Love Letter #4

Dear Cracker,

Do you remember that night in the lodge, when one of the Chicago quintuplets — was it Leslie? — recited “Hug ‘O War” for the entire girls’ camp?  That took guts.  She got up there all alone, and when she recited “where everybody hugs/instead of tugs,” she wrapped her arms around herself and squeezed so tight.

I read that poem to A. this morning.  When I showed him the line drawing of a boy and girl hugging, I thought of Leslie and summers in Bemidji.  I thought of late-night council fires.  I saw you standing there in the dark, with your foot propped on a log.  I heard the fire crackle.  I saw the flashlight you held a few inches over your Silverstein book.  I heard your voice, interrupted by loons.

I never thanked you for council fires.  Or crossing the stream on Sunday mornings.  Or birch trees.  I never thanked you for Cat Stevens, James Taylor, or Pure Prairie League.  Remember the night Willard played “Amy” on his acoustic guitar?

I still know the story of your nickname.  You were in a relay race, and you were supposed to eat a package of Saltines and whistle.  But you couldn’t whistle.  Why was I so embarrassed about my own nickname?  It was my idea.  You announced it one night in the lodge, standing in front of the microphone, and you were so proud.  You had a full beard that summer, and you wore your white jersey shirt with the green thunderbird over the pocket.

If you still have that shirt, save it for me.



One thought on “Love Letter #4

  1. Alison Kothe

    I cannot believe you have been to Bemidji. I thought I was the only person in all of Indiana who has been to Bemidji. I will say that your recollection is quite a bit fonder than my own.


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