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Chapter 1

 Ida Woodbury’s cell held a half dozen other women: pickpockets and prostitutes. She cringed in a corner of the cell, humiliated and frightened by the hardened hands that had violated her.  
“Don’t worry, honey. The cops had their fun,” one inmate said. “They won’t bother you anymore.” 
The memories of her arrest a few minutes earlier consumed her like blood rushing from a deep wound. A sergeant with fetid breath and hands like claws snarled that she had to be frisked for weapon as his colleagues hooted like satyrs. He pinned Ida against the cell bars, groped her breasts, waist, and thighs as he rubbed himself against her.  She heard one of her cellmates heckle the cop.
“Leave her alone, you creep. She’s only a girl,” a female prisoner yelled.
Ida sobbed as the officer pulled off her white bonnet and ran his filthy hands through her red hair, and fondled her white cheeks. “Stop it you bimbo,” cried another woman.
“Shut your yap, before I take a poke at you, you filthy whore.” the policeman answered.
Ida shrieked, “Stop! Leave me! I am a minister of the Lord.”
Her screams startled Ida’s, masher and the jackals around him became silent.
“She’s one of those street preachers, a holy roller,” the prostitute said. They have a farm on the Raritan River in Zarephath. You hurt that girl and their leader, Bishop White will storm this place with hundreds of women.”
“I know she’s a preacher. She was ‘disturbin’ the peace.”
Her attacker distracted, Ida managed to move away from him. She stood in her gray frock with long sleeves and an embroided cross, trying to stop herself from trembling. She fell to her knees and began to pray.
“Better leave her be, Sarge, a policeman said.
“Get up, preacher!” the sergeant snarled. 
Ida complied but kept her eyes pointed at her shoes and continued to pray.
“I better not see you preachin round here again, girlie or you’ll regret it,” the sergeant said. The officer squeezed Ida’s buttocks and pushed her into the cell.
Ida sat in despair, praying Bishop White was on her way.

She was arrested on a beautiful May morning in 1925. A student at the Pillar of Fire Bible Institute, she and a dozen disciples of Bishop Alma White stood among Plainfield, New Jersey commuters waiting for the train to Newark, shouting from Romans about God’s mercy, and bouncing on their feet, whenever Jesus’s name was spoken. People laughed at her and called her a “holy roller,” or “Jesus Jumper.” The stationmaster demanded that the preachers leave, and when they refused called the police. A paddy wagon arrived with sirens blaring, and a contingent of burly officers with nightsticks prepared to arrest them. Ida prayed for God’s protection as the policeman ordered the evangelists to disperse. Three of the young men, who still suffered bruises from previous beatings, urged Ida to leave, choosing safety and the chance to preach again. Ida refused, kneeling down, and proclaiming scripture as a crowd gathered around her. She continued to preach, reading from Romans 6: when a person dies, he is set free from the power of sin. The sergeant put his face so close to Ida’s, she could smell the stale beer and cabbage on his breath. “Move on, miss, or you’ll end up in jail.” His malevolent smile terrified Ida, but she masked her fear with piety and swallowed her tears. Ida continued to read. “Sin must no longer rule in your mortal bodies…nor must you surrender any part of yourselves to sin.”
The policeman pulled the Bible from Ida’s hands and tossed it to his partner. The crowd gasped as she was handcuffed, dragged down the platform steps, and thrown into the police van. Ida lay on the floor of her dark, windowless prison as the van bounced to the police station. Quaking with fear, she calmed herself by imagining the archangel Michael, sword in hand, ready to stand as her defender. 
Now she sat against the wall in the corner of the cell, squeezing her legs to her chest, trying to become invisible.
“Is that true, girlie? You got arrested for preaching?”
Ida turned away from her hideous cellmate who wore a filthy dress that at one time might have been yellow but now looked mostly brown with layers of dirt and blood. The women’s hair stood frizzy black and gray, as if it had been pasted on her skull in clumps. When she opened her mouth to speak, toothless dark gaps appeared, giving her the appearance of a citizen of the underworld. 
“Too stuck up to talk to a bunch a sinners, I reckon.”
“Leave her be, Penny. She’s frightened,” a woman said who wore a tired satin red dress so indecent it exposed the cleavage of her breasts. 
    My God have you forsaken me? Ida guessed it was Satan who was whispering to her.  Bishop White had warned them how unbelievers would harass them. “Moses said to the people, Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning. The Lord is with you and will always give you strength.” But nothing had prepared Ida for this trip to Hell. Satan’s minions surrounded her, disguised as women who degraded themselves in the most despicable ways. 
    “How old are you honey?” asked the garish whore in the red dress.
    “Twenty-three,” Ida answered. 
    “Don’t worry. Your friends will come for you and take you home.”
    “Thank you. The Lord will be my strength.”
    Maybe she was being tested, Ida thought. On the one hand she wanted to be a mouse and disappear through the bars in front of her. On the other hand something within her was ready to explode at any moment. She had to choose between saving herself and what? She wasn’t sure. Maybe she wasn’t the person she thought, destined to preach and save souls. “What do you want from me Lord?” she called out, startling the women surrounding her. And then she knew what to do
Ida rose and greeted each woman, holding their hands, inviting them to pray with her. Then down on her knees, she thanked the Lord for his protection, and asked her cynical cellmates to turn from their lives of sin. “This day you have been called to repent and receive the Father’s redeeming grace.”
“My sins are too many, I’m not worthy,” said the woman in the red dress.
“What does a child like you know about sin?” another said to Ida.
“Jesus died for all our sins. Only He decides who is worthy. All you need do is tell him you believe.”
“Where was Jesus when my husband abandoned us? Where was God when my child died of the grip?” shouted an obese woman to the nods of those around her.
“I cannot explain what God’s plan is for us, or why you lost your child. I do know that if you follow the laws of God, he will keep his covenant of love with you.” 
“I’m through with God. He’s just a man who takes what he wants and leaves,” the prisoner retorted.
“God is always there if you want him to be,” Ida answered.
“Two sinners died with Jesus on the cross. Dismas, in his dying breath expressed his belief in Jesus as his Savior and Jesus told him, This day you shall join with me in paradise.
    Only one prisoner joined with Ida on her knees, but Ida knew God’s mercy was present, and she had found her mission.
The next morning Ida was brought before a municipal court judge, and Alma White accompanied by an attorney rose to her defense.
“I’m here to return Miss Woodbury to Zarephath,” thundered Bishop White.
Ida’s protector and mentor stood statuesque at six feet tall and nearly two hundred pounds. She was the equal of any man both physically and spiritually with a baritone voice that boomed like Jehovah commanding the Israelites. The Bishop wore a black, floor-length vestment with padded shoulders and dark buttons running from her neck to her feet.
Ida was intimidated, but the judge’s expression suggested that he was the one in danger.
“You’re charged with disorderly conduct, Miss Woodbury. How do you plead?”
“How can a woman preaching the gospel of Jesus be called disorderly?” Alma shouted.
“Please be quiet, Bishop White, or I will have you expelled from this court.”
“I will join my colleague in prison, if that’s what it takes to bring the Lord’s message to the citizens of Plainfield.” Alma turned to Ida. “Plead not guilty, my dear.”
“Not guilty,” Ida replied.
The judge searched in vain for the arresting officer. At that point Alma’s attorney approached the bench, and asked that Ida Woodbury be released on her own recognizance, pending certification of charges. The judge agreed.
 Ida confided to Bishop White that an officer had groped her. On hearing this, Alma threatened the judge with a visit to the editor of the local paper to reveal how a young Christian woman had been abused by a Roman Catholic police force. The judge dropped the charges.
Strengthened by her time in jail, Ida continued her forays into street corner preaching.  Small in stature, she would bring a milk crate to stand on whenever she preached outdoors. Adorned in a white cloak, she held her Bible with both hands and preached the power of God’s grace. At one event she taught Psalm 130 that brought hope to the faithful. 
Out of the Depths I have cried unto thee O’Lord, 
Lord Hear my voice….
But With you is forgiveness, that you may be revered.
I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His Word.
Her message eschewed the hellfire and damnation so typical of her peers. She preached about her humble origins as an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle on a farm in Colorado to illustrate that all she had become was thanks to God.  And if God could care for her, anyone could receive his abundant gifts.  
In June 1925, Ida Woodbury was ordained a minister in the Pillar of Fire Church, an evangelical branch of the Methodists. Much as she loved the communal farm life of Zarephath, her ambition was to lead her own congregation in one of the many Pillar of Fire churches sprouting up like good seeds around the country.  When she visited the bishop’s office, Alma White explained that Ida’s voice was a gift that she needed on the front line of the battle with Satan.
“Our great nation is falling, Ida. The country we love is being smothered by immigrants dumped here by Europe: people speaking foreign languages and taught loyalty to a pope in Rome.”
“How can I serve, Bishop White?”
“Not me, Ida, but God. You must call out to all good white Protestants that Jesus is coming soon, and happy are those who obey the prophetic words in his book. I can’t do it alone. 
“I will preach God’s message wherever I’m sent. You gave me hope, and filled me with the life of the Holy Ghost. I am ready to give testimony to all you have taught me.”

Three years earlier Ida had entered a bleached white tent with two enormous masts, each topped with a simple cross. Inside, wooden benches stood in rows, labeled with the books of the Bible. The interior walls had scriptural passages from Revelations, calling for repentance. You do not love me as you did at first. Turn from your sins.
She listened as Alma White described being forced to leave her mother church, the Methodists, because its ministers had neutered the message of Jesus with lies wrapped in reason, adding and deleting words to the message of God. Quoting from Timothy, she taught that scripture was the infallible rule of faith, and both the Old and New Testament offered the truth to people of any age
Alma White explained how she had been chosen by the Holy Ghost to safeguard American liberty against the scourge of Romanism and the immigrant hordes of Slavs, Russians, Poles, and Italians who refused to shed their languages and customs to become patriotic citizens. Ida had no experience with such people but did believe that America, created by white Protestants, was the new Eden as foretold in the Bible. 
When the service was completed, Ida approached Alma about what she should do.
“Come with me to Zarephath, and learn to preach the gospel.”
“But aren’t only men assigned by God to be ministers?” Ida asked.
“God has called both men and women to take their places in the fight against evil. Women are not simply helpmates but equal in every respect to men and can claim the right to preach,” Bishop White said.
For a woman whose life meandered between farming and teaching, the words were an invitation written on a golden tablet. Now, after three years of study and prayer, she was ready to begin her life’s work.
“I want you to organize a mission for young people. The old order has collapsed. Young women accompany men without chaperones, engage in promiscuous dancing, and wear provocative clothing. They learn the most serious lessons about themselves in the backseat of an automobile under the cover of darkness.”
“Why would they listen to me, if they cannot hear you?”
 “Young people are in rebellion, defying authority and wearing fashions that expose their limbs like common hussies.  They close their ears to me, mock my message, and call me a Bible thumper.”
“Our message is the same,” Ida said.
“Many are lost, but there are some who can be saved. They will see you as a young woman who understands the temptations they face. They will listen to you.”
“I will go wherever you send me.” 

Chapter 2

 “Mr. Harris, pack your things. No rent, no room. I ain’t running no charity house,” Mrs. Hughes, bellowed.
Dwight Harris, hung-over, and broke pulled the woolen army blanket over his head, hoping his landlady would go away. The hooch he had drunk last night settled like kerosene in his gut, forcing him to get up and kneel before the shit-stained crapper at the other end of the hall.  His jaw ached from the impromptu boxing lesson he had received from the fat mick bartender at the Pink Teahouse when he was getting a bit friendly with the Irishman’s girlfriend. 
“Mr. Harris, I know you’re in there,” she shouted while pounding at his door.”
A job would stave off eviction, but his resume was thin: disinherited prince, cowardly doughboy, and drunk. It was five years since coming home to Westfield, New Jersey from Paris, but the sounds of Big Bertha’s shells and the agonizing screams of comrades never left him.
“I’ll have your money tomorrow,” Dwight called out.
“I’m not a fool Mr. Harris. Ten dollars in my hands today, or I’ll send Liam to settle things with you,” she answered.
Liam, her son and a local thug, was known to persuade freeloaders to pay their debts with his fists when necessary. 
He could pawn his German Luger at a local shop on Broad Street, in Westfield. It was a rare trophy among the doughboys who had fought the Germans in the Argonne Forest while whimpering in trenches, their nerves shattered by the ceaseless shelling. Most of his comrades were still “over there,” but he learned when he returned from France that there were worse fates than joining his friends in Flanders fields.
His other choice was to go home. His father, Arthur Harris, might offer him a bed, but it would come with hectoring lectures about his failures and require wearing the hair shirt of a penitent. He’d rather spend the night in the hoosegow with the local police.
“Mr. Harris, there’s a telephone call for you,” his landlady called out.
“Who is it?”
“I dunno, but you better tell him not to call here again.”
Why would anyone call him? It couldn’t be good news. Nonetheless, he was drawn to pick up the telephone. He went downstairs.
“Mr. Harris, my name is Emmet Doyle, editor of The Union County Standard. I have a letter inquiring about a job as a reporter. Are you interested?”
Dwight held the speaker to his mouth, pressing the headphone to his ear, wondering if the caller was confused. What letter? Did he have the right Harris?
“Mr. Harris, are you there? I’d like to meet with you.”
“Yes, sorry. When?”
“Tomorrow, first thing. Eight a.m. sharp.”
“If you’re late, don’t bother coming.”
“I’ll be there.”
A job? He hadn’t applied for a job. This had to be Arthur calling in some debt, embarrassed by his son’s downward spiral into vagrancy. His father was right about his appearance, which raised the question of how to make himself presentable for an interview.
At one time women admired him for his blond and big-boned handsomeness, but no mirror was necessary to remind him he looked like a hobo and smelled like a pig farmer. He was twenty-five going on seventy-five. His only decent clothes sat rumpled in a cardboard box. Maybe Mrs. Hughes would let him use her iron. Meanwhile, he could visit the YMCA and wash the stink off of himself.
Arthur Harris, the founder of Harris Trust, the fifth largest bank in New York was sixty years old, tall, thin with a thick head of white hair. He wore his banker’s blue vested suit, white shirt and red tie as naturally as a priest in his vestments. He viewed his success as somehow part of history, not unlike his contemporaries the Mellons and Morgans, who spoke as other listened. He tried to teach his son, Dwight that the world was divided between debtors and creditors. Life was a constant process of balancing accounts, but regrettably his son had become a liability. 
 He had written Emmet Doyle, whose newspaper had outstanding loans from his bank, not because he believed his son was ready for redemption but for a debt he owed his late wife. Louisa never forgave him for forcing Dwight to enlist, blaming him for the joyless stranger who returned to them in 1919. She closed her eyes to their son’s iniquities and spoiled him.
 Dwight had created a scandal face dancing with some hussy at the senior prom, prompting his forcible expulsion from the gym. He was thrown in jail after a scuffle with Principal Drummond that bloodied the educator’s nose. To quiet the scandal, Arthur convinced the magistrate that Dwight should be permitted to enlist, convinced Dwight’s self indulgent behavior would be burned away as he fought the Hun. 
 When his son returned from the war, he packed him off to Middlebury College to prepare him for a position at the bank. Within three years, however, Dwight was expelled after organizing an orgy with alcohol and the exotic charms of Bonnie May Flo and the Flapper Girls.
That horrible night when his disgraced progeny arrived home, Arthur threw Dwight and all his possessions onto the street.
“I’m finished with you!”
“Arthur, please. Give him a chance to explain,” his mother said. She turned to her son. “What has happened to you, Dwight?”
“Stop excusing him, Louisa. Lots of young men served, and when they came back, they moved on with their lives. Those who did not return died as heroes in defense of liberty.”
 “I was there. Isn’t that enough?”
“You wrote that you were being treated for some unnamed injury while your comrades fought and died.”
“There are some injuries you cannot see.”
“You’re a coward! You feigned illness while others fought.”
Arthur remained estranged from Dwight for several years. Louisa died in 1923 and even at her funeral they barely spoke.  He did not tell Dwight he promised his wife on her deathbed that he would not abandon their son.
In his darkest moments, Arthur stood across from the war memorial in town, an obelisk with the names of the boys who had died in France, boys whose families he knew, watching their fathers and mothers tenderly rub their hands against their child’s name, remembering. His pain was not their pain. The parents of the boys who did not return were comforted at least by the patriotic sacrifice of their sons. Harris had lost a son as well, but his doppelganger had made a spectacle of himself in some gin joint, according to the chief of police, and faced eviction.
“Let him go, Arthur,” the chief told him. “He doesn’t want your help or anyone else’s.”
“I made a promise.”
“That debt was paid long ago. Dwight needs to become a man or take the consequences.”
Arthur nodded, but when he got home, he sent a letter to Doyle, enclosing an essay Dwight had written about the fighting, and a request that he hire his son as a reporter.
Dwight begged Mrs. Hughes, his landlady, for a little more time with his rent. He explained that the call was a job offer at The Standard, and he just needed to go down there tomorrow to sign some papers. He guessed that the absence of boarders with money meant the room would remain vacant for some time. 
The next morning he took the trolley to Cranford, then boarded a second car for Elizabeth. The tracks had been laid twenty years ago and were filled with bumps and bends, sometimes derailing a car. The settlement of the latest strike in 1925 had raised the fare to an exorbitant ten cents, but it was cheaper than a train and more reliable than hitchhiking down South Avenue. He found some loose change in his newly ironed suit pocket to pay the fare and pick up a copy of The Union County Standard.
The newspaper owned by the Doyle family, dated back to the Civil War, when it had promptly endorsed Lincoln but favored allowing the South to secede. When he read the paper, which was seldom, Dwight scanned the sports page to check on the high school’s various athletic teams. Today, he went to the editorial page, figuring Doyle would quiz him on his latest column, praising Calvin Coolidge. 
The press building was a five-story brick shoebox located on Broad Street in Elizabeth. The walls were thick; the brick fascia was more black than red, as if the owners had found a sale on overcooked masonry. The windows were narrow slits, designed to prevent anything from escaping save for the deafening clatter. Even from his trolley stop on Elmora, he could hear the hammering of the linotype machines and the roar of the enormous Heidelberg presses on the first floor.
In contrast to the doleful exterior, a well-lit, pleasant reception area staffed by a young woman greeted him as he entered the building. Dwight gave his name, and the receptionist instructed the elevator operator to take Dwight up to the fifth floor.
Emmet Doyle’s office offered Dwight an expansive view of the Raritan Valley, and bestowed on the publisher self importance to his visitors. The walls were a collection of bookshelves interspersed with floor-to-ceiling windows, while an enormous cherry wood desk, dominated the room. Its owner sat facing out the window on an upholstered throne that swiveled and rolled. The floor was covered with a thick Persian carpet woven in geometric patterns of blue, gold, and red.
“Mr. Harris. You’re on time, so at least we’re off to a good start.” Doyle pivoted round and pointed to a simple wooden chair for Dwight.
“Please sit down.”
Royal trappings did not intimidate Dwight. His father could buy and sell the Doyles many times over. Dwight sat down.
He watched as Doyle took out the letter his father had sent, along with an article Dwight had written in the hospital about the war. “Your description of the Argonne battle is well constructed, although a bit maudlin for my taste. Where was it published?”
“Nowhere. The doctor who was treating me in Paris suggested that I write down some of my experiences.” The doctor said he was suffering from shell-shock. Among soldiers he was simply a coward.
“Writing at this paper requires good form and meeting deadlines. You know how to write, but can you turn an article in every day on a deadline?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Do you drink or smoke, Mr. Harris?”
“I had a few drinks before the Volstead Act, and I still smoke.”
“The Union County Standard has been an unshakable advocate of Prohibition, and I would not want to be embarrassed by one of my reporters.”
“I don’t drink, Mr. Doyle.” The lie came easily. When he had the cash he was a regular at the Book Club over on Grove Street, a safe place to imbibe because a police captain in town was a silent partner.
“You’re a Republican?”
“I never gave politics much thought, but I’m a veteran, which should count for something.”
“These are dangerous times, Mr. Harris. Our country has been swamped with anarchists, communists, and papists who refuse to be Americanized. They keep to themselves, maintain their language and customs, run their own schools, refusing to pledge allegiance to our flag.”
“I’m also a Presbyterian.”
“I know who you are, Harris. You wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know your father. I’m giving you a chance, and in return I expect that you will do nothing to embarrass this newspaper. Am I clear?”
“Yes, sir.”
“I’m sending you down to my city editor, George Barrow for your assignments. If I have to see you again up here, it will be about your dismissal. Understood, Harris?”
“Yes, sir. What’s my salary?”
“I’m starting you at twenty dollars a week.”
“Could I get a small advance?”
“Good-bye, Mr. Harris.”
When Dwight got to the elevator, the operator was already waiting for him.
The city room was on the third floor, and George Barrow’s office was a tiny closet, as neat as a convent. Barrow was rail thin, dressed in a black suit with a blue bow tie, his black hair cropped short, parted in the middle, and held in place with a generous application of pomade. His hands were large and bony, his fingernails polished and manicured.
“Mr. Barrow, I’m Dwight Harris. Mr. Doyle sent me here.”
“I know,” he sighed. “Sit down.”
Dwight took out his cigarettes and a lighter. He offered the pack to Barrow. “Do you smoke?”
“No, and neither will you while you’re in my office.”
Dwight wondered whether he had strayed into a religious camp: a newspaper where smoking and drinking were prohibited, an editor who looked like a minister. How long before his sins would get him canned?
“I want you to cover the Chautauqua over in Westfield at the Methodist church; just a paragraph or so about the different speakers. Do a cheery review of the hand bell choir’s performance as well, or the minister’s wife will shout Doyle’s ears off. I expect you to cover all Westfield and Plainfield town council and board of education meetings. Articles are due on my desk each day by four. There’s a desk and a typewriter for you to use right outside. You’ll be sharing it; so don’t fill it with personal items.”
Dwight started back to Westfield wondering if this job was his father’s revenge. In any case he would have to take his medicine and beg his father for money until payday.
He hopped off the trolley at North and Central and walked over to his father’s estate in Stoneleigh Park. The spacious home sat on a hill overlooking the town. It had two enormous wings joined at the center by a stone tower. There was a bright red barn in the backyard with a brand-new green Packard parked in front and the old Model T inside. Dwight walked up the stone steps onto a white, columned porch that surrounded the house and rang the bell. Bridget, the housemaid who had worked for the family for years, answered the door and gave Dwight a smile and a hug.
“Lo, Mr. Dwight. You’re lookin’ foin”
 “I’m feelin dapper, Bridget. Is my father around?”
“On a sunny day like this, he’s in the garden tendin’ his roses. I’ll let him know you’re here.”
As Dwight waited, he gazed at the portrait of his mother that hung over the fireplace. The painting was his father’s promise of repentance, a gift to make amends for his drinking and philandering. It cost his father a fortune, but rather than forgiveness, Dwight believed the sad visage offered only judgment. 
Bridget pointed to his father working in the garden and then quickly disappeared. Wearing a bow tie and a starched white shirt streaked with perspiration, his father was trimming his roses. He looked up momentarily at Dwight and returned to his garden work.
“Father, I need to talk to you. I got a job at the Union County Standard.”
“I know. I asked Doyle to hire you.”
When he had returned home from France in 1919, his father had expected him to earn his degree and join him at the bank. It had been his plan too, but even safe at home, his hands trembled, nightmares destroyed his sleep, and the backfire of an engine could send him dropping to the ground. He stopped the shakes with the best Canadian whiskey, served neat in generous tumblers. Tears were dried by girls coiffed in curly, bobbed hair, naked limbs, painted faces, and easy virtue. The sounds of jazz and the cacophony of endless parties muffled the screams of dying comrades.  His father’s anger grew with the titillating gossip surrounding his son and the whispers of his cowardice as a soldier.
“I also told him he was free to fire you.”
“I know I’ve disappointed you.”
“Disappointment! Is that what you call it? You’re a train wreck and a failure at everything you’ve attempted. Thank heavens your mother isn’t alive to see what you’ve become.”
Dwight stood quietly, head down, accepting the blows from his father like the whippings he had received as a boy. Finally, he spoke.
“Yesterday I felt I was at the bottom of a well until you offered me a rope to climb out.” Tell the old man what he wants to hear.
“You were always good with promises to mend your ways, even as a disobedient child. But your repentance was brief and the same sins repeated. The Lord may forgive you, but I’m losing patience.”
Dwight wanted a loan, not forgiveness. “I need to borrow twenty-five dollars to get me through until payday in two weeks. After that I’ll pay you back five dollars at a time.” 
“It will only go to booze.”
“I’ve stopped drinking.”
“A story I’ve heard before.”
“I’m flat broke, Father. I can’t pay my rent, buy food, or even pay trolley fare. I need a loan until I get paid.”
Dwight watched as his father opened his wallet and handed him some bills.
“I asked Emmet Doyle to give you a job, so I guess I need to make sure you get there. Remember, it’s a loan.”
He believed his father was a hypocrite. The pledge to his mother to stop drinking was more a strategy by his father to keep peace at home than an act of contrition. As long as his sins were in private, they were not sins at all. The title of elder at the Presbyterian Church, purchased with a substantial pledge to the building fund, was the bleach that washed away his sins and anointed him as a spiritual leader. Dwight would leave God to pass judgment on his father’s balance sheet. Besides, he needed a car.
“I noticed you still have the Tin Lizzie in the barn. Can I borrow it? If I’m going to be a reporter, I need to get around. Just until I can afford a car.”
“I was going to sell it for scrap. If you can get it started, you can have it.”
Dwight pocketed the cash and walked back to the barn to inspect the Ford. His father had bought it after the war and taught Dwight how to drive. The once proud motorcar now sat forlornly in the barn, tires flat and covered in dust. He had a high school classmate who worked selling Packards but fixed cars in his garage in his spare time. Dwight fixed the flats, blew up the tires, and hired a horse to tow the car to the garage. Five dollars and a couple of bottles of hooch was enough to get him rolling.