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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 29: Takano 22
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Hastings 195
Following Dorothy’s lead, Tommy bought a cheeseburger, French fries, and a soda. Root beer would not have been her first choice, but Dorothy said that it was the thing to buy here because they had it on tap and even people who did not like root beer liked this root beer. Tommy had to agree that it was very good, for root beer. The fries were thicker than the ones she usually got from fast food places, more like the ones Missus Billings heated in the oven, but dipped in catsup they were decent.
Once they were settled at one of the picnic tables behind the shop Dorothy asked the inevitable dreaded question: “So, tell me about Japan.” Fortunately Tommy had anticipated this.
“Not much to tell, really,” she said. “Crowded in a lot of places. I was mostly in American housing connected to the American military; I didn’t even learn much of the language.”
“Oh. So your father is in the army?”
“He’s an engineer. He was helping them rebuild. Their electronics industry is beginning to thrive. If I knew anything about stocks, I would definitely buy Sony.”
“Sony? Never heard of them.”
Tommy was pleased to find a subject about which she knew something. “Well, you will. They invented something called magnetic recording tape which is going to take over big chunks of a lot of industries, beginning with music, then television, and home entertainment--tapes will be like records you can play in your car. It’s going to take a few years, but tape recorders are coming, and video cameras to replace movie cameras. It won’t last forever--there will be something better eventually--but for the next ten years or so audio and video tape will be big. Like transistors.”
“What, the things in radios?”
“And televisions, and telephones, and computers, and things we don’t see like missile guidance systems and radar and satellites and amplifiers and electronic musical instruments. Electronics is going to be a big deal in the years ahead.”
The look on Dorothy’s face suggested that she was not sure just how much to believe of this, but it didn’t matter to Tommy, who had managed to get the conversation off what she didn’t know about Japan. “So, music. Who’s good?”
“Well, Elvis, of course; everybody loves him. I love Fabian, and there’s Ricky Nelson and Bobby Darin, the Everly Brothers and The Drifters. Brenda Lee and Connie Francis are good. I guess it depends who you like. People still listen to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin; I probably will always love Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime.”
“Hey, Dottie,” someone called, and approached at a trot. Tommy noticed that Dot grimaced briefly at the diminutive nickname, but recovered immediately.
“Hi, Peg,” she said. “What’s up?”
“Oh, same old same old. How was work?”
“I met someone. Peggy, this is Tommy; Tommy, Peggy. Tommy recently returned from spending some time with her family in Japan; Peggy has been my best friend since probably third grade.”
“I’d have said second, but anyway, a long time ago. So, you have family in Japan?”
“No--well, probably, but I’ve never met them. My father is an engineer, and we were in Japan helping them rebuild stuff.”
“Oh. Neat. So, where do you live?”
“Technically Delaware--that’s where my parents live--but I’ve been hiking around the country seeing things, and this week I took a temporary job babysitting a little girl not far from here.”
“Cool. How did you manage that?”
“Oh, it’s kind of a strange story. The little girl had wandered into the street and was almost hit by a truck, and I was one of the people who saved her, so her mom insisted I come home with them, get cleaned up and have something to eat and stay the night, and then the next day their regular sitter got sick and so they asked if I’d take over at least until they knew what was happening. I figured I could use the money, and I’d done enough sleeping in the woods for a while, so I said yes.”
“Sounds like things worked out. What about school?”
“I kind of finished high school, or their equivalent, while I was in Japan. I’d like to go to college, but getting my credit transferred may be a bit tricky.”
“Yeah,” Peggy said, “I should go to college; I might find a decent boyfriend. But it’s so expensive.”
Tommy was about to say something about student loans and grants, but suddenly realized she had no idea what kind of financial aid was available in whatever year this was, probably 1960 or thereabouts judging from the music and the clothing and hair styles and such. She took a different tack. “Yeah, well, my parents aren’t exactly rich, but my father would like me to get a degree in something I can use for a good job. I’ll probably go into engineering. I do like electronics.”
“So, who are these people who have you working for them?”
“Their name is Billings, the little girl is Tammy. They live over on Brookside Lane?” She wasn’t sure how much to tell, but Dot broke in.
“Oh, I babysat for her, maybe last year or so. She’s cute. I love the way she scrunches up her face when she’s thinking about something.”
“Yeah, you get the feeling she’s really giving it some thought,” Tommy said.
“So, are you doing anything next Saturday?” Peggy asked. Tommy laughed.
“I’m not sure what I’m doing tomorrow,” she said. “I get weekends free, but I spent my first week’s pay on clothes, so I’ll probably sit home and read.”
“Read?” Peggy and Dot challenged in unison.
“No,” Dot said, “you must come with us.”
“Come where?” Tommy asked.
“Does it matter?” Peggy answered. “I’ll borrow my dad’s car, and we’ll drive around, maybe do a bit of cruising on the boulevard.”
“Cruising?” Tommy asked.
“Oh, you really don’t know stuff, do you?” Dot said. “Cruising is when you drive slowly down a main street and wave at the guys in a flirty way looking to see if there’s anyone you might want to get to know better.”
Tommy decided not to say that it sounded like a rather shallow beginning to a relationship, and instead posed her problem. “I’d love to, but I don’t even have lunch money at this point.”
“Oh, I’ll buy you lunch,” Dot said. “And maybe we’ll take in a matinee; we’ll have to see what’s playing. I can buy your ticket and spot you popcorn and a soda.”
“Sounds good. Where do I meet you?”
“Don’t be silly,” Peggy said. “We’ll come to the house. Dot knows where it is. Look for us around eleven, probably.”
“I look forward to it,” Tommy said.
“So,” Peggy said, “Did you hear about Rachel?” From there the conversation moved into local gossip, and Tommy ate her burger while listening to talk of relationships between people she didn’t know, wondering what next week’s excursion would bring.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #361: Characters Explore. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: