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Temperance Event Short Story on line
Karolina stopped by the hotel desk where Andrea was working. “Look at this temperance advertisement,”. She said.
Andrea took the sheet of paper and read. “ Reverend Roald Johanna to speak for the Temperance League. Thursday night..” She put the advertisement down and gazed thoughtfully at her friend. “What do you think he is up to?”
After the fire that nearly burned the hall down, Roald had volunteered help to the survivors. He surprised Andrea and he surprised himself even more. Odd that an immigrant girl from a little torpe farm like Andrea seemed to take charge. Could it have something to do with this democracy in America? He recalled seeing Andrea on the ship coming over. They had both got on a cruise from Norway that was mostly filled with young people. He and Andrea were from the same village in Sweden and among just a few Swedes on the voyage. Except when she was seasick, she appeared young and vulnerable, dancing laughing and joking with all the boys. Later when he talked to her, she seemed unimpressed with his education and social standing. Being of the clergy class in Sweden made him the social superior of a farmer. He couldn't understand how he had let this girl make him feel as if he were the inferior one. Even the rash by his collar seemed to act up when she confronted him.
Even though he had not been a hero where the fire was concerned he seemed to be better accepted by the people afterward. Merely trying to help seemed to count for something. The thought occurred to him that he needed a cause to work for. The temperance movement was growing. Tthat might be a vocational calling.
He put some lotion on the rash by his collar which always seemed to itch when he felt pressured. He smiled at the reflection of himself in the mirror and ran a comb through his stylishly clipped blond hair. His strong, understated authoritative look pleased himand his and blue grey eyes gave him a serious appearance. He let his mind drift back to his last interview with his seminary counselor. He thought he had everyone convinced that he was a superior candidate for the Lutheran ministry. Why did the counselor tell him he had no vocation with the church? How did Andrea know or guess that he had not been ordained?
He met the temperance people when he was passing one of the saloons. When they found he had been to seminary they were anxious to enlist him. They set up the lecture series without even hearing him preach. Maybe the social gospel was the way of the future, he thought. .
The church was old, faded white paint was peeling from the sides, wind had blown shingles from the roof allowing water to seep in and deteriorate the the ceiling which had turned a brownish color in places. One window was boarded up. He was surprised how many people volunteered to help fix the place up. Even Andrea's friends Jay and John. They were not all interested in temperance but were willing to help a cause that might have a good influence on the town. After a week the building started to look much better.
It was still an old run down building, but it was beginning to feel like his parish. He still was not ordained. “Just a detail,” he thought. He could start to think of this as his parish in a way.”The congregation will look to me for guidance. For the first time he wondered if he could live up to it.”
Thursday night came around and Roald stepped to the pulpit.” Welcome to our little church which has taken on the cause of defending you against the evils of drink and those who supply it. Frankly, I am not against a bit of wine for communion, or for a holiday reunion. But the alcohol interests have abused the concepts of legitimate business and are seducing working people of their money. The have built expensive and glamorous saloons to entice working men to spend their money and neglect their families.”
When Roald had finished his lecture to applause from the audience he opened the meeting for questions and discussion. Andrea was the first to speak up. “This is called the Temperance movement, but most of the advocates seem to want to prohibit alcohol altogether. Do you think that is wise?”
“Andrea, thank you for coming tonight.. I would prefer to get most people temperate, but it might not be up to me. In fact it is up to you ladies. If ladies get to vote, than they may push for a law to outlaw alcohol.”
“Than you are for sufferage, too?”
“The ideas is kind of new to me, Andrea, but I think maybe I am. There are some smart, dedicated women around like Susan B. Anthony. More important may be women like yourself. You convinced me of some things, even about myself, that I didn't like at first..”
Andrea was taken back by what she was hearing. She looked at Roald's neck. No rash there. Maybe he was sincere. “Thank you Roald for the compliment. When we grew up you always seemed to look down on me and the other girls, especially the farm girls.”
“I'm sorry for that. I hope I can do better.”
Andrea was about to reply but found herself pushed aside by a rather short man in a tattered coat, miners boots and a slouch hat. He pulled a revolver out of his coat and with a shaky hand pointed it at Roald. “ You ain't goin' to give no vote to women or take our grog away from us.” The pistol was wavering in his hand. Jay and John came forward to help Andrea up. They helped her to her feet and were going to try tackling the intruder but Roald waved them off. Roald, in turn, kept his eye on the gun. He did not know much about forearms but it looked almost as decrepit as its owner..Since talk had always been Roald's strongest weapon he spoke softly but firmly to the intruder. “ I won't take anything from you friend. I hope as a minister to get you to want to give it up.”
The man was a little unsteady and Andrea and the others were afraid the gun would go off accidentally. “See that young lady you knocked over when you came in? Now that woman saved my life once when a mob wanted to hang me. Don't you think wise and generous women like that might help us men to run the country. There is no reason to think their decisions will be worse than our own. Now why don't you go over and apologized to her for knocking her down..”
The man looked at Roald, then at his gun and finally at Andrea. “I'm sorry miss. I didn't mean to hurt you.” He handed his gun to Andrea., turned and walked out of the church.
“Did you mean what you said about me?” she asked Roald.
“With that gun in your hand, I guess I better mean it,” he answered.
Andrea looked at the gun in her hand and smiled.
Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund
- Susan B. Anthony: Was a Pioneer Civil Rights Activist leader and Her Political Activities
A pioneer in civil rights and an early example of feminism which might not match the modern model.Susan b. anthony haas earned a place in American history.
© 2012 Don A. Hoglund