Recap: Ezra is suspended for something he didn’t do. His father tries to ask what happened, but Ezra isn’t sure about tattling, even though Kalman was a bully. Mickey comes to Ezra’s room and asks to hear the stories from the journal.
Walking home from the train station the whole way, my stomach was in knots. Had Bubby called me home because she was angry that I hadn’t told her I was in North Carolina? I should have told her.
I reached home and Ruchy limped to open the door. “Sender!”
“Hey, how are you?” I asked.
“Baruch Hashem. Bubby’s hanging laundry in back. Did you see the machine? Did you see them fly?”
I told her all about it. Then I headed upstairs to unpack my suitcase.
Ruchy followed me.
Watching her limp up the stairs reminded me of my painful secret and the fact that I hadn’t gotten the bicycle yet.
“Sender!” Bubby walked into my room. “Welcome back.”
So far, she didn’t seem angry. I let out a breath.
“I sent for you because I have good news. Mr. Corman can start training you right away. His assistant had to go away, and he could use the help.”
Mr. Corman, the iceman. “But Bubby, I have a job with the Wright brothers and––”
“This is closer to home and much more practical. We have to be practical. You will be able to come home every night and he will train you in a business you can start on your own eventually.”
I didn’t want to ever be an iceman or start a business like that. I wasn’t interested. Ima would understand. She wouldn’t force me to do something I hated.
“Isn’t that wonderful news? Now go wash up for dinner.”
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. If only Uncle Adam was here. He would get Bubby to understand I needed to work for the Wright brothers, not Mr. Corman. I thought of lugging heavy ice blocks all day, and it sounded awful.
And the bicycle. Now I would never earn the bicycle from their shop.
Ruchy came in and we sat down to dinner. Bubby passed around a plate of sweet potatoes and string beans. I didn’t feel like eating anything.
“You must be tired from the long train ride,” Bubby said. “You usually like sweet potatoes.”
I moved the potatoes around on my plate. “Bubby, I was earning the bicycle and now—”
“Mr. Corman will pay well, and we could use that extra money right now. I am not so enamored with this new invention. Bicycles could be dangerous.”
“But Dr. Morrison––”
“Don’t contradict your elders.” Bubby shot me a look that meant I was not allowed to say anymore.
I went to sleep dreading the next day, my first day of work with Mr. Corman.
The next morning, Bubby told me she had sent a telegraph to the Wright brothers telling them I wasn’t coming back. That was that. The sun was shining but I felt like a dark gloomy day.
After davening, Mr. Corman pulled up in his ice wagon. It was a rickety truck, painted brown and yellow, with black bold letters that said “Corman’s Ice.” Mr. Corman was a hefty man with sunburned cheeks. He wore a straw hat and overalls. He signaled for me to come over. “Sender, welcome to my business. I can use your help now. You will balance the ice block like this on your shoulder.” He pulled out an ice block from the back of the truck and showed me how he balanced it. “We have a lot of deliveries to make, so don’t stop to talk to the customers. A quick greeting is all we have time for.” He showed me how he covered the ice with sawdust.
We drove to a street with a lot of homes, and he sent me with my own block of ice. After delivering three blocks, I was out of breath. This took a lot of stamina. By the end of the day, my arms were throbbing. I just wanted to lie down and rest. There were still three more stops. He kept on slugging away. I couldn’t figure out how he did it. I didn’t like doing this at all. I knew I wouldn’t. Would I ever get back to the Wright brothers? I wanted to work for them. Why couldn’t Bubby let me go?
That night, I davened with all my heart. Please let Bubby see why being an iceman is not for me. Please get her to understand my perspective.
I had just finished davening when I heard a knock at the door. Bubby and Ruchy were at a neighbor’s house. I answered. A tall man wearing dark glasses stood there. He looked familiar. “I’d like to offer you a proposition on behalf of my client.”
“May I come in?”
“Uh, my grandmother isn’t home. How can I help you, sir?”
He handed me a business card. “I think you have some material – some valuable material that my client is interested in seeing. He just wants to take a look at it.”
All of a sudden, I realized why this man looked familiar. It was the man who had tried to photograph the Wright brothers’ flight in Kitty Hawk, and it was the same man who leaned over me on the train.
My neck muscles tightened.
To be continued…
By Susie Garber