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Rockford, Illinois 



M, i ^ 

Volume 1, Number 1 January, 1968 

Rock Valley College Rockford, Illinois 

Student publication of Prose, Poetry, and Art. 
Copyright 1968 

Magazine Staff: 

Mrs. Elsie V. Alfrey 

Prose Editor Poetry Editor 

Mr. Sam Henderson Mrs. Marian Lackey 

Art Editor 
Miss Mary Parker 

Editorial Assistants 
Miss Diane Williams Miss Vicki Judah 

Mr. Jay Hart Miss Jane Mathis 

Mr. Joseph Bums Miss Mary Lou Pierce 

Miss Merrie Barney Miss Lois Rathke 

Faculty Advisors 
Mr. Richard Apolloni Mr. WiUiam Conger 

Price Fifty Cents 


/ have wasted time 
And purchased a dream or two. 
My fantasy is really mine; 
It does nothing to subdue. 

Marian Lackey, Poetry Editor 

The need for student self-expression, the answer to "What's 
happening?" and the chance to move in a forward direction 
prompted the estabhshment of The LOFT magazine as an 
RVC campus venture. The student created and student selected 
material printed herein represents but a small portion of the 
response to the creative challenge put forth earlier this semester. 

A variety of moods presented in the material reflect the over- 
all serious thoughts of the student body. Realizing the uncer- 
tainties of their future and life, most selections present a serious 
tone yet contain a refreshingly youthful philosophy, and, some, 
a light satire. 

Like the pioneers who established this farm to secure a liveli- 
hood and a foothold in the settlement of the area, these students 
have opened the gates toward their betterment of mankind, 
their establishment of their ideals and culture. 

Similar to Lincoln's time, in his youthful days when he 
studied by firelight in the family's log cabin, the conversion of 
the farm buildings — the barn, its loft, and other buildings into 
the "instant campus" as now exists — "makes do" with sim- 
plicity; and the students carry through with fledgling enthusi- 
asm and determination to acquire knowledge and skill. 

So it is symbolic and appropriate that "The LOFT" was se- 
lected to name this publication; for in the loft centers much of 
the student activity — the Student Commission, the Valley Forge 
publications, traffic control, student counseling, and other stu- 
dent-related offices. 

The LOFT magazine, published once a semester, is student 
organized, planned, and edited to present the prose, poetry, and 
art works of students only, in all fields of college study and en- 

While the policy and aim as standards are toward the best 
quality and good taste in the material selected for publication, 
we are much aware that perfection is impossible to attain. May 
each succeeding staff be successful in striving to improve upon 
their edition's contents. 

The LOFT magazine is intended to provide the opportunity 
to display the creative efforts in science, nursing, vocational, 
technical, business, literature, and art works from college students 
at RVC. As it is an outlet to display student accompHshments, it 
also welcomes students' comment, opinion, and even dissent 
aimed toward eventual betterment. 

Most heartfelt thanks to all the students who willingly sub- 
mitted their creative work for consideration, and to the faculty 
advisors and the entire staff for their most encouraging and 
generous aid to help The LOFT magazine become a reality. 

Elsie V. Alfrey 

Elmer A. Harder 

Al Gough 
Casiena Fones 
Rosemary Marinaro 
Cecil H. Hall 
Elmer A, Harder 
Diane Palombi 
Maggie Patapack 
Cecil H. Hall 
Diane Palombi 
Ed Haldeman 
James Katz 
Tony Walker 
Jon Mann 
Tony Walker 

Lila Walker 
Ed Haldeman 
Diane Palombi 
Charles Fry 
Bradley Kjell 

Al Gough 

Catherine L. Miller 
Vicki Judah 
MaryLou Cain 
Al Gough 
Diane Williams 
Evangeline Avery 
Diane Zuck 
James Katz 
Catherine L. Miller 

Title Page 

The Execution of 

Alfred Countryman .... 1 

Illustration 3 

Art 8 

In and Out of Time 12 

Hope Chest 12 

Remember Charley Smith ... 13 

DandeHons 14 

Art 15 

They Do Not Like Me .... 16 

The Circular Road 17 

Art 18 

At The "U of L" 19 

Art 22 

Bellona's Bridegroom .... 23 
i am walking down 

railroad tracks 24 

The Corn Palace 25 

Art 26 

Fog 28 

The War Is Being Fed .... 28 
The Adventure of 

The Psychedelic Sleuth ... 29 

Illustration 32 

Art 35 

Confession Nineteen 36 

Portrait of A Righteous Woman . 37 

Illustration 38 

1945 Year of Decisions 41 

Art 44 

Art 47 

Hecate 48 

Art Cover 

Elmer A. Harder 


An account of Winnebago County's first hanging 

The steam spewed out from the sides of the engine, dancing 
along the ground until it began to rise and disappear into the 
early morning air. While overhead, the early dawn was darkened 
even more by the billowing smoke that rose from the eastbound 
special in from Dubuque, Iowa. Another train would arrive in 
just a few hours, carrying another load of persons eager to watch 
the impending scene that was just now beginning to unfold. 
Rockford's State Street was overflowing with horse drawn teams, 
bunched and crowded, until they were spilhng over into the side 
streets. The local saloons were open early that gusty March 31, 
1857, and business was brisk. All sorts of notable people were 
seen hurrying about. Among the notable were newspaper report- 
ers from all over the midwest, including the Chicago Tribune. 
Today — Rockford, Illinois would hang its first man. 

The courthouse was a beehive of activity this morning, and 
on occasion one could catch glimpses of the new sheriff, Sam 
Church, and once in awhile Alfred Countryman, the man to be 
executed. The gunman's wife was also there along with his 
mother and father. 

Outside the courthouse, two deputized companies of firemen 
were armed with saber and carbines to keep the crowd in line. 
And through this milhng crowd two men worked their way 
toward the courthouse. One was the Rev. Crews, and the other 
was Countryman's attorney, Orrin J. Miller. The crowd was be- 
ginning to stir, for they knew that with the appearance of these 
two men, the hanging hour was approaching. Teams of horse 
drawn carriages and wagons were lined up outside waiting to 
take the gunman to his ill fated end. The execution was to take 

The LOFT 1 

Elmer A. Harder 

place a few miles outside of town, where the County Fair was 
held the previous summer. 

Both pro and con sentiment was being offered as to the 
morality of hanging a man in this civilized year of 1857. 

"Sheriff Taylor was our friend," someone called out, "and I 
Countryman didn't give him a chance. I say HANG him." This 
was followed by a chorus of mutterings about due process of the 
law, and mercy pleas were equally voiced. Also seen were two 
men with arms claiming that it wasn't right that Countryman J 
be hung. People began shoving and pushing until finally one of i 
the deputies brought the matter to a halt by threatening to ar- 
rest troublemakers. The crowd settled down, and some began to 
make their way to the hanging site. 

For what seemed like an eternity to the waiting throng out- 
side, (but only a fleeting instant to Countryman), the courthouse 
door finally opened and Sheriff Church appeared. He was 
quickly followed by Alfred Countryman, flanked by two depu- 
ties. The Rev. Crews and attorney O. J. Miller made their way 
behind them, with Countryman's family trailing. The men 
climbed aboard the wagons. The sheriff flipped the reins on the 
lead wagon and the horses, feeling the sting of leather, began the 

Fate seemed to be toying with the condemned man. While on 
the way to the fairgrounds Countryman's wagon had to be re- 
placed twice. The first time because of a broken axle, and the 
second time because the horses couldn't be budged after stop- 
ping for a short rest. The crowd lined the trail all along the way, 
and Sheriff Sam Church pulled up the rain covering to afford 
the condemned man a little privacy from the curious spectators. 

Arriving upon the grounds, one could see the scaffold had been 
built at the base of a hill, giving the surrounding throngs a 
commanding view of the hanging. The Rock Valley Democrat, 
(a weekly Rockford newspaper), modestly estimated the gather- 
ing in the neighborhood of twenty thousand. Among this crowd 
were the two men who earlier voiced their disapproval of the 
hanging. The sheriff was informed of them and he immediately 

2 The LOFT 

Al Gough 

The LOFT 3 

Elmer A. Harder 

approached the two and disarmed them. The sheriff informed 
the crowd, as well as the two men, that he wouldn't stand for 
any misconduct, and went on with the proceedings. The sheriff 
was in no mood for any trouble, especially since it was he that 
had to throw the bolt that would drop the gunman to his death. 

Alfred Countryman cHmbed the steps to the scaffold, it was 
quite obvious that he was very well composed, in spite of his 
ordeal. One could not help but wonder what was running 
through his mind as he waited. Perhaps his thoughts were drift- 
ing back to that fateful day of the shooting. It was a cold No- 
vember morning as Alfred prodded his brother along, if they 
wanted to sell the cattle in town before noon. Al and John 
Countryman made their way up Elm Street, keeping the cattle 
intact. As the horses nudged the cattle past the livery stable, Al 
called out to his brother, "Stay with the cattle, I'm gonna hunt 
up Charlie Upton and see if he'd like to buy them." 

Al spurred his horse up the busy street, alive with merchants 
preparing for a busy day in town. As he strode by the bank, he 
recognized Charlie Upton and hailed him. 

"My brother and I heard you might be interested in buying a 
few head of cattle, Mr. Upton," Al stated. 

"Let's have a look at your stock," said Mr. Upton. 

"Sure, — my brother's herding them along now," Al said as he 
pointed up the street. 

As the cattle approached them, Charlie Upton looked them 
over carefully, with his trained eyes. 

"How much you gotta have?" said Charlie as the cattle began 
mining about them. 

"What'll ya give?" Al asked. 

"Well now, I gotta know what you want for them before I 
make an offer," Upton demanded. 

Al Countryman ran his hand through his hair and said, "How 
about fifty five dollars." 

"I'll give you forty-seven a head," Upton offered. 

4 The LOFT 

Elmer A. Harder 

"Guess that's fair enough; we'll take it." Al accepted. 

"I can't use them all though," Upton said, " 'bout all I can 
use now are half." 

"Why don't you take them all," said Countryman, annoyed 
with Charlie. 

"Don't need 'em, — where'd these cattle come from anyway, 
they look pretty well rested to me," Upton said quizically. 

"From down South," Al went on, "we stopped and rested 
them outside town last night; figured we were too late to find a 
buyer, so we waited til morning." 

"How come you drive them up here, they're not that good of 
stock to be driving," Upton asked. 

Al became more annoyed, but answered as calmly as he could, 
"They're an unruly bunch and we want to get rid of them. And 
anyway the drive wasn't that far." 

"I see," said Upton, then asked, "how about you boys taking 
them down to the slaughter house for me. I'll send a man along 
with, okay?" 

"Don't really care to, but we will," said Al. "Maybe we can 
find another buyer for the rest of them on the way." 

The three men and the cattle made their way toward the 
slaughter house, leaving a trail of dust behind. As soon as they 
were out of sight, Charlie Upton headed for the sheriff's office. 
He found him talking to Edson. 

"Hi, Ed; morn'n', Sheriff," panted Upton, out of breath from 
his run up to the sheriff's office. "Just bought some livestock 
from a couple of fellows. Looked mighty peculiar to me. Thought 
maybe you'd like to know." 

"What makes you think they looked peculiar Charlie?" asked 
Sheriff Taylor. 

"They sold the cattle to me awful cheap. I figured they were 
worth twice what I gave for them; that's peculiar enough for 
me," said Upton. 

The LOFT 5 

Elmer A. Harder 

"Hmmm, guess so," Sheriff Taylor said, rising from his chair 
and looking puzzled. He went on, "Thanks, Charlie, I'll look 
into it." Sheriff Taylor pulled the collar of his coat up around 
his neck as he left his office. It was getting colder this time of 
year, with each day that passed, and today was no exception. 
He headed up Elm Street and stopped suddenly as he passed 
Elisha Thompson's butcher store. Rubbing his chin, as if in 
deep thought, he turned and went into the store to see Elisha. 

"Morn'n', Elisha," said the sheriff. 

"Good morning to you. Sheriff," greeted Elisha. 

"Elisha how 'bout doing me a favor?" asked the sheriff. 

"Sure, John, just name it," said Elisha. 

"We got a couple of fellows in town selHng some cattle, and I 
think they may be stolen; I wonder if you could offer to buy a 
few head from them as cheap as you can. Maybe I could find 
enough evidence to arrest them," Sheriff Taylor said, he then 
went on to explain what he wanted Elisha to do in detail. 

After he finished, the two went out to look for Countryman 
and the livestock. There was no need to, as they were headed 
right up Elm Street again on their way back from the slaughter 
house. Al Countryman headed his horse over toward Elisha and 
the sheriff. 

"Which of you two owns this here butcher store," said Al, as 
he slid off his horse. 

"I do," stated Elisha. 

"Like to buy a few of these cattle?" asked Al Countryman, 
unaware that the other man with Elisha was the Sheriff of Win- 
nebago County. 

"Guess maybe I would, depending on how much you want for 
them," said Elisha. 

Countryman, sensing Elisha 's apparent willingness to buy, de- 
cided to up his price. 

"How about seventy-five dollars a head," offered Al. 

6 The LOFT 

Elmer A. Harder 

"Can't afford it," said Elisha, "How's about sixty-five?" 

"I'd sure like to get seventy-five," Countryman said, holding 
his line. 

"Nope, can't give you that, but I'll give you sixty-five dollars 
a head, and not a penny more," said Elisha, with a waving ges- 
ture of take it or leave it. 

"Well if thaf s the best you can do, we'll take it," said Al 

"It's a deal, you take the cattle down in my back yard, and 
I'll go on up to the bank and draw out your money. We'll meet 
right back here in about fifteen minutes," suggested Elisha. 

Alfred Countryman and his brother agreed, and began herd- 
ing the cattle to the rear of the store. Sheriff Taylor and Elisha 
starred up the street to the bank. 

"You get the money; I'm gonna get a warrant for their arrest; 
I think I'll have enough to arrest them on if we can get them to 
sign a bill of sale. I'll have my deputy along just in case of 
trouble," the sheriff told Elisha. 

Elisha went on to the bank and drew out the money, then 
waited until he saw the sheriff and his deputy, Will Thompson, 
headed up the street to meet him. He went out, and they met in 
front of the Young America Saloon. 

"You let me handle it from here on out," said the sheriff. 
Elisha nodded, and the three men headed for the store, where 
the Countryman boys were waiting. 

"Got the cattle in the yard?" asked the sheriff. 

"All set!" said Al Countryman, not yet aware of what was 

"We have to have you sign this bill of sale," the sheriff said 

"Don't you trust us?" asked Al. 

"It's not that; it's just that we like to have a bill of sale when 
we are dealing with people we don't know too well," the sheriff 
said, in a matter of fact tone. 

The LOFT 7 

Casiena Fones 

8 The LOFT 

Elmer A. Harder 

Al Countryman took the paper and signed, giving the bill of 
sale to his brother, he said, "We just live about three miles south 
of here, no need of being suspicious." 

"You say you live around New Milford area?" the sheriff 
asked as he took the signed bill from Al's brother. 

"Up around the Kishwaukee-New Milford crossroads," Al 

"How about coming down to the courthouse, there's a fellow 
by the name of Grant that lives out that way, maybe he can 
vouch for you," the sheriff offered. 

Alfred Countryman began to feel a little uneasy, but just 
nodded, and the men all went off toward the courthouse. When 
they entered the building the sheriff told his deputy to stay 
with the Countryman brothers and he would go and find Mr. 
Grant. The sheriff and Mr. Grant appeared presently. 

"Mr, Grant, I'd like you to meet the Smith boys, they say 
they live up around your area," the sheriff said. 

"The Smith boys?" burst Mr. Grant, "These two fellows are 
the Countrymans." 

"You sure Mr. Grant?" the sheriff asked, "They signed this 
bill of sale by the name of Smith." 

"Of course I am, they borrowed my team back a few weeks 
ago," Mr. Grant said. 

"I better tell you boys my name is John Taylor, and I'm the 
sheriff here in Winnebago County. Think you boys had better 
come along with me to the jailhouse," Sheriff Taylor said. 

"You can't lock us up because we signed our name as Smith 
on a sheet of paper. Sheriff," objected Al. 

"I'm arresting you two for suspected cattle rustling," the 
sheriff stated. "If you want me to go get you someone who can 
prove you are innocent, or who can help you, I'll go just as soon 
as you are locked up. And if you are innocent, you can go free 
and the County will make restitution." 

The LOFT 9 

Elmer A. Harder 

The Countryman brothers didn't say anything, and the sheriff 
began searching them. The only thing he found was a single 
bullet in the vest pocket of Al Countryman. 

"Where'd this bullet come from?" asked the sheriff. 

'*I was out deer huntin' the other day, and must have left it 
in my pocket by mistake," Countryman aHbied. 

"All right let's get going to the jail," the sheriff said as he 
held Al by the arm and started him out the door. Deputy 
Thompson held Al's brother by the back of his collar and fol- 
lowed behind. 

Suddenly Alfred Countryman jerked free of the sheriff. And 
in a moment, he hurdled a fence and dashed up Elm Street. The 
Sheriff, though caught by surprise, responded quickly, and was 
in hot pursuit almost instantly. As Alfred Countryman ran, he 
had to cut right angles to keep the sheriff from gaining on him. 
The sheriff was gaining, in spite of Countryman's attempt to 
lose him. 

"Stop him, stop him," the sheriff shouted as he chased Coun- 
tryman down the street. 

Countryman, without breaking stride, pulled out a pistol that 
he had cleverly concealed. As he approached the intersection of 
Elm Street, he turned back and fired a shot at the oncoming 
sheriff, who by now was only a few strides behind the frightened 
Countryman. Sheriff John Taylor felt the bullet strike him. 

"Stop him, I've been shot," the sheriff cried as he staggered 
to a halt, and then finally toppled over into the dusty street. 

Many people in the street had seen the whole thing happen, 
and were by now responding, by coming to the aid of the sheriff, 
and pursuing Countryman. The sheriff was taken into the near- 
by livery stable where he had died after just a few minutes. The 
gunman, still on foot, had been captured a few blocks away, 
without another shot being fired. Alfred Countryman must have 
felt fear at that moment like he had never known before as the 
angry mob that had captured him, heard that the sheriff was 

10 The LOFT 

Elmer A. Harder 

dead. Not even now, as he faced the gallows before him, was he 
as frightened as he was then. 

The Rev. Crews stepped to the front of the scaffold and gave 
a very moving prayer, and when he was finished. Sheriff Church 
asked Alfred Countryman if he wished to say anything before 
his time came. Alfred Countryman arose slowly, and began 
speaking softly at first, but gained strength as he went on. 

"Gentlemen and Ladies," he began, "I don't know as I'll be able 
to address you very much. I am not able to make a speech. I 
thank the Lord there is One above to whom I can look. I should 
like all who can hear me, especially the young, to take warning 
and learn to fear God. You do not know when you will be called. 
My time is very short when I shall depart. It is near at hand, 
but I can die happy and hope to enter into a better world. I 
have had great trouble to make peace, and I thank God I have 
had a friend on earth to help me, direct me, and pray for me. I 
can go to Heaven with this crime of murder against me with a 
quiet heart; and when we all meet there, we shall find who is 
right and who is wrong. May God have mercy on the one I have 
left behind me, and have mercy on my two little children. May 
He have mercy on my dear father and poor mother; may He 
have mercy on my brothers and sister too, and bless them. May 
He have mercy on each of you, and on them; and may we all 
meet where sorrow is no more. I bid you all farewell, I am going 

The sheriff then walked forward and said, "Agreeable to the 
order of the court, I shall now execute Alfred Countryman as an- 

The mask was then placed over his head, followed by the 
noose around his neck. And at exactly seventeen minutes past 
two the drop fell and Alfred Countryman was no more. 

The LOFT 11 


Rosemary Marinaro 

An image shrouded in mist passes by; 
Revolving thoughts enter and leave — 
Remembrances of winter's white 
and summer's green 
In a world both fated and timed. 

A clock in mind ticks off the time 
Of love and hate and sorrow 
Buried griefs all crumpled up 
are smoothed and soothed 
And life is all tomorrow. 


Cecil H. Hall 

Help will arrive soon. 

Not that it is needed. 
Debts are too long overdue 

And interest increases steadily. 
Like the tail of a comet 

Our initial state of mind is being lost. 
Its replacement is present 

But will probably never be discovered. 
Continuity is not our strength 

Nor is piety our weakness. 
The braggard will someday be accepted 

For what he really is. 
Dreams will never take control 

Since there is nothing to take it from. 
Besides, the end is in sight. 

12 The LOFT 

Elmer A. Harder 


Rube Waddell has been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, thus 
assuring his name of immortality in our National past-time. And 
deservedly so, for Rube was undoubtedly one of the greatest 
left-handers of all time. But a fellow by the name of Charley 
Smith, who once dueled Rube on the Diamond, will not make 
the Hall of Fame. Nor will he be remembered for lesser accom- 
plishments because of his unlikely name. 

Bill Armour, who managed the Cleveland club back in 1904, 
was the recipient of one of those lesser accomplishments. Man- 
ager Armour had a pretty fair pitching staff when the drive for 
the pennant got underway. Addie Joss, Donohue, and Earl 
Moore were his starters. But as the season wore on, Joss and 
then Donohue were plagued with sore arms. The rest of the staff 
was in bad shape due to an abundance of problems. The only 
hurler that wasn't in bad shape was Moore. But he was taking 
the mound every other day, and that was beginning to wear him 

While Manager Armour was having his troubles in the big 
time, a fellow by the name of Charley Smith was bending the 
cowhide around the bats of sand-lot hitters all over Cleveland. 
Charley had himself quite a curve ball, and was fast becoming a 
local legend. 

One bright day the Philadelphia Athletics came to town. And 
with them came the great Rube Waddell, who was scheduled to 
pitch the opener. The opening game found a rather large crowd 
on hand to watch Rube perform. And among this throng (seated 
in the bleachers), was Charley Smith. As the teams went through 

The LOFT 13 

Elmer A. Harder 

their pre-game drills, manager Armour was fretting about his 
riddled pitching stafE. While Moore was the best he had, he was 
hardly a Rube Waddell. Better (he thought) to save Moore for 
the second game and start someone else against Waddell, since 
Rube was almost a cinch to win anyway. But who? Finally 
someone told Armour of Charley Smith, and that he was out in 
the stands. 

Charley was called out of the bleachers and given a uniform. 
Manager Armour sent Charley out to the mound expecting the 
worst. Inning after inning, Charley hung on, while Waddell kept 
mowing them down. And when the dust had cleared Rube had 
struck out eleven batters, but Charley Smith had won the game. 
Charley also went on to win his second game against the old 
Baltimore club, by an 8-0 score. But that was the end of Char- 
ley's effectiveness, because he began to get knocked around the 
ballparks after those two starts. When the ailing hurlers re- 
gained their form Charley was sent to the minors. He returned 
again with the Boston Red Sox and Washington, and finally 
ended his playing days with the Chicago Cubs in 1910. Charley 
spent the last few years of his life in a Cleveland Sanitarium be- 
fore he died in 1929. 

Charley's only hope of immortality lessens with the passing 
on of each old timer, so let's carry Charley's banner, and re-tell 
of the day he came out of the stands, and beat the great Rube 
Waddell in his first big league ball game. Rube wouldn't mind. 


Diane Palombi 

Balls of 

downy butter 

splashed on emerald carpets, 

Simple beauties loved by so few. 

Oh, why? 

14 The LOFT 

Maggie Patapack 

The LOFT 15 


Cecil H. Hall 

Covered, my knee 

Resembled a mountain. 
I studied it by the moonlight. 

Then morning came 
And the old man tottered off 

Leaping a scream as he left. 
I never discovered 

Why he was taken from me. 

It is said 

That I am insane, 
That I utter words 

Which are unexplainable. 
It will be said again 

Before the echo ceases. 
But now I must retire 

For the hounds are released 
By day. 
And they do not like me. 

16 The LOFT 


Diane Palombi 

Tomorrow, the cruel dance 
to forever; 

Forever, shrouded by the 
misty pain of soft, red dawn. 

Brilliant corona circled 
blackness, desperately trying 
to fill its craving depths. 

And torment prayed 

in a barren whisper 

that lost identity 

in the violent fog of humanity. 

A sharp, silent scream 
punctured an empty anchor 
and slashed the cross. 

The self-spiral widened, 

reaching for a white-warm dream; 

And shrank back 

to its insignificant dot 

of beginning as it touched 

a gray -frozen reality. 

Never began yesterday, 
cried today, 
prayed tomorrow, 
and died forever. 

The LOFT 17 





Ed Haldeman 

18 The LOFT 

James Katz 


At twenty minutes to ten, Wednesday morning, I started 
climbing the dim northern stairwell in Stevenson Hall. The tan 
suitcase I carried weighed my right side down heavily. I extended 
my left arm which flailed wildly to maintain my equilibrium. 
The stairs were pervaded by light that was just a little too dim 
to be of any use. It was the kind of light that your eyes never 
adjust to. 

My feet stepped sure-footedly up the fireproof, metal-rimmed 
cement stairs. On every other landing I stopped for an instant 
and read the abused decal on the double doors. Third floor. 
Fourth floor. Fifth floor. Then I kept climbing. The stairs ended 
abruptly at a balcony door and I pushed my way through the 
single door onto the sunlit roof. 

I was blinded by the brilliance of the outside. The sky was 
one of those rare, absolutely turquoise skies. Everything was a 
bleached, hot white. I carefully locked and checked the door. 

My eyes adjusted, and then I made my way across the unused 
slate floor for sunbathers to the opposite side. I climbed a small 
retaining fence and walked to the southern end of the building. 
The gravel crunched under my shoes. 

The LOFT 19 

James Katz 

When I got very close to the edge, I set the suitcase down, 
opened it and squatted beside it. I gently lifted the semi-auto- 
matic M-1 from it and placed it carefully on a towel I had 
spread out. Beside it I put my new Winchester 38 with a 20X 
scope. I placed ammunition all around me. I checked all my 
equipment to make sure all was in order. I glanced at my watch. 
It was almost ten to ten. 

The sidewalks suddenly seemed to fill with people going to 
and leaving classes. I took the M-1 and aimed down at the small 
restaurant on the corner. In a booth next to the picture window 
sat a girl. Above her head a sign glowed an orange "Malts- 
Chicken-Steaks." I squeezed off three quick shots. The "Chicken- 
Steaks" dissolved and the windows shattered, and fell in two 
distinct actions. I would have to work fast now. I crawled over 
to the other side and lay down on my stomach. On the sidewalk 
between Stevenson and Threlkeld Hall about five groups of 
three and four were walking. I pointed the M-1 at one group. In 
it I could recognize the girl in my English class. Should I spare 
her ... or get her first. 1 fired two shots at her and her head 
exploded like a pumpkin. Her group ran in all directions. They 
would make good "chicken-steaks" I thought humorlessly. I got 
one as she tried to hide behind a car, but I missed a third. The 
other groups saw what was happening and scattered as if some- 
one was randomly tossing money at them, I fired quickly, re- 
loaded and continued. I must have gotten six. A tall lanky boy 
ran to help a writhing girl. If it hadn't been a girl, I would have 
let him live. 

Back to the other side now. I changed rifles to the Win- 
chester, and watched the ignorant walk along, throwing their 
heads back in laughter and conversation. If they only knew 
what the next few minutes would bring them, I thought. I aimed 
carefully and got a kid coming through the stone gates onto 
Second Street. I aimed again and started scoring on the people 
coming past the Social Science Building. There on the island be- 
tween First and Second Streets was one of Nick's girlfriends. I 
squeezed the trigger and one shot accelerated from the barrel. I 
watched her double up. 

20 The LOFT 

James Katz 

At that very instant a dirty black police car whipped up and 
two policemen leaped out. I could see 302 painted in large yellow 
numerals on its roof. I aimed at but missed both men. Two 
white police station wagons pulled up quickly, both on First 

I went back to the side facing Threlkeld. I got two more peo- 
ple who were running by. Then I saw a boy standing in his win- 
dow on the third floor of Threlkeld Hall. Two of the slats in his 
Venetian blinds were bent apart, and through the half-open 
blinds I could see the outline of his body. I hated him for his 
smugness. I fired through the blinds and watched the blinds 
lurch, followed by a sinking movement. That told me he paid for 
his boldness. 

I stopped firing and looked at my watch. I could hear an ir- 
regular firing down there. It was ten o'clock. Were they still 
going to have ten o'clock classes? How much time do I have left? 
For the first time, I felt good. I wasn't angry anymore. I didn't 
hate anyone. I really felt good. There was no feeling like it. No 
troubles, no pressures. No one telling me what to do. I felt 
avenged for everything that was ever done wrong to me. I had a 
few minutes, maybe an hour at the most to do everything, and 
do it all over again. If there was just some way to get away. But 
no, it will be better this way. I would die happier than anyone. 
Anyone, living, dying or dead. 

A sudden increase in volume of fire snapped me back. I knew 
I had to defend this new found feeling of wonderfulness. I must 
stay alive and enjoy it as long as possible. 

I noticed a uniformed man climbing on top of the hut cover- 
ing the air conditioner on the roof of Threlkeld Hall. I looked 
through my scope and saw the imminent danger. I shot at him 
and missed him in a shower of brick dust. I cocked the rifle and 
took much more careful aim. When I peered through the scope 
I saw him aiming his scoped rifle directly at me. I gently 
squeezed the trigger. As I awaited the gentle re c o i 1 

The LOFT 21 

Tony Walker 

22 The LOFT 


Jon Mann 

Where is your courage now, Damascus-blade? 

Has it fallen again without vertigo? 
Where is the golden fabric of bright brocade? 

The promethian mantles glowing to and fro? 

The veneer, the gloss, the gaudy show? 
The roar and clamor of spring festival? 

The youth, the color, the grace, the glow? 
Into the night-shroud go one and all. 

Where are the passions it essayed? 

And where the sobs it made to flow? 
Where the furious fervor it portrayed? 

For the disdainful universe to see and know? 

Othello's choler, and Desdemona's woe? 
Cleopatra's lust, and Antony's gall? 

The ambitious Macbeth and amorous Romeo? 
Into the night-shroud go one and all. 

The grand-teaser falls; the play is played. 

The thunder racks, and the winds blow. 
The Lord Paramount troops undismayed. 

The lightning huddles with the snow. 

Where be now those gambolers of Diderot? 
The noise of battle? The lover's call? 

The colors dancing row on row? 
Into the night-shroud go one and all. 

The LOFT 23 

i am walking down railroad tracks 

Tony Walker 

i am walking down railroad tracks 

kicking rocks 

counting ties 



free as an unhuman 


i am walking down railroad tracks 
kicking rocks counting ties 
my shoe is loose 
i stop to tie it 
the lace breaks 
i cry then laugh 
wondering am i insane 
empty thirsty tired 

i am walking down railroad tracks 
kicking rocks counting ties 
wondering can life being real 
make me feel dead 

24 The LOFT 

Lila Walker 


Just before the turn of the century, a palace of com was built 
in eastern South Dakota to advertise the possibilities of a corn 
growing state. Each year since that time the citizens of Mitchell 
have been nailing cobs of corn on a square brick structure 
topped with colorful domes and minarets and named, "The Com 

At Indian summer time each year the entire exterior and por- 
tions of the interior are covered with corn — a near 3,000 bushels 
of it, multicolored, red, blue, yellow and white — arranged in 
patterns and outlined with grasses and grains that remain in 
place all year. 

In a series of panels there are scenes carrying a theme, pictur- 
ing wild game, hunting, and pioneer history. Each year a new 
theme is selected. One year showed "Holidays and Special 
Events in South Dakota" for the theme. From this the Indian 
artist designed a scene depicting the holiday. New Year's — a 
New Year's babe and Father Time, bells, and confetti. A scene 
in Easter time had a church, an Easter basket and bunny. A 
panel on Independence Day and the American flag. Liberty Bell, 
and the Statue of Liberty. Thanksgiving Day was shown with 

The LOFT 25 

■-~ — t " ■•'* 

Ed Haldeman 

26 The LOFT 

Lila Walker 

the horn-of-plenty and a pilgrim giving thanks before a church. 
Christmas presented a white cross showing the spirit of the day, 
Santa, reindeer, a child, Christmas tree, stockings full of toys in 
gift packages. 

The Indian flavor in the design is seen and felt at first glance. 
Decorations are planned by an American Indian artist, Oscar 
Howe, living in Mitchell and teaching art at the college. He first 
takes water colors and paints miniature copies, then outHnes 
them with chalk on tarpaper which is nailed to the building. 

Workmen saw each ear of corn lengthwise with a small power 
saw, and they stand on scaffolds to choose the ears of corn to 
match the Indian colors, and nail them in place. 

Near the entrance of the structure a mural pictured above the 
stage says, "Welcome!" — Indian style — with a sign in the clouds 
above the scene of the city. 

Other interior panels show Indian hunting scenes, an Indian 
showing another Indian how to hunt, a chief giving corn to a 
white man, a white man's log cabin, and an Indian's tepee. 

There are 5,000 seats in the big auditorium. The festival lasts 
for five days. Usually fourteen performances from big-name or- 
chestras and vaudeville acts in the country are scheduled. There 
are nine blocks of carnival midway, but the central attraction is 
this corn-plastered Corn Palace with multi-colored domes and 
minarets still attracting crowds to Mitchell. 

This year, 1967, the Corn Palace festival presents the Jack 
Benny show. Jack Benny, of T. V., radio, and stage, America's 
best loved comedian, brings with him the Buddy Rich orchestra. 
There will be the usual nine blocks of midway and free street 
act, twice daily. An added attraction will be high school bands 
from all over South Dakota. 

The LOFT 27 


Diane Palombi 

Sky as gray as Amish dress, 

A moist haze of cloud 

stretches from here to heaven, 

Shrouding the raw fields 

and desolate forest 

in its tranquil mist. 

An agitated city balks 

at its burdensome cloak. 

The surge of traffic persists, 

But at a hushed rate. 


A light smiles 

and absorbs the mist. 


Charles Fry 

The beating of the drum 
And the blowing of the bugle 
Echoed on the hillside 
Then settled on our guns. 
Dawn mist was breaking 
Letting in the sun 
And a soldier boy came running 
Carbine in his hand 
Bullets whined before us 
And the boy slumped dead. 
The battle now is raging. 
The war is being fed. 

28 The LOFT 

Bradley Kjell 


It was a hot summer day in the year 1967 that an unusual 
case was brought to the attention of my good friend Shrock 
Homes, renowned London detective. My friend had risen earlier 
than I that morning and while I was still breakfasting, he was 
already at work on the problem that had kept him up so late the 
night before. It seems that a few days before he had found a 
wrist watch at the scene of a crime and in the process of subject- 
ing it to the minute examination for which he is famous, he had 
completely disassembled it. For the last week he had been trying 
to put it together again, 

"There must be a solution!" he exclaimed, interrupting my as- 
sault on an uncooperative grapefruit. 

"Really, Homes," I replied, "why don't you forget about that 
watch? You are not likely to get any further with it than you 
did with that murder case you were working on a year ago." 

"You mean that case with the clock-maker who only worked 
during the dark hours?" 

"Exactly. The case I recorded as The Adventure of the 

Homes would have answered, but at that moment there was a 
knock on our door. 

I opened the door to a distraught looking gentleman in his 
mid-thirties. Although not actually overweight, he had the 
phlegmatic look of a man not used to manual labor. But it was 
evident that something had recently occurred which had upset 

The LOFT 29 

Bradley Kjell 

his way of life, for he was wearing old work clothing and beads 
of sweat had formed on his brow. 

"Ah," said Homes, brightening. "I see you have come to con- 
sult me about something that has happened just a short time 

"Amazing," said our client, who had taken the well-cushioned 
chair that Homes always reserves for his visitors. He believes 
that they can bear the shock of hearing his rates much better 
when comfortably seated. "It is just as you say. My name is 
Jacob Smith; I live just a few blocks from here. Just half an 
hour ago I accidentally overheard a band of thieves plotting a 

"Jacob Smith? That name sounds famihar," said Pooles. 

"Perhaps you read about my prize African violets. They were 
mentioned in the paper just recently." 

"Of course. But continue with your story." 

"Mr. Homes, being a rather sedate person, I seldom leave the 
house save for a few occasional errands. I find that watering the 
flowers in my greenhouse is quite enough physical labor for one 
day. As you can well imagine, as a result of this inactivity, my 
yard has gone to weed. Although I've cut them down in the im- 
mediate vicinity of the house, in one corner of my lot they have 
grown into a veritable jungle. I would have been content with 
the situation had not some officials from the health department 
called on me one day and said that I must cut down that jungle. 
They said that the weeds were harmful or poisonous or some- 
thing and that it was illegal to let them grow. 

"So today I resolved to cut them down. I started my task 
quite early this morning and in a few hours I had cut right into 
the very middle of them. Knowing my wife couldn't see me from 
the house, I sat down to rest. 

"I don't remember how long I rested; I believe I must have 
dozed off for a bit. But when I woke up, I saw three uncouth 
looking fellows staring into the weeds and talking among them- 
selves. I thought at first that they surely had seen me, but ap- 

30 The LOFT 

Bradley Kjell 

parently the weeds were thick enough to conceal me for they 
talked as if they had no idea they were being observed." 

"What was it they said?" 

"I don't know, exactly. I was some distance away, and they 
were talking in low voices. But I am certain they were plotting 
some evil scheme. I only remember a few of the words they said. 
One said, 'Look at all that pot', to which one of the others an- 
swered, 'We'll really go on a trip tonight.' After that I could 
hear no more." 

"How would you describe these plotters?" Homes asked. 

"All three were very unkempt. They had long uncombed hair 
and shaggy beards. Their clothing was very unusual; I have 
never seen the like of it before. It was oddly styled and exotically 

"But you are certain that these uncouth fellows were plotting 
some outrage?" 

"Mr. Homes, I am certain of it." 

"Can you remember nothing else?" 

"Why, yes, there is one thing I have forgotten. One of the 
three was wearing a button that said, 'Flower Power.' I could 
make no sense of it." 

"Thank you, Mr. Smith," said Shrock Homes, extending his 
hand as a signal the interview was over. "I will take up your 
case. But one more thing: can the greenhouse you mentioned be 
seen clearly from where the three were standing?" 

"Why yes, Mr. Homes." 

"Thank you. That is all the information I need. You may 
expect me at your house ten o'clock this evening. Incidentally, 
don't cut down any more of those weeds." 

Our client left, utterly mystified. 

"Really, Homes," I said. "From the way you are talking, one 
would think you had the case already solved." 

"I have," he replied. 

Shrock Homes went back to working on his wrist watch. Al- 
though I tried, I could get no more information out of him. 

The LOFT 31 

Al Gough 

32 The LOFT 

Bradley Kjell 

Ten o'clock that night Homes and I called on Mr. Smith. He 
was eagerly awaiting us and was anxious to have us come in, but 
Homes declined. 

"There is work to be done outside," he said. 

"Have you solved the case, then?" 

"Oh yes. It was obvious from the start. The three fellows you 
saw are planning to steal your prize African violets. Hence their 
references to 'pot'. What they meant was 'flower pot.' They in- 
tend to take your violets in the dead of night and go on a 'trip' 
with them — take them to a rival flower fancier, that is. They 
were here this morning to examine the area and form their plans 
before dark." 

"But what about the button saying 'Flower Power'?" 

"They are obviously professional flower thieves." 

"But of course!" explaimed Mr. Smith. "What a fool I've 
been. What are we to do?" 

"We will hide in your weeds until the thieves come. The three 
of us should be able to surprise them and overcome them with 

The weeds in which we concealed ourselves were the same that 
Mr. Smith had been cutting that morning. They were indeed 
thick; I had no fears we would be seen. However, I could not 
help but remember that the health department had told Mr. 
Smith that the weeds were poisonous. I asked Homes if there 
was any danger. 

He examined the weeds and gave me his expert opinion. "I 
don't believe so. These weeds are of the hemp family. They are 
somewhat hallucinogenic, but there is no need to worry. I don't 
see why the health department is so concerned." 

Thus assured, I settled back and waited for the thieves. 

We did not have to wait long. Half an hour after we had hid 
ourselves we heard footsteps approaching us. At a signal from 
Homes, the three of us sprang upon the thieves. The fight was 
brief, for we had taken them completely by surprise. We soon 
had them lined up against a wall of the house. 

The LOFT 33 

Bradley Kjell 

"Doctor, give me your flashlight," said Homes. I handed it 
over and marveled as Homes brought its beam upon our cap- 
tives. They were just as Mr. Smith had described them: un- 
kempt hair and beards, oddly styled clothing, and looking as if 
they had never taken a bath. 

"I see that I have erred in at least one aspect," said Homes 
at length. "Far from the hardened criminals I had expected, I 
see these young men are new to crime. It would be a capital mis- 
take if we were to send these fellows to jail and thereby leave 
crime the only way of life open to them." 

"But what else can we do?" asked Mr. Smith. 

"I suggest we allow them to perform some useful task to make 
up for their intended wrong-doing." 

"Like what?" I asked. 

Homes faced our three captives. "First thing tomorrow morn- 
ing," he said in a commanding voice, "you three will come here 
and finish cutting the weeds for Mr. Smith." 

The three youths, already seeing the evil of their ways, eagerly 
agreed, promising to come promptly the next morning. Since 
there was nothing else to do, we all went home. 

Mr. Smith called late the next afternoon. "Mr. Homes, I want 
to thank you for the wonderful way in which you handled my 

"The boys did come and cut your weeds, then?" 

"Yes indeed. They even raked them up and carried them away 
for me. It is marvelous, knowing that they have given up their 
former ways." 

"Yes," replied Shrock Homes, "that is indeed gratifying. But 
I haven't time to talk now. Inspector Lester of Scotland Yard 
has asked me to help him on a case. A large amount of narcotics 
has just been dumped on the London blackmarket. I must track 
it to its source!" 

So saying, he reached for his deerstalker and strode out of the 

34 The LOFT 

Catherine L. Miller 

The LOFT 35 


Vicki Judah 

Tomorrow may be stolen by the night comin fallin 

And rippin at the heart of yesterday 

But the sky's convulsed with mirth 

Of long lost laughter caught up in the trees — 

So command the tallest branches 

That Remembrance might have some. 

Refrain: the ballad voices sung by idols stolen 

From the eternal highway of hope, taken from them 

A truth to direct, correct, and mold to my own 

To trip on later 'cause 

"Nothin ain't real, cept somethin I feel." 

Like the memory of the fallin rain. 

I understand but can't retain 

The time I ain't got room for 

That will trip up behind and slam the sounds 

I shove into now back into then and on again. 

Shadows, drunken cobwebs dancin backwards, 

Screamin loud and stoppin in the dust 

Still can't kill the thoughts of the words they're tearin on. 

God rest Ye, Mary Gentle One, 

And forgive me my trespasses 

Cause I'm a long way from home 

And the sun's sleepin late. 

36 The LOFT 

Mary Lou Cain 


A worn, black Bible lay on a miniature stool next to her 
straight-backed chair. Thelma, small and frail looking, hunched 
over her knitting, as if to keep from being forced into an up- 
right position. Her attire consisted, as it usually did, regardless 
of season, of cotton peddle-pushers, an obscurely printed 
blouse, a sweater, and a shawl. The only variation she made in 
dress was that from September until late in May she wore knit 
slippers and wrapped a heavy woolen afghan around her legs 
and feet. Sometimes, on afternoons in early August (which can 
be stifling in southern Indiana) she moved from the living room 
out onto the spacious front porch of the large brown frame 

The house, which had been twenty years ago, a noisy place 
full of children's laughter, was now conspicuously silent. The 
monotonous mood of the house was in perfect correlation with 
Thelma herself. Her drab brown hair was sparce as was the 
scratched furniture of the living room. Her waxen face almost 
matched the yellowed drapes which were closed permanently to 
darken the room in which she spent so much time. Her mouth 
seemed only a bluish line of severity drawn across the lower 
center of this tiny face. Grey eyes, often so striking against a 
darker complexion, were only vaguely moist-looking areas sur- 
rounded by red swollen rims in the darkened, extremely sunken 
hollows of her sallow face. She moaned softly now and then. 
Arthritis in her shoulders and arms caused her severe pain, along 
with a persistant aching in her chest. Thelma told the neighbors 
that knitting made her feel worse, but she knew how people ap- 
preciated presents she had knit herself. 

The LOFT 37 

Al Gough 

38 The LOFT 

Mary Lou Cain 

People who visited Thelma and Rufus often wondered what it 
was that happened twenty years ago to that happy young couple 
with their two charming children. Old picture albums showed 
Thelma and Rufus arm in arm with their own reproductions 
standing before them on the porch of the big house. But that 
was a long time ago and no one knows what caused the change. 

It was the same house, minus the children, and the same two 
people, minus the look of gaiety. Thelma and Rufus seldom even 
verbally recognized each other's presence anymore. Rufus came 
home from his job as a salesman in a feed and grain store at five 
o'clock every night and became at once a silent entity as he 
entered the house. His supper was on the table. He ate alone. 
He listened to the radio or watched television and went to bed. 
Rufus bowled on Wednesday nights but it was, as is obvious, of 
little incidence in Thelma's life. So Thelma, who could not even 
join the widows of town went on from day to day alone in the 

For many years Thelma only knit, read her Bible, and scanned 
a few miscellaneous books from a mail-order club she belonged 
to. The report on her daily life to the town was very brief. Only 
the postlady, who sorted mail, knew of her correspondence and 
Rufus never offered, or, for that matter, released, any informa- 
tion concerning her. She had only one friend who stopped to 
visit her about twice a month and the rest of the town believed 
Thelma wished no callers. Bea, her one friend, knew this wasn't 
so. She was quite a social person herself and was very active in 
all of the church activities and was even the secretary of the 
church Bible study group, the Ladies of God. One evening when 
the object of meditation was solitude, the conversation, or 
spiritual discussion as it was called, turned to Thelma's way of 
life. Bea, who had probably been waiting for some time for the 
subject to arise, proceeded to explain to the group that Thelma 
had told her that she would like to see more people, but that 
she would not allow herself to sadden anyone with her burdens 
of sorrow. So commendable was this explanation that the Ladies 
of God began visiting often. Eventually they began holding their 
weekly meetings there on Wednesday evenings. 

The LOFT 39 

Mary Lou Cain 

Thelma chatted with her guests and was a gracious hostess. 
Often though, it seemed as if her voice were giving way to a 
whimper. This condition, combined with her continually swollen 
eyes, caused her to look and sound as though she had just fin- 
ished or was about to cry. No one has ever seen her cry, though, 
and as the Ladies have explained, it is her righteousness and 
Christian love which have given her such strength. They are 
correct, at least, in the premise that no one has ever seen her 
shed a tear. 

She did not cry when their daughter. Ivy, disgraced the entire 
family by running around with a divorced man from a town 
nearby. Thelma knew she did what was right to send Ivy away 
because of the shame. Ivy never did come back, but the postlady 
reported to the town that the letters from Ivy to her mother 
were returned, unopened, to Ivy up in Chicago. Everyone knew 
she must be a tramp anyway, living up there in the city and the 
way she had been when she was younger. Just four years ago, 
when Thelma's son, himself the father of two children, was sent 
to prison for the sexual violation of a minor boy, she did not cry. 
Rufus went to see him once before the trial, but Thelma was so 
disappointed and heartbroken she could not bear to see him. 

She seldom speaks of her children. She once confided to the 
Ladies, though, that her greatest fear was to herself become 
tainted by the evil of godlessness. The Ladies know what a good 
woman she has been and that she did all she could to raise her 
children toward a good life. Bea once remarked how strange it 
was that Thelma had suffered so when she had always been so 
devoted to the laws of God. Thelma is said to have replied with 
a sigh, as she often does, *T have tried so". 

40 The LOFT 

Diane Williams 


A book review 

Harry S. Truman, the author, was the only person capable of, 
or qualified enough to write 1945 Year of Decisions. Granted the 
obvious fact that this is an autobiography, one must also consider 
his key role as United States President and the possession of im- 
portant, comprehensive data that the office demands. 

Biased as he must certainly be, Mr. Truman is still candid in 
his provincial way. The inclusion of letters to his family indicates 
his wish to display the Hometown Ail-American Hero aspect of 
his character. The fact that this book is a compilation of historic 
data and not a philosophical treatise or, for that matter, a schol- 
arly evaluation of past events also causes one to realize Harry 
Truman's own awareness of his inadequacies. Thus, it is safe to 
assume the frankness of his statements and regard his bias as 
only a circumstantial by-product. It is therefore contended that 
his desire to make the facts known, plus, perhaps, the resulting 
monetary gain, influenced Harry S. Truman in writing this book, 
and that his position as President made him the only possible 

There were two main themes which dominated this book. The 
first one, obviously, was a detailed account of the events — the 
eventually resolved foreign and domestic issues, regardless of 
certain idealistic proposals — which occurred in 1945. The second 
theme was the justification of actions that he and his colleagues 
took in regard to these events by describing cause-effect relation- 
ships and/or by omission. 

The first theme was carried out in chronological form. The year 
1945 was filled with change and crisis; witness the international 
impact of Franklin D. Roosevelt's death and of World War IPs 
devastation. The former enhanced the confusion of the U.S. role 

The LOFT 41 

Diane Williams 

in the latter. Yet, many major problems were solved, and the world 
acquired a postwar peace. 

April 12, 1945, the date of Roosevelt's death, marks the begin- 
ning of Truman's Presidency. It was not the birth of some new 
brain child of liberal idealism, nor the death of F.D.R.'s programs. 
Rather, Truman's role became that of a carriage driver with a 
corpse giving directions. And the horse, feeling the reins' slack, 
took the advantage to set a slightly different course. In striving 
to maintain this situation, Truman wisely chose to retain much of 
F.D.R.'s cabinet. Roosevelt was a cabinet unto himself, but with- 
out the knowledge of the superficial collection of men, Truman 
would have been far more ignorant of the problems at hand. 

America of 1945 was faced with four main problems: the win- 
ning of World War II (including both the European and Japanese 
theaters), the reconstruction of the war-devastated areas, the 
creation of the United Nations, and the settlement of domestic 
problems which had been kept in check fairly well by wartime 
emergency measures. 

The first of these problems, the winning of WW II, was brought 
about through the co-operation of the allied forces. Certainly, the 
U.S. was burdened with a greater percentage of the current war- 
time cost, both in men and material; but Truman realized Eur- 
ope's exhaustion and placed primary emphasis on winning the 
war, despite the cost. In this area particularly, Truman followed 
F.D.R.'s plans. With the European victory complete, he relied 
heavily upon the previous Yalta agreements for structuring repa- 
rations, aUied occupation, and reconstruction. He read the reports 
and took counsel from Secretary Byrnes and Prime Minister 
Churchill. He did everything possible to follow Yalta's decisions. 

Potsdam provided the opportunity for actually meeting both 
Churchill and Stalin in person and for joint resolutions of war- 
created problems. Truman found Stalin to be aggressive, moody, 
and not the least bit inclined to uphold any Yalta commitments 
which did not benefit Russia. But he was not as directly opposed 
to Stalin's proposals as was Churchill. Perhaps in this respect, 
Truman was more realistic in calculating Stalin's bargaining 
power than was Churchill, although his evaluation could be re- 

42 The LOFT 

Diane Williams 

garded as naivete. Whatever the personality judgement, Truman 
wished not to create friction between the U.S. and Russia. After 
all, he was aware of his second-hand Yalta information and of the 
definite need for Russian aid in the Japanese theater of the war. 

Despite the circumstantial difficulties, the majority of accom- 
plishments were made in much the same vein as Yalta had pre- 
dicted. Truman was forced to formulate his own policy in only 
two major areas: the establishment of Eastern European govern- 
ments and the victory over Japan. The first one had implied Yalta 
restrictions, but Stalin worked around them. The second was 
worked out by careful planning which embodied a few serious 
flaws. In regard to these faults, Truman affected the so-called 
"Sell Out at Potsdam" and assumed too much authority for 
making decisions without the consent of Chaing Kai-shek. Be- 
cause of his need for the "Yalta Crutch," he over-compensated 
in the Japanese war policy. 

Truman had learned to be wary of Stalin and set the Japanese 
policy so as to strictly limit Russian participation, except in the 
areas which had already been given away. The victory over Japan 
in August, 1945, was more organized than was Europe's. With 
this success, Truman eventually came to formulate his own plans 
rather than adhere to F.D.R.'s, 

In regard to the reconstruction of Europe, Yalta was again the 
criteria for policy making. The U.S. carried the major portion of 
the expense — shown by the Marshall Plan. The aim was to rebuild 
Europe so that it might not only help itself but would also become 
a political and economic ally in later years. Along with the actual 
rebuilding went the prevention and/or elimination of widespread 
famine and poverty. For this end, America continued wartime 
food limitations almost two full years after victory. Also included 
in this reconstruction, although not directly, was the Truman 
Doctrine which gave aid to Greece and Turkey in the fight against 

Coinciding with the last phase of the war effort was the orga- 
nization of the United Nations. Truman was wise in avoiding 
Wilson's mistakes. As a result of this and public opinion at the 
time, the U.N. was created as a world peace-keeping body. Tru- 

The LOFT 43 

Evangeline Avery 

44 The LOFT 

Diane Williams 

man understood its importance and placed much faith in its pro- 
posed function. In considering just the year 1945, he actually 
believed it would work. 

Domestic problems proved to be another area in which Truman 
had to make his own decisions. His Twenty-One Point program 
was an indication of his acceptance of individual policy-making 
responsibility. The numerous strikes — particularly John L. 
Lewis's — and the potential postwar inflation were two issues 
which he handled in reflex-Truman fashion. The strikes were 
settled by prompt and forceful action — by either judicial means 
or others. The potential inflation, which would have created even 
more housing and food shortages than were already present in 
1945, was checked by an extension of wartime limitations. De- 
mobilization of the troops and the conversion of industry to peace- 
time production were also somewhat domestic issues (although 
more often considered war children) and were handled in an or- 
ganized way. Education was the solution for the former, gradual 
expansion of the consumer market for the latter. It would be in- 
correct to suggest that there were no hurdles left unconquered, 
but the general effect was conducive to a stabilization of American 

The second main theme of the book 1945 Year of Decisions, 
that of justification, can be clearly seen in three major areas: 
Truman's personal difficulties as President after F.D.R.'s death; 
his handling of the war; and his policymaking with regard to 
domestic problems. 

Truman distinctly eulogized Roosevelt in the first quarter por- 
tion of this book. He wrote of F.D.R.'s personal strength and au- 
thoritative power. By making his own decisions seem so unequal 
to Roosevelt's capabilities, Truman justified his inadequacies — 
his evident lack of knowledge and grooming which the Presidency 
demanded. Also, by praising F.D.R. and his policies, Truman 
acquired the necessary rationale for implementing the "Great 
One's" programs. In case of failure, he wouldn't have had to ac- 
cept the responsibility. 

Truman's handhng of the war via the use of the Yalta Crutch 
and other of Roosevelt's plans gave him yet another possible 

The LOFT 45 

Diane Williams 

scapegoat in case of failure. Also, by stating that his advisers were 
those same people who had worked for F.D.R., he could safely 
record the historic data. He had a built-in justification for his 
decisions because he was "forced" to rely upon other men's opin- 
ions, Truman not only relied on F.D.R.'s image, but on Churchill's 
also. His dependence on Churchill at Potsdam to live up to Yalta's 
agreements gave Truman's decisions an air of moral correctness. 
When Atlee replaced Churchill, Truman could only hope that 
British foreign policy hadn't changed, too. 

Only in domestic policy making did Truman strive to justify 
his own actions. Playing upon the "mother-God-country-and- 
apple-pie" sympathies, he branded John L. Lewis as a traitor to 
his country. The coal strike threatened the welfare of America: 
Lewis defied the U.S. Government: therefore, Truman was acting 
solely in the public interest. Controlling inflationary prices was 
also for the public good — at a time when the public, like a child, 
disliked the discipline. All other areas of domestic policy were 
handled in much this same stubborn, instinct-oriented Truman 

In evaluating this book, one can clearly see the simplicity of 
form which Harry S. Truman follows. This form, which is a 
complement to Truman's objectives in writing, should be exam- 
ined in a favorable light. The content, likewise, should be judged 
accurate and fair — as much as bias will allow. The explanation 
of this book's second theme might in part be considered a criti- 
cism, although Truman certainly could have done a better white- 
wash job. 

It must be stated that one can easily predict the content and 
structure of 1945 Year of Decisions by simply understanding 
H. S. Truman. The converse of this statement is also true. This 
is a valuable primary-source book for its historic data and for its 
firsthand portrait of Truman, but it contains few surprises for a 
serious history student. The only important one encountered 
during this reading was the need for altering Truman's image. 
Typically characterized as "foul-mouthed", he swears only four 
time in 616 pages. Harry may have "given 'em Hell", but in the 
book, he did it as a deacon. 

46 The LOFT 


j^ i' ■'v^*.^, 

•«>- ■ >•* 


Diane Zuck 

The LOFT 47 


James Katz 

Oh God! ! 

Looking pretty for all the boys 
Her empty head doesn't match her body 
"Say, see you tomorrow?" 
She'll say 
looking up 

not wanting a grain of sand to leave her beach 
Laughing a witch's laugh behind her crooked smile 

How many carry her bayonets in their guts? 

her words put bricks in the pit of your stomach 

her hands make your neck weak 

and your ears pound 

How many have her pain in their bowels? 

You'll smile weakly and reply 
of course 

48 The LOFT 


Volume 1, Number 2 Spring, 1968 

Rock Valley College Rockford, Illinois 

Student publication of Prose, Poetry, and Art. 
'5 Rock Valley College, 1968 

Magazine Staff: 

Diane M. Williams 

Prose Editor Poetry Editor 

James Katz Jay Hart 

Art Editor 
Joseph Burns 

Editorial Assistants 
Bill Karr Perry Taylor 

Theresa Murphy Susan Robinson 

Faculty Advisors 
Mr. William Conger Mr. Richard Apolloni 

Price Fifty Cents 


The LOFT is a student written, student edited magazine. It 
strives to create a pure medium through which Rock Valley stu- 
dents can realistically and freely express themselves. 

This varied collection of ideas was evaluated on the basis of 
Rock Valley's characteristic literary achievement; yet it is to be 
regarded as but one plane of a multidimensional college logo. Its 
complements are found in academic pursuits, theater productions, 
community services, and the everyday human throng in the Stu- 
dent Center. 

With this in mind, the editorial staff of the LOFT conveys its 
gratitude to those creative people who have added refined empha- 
sis to the student voice. 

Diane M. Williams 


Cover design Anne Langsholt 

Art Anne Benson 

Prose George Schlenk 

Poetry Sister Richarius, O.P. 


Tim Karney 
Steve Johanson 

Kristine Leonard 
Diane Palombi 

Ron Labunski 
Charles Voseles 
Charles Voseles 
Anne Langsholt 
Grace Nicolosi 
Linda McNaught 
Sister Richarius, O.P. 
Casiena Fones 
Lawrence Phillipson 

Anne Benson 
Mike Schafer 
John Wing 
Casiena Fones 
Don Larsen 
Anne Langsholt 
Charles Voseles 
Steve Johanson 

Mike Schafer 
George Schlenk 
Casiena Fones 

Diane Zuck 
Rosemary Marinaro 
Charles Voseles 
Paul L. Carlson 
Anne Langsholt 


Title Page 

Rain-Prayer 1 

Art . . . Photo by 

Peter Herdklotz 2 

A Mourner's Inquest .... 3 

Footsteps 4 

Baraka 5 

Art 6 

To Be A Man 7 

Humanity 7 

Art 8 

Procrastination 9 

On Desolation 10 

I Remember 11 

Art 14 

Smoking Is Not Worth 

the Gamble 15 

Art 18 

From a Gate 19 

Art 20 

Now That We Do 21 

Art 22 

The Clothesline 23 

Art 26 

He Was Right 27 

Art . . . Photo by 

Peter Herdklotz 28 

Etc 29 

Marriage 29 

Art 30 

The Station Master 31 

Art 36 

The Pillared House 37 

Art 38 

To Reap a Thousand Memories 39 

Intoxicated 42 

Genesis 43 

Art Cover 


Tim Karney 

He spoke to me tonight. 
With the rain. 
The ever-present rain. 
That personal rain 

that said "You are Alive." 
I lifted my face which 
the drops anointed. 
I spoke by my silence. 
Faith restored, doubts shattered, 
The rain and I embraced. 
Peace was the rain, 
And understanding, 
And forgiveness 
And quiet. 
It still whispers to me 

through the window 
like Matthew, Mark, 
Luke and John in a 
This moment is eternal 
as the ground and I 
drink his life. 

The LOFT 1 

Steve Johanson 
Photo by Peter Herdklotz 

2 The LOFT 

Kristine Leonard 


God is dead. How do I know? Because I see thousands of people 
go to His funeral at His tomb every Sunday, but they do not cry. 
They simply listen to meaningless benedictions with empty heads, 
sing two or three dirges that have no tune and begrudgingly do- 
nate a pittance to His memorial fund. Then, silently, they mouth 
the Lord's Prayer over His lifeless body. At last they file out joy- 
ously, for funerals are such depressing rituals, but as everyone 
knows, one must do his duty and pay his indifference, if not re- 
spect to the dearly departed. 

How did God die? I do not know. All I know is that He is dead. 
Perhaps He had a heart attack due to shock from the shape this 
world has gotten itself into. Or maybe He died in Viet Nam, and 
all the Heavenly Host was sent a Purple Heart and the Congres- 
sional Medal of Honor. Or just possibly He was lynched during 
one of the civil rights riots, simply because no one could decide 
just what color He really was. 

But you ask, if God is dead how can the earth still turn? And 
how can the rain still fall and the birds still sing? If God were 
really dead, wouldn't all these things come to an end? ^youldn't 
they die, too? Well, why should they? The rain or the birds or 
the planet Earth itself didn't kill God. They didn't even break 
any of the Ten Commandments. They obey only the laws God 
has set down for them — the laws of Nature. But have we? No! 
We make up our own rules and play the game of life the way 
we want to. We have forgotten that this is not a game of solitaire. 
And yet, for all our intelligence, opportunities and just general 

The LOFT 3 

Kristine Leonard 

advantages in life over the other living things on the earth, do 
we seem to be getting along any better than they are? God is not 
dead to the birds, flowers or trees. But God is dead to human 
beings. Someway, somehow, somewhere we have killed Him, and 
we are the only ones who can raise Him from the dead to bring 
hope, beauty, and goodness back into our world where it belongs, 
in the form of a church, not a tomb and in the form of a live God, 
not a dead one. 


Diane Palombi 

When first you left me, 

your footsteps echoed awhile. 
Now they throb silently. 

4 The LOFT 



Quiet lover, 

the strength of your voice 
resounds puritan truth as joy. 
By your touch . . . I 

Gentle lover, 

the firmness of your hand 
grasps warm, painless reality. 
By your touch . . . I am 

Humble lover, 

the glory of your manhood 
sears rejection's festering sore. 
By your touch . . . I am born. 

The LOFT 5 

Ron Labunski 

6 The LOFT 


Charles A. Voseles 

If I would hollow a tunnel, 

And go within and become an ant, 
Then I would no longer be a man; 

Oh, what a pity that would be, 
For then I would lose my opportunity, 

To step upon my fellow man. 


Charles A. Voseles 

I once sat down, 

And tried to scribble a verse; 

And journeyed nowhere, 

For it lacked a part of me — 


The LOFT 7 

Anne Langsholt 

8 The LOFT 

Grace Nicolosi 


Putting things off is an art that I have cultivated to the utmost 
degree of perfection, particularly in the area of term papers. Dur- 
ing my first days of classes this semester, I was assigned several 
such papers, and eagerly I awaited them. I would take my time 
and do a thorough job on each, creating masterpieces that would 
truly prove myself as a student. The very day that these papers 
were assigned, I went to the library and took out several books 
for my research. They would not be due until the end of the se- 
mester, but if I was to do them well, I would have to begin early. 
Setting these books on my desk, a wave of satisfaction and pride 
swept over me. What fine papers these were going to be! 

Several days, a week, and then a month went by. How fast the 
time seemed to go. I was so busy! Sometimes I would glance at 
the books lying closed, gathering dust on my desk and would feel 
a tinge of guilt. But, there was always tomorrow. Maybe then 
I'll have more time. It was not long afterward that I received a 
telephone call from the library. Several books that I had taken 
out were overdue and had run up enormous fines. Thoroughly 
disgusted at myself and the books, I returned them and paid the 
fines. Never did I want to set my eyes on those books again! Any- 
way, I had two months to do my papers. That was eight weeks, 
fifty-six days, not including Christmas vacation, surely plenty of 

Well, my three term papers are due tomorrow and here I sit. 
To my left are some scratched notes that I did before supper 
last night, and an old typewriter that I borrowed from a neigh- 

The LOFT 9 

Grace Nicolosi 

bor. On my right lay three opened books, each on a different sub- 
ject to "supplement" my reports; and, in front of me are several 
sheets of blank paper. It is getting late; it must be nearly 12:00, 
and I am very tired. School starts early for me tomorrow morn- 
ing, and I wanted to wash my hair tonight. Besides that, I prom- 
ised to write a friend tonight, too. Perhaps I can do the papers in 
the morning. Maybe if I set the alarm to wake me up early . . . 


Linda McNaught 

In the black night I look for a sunbeam, 
But all the day, shining people have taken them. 

Only the endless cobwebs among the stars 
Remain for the dreamers in the dark. 

10 The LOFT 


Sister M. Richarius, O.P. 

I • 

I remember the twig I broke off that first day 

when we walked, surrounded by rain, down the kill. 
The twig was small — / had not noticed where 
I took it from, 
and meant to fling it along the way — 
but by mistake I put it in my pocket, 
which, in spite of its warmth, 
was empty. 
I brought it out that night, and then 
I couldn't throw it. I saw 

the scars of its severing; I admired its 

For days I half -looked for the whole tree, 
thinking I would return the twig. 
When I saw its marks again 

I could do nothing but keep it. 

For weeks I carried the twig in my hand 
from place to place 
searching for resemblance: 
No other life was like this. 

I doubted then if such had ever been. 
And I doubted the twig's scars 
and its suffering. 

When, surrounded by sun, I reached the hill again 
winter had come. 
And the tree in my path had a scar. 

All I could do was walk past 

and wonder how many twigs the tree could give. 

I put mine in a box that night, 
buried and forgot it. 
One thinks little of trees in winter: 
one questions their stark being. 

The LOFT 11 

In spring I thought of the tree, 

which had turned green before the others. 
Though even then a boxed twig was not recalled. 
I only watched the green tree 
as I walked by the hill. 

One day, in passing, I pulled a leaf from its branch. 
I remembered, then, the twig. 

From the box I unearthed it. 

I looked long at it, so as not to forget. 
I held it, so as to be sure. 

Summer had come then, 
and I saw the tree splendid against the sky. 
I wanted all of that tree: 

each twig, each leaf, each branch — 

to become mine alone, 
to be possessed by no one else. 

But this belonging would not be. 

For all the hours I would watch, 
the tree was no more mine. 
For all the days I would stand near, 
the tree came no closer. 

And I looked at the twig's scar 

and the wound on the tree, and 
I felt ashamed. 

I tried that night to throw the twig away 
but I could not. I looked at it 
for a long time 
till its scars ached in me, 

till I could hold it in my hands 
and be content. 

Still I wanted the tree. 

But this was a quiet desire. 

12 The LOFT 


Last night I revisited the hill, 

and the tree reminded me of the twig which 
somewhere I have kept. 
I have not seen it for a long time, nor 
held it in my hands — 
and the quiet desire for the whole tree 
is a kind of wound too. 

When I left the hill 

I remembered how I boxed the twig in 

forgetfulness and pain. 
In a way I wanted to do that again. 

Something about the scar, and the 
splendor of the whole tree against the sky 

stopped me 
the twig grows within you. 

The LOFT 13 

Casiena Fones 

14 The LOFT 

Lawrence E. Phillipson 


Despite publicity on the hazards of smoking, cigarette sales are 
on the increase. This could mean that either flirting with death is 
an exciting gamble, or that inwardly each smoker hopes that he 
individually will not succumb to the deadly effects of tobacco. 
Many, or all smokers are aware that cigarettes can cause lung 
cancer: the ratio is 1 in 8 smokers, compared to 1 in 300 non- 
smokers.' We are all aware that smoking is harmful to the respira- 
tory system, to the heart, arteries, and to the nervous system. 
Also, that nicotine, a drug contained in tobacco, is one of the most 
lethal poisons known to man. Since smokers seem unconcerned 
that tobacco can kill, let us look at the psychological aspect and 
try to find out why a person smokes; then perhaps it will become 
easier to stop. 

If there were not strong psychological reasons for smoking, the 
unpleasant taste and effects of the first cigarette would cause it 
to be thrown away. The young school boys who smoke are rebel- 
Hng against their status as juveniles. The cigarette is a symbol of 
the mysterious adult world from which they are excluded. The 
appeal of tobacco, the secret of its hold is that it takes advantage 
of the human need for companionship. As when we are in trouble 
or under stress, we need someone or something to lean on. Smok- 

^E. Cuyler Hammond, "The Effects of Smoking," Scientific American (July 1962) , P. 45. 

The LOFT 15 

Lawrence E. Phillipson 

ing may be only a disguise for our inhibitions which psychologists 
trace from birth. 

The first anxiety we experience in infancy is separation from 
our mother. When we are frightened we cried for her soothing 
caress. Having been part of her body, in the womb, we uncon- 
sciously long to be reunited and at peace again. The child at the 
breast gets near to restoring the original oneness. His most intense 
pleasure is to receive his mother's milk; therefore, the sensation is 
concentrated in his mouth. Psychoanalysts call this period the 
oral phase, and it is quite logical according to Freud's theory' that 
these very early reactions make a permanent impression on the 
mind. All memory of breast feeding is gone quite soon, but as the 
child grows, he may suck his thumb, chew candy, pencils and toys 
— this is a continuation of the simple delights of the oral phase. 
Whether we wish it or not, we carry our childhood with us to our 
dying day. The child feels more secure when the nipple or some 
substitute is placed in his mouth. As he grows up, if the craving 
persists, it is satisfied by a cigar, pipe or cigarette.^ 

A story is told of the Shah of Persia in the early nineteenth 
century who played a trick on some of his guests. The Shah hated 
smoking and secretly filled the communal pipe with horse dung 
instead of tobacco. When he asked his guests how they enjoyed a 
new brand of tobacco that he had discovered, they declared that 
it was exquisite. One guest said that it had the flavor of a thou- 
sand flowers.* Actually the Shah may have been doing his guests 
a great favor by substituting a product that did not contain the 
harmful components that are in tobacco. 

Even if the deadly ingredients in tobacco were removed, such as 
nicotine, carbon monoxide, benzpyrene — (the most powerful 
cancer-producing agent tested in animals), plus arsenic amonia 
and radioactive potassium, the habit itself can become very dis- 
agreeable. It bums holes in clothes, rugs and furniture. It costs 
$125.00 per year for a one pack a day smoker." Think of what the 

^Leslie M. LeCron, How to Stop Smoking Through Self-Hypnosis, (Hollywood California: 

1966) , P. 10. 

^Clifford D. Morgan, Introduction to Psychology, (McGraw-Hill: 1966), P. 491. 
♦Harold Shryock, Mind if I Smoke?, (Mountain View, Calif.: 1959) P. 38. 
"Vended cigarettes cost 40c per pack, or 28.9^ per pack by the carton; averaging 34.45^ per 

pack times 365 days equals $125.74 a year. 

16 The LOFT 

Lawrence E. Phillipson 

cost would be for a two or three pack a day smoker with a wife 
who smokes also. Smoking produces a foul odor and dirty ash 
trays. It does more than make a mere nuisance in the home, it 
can kill! 

While living in Tennessee during the spring of 1964 I visited a 
patient who was suffering from lung cancer. He was very pale and 
very thin. I could see that is was difficult for him to breath, in 
fact, most of the time he could breath only with the aid of oxygen. 
He experienced great pain which was momentarily numbed by 
sedatives and pain-killers. This man had a twin brother who was 
hale and hearty, one who never smoked. The patient was a smoker. 
As he lay there, he turned his face to look out the hospital win- 
dow. The grass was green, the leaves were bursting their buds; 
outside life was beginning anew. But here, death stalked silently 
in the room. Suddenly, I pictured myself in his place. What was 
he thinking? If someone would have told him years ago that smok- 
ing would cause this, would he have quit? What would you do? 
He died a week later, perhaps twenty years before his natural 
time. With an example such as this, shouldn't you experiment 
with quitting for your health's sake? 

If you feel that smoking is getting out of hand, and you have 
become a slave to it, prove that you have backbone and quit! 
If it frightens you to think of losing your friend — the cigarette 
— forever, quit for thirty days to prove it can be done. At the 
end of this time you will feel better, breath better, taste your 
food better, and sleep better, and chances are, you won't care to 
smoke any longer. Quit gambling, and add extra years to your life. 

The LOFT 17 

Anne Benson 

18 The LOFT 



Seven Ancient Chinese 

watched me from a gate 
the moon is full and they are as old. 

captured seven nodding to their fall- 

the night 
attended seven beneath its pall. 

Three women with no cleavages, 
four men with no blood 

chanted from behind a gate — 
is this a coward's world? 

The LOFT 19 







Mike Schafer 

20 The LOFT 


John Wing 


that we do 


what we want 

we can 


to the 


country side 


and free 

the pidgeons 



mind cages 


i suppose 

they will 

always return 


messages from 


outside world 

but we won't 

have to 


unless of course 

we are 

contacted directly 

and it's 

only a brief 

statement we must make 


we just keep 

inside our lasting 


until we step 

from it 



more The LOFT 21 

Casiena Fones 

22 The LOFT 


I am always fascinated by other people's abilities to recall 
events in their lives which occured when they were one or two 
years old. Some people speak of a father's return from the War, 
the grand party held for him, and some small incidents which 
happened to each of the guests. ''Great Aunt Mary fell off a 
chair," or "Uncle Fred had to leave early to attend a church 
social." At one year old these feats of memory are truly accom- 
plishments which should make headlines in tomorrow's newspaper. 

I would imagine my pre-school years were spent much like 
those of most youngsters. The exception is that my memory does 
not allow me to recall many of the various games I played, how 
I played them, or who played with me. It wasn't until I was four 
or five that I had an experience which I can recount with cer- 

I was lying in my back yard on the sHghtly burnt-brown grass 
of late summer with my eyes lightly closed. It was the middle of 
the afternoon, and the sun was just beginning its fall to the cliffs 
of the Mississippi River a few miles away. I was facing the sun 
and marveling over the discovery of thousands of multi-colored 
bubbles of light displayed in front of my eyes. I began to cry at 
the beauty of the bubbles, and the tears produced a kaleidoscopic 
display of ever-changing patterns. A dark shadow passed before 
me, and startled, I opened my eyes to see my mother going about 
her task of hanging baskets upon baskets of newly washed clothes 
on the flimsy, over-used clothesline. The single strand of wire was 
attached to the roof of the dilapidated chicken house on my right. 

The LOFT 23 

Don Larsen 

The faded red structure leaned in the direction of the wire, ar- 
rested from falling by the combined weight of corn cobs and water 
pans left over from last winter's feeding. The burnished wire ran 
the length of the yard from the chicken house to the ramshackle 
''out-house" where it passed through a small pulley and darted 
at right angles to a lone, gigantic maple tree at the corner of our 
house. The "outhouse" tipped precariously as the weight of drip- 
ping sheets and towels hung heavily on the line and waved slowly 
to the wind like an old and tired man rambling through a park. 
(My mother prided herself on her uncanny ability to judge pre- 
cisely just how many articles of clothing could be hung on the 
line without producing a catastrophe . . .) 

As the shadow passed, the bright yellow lights and blood-red 
planets came again into view. I could feel myself being pulled 
through the heavens at a rate approaching the speed of light. Solar 
systems and galaxies were left behind. Large clusters of stars 
seemed far away. In the distance a misty shape could be seen, 
and, with a sudden burst of speed, I flew toward it. Clearly visible 
now, the burning yellow dust particles surrounded the bleak 
emptiness of the center. It was through this immense center I 
was being drawn, and I had great fear of crashing into some hid- 
den barrier in the center. Suddenly, I was through, and the brilli- 
ance of the light was replaced by the icy darkness of space. For 
a moment, I felt entirely alone. Then another misty shape ap- 
peared, and, just as suddenly, I was being drawn through it, trav- 
eling toward the next one. It was at this time that I formulated 
the word "nebula" to describe these strange, flowing, half-light, 
half-dusty, doughnut shaped clouds I was passing through beyond 
the planets on my grand journey to "somewhere." 

Years later, while reading scientific accounts and descriptions 
of space and seeing their use of the word "Nebula," I found myself 
stonily unimpressed. The grand hypotheses were stated as possi- 
bilities. I knew them to be true for I had seen it all many years 

But it was summer now. A strategically placed sheet on the 
clothesline blotted the sun from my view. I felt my self being 
drawn back through space and time until finally my reverie was 

24 The LOFT 

Don Larsen 

broken. I opened my eyes and turned my head to the sight of 
chickens scratching in the dust and ants and beetles scurrying for 
shelter. The world seemed utterly strange and alien to me. But 
the sun was still warm and soothing on my back, and I did not 
desire comfort from the familiar voices floating on the air. I recog- 
nized them as belonging to my two sisters who I knew would be 
playing on the front porch. There every day, they would set up 
small tables and chairs and play house. Cats were used in place 
of dolls. They would be dressed in doll clothes and paraded in 
front of imaginary neighbors. No, today I didn't need their com- 
pany. They wouldn't listen to me anyway. My wondrous journey 
would pass by them unheard. I got up from the grass, swung on 
the clothesline for a while, and went into the house. 

That night I stayed awake for a long time hstening and watch- 
ing for the approach of some alien space ship coming to rescue me 
and return me to a place where I belonged. When I dreamed, I 
dreamed of bubbles and lights sliding gently down a clothesline, 
releasing all the clothes and letting them fall down and down, 
far enough so they could never stop me again. 

The LOFT 25 

Anne Langsholt 

26 The LOFT 


Charles A. Voseles 

You thought 


Was wrong. 


You proved 


Was right 


Your act 


The night 


The man 


Not his 


That endure 


Into the — 


The man 


Into the void. 

^Martin Luther King 

The LOFT 27 

Steve Johanson 
Photo by Peter Herdklotz 

28 The LOFT 



Pure nonsense, 

it sells, 
like a gold metal 

prize winning 
beer can design. 


the creator of pop songs 
is Albert's 

seeing eye dog, 



When spokes are bent, 

when twisted or as rubber, 
the rim, the wheel, will roll 
with shakes . . . 
if it rolls at all. 

The LOFT 29 

Mike Schafer 

30 The LOFT 

George Schlenk 


The cottage glowed a warm red as the sun set on the blackened 
hills in the distance. The old man had long since stopped noticing 
those hills where a fire had raged unchecked, lighting the sky at 
night and blackening the western sky with smoke during the day, 
about this same time the summer a year ago. The cottage, as the 
rest of the station, was streaked with soot, but it harmed nothing 
— the paint had worn off the buildings years before. Vassily Per- 
onsky, the station master, as the peasants still called the old man, 
had just finished feeding his old mare and was taking an armload 
of wood inside for the night's cooking fire. 

As Peronsky neared the door to the cottage, his eye was caught 
by someone coming down the tracks in the faint light of evening. 
He entered the cottage, placed the wood in the basket by the 
fireplace, and went out of the cottage to await the visitor. As he 
watched the man coming closer, he decided to ask him to eat with 
him and spend the night. He did not decide to ask the visitor to 
stay the night so much because it was the Russian tradition, but 
because he had not had a real conversation with anyone in months. 

The visitor was a young man about the same age as Peronsky 
when he was first assigned to the station. Vassily thought of how 
promising this position had been for promotion. The business of 
the station increased tremendously at first, and in his second year 
at the station he was able to hire an assistant. There were some 
times as many as three trains a day, but now there were as few 
as two trains a week. It seemed that Vassily was always too busy 
or family problems prevented him from asking for a promotion. 

The LOFT 31 

George Schlenk 

Then when the new watch-level route, which was faster and 
smoother riding, was laid to Moscow, his station's use decreased 
greatly. As the years went on and his position grew worse and 
worse, there always seemed to be something preventing Peronsky 
from doing that which he was going to do — better his job and 
position. The sight of the young man, so much like himself when 
he first came to the station, renewed his lifelong dream of a better 
life. Peronsky was now old and grey, slightly stooped-shouldered, 
and still friendly and talkative. 

"You looked tired — would you care to spend the night?" Per- 
onsky inquired of the young man. 

'T was hoping you would ask," said the young man. *T am 
Nicholas Ivanitch. But I must give you something for your trou- 
ble, and I have no money." 

"Think nothing of it now — a little help with the morning 
chores will be all that is needed. Come, please go inside," said 

Peronsky went about the business of preparing supper saying 
little — he was saving the conversation till later. When supper 
was ready they both greedily ate the food Personsky had pre- 
pared. They talked of how good this simple food was, the fine 
weather and how the Lord had blessed the peasants of the region. 
And finally the talk turned to their own lives. 

"I was about your age when I first came here to this station. 
I came with Vera, my wife, and our young son," the old man 
fondly remembered. "My father was a peasant on the estate of a 
rich Count Ahrosimov. The count believed in freemasonry and 
had the peasants' children educated so that some day all the 
peasants on his estate might be liberated. I was clever and learned 
quickly, and I got a job sending and receiving the wire code while 
the station master was at supper. That station master took a 
liking to me, and when I was twenty-two, he got me this job as 
the station master here at Smolensk. I was lucky, very lucky." 

"Yes, you were very lucky," answered Nicholas. "If I should 
be so lucky when I reach Moscow ... I was the apprentice to a car- 
riage maker back in Kiev, but life was dull, the wages low, and I 

32 The LOFT 

George Schlenk 

know I can make a go of it in Moscow. And if I should be so 
lucky, I will open my own carriage shop sooner than I have ever 

"I also have a dream like yours, and it will come to be as soon 
as I get a little bit ahead," said Peronsky. 

"You're an old man now, Peronsky; you have never made it 
and never will — it is too late. You make yourself a fool to believe 
that you will ever change your hfe for the better," answered 
Nicholas. "But you watch and shortly I will be a rich carriage 
maker in Moscow. I will succeed!" 

They both sat quietly and watched the dying embers of the fire, 
and neither broke the silence for a few moments. 

"I came here in hopes of proving myself," said Peronsky, "so I 
could get a better job some day. After a few years here I was going 
to ask for a better position, but we were in debt for this cottage, 
and Vera thought it best to stay here until Peter, our son, was 
older and our circumstances better. And when Peter was older, he 
ran off at seventeen to join the hussars and was shortly killed in 
a small battle with the Turks. I couldn't bring myself to move Vera 
from our cottage right after Peter's death — at least not for a few 
years. Then, when I was again ready to apply for a better position, 
Vera caught a fever and died. After Vera's death I couldn't bring 
myself to even think of leaving our cottage, but in a few years my 
dream was back again fresh and clear. Finally I sent a message 
to the authorities saying I was seeking a higher position, but I 
did not receive an answer. And I have let the matter lie there these 
last few years." 

"I advise you let the matter be," said Nicholas. "You will only 
destroy your dream when you are turned down — you are too old 
and who would they get to come here and replace you?" 

The talk ended here for this night — they both were very tired. 
When they had made up their beds, they quickly dropped off to 

As agreed, Nicholas stayed the next day and helped Peronsky 
with his work. He was still there the next night and he asked 
Peronsky if he might stay on for a while and work for a small 

The LOFT 33 

George Schlenk 

wage so he would have some money when he reached Moscow. 
Peronsky said yes because Nicholas was a good worker and he 
liked his company. 

The weeks Nicholas stayed on at the station stretched into 
months and he learned all of Peronsky's duties. He even learned 
to send and receive on the telegraph so he could take any messages 
that came while Peronsky made his daily trip to the peasants' huts 
to buy food. 

Peronsky liked Nicholas; he liked how well he worked and how 
quickly he learned the work at the station. Peronsky also en- 
joyed the conversations they had after supper each night. Until 
now, Vassily really had not had anyone to talk to since his wife 
had died. So it was one day that Peronsky, as he did almost every 
day, set out to buy food from the peasants feeling confident the 
station was in good hands with Nicholas there. 

Peronsky rode the old mare over to where the peasants lived. 
He finished his business, but before he could start back a cold 
fall rain storm broke, and Peronsky was drenched. He urged the 
horse on, but when he was still a mile from the cottage the horse 
came up lame, and he had to dismount and lead the horse home. 
By the time he reached the cottage he was chilled and late that 
night a fever set in, Nicholas did all he could to make him com- 
fortable. When Peronsky fell into a restless sleep, Nicholas went 
to bed. And the old station master died silently in the night. 

Early the next morning Nicholas found that Peronsky had 
died; he looked like he was asleep — peaceful and rested. Nicho- 
las did not grieve. The old man had lived a long life and if he 
had lived, he would have gone on living in the monotony of life 
at the station until old age finished him. He served little purpose 
to society — there was little reason for his living. 

Nicholas constructed a wooden box out of old packing crates. 
He lined it with the old afghan Peronsky's wife had crocheted 
which had covered Peronsky's bed. He laid Vassily Peronsky in 
the box and folded the afghan over his body leaving his face ex- 
posed. He thought how peaceful Peronsky looked as he nailed 
on the top of the wooden box. 

34 The LOFT 

George Schlenk 

He stood over the makeshift coffin lying tilted to one side in 
the shallow hole he had dug next to the grave of Peronsky's wife. 
He stood there; feeling, sensing, thinking, remembering nothing. 
He was brought back to reality by the dull thud of a lump of 
wet clay falling on the wooden box from the side of the grave. 
He then began to fill the hole with shovelsful of dirt, 

"Here lies a man that was 'going to.' Now he is gone," Nicholas 
muttered as he quickly filled the hole. 

Nicholas sent a telegraph message to Moscow to inform the 
authorities that Peronsky had died. He told them that he would 
stay on and carry out Peronsky's duties at the station until the 
time they found a replacement. He asked for Peronsky's salary 
plus fifty rubles more a month. The authorities approved his offer 
and he stayed on doing Peronsky's work. 

About a month later Nicholas wired Moscow concerning the 
replacement. They said soon enough they would find someone — 
they were still looking for the right man. Nicholas wired many 
times more in the months to come, but always the answer was the 
same. He finally gave up sending that same old message and slowly 
settled into the dull monotony of life at the station. And he 
stayed on at the station carrying out Peronsky's duties until old 
age finished him. 

The LOFT 35 

Casiena Fones 

36 The LOFT 



Life no longer suckles Mother Earth. 

The withered vines droop with wormy fruit. 

Water is a fingerpaint of mud, 

Oozing through gullies of salted land. 

Skeletons of God's creatures 

Breath skin-searing dust. 

Their eyes are empty sockets 

Searching for nonexistent light. 

The white picket fence encircles 

A plot of thistles and weeds. 

The pillared house was gutted 

By a fire of embittered neglect, 

And Hope, that essence of yesterday. 

Has fled this desolate place. 

The LOFT 37 

Diane Zuck 

38 The LOFT 

Rosemary Marinaro 


The piercing noise heightened and the spinning motion of the 
whirlpool of bricks, glass, and wood grew more rapid as it zeroed 
in on its defenseless target below . . . 

The huddle of warm covers was thrown off furiously as the 
figure in the bed shot up suddenly from its prostrate position. 

Shaking and perspiring from the nightmarish dream, Jennifer 
reached over and turned on the light. Adjusting her eyes to the 
light, she focused on the clock by the lamp. It was five-thirty. In 
another half -hour her mother would be awake. After rearranging 
the covers, she turned off the light and lay rigidly still in the bed. 
She knew her mother couldn't be easily deceived, so she would 
have to perfect her plan. The thought of the letter kept recurring 
as she lay in the darkened silence of the room. 

As the alarm sounded in her parent's bedroom, Jennifer went 
through her mother's routine in her mind. It was like some sort 
of ritual or unbroken tradition that she followed upon arising. 
First she would go into the bathroom to freshen up and then into 
the kitchen to fix the coffee. She would wake up Jennifer's step- 
father next, and while he was washing, her mother would cook 

"Jennifer, wake up! It's six-thirty." 

Jennifer lay groaning in between the covers, waiting for the 
bedroom door to open. 

"Jennifer, how many times do I have to call you to get up? 
You had better go to bed earher if you aren't going to be able to 
get going the next day." 

The LOFT 39 

Rosemary Marinaro 

"I don't feel well, Mom. I don't think I'll go to school today." 

Her mother suspiciously eyed the open books which lay on the 
desk. "I suppose you didn't finish your homework and you're 
afraid to go to school. You know that your grades have declined 
ever since we moved here. What's the matter, don't you like the 
new school?" 

"Oh Mother, do we have to go into that business again? I'm 
just not feeling well. That's all." 

"Well, it seems to me that you haven't been feeling well a lot 
in the six months that we have been living here. You've got to 
snap out of it. Don't you realize how much nicer we have it here 
in St. Paul in this beautiful, new house? You should be thankful 
for the change. Anyway, be sure to take some aspirin and stay in 
bed. I'll call the school before I leave for work." 

Jennifer breathed a little easier after her mother had closed the 
door. She lay back down and listened to the sounds in the house 
and waited. 

Later, when the house was silent again, Jennifer got out of bed 
and dressed quickly. She left the bed unmade and her pajamas 
under the covers. 

In the kitchen, the letter lay on the counter like a mirror on 
a wall; she was compelled to look into it, but she wasn't satisfied 
with what she saw. She read it over once more and stuffed it back 
into the envelope. It was so good and yet so bad to hear from 
their former neighbors in Maple Plains. She gathered up her coat 
and keys and shut the door on the silent house. 

The sight of her car gave her spirit an odd lift. It was a real 
heap of junk, but it ran, and it was her own. Her parents had 
given it to her after they had moved to St. Paul. Because it was 
a big city, she had a greater distance to travel to school. As she 
turned the key in the ignition she said a quick prayer that the 
"Junk" would make the hour drive to Maple Plains. 

It was a strange sort of day, weatherwise. The sun would appear 
and then disappear briefly, as if it couldn't make up its mind. It 
was overcast now. and a slight shower of rain was falUng. 

40 The LOFT 

Rosemary Marinaro 

Jennifer's hands tightened on the wheel as she thought of the 
letter. So they were going to tear the house down where she had 
spent all her childhood. Of all things they were going to make a 
gas station out of it. Good old Maple Plains, always thinking of 
progress! She wondered how it would compete with the two gas 
stations across the street from it. 

The sun hadn't reappeared as she turned off the freeway into 
Maple Plains. Everything seemed Hke a miniature repHca of a 
city. Nothing had changed except for the building of a new gas 
station here and there. It was so quiet, no hustle and bustle of big 
city sounds. As Jennifer drove down Main Street she saw the 
Thompson family's dog. She honked and the dog darted away 

She had finally come back to the house. She parked the car in 
the alley and ran wildly up the back steps. She pushed her hand 
through the hole in the screen and unlatched the door. 

Inside, the house was awesomely dark and empty. It smelled 
of a musty odor, and a thick layer of dust and dirt covered every- 
thing. As Jennifer walked slowly through the house, she tried to 
remember things as they were long ago. The laughter and the tears 
that had filled every crack. She passed into the living room and 
stood transfixed. She pictured the rocking chair in the corner of 
the room in which her father always sat; when Jennifer was httle 
he used to rock her back and forth on his lap. Her mother would 
tease sometimes and would say, "That rocking chair is going to 
be the death of you yet, honey." Then suddenly one night he 
had had a heart seizure and collapsed into the rocking chair. After 
the funeral her mother had it burned. 

Jennifer ascended the stairs and entered the bedroom that had 
been hers. She hesitated for a moment and then opened the closet 
door. There on the wall of the closet was the farewell message 
she had written on it before the movers arrived: '*I loved this old 
house dearly and I hope whoever lives here after me may share the 
happiness of life that it provided. Keep this old house glowing and 
you will reap a thousand memories, 

Jennifer pondered awhile and realized how foolish it was to try 
to cling to these old memories. A new life was being formed and 

The LOFT 41 

Rosemary Marinaro 

she was now aware that she must shape her Hfe to fit this change. 
Quickly descending the stairs, she ran out the back door and 
hopped in the car. As she drove at a good speed through Maple 
Plains she noticed that the sun had finally appeared. It was a 
strangely beautiful sun. She held her head up towards it and 


Charles A. Voseles 


In the moon's light, 

I went into heaven 

With one thought in sight 

To chase heaven's angels 

Throughout the night 

With delight. 

42 The LOFT 


Paul L. Carlson 

Today the sun did not rise, 

It surprised the world with darkness. 

The clouds are still there, 

The clock still ticks on 

Telling everyone that doom is near. 

The earth is not warm, 

The soil still holds life 

But does not yield its fruits. 

Science runs through the streets 

Asking all present, why? 

Only the blind see what has always been 

Surrounding their shifting lives. 

God laughs at the world in its confusion. 

Children ask their parents. 

What is sky blue? 

As it grows colder 

Life dies away in the eternal night. 

The generators have stopped, 

The gears and pendulums stand in their stillness. 

Man has gone to his last home. 

Then there was light. 

The LOFT 43 






Rock Valley The Loft /„ 



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