Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

From Singles 2009

Clearly, this Thomas E. Dewey -- and a man named John W. Bricker, who was governor of the state of Ohio for crying out loud-- really couldn't stand President Roosevelt. But only Nazis and the dirty little Japs were supposed to hate President Roosevelt. If you were an American and hated President Roosevelt, what did that make you?

(Old? Tired? Defeated? How come, if President Roosevelt was all those things, our side was winning the war? Well, you had to make allowances. After all, the people who said such things were Republicans, and everyone knew Republicans were sort of thick in the head.)

"The Greatest Thing..." follows nine-year-old Morris Bird III as he walks across the East side of Cleveland to visit his friend, Stanley Chaloupka, who moved away before the beginning of the school year. He's accompanied by his baby sister - who he is good enough to pull in his wagon most of the time. (It is a school day and she's threatening to call attention to their truancy if he doesn't do things her way, at least occasionally.) The year is 1944 and natural gas stores are about to erupt.

Thank you for the gift of this book. It was a pleasant read while waiting in LA for my flight to Brisbane. (I am woefully behind on this blogging enterprise.) Morris is a great kid, but I must confess that I was fascinated to learn about such a huge disaster that took place close to my last "home" in the not so distant past. (I can't believe that I had not heard anything about this event. Ever. In Darwin there would be a big museum - and there would be a giant stuffed croc there, too.) Of course, since then I've spent way too much time locating where Morris lived and Stanley and looking at photos of the devastation that was created by the explosion.

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