Wednesday, April 26, 2006

My story is in the Freeman! I'm linking to the newspaper's website, but the story is in a special section, and it doesn't seem to be online. I haven't seen it yet, because I can't get the Freeman in Castleton, and after calling around to some newsstands I have determined that the closest place to get it is quite a drive. So I will have to wait until I go to Samsonville to see it.

I thought I had a PDF of the story, but I can't find it. So here it is:

Christmas Paper

Drafted into the army at eighteen during World War II, Dino had never been away from his brothers and sisters before. He did his basic training in Stark, Florida, a place as alien to a kid from Brooklyn as Mars. He was terribly homesick.

Thanksgiving came, but he did not get papers to go home. Impulsively, he went AWOL. For three days on the train ride north he hid in the bathrooms from the MPs. When he arrived in New York, his brother Joe and brother in law Richie were horrified and urged him to return to Florida. But he was stubborn, and instead, he spent the holiday with his family and then resumed hiding in bathrooms on the long train ride south.

When he slipped back on base, his friend, a gentle guy from Newburgh, New York told him he was in big trouble. At roll call the next morning, his superior yelled at him for his absence and told him that he was fortunate he'd returned. If he had been gone just a bit longer, he'd have been considered a deserter and when caught, would have gone to prison. Out on bivouac later that day, the major pulled up in a Jeep and called Dino over. He had his file on a clipboard and as he flipped through the papers, he sternly asked Dino how he had avoided being caught by the MPs. "I hid in the bathroom on the train, sir," Dino replied. Then he was asked why he'd gone AWOL. He said he was homesick and had to see his family. The major studied the clipboard and said, "so you're an orphan?" "Yes, sir." "And you live with your older brother in Brooklyn?" "Yes, sir." "You realize this means you won't be getting papers to go home for Christmas?" "Yes, sir." Dino knew he was lucky to have drawn such a light punishment.

A few weeks passed and the young privates were assembled to receive their papers to go home for Christmas. Each name was called in alphabetical order by the sergeant and then the major handed the magic documents to the eager soldiers. Dino was doing O.K. even though he knew his name wouldn't be called. They got to the Gs. "Corrado Giuliano," hollered his superior officer. And with a smile the major handed Daddy his papers to go home.


Yesterday, I showed excerpts of Country Boys in my classes. I have a "smart room" for my day class, and unfortunately the DVD player is in the PC. It is not very efficient to operate; to get back to scene selection I had to stop it, eject the DVD, and start over. So that took up a lot of time. Then, the day class is so interactive that I never get through as much material as I plan. I'm not complaining, that class is filled with bright lights and I will be sorry to see the semester end. But as a result of the clunky DVD and the interruptions, I still have about 25 minutes of scenes to show on Thursday. I can't wait to hear what they think of the film. There is only time to show about 1/4 of it, since the full program is over five hours long in its entirety, but it is still powerful, and I could tell from the way they reacted at certain points that the discussion is going to be good. In the night class, we watched the entire 85 minutes that I had selected. The room has a regular TV and DVD player, so it was a lot easier to manage all the scene skipping. The discussion went better than usual. You'd have to be totally disinterested to not have some thoughts on the program.

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