Behind the Sun

(Inspired by real events)(Summer of 1936)

She lived, during that summer of 1936, in a small room, on the first floor of an old mansion, near Rice Park, downtown, St. Paul, Minnesota, near the Mississippi River, a hop-skip-and-jump, away. It was July and the evening was hot. On the grass outside of the large house where she was a maid, she sat cross-legged. Sweat trickling down her back, armpits, forehead-the arclights of the city had just gone on.

People of the city were sitting on the curbs of the streets, down along the riverbank on the grass-sleeping on blankets, to cool themselves off.

Elsie Evens had just finished her evening’s work (so she thought)-; sixteen-¬years old, she had lived at St. Joseph’s Orphanage, since 1933, since her mother Ella had died of double-pneumonia, and her father Tony (Anton) couldn’t take care of her and her several siblings -she had been working at the Rosenberg’s since the previous winter.

She walked Eastward from the house she worked in, more into the inner city, great masses of people: men, women, children, old folks (to include, even dogs, cats) -all had left their apartments, and homes to spend the night out-of-doors, some by the river.

Here was a city of over 250,000-people all overheated, all hunting for a spot of land (some even fighting for it) to sleep in peace and quiet and get some cool breeze, behind the sun.

Out of near-darkness they flooded the streets, the houses and apartments were empty-even fashionable folks were filling the parks where once bums, tramps, and hobos (transits) normally slept.

Elsie thought, ‘If only I could get out of here… like so many of the rich could do, were doing, about to do, going to Europe and Canada, etcetera (so she had read in the papers), to escape the July heat wave.

She stumbled in the gray-darkness, from street light to street light, resting here and there wherever she found an open spot of grass, a few babies could be heard crying in the distant and sinister dark.

It was past one o’clock when she had returned back to her domicile, explained to the elder Mr. Rosenberg, the owner, and her employer, who didn’t pay her for her duties, but gave her room and board, explained to him, she had taken a long walk (to cool off)-he had handed her a list of things he waned her to do-now, said he had been trying to find her earlier. She was cool-headed about it.

You must have gone a little off your head and could not work anymore,” he remarked. And then he went out to lie in the front lawn, a blanket in hand.

No: 586 (12-4 & 5-2009) SA