Corey's coming, no more sad stories coming My midnight-moonlight-morning-glory's coming aren't you girl?
And like I told you, when she holds you She enfolds you in her world.
By Harry Chapin (December 7, 1942 – July 16, 1981) He is missed.
Old John Joseph was a man with two first names. The railroad left him in the station when they took away the trains. John found me practicing a little vandalism on some of his abandoned freight cars. Instead of turning me over to the authorities, he put me to work helping him. It wasn't real work, but allowed us to talk. For you see there was only one train a week and all Old John had was time.
Over the next few months he learned my life story. He never judged me or commented on my digressions. The only negative comment he ever made was when I told him of a very nasty thing I had done.
He said, "That was dumb. Hope you don't do it again."
It made me stop and think. I never committed crimes again.
I guess I'd better tell you a little about myself. I was born in a Midwestern town. I was an only child. After WWII it was very prosperous, but as the years passed the town suffered a drop in prosperity.
My Mom and Dad were in the lower middle class income bracket at the start of the decline. When the factory my Dad worked in closed, so did his employment opportunities. We lived on his separation pay and what little work he could find. One of is part time jobs was the overnight cleaning of a local bar.
I guess that job was his downfall. He started drinking. At first it was just a beer before starting his overnight. It progressed to hanging around in the morning for an "eye opener". Finally he spent all his waking hours in the bar drinking. We soon lost the house, but the bar owner took pity on us and made a small shack by the rail yards part of his pay. My Mother and Dad fought all the time they were together. My Mother wasn't there one day when I returned. I never saw her or heard from her again.
My Dad was useless to me. He was either drunk or sleeping off a drunk. I raised myself. I washed my clothes, cooked our food, and cleaned our house. My Dad contributed nothing except some money for food.
The kids at my school teased me because I was so poor and my mother had run off. I was in school yard fights almost every week defending my honor. All I got for my efforts were detentions progressing to suspensions. My Dad paid no attention to my schooling. When the vice-principle requested meeting with my Dad, he ignored them and I was not allowed to return to school.
Being kicked out of school so often, I did what any teenage boy would do, I hung around the Railroad yards. It was here I met the man who was going to make a change in my life.
Old John got me back in school. He made me promise not to lose my temper and to try and study. I did.
I'm not going to tell you that I graduated at the top of my class and got college scholarships. I actually finished with a C- average for four years. I guess losing all that time affected my learning. I was not much of a social butterfly either. I did not attend any of the dances or my Senior Ball.
I never had a high school sweetheart. I left school at 3:30 and when straight the rail yard. I followed John around the yard like a lost puppy. I replaced my absent mother and drunken father with John.
We would sit in his small two room cabin talking while we sat around the pot belly stove that served him as both furnace and stove. From John I learned about all the fantastic places he had been. How he traveled first around the country and then the world. I hung on his every word and pictured his descriptions. I believed every word he told me. I even retold his stories to my teachers and schoolmates.