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Written By: Ransom Ware
Where will the people of summer be, when summer’s gone? That was a question I read once in a novel which, I’ve been told, was actually written by someone who lives in our city. And maybe I read too much into that question, but to me it always asked what will become of this nation when its majority of people no longer belong to the ethnicity which currently comprises its largest segment.
Today it seems as though a lot of people think that just because some people abused others long ago, we who are alive today should try to somehow “right” what can never be undone. I mean, those things happened, so move on. And by the way, it seems that phrase “move on” is being used today by certain people who want us to forget about abuses that were committed by leftists of the past and present, while we should not forget about, and indeed should dwell upon the misdeeds of those who are (or were) conservatives.
And, curiously, it also seems rather strange that in a time when many Americans have what seems to be a minimal knowledge of world and domestic history, so many seem concerned about only one “set” of past human rights violations. I wonder sometimes about how many people are troubled today by the terror, hardship, and annihilation of humans that occurred during the two World Wars? And how many are concerned about abuses inflicted upon mankind by past dictators and monarchs? Actually, if one felt the need to seek out past injustices, one could search back all the way to the beginning of recorded human activity. But to me the bottom line in America today is: Don’t think that a future “blending” of American’s current diverse ethnicities will automatically lead to a future American Utopia. It may instead lead to America’s second civil war.
And for a long time now I’ve been bothered by the fact that my very name seems to have been “hijacked” by evildoers. And when I informed our city’s mayor George Jennifer of this he said, “I’d like you to contribute a Part Two to the Presumptions piece which F. John Surells began last month. Have it mainly deal with the past.” So now I’m trying to fulfill his request, even though I have no writing experience.
All my life I’ve seen and been a part of many breaks with style and conformity. And I’ve learned that many times residents of this city have had no recourse but to defy convention; and sometimes they’ve been forced to cross over into what would normally be considered the realm of the impossible.
And after years of experience at what can be simply termed life, I’ve come to recognize what I refer to as three significant “juxtapositions of life”. First, at what point does “right living” become “non-right living”? Second, at what point does the truth become falsehood or innuendo? And third, when does “looking at things objectively” become feeling sorry for oneself? And, conversely, it should be noted that all three of the above could be “turned around”, and looked at from the completely opposite perspective.
And all my working years have been spent at Mr. Havess’s factory on the south side of this city. And I’m looking forward to retirement now. But the main thing I want to tell you who read this is how different this city is today from the city I knew as a pre-teen and teenager.
This used to be what I suppose would be called a “normal” city. But maybe, as I think back on it now, it never really was all that normal. I can remember there always was a wealth division here. And it sort of corresponded to the natural division our river gives this city. Wealthy people tended to live north of the river, while the south side was a poorer area, and in some places it was close to a slum; well, that’s what we used to call those parts of the city anyway.
But this city began to change drastically when a man named Ralph Hawk relocated here. He got a job at the factory, and that’s where I got to know him. I don’t think that many people ever got really close to him, though I know now that he had a corps of dedicated followers in this city.
And it was after Mr. Hawk “established” himself here, that this city really changed. Soon there were rumors of bizarre and unbelievable events occurring here. And some said there were people leaving here and going backward or forward in time! And many other very strange events were rumored to have occurred within our city limits, although I personally never saw any of them. A few times at work I confronted Mr. Hawk and asked him about what I’d heard – was it really true? But he’d never give me a clear yes or no answer. One thing that guy was good at, if nothing else, was “vagueness”.
And as the years passed then, this city became known more and more for its “strangeness” - one could even say “bizarreness”. And I know for a fact that many people who lived in the areas near to this city actually became afraid of entering it!
Well, I’m sorry for digressing here. But I’ve already warned you that I’m only a working man; I’m not a writer. And yet, just in that last sentence, I’ve alluded to a phenomenon that’s become prevalent in this city over the years. There’s a belief here now that a large majority of people worldwide belong to a class of mortals known as “the status quo”. And this group apparently tries to stymie most forms of societal change, while it simultaneously attempts to “classify” mortals – you know - some people are smart and some are dumb, some are rich and some are poor, some can write fairly well, but others are barely able to communicate, etc.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about two other developments that have happened here over the years. The first of these is that a fairly large contingent of what our townsfolk term “artistic types” have relocated to this city. And they all live in an area adjacent to the river on our city’s north side. And the second is that Ralph Hawk has left this city. But in the last few years of his residence here, he actually was our city’s mayor; and he fulfilled that post while also working full time at the factory! And I’ve heard he had a “live in secretary” who did much of the mayoral work during those years. But our city’s current mayor is George Jennifer, and as I said, he’s the man who asked me to write this piece. He said he was searching for “diversity of topic” in this forum, and wanted me to focus on past events.
Thus, as I was searching for such a diverse topic, I recalled how F. John Surells had, in Part One of these Presumptions, spoken of how one’s coming into contact with certain physical objects or verbal “points of view” could send that one’s imagination off on to various random subjects. And then I thought, I wonder if those “mind wanderings” have been responsible for at least some of the rumors and gossip which have “wafted” through both sides of this city as a human wave might at a sporting event when the radio announcer says “They’ve got the wave going now.” Well, whatever the case may be, here are some of those rumors. But please remember, the speakers in what follows are gossip spreaders – they’re not me.
Oh God, in my mind today are memories of supposed scandals, concocted we’ve heard by agreeing parties in an effort to learn how fast and far gossip can travel, and whether it can be believed wholly, in part, or not at all. And I can remember the approximate span of time in which, in my opinion at least, the most dreadful types of rumors began to circulate in our city. Apparently some visitors bearing tales of violence which had supposedly occurred in rural areas near to where they lived, had come to our city at that time. And the stories they spread here evidently had a significant impact on certain residents of our city at that time. And I’ve heard that one particular tale which involved the murder of two elderly sisters, was found to be especially troubling here. A young woman had apparently been charged with those murders, but had been subsequently released as innocent of them.
Anyway, in an effort to find answers to all these dilemmas of the past, I asked Ralph Hawk (while he was still living here) what his “take” on all these rumors was. “I don’t believe in phony love,” he said, “nor do I believe the stories of mudslingers. But if you wish, I’ll tell you some of what they tried to ‘pin on’ our factory’s owner, Mr. Havess, back at that time." And of course I was glad to hear Mr. Hawk’s retelling of some of those tales. And his reminiscences will now constitute the remainder of this piece.
Some said Mr. Havess used ill-gotten funds to purchase his factory. And others said he was an imposter, and that the real Mr. Havess had lived long before him, and had actually perished as a passenger on the Titanic!
And some said Mr. Havess had kept a mistress for many years, although anyone who really knew him knew he was far too frugal to have had more than one woman in his life. And a claim was also made which said he’d somehow cheated his siblings out of their inheritances. He’d kept it all for himself some said.
And there were also rumors surrounding his only child Lauren. Now while I know she was (and probably still is – are you Lauren?) a rather mischievous and wild girl (woman), I’d bet all the money I have (which isn’t much) that she wasn’t illegitimate as some claimed. And I also never believed that she’d actually drowned in an abandoned well when she was a child as some said. Yes, some wanted us to believe that Lauren had died as a young girl, and that an imposter had then lived (and is still living) her life for her.
But Lauren actually had moved away from our city many years ago. And after that, for the rest of his life, I don’t think her dad even knew where she was or what she was doing. Yet, upon her dad’s death, she did return to our city to plan his funeral, and “take over” ownership of his factory, even though there was a rumor that Mr. Havess had died without anyone knowing it, and that his corpse had then lain on his living room couch for at least two weeks before it had been discovered by some of his employees who apparently hadn’t bothered to “check-in” on him earlier, because they thought he was simply taking a vacation.
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