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Nash, Edith / Practice the here and now: selected writings of Edith Nash

Nash, Edith
Toledo Wheelbarrow Company,   pp. 25-26

Page 25

Toledo Wheelbarrow Company
 Whenever I read about a train hurtling through the darkness on its way from
St. Paul to the East or into the Middle West from some mysterious eastern
location, I remember my first trip away from home. I had been to Girl Scout
camp for a week or two when I was younger, I had visited my aunts on the
South Side of Chicago, and I had been to California without my mother to
visit other relatives. But going away to Vassar College for Women and living
away from home for a whole year — just thinking about it still affects
me with the same terror and the joy that that dramatic escape opened up for
me. "Free at last, free at last" are the words that come to mind, in time
to the wheels of the train, carrying me from slavery to freedom.
 I quickly got used to the college. Mostly I remember horseback riding in
the morning before class. The hills and the fall color of the eastern landscape
were unbelievably beautiful after the flat prairie that I came from, and
I remember the smell of my horsey clothes as I sat steaming in my first class.
There was no time to change, and the other girls smiled
and gently moved away. V V -
 I had one close friend. Once we went walking in the snow, so fresh it was
clinging to all the branches, and we ate the snow off the branches and recited,
"What can au thee, knightat-arms, so haggard and so woe-begone?"
 So then it was Christmas vacation, and I came home on the roaring train
and it all started over again — the sudden rages at the dinner table,
the long, heavy meals, the angry yelling up and down the stairs, the grabbing
and the force of parental authority. So we went, my brothers and I, to a
speakeasy on Wacker Drive called the Toledo Wheelbarrow Company and the tenderness
of the bartender whose name was John Morth enveloped and sustained us.
 One night I was talking to John Morth and he asked me, "What are all those
other girls at your school doing now that they are home for Christmas vacation?"
And I told him that they were mostly coming out. "They been in?" he said.

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