CHERRIE AND THE DIE MASTERS
A story based on true events, people and places, fictional history, and historical fiction.
TEMPORARY STORAGE PAGE
CHERRIE AND THE DIE MASTERS
A story based on true events, people and places, fictional history, and historical fiction.
It was precisely 3:00 PM on Wednesday. Fritz the gardener was working near his lookout place behind the hothouse as he did every Wednesday at 3:00 PM when Baines' old International would rumble across the back border road of the Home, from the Boys Farm to the gate behind the infants cottage. That was the northwest corner of the grounds.
Adjacent to the cottage bordering the back road was the laundry where Cherrie, on her Wednesday schedule, so carefully pinned sheets and blankets on the clotheslines in the laundry yard, waiting for the swish of the immense tires to gradually slurp through the soil and gravel to a stop. Baines would have get out of his truck to unlock the gate to get to his every Wednesday destination, and on the way, he had access to Cherrie.
"How's my little girl today?" he said so sweetly. That was her signal to move behind the sheets to the roadside, a curtain between Cherrie, Baines, and the most views from The Home. Though Fritz came in closer once the truck passed him, and behind a hedgerow had the girl and man always in sight.
Cherrie was one big wide smile in the company of people. She was thrilled when people spoke directly to her. Though it was the wide spaces between her teeth that gave her a not quite normal appearance.
"Hi, Mr. Baines. Today is Wednesday again," breaking into a giggle as she waited for him to press his weekly present into her dress pocket.
"It's real gold, isn't it Mr. Baines?"
"Gold of a princess it is, little girl." Baines would take his time with his hand in her dress pocket, exploring the curve of her hips as much as she would tolerate. "I have one for the other pocket too, if you let me put it in your pocket for you."
Unbeknownst to Baines, Cherrie, who loved this game which had made her important to a number of people at the Home, was regularly coached by Elinore. One coin only, then start laughing, go round the clothes poles, then take care of the laundry on the Home side.
"Thank you, Mr. Baines," she giggled out with her breathy voice, smoothing the snowy white sheets to perfection, savoring the scent of washed linens in the early spring sunshine. She tightened up all the pins on the first clothesline, in full sight of most all the Home and its cottages, grinning to the sound of Baines fussing with the chain and lock, getting the truck out onto the brick road and locking the gate again.
When he turned onto the main road, it was time to meet Fritz at the tulip beds.
"So how did we do today with our real gold?" He was weeding. Cherrie picked up a trowel and knelt next to him.
"We don't like the weeds, do we Fritz?"
"Well, Cherrie, some weeds are pretty, but not growing in our tulips! This space is for tulips only. But don't you like the plants growing along the road to the farm? "
"They're pretty, Fritz. I love the wheat and the pasture."
"How would a tulip look in the pasture?"
"Ha ha, Fritz, that is funny, a tulip in the pasture."
Her round face framed with short sandy curls and eyes so brown you could scarcely see a pupil made it difficult to know when she understood, or when she had drifted off in her own thoughts. Fritz knew her every expression, watching the girl grow up since she was placed in the Home for the Feeble Minded at the age of six. When she became vacant in her expression, Fritz could call her back to attention.
Cherrie was fourteen now. Below the child face she was developing an incoherently lovely physique. She was very tall, and dressed in her plaid shirt waists, she appeared to be an adult woman. This was causing a broiling controversy between medical staff, trustees, and the county surgeon, while Fritz was into something deeper, having observed the Wednesday exchanges. Baines and his work as Superintendent of the Boys Farm Fritz also observed.
The greenhouses, equipment sheds, storage sheds, and Baines' kiln house were situated on either side of the back road, forming the boundary between the Home and the Farm. The horticulture section was on the south side of the road, Baines' territory was on the north side, a little further east. Behind the greenhouses was a stone path to Fritz and Berthe's cottage. From there, Fritz could observe Baines' house, the sheds, the Boys Dormitory, all at the east end, part of the farm, and to his west, the grounds of the Home.
"Fritz, there's a gold piece in the tulip bed, ha-ha!"
For during their kneeling conversation, Cherrie, as customary every Wednesday, carefully removed Baines' trinket from her pocket to the soil where Fritz would skillfully retrieve it. It was their secret treasure, almost one hundred coins they had. The girl was thrilled to have a collection that Fritz could keep safe. Something to have that the nurses couldn't take away.
It was time to bring the laundry in, and Cherrie went happily back to her work.
Fritz with the gold piece removed directly to The Gardener's Cottage. Berthe greeted him with a knowing eye as he telephoned Dr. Gower.
"Sir, we have more than one hundred," Fritz spoke in a soft slur into the phone.
"Fine. Hold tight. It is the best place for them now. How is Cherry today?"
"Very happy, Sir. But I worry, Dr. There is so much land here, and buildings."
"We're fighting our hardest, I assure you. Please let me know immediately of anything which makes you suspicious."
Berthe placed a hearty soup at their two places at the table. There were womanly concerns Berthe could not voice, even to her husband Fritz, about Elinore. Berthe was educated Swiss, though generally silent in the company of staff or Baines. Dr. Gower gave her a biology textbook which she studied daily. Berthe was fascinated by medical illustrations of diseases in man, by the explanations of mental defectives and birth deformities. It seemed to Berthe The Home existed to gather this varying palette of problems in one place for management, and to create, exteriorly, one of the most magnificent works of architecture and formal gardens in the state. The dorm rooms certainly bore none of the glamor of the Home's outward appearance, stark white, peeling paint on iron headsteads. Blank rooms with no color, just beds and windows.
There was nothing Berthe could find in the biology to justify surgically removing Elinore's ability to have babies. Dr. Gower explained epilepsy to Berthe- as she grew into a young woman at the home Elinore's seizures became less frequent. A Dr. in Boston wanted to treat her, with Dr. Gower's emphatic recommendations, but the county surgeon holds claim to Elinore's welfare as a minor and believes she should be sterilized.
Both Cherrie and Elinore were candidates for forced sterilization, a program supported by the county surgeon and a number of the Home's Trustees.
Cherrie was the most unsolvable problem in Berthe's mind. Her body was spectacular, and she was easily coaxed into keeping secrets. What would happen if it were known she could not become pregnant?
Elinore on the other hand was of high intelligence. She spoke French and learned piano remarkably well. Now almost 21, over the years she had taught classes in the school, then one day it was arranged for her to move into IC, the infants cottage, where Nurse Hazen was overwhelmed with hydro-encephalics. Cherrie liked to help Elinore with feeding, an almost continuous shift, for the worst cases could be fed only when their mouths opened by spasm. Cherrie did not know these babies were dying, and did not notice when it happened. An empty bed was promptly filled.
Gil Piner turned left onto Colorado Avenue where he walked a half-block on the sidewalk bordering the iron-fenced grounds of the Hatton Block. The gate to the Hatton's home was streetside, opening to a charming wide brick walk edged with boxwod. In front of hedge were dainty borders of white daffodil, leading to the porch flanked with carved stone urns of blue Agapanthus. Lush fern baskets hung along the porch roofline, and there were troughs of trailing flowers lining the porch rails.
He felt better about the last minute shoeshine as he saw his toes come down on the perfectly smooth masonry. He was an expected guest, a reporter for Daly's Daily Observer, there to cover a Trustees and Medical Staff convening. Practically the entire state was on the edge of its seat to hear the views of county surgeon Dr. Parker on forced sterilizations of defectives and paupers. It had been a sensation for nearly a year in the newspaper. The issue was coming to a head. Dr. Parker was pushing for funds from the state to begin sterilizations at The Home.
Opposed were Dr. Gower and a network of scholars and physicians, versus the surgeon the Trustees of the Home had used their influence to place over the county, Dr. Parker. The Trustees had also contracted Dr. Gower as Chief of Medicine for the Home, based on his outstanding record of achievement in the field. Dr. Gower published works which were critically acclaimed as advances for the feeble-minded, which made the Trustees and Board of Directors smell like roses.
"Mr. Piner, please come in. There is a sitting parlor to your right- we're waiting for some of our speakers as yet. But there are finger sandwiches and hot coffee, as well as some piano to enjoy."
It was Mrs. Hatton herself who met Gil at the door. With his note case, pencils in the pocket and manner of dress, he supposed he must have instantly made the impression of a newsman, yet did not expect a personal welcome from one of the town's most influentual women of society. She guided him by the elbow, like an old friend, to the sitting parlor.
There was a typical men's side of the room and ladies side from which resounded the monotonous background noise of chit-chat, the male and female voices meeting somewhere in the middle. Over that Gil was hearing Debussy resounding from a grand piano in one corner of the room. The touch was exactly light and elegant for that music and he made his way to a niche where he could watch the pianist.
She was so pretty! Sitting with her back perfectly straight in her high neck white embroidered blouse and dark blue skirt, he maneuvered to see the face of this marvelous musician.
"I have to know her," it struck Gil instantly. "Or, why do I feel I know someone just like her?"
Elinore Carpenter was gifted in a number of ways. There was not a woman who saw her who did not marvel at her porcelain complexion, with natural roses she was born with, right on her cheekbones. She was skilled at all needlework, infant care, music, language, and in many years never allowed herself to become bored at The Home, but made fast friends throughout the staff who were only too glad to have her pitch in with duties.
She had not noticed Gil, who was devising in his head a number of ways to cross her path, when Mrs. Hatton glided across the parlor in her chiffon tea gown to the piano.
"They are ready for you now, Elinore dear."
Gil felt he saw some of the color leave her cheeks momentarily as she cut to an arpeggio which ended the piece she was playing.
Mrs. Hatton escorted Elinore to the banquet hall where most of the chatters had wandered while Gil was deep in thoughts of the remarkable pianist. They were finding their places at the table. Mrs. Hatton handed Elinore over to Dr. Gower who guided them to a small stage set at one end of the table. Mrs. Hatton took a place at the front of the stage. Gil stood against the back wall facing the stage, to write his notes.
"I welcome you to the Hatton Home, on behalf of the Trustees of the state's Home for the Feeble Minded, and its Board of Directors. We are gathered here to solve challenges to the health and growth of our community. We will here them described by Dr. Gower, Chief of Medicine at The Home, and Dr. Parker, County Chief of Surgery. "
"We will first hear Dr. Gower, as he has brought a special guest who must be leaving us shortly for other engagements. Therefore, may I present to you, from The Home for the Feeble Minded, Dr. James Gower and his patient Miss Elinore Carpenter, our lovely pianist at the reception."
Something of a stifled surprise gasp rippled across the room as Elinore gracefully came to the front of the stage alongside Dr. Gower. A moment of awkwardness, then came the genteel applause, as one should expect at a luncheon.
Elinore spoke first. "I truly thank Mrs. Hatton for inviting me to play for you at this reception. My opportunities are rare, and this has been a very important moment in my life. I have epilepsy. I grew up at the home, and with recognition by Dr. Gower, teachers, and nurses was given traditional education, like that of normal children. I have completed high school course work. My time is spent practicing piano in the chapel and working in the infant cottage where I live with Nurse Hazen. This year I will be twenty-one and Dr. Gower is confident I can live on my own with continuing treatment. Though I had more frequent seizures when I was a child, the last three years I have had one a year. None of them have affected my ability to work, play piano, or learn. I will be discharged at twenty-one, and I do not want to be sterilized beforehand."
Elinore stood staring at the banquet guests before her, surprised she had strayed a bit from her rehearsed speech, though the further she went the more she felt like shocking the Trustees. Dr. Gower quickly stepped in.
"We should thank Miss Carpenter for what she has shown us and for having the courage to work for change in the treatment of the misunderstood disorder of epilepsy."
The applause was appreciative though Elinore was still frozen in place. How should she leave the stage? How will she get out of the Hatton House and back to Nurse Hazen who will be wanting to hear everything? Dr. Gower was next going to make his speech, so how could he help?
But the doctor quickly turned her by the shoulders and escorted her down the stage's two steps, pointing her directly at the far corner of the room. There was Fritz in his Sunday clothes! Fritz came to retrieve her so Dr. Gower could commence with his arguments against forced sterilizations at the home, or anywhere in the state.
"Oh, Fritz, you can't imagine how good it is to see you here!" Elinore whispered with sincere relief.
"I have the horse buggy outside to take you back, it is such a wonderful day!" Though, Elinore knew there was scarcely a day in the year when Fritz could not find something wonderful or beautiful outdoors in his gardener's mind.
Gil had been standing in the opposite corner from Fritz, noting his silent entry as Elinore took the stage. Mr. Daly will likely fire me, he thought, for there was no going back in his mind to that over-perfumed lunch assemblage when he could pursue an interview with Miss Elinore Carpenter instead.
He followed them down the sidewalk and at the carriage came forward with a fast pitch.
"Good afternoon Miss Carpenter, and friend. My name is Gil Piner from Daly's Daily Observer. Not meaning to intrude, but I was invited to cover the Hatton luncheon, and forgive me if I think your personal story is of much greater value, so I have left the assignment in hopes of obtaining an interview with you?"
"I am Fritz Muller, the gardener and friend."
Elinore was pinning her hat for the ride. How stately she appeared with a bit of straw and ribbon atop her bold brow. How composed she remained while being hounded by a news man.
"What about my personal story would be interesting enough for a newspaper?"
Gil wondered whether she was teasing or was she so completely sheltered? "First off, I think why you are an inmate at The Home at all would interest plenty of readers. Then, there is the story of getting you removed from a forced sterilization list fast, if that is your desire. Forgive me, Miss Carpenter but your personal story is interesting to women around the nation, and certainly to the epilepsy community."
Fritz was hoping she would say yes. There would be nothing handier than a journalist hovering around The Home. Eventually, when Dr. Gower gives the go, Cherrie's coin collection and whatever Baines is up to may be too deep to confront. Baines has relations that run the county.
Elinore had every intention of saying yes to the nice looking ginger-haired reporter. Why not let a man write something which will be read rather than make her own speeches, as a woman half-heard, a curiosity.
"With your permisssion, Miss Carpenter, how would I be able to interview you in accordance with your house rules?"
"Come Sunday," Fritz jumped in. "Visiting hours are 10:00 - 4:00. That allows families time to have a meal together. There is the dining room, and picnic tables in our gardens. "
"Miss Carpenter? Luncheon is on me."
"Then, come at 12:00. Please give me your card so I can place you on my Visitor list for Sunday."
Ideal, ideal, Gil thought as he presented his card with his most professional finesse.
Berthe will love this, thought Fritz as he readied the horse.
I have just accepted my first date, Elinore mused as the two trotted back on Old Farm Road, away from town, out to the end of the county to The Home.
Agent Kelso was playing at neatening up his desk while waiting for the call from Gower. At 9:00 PM, the ring came.
"One hundred, or more."
"Not in his possession."
This triggered a pre-arranged rendevous of Dr. Gower and Agent Kelso at 10:00 PM Thursday night at the safest place they could choose- Dr. Gower's residence. There was no late night place in town where Dr. Gower would not be recognized, plus surely thought out of place. Kelso was known too- Secret Service for hire. He had an upstairs office downtown.
On the brick road out to the main road, bordering The Home were the gracious residences for The Chief Superintendant, The School Principal, and The Chief of Medicine. The Highest Staff must take residence on the premises. Thus Dr. Gower gained the residence furthest from the main road, down the brick road almost to the back gate, where the IC sat furthest away from the main grounds and closest to the Chief of Medicine.
Infants brought to the home were in drastic condition on arrival, they needed constant care, and seldom lasted more than a few months. They were hopeless cases rejected by hospitals who arranged placement when there was space. Most all of them had been rejected by their family since they were dying. The infants never received visitors. Their short tortuous lives were entirely in the hands of Dr. Gower, Nurse Hazen, Elinore, and Cherrie. No one else wanted to see them, and no one wanted to see so frequently the undertaker's wagon, so removals were made well after lights out in the dormitories and cottages.
To Kelso's advantage, the brick road had no street lighting, and his approach to Gower's place, on foot, and in black clothing was not difficult. Fritz had planted a thick row of holly to screen The Home Grounds somewhat from the Staff house views, and for Christmas decorating. It was prickly, but from the main road Kelso moved light as an alley cat behind the shrubs past the back gate a short distance. Crossing over at the edge of a wheat field he continued, backtracking now on the west bank of the road, moving behind wild shrubbery, navigating the north lot line of Gower's, around to the back of the house where there were no lights. Precisely at 10:00 PM, Dr. Gower quietly opened his back door just wide enough for the agile Kelso to slip inside.
The two very different gentleman settled in the study where there was but one window, it being heavily draped. They began their conversation, in the dark.
Dr. Gower knew what was coming- sterilizations were favored by those in control, and his research presentations and statistics were not going to be heard. Cherrie would be forced into a surgery she would not understand. He could see no way to stop it. But Elinore he was determined to discharge on her twenty-first birthday. He just wanted time.
Parker insisted epilepsy was a defect which should not be allowed to proliferate. He entered Elinore on the list for one of the first sterilizations at The Home, due to her age. Approval for sterilization may come from the state before Elinore turns twenty-one, and Parker aims to put Gower in his societal place.
"Mr. Kelso, we need some clout here fast. Many people are going to suffer and perhaps die of state sterilizations. The ploy is way behind the science, and we both know this is being done for state funds. State funds brought us to here, all paid to a few families for provisional services. The attorneys fees exceed our annual budget. I know Parker is related somehow. And he can manage to exert county control of a state facility."
"Yeah, but he's way up there. This bunch has layers of relatives between themselves and the gold. Baine's coins are filled nickel, but the molding is perfect. He's not using copies, but masters. Masters theoretically can only be in the Treasury. How do I get the hundred, since they are been pressed over time, we can see if the details have remained sharp, or does the hundredth coin show signs of smoothing? Does he get more masters, or did he only happen upon one?"
Kelso and the Dr. both lit cigarettes, examining each other's face in the orange of each draw.
"Fritz has the coins rolled sequentially over the years in paper, stored I don't know where."
"Then it must be Fritz who gives the rolls to me- you are not involved," Kelso concluded.
"Though it was Fritz who gave me coin One, which I transferred to you. Then we had to involve Elinore, and poor Cherrie! Ethically we are wrong, Kelso."
"Dr. Gower, with respect I ask, have you any idea how long I have worked just to get as far as Baines? Fritz saw it first, but Baines works for the Super. How is it for the Super should Baines be reported molesting defective children, especially when Baines runs the Boys Farm? Fritz and Berthe would lose their cottage and income in a minute. Fritz was the only witness to the molestation and the coin. Coming to you was all he could do, and hearing the tale, coming to me with the coin was all you could do. And the best we could do was teach Cherrie how to get away fast with a coin. Fritz was always there, in case."
The Dr. was not settled into agreement. "She has an ingrained strategy now, whether or not she understands, she would do anything that pleases Elinore. But Parker is gaining on me, and I want Cherrie out of coin collecting as of now."
Kelso crossed one leg over his knee, striking his most likeable pose. "Cherrie has served her country, Dr."
"Is it unethical for Cherrie to work undercover for the government, for her to make herself valuable, though she cannot grasp criminality?
"She is fourteen, Kelso! "
"And her Guardian is?"
"Cherrie's parents are unknown, she is my patient, and in orphan cases of long term tenancy, it has become convenient for me to be made Guardian, for expediency in dealing with health crises and treatment."
"You may give permission then."
"Permission? I think she's done enough with coins."
"I have another plan for Baines and a few layers further up. I need Cherrie to get a present from the kiln shed."
"No. I forbid that and it is my jurisdiction. Tomorrow I'll figure out a way for Fritz to come in to town and bring the hundredth coin to your office. I want your lab findings shared with me before I make a decision. "
It was long past midnight. Kelso left the doctor's home retracing the way he had come, behind the holly to the main road where a half mile away his car was parked at the old crematory site. From the deserted dark road it could barely be seen and did not look out of place.
Jim Gower had less than five hours left to sleep, but exhaustion overcame his self-discipline, giving way to racing private thoughts he normally fought to push down deep. Nearly two years had slipped by since the summer he and Libby had lost their son Ed, home on vacation during in his third year in medical school. It was a sweltering day. The young man enthusiastically ran for a swim in the old lake and drowned, in the company of friends, family, and people of the town. It was a public occasion in the picnic park. Time of death 2:20 PM.
Time of death 2:20 PM was the phrase he could never erase. He had seen it in writing. He had watched it being written. Tonight he was hearing it in his brain like certain music which comes from nowhere and can't be stopped at will. For the doctor it was a rare indulgence in a past which he had excised from consciousness. Time of death 2:20 PM.
Libby was not so occupied. All of her work was optional, whether at The Home, the Library, or with her women's group. After the accident, she became dedicated solely to inside the home arts. She did not want to be looked at downtown, or in any of the dining rooms, nor even at church anymore. She thought she would wait till ensuing tragedies and struggles with survival would layer by layer replace the town's memory of her unbearable loss. Once no one would think of it, Libby would return to society.
Some days Jim was home only long enough to be a visitor along with the others. All enjoyed getting off the grounds, in a sense, though only across the brick road, to the respite of Libby's talent with decorating, her warm southern gentility, a rarity in this northern agricultural county. Her hair stylist Claudia came every Saturday. She did most all the housekeeping herself, never without her lipstick on, stylishly dressed, a glamorous lady, stunning even in her white ruffled apron.
Then something surfaced at The Home almost coincident with Ed's unexpected death, which brought her husband the first actual trouble in his career. Libby could not make herself engage in a sensational thing, performing her hostess duties as if she were on stage at The Avalon. She and Jim regularly agreed she must not become community talk as being in any way "off," especially after a year after Ed.
Death of infants and children was never really all the way unexpected. It happened in houses big and small, to the rich and to the paupers. There was only time for a moment of tears and religious consolation. Each day passing heaped its toil, town politics, prices and costs onto the present. A mother could lose ten children in one fire. Infuenzas, typhus, tetanus and untreated infection were inevitable annual reapers. Conditions in parts of the county contributed regularly to the expiration of brief lives which "never did well," in the words of the County Surgeon, entered in the Causes of Death rolls, stored by the state. Libby read the published rolls in Jim's library. She knew it was accident or war which killed males aged 19-25- car accidents, farm accidents, industrial accidents, suicide, but scarce drownings. Eddie was a strong swimmer. He sailed at the lake, beginning at 10. As he grew up he worked summer jobs as a lifeguard and sailing instructor.
Polishing and shining her home till it looked like one in a magazine, Libby could not escape her endless loop of sadness. Eventually it was announced in the local happenings of the area section of the Daily, "Mrs. Jim Gower, wife of the Chief of Medicine at the State Home, will be leaving town for to visit her mother's family in Atlanta."
Aunt Cami and Uncle H.J. lived on five acres in Atlanta. H.J. was a banker there. They adored Libby, as did all who knew her.Their home offered her privacy, family, different surroundings, a complete change of weather. Just as importantly, in Atlanta was a specialist Jim knew of who diagnosed and treated mental depression in the non-psychotic.
At the Home, there was a vague definition of defectiveness. Amongst the defective, were cases with intelligence levels high to low. There were cases of behavioral oddities, mental illness, spasmodic postures, seizures, delusions, unusual physical appearance, and the frankly insane who were often transferred. All who resided there did not necessarily need to be inmates, was Dr. Gower's opinion. Some were orphan, but others were not wanted in their family circle, or the family was incapable.
Dr. Gower was a progressive classifier of disorders affecting functionality. He opposed a lumping system of warehouse treatment of disorders from different root causes. His work had propelled him to his present station where he made himself an indispensable source of state funds he garnered for research and therapies at The Home.
It was out of the question that Libby become tagged with mental depresssion. In the county there was only one medically trained psychiatrist and he was the doctor in residence at The Home for the Insane. These were cases which for various reasons, mainly aggression, violence and obscenity, could not function at The Home for the Feeble Minded. One dorm was criminal offenders.
She will come back around with proper treatment, Jim knew. Then after so many months away, Libby decided she shouldn't return home until autumn. She believed returning to The Home for summer, in the season of Ed's death, would transport her backward. The visit with Aunt Cami had to evolve in The Home talk into another fabrication.
Thus it was explained to her inside circle, who would be certain to tell others, Libby was remaining in Atlanta to help Aunt Cami care for Aunt Mabel Jenney, who on a visit from Kansas was bitten on the leg by a moccasin as she was taking some sun out on the dam. If that were the only colorful story to sustain, as a matter of family privacy, Jim and Libby may say whatever they feel will most prudently stir up the least amount of conjecture within The Home community.
James Gower, MD lived and worked nearly half his life motivated by conscientiousness, service to mankind, pursuit of knowledge and a sober mind . These were his pillars of normalcy and control, a niche for living productively, safe from pitfalls and dilemma.
If the day so soon after Ed's funeral Fritz and Berthe had not come to him about Baines taking Cherrie inside a shed in the wheat field across the gravel road, if Fritz had not handed him the gold coin Baines had given Cherrie, if Jim had not had to decide to take the coin to law authorities or to The Superintendant, the web of fabrications he was now maintaining would never have come to being. They were taking on a reality of their own, and Dr. James Gower had no idea how to restore normalcy, or if he should try.
Manfred Daly set up early for work Friday mornings. No tenants were in any of the upstairs offices at that hour. At sunrise he had just enough time to be utterly alone in his own newsrooms to meditate with his coffee from the first floor shop. Window blinds closed, he would relish the texture of his ritual egg and lettuce sandwich on a warm buttered soft roll. Waves of well-being washed over his nervous system. Sitting in the sparsely furnished reception area, the editor of gruff reputation took leisurely bites and slow sips of the shop's arousing brew. Then, once every crumb and drop of evidence he had been there was wiped away, he went in the lavoratory for a wash and brush-up before opening the blinds of the three room office, settling with a characteristic "Humph," down onto the wooden chair behind his immense mahogany desk.
Piner's Sunday piece was in place on the left side of the blotter, parallel but a good distance from Dr. Parker's column on the right. Columns from Parker, in the history of Daly's Daily, had never been regular features. The public interest in the County Surgeon traditionally was outbreaks, what to do about infant and child care emergency, mortality and the status of county health in general.
Though the last two years or so, Parker upped the frequency of his submissions to Daly, until the last few months Dr. Parker was featured weekly on Sundays with his information on advances in eugenics. What had begun, it seemed to Daly, as a case for young people in good health to choose a spouse in good health, to ensure healthy babies in the population, took a rapid twist towards promoting the benefits of state sponsored sterilization. State funds could pour into the county for sterilizing state-housed mental defectives. It was proposed adding to the list, a large family or klan intermarried for generations, living nearly wild in the woods, unable to overcome an inherited form pauperism, was Parker's argument.
"Manny, you have to give this guy all the rope he wants. Amazing they are planning this thing in such an out of the way place, so all is done before the whole country knows," was the advice he was acting on from a friend in the businesss of big journalism.
"But half the town are with him. They're not really half, but may as well be half. Just about everyone else works for them or owes them."
Daly got his own paper all right, though family presses had been running in the county more than a century ahead of him. Finnells and Whitbecks set up town almost the instant The Declaration of Independence was ratified. There wasn't a farmer or trader who didn't depend on their toll bridges and roads. It was an intermarried family for several generations. Finnells or Whitbecks, once the bank issue was settled, alternately presided over State Bank. They began their city newspaper when a portion of Littles migrated from Philadelphia for marriage to a Whitbeck. Other of these Whitbecks married Finnells eventually.
They were town families, and kept close amongst themselves. The News had been founded to engage the industrialist, the raiload, City Hall, and a small high society. It was well supported by the Department Store, Insurance Agencies, The Grocer, Building Supply, and Undertakers. There were syndicates nationally which published items from The News in their financial and business sections. The Little strategy for The News was attract industry to town. For the landowners, resources were plentiful, yet the manufacturers and laborers too few. It would be up to the capitalist to bring in labor, and this was the way to grow a city.
Thirteen years ago Manfred Daly, after circuiting the country, was warmly welcomed by The Bank and Trust to deposit gold and guarantees, for financing to set up shop and publish another newspaper. Of course two papers were needed. It was an age of flaring opinions on every front of life. The town was growing. Despite the assumptions in the collective mind of Littles, Whitbecks, and Finnells, the brawny iron-willed editor was planning a paper of interest founded on the local then parallel foreign news of each day, of which he would select a varying balance of international, national, and government, not necessarily always on the front page. He believed he could intrigue wide readership by developing sections in his paper that The News did not have; he would publish more than one or two voices in the Editorials.
The Trust Company sold him an office lease in the Hatton Building, downtown on the third floor. Surprisingly, the Littles encouraged his acquisition of their original production facilities. It was sensible. The buildings had been erected for purposes of printing news and print jobs. The property suited the size for a new and small operation.
Within weeks, very lightly used equipment was purchased through the Bank's agency in Boston, delivered, assembled, and demonstrated for Daly in the old Little Building. He had the stark brick facade which fronted the street painted, installing a cast mold plaque reading Daly's Daily Observer over the previous engraved "Little Building" pediment decoration. It was the ease of setting up in an established society of strangers, who welcomed competition with gracious open arms, that clinched Daly's determination to found his paper here. Manfred Daly knew he had walked into a hornet's nest. From this, the greatest news generates itself in perpetual supply. He saw a niche for wider distribution. The county was rural, the town small. More than half the population lived in the outskirts. They depended on the itinerant librarian for their reading material, and the radio for news.
A muffled echo of young confident steps approaching in the hall alerted Daly that Gil Piner was about to turn his key and officially open the office, though staff would not be bustling through doorway for another thirty minutes. This was the editor's and reporter's appointed time for convening on the Friday late and Sunday editions.
" Morning, Mr. Daly, " eliciting an auto-responsive combination throat clear and humphing as Mr. Daly moved the Piner piece to the middle of the desk.
"I was searching for the rest of your report on the Trustees at Hatton Place. I sent you out on controversial politics disguised as medicine, what do I get?"
With sweetened sarcasm, Daly proceeded to read portions of the article:
...Guests were guided to the Dining Hall at noon, to places at the long table covered with beige linen and a light crochet overlay. Centerpieces were low and of pink carnations, spaced down the center of the table which terminated at a small stage and podium at one end, covered with rugs and flanked with parlor palms.
Dr. James Gower, Chief of Medicine at The Home for the Feeble Minded, took the stage along with Miss Carpenter. The room fell into a dead silence when Miss Carpenter was introduced as an inmate of The Home. Clearly disturbed by an unstifled gasp arising within the Parker-Hatton faction, Miss Carpenter briefly addressed the group on the subject of epilepsy, then was taken off the stage by Dr. Gower, delivered to a waiting driver back to The Home."
"Pink carnations and chiffon, Piner? This will have to go in the Society pages."
"Sir, if you had felt the room, I believe you would agree the undercurrents are darker than usual. Likely the whole story will never be read in The News or The Daily. I had an idea, and left the Hatton House to intercept the young lady with a request for an interview."
"It's unlike Dr. Gower to stray into controversy, I agree, Piner, especially since this was a mandatory function. Then?"
"She agreed to list me as her Visitor this Sunday. Undoubtedly there is something important she has to say which the Trustees don't want heard. I am thinking how to interview her without embarassment to either of us. She is fighting her own possible forced sterilization. She is very attractive, sir, and I admit it's my gut feeeling there is more news happening here than we can access."
It was Daly's gut feeling too when he started the paper.
Today felt like the best weather of the year, just too good a day to spend thumbing the pages of dusty Miscellaneous Records in perhaps one of the dankest of courthouse basements still in use. Gil could not begin any other way. The lighting was poor, and the crude frame shelving constructed to house the history of the county was crammed with clerical entries in various types of books, brittle pages out of place peeped raggedly from the tops and sidecovers of their bindings.
There was no particular index or guide to the room. Records workers, mostly abstractors, had to be brought downstairs by a clerk offering no clues to the system, all having been arranged in the basement before any present employee was even of working age. One table and a few chairs were provided. Once a visitor signed in on a wall roster, the clerk would return to the world of the living, upstairs, and those who signed in must cross out their name when leaving.
Gil was alone, for anyone with horse sense would, on a day like this, put basement work off till Monday. Alone amidst the looming bookcases, he fought to orient himself in time aisle by aisle. There were rows of old binders which had to be opened to see the nature of what might be a related series. By perserverence and luck he navigated into the dimly lit nook of 1908, groundbreaking for The Home for The Feeble Minded.
There had to be a granting of the land, a Deed. He found the Association Articles of the Trustees in a miscellaneous book. There were no official county records for "Carpenter" that he could apply. He moved to Superior Court and in 1910 found a Carpenter Guardianship indexed, A.P. Whitbeck, Tr. The docket would be impossible to retrieve without going through a clerk, triggering enough speculation among the secretaries to avoid their duties till quitting time.
At the work table Gil Piner copied into his notebook, book and page numbers, names dates, document numbers, addressses, and a draft of any text he found. The morning had passed and there was scarce time to walk at a clip to the library.
Up onto the streeet again, he was munching packaged crackers on his way, when he spied a familiar figure walking on the other side of Main. It was the driver from The Home. Gil paused in a niche which formed an entrance to the cigar store, thinking of whether to approach the slight blond man, who would remember him. Except, without hesitation, the man opened the door to 402 1/2 and disappeared into what Gil had often pondered as quite a curious presence downtown.
The gritty glass door opened onto a flight of stairs leading to a plain painted wooden door. It appeared to be a single office. From Main it was an unnoticeable blip along the block. There was one window with closed blinds. Faint signage on the glass read "U.S. Realty." He had actually first noticed the window when studying a photograph of downtown. He had been working in town nearly a year, walking Main everyday, without noticing 4021/2. Gil combed the real estate ads and found no indication the name was even an active one, yet there was an occupant. He had seen light through the blinds evenings.
He waited not more than fifteen minutes when the driver emerged from the door, picking up step with the foot traffic on the sidewalk as if he'd been walking all along. At the Masonic Temple, he turned north, out of Gil's sight.
Now, that is something strange. Gil was electrified. He had to squelch the urge to trail the man, knowing the result would be unpredictable, while the library would definitely produce its treasure in the The News. He needed to know more before Sunday.
Unlike the miasma of the courthouse basement, the county librarians had managed their collections systematically. The News, from 1893 to the present could be browsed with paper copies in hand. Occasionally pages were missing, but overall the historical collections were heavily guarded against misfiling, markings, or vandalism of any sort.
Elinore Carpenter would soon be twenty-one. The Home opened in 1910. Gil took a chance on 1907- he would read forward to the opening of The Home, then backwards to the year of her birth if necessary.
"What may I help you with today, Mr. Piner?"
Miss Clayton was ever so helpful when Gil needed materials.
"How about The News starting 1907. And if you aren't too busy, Miss Clayton, if you could bring me a current city directory to the reading room, my work would be cut out entirely."
Miss Clayton merrily led Gil to the reading room where papers hung on wooden rollers, lining the walls. Though clearly identified, she explained each section in exquisite detail, until Gil felt he might jump out of his suit.
"The walls are everything from the last twelve months. Everything prior to then is sleeved and stored flat, chronologically in the big drawer cabinets. Here you are- 1907. I'll bring a directory if you give me twenty minutes."
"Thank you, Miss Clayton, I surely appreciate the help."
This was a breeze versus the courthouse. Each cabinet drawer was labeled by year.
Fortunately, fewer issues were published weekly then, and Gil knew the Sunday editions would give him the most expedient overview. It was not long before he had noted A.P. Whitbeck, attorney at law, made frequent trips to the Capital to argue the placement of an institution for mental defectives in his city. Others wanted the facility placed centrally in the state, not way up in the corner. In the end Whitbeck won on the merits of the railroads and short lines, of which there was an enormous web surrounding town. It scarcely mattered for visitors to the home were sparse, and whenever possible, inmates went to their family home for holidays if their case allowed.
In December of 1908, the village of Siloam was quarantined by the state when a cluster of typhus cases struck most of the population. On the death rolls were John and Alice Carpenter, survived by a daughter aged 6. Gil went for the obituaries.
"John Carpenter, aged 31 and a farmer, and his wife Alice 27, a housekeeper leave behind a daughter, Elinore, brothers and sisters out of state, and several aunts and uncles."
As Gil was wondering about the lack of family names in the Carpenter obituary, Miss Clayton proudly came into the room with the city directory.
"Is there anything else I can help you with, Mr.Piner?"
"Miss Clayton, my cup is full. I'll return the directory at the front desk."
"Well, good luck with your work, and you have a very pleasant day. It is the best time of year now."
He was already in the current street directory, Main and Temple. 402 1/2 Kelso, Peter svc agency.
"I don't think I did well at all, Nurse Helen. Playing the reception was so easy. Then, when Dr. Gower brought me up on the little platform I was surprised there were so many people, all looking right at me. My mouth went cotton dry. I could not open my lips! I couldn't control it."
The housemates were having their routine talk from 7:30 P.M. until 9:00 Friday evenings, the children tucked up right on time. Elinore and the nurse met at the table in the small kitchen. They were a little more than generation apart in age. Elinore was placed as an unpaid assistant at IC. She gave the nurse intellectual companionship along with her skills in office work and infant care. Nurse Helen Hazen, apart from her days away, in which she seldom indulged, had almost no contact with adult colleagues other than Dr. Gower and the Coroner. Likewise for Elinore, the dorm rooms were set-up for four girls- there were seldom three she could abide with long.
"I knew my statement, but I couldn't get the opening words out, they were stuck to the roof of my mouth. Somehow the next sentences ending up missing their connections. So I stopped speaking. I was afraid I had already proven myself defective. "
"You looked a very nicely-finished young woman dressed in your navy suit that day!"
"It's a beautiful jacket and skirt, so perfect with my white Swiss blouse."
"And the blue and brown hat band."
"Still, I am becoming more and more intrigued with choosing my own clothing once I am twenty-one."
Helen was thinking that men would be deciding Elinore's fate, if not her wardrobe, despite her lust to rebel and be free. At least Dr. Gower could argue the continuing need for a Guardian, based on medical treatments she may face. Without Dr. Gower, she would be downgraded a decade at a time by the trustee.
"Nurse Helen, something else happened before we left, Fritz and I. A reporter from The Daily asked me for an interview."
"I'm signing him in Sunday. He proposed bringing our lunch we can have in the family picnic shelter. Everything will look normal, won't it?"
"Why not? Only admin and staff have any cause to wonder. Make sure he leaves a business card in the dish on the sign-in desk."
Elinore laughed, so thankful for the wise woman's years of training.
"Now I want you to avoid Dr. Parker, so much that he doesn't even see you. Out of sight out of mind we hope for now."
"I will never let them touch me, Nurse Helen, I don't care what I have to do. I am eloquent, and strong enough, aren't I. All these years Dr. Gower has improved me with no treatments, as have you, Nurse Helen. How I could have lived here without your guidance? It is the living will of God, if anything. Then, I start to wonder where Cherrie's angels are?"
Elinore was aware of the peril, but it was this unique nurse, one suited for isolation and fierce commitment to the outcast, a woman who took unimaginable family plights in stride, who was prickling within over time running out for Cherrie. The innocent was a wanderer in her constructed neighborhood. A visit to Berthe's cottage was no different than crossing the gravel road to Mr. Baines' kiln room. She was as friendly and loving as a six-week puppy to anyone who spoke to her.
It was Baines who came, not to the Superintendent, but to Dr. Parker, two years ago, with a story he'd had to pull Bobby Britt and the girl out of a tractor shed. Bobby Britt was transferred away from The Boys Farm. Elinore spent some time each day showing Cherrie where not to step off the gravel road on The Home's side. It was her legitimate territory. She lived and worked in IC and the laundry. Behind the buldings to the gravel road's edge was her backyard, and doctor and nurse both argued for her right to be there undisturbed, or with friends from The Home.
Directly across the road was the wheat.
"If you see even the hat of a Home Boy from where you are, you must skip around to the common grounds, or go into the IC or laundry. Do not stop if they call out. Pretend you cannot see or hear them." Elinore gently instructed.
"The Home Boys like to talk to me."
"Of course they do, Cherrie. But Mr.Baines will send them away if he finds out, like Bobby Britt."
Helen Hazen and Jim Gower, professionals with first-hand experience, as biologists, knew their position would be upheld most widely in their peer community, but there was no time to mount causes and fulfill their duties. What couldn't be believed was Dr. Parker's determination to be medically wrong.
Sterilizing Cherrie at fourteen would be unavoidably notorious. It would be an open invitation to prey upon the girl throughout her womanhood.
Dr. Parker wanted funding for the procedures to take place at The Home's clinic.
A bitter pickle, Helen thought. A county surgeon usurping authority over Guardianships, inserting himself into a State Home so benefits will enure to many in the county, against modern medical logic had stirred in her an inner fury, something to deal with without ever letting it show. The nurse was perhaps most skilled at maintaing her personality of placidity and calm in unnerving circumstances.
Elinore said good-night, swiftly washing up and changing to her night dress. The door between her room and Cherrie's was left open when Cherrie went to bed. Tonight Elinore closed it softly and hurried to the freshness of her quilts and pillow, the skin tight sheets, whitened with sunlight. This was her favorite place in the world. She called it her happy place, though sometimes it was a storm cellar.
Tonight she was worried, and as usual, softly sang a hymn well-loved at The Home.
"Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in the Better Land.
We'll read the meaning of our tears,
And There, Up There we'll understand."
Nurse Hazen heard through the wall, pulling on her long jersey gown and surgical stockings.
As always, the phrases mangled her heart, every Sunday, for all who could sing or speak raised a joyful noise to close the service with it, rain or shine. She did not know how much was comprehended by how many in what ways, or whether it had beome a camp song.
She had no time to be sad, though, and tonight, in her own bed, Nurse Hazen did her best to muffle the bittersweet plea with an extended set of cycling on the back exercise, till soon both women closed their eyes and escaped into the sleep state.
It was pitch black outside Kelso's window. The mighty steam engine huffed across miles of black land. An occasional house light was seen through trees back from the easement. This part of the state some of the towns were so small they were scarcely noticed in passing, if there was a crossing gate. It wasn't worth closing his eyes before he would reach the city where he would have to unboard and get a bus to his destination.
The Field Office had been set up as a boarding house, whose matron was a member of Kelso's team, as were the housekeeper, cook, switchboard operator and driver. They were a self-contained unit, with an additional seven in-house agents working under a Supervisor. A twenty-four hour guard was stationed out of sight, but close to the house, mainly to keep watch on arrivals.
Kelso was an out office. Out offices were in bank cities, those places where by report, tip or other activity, investigations had been opened for specialized one man surveillance. Eager to meet with his colleagues, he was greeted at the frosted glass door with a matronly hug.
"Pete! What in the world? Come in. We can't wait a another second."
Phones, wires, and letters were used occasionally, mainly for misinformation. Actual visits to a field ofice or out office by someone in the service were never set in time. Newspaper ads and classified ads city to city were most useful. The paper was their bulletin board, advertisements scripted by professional writers to take up space with the most ordinary topics for the region of publication. Whether hauling gravel, or introducing the newest pills for women, a seasonal cipher kept the service informed without having to actively involve civilians. Many areas were still served by a single paper, and no one had as yet clearly defined how many papers nationally were owned by organization. At any rate, The News came to the boarding house by subscription, but Fritz's Friday delivery had left no time to let Kelso's team know he was on the way.
"Mina Jones! How is your house running along? That Cameo is splendid on you." He unwound his scarf, hanging it with his coat and hat on the hall stand.
"You might be surprised, Agent Kelso, how the power of being charged with supervising of daily living routines of colleagues is a level more gratifying than the office. I'm in the picture first thing mornings, at bed time, and all weekend., " Mina teased.
"But follow me to the inside room. Brodski is in there, though it being Friday, most of the others are on duty at the speak easys."
Inside rooms hadn't been built in town lot housing for years. They had no windows. The boarding house had been built last century. Its enclosed library was perfect for late hours at work, and privacy. A bored child innocently peering through the window of a boarding house and seeing a field office could precipitate disaster.
Mina Jones' House was as built into the surrounding scenery as the hundred year oaks. For all anyone knew, and only if they read the city directory, past the troughs of porch petunias set off by crisp white ruffled curtains in the windows, she ran her establishment for single gentlemen who traveled or worked as salesmen.
One would never expect Agent Kelso late on a Friday to be carrying a bag into an inside room at Mina's, where Brodski, an uruly mop of salt and pepper giant curls covering his face, was deep into his microscope.
"I brought you a treat, my friend," Kelso began.
"For Pete's sake, Pete! I thought you never come. You're holding up the whole office."
"Not so," Mina interjected, " he's had something in his eye all day, taking it out on anyone who comes in."
"So put this in your eye, as if I didn't want to know the answer long before now."
Kelso removed a slim coin pouch from inside his jacket. Brodski cleaned his eyeglasses and Mina disappeared into her well-kept house for gentlemen.
"Hold on," Brodski said, removing a desk from the front of a wall safe. "We want to look at this from time zero. In two years, we haven't been able to pan a single 1908 piece since yours. Philadelphia got a fine-tooth combing. Without the analysis, we'd have been shut down by now. "
Brodski returned to the table with a similar coin pouch from the safe. The pouches were then numbered by stamping, then placed above the corresponding coin. It was that simple: one and two. The twenty dollar gold coins were mint and identical to the eye.
"Relax, Pete. Metallurgy will do the work for us. Regardless of the engraving, the composition does not match the 1908 strike. I have never encountered or heard of the gold content being higher. This is what I suggest- we both already know the 1908 mint coin from Baines in 1921 has 3% more gold than what was struck. We can look at the details microscopically and form an opinion on wear. Though we don't know if both coins came from the same mold, so wear may not relevant. But we do know both came from Baines. We can't over-surmise until we get the chemistry back."
"Well give me a look, Brodski. I want to see anyway."
Brodski adjusted the scope's platform for side by side viewing. Each coin beneath its stamped bag was then affixed on the same face with a label. (1) and (2). These would be the first non-viewing faces, each stickered side placed precisely on the slide. Brodski handled his specimens with complete focus, working without haste. Even with a mere (1) and (2), distraction could become the Achilles of a right conclusion.
"Okay, Pete. You get the first look. Take your time and write your notes."
"Then I'll do the same."
Saturday morning the women of IC were up at 5:00 AM. The night aide left at 6:00, having prepared the baby food cart for Elinore and Cherrie to takeover while Nurse Hazen rustled up breakfast for herself and the four toddlers in residence at the moment. How she managed it, Elinore couldn't fathom. She couldn't have done it.
There was not so much to manage for infant feeding as none of the babies were mobile, nor did they ever cry. Dr. Gower made his rounds at that time, observing each baby's swallowing.
Elinore did bottles, while older babies were Cherrie's pride and joy. There were fifteen hydroencephalics that day. In either case the little ones seldom opened their eyes and swallowed their nourishment by spasm. Cherrie's babies had the same food always, in little blue bowls. It looked like peanut butter paste in a way, but was more orange in color, and thinner. It slid right into the mouth from the tiny spoons. Nurse Hazen had shown her to wait till the baby's head tilted back into the pillow, and the mouth would open. That was when to feed.
She felt such tenderness for the helpless babies, shut away in just one room, never making noise. She kissed the mis-shapen heads, never ceasing to try and wake them. It was a suitable vocation for the growing girl. Despite her gullibility, the girl had responded to the inmates of IC at once. They needed her, Cherrie believed.
Nurse Hazen was quick to perceive a calling. She and Dr.Gower knew how rare an event this was at The Home. Callings of the feeble minded had to be recognized and fostered. They arranged the transfer from her dorm to IC.
In the family home, with support of the natural family, dedication to an occupational lifestyle was more likely to be sustained. Though this was the desired outcome and purpose for many inmates of The Home, once grown, all depends on acceptance of the family, if there is one, or an appropriate employment arrangement, if there is to be hope of social integration.
Cherrie had no family, but she adored the rejected babies no one wanted to see. She loved washing and drying sheets and bedding, and she idolized Nurse Hazen. Helen knew Elinore would not linger when she reached majority. Cherrie stood a good chance of remaining in IC as a service worker. She would not be able to pass the aide's test, though the work she performed was practically that of an aide, and meticulously done.
On the other hand, trained aides lasted at the cottage for a month on average. Nurse Helen Hazen worked in a setting almost no one could tolerate. She wanted it for that reason. Mental defectiveness had been her interest at school, a sparsely populated curriculum. She may have accepted her position at IC because she knew she would be left to herself, though in reality, caring for the deformed, hopeless and abandoned was her calling. Her brusque demeanor was a disguise. There were enough people around who believed the infants should not be fed until they died. She never let outsiders see her as sympathetic. Nurse Hazen was thought of as stern.
She believed it was her duty now to let Cherrie mature, occupied by her mission to serve this select group of humanity. Would she lose interest? Except for her rapidly budding figure, it was as yet unknown if Cherrie or how Cherrie was going to grow further in her mind. Dr. Gower tested her mental abilities as around eight years, when she turned fourteen. For The Home it was not a bad score, almost too high; she had to be allowed reasonable freedom to explore the boundaries of her community and to know or enter the various buildings.
It was her lack of resistance to the temptations of a child, her trusting all at The Home as friendly people, that exposed her to danger.
After the Bobby Britt incident, the doctor, nurse, Elinore, Fritz and Berthe formalized a watch amongst themselves. IC was covered, with views from the women's rooms and kitchen of the gravelroad and gate, and that corner of the wheat field across the gravel road. Elinore had duties in the school, and Cherrie had her own classroom during the school hours. If it were not a Wednesday or Saturday, her laundry days, Cherrie enjoyed wandering and talking to whomever would converse.
East of the facility buildings the gardens were cultivated up to the hothouses and cold frames. The hothouse doors faced the road. Further from the road and south were the Mullers' quarters where Cherrie could count on something tasty to eat and drink in Berthe's kitchen. Past the Mullers were maintenance sheds, then a wire fence. This was the boundary between the Home and Farm, though only the shared eastern border was divided.
The gravel road ran east to the paved road frontage of Baines house and entrance to the Boys Farm, the other boundary. Standing at the gate behind IC, the boys dorms, out buildings and Baines roof could barely be seen at the far end of the wheat, which grew westward into the sunset.
Baines never drove his motorcar on the gravel road. In his car he departed from his residence garage. But Wednesdays he made deliveries in his International, though he often had excuse to be close to the Home because of farm servicing sheds peppering the length of the gravel road. He had two kilns where something was always in the works. It was metal shop and ceramics for the Boys.
Thus was born an organized watch over the innocent girl. Nurse Hazen and Elinore covered the gate and clotheslines, Berthe the more southern sect, where the hothouse opened onto the road, and Fritz kept his eye on the outbuildings and wheat. Cherrie would not go past the wire fence on her side of the road which divided fields of the Farm from the Home. It was too far for her, while what lay beyond the fencing stretched into what may as well have been another galaxy. It was unfocused in her sight.
This Saturday, after their work, Cherrie and Elinore decided to survey the picnic areas, toting sandwiches and a bottle of milk, to choose the most appropriate place for the interview with Gil Piner. Near the dining room and separate kitchen buildings was a brick patio with eight long tables, covered with an A-frame roof. It was used for special events for the Home residents, by visitors, and in summer for light suppers outdoors.
Elsewhere on the grounds were a few accent stone tables and benches from which to enjoy Fritz's master gardening.
"Let's go to a table in the gardens," Cherrie drawled, her pleasure over Elinore having a visitor so great she took off at a pace, for she had a place in the gardens in mind.
It was by far the most beautiful table at this time of year, a petit stone table with stone benches set on a flagstone surface Fritz had artfully laid. The placement was in a slight nook in the hedges, on each side were old Bridalveil Spiraea. The two sat opposite each other, unwrapping their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the IC kitchen. In a breeze, tiny white blossoms of Spiraea dropped to the table, and were on the flagstones all around them.
"Isn't this pretty here, Elinore?"
"Cherrie, did you find this part of the garden by yourself? I suppose I haven't been very interested in the flowers this year. Yes, it is beautiful, and altogether not a good place for my inerview! I think having lunch on the big tables is what we will do."
"What is an interview for?"
"Well, I asked Mr. Piner that myself, when he asked me. Fritz was hopping up and down like a flea trying to get me to say yes."
"Mr. Piner writes stories for the newspaper. He wants to write a story about the Home, because he likes Dr. Gower."
"Dr. Gower took me to the special luncheon to help people understand the Home better. In town, people don't know about many things we in the Home can do, important things."
"Like the laundry," Cherrie laughed. "The sheets are really important in IC, aren't they?"
"Oh yes, very! What if no one took care of the sheets and blankets for the babies? "
"The laundry ladies don't want to do it. They told me. They said the babies use more sheets than a dorm. The sheets make too much work for the mangler. The way I pin the sheets they are flat and soft. I'm not allowed to use the mangler.They said one year it tore the whole arm off a little girl."
"I don't remember anything like that happening here! They are just making sure you will stay away. It is very dangerous. I would be afraid of it. Anyway, Nurse Hazen and I agree there is nothing so fresh and comfortable as Cherrie's sheets to climb into at the end of the day."
They were making their way back toward IC, though the laundry buildings were closer. Cherrie stopped.
"After lunch on Saturday, I have some work to do, Elinore. So I'm going on in. 'Bye."
Elinore as well worked two hours after Saturday lunch, in the unit office, where her window offered a full view of the clotheslines, part of the gravel road, and a section of he wheatfields on the other side. On the desk was Mr. Piner's business card where she had left it in the letter tray after first showing Nurse Hazen after the Wednesday luncheon.
"I should have signed him in Thursday or Friday. I'd best go to Admin and register him now, " she worried.
"Why did I wait so long? So, I can catch up here after this errand. I've nothing all afternoon. Though how mortifying if I didn't remember to place Mr. Piner in the Visitor Register!"
Tucking the card into her skirt pocket, Elinore Carpenter walked downhill, past the Dining Hall, past the lawns that turn in to the viewing grounds, to the frontage building of The Home for the Feeble Minded.
The Main Building sat in the middle of the plat, set back some 150' from the ends of an immense half-circular driveway letting out on each end onto the main road. It was an acclaimed work in architecture, for its ornate masonry, moldings and turret. Without Fritz Muller's Swiss-skilled hand with pruners and flowerbeds, it might have been spooky, imposing on a county road with nothing around but crops, pasture, and a spotting of the least desirable development giving way to spoil lands and wilderness. Though on postcards and public photos, with the residents and staff in a pleasant arrangement using the semi-circular drive, The Home was a magnificent achievement and had the apperance of the finest private sanitarium.
Fritz saw spied Elinore's stately presence as she was descending the long slope toward the Main. He was actually off-grounds. Superintendant Hornaday had called him to come spray for mites in some pruned evergreens around the entryway to his house. Though much closer to the brick road, the Superintendant's home was sited about even with the Main, allowing ample views from the house of coming and goings, few as they were on the expansive driveway, as well as residents and staff entering and leaving the building.
Nurse Hazen had not noticed Elinore was absent from her desk. Two babies had expired during the week and she was training the ward aides in the routine of sanitization and preparing beds, pressed by the county hospital wanting to transport two infants to IC right away.
On the other side of the Main and the gardens at the Muller cottage, Berthe was washing dishes whens she felt a stinging in her eye. Earlier she had heard Baines truck heading towards the outbuildings nearest the cottage. Baines was burning trash behind the buildings. Having left early to spray, Fritz had slid open the loading door, the morning was so warm, to make it more pleasant when Berthe would come out to weed.
She left her step onto the path to the hothouses where she could enter from the house side.
"He will ruin our plants, without even thinking," Berthe knew. She managed the wide sliding door facing the road on her own, shutting it off to barricade the wisps of smoke. Though her schedule was now off for the afternoon, already feeling overwhelmed with heat in the slightly ventilated greenhouse, she could not weed..
"As long I see the smoking, I will know where he is at least."
She did not trust the slick man Baines from her first sight of him. His expression had molded itself to chill the bones of any defiant boy in his charge. He never was dressed in farming clothes, or old clothes, and kept extra boots in his truck he put on if by chance he should have to step out into the mud.
However, now Berthe began to think about Cherrie, and the time, and that Fritz was not in the gardens. Elinore would have her eye on the gravel road, but Berthe could not be in the hothouse, and she was the one who knew that Baines was close to the Home. To put her mind at rest, she decided to walk over to the laundry buildings and get away from the irritating smoke.
Fritz had finished spraying earlier that morning.It had to be dry before the sun was too hot. Mrs. Hornaday asked him to move some pottery and help her level her tree bench. Now it was after lunchtime, he was hungry. He decided to try and intercept Elinore when she left the Main again. Why wasn't she in her office?
Saturdays and Sundays were the most anxious days for Cherrie's secret guardians. Most of the week Cherrie was on her class schedule or in the population. They knew Baines' Wednesday routine, but weekends the schedule was slightly relaxed on Saturdays, in anticipation of Chapel Sunday morning, Sunday Dinner, Visitors, then Vespers.
The agile gardener wrapped his sprayer in its canvas case and slung its wide strap across his body, hoping Mrs. Hornaday would not notice as he crossed the brick road, walked along a holly hedge to the corner, then turned left toward the drive up to the Main.
The Home for the Feeble Minded was architected by Masons of the 33rd degree, in the age between Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau. The turret of the Main Building was one of few in the county, highly favored by nesting birds.
"They can see everything that's going on here," Cherrie once remarked in one of her imaginative conversations with Elinore.
"Do you think they fly as far away as down town?"
"Down town I see them on the phone wires, Elinore. They are listening to people talk on the phone."
On this Saturday afternoon, the turret birds were the best and only witnesses to the whole of a misfortunate play below them on the grounds. It was almost all at once that the commotion commenced.
Fritz was puttering around the cedars flanking the entryway to the Main when Elinore emerged.
Eastward on the Farm side of the gravel road, Baines was behind a tractor shed, tossing paper wrapped packages into a steel drum for burning . Cherrie, on her way to the laundry saw the smoke and could not resist. Open fires and smoke were never seen around the Home.
She was not supposed to pass Fritz's greenhouse on the gravel road, but the rolling bluish smoke behind the shed easily overcame all the careful training of Nurse Hazen, Dr. Gower, Fritz, Berthe, and Elinore. She switched her direction towards the laundry about the time Berthe had shut the greenhouse door, and turned back toward the cottage, and there was no one but the turret birds to see Cherrie stride swiftly on her long legs past the greenhouse toward the tractor shed.
The cottage being downhill from the road and laundry, Berthe and Cherrie passed each other unseen, the curious girl on the road screened from Berthe who was puffing her way uphill to the laundry buildings.
"Fritz!" Elinore called out as he pretended to stop work on the shrubs.
"I am all set for tomorrow. Mr. Piner is on my Visitor List for noon tomorrow, and I left his card in the basin."
"That is very good, of course, but where is Cherrie now?"
"Oh, she said she was going into the laundry, but I did not walk her all the way there, Fritz."
"Okay, let's go now."
"What is Baines doing burning so close to us?" Fritz's fair complexion was red with fury.
Berthe spied the two hurrying uphill and scurried to intercept them, "Cherrie is not in the laundry. No one has seen her there today."
Fritz had already concluded ,"He has her. I am going to the fire."
"And I am going."
"No, Berthe, stay with Elinore. If it is something bad, we should not both see it."
For Fritz and Berthe were grateful for their employment, though without their Alpine expertise the Home would not have become noted for its splendid grounds. It would not have looked so wonderful on the donations postcards sent out annually. However, the residents were not part of their work, as laid down by Superintendant Hornaday. They could make friendships, but any matters of a resident's care or behavior was not to be discussed with staff or off-grounds. The couple had already jeopardized their security, conspiring with Dr. Gower and Nurse Hazen to keep Cherrie safe.
When Dr. Parker whipped up his corner of the state on forced sterilizations, it was inevitable that Elinore, whom the Mullers had known since she was eight years old, would go to Berthe with her fears, while Dr. Gower said he would find a way to keep her out of the loop.
Only the turret nesters could see the whole picture from their peak above the Home. In the interim of discovering both a fire and the missing girl, Cherrie reached the tractor shed where bits of ash were falling out of the air and a plume of smoke streaked skyward from around the back.
"If the Farm is burning, I have to tell! There isn't anyone here."
"I'm not supposed to be here," Cherrie finally remembered. She was going to cry, but made her way through the weeds to the back of the shed where Baines stood downwind of his offensive air, poking into the steel drum with a stick.
"Hi, Mr. Baines."
Taken off-guard, being caught at his fire by a defective, he also delighted in the circumstance which had led the girl so far from the Home.
"I thought the hay was burning, Mr. Baines. I didn't see anyone."
Baines dropped his poker and adopted a helpful demeanor as he approached Cherrie. He had to be very careful not to spook her, he knew from many experienced approaches.
"I'm going to be in trouble."
"Naw, you'll be fine. I won't say you were here. You just have to get yourself back. I'll help you out to the road."
Cherrie was quicker, and a runner. The moment she felt the sensation of his skin she sprinted forward with all her might, before he could close his hand around her neck.
"Get back here, stupid girl." Baines chased her around the side of the shed onto the road, where she still had several yards on him. The toe of her shoe hit a large stone and Cherrie slid hard. hands and knees onto the gravel, just short of the greenhouse. Baines caught up to her on the ground just as Fritz came out onto the gravel road from behind the laundry.
"Oh, dear God," Fritz muttered as he ran into the fray.
Baines was yelling, Cherrie was on the road bleeding and crying.
"What is she doing down here? This is a Farm. We can't have them down here, especially her! I'm going to Hornaday right now."
"Elinore, Elinore," Cherrie was sobbing repeatedly. Her knees and elbows were ragged from the quarried gravel and she would not try and stand.
"Cherrie, don't cry, little dear, Fritz will help you." The tender-hearted man was trying to think fast how to not complicate the fact he knew Baines had chased her into a fall, and how get her to IC without being let go for interfering. Fritz had seen Baines slither the first gold coin into Cherrie's dress pocket. That was the problem, from his perspective. He confided in Dr. Gower rather than go to the Superintendant.
Now the women watched through a small slit in the blinds as the infuriated Mr. Baines, stepping oddly so as not to damage his shoes on the road, while trying to maintain his angry stride, turned at the footpath behind the holly, towards the Hornaday house. Berthe and Elinor flew out of the cottage door onto the gravel road where they saw Fritz waving them to come where he was standing near Cherrie wounded and sobbing on the road.
Over years Elinore relied on Dr. Gower's training to confront the overwheming, to keep her focus on action versus fear, as part of her therapy to interrupt pathways to her seizures. Since she had never had seizures till a mid-childhood trauma, Dr. Gower believed they may be an induced nervous disorder, rather than symptoms of inherited disease.
"Let the brain control the nervous system, not the nerves control the brain," was the principle he gave her.
Helen Hazen was amused when Elinore discussed it her.
"I would say, control your emotions, don't let them control you. Though Dr. Gower's science is correct, I am interested to know more about the feelings and emotions system. As women we get blamed for it, and sold pills and supplements."
As she drew closer to the long limbed girl, bleeding and postured like a broken sparrow, for an instant, jabs of terror drained her life away into a fog of electric tendrils, so they seemed. Elinore was lingering on the brink of a seizure or fainting. Fritz, who had been trying to soothe Cherrie while keeping a proper distance, had no hesitation rushing to steady Elinore by the elbow. He had seen a lady swoon to the ground more than once, and to not help her could result in injury.
"Oh, Elinore, look at my peach dress! There's blood on it, and blood all over my socks," Cherrie mourned.
Berthe meanwhile arrived, taking her place by Fritz. In this situation, there was no one present authoized to touch Cherrie except Elinore, as her cottage mate and supervisor of infants.
Elinore dabbed her handerchief gently around the wounded one's beep brown eyes, and around her neck, where soot had stuck to her sweat.
"It is all right, Cherrie. We will fix everything when we get you back to your room. Let me see your elbows and knees, dear. Are you hurting very much?"
"It hurts Elinore. Mr. Baines is going to tell the Superintendant! I came too far. The smoke made me forget I was past the greenhouse."
"No, it is not your fault at all. Mr. Baines should not be allowed so close to the Home." Elinore was masking her true fury. Cherrie would have thought any anger would be because of her going out of bounds."Now, nothing looks like it is swelling, but you really skinned your knees. Can you stand up if you hold onto both my arms and I pull you up?"
"I can stand up, Elinore. I want to go to my room, and I want some bandages."
Fritz spoke up," Miss Elinore, unless you need us to get a nurse or aide, it is better that Berthe and I go back home."
"I only want Elinore, please," Cherrie cried with her best manners.
"Yes, go. We can go slowly, and hopefully no one will see us up on the road. She can do it. The aides would scurry around and put her on a stretcher. The stories would be endless. This will be our secret, Cherrie. Nurse Hazen and Dr. Gower will help us."
"I don't want to go to the Superintendant! I am so afraid of him Elinore!"
"Oh, he is a kitty cat, dear. He can not do anything to you. Maybe you will have to lose privileges is the worst."
Arms around each other's waists the two made their way slowly along the grassy bank edging the road, behind the hedges, past the laundry where clothes hid their course. They continued to the end of the cottage and circled around to the front door, altogether unnoticed as the Home below them was engrossed in its Saturday afternoon routine before dinner.
"Everything is normal except me, "Cherrie fretted to herself.
Nurse Hazen was ready with first aid in Cherrie's room, where the door could be closed and the aides could keep the toddlers away.
"All right, let's see. This looks like a run, fall and scrape, to me, how about you, Elinore?"
"Aaaagghhhh! "Cherrie howled as Nurse Hazen spring droppered the hated iodine onto one knee. "No iodine!"
Nurse Hazen had to distract Cherries with questions as she systematically dressed the wounds.
"Cherrie, did you remember our Fire Safety Rule?"
"What about now, what do we do if we see or smell smoke?"
"We walk away and leave if it is inside, and find an adult. If you see it from outside a building, run and find an adult."
"Now, think carefully and tell us about how you skinned your knees and elbows so awfully. You're going to be very sore for a few days."
Elinore removed the scuffed shoes and bloodied socks.
"Cherrie, Nurse Hazen and I are going to very carefully pull your dress over your head so I can get it soaking. We don't want to touch your elbows, so hold your arms up very still and they won't touch the dress."
"This is my newest dress, Elinore, my new peach dress."
"What's this?" Elinore very carefully plucked the curiosity out of Cherrie's hair for all to see.
"Is it a stamp?"
"Yes, you are right!, " Nurse Hazen rapidly replied. "Let's put it away in a jar for now so we don't lose it."
The older women knew it was something else engraved, not a stamp, but without causing a stir hoped to remove it from Cherries sight and memory before she made a story about it, as well as so they could get a closer look at it later.
"Elinore, I'd like you to wrap her knees and elbows well with gauze, so she is padded."
Three familiar knocks heralding Dr. Gower's opening the front door resounded with his manly authority, bringing instant comfort and relief to the crisis. He was their only defender, the two women and a child-woman, supplying life to a handful of forgotten defectives and a ward of the terminally deformed. He was the only living man who knew and understood their purpose and importance.
Nurse Hazen met him in the front room where they could whisper alone briefly.
"Hornaday has called me, Helen, about Cherrie. Baines has made a complaint. He says she's a danger to the boys and herself."
"We had to get her calm. No sprains o breaks.She's skinned pretty badly from the gravel, but more distressed about going out of bounds."
The doctor turned down the little hall and opened the door to Cherrie's room. She was laid out on her bed like an automobile accident victim, with plenteous guaze showing past the sleeves and hemline of her tie-on gown.
"Hi, Dr. Gower."
"Cherrie, what has happened to you?"
"I fell on the road when I was running."
He gently moved her chin side to side and aimed his light into her pupils.
"Why were you running?"
"To get away!"
"To get away from where?"
Cherrie risked the pain moving her arms to pull her quilt up over her face to hide. "The barn."
"I see. The barn is on the Farm. Why did you walk that far?"
"I don't know! I was going to laundry hour and I saw blue smoke near the greenhouses," came the muffled voice beneath the quilt. Then it was more, and blacker, but I saw it was far away behind the barn. "
"Then you started running back to the laundry and fell?"
"I forgot the rule, Dr. Gower. I went to see the fire. And Mr. Baines was there. He was mad, then he said he would help me back to the road. I started running and he started running. "
"I understand, Cherrie. Here is what I want you to do. Until you don't need big bandages I want you to stay in IC. People will ask questions if they see you, and then you know what stories they make of it! If we are very quiet, no one needs to know about what is your private case."
"Then I don't have to go to Chapel tomorrow?"
"Oh, no. I don't think you will feel up to it. And I want you to stay away fom the babies until I see some healing."
Her face emerging, Cherrie could not stand another moment of her torment, "Dr. Gower, please don't make me go to the Superintendant."
"Cherrie, you are my patient. Don't get worried because you forgot the fire rule. Nurse Hazen and I are in charge of you. For now, you remember my rule to stay inside IC until I tell you. It is not punishment. It is to stop stories, okay?"
"Will I be in trouble?
"Not if you stay out of sight! And that means the sight of Mr. Baines and Mr. Hornaday especially. I'd like you to try and nap now, so I'm going to close your door and go out to the kitchen and have a coffee, if I can get one. I'll see you tomorrow, Cherrie."
"Good-bye, Dr. Gower."
Anticipating Baines, he practically had his hand on the receiver when the ring came.
"Parker, it's time for you to call a meeting. We've had a situation here you might find useful to the cause."
"It's Saturday, Elliot. I hope it is useful."
"Baines has just been here shouting about the fourteen year-old girl. She was on the farm playing around a tractor shed. If something happens to her with a boy, you're to blame, he says."
"What are your dinner plans, then? I'll make it an emergency dinner, and no wives of course. Venetian Room at 8:30?"
The heat of the brandy strengthened Hornaday. He would not ordinarily dine in the Venetian Room. Parker dwelt in a strata some layers over Hornaday, though the Superintendant was not without importance to the community. The Home was an important source of state funds and donations which were held in the county banks.
"Fine, we'll be there. I hope you have enough time."
Dr. Parker emphasized his authority by hanging up with no goodbye.
In the Muller cottage, Fritz and Berthe held hands across their kitchen table and said a prayer for Cherrie.
"Berthe, oh I wish you had not seen her on the Farm land. Even I did not want to see, but the poor child!"
"It is all my fault," Berthe was weeping, "I closed the greenhouse, or I would have seen her going past.What will Mr.Baines do?"
"To us, nothing, my dear. I want you to say nothing to anyone. I am going up to IC and see what has happened. Put on our supper, and when I come back you will hear about Cherrie."
At the larger kitchen table, in IC, Elinore, Dr. Gower and Nurse Hazen were gathered around a microscope when Fritz arrived at the back door.
"Should we hide this?" Elinore asked quickly.
"No point. He knows everything else, "Dr. Gower replied, "and excuse me for saying that we may benefit from having another man as a witness if we need one."
"And so what is this?"
Fritz was upon them before they could have concealed their doings anyway.
"Fritz, it is a piece of something Baines was burning." Elinore giggled a little, "We found it in Cherrie's hair."
"What do you think, Fritz? " the doctor invited, moving from the chair before the microscope.
The gardener was not inexperienced with scopes and magnifiers. In Switzerland he cross-pollinated, examined seeds, and now he was thinking what this paper reminded him of-
"It's not money. I think an engraved note or bond. There's no color, like the paper in the railroad bonds. How is the girl, Dr. Gower?"
"She is mostly just frightened, Fritz. But we are going to change her schedule. No more coins. After school, she'll do her sheets on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. But for now I want her to stay in so no one sees her wrapped up in gauze. She needs the gauze to protect those scrapes from more harm. In about a week we'll re-evaluate, but Nurse Hazen and Elinore, you'll have to keep her occupied, on top of everthing else."
Fritz re-focused the microscope for a last look at the scrap. "What about this?"
"I'm taking care of it." No one knew of Agent Kelso. "It makes me wonder," the doctor went on, "if this is why he was open-burning out in the crop lands instead of his usual site at the loading area. I don't think he expected to lure Cherrie with this- she just caught him by surprise."
"Dr. Gower, tomorrow is my interview with the newspaper man."
"There's no doubt you are thoroughly prepared to supply facts. He's not coming for an interest story about life in the home, Elinore. He wants information to counter Parker's statements. He's astute, picking you out right away for the deeper story."
"There's not another woman here more qualified to speak for them all, or with more at stake," Nurse Hazen added. "This is destiny. Don't be embarrassed by the biology. Hah! I bet you will make him blush with a practical discussion."
Dr. Gower packed up his microscope with a small sample bottle holding the scrap.
"I'm going home to call Libby. This is a woman's cause as enticing as any. Perhaps some press might bring her around back into our lives. I hope there is a photographer."
The group parted down their separate hallways and out front doors and back doors, as Cherrie slept away the afternoon.
Traces of the disastrous smoke of earlier in the day now carried away, Fritz inhaled deeply the vapors of Berthe's chicken and noodles as he neared the little house, trimmed in neat flower beds, on every side. It was a wonderful house to have, compared to many, he knew, but it was not theirs, and the man had never been comfortable, free of unseen threats which could uproot their household in an instant.
"Cherrie is fine, my dear," Fritz smiled with assurance as Berthe turned anxiously to study his face.
"Fritz, are you telling me the truth?"
"Of course, Berthe. She is too fast for Baines! But, he has gone to the Superintendant about it, and told we don't know what kind of story."
Berthe placed a savory steaming tureen on the table and firmly guided Fritz into his chair. Serving the meal, she could not hold back the torrent of thoughts she had been dealing with while her husband was gone.
"Fritz, I want Cherrie to be part of our family, and for us all to go to a new place. I know you love her too, Fritz, and think how she will help us, as our own child would. She can't stay here. I know what will happen. They will do the operation, but it will not change her figure. She will be raped always, and I cannot live to see it."
"I do not disagree with you, Berthe. It is the 'new place' which befuddles me, and how we could adopt Cherrie. It is a wonderful idea except for those two not so small complications."
"My wonderful husband, you have had this same idea!"
"Hmmm. Yes. It appears so, and now is the time to talk about it seriously Berthe. To live on our own, I can take jobs through the universities, or, at worst be a contract gardener. In that case we would have to live in town somewhere."
"Then of course you will not be surprised if I tell you I have also made inquiries to my cousin Marianne."
"Do you mean the cousin with the florist shop which is the talk of her town-"
"-which is seventy miles from here," Berthe continued the sentence.
"You know what an eye I have for flowers, Fritz. The shop decorates for large occasions. Marianne is sympathetic. Cherrie has been trained so well. In the shop and hothouse there are chores she already does. There is a whole routine waiting for her- a real life!"
"Okay, then think about us leaving to have our own house one day. Elinore will be gone. Dr. Gower may leave, especially if Libby wants to go. Cherrie will have Helen and that is all. Helen will never leave. We are her best company, all of us together. She has her classes, Fritz, but in all these years there hasn't been a close match for Cherrie to have as a friend. "
Fritz chuckled lightly. "Okay. More soup, please Berthe!"
"If we had had babies, Cherrie might have been born to us. Wouldn't we want her to have the best life she can, to find God's place for her? I will not think Cherrie is a mistake of God."
"Dr. Parker thinks so."
"That is heresy."
Berthe had been making their coffee as Fritz filled his deep pipe.
"Then what stumps me Berthe is the adoption. When to do it. Yes I have been thinking like you. Dr. Gower is her guardian, naturally he would help us in every way. But most everyone else will interfere, making things difficult for him. Cherrie is a gold chip for the Home if Parker gets funding for his clinic. He has already had her photographed."
"Oh, Fritz, no. It is time for her to go now. Which is why Marianne has found Mr. Spotts for us."
Dr. Gower left IC for the dining hall where he sought out Mrs.Hawkins, the supervisor. Since Libby had been gone, Saturdays he had accepted her kind offer to stop by before the dinner hour for a generously packed meal box to have at home, hopefully with a quiet evening.
"Your favorite tonight, Dr. Gower," the matron glowed from beneath her bushy mop of white hair. "Chicken and yellow gravy over rice, string beans, corn bread, and I packed two bowls of cobbler, one for your breakfast."
"Mrs. Hawkins, your scrumptious dinners are the kindest sort of comfort at the end of the week. You can see I've become a little lighter without Libby in the kitchen."
"Well, we do our best here you know, for the residents. A lot of them won't eat anything if it isn't very tasty. The food has to taste good. "
"The aroma from your picnic box is credential enough! Thank you very much, Mrs. Hawkins. "
Libby's absence from the Gower household had induced reclusiveness in her husband's routine, time alone he needed for ongoing study, time to fortify himself against an opinionated group of overseers who understood none of the medical nuances he struggled with. He would not allow a housekeeper in without Libby, so he had been living as neatly as possible, mostly in his office, and now, somehow, living a secret life.
Downtown had taken on a blush ambience Saturday evenings, and every evening since the gas lanterns had been replaced by The Town Street Light Company. About 70% of the lights were functional. Finnell was President of the concern which in his favor he had litigated into existence, then litigated the gas lamps out of existence. He had also litigated the Home for the Feeble Minded to be placed in his far-off county, "too far from the federal arm of the law," an Indian agent once wrote The White Father.
The Home was bread and butter for a few of the Bank directors, whom the bank entrusted with state funding to become contractors of the Home. The Trust Department managed any private funds deposited for the use and enjoyment of residents, if such were the case. The majority of the residents were wards of the state. For these, the Donor's Trust was managed to pay for deficits in school and housekeeping supplies not covered by paying residents.
Finnell was related by marriage to Dr. Parker, and to Whitbeck, the Bank President.
"At least Baines will be shut out of the dinner," Hornaday thought, to console himself. " He is not their society by a hoot.'
Baines was a cousin of Parker. The Superintendant will not be able to complain about the nature of today's invasion, when Baines without notice stomped onto the Hornaday porch, calling out without knocking or using the bell.
"Hornaday! You have trouble, Hornaday and it's causing me trouble, and I'm not having it!"
The Superintendant's imposing figure came into focus behind his screen door.
"I'd invite you in, Baines, but Margaret has a spring cold. Though, whatever it is we have to discuss, perhaps we should walk 'round to the back terrace for privacy."
"This has nothing to do with privacy," Baines growled threateningly, though he trudged behind the more respected man as suggested.
"I've eighty boys under control down there, no aides and nurses, or gardeners such as you have here. Why can't you keep your retards off my farm! That girl-woman is a danger to my boys, and to herself. How many Bobby Britts are we going to have, punished because of her? Today I caught her on the Farm, fooling around the tractor shed."
"She never walks past the greenhouses."
"Exactly. She didn't before, and now she is. What happens if she gets down to the dormitories?"
"I'm certain there is a reasonable explanation, or way we can amend this. I am very sorry, Mr.Baines. I agree no residents here are safe on the Farm unsupervised. But this is special circumstance. Please give me a chance to ask around here what happened."
"Nah, too late, Hornaday. I'm going to slam you my own way."
So here he was, catapulted from a usually well-needed sedate Saturday evening at home with Margaret, to looking down dimly lit streets for the town's most glorified hotel. The Venetian Room is a place the practical-minded man would never have chosen, much less his table of dinner companions, all at once, that is. There was no doubt in Elliot Hornaday's mind, Parker's facts of the day would be thoroughly colored by cousin Delbert Parker Baines, though the dinner meeting would exclude him.
And there they were- the pillars of town framed by marble pillars, against a backdrop of silver-leaf wallpaper, pink linens, and various chandeliers. Perhaps they had agreed to meet before the Superintendant arrived, as he noted from the front desk they looked obviously settled in with partially consumed drinks, crackers, and butter dishes on the table. It was precisely 8:30.
"Am I late?" he queried as the group partially rose to greet him."
"Sit down, Elliot, what will you have to drink? "
"Plain tonic water, I think. Chapel tomorrow and Visitors, you know. I'm usually ready to retire not long from now."
"Well, we went ahead and ordered the roast beef for everyone. We'll make the dinner worth your lost sleep, but we'll still get down to business right away." Finnell, as lawyer, generally spoke for the group except, when Parker needed to exert his medical authority, and he generally asked all the questions for everyone as well.
"What about this afternoon?" was first on everyone's mind.
Elliot cleared his throat. He hoped with all his might he had blinded Dr Parker by playing sympathetic to his politics, for he constructed a snare for Baines. "There was a misunderstanding and small accident concerning the adolescent girl in IC. It is staff and I who must remedy and live with the situation, Mr. Finnell. I'm dealing with this through Dr. Gower who insists the girl should not feel threatened, and he is physician and her Guardian."
"And I am trying to ward off the disaster of rape or unexplained pregnancies in our institution to house defectives in their own place. Most of them should never have been born to such a quality of life. Breeding is out of the question! This girl won't be the first to pop up with a body that could become the subject of the Boys Farm," was Parker's prepared statement.
He went on, " And she caused one of Baines' charges to be transferred out but a few months ago. She's fourteen now, and friendly as a piddlin' pup to anyone who speaks to her."
Elliot took his shot. "Dr. Parker, I understand Mr. Baines' intolerance of any resident of the Home being on the Farm, we all know why it is necessary. I said there was a misunderstanding- we have to watch over the mobile residents like children, regardless of their age. The girl went just over the boundary of the Farm because Baines was open burning behind a shed and putting out quite a smoke, I was told by Dr. Gower."
"Burning!" Whitbeck interjected with a note of alarm.
"Yes, that is the point," Elliot pushed forward, "his burning is done 40 acres from the Home. He argues that my residents pose danger to themselves on the Farm, but it might be said he created a dangerous attraction with smoke so near the Home, and near a structure bordering their wheat."
"Nevertheless," Finnell summarized, "the girl was on forbidden Farm property, so the offense is completely on your side Elliot."
"I'm not certain we can afford to wait for the project of annexing a sterilization unit to the Infirmary to be complete. It could be more than a year from now. Besides, the first hurdle is the governor. I'm off to the State House in that case." Dr. Parker fastidiously dabbed the streaks au jus from his chin with a pink linen napkin.
"What do you mean,?" Elliot asked.
"I mean we have hospitals eager to be part of our trials. The stockholders get paid."
The group finished their meringues jabbering about city county business, though Elliot was not privy, or interested. He was State, and, was appointed for his outstanding qualifications to the highest post he could hope to reach. Men like Hornaday and Gower were needed to promote the Home to donors or benefactors statewide. Unfortunately Dr. Parker was a barrier to the professional camaraderie he might have shared with his neighbor and associate Jim Gower. It would be easier to remove Hornaday's appointment than break Dr. Gower's contract, even with Finnell's hammer and tongs.
Gower had peer-reviewed articles opposing forced sterilizations; Parker had an obscure local High Society whose tentacles were inter-continental.
Hornaday's security was maintained by not questioning his Chief of Medicine so as to not become aware of anything contrary to Parker. He only wanted to know from Parker the social influences on the Home now and future, and from Dr. Gower, he only wanted to know the health status of the community.
Dr. Gower had never had a problem for superintending. Now he had to break silence with the Superintendant about the burning and trespass, to shield Cherrie. He had never, at the request of a Treasury Agent, reported Baines' Wednesday encounters with Cherrie at the northwest gate.
IC, Fritz, Berthe, and Dr. Gower were one big secret unto themselves. Fritz, Dr. Gower and Agent Kelso were another compartment of three. None of the ladies had information about the gold coins once they were given to Fritz. And Dr. Gower did not know anything beyond the name Mina Jones.
The doctor of medicine strode home quickly, and made himself comfortable with Mrs.Hawkins' comestibles. Leaving just a small lamp on in the hallway to light the stairs, he settled into Libby's plump armchair in their second-story room, for telephoning.
Though no phoning to colleagues, discussing medical work with a cronie or two.
Work as Chief of Medicine at the Home has changed, not what he thought it would be, Jim Gower tried joking to himself as he arranged phone books. He could not extract himself from it as not relevant, because the social considerations for girls like Cherrie who could grow to live in a family home and earn her keep, spanned seven years or more as a resident in the Home, from the onset of sexual maturity to a possible adult transition to semi-independence, or independence as in Elinore's case.
He was rankled that Baines believed he was free do what he wanted in his county position, as a Parker relation. How could he ever move against Baines when Finnell was the most powerful lawyer, possibly in the state, with similar relatives in other states? Baines in fact initially started trying to get close enough to Cherrie to talk to her when the sterilization crowd broke into the town media as a chapter of eugenics movement, Dr. Parker the authority.
The group on their own carried eugenics texts on family counseling, hygiene and population health into the realm of extirpation of what may be undesirable segments of the population. Dr. Gower did respond to his invitation to speak, but he may as well have been trying to end the slave trade.
Parker did not contradict their discussions when they wandered into the subject of sterilizing criminals and the pauper families. Parker was not a researcher. He was a general sort of doctor who lumped disorders of non-genetic origin together with the inherited. Serving the interests of the society which supported his family was his role; it was industry which grew the town.
First he dialed the Muller cottage.
"Fritz! I think that Baines will cause trouble, because you and Berthe knew he was chasing her."
"I think the same thing, Dr. Gower. Berthe and I have been talking- Baines should be the one to go, the most dangerous solution. This is not either of our work at all!"
"The county is in this state?"
"Yes. About seventy miles south and east. Berthe knows her work! Mr. Spotts has the papers for our part, we only need your Guardian's papers."
The Home was seldom a hunting ground for children to adopt- word of mouth generally assured the most capable residents, if oprhan, were taken into large families needing a hand. For medical and institutional expediency, Dr. Gower was made Legal Guardian of all orphans. The few specialized adoptions which had taken place during his employment were compassionate occasions. No one of bad intention would have passed the doctor's expert scrutiny. His wards were the most vulnerable of all orphans in the county, and the chance to make a good placement was a jewel. Adoptions were a valuable statistic for the Home.
"Seventy miles is a journey- a long time away. I would like to sign and notarize the papers in the county where she is going. What about asking Mr. Spotts to meet at a courthouse as close to here as possible, but over the line? Thursday or Friday, if possible. Can you be ready?"
"I was thinking, whatever happens, when the dust settles, I can come back for anything we leave behind. Doctor, I wish you could see Berthe weeping for the daughter she will have."
"Hopefully it can be late next week. We can't talk about it to her until we are on our way away- how do you think she will react? This is the Home and routine she knows. I have to take responsibility as her Guardian and doctor, knowing what we do about Baines. Have Mr. Spotts contact me in the evening this week, please."
"This is the best for all, isn't it? We could stay here, but why should Cherrie not have her chance to live in the big community?"
"That is why we will not be blocked," Dr. Gower went on. "Paying potential school families want evidence their child or relative can be taught and trained, and can give love, even to God, like Cherrie. What we have planned is adoption into a family who loves and understands her, integration into a useful productive life, opposing Parker's campaign to use her physical appeal as reason to subject her to surgery, pain, and invasion of dignity. It is possible Cherrie's offspring would have average or more intelligence. We have no early history to know what conditions were present during her birth, what her care was, before and after, or whether she may have ingested poison ever. I will be calling Libby tonight too. I need her back. I think the ladies will benefit from her support, and Libby needs to be part of this too."
Exhausted from the intensity of his first call, Jim sank back in the soothing chair to examine with a magnifying glass and a light tweezer, the burnt paper he had squirreled away from IC. To not be burning paper waste in the brick-walled burning bay was suspicious enough, as though this were something he didn't want the boys to see. It was typical of Baines' contemptuousness for the Home, to smother the tender greenhouse shoots in acrid smoke. He was rude to Fritz both as neighbor and fellow agrarian, though Baines' agricultural skill was directly related to whatever level had been reached by the waves of errant boys passing through, brought from their home farms.
The Boys Farm had garnered years of plaques, trophies and certificates to display, as a self-supporting, profitable project of the county, able to produce a fine income and house for Mr. Baines, marketable crops and hay. Many a boy floundering in vandalism and violence was reformed sufficiently by the age of twenty-one to become a farmer entrusted with a tenancy.
The Farm owned securities managed by the Trust Company. The Farm was given a special tax exemption for all state, county, and federal taxes due to its multi-faceted uses for youth correction without public funds. Baines gave his receipts to the Bank and deposited his pay checks. Baines never saw the accounting work. Regardless of what people may have imagined about the scheme, no one believed they could safely claim a public right to view the Farm's fiscal accounting. The Farm was Bank and Trust, Finnell territory, and as far from town as possible anyway. People were made to feel grateful the unpleasantries of the county had been distributed so well by the founders that today's families were free to live their lives with fewer worries.
On paper, the 640-acre Farm had no Board, no yearly reports or pamphlets, and was deeded to the Trust Company, Tr.
500 Hartnell St - Stokes Adobe 7,368 SF Retail Building Offered at $3,350,000 in Monterey, CA;The Mahoney & Associates Commercial Real Estate flyer describes the 500 Hartnell St. property as "a rare Central California leased investment opportunity," "historic," possessing "seven separate dining areas + outdoor patio" and the beneficiary of $1.2 million in 2010 renovations. It does not include the restaurant business itself, but instead a 10-year lease with parent company Coastal Luxury Management, which also operates Cannery Row Brewing Company and Pebble Beach Food & Wine.
Bernahl said it was a difficult decision to sell. But he’s in the middle of restructuring his business and among his challenges was ending up in U.S. Tax Court in San Francisco. Court documents from earlier this year indicated Coast was “attempting to sell an asset, the proceeds of which would cover … a portion of its outstanding tax liabilities.”
Document Number: 2010065498 Recording Date: 11/05/2010 01:17:43 PM Number Pages: 16 Names Grantor: BERNAHL NANCY L Grantee: WELLS FARGO BANK Legal Assessor Parcel Number: 015-292-009-00
O 2011023699 • ORDER Recording Date 04/25/2011 11:49 AM Grantor (2) EDGECOT INC Grantee (2) COASTAL LUXURY MANAGEMENT LLC 2011023699 • JUDGMENT Recording Date 04/25/2011 11:49 AM Grantor (2) EDGECOT INC Grantee (2) COASTAL LUXURY MANAGEMENT LLC
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