SEP 12, 2022


From childhood, Georgia, and her younger sister Harriet, had a friendly sibling rivalry. However, Georgia, the craftier of the two, would always let her sister win, fooling Harriet. Unconcerned about winning, she was more focused on helping her younger sister find her self-confidence. It's just who she was.

With the war behind them, their family fortunes as well as the nation's began turning for the better. That summer, they finally had a chance to attend the year's Crow Fair. In the racially charged environment that was their country, their parents were keen for them to understand diversity and equality. Having lost Bannon, their only son, to the war, they had come to understand prejudice and violence, and they did not want it to feature in their daughters' lives.

The heat drew them out, Georgia enjoying the stifling air. Alongside her sister, this new world they were finally experiencing felt wildly exotic. Georgia had a flair for crafts, while Harriet was more drawn to animals.

As Georgia wandered amongst the tepees, admiring the crafts, she instinctively felt a gaze fall upon her. Feeling vulnerable, she cautiously looked around, spotting the voyeur who poorly concealed himself. Playing the fool, she wandered along, finally glimpsing an opportunity to duck amongst the tepees, doubling back, and finally cornering the young man who was casually following her.

“Who are you?” she quizzed.

She could see his fluster.

“Ermmm, hello,” he stammered.

Georgia squinted hard at him.

“I'm Stanley. . . Stanley Norton.”

“Why are you watching me?”

Stanley looked downwards, guiltily, knowing he was caught.

“I was just admiring the Indian culture, then I saw you and…”

He had run out of words. Georgia eyed him doubtfully.

“Well, don't do that, don't follow me, it's creepy, OK?”

Stanley's face turned red. He did not consider himself creepy, but he was lost on how to approach this girl he had just seen.

“I'm sorry, I did not mean to creep you out, it's just that…”

But Georgia had already turned to walk away.

“May I join you,” he called after her.

“No. I don't know you.”

“But I just told you, my name is Stan and…”

She cut him off.

“You don’t understand what…” she trailed off, her train of thought halted.

She meant to point out that he did not get what that meant, but she hesitated, then smiled. Clever, it hit her. There was something about him, she just could not figure it out.

Thus began their naïveté. Walking amongst the Indians. They talked, Stan, trying to fascinate Georgia with outlandish stories. She remained slightly aloof.

The next Saturday, she met Stan in Hardin, bringing along Harriet. Her younger sister had designs of her own, having found an endearing charmer to while her Saturday afternoon with. Georgia and Stan wandered down Main Street, and he took her for a soda. She liked that Stan had dreams beyond the State of Montana. After all, the boys she knew were keen on hot rods, hunting and farm animals.

Over the next few months, they slowly became an item, tongues wagged, caution was instructed, and life continued, slowly, in their one-street town. Georgia was surprised at how shy Stan was. Her curiosity had forced her to take matters into her own hands, and their first kiss had been her idea. With most uncertainties cleared, Stan finally eased up. She had a way of calming his apprehensions, and enthusiasm when it got out of hand. After that first kiss, Stan determined to himself that he was going to have to marry Georgia someday. She had listened to him and had soft kisses. That was a plus.

The next spring, having finally graduated, he felt eligible enough. He now worked as a mobile greaser, solving complex mechanical problems for farm machinery all over the state. His reputation grew, short of returning a failed piece of machinery back to the manufacturer, you called Stan. He saved his earnings, and weighed in on his future, trying to imagine the farm he would buy and the house he would build for Georgia. That plan however was about to be slightly derailed.

He had received a strange letter from Los Angeles, asking him if he was interested in building and fixing complex machines for an aeronautics company. He dismissed it immediately, assuming it was a prank by his old college acquaintances. However, he had shown the letter to his father, who also dismissed it. Fortunes did not befall his family that easily, he argued, so this must have been a prank. So, life continued. He fixed machines, and dated Georgia, while his father tilled his land.

Almost two months later, a telegram arrived, asking Stan if he had received the letter and if he would respond. Confused, he reread the telegram, then the letter, back to the telegram and, for the first time, considered that this whole thing might actually be real. He raced out of their farmhouse, into his father's old battered International, and excitedly drove four miles to the nearest telephone in the entire area. Through their operator, he placed his call, with the number indicated in the letter.

The company operator, sounding distant, through the hissing and crackling of the line, asked for his number there, told him to hang up and someone would call him back. He sat outside, slowly drinking a soda, wondering if this was real. Twenty minutes later, the phone rang.

“Hello, is this Stanley Norton,” the distant voice inquired.

“Yes, this is Stanley, may I ask who is calling?”

“My name is Harris. We have been trying to reach you for a couple of weeks now. Would you like to consider…”

As the crackling voice shared the good news, Stan found himself flabbergasted. Wide-eyed, he heard the beginning of his dreams come true. The opportunity he had long waited for, was discussed over the electric noise that carried the signal. That single phone call turned his life around.

Everything became a blur. His first thought was Georgia. Manically, he rushed off to see her, to tell her his good news. Afterwards, he went home to share this with his parents. Times were changing. The very next day, choosing his words carefully, he wrote his acceptance letter, posted it and started preparing for the future. Georgia first.

Wearing his best suit, really, his only suit, he had gone up to Georgia's home, seeking her father. Over the broad kitchen table, he explained himself, and in the nicest of words, asked for Georgia's hand. Her father, a prudent graybeard, who knew Georgia's greatest desire was to see the world, saw Stan's sense. He knew the boy already, knew his family, he was happy. Eagerly, he blessed their union.

The wedding was a haze, Stan could only afford a single-night honeymoon. Georgia, his girl, now his wife, seemed more excited about leaving Hardin than she was about the wedding. She did love Stan, deeply, had married him, and they were heading off to Los Angeles. Life was progressing better than she had anticipated. He finally caught his breath as the International smoked its way out of Montana, with Georgia in the passenger seat.

They took the scenic route south, slowly, seeing this world that neither had really explored. The whining engine, the rattle of their suitcases in the back of the truck, the bales of smoke, they crossed county and state lines they had only heard before. Georgia designated herself the navigator, slowly tracing her finger on the map of the route they would take. Excitedly, she finally accepted, Hardin was behind them, while their future lay ahead of them.