#SAMPLE SUNDAY

What’s in Mrs. Hales Receipts for the Million 1857?

678. An Excellent Pen Wiper for Steel Pens –Fill a short wide-mouth vial with shot, the smaller the better. When ever it is necessary to clean the pen, rub it up and own in the shot. This much more effectual than cloth wipers, and the shot will last a life-time.

For #Sample Sunday, en excerpt from Tree Soldier: A Novel of Love, Forgiveness and the Great Depression

In the Civilian Conservation Corps, disputes were often settle by boxing matches. In this scene, Park Hardesty, an enrollee from Pennsylvania and McGill, a local enrollee and camp bully duke it out. Hardesty belongs to Joisey Squad made up of teenagers from New Jersey and NY City.

****

The game ended in a tie when Golden got a hit, but was out at second on the next play for the third out. When it was announced that Hardesty and McGill were going to settle their differences like gentlemen, the game ended abruptly and the boys marched back with them to the canteen where the sports equipment was kept.

Spinelli opened the trunk and two pairs of boxing gloves were brought out. “I’m your manager,” he told Hardesty.” I know all the tricks.”

Hardesty stripped down to his sleeveless undershirt, the narrow shoulder straps accenting the work-hardened, tanned muscles in his arms. He took the gloves from Spinelli and put them on, oblivious to the patter around him. His lower back still hurt, but he hadn’t passed blood when he dropped by the bathhouse, so he assumed everything was all right. He watched with half-amusement as Spinelli tied on the gloves. The boy was chattering non-stop, carrying on a conversation with a half-dozen others. Everyone had an opinion where the fight should take place. One of the boys suggested that they go outside by the flagpole. There was plenty of space there.

“For who?” Hardesty asked.

“Your audience.”

The boys went outside. The match had by now created so much excitement that the boys working in the kitchen came out to watch. The camp assistant came out of the office and standing on the porch, asked what was going on. “Anyone approve this?”

“Oh, it’s all legal,” an enrollee said. “No one’s called anyone a rat yet, but they need to settle their differences.”

The camp assistant looked at Hardesty and McGill. “Whatever you do, it’s got to be fair.”

“Of course.” McGill smiled at Hardesty. He was bigger, heavier, and very sure of himself.

McGill took off his work shirt so that he was in his undershirt like Hardesty. He looked powerful. Curly red-gold hair on his chest peeked over the top of the undershirt’s u-shaped neck and his shoulders were freckled, but he was tough and hard, as a forester should be. He put up his fists and then toed the line along with Hardesty near the flagpole.

Staubach had a watch. Spenser had a whistle. Together, as the circle around the fighters formed, they tried to bring some order to the dispute. The rules were hastily explained but when the whistle blew, the circle around them surged as Hardesty and McGill both danced away and came together moments later to test each other with their first blows. Neither wasted any time, each of them quickly laying blows that were successfully blocked. After several series, they separated. Moving away, Hardesty danced lightly around, his hands up in front of his face. He had learned one thing. McGill was bigger and heavier, but he had the longer reach.

“Not bad, Hardesty, but don’t count your chickens. You know, buck, buck.”

“Why don’t you shut up, before you lose some teeth. Your mouth is gaping.”

McGill reacted on that and threw a punch, but Hardesty saw a hole and got in the first real hit, a solid right to the Tarheel’s cheek. Wasting no time, McGill came back with a left and a right which were blocked, but hard enough to knock Hardesty back. Hardesty recovered quickly, but McGill was back again and this time he scored with a left then a right into the Pennsylvanian’s side. Hardesty danced away, then came back with his own hit into the other’s stomach.

“Get him, Park!”  Mario crowed.  “Don’t pay him no mind.”

The fighters danced around, then became serious again with an exchange of blows that left both men smarting.  Behind them the boys cheered their favorites on. Hardesty came in again with a good solid hit to McGill’s jaw and came back again with a left to the other side that sent McGill back. One thing about McGill: he didn’t take “no” for an answer. He charged with a ferocity that forced Hardesty to protect himself. Again and again he was struck, until he pushed back against the bigger enrollee. They locked against each other, attempting to get in blows as they did so.  Spenser had to come in and separate them.

“Anyone getting tired?”

“Aw, dry up,” McGill said and threw a punch at Hardesty that caught him on the side of his eye. His head turning, Hardesty stumbled back to the shock of Mario and the others, but he regained quickly and came back to dance lightly around again.

“Stubborn,” McGill said.

“Willing,” came back Hardesty.

Then he grinned. Maybe he didn’t like getting beat up, but like the bucking match, there was something in him that always made him come back and meet the challenge. For the hell of it. He had always been that way with his brother Paul. And they had fought and scratched from the time he could walk and talk. If it wasn’t fists, there was always the mouth.

For the next couple of minutes, they danced around exchanging punches and moving the circle further out into the parade ground.

“Tiring, Hardesty?” McGill taunted. He was getting annoyed that he hadn’t settled the dispute in one flat knockout.

“Hell, no.” To prove it, he increased his tempo, coming at McGill with a heavier barrage that almost knocked the Tarheel down. A couple of boys from his squad pushed him back in.

“You caught me off-guard, foreigner. You’re not a Max Bauer, but you’re not bad.”

McGill winked at his supporters, then laid in a good hit to Hardesty’s mid-section. He beamed when Hardesty grunted loudly, but Hardesty took the smirk off McGill’s face when he came back again and again. He was making better contact with his reach. Angered by his continual harassment, McGill put his weight to use and succeeded in hitting Hardesty so hard in his shoulder that he fell back. A follow-up to his right cheek sent him down.

“Oo-ohh,” the crowd said.

The circle of boys collapsed as they surged in to see the damage, but Hardesty had rolled out and was up. Sweat poured down into his eyes and mouth. He felt heavy with it, but he quickly wiped it dry with his arm and came back in. The circle held for a moment then inched back at Spenser’s hollering.

“Get back! Way back! Hey, Van Houten! I said back!” Spenser hit the enrollee with his cap, and then the crowd to make them widen the ring.

The boys moved, yelling at their favorites as they went, but Spenser had to spin away when Hardesty and McGill nearly mowed him down. They were hitting pretty hard now, the sweat and blood coming regularly. A cut on Hardesty’s cheekbone had opened, blood welling from the split and the skin on the eye socket was bruised, but McGill looked no better. His nose was bleeding on one side and his lip was cut.

“Give in?’ McGill shouted.

“No way.”

The crowd cheered with joy.

Some time during the exchanges, Hardesty’ mood shifted and occasionally he found himself laughing after an especially hairy encounter. There was something exhilarating about it, because it no longer made any sense. He was so tired, but McGill was tired too. Despite the cool air of the late afternoon, their shirts and pants were soaked, their hair plastered to their skulls.

“The three rounds are over,” someone said, but no one was going to give up. There would be no knockout. They’d just go until they dropped dead.

Tree Soldier is on Kindle at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004C44F0Q

Book version coming soon!

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One thought on “#SAMPLE SUNDAY

  1. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and our accidental meeting through Lisa Yarde.

    I love your blog too and am looking forward to reading more. We historical authors are a small but wonderful group. I’m so pleased to have met you. I’m now a subscriber.

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