Sunday, March 6, 2011

Epilogue - 1965

Those words, I wrote as a young man. No-one, as far as I know, saw them but me.

In retrospect, it was clear as Alaskan sky that Mattie and I would get married. She grew into a fine woman; I am proud to say that Mrs. Wayne Kindall has conducted herself with great maturity. Her early life in the woods gave her a natural poise that made women’s girlishness look inane. For that, she has been nicknamed “the Alaska pill,” but she only grew in my esteem.

The whole truth never spilled out, but she composed a pastiche that made me look like a local hero for standing up to a Roosevelt-hater. Intentionally leaving the identity of my assailant unknown, her story and airbrushing of the truth introduced me to government society. I soon became a Roosevelt man of some renown, a progressive man attacked by a wild-eyed reactionary as the tale grew in the telling.

Yes, I got that government job. At first a clerk in the Civilian Conservation Corps, I became an administrator in the Social Security Administration at its start. My income had grown to the point where I could take in my parents, thus liberating Jake to provide for descendents instead of ancestors. My renown plus my fidelity to my own folks got me the plum job in Social Security. Unfortunately, my father did not pay any Social Security taxes so he didn’t qualify. I could have fixed it, but I took my responsibilities as a public trustee seriously.

My duties at Social Security, forcing me to learn about basic financial and actuarial matters, put me in good stead when I met Ralph again. As a good ad man does, he bent with the times and was tickled pink to be known as a “parlor pink.” He had set up his own shop, with a line that only grew when the farmer finally got his. Having sacrificed his country place, to his genuine sorrow, he had moved to New York and was looking at what were then white elephants in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Ralph had heard my legend, and was enthused to reconnect with me. He could truthfully claim to have known me ‘way back when, as could his father. I was tickled to find out that James had decided the bum’s life was no longer for him when President Roosevelt did something for the unemployed. When faced with the choice of a steady Civilian Conservation Corps job or a soft chair in a small stock brokerage firm, Willington & Farnsworth, he swiftly picked the latter. At first, he found it hard, hard luck not being a cause for esteem of a stock broker. With the good offices of his son, he floated above water by recommending Homestake to all and sundry. It was the company that made him. His few clients bragged about doubling and even tripling their capital by ‘37, and the few became many. Now, James’ hard-luck story, with lessons he had learned from his travail, became listened to.

I mention old James because it was he that brought me into the field myself. I had a story that ticked off many of my colleagues, but the managing partner could not argue with the accounts I brought in. Becoming known as “Red Wayne” did me some good, as there were Communists and “limousine liberals” with capital. They delighted in the story of me, the valiant agent of progress, being kidnapped and terrorized by a crazed and spiteful reactionary in wild Alaska. Mattie, now Matilda, wisely kept her own counsel. Having discovered the word “disinterested,” she used it as if it were her own.

Once old James retired, he handed over his accounts to yours truly. Ralph’s was one of them. After service in the OPA during wartime, not valiant but fitting for a desk-minding husband and father, I went from a moderate success to a big one, and eventually became a partner.

But I never lost the name “Red Wayne.” It would have gotten me in trouble during the day when McCarthy stalked the land, but Mattie saved me by unveiling some of her opinions she had kept to herself all those years. I had to agree that being jeered at was better than courting real trouble. I did defend myself with the term “broad-minded.” It fit the time when Alaska became a state, to my delight and her muted sorrow.

Ever since my own hard times, Fate has indeed smiled on me. Mattie and I were even blessed with five wonderful children.

But Priscilla, she’s beginning to bother me. Having discovered some half-crazy writer with a name like a broken typewriter, and having those strange opinions reinforced by a more acceptable lady playing the tune of a battle-axe, she’s been enthusing about following in my footsteps by becoming a research analyst!

And Mattie hasn’t helped at all! She’s gone “disinterested” again!

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