The Logging Road Gang: A Novel
List Price: 17.95
Available: August 2013
WHAT COULD SHY, STAY-AT-HOME CHESTER, WISCONSIN, LYING SOMNOLENT IN THE SUMMER SUN, POSSIBLY HAVE IN COMMON WITH A RAUCOUS TRAVELING CIRCUS AND SIDE-SHOW, BROUGHT TO TOWN BY A PASSEL OF PALS KNOWN AS THE LOGGING ROAD GANG IN 1939? Junior Coffey, not-yet twelve year-old son of Carl, Sr., and clever, determined mother, Edna, –plus younger brother Perkin—moves from Milwaukee to little Chester in mid-Wisconsin, in fall, 1938.
Carl has been named public school principal and basketball coach. Junior’s haunting dreams about a dominating woods-boy become a very real Eddie LeBlanc, who tests Junior’s patience and forbearance on his fi rst visit to the Logging Road Woods. In spite of their confl icts, they form THE LOGGING ROAD GANG with two friends to fi rst miss-direct school bullies; then, with fearless Kenny Kowalski added, identify a gossip-monger, fi ght religious and racial prejudice, and end a historical reluctance to help others. Their highlight is winning a free circus for the town in July, 1939. But the anticipation of its arrival sets off a new chain of challenges, and when it leaves, a fl irty teen queen disappears too. Did Goliath, silent black strong man, abduct her? The town literally divides into camps and Junior, possessor of key information, steps into the breech.
There’s an entertainer in the Madison, Wisconsin, area named TRULY REMARKABLE LOON. I start laughing as soon as he walks onstage—or even before he appears—because I anticipate his patter and I love his purple costume. No, it’s not a costume, I already know, because he wears it all the time (to bed?). And that’s just part of it. TRULY REMARKABLE LOON is Mr. Loon’s legal name. Isn’t that remarkable? And his act, e.g., “I will now perform the dangerous ‘MACHETES OF DEATH PASSING BETWEEN THE LEGS’ trick “.The trick is accompanied by a series of “OH-OHs” and “WHOOPS!”and “ALMOST”s. But the real reason that I love T.R. Loon is that he’s genuine, not at all afraid to absorb the stares, see the pointing, and to hear the teasing laughter. In fact, he invites it. On a different scale, the same is true for my declaration when we moved into an independent-living apartment complex. I said to the sales-person: “I’ve been ‘Bob,’ I’ve been ‘Robert,’ ‘Mr. Humke,’ and a few others not-to-be repeated in mixed company. Those names worked well for the years of professional career. But ‘Buzz’ is the name given to me by my father, immediately after my birth who, family lore states, exclaimed ‘this kid kicks his feet like a buzz-saw.’ ‘Buzz’ not only says who I am but whom I want to be.” And by that I implied that growing older and living in a “senior” apartment complex are not signs of ending something—a phase of life associated with decline—but a whole new opportunity for creativity, service, and just plain fun, especially as long as I and “we” are in a reasonable health condition. Thank you, Lord, so we are. BUZZ and ELLEN