By George Keyes
There are several famous courses and stores along Pratt Street that seems to carry a common railroad myth to the Western Hemisphere. There is the link to the historical traffic at the Mount Clare Station near of Pratt and Poppleton Streets that was the first full-fledged railroad depot in the entire country included the functional furnishing complement an equally straightforward to the truth on Pratt Street. Back in time, namely the year 1828, there was a forest, thick with tame wild deer that often compared to some goofy personality came from the north. That is a moment past. An inspiration to so many wonders and folktales for which one cannot stop admiring more from the railroad pathways than any similar plot of a short story in the name of the living walkers. Perhaps, the most important myth from Pratt Street’s legend is a charming street that needs to be explored on foot. Walk around Poppleton and Carey Streets down to the watery waterfront warehouse around the dry terrain, there is one indeed who has come alone.
Downtown, close to the long-ground B&O factory, across the street from the Simmons Co., this house stands out from its English style, thick-walled adobe architecture with the exhilaration of flying tales in brown cavern, both ascent and descent in modern era.
We think however it is a much better to halt ourselves here.
We just wait.
We have been waiting like a lighthouse watcher at Y Bridge over Potomac at picturesque Harpers Ferry at the southeastern tip of Pratt Street, farm of the hornstone, with a look of intellectual seekers.
We talk about him who has made nearly ten thousand miles of steel ribbons extending from the northern boundary of Florida to the far south. This was a dream more than one hundred years ago and in his eighties Don Walter McPershing could look back and smile at his own achievement. With such condescending air as if he is an American chief, the man himself comes out of this old house. He is still a strong man and with sharp eyes and mental awareness and that nature arrogance of being a perfect American pioneer.
He is able to assume a posture of superiority because he has made this city his.
At every corner there is his sweaty blood as a good cheer of brimmed joy.
There is no pain in which he can blame to others. He rather makes it with powerful strokes to keep on and feels that time has made him more than a being of steel.
Upon the death of his belonged wife, JoEllen, he and Lob become inseparable watchers of the new evolution of time.
Lob, a ten-year-old Bloodhound who has lost his partner last summer, soon has taken the lead and moves graciously down the sidewalk.
His dog does not go too fast. He halts as he watches him, and he seems to understand he cannot cross the street without him. The dog waits patiently until Don Walter gives him the command to go.
Walking with short steps, Don Walter greets here and there.
A new neighborhood has taken roots.
Black and Hispanic faces appear to draw the historical Pratt Street to another level of beauty. Don Walter considers understand a new time has come along. He finds a new life, a kind of challenge. There is no shame to see a white face here or there.
He finds these colorful faces rather impressive.
He feels good.
He is rested and calmed.
He seems fulfilled, partly is caused by having indulged in living and peace, but mainly because his mind kept creating the perfect level of understanding what he is made up that seems to touch beyond any porous of his.
At one o’clock in the afternoon he rose from his siesta and prepared his clothes before setting off to the cemetery, putting some fresh roses to his loved wife’s grave, something he still tried to do at least once a week convinced there is no one at the world will do better than him. As he managed to make it he listened to his heart as he has been listening to Lord Baltimore. He bathed and dried and with elegance he started dressing. There was no sickness or joint pains or back problems. Not to mention the fact that he’s about to reach the goals of birth.
With high-spirited he fixed himself. He combed his blenched short blond hair. He trimmed here and there his Errol Flynn’s mustache. He poured sweet man cologne on the palms and tipped them against his high forehead face and his strong neck. He backed up. He moved to the opposite side. Over a large wooden counter across the hallway in yet another room filled with memories including the photo of Peter Cooper’s Tom Thumb where his face reflecting a second moment of time he picked up his keys and some bills. On the way back to the living room he strolled happily as he watched Lob waiting for him. He opened the door and stepped out.
The weather will be good in Baltimore and he will have time to watch the old steel road.
Now when he stops at Cather’s Rose Vendor, she already has his roses.
“I’ll keep praying for her, Mr. McPershing.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Rocas. I’ll appreciate that very much.”
“See you next week.”
With a dozen of roses of yellow daylily, he goes on his journal.
He moves among the people until he reaches at the sleeping Juan Acosta inside his old local cab. “Hello Don!”
“It’s a struggle sleeping at night, Señor Acosta.”
“A second job, an extra month, I must say.”
“It’s a fact of living.”
Hours later, Juan Acosta is being driven along a narrow Baltimorean street near Green Mount Cemetery. He moves down into the parking lot and stops. Don Walter leaves the car and waves to Juan Acosta to wait. He greets people walking down the sidewalk or moving out from the cemetery or moving in. He smiles at them until he reaches at the mother angel marble in gray.
He replaces the old roses, and then he kneels quietly in front of the marble figure. Then he kisses one of his fingers and tips it on the surface of the grave. As soon as he has done that action, he gets to his feet and edges away from his wife grave.
It is about three o’clock when he crosses Jerome Westcott’s Eating House.
Once inside he sits at his favorite table. A few minutes the man himself, a 75-year-old Negro, a Baltimorean native, slides a glass of water onto the surface of the table. He lays out the menus before Don Walter and halts there like an African lord. He is still considered an attractive fellow. A married, royal, honest, and trustworthy chap. He is one of these dozen pioneers who have made the biggest product of Mount Clare and certainly one of the youngest of all workers back then. With distinct African features, though his shoulders are broad from work first in the fields, then a train conductor on the Akron-Chicago Division, Jerome Westcott is five-nine, slender, and puffed up with self-importance, with lazy hair, a complexion like jet-black curls, and short, deep-set brown eyes. He wears a painted mustache and well-mannered of time and respect. Last night he feels a little aback with this silly pain in his shoulders and legs. He explains it to Don Walter with a grin across his Negroid lips, revealing all meanings by such quietness.
“You should let your son to take over.”
“Is that your suggestion?”
“Is there anything else I may forget?”
“I guess there must be one.”
“You and I have got quite enough on our soul to be going on with that nonsense.”
“I can’t image my place without me.”
Don Walter smiles at him. “I’ll have a corned beef on rye and those cakes of yours, Bother Westcott.”
“I heard Papa Jeffrey Levinson isn’t doing well.”
“See, we should pray for him.”
“He’d never wanted that in the first place.”
“I remember back to Mount Clare. He was already a champ with the bottles.”
“Brother Albert Jenkins is coming.”
He is one of the fifteen. He is a reader of the Gettysburg Address’ speech, but he is a big fan to the Baltimore blue crabs and he will get tired waiting for someone to talk. During the tea party in Boston it sounds for him like an escapade that becomes the backbone of a new nation, not in that moment when George Washington’s positions weaken those uncommon men hold in common in French-Indian Territory that creates for Brother Jenkins an answer of what Lincoln has done several years later. But he hates Thoreau’ denial to the truth social revelation. In front of Ralph Waldo Emerson he will be more devoted to Allan Poe’s black bird than Anne Hutchinson’s trial. Even his contemporaries do not seem to have a very clear impression of Albert Jenkins as a human being. For seventy long years of his active career working in the railroad and pulling strings of helpers and preaching God’s comments among the people on Pratt Street, he is commonly regarded as a radical and self-righteous Yankee and for many years, as a great benefactor for those who are in needs painting a portrait quite different what he appears to project, as he declares himself a heavenly saint; but neither judgment tells Jerome or Don Walter not much about the man.
He dresses Americana in white, slacks and sandals. He is in his late seventies, a lucky man of one hundred ten pounds. He has long blond hair, and he is a Scottish decent always he appears to dispute it as false. He smiles at Jerome and squeezes his hands with strong grips. “Make me a sandwich of soft crab.”
“Please Jerome!” he replied. “How family?”
“How your legs?”
“I make them to walk do I?”
“There will be a good day to walk.”
“Are you going to Y Bridge?”
“I’ve been thinking to go.”
“I will be with you. I need to walk, you know. My doctor told me through an email. Don’t you believe that?”
“It makes your joints strong.”
“Heard about Papa Levinson?”
“Yeah. We need to lift him up.”
“Reckons we should.”
A young man in her twenties, Jerome’s boy, arrives with the foods.
“How men doin’?”
“We fine Jerome Junior.”
He slides plates onto the surface of the table. Making it cool, he waves to the old timers and says, “I get I miss your drink, Mr. Jenkins.”
“I’ll get back.”
Albert does not wait as he starts eating.
Don Water speaks but he refers to the weather again. Albert happily spends most of afternoon snacks trying to answer Don Walter’s observation that is related to the weather, never ending talking until they pick Captain Howard Griffin strolling across the floor. He waves to Jerome and splashes a smile at him. He is a Baltimorean. He is a former train engineer, and now he is a retiree and living off on Baltimore Boulevard. He is a barrel-shaped man and he is big as an ox with that good sense of humor, and amazing story tale. Watching him admiringly and adoringly, he sits noisily in the chair. He wears blazer and Levis and has high cheekbones, grizzle bear hair, and with that flecked and mustached. His Congo color eyes have a muddy or dark brown appear to screw his listeners like a grownup kid.
“How are you people doin’?”
“I am doing fine, Captain Griffin,” Don Walter replies as he reaches up his glass of water. “How are Mama Emily and Mrs. Griffin doing?”
“Mama is dealing with her old illness and my wife has come out fine with her surgery.”
“Do you expect any setback?”
“I’m hoping she will be all right.”
“I’ll pray for you, Brother Griffin.”
“Oh thank you, Brother Jenkins.”
Jerome’s boy comes to the table. He deposits a bottle next to Albert and Captain Howard Griffin. “Is there anything else?”
“Yes, Don Walter?”
“Don’t forget my dog.”
“Papa already gave his order, Mr. McPershing.”
He backs up and moves away from the timers’ table.
Albert and Don Walter start eating again.
Captain Howard Griffin closes his eyes and prays for the food. Then he starts eating his pita crab sandwich. A few minutes later, Michael Hong Wong and Calvin Herzog make their appearance. Michael is a former helper when B&O tracks, wooden rails, laid by his father carpenters. He was later a Mount Clare Shops keeper and with the help of Don Walter he would become part of the sixteenth golden boy in Baltimore. He is five and eight, one hundred forty pounds, and he loves dress single breasted suit in navy blue and it does not matter if is a summer or not. With angelic face, reserved, and nonverbal man, he greets everyone with a hug and sits next to Albert. Yet for all the vivid associations Michael has fought about time, and he seemed to understand by that time there was a different ball of people perception. There was the imperious momentum, a social instance race and prejudice when he and his keens were being whipped by their own points and finally he managed to convince himself that he was part of those social changes. He recognized this society was not for individuals or for a central figure rather a devout team they should work together to achieve great result. Baltimore railroad was part of his legend and his tolerance. Active and with the most absolute conquer of truth over his shoulder, he made this as those who are presents. When Jerome brings his favorite dish, consisting of Maryland crab soup and crab cakes, he thanks manly.
His friend, Calvin Herzog, is cut from a different bolt of time. Tall, robust, and an American Indian blood, he was a kind of papa’s boy, having land back there across Middle River when his father died the old man leaving all to the young Herzog. But Calvin appeared not to understand the value of the soil and he lost the acres under the hands of the Yankee Morgan. A dreamed being, a little lost, except to remember that forewarned sister his, he ended up into Baltimore. He found the city exciting as it was boiling with new shops and trains. From what he had heard from his old friends he had got quite enough on his space to make it works for him. In 1940 he was young enough to work on the railroad among the Negroes, Chinese men, and the White men and felt the pain and at the same time the excitement of a new society on travel as he watched unfolding the legend alive. Calvin could still recall his first societal disappointment in life. He was part of them and he was trapped by American compassion to others. He lived in muddy alleys or former rooms, he ate with repaid loans and broken promises, which he considered was still not pulling its weight of being, a civilized American. Of course his life has not stopped there, and he began to explain in details to his angry why this unknown Chinese man wanted to share a clear room with him and warm breads and a cup of coffee with him. Yet, if is it was subdued; it was a beginning, a change that not a single being is the same.
He has been a tirelessly bull, calling himself a last Indian warrior in the land of the white boys. Calvin is more than that. He is an emblazoned American, an old American who has such distinguish of moral and respect each of us can conquer all obstacle in life and become himself a great eminence in the new land. And he or they materialize from time to time what his or their city given as a gift, where each of one recognize their effort as genuine love then nothing appears so bad that taken it as it is.
One by one they arrive.
Daniel Dixon stops on the corner of the room and has a lovely conversation with the Golsteins. Barry and Janice laugh that will dominate the tight-tipped and affected smile of his and he seems to joy them for a while and bow to them. He has not yet finished. He has for everyone in the room a piece of news, a greeting, a gossip or just he salutes them as something unique. There is no doubt people loves him and he loves them back. He reaches Jerome and gives a big hug.
“Bring me some crab soup with sweet breads, Jerome.”
“They are back there.”
“I called Mrs. Levinson and he’s still moving.”
“Hello, young man!”
“Hello, Mr. Dixon.”
“Still in school?”
“You keep on.”
By the time Daniel Dixon walks to Don Walter’s table, Greg Lathan Jackson, Rudolph Lemaire, Marcus Perez Peck enter in the eating place. Daniel salutes the presents with shakes hands and one suggests bringing a second table to the corner. Calvin and Albert help him.
Greg, Rudolph, and Marcus stop here and there to salute known faces, then they stroll to the table of our friend timers. They have already their chairs, water, coffee and tea. Jerome from behind the counter asks Marcus if he will change his afternoon snack.
Greg Lathan Jackson is a married white patriot and he loves to ride motorcycle and to pain profiles of people. He is 5 and 8, with brown hair and brown eyes that casually he rears contact lenses. He has come from a long family (fourteen brothers and sisters who tell them the story he has missed where he belonged) and there is legit from Baltimore. Even he is a patriot (a nationalist for Marcus or Albert) he hates political events and how this nation has become from inside out. He believes nevertheless that is the moving time. As a matter of fact he accepts those new times as if they are tracks over bridges and trestles, as compared with his momentum, and it is probably the greatest achievement of being an American.
“Let me have crab linguine and baked crab Rangoon,” Greg says.
His completed name is Marcus Ernesto Perez Jordan y Peck. He is a handsome hazel-eyed former mechanic for B&O Railroad. He has long brown hair in ponytail and a goatee. He dress casual jacket and loosen pants, and when he hears Brother Jerome, he says:
“Just the same, Jerome,” he says. “And please you just make me a clam chowder along with creamy crab pasta.”
“Yes. Papa Jeffrey is in the hospital.”
“I called Mrs. Levinson.”
“She says he’s doing fine.”
“Let’s call for his favourite dish,” Rudolph Lemaire suggests.
“Isn’t jumbo lump crab imperial dish?”
“That’s the one.”
Jerome reaches the table as he deposits plates. “I heard it.”
“It’s for Papa Levinson.”
“I can do it.”
They look at him for a moment.
As he is about to move to the kitchen, Lawrence Perry first, then Bradford Riley makes his appears. He walks directly to the table.
“I thought it was later,” he says. “How folks?”
“Where did you come from?”
“Ah what, Brother Albert?”
“You have recently assured us you still a player.”
He smiles. “I must almost take it an insult,” he says lovely. “I am still active, Brother Albert. If that was one of your points, I guess I am even.”
“I can see it, Brother Riley.”
“Hello to everyone!”
A potpourri follows Brother Riley’s greetings.
“The same, Brother Riley?”
“Let me Fettucine Alfred with king crab leg meat and toss on it some Mexican chili.”
“You’re fire, Brother Riley,” Don Walter says.
“I need to get back to my old days!”
It is a god laughing as each one shakes their head.
Jerome brings more water for Do Walter and cakes.
Lawrence finally speaks. “Can I have a beer, Jerome?”
“Finally we hear you, Perry.”
“All at home is okay?”
Denis Savittieri and Ed McElainet make their presence available.
“What? No sir! No sir!” Captain Griffin says. “We’re here the backyard at Mount Clare car shops.”
“Of course not, Mr. Griffin,” Calvin replies. “This is still Pratt Street!”
“I can visualize it that way.”
Marcus speaks. “Captain Howard Griffin, let me ask you thing, and here is Don Walter our boss in the helper group, where are you now?”
“I am on Poppleton Street.”
“So the backyard is this way.”
“Now Brother Albert, Brother Jackson, and I are mistaken the map.”
“Yes! I was part of the car shop helper team. Michael and I were first and we know.”
“You cannot see it, sir!”
Marcus Perez Peck gives him the structure and design map mentally. And when Captain Griffin and Bradford Riley asks him for more, Marcus has just detailed it on a the surface of the table. “This is the place. Here! Here!”
Ed McElainet, an engineer under Don Walter’s supervision, glances at the map and then he glances back at Don Walter, who seems to enjoy the discussion of his former crew members.
“Don Walter, is this all right?”
All presents stop talking and paying attention to him.
“I recognize B&O is built across us.”
Then Ed and Don Walter are together in the middle, catching their eyes of them, and it is after they look at the direction where Jerome is standing, they start hearing the sounds of hammers and people and voices are blundering in the air. The present time appears take them back and for a moment or two they are here at this huge plant…
A PIECE OF HISTORY
For weeks, the biggest product of Mount Clare and certainly one of the most famous of all American locomotives was the so-called Peter Cooper’s Tom Thumb. Don Walter knows it as Big Boys. He was only two years old when his father brought him to see one of his achievements. Now, in a diesel age, the 21-year-old Don Walter wants to separate himself from his father’s legend to a greatest achievement in 1923. He appears to dream as he watches Big Boys.
His father, Carl McPershing, has told in details how this machine is made up. It was actually built about one horsepower and thirty-one inch cylinder and fourteen inch stroke. Don Walter wants more, and he wants a passenger engine and he has counted its length. He sees it before him as she will have a hundred feet long and with a four and eight and two wheel arrangement and seventy four inch drivers and a tractive effort of sixty five three thousand pounds. His father has given such privilege to drive Tom Thumb. He feels so good. But his Lord Baltimore dream will be better for American dreams. Day after he dies he promised him he will do something better, as the first ribbon of steel reaching Florida. Don Walter’s father goes to heaven with that smile as he recognizes his son will make it.
It is June when similar mountain-type engines are building at Mount Clare from 1935 to 1947, Don Walter’s crew members look at him in the middle of backyard. At first a little thing of encouragement and strength are not part of them. They have been exhausted and time appears to catch them. They have familiar and food seems to blow away. But week by week, Don Walter’s vision keeps growing but gathered strength from them is something else.
“We need to break that icy.”
“But Don,” the young Bradford says,” we need to rest. Besides, we need to put food on the table.”
“I share my monthly salary.”
“You’re not a god, Don Walter,” Marcus observes. “Your young love needs it from you. We are bounded by such responsibility.”
Ed and Rudolph come over to him.
Rudolph speaks. “What is so important about that dream, Don?
“My father, Rudolph,” he replies “He built Lord Baltimore with pain and sweat. He did not see my mother was dying but he kept on.”
“What about us, Don Walter?” Rudolph observes. “Every one of us has family and we want they understand that.”
“Ed? Did you agree? You’re the engineer.”
“You should consider it, Don Walter. It’s important for all of us.”
“You know we can do it.”
“Yes. We can. But you need to listen to them, too.”
He glances at them on the opposite site. He moves from Ed and Rudolph and speaks with them. “We are Baltimoreans.”
Don Walter stops.
Walking toward them he gives to each one a hug.
NOW AT THIS PRESENT HISTORICAL TIME
They look at Don Walter when he turns and watches the street and places his hands at the edge of the table with carefully manner for a moment of silence, and now Don seems sad for that memory, and he recognizes his entire life is attached that failure. For that first dream he had been able to erase and pay attention to social changes. Then his young heart was active again. He created dreams and built the city steel ribbons. And, as his strength and his love grow by the prospect that he saw around him he began to feel important.
Quietly he says, “We were young by then.” He lifts his glass of water. “I didn’t realize that were our time.”
“There was no mistake, Don Walter.”
He looks at Michael. “Yes, it was. There was a mistake we were unable to see.”
They exchange looks among them.
“Which one I may ask, Don Walter?”
He glances at Marcus. “Our time.”
A little puzzled they fall in silence.
It rains down in Baltimore one day and Greg Lathan Jackson organizes a crab barbecue at a Marcus Perez Peck’s home for Papa Jeffrey Levinson and Don Walter McPershing. They are waiting for Don Walter and David Dixon.
A quarter to four o’clock they appear a little worry, and it is Ed McElainet who has made a call at Don’s home but no one answer his call.
“He isn’t there.”
“He will be on his way.”
“We told them about 2.”
“Does Don have a cellular?”
“He does not believe those toys.”
“What about Brother Dixon, Ed?” Papa Levinson asks.
“He may have. He’s a former teacher.”
“Make him a call.
Toward the end of September, which it is an important day for Don Walter, he is lying down his clothes on bed when he tries to match his shirts and pants against a blue blazer, and he is ready to go with brown shirt and gray pant, home phone rings. He has an impression that Brother Jackson wants to speak if he has reached his invitation from Ed. He looks at the dresser as he notices the card. He moves to the telephone table and picks it.
“It’s you Brother Dixon?”
“I do not feel well.”
He realizes the telephone call has been cut off. Quickly now, he presses off the call 911.
“What is the emergency, Mr. McPershing?”
“My friend David Dixon has just called.”
“Where is he living?”
“He lives alone at Ramsey Street. Please, would you send someone back there?”
“We will, Mr. McPershing.”
With rapid moments, he moves to the master bedroom and starts to dress. He does not select one he has chosen, a moment he walks to door. His Lob waits for him, but Don Walter touches his head. “I won’t today. So, you stay and play soldier until return.”
Outside, he reaches Oscar Acosta’s corner. He finds him leaning back and with his eyes close. “Oscar?”
“I heard, Don Walter.”
“Please, take me to Ramsey.”
“Yes, Don Walter.”
Oscar turns on the motor immediately when he hears David Dixon’s street and a few minutes reach the street where he lives.
He leaves the car and walks to the red building apartment and steps in. And when later, he reappears, more as a reflex than from any thought he may have, he sits back to the car.
“Take me the hospital.”
An hour later, he walks down the lobby, he begins to try and compose in his mind what he will say to David Dixon once he sees him lying in one of these hospital room beds. Don Walter does not see him in the emergency room or sits there and waits being called in. He finds him that awful position and wraps up with medical tools and a dozen of student medics if he is a kind of exhibition. A young doctor declares him as he looks at him he is not so good. “I can find countless up and down that makes to determine how he will come from it.”
“If it’s about money, you should not worry. I’ll able to take all hospital expenses.”
“You call him brother, and is he your brother?”
“He’s more than that. He builds this city and he needs to live more. Understand?”
“We do the best we can, Mr. McPershing.” He checks his watch and moves off from him. “You can stay.”
But Don Walter has determined that. No one will be able to remove from there. A few minutes, a nurse is named Victoria comes over to him. “Do you know Mr. McElainet?”
“Yes. I do.”
“He’s been calling through Mr. Dixon’s phone and I’ve taken my liberty to tell them what happened to him. He’s at phone. He wants to speak with you.”
“I don’t know how.”
She puts it on speaker.
“Hello? Don Walter?”
“You can speak. He’s able to listen.”
“Hello, Brother McElainet.”
“Are you all right?”
“Yes. But David Dixon isn’t.”
“We come over.”
Nurse Victoria turns off the cellular and hands it to him.
“Thank you, Miss Gaeder.”
Within minutes they stroll briskly into the corridor, their footsteps echoing on the marble floor. Don Walter gets to his feet and salutes them. In briefs, he reports to them about Dixon’s condition and what they will expect from him, and then they sit in the benches or in the floor.
“This cannot be easier,” Denis Savittievi says looking nobody. “He needs to be up. He’s the one who got nobody.”
“We’re, aren’t we?” Bradford Riley observes. “He’s 81. Can we have a woman for him?”
“We should give my grandmamma,” Jerome suggests.
“He doesn’t go anywhere,” Lawrence Perry says.
“Wo cares for coffee?” Marcus Perez Peck asks.
“I am,” Rudolph says.
“Risen hands, please.”
“Can I have tea?” Calvin says.
“Yes, Papa Levinson?”
“Has he really no one?”
“As far I know, I don’t think he has, Papa Levinson.”
“Any way we can find for sure?”
“Yes, Brother Jenkins?”
“I heard one he has a son.”
“A miracle then.”
“What ab out his women?”
“I’ll get the coffee.”
“Let me help, Brother Peck.”
“Oh thank you, Brother Westcott.”
After a minute they do not speak. A new nurse comes out of the room and walks toward them.
“Nurse, what is going?”
“The doctors are still working on him.”
“They better do it right.”
She glances at Bradford and then moves away.
“They will fix him, you see, Bradford?”
Marcus and Jerome arrive with the coffee. Silently, Jerome and Marcus handled plastic cups of among them.
“I saw a nurse came to this way. What did she say?”
“Doctors are still working on him?”
“They’re opening his chest or something?”
“We don’t know.”
“I must see.”
A doctor emerges from the room. Don Walter recognizes his face but not his name. He does not wear his medical white robe and makes him so difficult to know. He comes directly to Don Walter. They surround Don Walter and Dr. Lans.
“What’s up, doc?”
“We’ve done coronary angiography …”
“Jesus! You did that without telling any one of us!”
“Please, Papa Levinson!”
“Go ahead, doc.”
“As I am saying we did a coronary angiography and without complications.”
“Then he’s all right.”
“Can we take him home?”
“Not yet. We’ll transfer to 5th floor for observation and tomorrow he can go home.”
He bows them and moves away. A moment later a nurse by the name of Bianca Hudson makes her appearance and halts herself before the timers. “Who is Brother McPershing?”
“I believe you brought your brother in.”
Don Walter grins lovely. The timers follow him.
“His insurance cannot cover the performance of coronary angiography.”
“That’s no problem.”
“You need get one, David,” Papa Levinson says.
“I haven’t heard any complain from Don Walter.”
“Our priority is you now.”
They are at David Dixon’s single apartment room. He sits and listens to his friends.
“I was pretty scared believe me.”
“Again, thank you, Don Walter.”
There is a knock on the door.
“I get it.” He walks to the door and opens it. “It’s Jerome.”
He moves in carrying two enormous bags. “How do you feel?”
“Good, Jerome. Very good.”
“I bring food. Where are the others?”
“Calvin Herzog and Rudolph were here in the morning and they left an hour later,” Don Walter explains. “Michael Hong, Greg and Lawrence were here a few minutes ago.”
“What did you get there?”
“I got irons and vitamins for Brother Dixon.”
They laugh and they start to grasp plate and start eating.
At this instance there are the sounds of knocks on the door.
“It may be Ed McElainet and Denis Savittieri. They called he will be.”
“I get the door, Don Walter,” Marcus says as he strolls across the floor.
“Who is Marcus?”
A short, attractive Philippine woman in her late seventies holds in the middle of the floor. She is five and four, about one hundred twenty, black hair wearing a florid long dress.
“Oh you are chameleon, Brother Dixon!” Marcus cannot hold himself.
“Guys meet Miss Erma Garrison.”
“Hello to everyone!”
“Why didn’t call me?”
“I didn’t think it was important.”
“Well, big guy, we have to go. You have a lot of thing to explain it to your angel,” Bradford says.
One by one moves out.
Outside, Jerome, Marcus, Bradford and Don Walter look at each one other.
“We thought he didn’t have one.” Marcus glances at Don Walter. “You are so quiet, Don.”
“He caught me, too.”
“Do we make it off today?”
“Hell not! Today’s Lawrence’s bingo!”
“We will see you then.”
They move to their car, and Jerome holts Don Walter.
“I am not going yet home, Brother Westcost.”
“To the Y Bridge.”
“We can do it over the weekend, Don Walter. It will be a second present for your birthday. Remember, we never have a change to give it to you. Brother Jackson thought about it.”
“Then take me home.”
When Jerome leaves Don Walter, and the promises to come back to take him to Lawrence’s Bingo House, Don Walter calls Oscar Acosta. “Is he in, Señora Acosta?”
“Él no esta aquí, Señor Mpershen.”
He remains immobile for moment, and then he calls Rental Inc.
“This is Tracy?”
“I need a rental car.”
Everything changes, as well as the massive rock across the river.
And when Darlene Mouton, a student of New York Film Institute, points her camera where the bridge seems turning south, she sees this sedan is pulling over the curb. She notices there is no parking zone, and she zooms in. She removes her cameras from her face, having a second look upon the driver, and carefully she crosses the road. She can still recall her father when she used to dream of making a documentary to that piece of lands. She needs living people, only, to fulfill her young dream; but her father a train conductor has told her all these have gone, dead. Now she sees something, and she is sure she has seen that face somewhere, as she runs toward Don Walter.
“Oh, you don’t worry, young lady! I won’t dare to jump over the cliff.”
Darlene reaches him, and she has taken a few minutes to control her breathing.
“I know you! I have seen you somewhere.”
“I doubt, miss.”
She puts her backpack on the ground and retrieves a table and finds what she is looking for.
“Isn’t you? A little young but it’s you.”
A slowly, Don Walter leans over the strange device and he smiles. “I thought I was the only one who has that picture.”
“Then you know who Kenneth Mouton is.”
“Kenneth, Kenneth,” Don Walter repeats the name several times. “I reckon I know! But we call him Muto because he always carried a camera with him.”
“Yes! He’s my father! I am Darlene, his daughter.”
“Oh mine! What are you doing here?”
“It’s long story.”
“Well, I got time.”
“Can we talk?”
“There is a place calls Knabe down the road of Molina Drive. I’ll drive back there. Do you know where is?”
“It’s a Stable’s Road. Many of us will eat there for a penny.”
“Then I’ll see you there.”
She laughs. “Really? All your crew is still alive?”
“Nobody has told you how important you guys are,” she says as she takes another picture of him. “I could still recall my father talking about a golden boy team in Baltimore when my mother used to tell him about she met in 1942 and those stories and how it was by then. It was when I finished college and moved to New York I was in a serious gear to find something about the so-called Golden Boy Team in Baltimore. By then my dad was very happy, and after my mother passed away, it seemed the old idea has hit him. Now he told me I was dreaming and I won’t anything. “
“It’s a small world, isn’t it?”
“Have you understood my point, Mr. McPershing?”
“I want to do a document with you guys.”
“I can’t speak about them, Miss Mouton.”
“Please, Darlene. Just call me Darlene.”
“As I am saying, I can’t hold on them.”
“I’ll able to drive along with you and I have a conversation will of ya.”
“Have you thought about it really?”
“Yes,” she replies. “And my father will be thrilled. He’s going to jump.”
“I just imagine.”
Don Walter lifts his glass is filled with water as he drinks. He does not mind speaking and telling her and to the word his stories of the Columbian and B&O. It will make him to live again that past creating a second world he knows well while he is walking over those moments he has journaled from Baltimore to Ohio and the first air-conditioned Royal Blue cars where it made him to dream again with JoEllen. He believes Jerome Westcott’s father, Jerome Senior has been driven that line of Washington and New Jersey. He will not mind at all to tell. He has got that feeling the time will come to tell his story. He will tell her about his father and how jealous he was about him by building the best train in the country. He has dreamed to make one. He has recently assured that all was part of the legend. It is the Baltimore greatest, which already it was the ahead of the games.
“Do you have time?”
“Then we must be going.”
The traffic is all right. Don Walter does not matter about traffic rather the vitality of his discovery in front of Muto’s daughter that allows him to smile at the present, and the more he sees what is the vitality it has brought and how it goes the more is set in his heart.
He reaches Lawrence Perry’s house where the bingo for today is taken place. He waves to Darlene to parking across the street. She does. He waits for her down the sidewalk. She comes to him and says, “Where are we?”
“That street is Pratt Street, and down to the corner is B&O where all trains in the world have built.”
“I am on the right action.”
“You are the backyard and that was a huge land.”
Darlene stands mesmerized as Don Walter pinpoints out stores and tavern and warehouses. He makes her to draw closer and closer to his own world until he leads her to the door of Lawrence Perry and he comes to a sudden halt only a few feet in front of the fenced gate.
“You are standing at the entry of our cottage. The so-called golden boy’s cottage, but Captain Griffin will dispute that.”
“Captain Howard Griffin. He was a hammer.”
For a matter of minutes she looks around and then stares at him without uttering a word. Don Walter knocks on the door, and it is Captain Howard Griffin who opens the door.
“Darlene, meet Howard Griffin the Captain.”
“How do you do?”
“Guess who her father is?”
“Never mind, Brother Griffin,” Don Walter smiles. “Just tell me.”
“I didn’t bring a bell, Don Walter. Who may be?”
“Hell no!” he yells. “Hey, guys! Who is coming for diner with Muto’s girl?”
“We head you.” Marcus Perez Peck says as he moves in. “Muto’s daughter!”
“Let her in, Don Walter,” Calvin Herzog says. “Give her pace.”
They are pleased to meet Muto’s daughter. They want to speak at once. Don Walter calls names and refers to that past. Darlene cannot breath, and she is so happy to meet her daddy’s friends. And then she recognizes they are indeed the people her father has told them. Lawrence stops the bingo and pays attention her. After a few long minutes Don Walter explains where he found and the reasons. They have come to a sudden silence. Jerome looks at Don Walter, and then he looks back at the young woman.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. It will be a privilege and a gift for my father.”
“I am in! Rocking’ me in!”
They echo Jerome, and during those minutes, Darlene retrieves her telephone.
‘”I need to make a call.”
Respectfully, they give her space. “Don’t worry! You are home!”
“Grace, it’s me. Darlene.”
“Where are you? Selene needs to those type editing. You say what?”
“I found them.”
“Who they are?”
“The Golden Boy Team of Railroad.”
“Don’t me you are Baltimore, Darlene?”
“I am, and I make a document about.”
“For God’s sake! Who wants to listen to those stories from 1930s, Darlene?”
“Some people will, Grace, and beside it’s important for them. Can I speak with Carlota?”
Darlene cuts off the call, and the she deals Carlota’s telephone number.
“It’s me. Darlene.”
“I am at lunch.”
“Give me a second.”
“I am listening.”
“Did you remember the Baltimore’s golden boy team?”
“That story of the fifteen golden boy team members?”
“Yes! I found them.”
“Are not kidding me?”
“Listen!” Darlene says as she raises the telephone to them. “Say cheer to my boss Carlota Nab!”
Everyone says, “Cheer Carlota Nab!”
“Do you hear that?”
“Yes. What you are going to do now, Darlene?”
“I’m going to do a documentary and you’re going to help me.”
“Wait! I receive a text message.”
“It’s me, Carlota, and I am in the middle of something.”
“Oh! Are they?”
“Jesus! They are still handsome.”
“You must see in personal.”
“All right, Darlene. Got me!”
Darlene turns off the cellular and exclaims. “Yeeeh!”
“What happen?” Don Walter asks.
“My boss is very interesting!”
“Will I be in the movie?” Papa Levinson asks innocently.
A constantly communication has been settled between Darlene and Don Walter, while Darlene’s father, Muto, has an opportunity to speak with him. First the news of documentary has changed with something entirely different.
“Say it slowly?”
“They want to make a movie, Mr. McPershing.”
“A movie? I haven’t expected that.”
“Me either, and a couple of people will arrive at Baltimore this week.”
“They want to know each one of you guys and to ask questions. They want to feel you ”
“Well, let them come.”
“I will be here too, and with my boss. Ah, there is a surprise.”
“I like surprise.”
By the time the new development reaches Jerome, Bradford and the others, Don Walter comes out of his place a few minutes later. He and his dog Lob reach Oscar Acosta’s cab before he has got roses from Mrs. Rocas.
“How my good friend doin’?”
“A little awake.”
“It sounds good.”
At the cemetery, Don Walter begins to remove the old roses and replaces them with fresh one. He sets down to do his silence pray and walks back to the waiting cab.
When he reaches Jerome’s eating place, he finds Papa Jeffrey Levinson, David Dixon and Marcus Perez Peck.
“Get me the home special, Brother Westcott.”
By three-ten the entire crew has moved in and seated at the table. Their conversation is bounding about the movie and what kind of direction is going to take them. Together they carry this momentum and up the path as each one feel important. Lawrence and Greg looks at Don Walter.
“Greg asked a question.”
“What is the reason?”
“Ah. She never says.”
“Perhaps it’s about us.”
“It’s about us.”
They look at Don Walter’s face serene. They wait for him to speak more but he is not.
The evening arrives. They chose to pass the evening playing cards at Michael Hong Wong. A quarter to ten, they move out. Don Walter refuses Denis’ ride.
At the sidewalk they give hugs to each one and split. Don Walter watches the stars and he starts walking. He continues Gary Street. He hears noises, the noises of trains. He stops, and he can see trains moving toward him. He smiles. There, he looks at JoEllen. He begins to feel his past and present mix up, and for the first time he feels a kind of lonely.
Reaching home, Lob welcomes. He feeds him. Carefully he produces his sleeping clothes. Then he removes his jacket and pants and hangs them carefully in bedroom. Dressing he makes tea and walks to the bedroom.
At bed, he selects a book, Marcel’s, and for a full forty-minute period he concentrates on the lecture.
The following morning, bathed and dried, he hears knocks on the door. He looks at the watch. It is 10. He walks to the door and opens. First there is Darlene and next to her there is Carlota McEwell, a well-conservative woman in her earlier seventies.
“Good morning, Don Walter.”
“This is Carlota McEwell my boss.”
“Glad to meet you, madam.”
“Then this is my father,” she says. “Daddy?”
From behind them there is Kenneth Mouton.
“The Golden Don Walter!”
It is the first time since he has taken that picture of 1942. Don Walter greets him, and he gives him a big hug. Then Darlene introduces the writers and associates.
“They will be happy to see all of you,” Don Walter says as he tosses an arm over Muto’s shoulder. “Come in! Let me call them!”
Everyone moves in.
Muto is very happy to see Don Walter. Walking to corridor, Don Walter shows him the second photo.
“You still have the first one?”
“Yes. It’s a gift from you.”
“Mr. Don Walter,” an associate photographer says, “can I take picture around your place?”
Don Walter picks up the telephone as he starts calling his crew. As the writers and associates sit or wait, Darlene comes over to her father and Don Walter.
“I’ve told to my daughter all that past is dead.”
“No! We’re still kicking,” he says. “Now, let’s eat a Baltimorean breakfast.”
“I’m afraid we ate.”
“Not a Baltimorean ones!”
Don Walter decides to leave Lob today, and after he has left water and some snacks, he guides them out of the door. They talk and record. Don Walter finds fancy cars and SUVs. Darlene’s boss, Carlota, and Muto, sit at the back seat, and Don Walter in front of the seat. He feels high and he seems to accept it as it is.
“How do keep so healthy?”
He turns a little and glances at Carlota. She does not have any from his last wife; but he can still recall his first admiration with black hair women, and Carlota has indeed a beautiful black forest so neatly around her perfect skull. “Not drinking too much water!”
He makes her to smile. “You mean drinking.”
There is a moment from Muto, and everyone in the SUV laughs.
“I suppose to take right?”
Darlene makes right and off in the middle of street she pulls over in front of Jerome’s place. Don Walter recognizes the classic For of Papa Levinson, the Jeep of Captain Griffin, Michael Hong Wong’s Honda, David Dixon’s pickup and Calvin Herzog’s Chevrolet.
They get out of the car. Don Walter opens the door for Carlota and she recognizes he is indeed a tall man. With a shy smile, she rewards him.
Then they go inside.
From Jerome to Greg Lathan Jackson, they get to their feet. They take their turn to hug Kenneth Mouton. There are jokes, then tears, and when the others arrive, such as Rudolph Lemaire, Marcus Perez Peck, Lawrence Perry, Bradford Riley, Denis Savittieri and Ed Mc Elainet the same welcome takes place.
Muto sweeps tears from his eyes. The associates and the writers and photographers look on. They, too, have been touched by such reunion.
Jerome, helping by his son and five waiters, starts to serve them.
“Daddy, you can stay with them. John, Kayee, Graciela, Sam, Helen and I will take care of that.”
“Thank you, son.”
“No mention Dad.”
The people of New York start to eat. Jerome makes it personal, and he feels good seeing Muto and those sophisticated people with those big ideas.
Carlota speaks. “We are serious to do that. I just wonder if you my writers and film photographers to grasp your time.”
Carlota looks at Lawrence. “What I mean I want you allow them to a month to know you and tell them your story and what your time.”
“Oh! That’s fine. Don Walter?”
“Sure. I agree. Everyone agrees.”
A solid concerto of agreement is heard.
When all of them have agreed, the day begins to move very quickly. It is lately, so they walk down Pratt Street where the so-called film photographers and a kind of directorial debut indicate here and there a past is buried with modernism, and urban changes. Don Walter is animated explaining to Carlota and a pair of writers B&O. He mentions the passenger trains and those have been operated by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He indicates the site of the railroad. He calls up the years 1931 and 1964.
A film writer, Thomas Cyus, recalls the initial routes that are between Jersey City and Washington. Jerome jumps into the conversation and he goes into those lines. “Why? I was a conductor after I worked seven years under Don Walter.”
Film Writer Cyus writes down Jerome’s observation.
Even Don Walter was ten years old in 1931; he is able to remember the exciting of 1931 and 1937 when B&O has made its Columbian cars from the Royal Blue. He was already working to take care of his mother and his siblings. After that he will start to make history. He recognizes the 1949 branch has his name on it as well as the presence of Pullman-Standard riders. In the 1950s Don Walter and his crew have seen a wave of moments from B&O’s passenger services, such as the Columbian and Ambassador (where Marcus Perez has found her love in Anita Escobar) where he was an engineer. Don Walter and they began joint operation between Washington and Willard, Ohio January 10, 1954. On December 1, 1957, the Columbian’s dining car stopped operating west of Willard. On April 26, 1958, the B&O discontinued all passenger service between Jersey City and Baltimore, Maryland.
“It was a blow for us,” Don Walter says as he stops near the corner of Pratt and Poppleton Streets. “I thought it was just a setback when Mr. Poppleton told us.”
“But there was a good change?”
Don Walter looks at Darlene. “If you prefer about Amtrak, I must say we were still in a shock.”
They walk more down Pratt Street, and Don Walter, escorted by Carlota, Muto, Darlene and Ed, Denis and Marcus, indicates a point of the street where a mark was. “We marked the 1000th train.”
Darlene takes pictures. “Oh that is history.”
By afternoon, Jerome’s son has tables for the guests and the timers. Jerome smiles at him and squeezes his face. “Good!”
“I brought those pictures.”
They eat quietly.
Several hours later, Carlota confirms her next move with Darlene, and the young woman speaks with Don Walter. “They decide to start tomorrow.”
“I will with be and Juan, and Erick. We’ll be your home about ten.”
The recording is moving nicely.
Carlota has started to expend a lot of time in Baltimore to manage the production. At last minute they have decided to make a movie that will be based from Don Walter’s and his crew members’ character while the documentary has been calling back to the table.
The day before, there has been long interview at Don Walter’s place. They have been asking questions about his family, his father, and his mother, and his sisters and brothers all dead, except his wife for which she was unable to him a child. They have made him to remember those days and how he has survived. They have seen he is strong man and a kind of funny. And when there is a break he prefers to walk a little.
“Would you not mind if you join you?”
Outside, they walk in silent for a while, and then Carlota says, “I lost my husband several years back, July 19. Since I just focus too much on what I love. Perhaps, I do understand.”
“Believe me, I feel my time, and I am not a coward to rush it.”
“I am glad, Don Walter.”
He smiles at her. “Eventually, you’re going to finish it. A fact, Darlene has told me next week they got all what they need.”
“I know, but New York is closer. Have you ever visited New York?”
“We can do it on foot.”
“Oh, yeah. It’s possible.”
“Can I ask a person question?”
She laughs. “I mean!”
“Are you sure you have 81 years old?”
He grins at her lovely. “I do!”
“You look more young, Don Walter.”
“Well! Thank you, Carlota!”
She stares at him and shakes her head. “You are a liar!”
“They, too, say that.”
Unobjectionably flirtatious she replies. “I thought I was the only person who has said openly.”
“You have a convivial way.”
“Now I feel a little better,” she says and with a gracious gesture she grasps his arm and presses a little against Don Walter’s body. “Where the place you want to show me.”
Recognizing Carlota’s transaction, Don Walter replies gentlemanly. “Oh, I think I forgot.”
“It does not matter! Let us walk.”
“Yes! Let us walk.”
Before them Lob halts, glances at Don Walter, and he moves tail.
Then Don Walter glances up at the sky, looking directly at the fat cloud for the first time. He knows there are those eyes and they are serene as a way of relaxation and acceptation. By the time they cross Pratt Street; he squeezes Carlota’s hand and says, “There’s a reason for a change. It’s a moment of restoration as this one and together there is nothing that the spirits that are taken.”
Carlota does not reply. Instead she looks at him and tips many times his hand as a way she has understood.
Baltimore, MD, Sept 1, 2000 –
New York City, 2000