Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shroudette: The mental state of dispatch





Dispatch was a mental state. Our fathers were most of them from the army, and the navy, and they insisted we handle things with dispatch. Even if they’d manned the home front, they were into assembly, time-and-motion - dispatch. It had different names. Telegraph, bulletin, flash. It had different names, but one beat: staccato. But dispatch was the concept. Dispatch, thy name was news in Molina. 




Each day around 4pm a Chevrolet delivery truck would drop off bundled papers next door for Jimmy Tegan, the neighborhood's Moon Traveller Herald newsboy. I could go out and sit with Jimmy on his steps as he would roll out the news. We would talk. He'd try to teach me to roll the newspapers. Like the news, the craft was mysterious to me. I was all thumbs and no brain. The papers were rolled to become missiles, they would go in his orange canvas bag. 



He’d go off on his bike, and they lobbed like grenades on the door steps. Over long years, the Derby morning line, the president’s resignation, my father’s death, all were in a bale of news hitting the sidewalk. Sometimes I’d ride my bike along with Jimmy, maybe retrieving a rare doorstep miss. The news was the future, one day late. And I’d think on the next day. I remember as well the man of tomorrow: Dr. Stienle Shroudette who’d drive the street we biked, passing in an Avanti, a Stingray, or a Maserati - he was the head of research at Waxworks, and a serial auto enthusiast - with a New York newspaper on the passenger seat.

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