CHAPTER Forty-one: CIVIL RIGHTS AND WRONGS

   Greg slept late Sunday morning. He hadn’t realized how much energy he’d expended on the Saturday trip. It had been fun, though. After breakfast, he composed a quick note to Vic, to send in the Monday mail.

 

   Hi Love,

     What a great day! Exhausting, but I had a really good time. Mandy was asleep almost before I got to the car, and stayed asleep all the way home. I managed to walk her into the house, and she managed to give me a hug before your mom led her to bed, but I don’t think she ever really woke up.

   Here’s the rest of that poem I was quoting to you. You are, indeed, ‘passing fair!’

 

IS SHE NOT PASSING FAIR? – Edward Elgar

Is she not passing fair,

She whom I love so well?

On earth, in sea, or air,

Where may her equal dwell?

Oh! tell me, ye who dare

To brave her beauty's spell,

Is she not passing fair,

She whom I love so well?

 

Whether she speak or sing,

Be jocund or serene,

Alike in ev'rything,

Is she not beauty's queen?

Then let the world declare,

Let all who see her tell,

That she is passing fair,

She whom I love so well!

 

I’m looking forward to a little more you-and-me time on Friday!

 

***

  With nothing special to occupy him, Greg decided to go out to the hunt area and see how things were. He didn’t see any hunters as he drove through the area, and – although it was only about 11 o’clock – Todd was already closing up the check station.

   “Not much going on?” Greg inquired.

   “Pretty much nothing. We only had half a dozen parties, and most were out by 9 o’clock. It’s just too clear and warm for duck hunting, so far this season. I don’t know how my boss will take it, but I’m thinking about recommending we shut down before Thanksgiving, if we don’t get an obvious weather change. This is costing a lot of man-hours, and not even the locals are coming out.”

   “It does seem pretty labor-intensive for the use being made of it.”

   After Fish and Game departed, Greg wandered some of the side roads in the refuge, but nothing really caught his attention. He got back home before 1 o’clock, and spent the rest of the day reading and napping.

 

   Monday morning, he shared with Chuck what Todd had said about the hunt situation. They spent some time talking about what needed to be done to “winterize” the refuge, before the season really changed. There wasn’t a lot, because Tim had taken care of pretty much everything, except what was still being used on a day to day basis.

   “The one thing I can think of,” said Chuck, “Is, between now and freeze-up, you should make a careful check of all the water control structures. Look for places that might wash out, and check that all the boards and metal work seem okay for the winter. That’ll probably take a day or two each week until winter really sets in – if we get some this year, which doesn’t seem possible after this fall.

   “About your trip to Pocatello: Mandy raved about it all day yesterday. She’s probably still going on about it to the kids at school. You did a good deed with that one, Greg.”

   “It was fun. Vic had told me how close they’ve been all their lives – never actually been apart. I figured if I was missing Vic as much as I have been, she and Mandy must really need to see each other. They obviously did.”

   “We didn’t really get a chance to discuss the football game the other night. Pocatello won, right?”

   “Yeah, 27-7. It really wasn’t as one-sided as the score suggests. The Vikings lost a couple of drives to fumbles that the Bengals capitalized on. The middle of the game was pretty much Bengals. The Vikings finally got their one score in the last quarter. It was a good college game, I thought.”

   Greg started on the water control checking after their meeting, and did a little each day after that. He didn’t find much that needed doing. He seldom heard a shot fired from the hunting area, and assumed little was going on there. He made cursory observations on the wildlife, but there were no significant changes. He didn’t take the time to listen to the swans, to see if he could locate any trumpeters. (He should make that a priority, he thought.) As slow as work seemed to be at present, there still seemed to be plenty of paperwork to fill up both his and Chuck’s work days.

   In the evenings, they ate together, and often played checkers. Neither had much new to discuss, but it was still pleasant to visit. Greg asked about taking Friday off, and Chuck agreed.

***

   Meanwhile, Vic was having a more active week. Her assignment in Speech class was to give a show-and-tell presentation – describe how to do some task. She had talked a little about duck banding in her opening speech, and now she thought she might expand that into a detailed discussion of the process. To do so, she thought she’d better come up with a better “duck” than one of Nancy’s stuffed animals. Tuesday, after classes, she went looking for Matt Bowen.

   The door to Dr. Fichter’s office was open, and someone was there, but not Matt. It looked to Vic as if it might be the Doctor, himself. She tapped on the door, and he looked up.

   “Sorry to bother you, but is Matt around today?”

   Dr. Fichter gave her an appraising look. “He’s around here, somewhere – should appear, soon. Can I help you? Come in.”

   “Hi. I’m Vic Anderson. I talked to him a while back about the bird migration at our wildlife refuge.”

   “Vic – the emissary from the wildlife refuge – Greg’s messenger, right? That’s an interesting situation. Greg sent me a long letter about it. He’s certainly right – it is what he terms a ‘migration trap.’ I’m going to try and get down there in the spring.”

   “Oh, good. He’ll love that. I guess there are lots of bird watchers in California, where he comes from, but he’s feeling kind of alone over here. Even on the refuge, it’s mostly about ducks and geese, not what my dad calls ‘dicky birds’. ”

   “There’s a lot to learn about Idaho birds, yet. A new observer is very welcome.”

   Matt appeared in the doorway. “Vic? Nice surprise. I hadn’t expected to see you.”

  “Hi, Matt. I’m here looking for a duck. I thought you might be able to help.” She explained what she wanted to do. “So, rather than use my roommate’s stuffed bear again, I thought it would be nice to have an actual duck – maybe a nice bright male mallard. And not a taxidermy mount, but something – I don’t know – flatter, like a real live duck might look if I was holding it to put a band on its leg.”

   “You want a study skin. We have lots of those. Doc, could we loan this young woman one of our study skins for her speech?”

   “I don’t see why not. Of course, we’d have to have some sort of guarantee that she would get it back to us in good shape.” He smiled at her. “Maybe you could pledge your first-born?”

   She laughed. “Well, you might have to wait quite a while for the payment if I did ruin the duck. But I promise I’ll be careful.”

   “Walk down to the museum with me,” said Matt, “And I’ll see what we can find.”

  “Okay. Oh, while I’m on my scavenger hunt, do you by any chance have a bird band or two I could borrow? I wouldn’t bend them, or anything; I’d just use them for show-and-tell to explain what bands are like.”

   Greg looked at Dr. Fichter, who nodded. “Sure, I’ll get a couple.”

   She thanked the Doctor, and walked with Matt down the hall to the museum. He pulled open a few drawers, and found what he was looking for – a nice, brightly-colored mallard skin.”

   “It’ll smell a little like mothballs. The drawers all have preservatives in them, to protect the skins from bug infestations.” He sniffed the skin. “This isn’t bad.” He gave it to her in a plastic bag, then went to a desk and found a couple of different sizes of bird bands.

   They chatted about school and birds for a few minutes. She thanked him, and turned to leave.

   “Vic, would you go to coffee with me some time?”

  She stopped at the door, and turned back. “I would, but with a firm condition right up front. I like you. I like to talk to you, and I think we could have some fun conversations. But I am wholly and completely a one bird-watcher woman, and I have my one bird-watcher.”

   “Well, that’s not exactly what I wanted to hear.”

   “I suspected that, but that’s the story. Still interested? Want me to give your duck back?”

   He paused, more for effect than indecision. “Sure,  I’m still interested, and I can handle that sort of semi-rejection. You can keep the duck.”

   “Good, I was hoping you’d say that. But it will be tea or soda, not coffee. I’ve never been able to like coffee.”

   “Wow, I’ve just discovered your one flaw.”

   Vic laughed. “Excellent line! Keep that one handy. That could be a winner when you find a girl who wants to be won. So, tea or soda, sometime?”

   “I’m usually here on Friday afternoons, if that’s a good time for you.”

   “Not this Friday. I’m with the other bird-watcher, then.”

   “My loss, his gain.”

   “Yes, that’s true. My gain, too.”

***

 Thursday afternoon, Vic went to the Art Department, hoping that Dr. Obermayr had remembered their appointment, and still wanted to talk to her. His door was closed, but there were no notes attached, saying he couldn’t see her. She knocked, and he invited her in.

   “It’s Miss Anderson, right? I didn’t write it down last week, but I thought that’s what I remembered. You want to talk about civil rights.” He motioned to a chair. “Please, sit.”

   “Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Dr. Obermayr.  This isn’t related to any particular project. It’s just something I’m getting interested in, and wanted to learn more.”

   “Well, you said you had a particular issue down where you live. Why don’t we start with that?”

   “Okay. Now, I should start by saying that I don’t know if this is really about civil rights, or just bad government operations. In any event, it’s what got me thinking about the subject.”  Vic went on to explain the Venita Jo incident – how it began, and how it ended. “The funny thing is, I never got to meet her. My sister and I were boarding in town during the school week – so we didn’t have to be on the bus several hours every day – and she was at the refuge and gone before I got home for the weekend. It bothered Greg – my boyfriend – so much, I guess that’s how it got to mean so much to me.

   “The background of this is that both Greg and I are Westerners. He grew up in California, and I’ve spent my whole life in North Dakota and Idaho. Being from the San Francisco Bay area, he saw a lot of Negroes, and also went to school with some at a northern California college. But he’d never known any – you know, to talk to, or do anything with. He knew about segregation, and about attempts at integration and such, but – as he says it – it was all very impersonal, and didn’t seem to have much to do with him. Venita was the first Colored person he had ever talked to.

   “As I said, I never got to see or meet her. I just have Greg’s description. She’s about his age – about the age I will be when I get my degree – and she’s tall, and pretty, and dresses just like I dress. He says that, if it wasn’t for the darker skin, she could be my sister! Despite all that, Greg said that, when she got off the bus, people looked at her like she was some zoo animal. When he carried her suitcase out of the station, he got the feeling that most people were flabbergasted – and maybe insulted - to see a White man toting the bag of a Negro! It really bothered him.

   “They talked a lot the next couple days, but not once did anybody mention race, or segregation, or slavery, or demonstrations. They just talked, he said, like two average people getting to know one another. She even teased him about how much he obviously cared for me! But when it was over, and she was gone, he had a face – a person - to relate to. It was no longer some unknown Colored person who wasn’t allowed to use a Whites-only restroom – it was a pretty woman with a college degree. It wasn’t some anonymous Negroes who were denied service at the Woolworth’s lunch counter – it was Venita and her friends. He said a lot of things that had just been in the background of his mind suddenly became very personal.

   “Even though I wasn’t part of any of this, it started me thinking. Growing up in North Dakota and rural Idaho, I hadn’t seen more than a few Negroes in my entire life. I knew there hadn’t been slavery in either of those states, but I had no idea there was discrimination or other racial problems. When the librarian mentioned your involvement, I wanted to learn more. So, here I am.”

   Dr. Obermayr didn’t respond immediately, formulating his thoughts. “Well, like you and Greg, for most of my life I wasn’t exposed directly to discrimination. I grew up in Wisconsin and lived there until 1955, when we came to Idaho. I seldom saw a Negro, let alone thought very seriously about race issues. That changed during the war. We fought side by side with Negroes. They got wounded and killed, just like us. We saved their lives, and they saved ours. They took terrible abuse – particularly from soldiers from Dixie – but they fought fiercely for the United States and the world, and against Hitler. We were friends. Few of those friendships lasted after the war, but we remembered them, and knew they were possible. After that, I always felt some personal involvement in what was happening in the South. And, in a way, I guess that’s how I got involvement in the incident you’re interested in.

   “By 1961, I was aware of quite a bit of racial tension in Idaho, despite the fact that few Negroes lived outside of Pocatello or Boise. For example, in 1958 someone burned a cross on the lawn of a well-known Negro family in Boise. The incident didn’t get reported in the local news, and the ones responsible were never identified – at least, officially. Probably, the reason for the cross burning was that the Negro family – who had been living in the Negro part of Boise for quite a few years – moved to a White neighborhood. Just like the Ku Klux Klan would have reacted in Georgia!

   “I hadn’t been involved directly in any civil rights business, but in July 1961, I happened to be in a bar in Alameda – the north end of Pocatello – when two Negro men were refused service. They had been playing music at a local supper club, and had just stopped at this bar – The Motor Inn – to have a beer. They didn’t make a fuss – they just left. I followed them out, and told them I knew of another spot that did serve Colored people. We went there, and were talking about what happened. Another Negro, Charlie Woods, heard us talking and came over and joined us. At the time, he was president of the local chapter of the NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He convinced us that we should go back to the Motor Inn, and see if we’d be refused service, again. We went back, and we were refused. Woods wasn’t ready to give up yet, so we went back to his house, and talked it over. We decided to take a copy of the Idaho Civil Rights Act – passed earlier that year – to show it to Mrs. Salt, the one who wouldn’t wait on us, and who was also one of the owners of the place. She just ignored us – wouldn’t even look at us.

   “One of the other patrons, Buddy Lee Welch, started making derogatory comments, and one of his friends joined in. Welch broke a beer glass against the bar, and came after us with the jagged weapon. He went after me first, but I ducked out of the way, and got hit over the head by his friend. Charlie Woods got cut pretty bad on his face, and had to have a number of stiches. The police finally broke up the fight.

   “Two law suits got filed. One was against Mrs. Salt for a violation of the state’s prohibition against refusing service based on race. That was filed by Mr. Woodington, who was one of the two Negroes originally refused service. The other was against Buddy Welch for his attack on Charlie Woods.  Both dragged on a long time. The discrimination suit was of quite a bit of interest because it was the first one brought under the new state anti-discrimination law. It was near the end of November when the judge decided in favor of Mrs. Salt. She had personally testified in court that she refused service because they were Negroes, and because her other clientele wouldn’t appreciate her serving Negroes. Yet, the judge declared that, since she had denied service to me – a White guy – along with the Negroes, she hadn’t discriminated! He noted that she had the standard sign in the bar that said the owners reserved the right to refuse service to anybody. Everybody knows those signs are meant to bar Indians, Mexicans, and Negroes, without actually admitting you’re racially discriminating.

   “So, that was the first test of the Idaho civil rights law. Not too encouraging, right? I don’t think any other case has been brought. Of course, the federal civil rights law got passed in 1964, but I don’t think it had been invoked in Idaho, yet.”

   “That’s really amazingly horrible, isn’t it?” Vic thought, aloud. “What happened with the other case?”

   “Welch was convicted of assault, but not until March of 1962. He got some sort of jail sentence – not very long, as I recall. This was in spite of every witness testifying that he never had anything in his hand (certainly not a broken glass!), and that Woods suffered his ‘accident’ when he fell against me after I went down after being hit on the head. All the bar patrons were also positive that Mrs. Salt never said anything that could be considered racial!

   “The questions the defense attorney asked me give some pretty good clues as to how they wanted the ‘fight’ to be remembered. First, he asked if I was a member of the NAACP – in other words, there to stir up publicity for the Negro organization. Then, he asked me if I subscribed to the Communist newspaper, ‘The Daily Worker’, or had ever read the paper. You may remember in my exchange of letters about ‘peace marches,’ it is a common belief that Communists are responsible for all this civil rights nonsense – that they are just out to destabilize our country any way they can, and are using the malcontents to do it.

   “Discrimination never really came into the Welch trial. It turns out he is just a volatile person, who fights whenever and whoever he can. In 1957, when he was only 19 years old, he served 60 days in jail for beating somebody up. In December 1961 – while my case was still active – he was arrested for ramming his vehicle into a police car, resisting arrest, and being drunk and disorderly. He’s still at it, today. Just last May, he was arraigned on another assault case. That pattern of behavior is probably why the jury convicted him in my trial, despite all the lies told by his friends.”

   He paused. “Do you have time for a Coke, or something? I’m parched, and there are a few other things I’d like to tell you, if you have time and are interested.”

   “Sure, I’d like that.”

   They walked down to the teachers’ lounge, and he got sodas for them out of the refrigerator. After a few sips on his drink, he started up, again.

   “Idahoans have always been proud of their White-ness, and have always discriminated against Indians, Mexicans, and African-Americans. As I said, that’s what those ‘reserve the right’ signs were really all about. Until just a few years ago, the Idaho Constitution barred people of Oriental origin from voting, holding public office, or serving on juries! You probably know about the Mormon views on Negroes being descendants of Cain, and therefore cursed by God. There hasn’t been much violence – except occasionally to individuals – because Whites have always far outnumbered the others, but it has certainly resulted in a generally unfriendly atmosphere for any non-Whites to live in.

   “Like you and me and Greg, most Idahoans have never known any Negroes – have never even seen many – but prejudices don’t require contact. In fact, they grow better when there is no real information or understanding, and they’re fed by fears and lies. When the federal civil rights bill was being debated last year, anti-Negro groups in the South papered Idaho and other Western states with their propaganda. The messages ran the gamut of fear-mongering. They will be taking away your rights, and giving them to non-Whites. You will be losing your American heritage. Before you know it, Negroes will be marrying White women. If Negroes didn’t expect everything on a silver platter, they would get out and improve themselves, like we have. And, of course, the favorite since Joe McCarthy’s ‘Red scare,’ the Communists are behind all of this. If you’re not actually a Communist infiltrator, then you’ve been brainwashed into believing them.  It’s not about civil rights; it’s about destroying our democracy.

   “The Southern message found many receptive Idaho ears. Just read through the ‘letters to the editor’ for last year. It’s all there, regurgitated back by local citizens. I’ve read that mail to Idaho congressmen – both Democrat and Republican – was about 70 percent against the bill. Even so, all four of our elected representatives voted for passage, but two lost in the next election to people much less friendly to civil rights.

   “So, Miss Anderson, that’s my story. Is it what you wanted?”

   “Definitely! I’m both fascinated and appalled, and I learned a lot. Thanks for taking the time.”

***

   Friday morning, Greg left headquarters before Chuck arrived. He hadn’t taken time for breakfast, figuring he’d stop and visit with Jackson and Cora for a while. He stopped at the hunter check station, and visited with Todd.

   “There are half a dozen groups out, but I haven’t heard many shots. With temperatures still above normal for this time of year, and no storminess in sight, it’s just not good duck hunting weather. I made my proposal to my boss. He didn’t say ‘no,’ but said we should wait another week or so.

  “Are you headed out?”

  “I’m going to Pocatello, will stay overnight and catch the Bengals’ last home football game tomorrow. It’s against North Dakota, who I hear has a super quarterback, and a number of quality receivers. It may be a tough game.”

   “Sounds like fun – more fun than this, for sure!”

   At the diner, Greg ordered a big ham, egg, and pancake breakfast. Cora brought a fresh pot of coffee. “Out early,” observed Cora. “Checking the hunt?”

   “Well, I did stop to talk to Todd, but actually I’m on my way to Pocatello again, to see Vic and see the last of the college home football games for this season. The weather has been too good for duck hunting, and Todd has proposed to his boss that they close up early this year – maybe before Thanksgiving.”

   “From the number of hunters who’ve been stopping by, it’s pretty clear that not much has been going on up there. Their business isn’t going to keep our business out of the poor house, this year.”

   Jackson came out with his food, and Greg invited them to sit and chat.  “Are we going to have winter this year, Jackson?’

   “I suspect we will. Always happens, eventually. I thought maybe we’d had it a couple weeks ago, the way things were headed for a while.”

   “You know about Indian summer,” commented Cora, “A little bit of summer after it’s over? That was probably Indian winter – a little taste of what is to come.”

   Greg laughed. “I’d never heard that, but I suppose it could be true, all right.”

   “Last football game, huh? You’ll have to think of some other excuse to go see Vic,” Cora observed.

   “Yeah, it’s been pretty nice. I really like college football, and I really like Vic, so this last month has been like – to mix my sports metaphors – a double header every Saturday!”

   They talked a while longer, then Greg headed on to Pocatello via the old highway. As usual, he stopped for burgers, then went on to the dorm. Since he didn’t have to play chauffeur anymore, he walked right in to the lobby. Vic was there, talking to Mrs. McPherson. Vic smiled, but looked past him.

   “No sister, today?”

   “Nope, just you and me. Can you handle that? Hi, Mrs. McPherson. I checked for that book, but it must be with my things in California. I’d have my folks look, but I don’t think they’d ever find it.”

   “You know there’s no hurry. I want to read it, sometime.”

  

   Greg checked them in at the motel. He had Vic come up and stand by him while he did. “David, this is my wife, Vic. Vic – David.”

   Vic held out her hand. “Hi, David, it’s nice to meet you. I know you always take good care of us. Have you worked here long?”

   David was having a little trouble not staring. “A couple years. I came to Pocatello in 1962, and had a couple of other jobs before this one.”

   “Where did you come from? Are you an Idahoan?”

   “I was born in Burley, and raised in the Magic Valley.”

   “Really? We’re from the Magic Valley, too – well, you know that from the registration card. I was actually born in North Dakota, but moved to Idaho with my family when I was ten. I guess I feel like a Native, after going most of the way through school here.”

    Someone else had come in, and was seeking David’s attention, so Greg and Vic moved on. “Well, he’ll be happy all day,” observed Greg.

   Vic gave him a questioning glance. “What do you mean?”

   “Well, as I told you last week, he’s been enthralled by your beauty since the first day he saw you. Now, he’s spoken to you, and realizes that you’re not just gorgeous, you’re a real woman. Not only that, but a nice woman, as well. What could be better?”

   “You’re teasing me.”

   “No, I’m not. And the great thing about you is that you don’t have to act the part. You are automatically you, no matter who you meet or what the situation. You are amazing!”

   She smiled, happily. “I would squeeze your arm if I didn’t have my own arms full of hamburgers and drinks. But thank you. And thank you for introducing me as Mrs. Cleveland. I really like the sound of that.”

    “Just stating the facts, ma’am. And we don’t want to create a. scandal, do we? Besides, if it is generally understood that you are a wedded wife, there won’t be as many men trying to steal you away from me. Oh, I know there will still be plenty – you would be quite a catch! – but at least I can keep the numbers smaller if you are perceived as a ‘Mrs.,’ rather than a ‘Miss.’”

   “I see your logic. It does seem well thought out. And, clearly, it is my interests that you are thinking about, not merely your own selfish desire not to share.”

   “Of course.”

   “And I am feeling quite jocund, this afternoon, which is good for you.”

   “Jocund?”

   “It was in the poem you sent me. Not only am I ‘passing fair,’ but today I am feeling quite cheerful and light-hearted – jocund - toward you.”

   “That does bode well.”

   In their room, they settled down to their burgers and fries. When they had finished, Vic curled up against him. “I am feeling so jocund – and so full – I think I may take a little nap, now.”

   He put his arm around her, and kissed her on the forehead. “You have my permission. I may join you, as I am in a jocund mood, myself.”

   She nodded off almost immediately and, after listening to her quiet breathing for a while, Greg did the same. They slept for over an hour, then Vic brought Greg up to date on dormitory news. She had received a post card from Mary Belle Chamberlain, safely back in Columbia, South Carolina. Temperatures there were running between 60 and 85, with intermittent rain showers. It was very humid, but she was glad to be warm, again!

   “Better her than me,” observed Greg. “I like warm, but I have heard some bad things about Southern humidity. It makes heat especially oppressive.”

   “No, that doesn’t sound like something I’d like, either. So, in another change, I just found out that Angela Browning – the woman from Ojai – is leaving. She’s decided it’s already wintery enough for her. That’s sad, because I really like her, and think we could have a lot of fun together. Do you think she can get back any of her out-of-state tuition, or other costs, back? Well, I guess that got figured out when she made her decision.

   “I would like to visit her, sometime. Ojai sounds interesting, and you do owe me some ocean observing.”

   “You mean, you observing the ocean, while I observe your bikini-clad body beside me?”

    “Probably, but let’s not get off this subject.  Other than Nancy, that just leaves Crissie Sharp – the one from Upstate New York – among the ‘girls’ I was getting to like a lot. It looks like she will stay. The country is quite different from where she lives, but she’s used to real winter weather. I mentioned to her that we’d be at the football game tomorrow, so we might see her there.”

   There wasn’t any particular news to relate about her classes, but she had a lot to tell him about her two meetings with Dr. Obermayr. Greg listened with real interest.

   “Cross burnings, and bar fights. I guess I never thought of that kind of discrimination here in Idaho. There just aren’t that many Colored people around.”

   “I know, but I guess a lot of Idahoans came from the South and Midwest, and brought some of their prejudices with them. Dr. Obermayr said that last year, leading up to passage of the Civil Rights Bill, some groups from the South just plastered Idaho and other Western states with propaganda, about how passage of the law would mean more rights for Negroes, but less for White people. They also claimed that ‘foreign’ people would take America away from us ‘natives,’ and that it really wasn’t about civil rights, at all – but about the Communists using the Negroes to destroy our democracy and take down our government.

   “He sort of blamed it on Joe McCarthy. I didn’t quite understand that. I know that McCarthy upset a lot of things with his accusations and allegations about Communists in government and in the universities, but I didn’t know he made any racial connections.”

   “I think what Dr. Obermayr was probably getting at is that McCarthy opened all the doors to the fear of Communism. According to him, there were Russian spies working in our State Department, in President Truman’s office, in the Army, in our colleges, in the movie industry… you name it! If they weren’t actually spies, they were Communist sympathizers. He had people turning in their neighbors and co-workers for suspected Communist leanings or dealings. People lost their jobs – and some their entire careers – on the basis of completely untrue allegations. If anybody wanted to believe we were under full-scale attack by Commies, they had plenty of fuel for their beliefs. So, if segregationists even hinted that it was Communists who were rousing the Negroes or Viet Nam protestors, the message easily took root.

   “This all happened around 1950, so I wasn’t old enough to know much about it, but the damage that was done with the ‘Red Scare’ is still evident,  today. We talked a lot about it, in college.”

   “Wow! As I said to Dr. Obermayr, it’s both horrible and fascinating.”

   “So, Mrs. Cleveland, what do you intend to do with this treasure trove of information you are collecting?”

   She looked at him, and smiled. “Well, Mr. Cleveland, I don’t rightly know. Your talking about Viet Nam, and then ‘the Venita affair’ – which I wasn’t even part of! – just got me thinking about how little I know about some pretty important subjects. For now, I guess I’ll just file things away in my little brain, and call it ‘education.’

   “Right now, my little brain is telling my stomach that I am getting very hungry, again, but I don’t really want to go out to eat.”

   ‘We can’t have you starving – wasting away to nothing, before my eyes. How about I go out and find something, and bring it back. Oh, or maybe some pizza place delivers. I could go down to the lobby and check.”

   “Pizza – and some kind of drink – sounds very nice.”

   “So, why don’t you slip into your jammies, while I go see what I can forage for us?”

   At the front desk, Greg asked about pizza delivery. The woman clerk gave him a menu, and offered to make the call for him. He didn’t know what Vic would like for toppings, so he just ordered extra pepperoni. The clerk made the call, and told him it took about 20 minutes, usually. He decided to wait there.

   “I’ve seen you before,” ventured the clerk.

   “Yes, we get up to Pocatello pretty regularly, often just for the day, but we have stayed with you several times. Since this is the Bengals’ final home football game, we decided to make a weekend of it.”

   “Did you go to the college?”

   “No, my wife has ties, there. I just like football.”

   They passed the time until the pizza arrived, then he carried it up to the room. Vic was stretched out on the sofa. He noticed – how could he not? – that she had changed into her pajamas with the roses on them.  “I’m so weak from hunger, I couldn’t move. Please say you have sustenance for me.”

   “I have sustenance for you. Let me help you hoist your pretty frame to an eating position.” He did, but first he took advantage of her weakness to give her a long, heartfelt kiss.  Only after that did they proceed to consume a very good pepperoni pizza.

   When they had finished, she gave a sigh, and an exaggerated stretch. “That’s better. I am beginning to feel that I may have enough strength to crawl into bed.”

   He had observed her carefully as she stretched, and was still taking careful note of her flowered pajamas. “Suddenly, I’m feeling rather sleepy, myself. Perhaps we should both retire.”

   “Perhaps we should, but I wanted to tell you one more thing.”

   He groaned. “Oh, please! Is it important?”

   She gave him a provocative grin. “I don’t really know, but you wouldn’t want me to go to bed with doubts about whether or not it was, would you? My mind might be distracted, so that I couldn’t get to sleep.” She emphasized “sleep.” He decided he didn’t want to risk that.

   “Okay, let’s hear it.”

   She started in to an elaborate telling of her meeting with Dr. Fichter and Matt. It was interesting but, unfortunately, she had set his mind going in quite a different direction. Hurry up! he thought.

   “So, anyway, I got my duck, but I had to pledge our first-born to them if I lost or damaged it.”

   That got his attention, again. “Our first-born? Isn’t that a deal you should have discussed with me, before making?”

   “Well, I suppose, but I do intend to be careful.” He was still processing that, as Vic went on. “Then, as I was leaving, he asked me if I ‘d like to have coffee with him, sometime.”

   He felt a little jolt in his mind, but he just said, “But you don’t drink coffee.”

   “No. I told him that, and said it would have to be tea or a soft drink.”

   The “jolt” was pronounced that time. “So, you said you would go with him?”

   “Well, no particular time, but in the future.” Then, her mind registered the tone of his voice. “Why? Is that a problem?”

   He didn’t answer. “Greg, are you jealous?” She was surprised. She’d never considered such a reaction.

   “No, I’m not jealous,” he replied, slowly. “Not jealous, just… I’m not sure – just surprised, I guess. Part of me is thinking that I can’t believe you said yes, but another part is thinking that it was inevitable.”

   “Inevitable? All right, now you’re worrying me. What’s going on?”

   He wished he’d been able to keep his feelings hid, because he knew this was not going to go well. “I just… Remember when we first talked about you going off to college, and I tried to… I don’t know – I tried to free you to embrace new realities, should they arise?”

   “I remember it very well, and I didn’t like it one bit. You seemed to be saying that once I got out in the real world, I’d forget about you. You obviously didn’t have much faith in me.”

   He wanted to remind her that she had been barely nineteen, and hadn’t known anybody “in the real world” but him. He knew that would not go well, either. Instead, he moved his fears forward… Fears? That was an interesting choice of words, and probably more honest than anything else he might have come up with. “I know you didn’t like it – and I sprung it on you without warning, for which I’m sorry. At the time, I thought I was giving you permission to approach your new life without any false ties. Later, I realized it was really more about me protecting myself from the possibility that I might not be all you needed.”

   “But I already knew you were all I needed! We even explained to my folks that I could have picked any number of the boys in high school, but I picked you.”

   “Which was true, but not exactly the truth. Your friend Bob may have been the only person you knew well – besides me – who knew how different high school and college life were. I have told you many times – without exaggeration – that you are much wiser, and much more mature, than almost anybody else your age. But you still couldn’t know.”

   “That’s what you think!”

   Greg chose to try to get back on track, rather than argue that point. “The night before we drove up here to start you in school, I had a terrible time. I was almost frantic about not being able to see you at least every few days, but I was also afraid that I was setting you free from me. I thought seriously about asking you to marry me right then – even though we’d only known each other a few months! - partly for the honest reason that I didn’t know if I could bear to be without you, but also selfishly so I could be sure to keep you with me. When, in the car, you recited almost my exact thoughts back to me, I really didn’t know what I wanted – for me, for you, and for us. We worked it out there at Raft River, with some plans and some vows and some ‘promise rings.’ Obviously, there is still some working out for me to do.

   “I’m sorry for my fears – for my unnecessary worry. If we keep loving each other, I know we can keep overcoming these little things.”

   She didn’t say anything for what seemed like several minutes. “So, you don’t mind if I meet Matt for tea or Coke?”

   It was his turn to be quiet, and think. “This may be the hardest thing I’ve had to say in our time together, but – I hope you do.”

   “Really?”

   He laughed, a little ruefully. “Don’t push your luck, Victoria. I said okay.”

   “Okay. Then, I’m going to bed.” She stood up, started to leave, but then reconsidered. “Do you want to know what I said to Matt, when he asked me?”

  “I’m not sure. I think I do.”

 “I said I would go to ‘coffee’ with him, but only with an important understanding up front. I told him that I was a one-birdwatcher-woman, and I already had my bird-watcher.”

   “Wow, I like that. What did he say?”

   “He said he was disappointed, because he had hoped there might be more. I offered to return his duck, but he decided a little bit of me was better than none. He said, ‘Greg’s a lucky man.’ Do you know what I said?”

   “Tell me.”

   “I said, ‘Yes, he is. And I’m a lucky woman.’”

   Later, after they were both in bed, she said, “I love you very much, but I’m still a little upset with you. Can we just sleep for a while?”

   He tried to hide his disappointment. “Sure.”

   Several hours later – neither looked at the clock – they woke, and had a more intimate reconciliation. After that, they slept in each other’s arms until after 8 o’clock.

***

   Greg woke to a bed that was empty except for himself. Vic wasn’t in sight, but then she came out of the bathroom, already dressed for the day. She sat on the bed beside him.

   “I sorry, Vic,” he said.

   She tousled his hair with her hand, and kissed him on the forehead. “You’re going to be a lot sorrier when you learn what you missed out on last night. I had planned a very special ‘thank you’ for last Saturday, one that you wouldn’t have soon forgotten. But you spoiled the mood.”

   He caught her hand with his, and kissed it. “I seem to remember that we had a pretty nice time early this morning.”

   “Oh, that? Well, that was certainly nice, but that’s how I picture the average loving couple married for twenty years, expressing their feelings for one another on kind of an average love-making night. Now, that’s the average. It will be different for us. After twenty years of marriage – well, twenty-one, counting the current, somewhat illicit one…”

   “Illicit?” he interrupted.

   “A new word for me but, please, keep your mind on the narrative. After twenty-one years of marriage, we will have practiced so diligently for so long that no love-making will be average. Every time we get close to one another, it will be like there are sky rockets shooting off, symphonic orchestras playing, stadiums full of fans cheering…”

   “Fans cheering?”

   “Well, they won’t be watching us, silly. They’ll just be somewhere in the background, cheering for us – egging us on to break new records, soar to new heights… Well, you get the idea.”

    “I’m certainly feeling it!”

   “That, my lover, is what I had originally planned for last night. You would have enjoyed it.”

   “I think you’re right.” He still had hold of her hand, and he kissed it, again. “Is it not possible that we might still be able to re-schedule? It would seem a shame to have to wait twenty-one years.”

   “Well, it wouldn’t be twenty-one years. We’ll be getting better each year, and some years will come pretty close to what I had planned for last night. But – as for rescheduling – I suppose I do still owe you a ‘thank you,’ to be delivered some time.”

   “Like maybe tonight?”

   She retrieved her hand, but didn’t move too far away. “Tonight? Well, we do have tonight free. I suppose it’s possible. We’ll see.

   “Right now, I am very hungry. Get up, get dressed, and take me to breakfast.”

***

   After a big breakfast, and a little time getting ready, they headed over to the stadium for the game. The chilly “football weather” of the previous Saturday had been replaced by relatively balmy temperatures, afternoons reaching 50 and 60 degrees. A jacket was desirable for sitting in the stands several hours, but it definitely wasn’t a day for mittens and wooly hats.

   They met Nancy with the usual group from the dorms. Greg was beginning to recognize faces, but still didn’t know most names. When Vic introduced him to Crissie Sharp, from New York, he realized that she was one of the “regulars” that he had seen at the other games. She already knew who he was,  and who he belonged with.

   The game was a huge disappointment to Bengal fans, and even to Greg, who didn’t like matches that were too one-sided. The Bengals quarterback would have seemed excellent in any other game, running for 82 yards and passing for 63 more – in fact, it was a good enough final showing to set new Bengal season records for pass completion and total offense. Nevertheless, North Dakota proved relentless, with the Sioux quarterback and their half-dozen excellent receivers completing 19 of 37 passes for 305 yards. The Bengals had several good early drives, but fumbled one and couldn’t complete the others. North Dakota didn’t allow one Bengal first down in the second half. The final score was Sioux 27, Bengals 0.

   As they walked back to their room, they passed the restaurant where they had pizza the last time Greg stayed over the weekend. “They have more than pizza,” Greg observed. “Shall we come back over here to eat, later?”

   “Sure. Their pizza was excellent, so I suspect their other items are, too. But I’d be happy with pizza, for that matter.”

   The restaurant looked like the type that might fill up pretty fast on a Saturday night, so they spent only a few minutes freshening up in their room, then returned to eat. Several dishes sounded good, but they settled again for the special pizza with lots of toppings.

    “This is lovely,” declared Vic, after a while. “It really needs a glass of rosé to go with it.”

    “Well, if you were in almost any other state than Idaho, you could have your wine. I might even join you. Unfortunately, Idaho is still a ‘no alcohol under 21’ state.”

    “Really? Well, how far would we have to go – how many state lines would we have to cross – for me to be legal?”

   “I’m not sure; maybe only one, but it would take up all of our evening. I was kind of hoping we could do something else with our time.”

   She glanced up at him. “What, is there something good on the television, tonight?”

   “Not that I know of. I was hoping that maybe you had something special in mind.”

   “This is really, really good.” She paused dramatically, pizza slice halfway to her mouth, as if she just remembered something. “Oh, I bet you were thinking of…” She carefully finished the bite.

   “I bet I was, too.”

   “Well, I’m not upset with you, anymore, and we had a nice day – disregarding a disastrous football loss. This has been a delicious meal. I am feeling content and, I think, also magnanimous…”

   “Magnanimous?”

   “Definitely magnanimous. It’s still early, so… We’ll see.”

   “Are you ready to go? I suddenly feel a real urge to be up in our room.”

   She laughed. “This is really, really good pizza!”

***

   If, on Sunday morning, someone had asked Greg if the night had included rockets bursting in air, symphonic anthems, cymbals clashing, or crowds cheering, he wouldn’t have said yes. On the other hand, he wasn’t certain that he could honestly have said no. Something rather dramatic had occurred and, when he woke to find himself in bed next to a very lovely, very naked, young woman, he felt confident that it hadn’t been entirely a dream. He wrapped his arms around the sleeping maiden, and drifted off for another hour. The next time he awoke, she was sitting up in the bed, watching him. She smiled down at him. He had no trouble returning the smile.

   “I think that was a ‘thank you’ worth waiting for,” he said.

   “You’re welcome. I received some benefit from it, as well.”

   “It does present a certain problem, however.”

   “And that is…?”

   “I feel that I can’t let that ‘thank you’ go without thanking you for it.”

   “Hmm. Well, you could just say ‘thank you for the thank you,’ and I could say again that you are welcome.”

   “Yes, we could do it that way. However, I feel that my ‘thank you’ to you should match the quality of your ‘thank you’ to me. That would mean…”

   “Oh, I see where you’re headed. But then, wouldn’t I be obliged to return a ‘thank you’ of like quality – or better - to your thanks for thanking me? Wouldn’t that turn into kind of a never-ending reciprocal exchanging of ever intensifying ‘thank yous’?”

   He pulled her down next to him. “I assume there is that danger. Further, with that level of activity, we would probably reach our peak performance well before twenty-one years.”

   “Twenty-one years? Did you think I meant that we will have reached our peak in twenty-one years? No, no. That was just a time I used for illustration purposes. We won’t have reached our peak by then – we won’t even be at a plateau. We’ll just go on and on and on…”

   They practiced a little more before finally getting up.

***

   Later, in the dorm parking lot: “Mrs. McPherson said I was glowing the last two Sundays after I was with you. She’s not going to miss the signs this time, for sure.”

    He put his hand on her cheek. “No, you are definitely radiant. You look like you’ve been having some good, healthy, vigorous fun.”

   She put her hand over his. “It has definitely been good, healthy, rigorous fun. Thank you.”

   “Glad to oblige. Do you want me to come in with you, so we can look guilty, together?”

   “No, I think I’d like to share one long, warm kiss right here, just between the two of us.”

   “Happy to oblige with that, also.” He obliged.

   “You know, Vic, that we have run out of football games?”

   “I do know that, but I have an idea for our next meeting. It’s only eighteen days until Thanksgiving break. There are some other students here from our town, and Nancy and I can get rides home and back with them. I’d get home late Wednesday. You’d come to Thanksgiving dinner with us Thursday – I’m sure you’ll be invited. I could visit with the family Friday, until late afternoon, when you’d come to get me, and take me to the refuge. You’d have me until Saturday afternoon, when you’d bring me back to town. I’d catch my ride back here on Sunday, and start classes again on Monday.”

   “You’ve given this a little thought.”

   “Well, as you said, no more football games. Somebody has to plan ahead.”

  “It sounds good to me. How about one more kiss to seal the deal?”

   It was sealed.

 

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