would lead to some surprises.   

 

Right on time, the train pulled into the station by Wilson Street, Williamson Street, and they picked up their belongings and left the two businesswomen, Amy and Amber to their future in Minneapolis.  Arriving back in town with more money than they had left with three months before, they were already planning their next trip.

 

On the platform, Karin was quick to see the Swede.  He was a head above the others, a regular looking family.  A man most would see as handsome, a wife of some substance, a loving smile, and a shapely figure, with two children.  A daughter of perhaps 9 or 10, and a beautiful little boy, perhaps 4.  As the two women started down the platform, Nadia was planning her future.  Uncertain at best, she had build her grubstake on the ship, a little from the card games she knew from the Cossacks, and a lot from her womanly knowledge and charms.   She watch Karin get greeted from the man she introduced as the Swede.  The names of the family blew past her as she checked the rest of the platform for the next mark.  Then she heard Karin say that she, Nadia, was an established nanny, having worked in Moscow, and now needing both a place to stay, and a job. 

 

The mother looked at the man, with a look in her eye, that only another woman familiar with men would recognize.  The man, knowing his wife, nodded, and the wife addressed Nadia directly. 

“We have been thinking of a nanny, to take care of the house and the children while I am busy with some charity work.  We could offer you a trial period, and if you work out, $5 per week plus room and board.  You would eat with the family.”

Nadia did not have to think twice.  “I would be most grateful for an opportunity to prove myself as a worthwhile addition to your household.  Thank you for this opportunity.” 

 

After more talk, the group, now seven in number, moved out to the street.  While there were a few horse draw freight trailers, this group approached a new Buick Touring Car.  The men and the small boy entered the front, and the mother took the girl on her lap with the two new emigrants flanking her.  The journey began.

Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chapter 4. Night Life.

November 19, 2013

Chapter Four

Night Life

 

The milk bar had been a tavern before the passage of the Volstead Act, also known as prohibition.  Built in the 1880’s the building had two stories facing the front, and set back from the front wall, another story.  The business filled the front of the building completely, because the stairway to the rear was off of the side street.  The building was 25 feet wide, and about 100 feet long, frame construction, with a brick veneer on the two sides facing West Main Street on the front, and Fairchild Street on the side. 

 

When prohibition started, there was a last blow out on the night before tee totaling became the rage, and what was left of the liquor and beer disappeared into people’s basements at home.  Reopened the next day as a milk bar, the same waitstaff served the same customers the same beverages.  The only difference, was that the Police department was encouraged to look the other way through the application of funds to supplement the small salary that they were paid.  In some cases, the supplement exceeded the salary, and the policemen were aware of who was making their life worthwhile.

 

Occasionally, there had to be an arrest, and when it happened, the papers printed the story, and it was usually accurate, because the reporters and the publisher frequently drank lunch there, and were the witnesses.

 

The owner always claimed that he had no knowledge of illegal activities and showed the storage cooler and its supply of milk (which ended up at the hospital and the orphanage).  The bar tender, frequently one of the near-do-wells all communities possess, hired for the day and paid well to take the hit, spent some time in jail and had a bar tab waiting for him when he came out. 

 

This Monday night, there was a band, the milk was flowing in the front, but, if you went through the secret door up in the front, down the stairs to the secret passageway along the inside basement wall, then came up the vertical ladder into the speakeasy, the beverages were beer, local; and whiskey, imported from Canada, or so they said.  Through the magic of a glass which looked like a mirror from the milk bar side, and like a tinted window from the speakeasy side, the band could be enjoyed by both sides.  That night, in the milk bar side, there were two rather good sized men, who during the day loaded and unloaded railroad cars, sipping their milk, and a couple of girls, not quite 18, and who everyone agreed should spend their time in the milk bar side of things.

 

The door opened, and the girls from the Park Hotel entered, Marie, the polish girl smiled and hugged the two giants, and hugged the two teenagers.  The new women, Karina, Edyta, and Anastasia, also were introduced to the men, and similarly held hands and hugged the girls.  Knowing the way, the leader of the pack went over to the area near the wall, and pealing back the throw rug, lifted the ring from its place imbedded in the wooden trap door, and opened the door in the floor.  She tripped lightly down the steps into a long hallway, about three feet wide that went under the area where the band was playing.  At the end of the hall, she started up a series of steps built into the wall, and flipped a light switch at the top, just below the trapdoor in the floor above.  The guardian of the door, seeing a dim light blink, opened the trapdoor, and guided Marie out.  Smiling at him, she gave him a wink and a hug.  His hands wandered, and worked their way around from her back to her chest, where he reacquainted his hand with her bosom, certainly not for the first time that summer.  Enjoyed by both, and witnessed by the three gypsy women, the grope ended, perhaps too soon for both involved.  Wisely, with strangers, the also large man took each of the women’s hand in turn, and gave them each a kiss on the back of an offered hand.   The older women, to his surprise, took him in her arms, and kissed him fully on the lips, while her right hand explored his privates, and determined that all of him was bigger than average, and growing.  His eyes now open, he smiled and nodded. 

 

There were about 25 people in this part of the establishment, a bartender who was busy, a back bar man who brought the beverages to the coolers from another stairway to the basement, this part of the basementnot connected to the subterranean passage, and brought ice to chill the drinks.

 

The band played the popular songs of the new decade, the piano player was a man of color, known in the area for his command of the ivory keyboards.  Another man of color, a string man, had a guitar, and a banjo.  A coronet player also covered the alto sax, and the sax man, who worked in a bank during the daytime hours was also a vocalist.  Tonight, they had a female singer, who in later years would become famous and would marry well, to a Hollywood man.  Tonight, she was a 19 year old local girl, who had also sang in the choir at the cathedral, but whose father had the appliance store, and an endless supply of music for the Victrola.

 

The band had just finished its version of “Yes Sir, that’s my Baby” by Gene Austin, and was rolling into “Empty Bed Blues” by Bessie Smith.  This song showcased the voice of the local girl, Angella, another girl who had lost someone to the Spanish flu.  In her case, her mother and brother had passed, and just one year later her father had been hit in the head by a horse’s hoof and lingered for two days before death came to his bed.  Nowadays, she worked in the bank of the saxophone player, and sang to forget her pain. 

 

The polish girl, Marie came to the bar, and was recognized by the barman who came right over.

“Four beers for my friends, and one for you.”

 

Even at her young age, the girl had figured out that if you bought the hired help a beer, smiled, and flirted, they weren’t going to ask any questions, and might even cover for you if it was needed. 

 

As he handed the frothy three day old beverages over the bar, Harry asked, “Is the young one old enough?”

 

With a wink, her reply made him pause and think.  “In your humble opinion, kind sir, would you kick her out of your bed for not being old enough?

 

Smiling, the shake of his head signaled his opinion.  The beers distributed, the four took the first sip.  All but the oldest had faces about the flavor of the first drink.  The older woman, having been accustomed to the brew of the Cossacks, who fermented anything they would encounter, including some things that you would never think of being an ingredient, thought that the beer was ok, tasty, and she could taste the alcohol in it.  Besides, the temperature, about 38 degrees, killed most of the disagreeable characteristics.  Looking around the room, she noticed that the men outnumbered the women in a favorable ratio, from the women’s view.  With about 25 souls on board, less the two barkeeps, and the doorman there were 22.  The three women in attendance prior to their arrival were not even remotely competition.  One, Susan was the victim of the wife beater, in the dark, her shiner wasn’t too noticeable.   Another was one of the “professional women” notorious in the uptown crowd.  Sheila wasn’t above using a Mickey Finn to make her conquests sleep, while she borrowed the contents of their wallet.  Her cousin, the Sargent, had schooled her in the craft of leaving about half of the cash in the wallet, then the mark would think that when he was drunk, he had over spent, and not be alarmed that he had been robbed.  Thus, she had never been suspected, or arrested, and pretty much had her pick of the litter.  In fact, there were a few, who remembered the great time they had had with her the previous time, went out of their way to give her the opportunity to get another contribution.  All they remembered in the morning was that a fine time was had by all. 

 

The third, a woman in her late twenties, was a stranger, no one had ever seen her before, but she was striking, in her own way.  Glasses, hair down to her shoulders, wearing a wasp-waisted skirt, and a form fitting white blouse, with the top two buttons loosened in the heat of the eve, Sister Michael Mary was totally disguised in street clothes, for she had only been seen previously in the full garb of the Dominican nuns of the cathedral prior to this eve. 

 

The band started a tune well known as a great dance song, and the men started looking at the women, now seven in number.  Susan, needing some cash to bail out her bastard husband, so he could get back to work to support the family, was the first brave woman, and she selected one of the two swells leaning at the bar and perusing the women.  Her choice was Michael, late of the county jail.  Having done without female company for almost four complete days, he was an easy mark.  After asking, she took his hand and led him out to the dance floor.  According to the statutes of the city, dancing without a cabaret license was illegal, but in an illegal saloon, the flagrant violation of city statute caused by cutting a rug was, frankly, not a big concern.  Following her suite, the professional, Sheila, selected Matthew, the brother.  A look, a nod, and the two were dancing about three feet apart.  Matthew caught his brother’s eye, and winked, which was caught and returned with a nod.

 

Karina, well acquainted with the formal dances of the Romanov household, had indeed taught the Tsars sons the steps of many of the popular dances favored by royalty.  The dances of the Cossack guards were somewhat less formal, certainly more sensual, including some of the moves borrowed from the belly dancers of Turkey and further south.  But this, the popular dances of the early 20th century, here in America, was different.  She was studying the moves when a well-dressed man, in full suit and tie, with polished shoes approached her.

 

“Excuse me Miss, may I have the pleasure of this dance, shared only with you?”

 

“Certainly, but, I have been abroad for some time, I do not know the steps, but I can be considered a quick learner”

 

Dr. Learner, Bruce by first name smiled at this remark.  Taking her hand, he led her to the dance floor, where the other two couples were working up sweats, the men enjoying the glistening of the moisture on the exposed bosoms of each of the ladies.  Karina picked up the fundamentals quickly from the other two women, after all, this was a dance in an illegal bar, in the middle of nowhere in frontier America.  Soon enough, she was laughing, smiling, and enjoying the dance. 

 

The band led into another fast song, related to the Charleston, but of their own flavor.  Quickly enough, Marie, the local girl, and Edyta, the 24 year old ex-governess, and the 20 year old Anastasia had grown partners.  Through a couple of more songs, the first three on the floor kept their partners, while the other four women shared themselves with the remainder of the men.

 

The band leader, seeking the time was right, selected a slow dance, a dance that hinted at full body contact.  Susan seized her partner, and put her hands and arms up around his neck.  He could feel her breasts, considered good sized by her jailbird husband, pressed up against his chest, and as they moved, she rubbed her chest against his somewhat more than the dance required.  Her next step was to slide her leg between his, letting her sweaty thigh rub his penis in a way that let him know that she was searching.  His hand on the wall side of the couple moved from her waist up to her flank, just below her breast.  She looked up at him, smiling, and dipped her knees a little.   The move relocated his hand to her 38 inch chest.  There was no question at this point.  She whispered in his ear,

“There’s more of that, but, I am embarrassed to say, I am short on the rent this month, would you, kind sir, be able to help me with that problem of mine,  I would be so thankful for your assistance.”

 

Not a shy man, he smiled, and nodded.

“Would a two or three make you happy?”

“Yes, and for three, you would be happy, for a fiver, you could do me twice.”

With a bounce in her step, as they danced, she continued to rub herself against him, now standing directly in front of the aroused man,holding herself tight, so his now fully erect manhood was pressed into her dampened womanhood.  She could feel his bulge against her most private, sensitive bump, and the feeling only increased her sense of wellbeing, her arousal, and her anticipation of the near future.

  Watching his brother, Michael held the pro, Sheila, close to him.  A more slender woman than Susan, her breasts were no less prominent, and to his vision, the sweat was a glistening that drew his eyes from her face, a vision of beauty in itself.  She had high cheekbones, green eyes, and naturally red hair.  Michael was aware of the popular understanding that redheads were a little crazy, and in his history, that had proven correct.  Maybe normal girls used it as an excuse to act out, maybe there was truth, but, a redhead was damn near a sure thing, if a man was smooth, and didn’t push too much.  Sheila was also aware of the other well-dressed man, and the progress the housewife was making.  Probably another of the $3 tricks that made it tough to charge more. 

Sheila took the opportunity of a change in steps to change from a frontal, but not too close position, to one that pressed her breasts into his jacket, and her thighs into his, sliding one between his legs.  Like Susan with his brother, there was an almost instant reaction. Putting her arms up around his neck, the breasts were rubbing him with each dance step. 

Michael damned himself for not taking his jacket off before dancing.  At first the condemnation was for the perspiration that was going to saturate the material, with the change in steps, it was the proximity of a beautiful young woman, wearing apparently just a dress with a slip, nothing else between her breasts and him on her side, but, with the jacket, the vest, and the shirt, and undershirt, there was a damnable amount of clothing deadening the contact of her nipples with his skin.  However, his hand dropped down her back, and resting on her left buttock, he could feel damn little cloth there.  Certainly the dress, perhaps a slip, but, was there any other clothing there? 

His eyes wandered to the four other women who were dancing the slow dance with the other customers of the milk bar.  The polish girl, who had satisfied him multiple times since he checked into the Park Hotel, was with an older man, the two danced as one.  He saw the man’s hand fondling her breast almost from the start of the dance, and she did nothing to discourage his wandering hands, because hers appeared to be stroking him from the front.

 

The older of the gypsy women, at that description, he smiled. As a con-man since he was pre-teen, he had met gypsies, and picked up many of the tools of his trade from them, and these weren’t gypsy woman.  Their physical appearance told of good eating, they all were taller, with good complexions, and their posture told of good shoes, and an upbringing of character. All three were not looking over their shoulders to see if the cops were here, and they seemed as though they were used to being in a controlled environment, with their next meals secured.  This one, the older, walked with a confident step, and danced with steps that betrayed a classical education in the art of the dance.  She was aware of her surroundings, but with a casual manner, that did not give an alarm.  The partner she had selected, Dr. Bruce Learner, was a recent graduate of the medical school, here in town.  Well-schooled in medicine, he had paid for a large part of the cost with his prowess at the billiard table.  Michael had spotted him at the billiard room at the Park Hotel, and after a short chat over two beers, he had suggested a friendly game at the table.  Michael had lost the first game, as was his do, and when he upped his game at the higher stakes of the second game, he was beaten soundly.  Wise enough to not put all of his grub-stake on the third game, he started out well enough, but at the point in the game where about half of the balls of each player had found their pocket, the good Doctor had cleared the table.  Michael then bought a pitcher of cold amber brew, and proceeded to find out all that the Doctor would share.  His father was a banker, after he started the schooling, father had purchased, or caused to be built, a home on Keyes Avenue, on the western outskirts of town.  He had a younger sister, and like many, his mother had died during the flu outbreak.  Interning with a physician on the east side, who specialized in women’s hysteria, he was ready to open an office on Monroe Street, on the fashionable and growing west side of Madison.  In an area of new homes, there would be a good supply of women who needed the popular treatment of women’s hysteria.

 

Busy now on the dance floor with the older gypsy, a woman who probably had just seen her 30th birthday, the Doctor and the woman were dancing respectably, not like Michael and Matthew and their partners, who had dollar signs in their eyes.  Michael could see that the two were talking, The Doctors hands on her waist, and her hands on his shoulders. 

The other gypsy women were also engaged. Edyta, a woman of perhaps 5 and a half feet, with blond hair, down to her mid back, was being held by the Sargent of the Legislature.  A military man, he had served in both the Spanish conflict in 1898, and in a training position as a Master Sargent in the camps training the troops for the war to end all wars.  Michael had chatted him up during multiple lunches, and know that he liked the younger women.  A man  of almost 50, he had told Michael that the women his old age had had so many men, for the most part, that they didn’t want any part of a man unless he married them and put them up in a house with a garden.  Dating them was a waste of time, and if something did happen, my god, 50 years was too much for a woman in the early 20th century, especially when there were so many young fillies loosed in the capital city. 

 

Their dance, during slow one, was enjoyed by both.  The Sargent was still in shape.  In the basement of the capital, he had a weight set, and punching bags in several sizes were hung from the joists.  He was frequently joined in his workouts by the various legislators, both the ones who like some physical activity, and the older ones who enjoyed the companionship of other military men, and the glasses they shared.  A wise man, he wore only a shirt, a cotton one that let the sweat evaporate, and which allowed the pleasures of the slow dance to be absorbed.  Edyta, also educated both in the art of the dance, and in the ways of military men, flirted in a manner barely observable to the outsider, but to the object of her attention, there was almost a painful building of desire when she looked at him.  For, she had been taken aside by one of the older women in the court, the previous Tsars favorite, who had been kept on by his son when the older passed.  From the Tsars bedmate to chief of all the maids and servants some would have seen by some as a demotion, but this woman was also wise to the world.  If she was not in the Tsars household, she would have been outside, and survival outside was very iffy.  Especially if it was known where she had spent her early adulthood through middle aged.  From her, Edyta had been taught that a woman’s eyes tell the observer much.  A steady glance offers a different message than a flirting, but returning glance. A woman‘s mouth told a story also, thin lips, with no smile, did not hold promise to the male observer.  If she wore a frown, it was not unlike seeing dark clouds on the horizon of the steppes.  Bad weather in the near future.  Best to take cover, run, hide.   However, if happy eyes were above a smile, a flirting glance, a furtive look, the message was clear to the observer.  “I am woman, I am available, I am yours.”   Edyta had tried this with the males in the household.  From the macho Cossack house guards, to the mechanics who drove and maintained the Tsars Rolls Royce motors, to the youngest footman, all had experienced the various eye and mouth options, and Edyta found that the seasoned woman was right.  She would be able to get whatever she wanted, just by starting with a glance and a smile.  Twisting her upper torso, with the form fitting blouses she favored, with the top two buttons undone, as they were now, merely lined up the lambs for the slaughter.   

 

Meanwhile, Karina was enjoying her liai.son with a new male challenge.  Her partner, the good Doctor Learner, was also a student of the opposite sex.  Early on in his medical education, an unlikely mentor, the janitor and boiler man of the medical school, sharing a pint with him in the halls after a long day, has asked him laughingly if he was going into the practice of treating hysterical woman.

 

Bruce, like just about every man in the times, hadn’t the faintest idea of what he was talking about.  The janitor, who had some steam pipe passages in the walls, told him about using the passages, with the proper holes to view through, to observe one of the older doctors treating a matron of the mansion hill district.  She came to him weekly, the same time every Tuesday, and smiling at the physician, reclined on a lounge with a smooth leather covering.  The good doctor, taking his seat on a stool at the end of the lounge,  reached under her long black dress, and removed her underwear.  Putting some cream or lotion on his fingers, his hand explored up the tunnel formed by the dress, and that his fingers had found their home was evident when the madam’s back arched.  The treatment took sometimes from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, and sometimes, during a successful treatment, the good doctor had to put his hand over her mouth.  Afterwards, a warm moistened towel for her, often applied and used by the doctor, to clean and freshen up her privates, while he cleaned his hands on another.  Flushed and sometimes blushing, the wife of the real estate man, left the medical school clinic building to the waiting linoleum for the ride home.  The janitor has seen a $10 dollar bill pass hands, and the physician shortly after, asked the janitor for a bowl of ice to cool off the cramps in his working hand.  No words passed, but, the doctor, realizing that the janitor was witness to the afterhours visit by the aristocracy of the city, pressed a dollar into his hand.  A knowing look, and a nob, had cemented the silence, and every Tuesday, after the visit, the janitor had a bowl of ice for the physician.  That was the knowledge he used to inform the young, soon to be Dr. Bruce Learner that this particular older physician had some vital career relating knowledge of some value. 

 

Doctor Bruce had caught onto the tricks of the trade, and apprenticed, as it were, at Dr. Cartwright’s office on the intersections of Atwood Avenue and Winnebago Streets.  A new area, it had a variety of income strata, there were more women in need of treatment of hysteria than even Dr. Cartwright had imagined.  After two years, Dr. Cartwright had felt that the young Dr. Bruce was ready to go out on his own, and the two made a partnership, with Dr. Cartwright being the partner who provided the financial backing to Dr. Learner for a period of five years.  The money Dr. Cartwright laid out for outfitting the office, a desk for the receptionist, the first month’s rent, the lounge, the towels, and the other necessities of the trade was recoupled in a few months, and both were well paid for their efforts.  The new office, on the second floor of one of the new brick buildings on Monroe Street had an entrance in the back, a small waiting room, with only two chairs, and three treatment rooms.  A client arriving would be ushered to a room,  The good doctor would be administering to the treatment of a different hysteric woman in the second room, and in the third room, the fully treated woman who had just completed her treatment would put herself together, and then leave by a different doorway than the arriving patients used.  The front of the building was used by a pharmacist, although the two businesses were separate and there was not passage between.

 

But now, the Doctor, someone who was with a steady stream of women all day, most in the prime of their lives, was smitten with the foreign accent of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.  Her long hair, parted in the middle, cascading down her back, was accented by bangs in the front down to her eyebrows.  The eyes were fabulous, the clearest blue he had even seen.  And her smile, her smile told him that he was hers, he only had to ask, and not make a total bollixing of the question. 

 

The banker, nobody’s fool, noticed the dance floor, and continued with slow music that called for slow dances.  The crooner, who worked in the bank that the female lead worked in, noticed the two dandies, strangers to the town, but not to each other.   They were being played by working girls.  Simply a commercial adventure, in the manner of the old fashioned New England general store owner, give good measure for value received. There would be some adventure, some pleasure, perhaps a breeding, and there would be a transfer of value, perhaps a half a day’s wage for a working man.

 

But, my god, the young Doctor, he had been stricken, the crooner had seen those eyes before.  Venus and Adonis, Romeo and Juliette, The history of man had seen those eye exchanges, romance would ensue, perhaps for the good, perhaps not.  But, it was inevitable, there would be a passing.

 

Similarly, there was chemistry, although of a May-December variety going on with the Sargent of Arms from the capital.  His partner, also a beauty, had eyes only for him, and a Mona Lisa smile that to even the casual observer could mean only one thing.

 

His partner in singing, and sometimes other things, had also noticed the goings on out on the dance floor.  Two couples seemed engaged in sex, the long-haired beauty had snared the doctor not unlike a hunter snaring a rabbit, the other woman with no past, at least here in the capital city was behaving herself with the Sargent of Arms from the capital, at least for the time,

 

She noticed, the other women, the stranger never before seen, in a skirt with a beehive waist, a now sweat stained white blouse, previously with two buttons open, now three.  She alone had not ventured out onto the dance floor.  Marie, the local girl with the strong eastern accent; and the young, highly attractive girl, also a stranger, had rotated among the remaining men.  They had danced with all during the fast dances, but now, each had her special dance partner.  Marie was with a man, possibly from the traveling theater group now playing at the theater two blocks away.  He had shown that he was a man of cosmopolitan flavor, knowing the proper steps for all of the variety to music played.  A man of average height, average build, with sandy hair, and no facial hair, in a crowd he would blend in and would be soon forgotten.  Tonight, however, he was Marie’s universe, In this slow dance, she hung on him almost in desperation. She still mourned the loss of her mother, and being in the arms of a man seemed to provide some solace.  Besides, it felt good being held, being crushed into his chest, and besides, her thigh, where it was, noticed that she had an influence on this man, this handsome, gentle man, whose hands did not bear the roughness of physical work, but belayed a career of some gentleness.  From the way he dressed, a man of substance, or some degree of success.  Perhaps a man who would lead her away from Madison, Perhaps…..

Anastasia, was at last cut loose, perhaps for the first time in her entire life, from the watching eyes of the Tsar’s staff, for the survivors were busy in their own personal lives at that time.  She had danced the face dances with 7 or 8 men, strangers all.  Some could dance, some probably should had watched, but all were enthralled by the beauty of the young woman.  She had been schooled in formal dance, just as Karina, but, just as Karina, having knowledge of the basics of fluid motion allowed her to pick up the steps, and improvise in an improved festival of motion.  To a man, her partners were enthralled with their time with her, and truly a fine woman, she had switched partners in each of the slow dances so that all had a chance to have her in their arms.  After all had had a half dance with her, she chose her favorite, a young man with glasses, neatly trimmed goatee, mustache, and his sideburns were trimmed in a manner that was not the fashion at that time.  Well dressed, he had put his jacket and vest aside, and as the temperature was well past 80 degrees in the milk bar, his shirt was open to only the last button before his pants.  She admired his chest.  His work was as an assistant professor in the university engineering school.  She didn’t know that he was also conversant in physics, and molecular engineering, as much knowledge as there was at that time in history.  He was a rising star, but, that night, he was the star in the sky of Anastasia.  Taller than her by almost 8 inches, her head rested against his chest, just under her chin.  Their feet barely moved, and the watching line of men just watched, quietly, jealously, but understanding her choice, although not happily.

 

Over at the bar, the barman and the back bar man watched the unfolding story.  The women had kept the men happy, and happy men drank well, and tipped well.  No point in impressing on the women that their potential beau was a tight wad.  One of the young girls from the front, not quite 16, had quietly made her way down the trap door, and back up into the bar, witnessing the processions on the dance floor.  The back bar man, noticing her, waved her over, and after exchanging a glance with the bar man, gave her a glass of the tall, exquisitely chilled lager.   After the milk, and in the heat of the night, that was gone in a matter of minutes, without a glance, the barman refilled and set out the second.

 

Readers, men and women alike, the stage has been set.  I leave it to your imagination, the clock was at 11 pm, the night still young, where the destinations of those involved would be.  For some, the night was like so many other had been, for some, the adventure was similar, but different, to so many other adventures, and for a few. the night’s adventure was a unique experience, perhaps to be the first, soon to be followed by many more over an interesting life of experiences.  Perhaps.

 

Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chapter Three. The Travelers. B.J.O’Brien

November 10, 2013

Madison.  The Dark Side.  Wisconsin

Chapter Three.  The Travelers.

 

Ivan awoke, instantly aware of where he was, and with who.  The jail in the two bit town in      Wisconsin held mostly drunks, the three travelers, and one man, at the end, well-dressed, and even now, clean shaven.  His two other companions,   Yanko, the true gypsy, and Nikita, a man who could be friendly in appearance, or could make large men uncomfortable with a dark countenance, awoke slower than he.

The jailer’s assistant came into the area, with a cart loaded with breakfast.  Two slices of bread for each man, a wooden bowl of oatmeal.  Some said that the oatmeal was made using the oats from the horse trough, and if they knew the truth, it was not far from that.  Oats is Oats, some are just a little more finely ground.  The meal was cheap, the men were going to be working all day, so the jailer’s assistant knew to load the bowls full.  If was hot, and there was a lot of it, just, the taste was not there, and the texture not unlike rough sand.   After the meal was finished, the work assignments were issued.  The town drunks were send out with shovels and buckets, to scour the streets after the hard working horse drawn wagons used both for cargo, and passenger use had passed by.  The travelers were told to go outside and look for the Pole, who was in a horse drawn wagon.   Arriving, they were motioned into the wagon and the journey to the area known as Mansion Hill started.  Soon enough, they were at their destination, and the Pole waved them to the Mayors house, the banker’s house, and the house of one of the big real estate men.  In his English, he told them to trim some trees, cut back some bushes, and mow the lawn with the push reel type lawn mower.  No words in return were needed, and the Pole had his own work to do, off a bit so he could watch the men.  They had noticed the revolver on his hip, and assumed correctly, that he could hit what he aimed at.  Besides, lunch was coming.

Around noon, the jailers son, about 15, arrived on his bicycle.  There were four cylindrical metal boxes on the handlebars, freshly dispatched from the café owned by the jailer’s wife.  The steady supply of prisoner lunches and dinners, paid for by the prisoners work, was a needed supplement to the meager civil servant salary the county saw fit to pay the jailer.  If was known that the extra money from meals was the only reason any fit man would take the job. 

The men set their tools in the wagon, the better to find them, and the Pole distributed the boxes.  In the bottom, nested in, was a round metal pot, filled with stew, a fair amount of meat in it, because in the days of the ice box, the meat was cheaper than the ice, and keeping it around for future use was a false economy, because they had to buy more ice to keep it edible.  Two slices of thick bread were folded into the space above the pot lid, and there was a cup for the pot of coffee which had made its way from the café. 

The boy rode off, and the Pole inquired, “So what country are you guys from?”

Then it was Ivan’s response.   “We are all Romani people, from Eastern Europe.  We were in Russia when the Bolsheviks created havoc.  Russia was too dangerous for Gypsies, so we made our way to England, and got work on a Cunard liner.  We were shoveling coal, in the belly of the liner, and our women were in the laundry.  For the crossing we travelled as single men and women, and we reunited in the harbor.  Cunard was holding our pay until the ship sailed to make sure we were on board, but, we just wanted passage, not a career in the bowels of the beast.  Our papers were in order, so we passed thru into New York City as crew on leave.  When the ship was ready to depart, we already had.”

“How is it, that you are here in Wisconsin?”

“Nikita has relatives in California, and we were able to get a ride on the train as far as Chicago, we hoped a freight which took us to Green Bay, and we have worked our way back to Chicago.  This time we will find out where the train is going before we get on the freight cars.”  Ivan was not normally this chatty with the bulls, or their helpers in the jails, but it was important to set up the story of who they were, travelers who weren’t dangerous, but just passing through. 

Nikita filled in, “My brother was here in California, he was in vaudeville, but he has something to do with the pictures shows.” Then, “I have a letter from him saying that we could come to see him, and if we like the weather, with no snow, and easy work, he could help us out.  We were lucky, it took the letter almost six months to get from Los Angeles to where we were working in Moscow.  It arrived just as it was getting hot for anybody who is not a Bolshevik, so we decided to travel.”

The Pole said, “They keep vagrants for three days while they check wanted posters, So you should be released soon enough.  The freight for Chicago heads out at about 5 am, so you will have to wait a day here, because we don’t cut you lose until 6.”

Lunch over, the work crew moved over to the banker’s house.  The banker wanted some painting done, the previous crew had scrapped and primed the house, just the color painting awaited.    Ladders were already there, heavy wooden extension ladders, going up almost 40 feet, needing all four to work the ladder around the house.  Shorter ladders were useful for first floor, and part of second. 

Yanko, the quiet one, climbed the tall ladder with his bucket of paint and brush.  He was working next to a tall window, and he couldn’t help but see inside, where the banker’s wife was taking a nap.  Due to the heat of the day, she was wearing only a slip, and her long legs were visible almost all the way.  The slip was just barely capable of covering her charms, and she pretended to sleep, as she imitated the tossing and turning of a restless recliner.  As Yanko painted, he checked the view frequently, and witnessed her hand relocating itself between her legs.  Through her just barely closed eyes, she saw him watching, and the show she gave him would have make a woman of the night proud.  Alert enough to keep painting, Yanko finished the area, and slowly made his way down the ladder.  At the bottom, he walked over to Ivan and said, “Ivan, I think you should check my work up there, the view from the top of the ladder is magnificent, and I may have not paid strict attention to my painting.” 

Ivan climbed the many rungs up the ladder wondering, on the way us what Yanko was babbling about.  Inside the room, the wife was cognizant of the motion of the ladder as someone climbed it, expecting the swarthy complexion of the shorter Yanko, she was presently surprised at the face of the handsome Ivan appearing at the window.  She continued her charade of sleep, with her hand busy as it had been before.  Ivan smiled, and checked the paint, and came back down the ladder.  Smiling at Yanko, he commented, “Work looks good, brush strokes are as they should be, good work up above Yanko, good work.”

The rest of the day spent with the brushes was uneventful, although the Pole wondered why Yanko was whistling and smiling. 

When the travelers were arrested on the military road from Green Bay to Madison, just as they were crossing the river about a mile east of the great capital building, the men were taken to the jail.  The women were considered inconsequential, and were loaded up in the other “Black Maria” a Ford Model TT extended Panel truck used by the police department for rapid transport of prisoners.  The first one with the men was driven to the jail, and the one with the woman terminated its journey just a few blocks away, at the Park Hotel.  The back door opened, and the women disembarked.

The oldest, Karina, had been in the Tsars household.  She was 32 years old, and her men in her life, mostly the Cossack soldiers charged with protecting the Tsars household, had shown her the workings of rifles, pistols, and she could hold her own with a sword, something that she used with some entertainment when she was search for a new Cossack, when her last lover was transferred, or perhaps killed in the training exercises that the warriors took part in.  Well trained in the domestic aspects of a royal household, she knew when to hold her tongue, and when she could use her feminine powers of persuasion to make things happen. 

Next off the truck was Edyta, a woman of 24, she had been the Tsars favorite.  While her official duties were nanny to the younger children, the older boys, and the Tsar himself had searched her out for attention, be it learning the art of the ballroom dance, or the horizontal mamba. 

Last was the charming 20 year old Anastasia.  None would dare talk of her past, or even speculate on her future.  Should the Bolsheviks fail, it might be that the girl, now a young woman, would be the leader of the great empire of Rus.  Or, perhaps not.  A striking young woman, the men listened to her, and the women bowed, when there were no watchers.

Located at the back of the Park Hotel, they found themselves in the attention of the head housekeeper. 

Maude was an older woman, about 40, and she had known dirty laundry since she was a pup.  Stains of all kinds were part of the job, and she worked her charges long and hard to get the required result, white sheets, white towels, and perfection was the only result allowed.

“Ok girls, I know why you are here.  Your men are in the clink, and you can sleep under the trees, and starve, or you can work for me, sleep in the store room in the basement, bath in the mornings, and eat hotel food.  Your choice.”

All three exchanged glances, and the decision was anonymous.  Nods denoting affirmation were made, and the head laundress brought then inside.  The noon meal was about ready, and after the paying customers were filled, the regular employees were fed, and the remains, on their way to the hog slop, were intercepted to fill three large bowls for the women.  They had only had some stolen apples that morning, and the greenness of the fruit had not set well with them.  Spring water worked well to wash the stew, and the laundress brought three large glasses of beer to go along with the meal.  There are benefits of working for a German.

Lunch completed, Maude gave them the tour.  Each of the three floors of rooms above the ground floor had a walk in closet with the clean laundry.  Chutes dropped the soiled linens to the basement where the large tubs, the boilers, the rollers for dewatering the linens, and the mangle lived.  There was a large table for the folding of large items of linens, and plenty of work. 

Maude said, “Your day is 8 to 10 hours, or until the work is done.  The room in the front of the basement is where you sleep, and you must shower before work.  We don’t want the smell of unwashed women to seep into the clean sheets and towels.  We feed you from the kitchen of the hotel, and you can work here until your men are out of jail, or you show that you are too stupid to wash laundry.” 

A young woman was working at the washing tubs.  She had a loose cotton dress on, unbuttoned to let the heat out, and you could see the sweet on her forehead, arms, and even legs,  When she turned to face them, the unbuttoned dress showed that she was a full bosomed woman, with sweat in beads hanging on her chest, until gravity encouraged a downward journey. 

Maude hissed at her “Button up your dress you slut.  What if the cook sends one of his boys down here to the storeroom and he sees you with your bosoms hanging out like a cow.”

The woman said, in a thick Polish accent, “I guess that they will see what they will see, and probably be the better for seeing it.  Soon enough those boys will figure out what it is all about, and if I am the first, or the last they see, it just doesn’t matter to me.  Why don’t you get a fan to take the heat out of here and then I will not be ready to pass out by noon?”

 

Turning to the new helpers, she said “My name is Marie Dombrowski, my father and I came here two years ago from our village in Poland.  The flu killed half the village, and the war and the Bolsheviks pretty much did in the rest.  Papa works for the jailer, and I am here.   So, if your men are in jail, they have met my Papa.  Here, let me show you what to do.”

The work was simple enough.  The dirty linens were dumped into huge copper tubs.  The recently installed gas burners under the copper tubs kept the water steaming and the workers stirred the laundry with oars from the boat wright.  Soap was store bought from Chicago and when the laundry was done, the mangle squeezed the water out of the sheets and towels, when dry, they were folded on the table, and then stacked to be carried up to the hotel room floors.  The last batch was in the tubs, and Marie, who waved at Anastasia, who was closed to Marie in age, and motioned her to pick up a large pile of towels and wash flannels.  To the other two, Marie said, “Stir the tubs with the oars, and make sure that the towels and sheets are in motion.  We will be back in a few minutes.”

Marie and Anastasia pickup up the huge piles of towels and started up the stairs, in a hushed voice, Marie shared with Anastasia.  “The money the hotel pays for working here is a sin, but, sin begets sin.  I noticed the stains of passion were on some of the sheets, even when we only had businessmen travelers, and I was working late when I saw some of the fast ladies who frequent the soda bars, and milk bars across the street from the hotel coming up the steps in the rear with the gentlemen lodgers.  We all know that there is liquor and beer sold in the back rooms of the establishments, and the girls there are sometimes fallen women, or just some of the married women whose men are out of work and they have to make the money for the landlord and the grocer.  Well, I figured that I was as good as them, and indeed, a far sight prettier than most, so I keep my eyes on the fellas, and don’t button the dress as high as Maude wants, and they let me know.  The linen closets have a table that is perfect, and sometimes they invite me to their room.  Some things can be done in a few minutes, and some things are better with a lot more time.  It works out.”

Anastasia’s eyes were opened wide, and she nodded. 

Marie continued.  “The girls across the street sometimes get up to $5, for the really attractive ones, but the normal ones, without makeup, usually get $4, or even $3.  My schooling wasn’t much, but the $2 per day I get for washing stains out of sheets doesn’t look nearly as good at $4 for putting the stains in the sheets.  And, the $2 is for 8 to 10 hours, and the $4 is for an hour or two.  Sometimes, when a businessman is in a hurry, I can put a bounce in his step for $2 for 5 to 10 minutes, and Maude is usually with her bottle when I’m working, so she doesn’t notice.”

Anastasia’s mouth was dry, but she was doing the math.

 

Marie asked, “Have you been with a man?”

Anastasia replied, with a quiver in her mouth, “Yes.”

Marie continued, “Did you make him pay for it?”

Anastasia, remembering with a frown, the dagger she had buried in the back of the Bolshevik rapist who caught her after the massacre and answered, “Yes, he paid well.”  It was with his life that he paid, and the pistol she had taken from the body had worked well when she freed Karina and Edyta from their assaulters. When they were running from the scene, they had found Yanko, Ivan, and Nikita engaged in hand to hand battle with 5 Bolsheviks, and now, with three revolvers, freshly reloaded from the cartridge bags on the revolutionaries belts, the three women dispatched the combatants with only 9 shells.  A coupe de gras administered by Ivan to three of the wounded men brought the tally up to 12 bullets.  They had had twenty four bullets in reserve in each bag, and with the initially full revolvers, they were left with sixty bullets after reloading. The five dead men had their rifles leaning against the wall of the building they died in front of, so each of the men, and the two older women were well armed.  Their escape was through the Baltic, now open shipping after the war to end all wars was completed through to London, then by train to Glasgow to the Cunard lines.  All this went through Anastasia’s mind as they climbed to the fourth floor.  As they passed to the linen closet, a man impeccably dressed came out of his room. 

Marie smiled at him, “Are you having a wonderful day, sir, and is there anything I can do to make it better?”  He smiled, because he and Marie had had this same conversation the previous afternoon, as he left to go to the first floor for a game of snooker.

He said, “My days are always interesting, but perfection comes only with proximity to someone as fair as you.   May I offer you a kiss of friendship, perhaps more?  As was yesterday, so should be today?”

While Anastasia did not quite understand the totality of the words, the concept was ageless and totally comprehensible.  Marie smiled at him, and looked at her, and said “Wait in the linen closet, we shall be but a few minutes.” 

Anastasia stood her ground in the hallway, and saw through the open door Marie exchange a kiss, a kiss that should have been reserved for married people, or at least engaged.  As the door started to close, she saw Marie break the kiss, and begin to kneel in front of the gentleman.   The latching of the door broke Marie from her stupor.  She know what was happening now, she had seen the scullery maids, the footmen, the field hands when she was out riding.  When there wasn’t time for the full act, or if the woman was concerned that she was fertile, descending to her knees insured the man’s pleasure, and made sure that the woman did not come with child.

Going to the linen closed, Anastasia closed the door, rejoicing that the electric bulb was working.  She sat on the table, and noticed that the shelves were almost full with the linen.  Not having to lift herself up much to get onto the table, she didn’t notice that the height was perfect for the entertainment of menfolk by womenfolk.  Not to say that before the week was over, the perfection of the height would be noted.

While engaged in her thoughts most private, the action in the hotel room was completed.  Marie and the gentleman left the room, and she went to the linen closet.  A knock on the door, and an entry with a smile, she was quick to show Anastasia the two one dollar bills in her hand.  Smiling she said,

“A full day in the basement,  or a couple of minutes on fourth floor, you tell me which makes for a better time spent for the same money.”

Anastasia said, “Fourth floor work pays far better, I just don’t know if I can do it?”

Smiling, Marie replied, “It’s just the same as with husband or lover, but, they just leave you with a taster in your mouth, or a baby in your womb.  This is the same, but with some greenbacks in your pocket, and when the rent is due, if you don’t have a man to pay it, you just get some strange man to pay if.  If you are hungry, the first time for money is not as big a step as the first time for free.  Your choice, let’s go downstairs.”  Marie skipped down the steps, unaware that there was a remnant of the glory on her dress.  Anastasia caught up to her just before she entered the laundry room and wiped her dress with the bandana.  She also felt the firmness, the moistness of Marie’ ample sweaty breasts when she cleared the evidence.  It was good.

Back in the laundry, Karina and Edyta were stirring the copper tubs of steaming sheets and towels.  They were working hard in a hot and humid environment, and they were sweating like Marie had been, both had loosened their tops, and the sweat was reflected in the light of the electric lamps.  They could feel the sweat on all parts of their bodies, and their legs had started to have rivulets of moisture run down into their shoes.  They had removed their shoes, and were barefoot on the cement floor.  Oddly, the cool cement, wet with the splashing of the tubs, helped to keep the girls cooler than if they had their shoes on and laced. 

For the remainder of the afternoon, the four women went about their chores.  Anastasia and Marie had made trips to the second and third floors, with nothing approaching the excitement of the earlier trip to the fourth floor.

Soon enough, the day was over.  At 5 o’clock, the barman came down, burdened with four ice cold beers.  He smiled at Marie, as she came over to get her beverage.  She took the beer from his hand, and took the cool hand and pressed it to her cleavage.   She shivered a bit from the shock, but kept it there as she felt her nipple harder.  Moving away, she motioned to Anastasia, 

“Try the beer, it’s really fresh, Anna dear, and don’t forget to thank the giver!”

Anastasia moved up and relieved the man of her beer.  Taking his hand she pressed it to her chest, and moved it into the now open front of her dress.  His hand became familiar with her breasts, gentling pulling at the nipple.  Edyta’s hand moved the girl away, and standing in front of the man, took the mystery away by urging both sides of her dress off of her shoulders, leaving her topless in front of the poor man.  Putting her hands on his hips, she brought herself very close to him, and then pulled his hips to hers as he held a beer in each hand.  Defenseless, he had to take the kiss from her, then backing up, her hand dropped.  Liking what she found, she fondled it for a moment, then took the offered beer.

Karina, the oldest, walked up to the now red faced barman, and took the beer from his hand.  Whispering in his ear, she said, “The girls have had their fun, the woman offers her reward later on this evening.  Are you man enough to accept?”

Speech less, the man just nodded.  His bulging trousers showed acceptance to the status quo.  He gathered up the empty schooners, and made his way up the steps, quite a development from the hoped for groping of the friendly Marie, to being the subject of much groping from the women of the basement, and the as yet fulfilled promise from the very self-assured Karina.  His breath was almost back as he came upstairs.  Luckily, the light in the bar room behind the restaurant, with its billiards table highly illuminated by incandescent  lamps, was dim outside of the ring of light.

The man at the table, the man from the fourth floor, was winning the second and third game with his mark.  He had played badly the first game, looking like a rank amateur.  The second he had redeemed his virtue as a billiards man, and now, with the real money on the table, the mark was starting to sweat.  Not the warmth of the day, nor the humidity had made this sweat evident.  It was that the money on the table belonged to the Sicilian, and the mark had planned on taking the dandy to town, and relieving a fool of his cash.  Unfortunately, it did turn out that the fool was not the dandy from the fourth floor.

Subsequent to the conquest, the dandy, Matthew, sat back with his drink, and decided to bail his brother out of the jail the next morning.  His brother was a man of math, and science, and he would see the wisdom of letting the county buy him his breakfast, besides, Matthew had some time booked with the laundry lass.  Her talents were beyond adequate, they were exquisite.  Matthew was trying to decide if he should seduce her into moving on to Dubuque when Michael was out of jail.  He would see how the night worked.

 

Back in the basement, the girls cleaned up the area, scrubbing the copper tubs until the metal was gleaming.  The floors were washed, and mangle whipped down, and the tables made spotless.  When the work was concluded, the women took time in what was probably Madison’s first shower.  A five gallon copper tub in the stairway was hooked up to a copper pipe that went to a larger piece of copper tube on the end.  That larger piece of pipe had had a hundred small holes drilled in it by the metal magician known as the Swede, and when water was poured in the tub, it ran down and drizzled on the occupants under the tube.  A valve allowed for a quick wetting of the body, turning the water off for the application of soap, and a reopening of the valve washed off the soap.  The tub in the stairway was filled and refilled by the large pans of water heated on the single stove burner available to the basement people for cooking and heating water.   Soon enough the four women took their turns in the shower.  If the barman had come down then, he probably would have passed out.  The vision of a young woman under the water, with some of the ladies freshly scrubbed, and letting themselves air dry, while the others were still a bit funky with the sweat and grim of the day.  He would have been a on the floor for sure.

Luckily, the beer upstairs did not run out.  The women had changed into fresh clothing, and washed their other clothes in the small tub used for the shower.  With those clothing pieces hanging to dry, there was nothing to do.  Maude was supposed to lock the strangers in the storage room, to avoid mischief, but, Marie went over to Maude’s house, where she and her husband were already drunk, with the sun barely down.  Marie reported that she had locked the strangers in, and she would be heading home.  She checked in with her father, and told him that she was going to choir practice with the girls over at St Patrick’s on the other side of the square.  He nodded, with a book from the library on his chest, and the light on, he was set for the night.  She would let herself in after choir practice, as she had done on many nights.  Odd, he had never thought that she could sing very well, but, if she was happy, he had been married enough years, with his late wife, to know what life with a happy woman far exceeded life with a woman of issues.  The door slammed, unnecessarily, but never the less, Marie was down the road, back towards the Park Hotel, which she would pass on the way to the St Patrick’s choir practice.

The sound of the music from Kate’s Milk Bar made it out into the sidewalks and streets of the 100 block of East Main.  Marie stopped in the basement of the hotel, and breathlessly came into the laundry. 

“Girls, there’s an orchestra playing across the street, they only want a dime to go in, and the beers are a dime also.  I got a $2 tip today, so it’s my treat!  Anybody interested in some fun.”  The three lounging eastern European women got the drift, and they lifted out of the chairs as one.  Any man watching the four leave the basement would have either smiled, or predicted disaster on the horizon.  In either case, his perceptions would have been accurate.  It only took about a half a minute to get to the entrance to the Milk Bar.  The men at the front door, looking at the four women, realized that they would be a welcome addition to the inside, waved them in, skipping the 10 cent entrance fee.  The money spent by the men inside on the women would far exceed the dime, and encouraging the women to come to their milk bar would encourage the men to come to the bar.  A good thing for all. 

Adam looked over at his brother Earl, and smiled.  Earl never smiled, but he thought.

Back at the jail.  The men supped, washed up as best they could, then listened to one of the wife beaters who had his harmonica smuggled into the jail in his wife’s bodice when she came visit him.  He was promised that she would come back in the morning with the $9 needed to cover his bail.  If he went to court, they would probably get $5 of that back.  Wendy knew that there was an orchestra playing at the Milk Bar on Main Street, and she had always been rewarded for her attendance there. 

Sleep comes early to those who have had a full day of work. To the well-dressed man in the cell at the end of the row, sleep came late.