20. March 2022 · Comments Off on Another Snippit from the Next Luna City Story – A Journey into The Past · Categories: Chapters From the Latest Book, Luna City

On the first day of school in the autumn of 1934, Letty McAllister and her older brother Douglas rode their bicycles from their home – the old stone house standing in a garden on the outskirts of Luna City – into Luna City proper. The big red brick consolidated school building sat on the far side of Town Square, which had once been intended to accommodate a courthouse. Luna City had once been intended to have a station on the San Antonio – Aransas Pass Railway, and be the county seat, but that had never come about. Town Square was now a lovely green park, with a bandstand in the middle, and all the tall town buildings – the Cattleman Hotel, the old fire station, Abernathy Hardware, the Luna City Savings and Loan, the McAllister’s Mercantile Building, and the school itself overlooked that space. The steeple of the First Methodist Church hovered over one corner, like a girl too shy to join the crowd.

Letty would be starting the seventh grade – her brother Douglas, who was clever and bookish, was in the nineth grade. The pair of huge sycamore trees which shaded the paved school playground in front of the school were just beginning to shed their crunchy autumn leaves and prickly round seed pods over the areas marked out on the asphalt in painted squares and circles for games. Letty looked ahead, as she and Douglas wheeled their bicycles through side gate into the playground, looking for friends. Douglas had a new pair of long trousers – his first pair of grown men’s trousers for school, and Letty a pretty blouse with puffed sleeves, worn under a plaid jumper with a pleated skirt. They both had new leather shoes; Letty had her hair cut to a neat bob, and Douglas had his hair cut at the barber shop on Town Square – as he was nearly grown up now, and too old for a home-done trim with their mother’s sewing shears. The first day of school was an important day for the two, even if they expected no real changes.

The first real surprise waited for them, just inside the gate; their good friend Stephen Wyler, who was four months younger than Letty, stood there, with his hands insouciantly in his pockets. With him stood another boy, a slightly taller boy that Stephen, who was still wiry and compact, and had yet to get his growth. Letty had gotten her growth and stood half-a-head taller, which she found obscurely embarrassing, looming over the boys her age. This new boy was exactly her height. though. A tall young man in a suit of a vaguely foreign-looking cut lingered just outside the school grounds, looking through the railings and watching the group with intense interest. Letty wondered why – the young man didn’t look old enough to be a father.

“Hi, Stephen,” Douglas nodded towards their friend. “Ready to be lectured by Miss Horrible for not understanding an algebra problem?”

Miss Hornby, an aged and grey-haired spinster with an uncertain temper taught math, algebra and geometry to the upper grades. She was notorious among Luna City school students for her impatience with error and the furious tongue-lashings which the smallest error or carelessness on the part of a student would trigger.

“No, but Miss Horrible is like a blue norther – just bundle up and get through it,” Stephen replied. “Dym – these are my friends, Doug and Letty McAllister. Letty’ll be in the same grade as us. Dym’s the new kid this fall. His family moved to town last week. His Pop’s a scientist … and Dym has even ridden in an airplane! He’s been to everything there is a picture of in our history book of all those foreign places in Europe!”

Dym, with grey eyes and angular features, stared at the ground, appearing to be wholly embarrassed. “Wasn’t my fault,” he replied, when he brought his gaze up from to meet theirs. “Pleased to make your acquaintance. Dym is just short for Dimitri. Papuch an’ Mama took me. I didn’t care – just another moldy old building.”

“Dym lived in foreign places,” Stephen explained, unnecessarily. For Letty and her brother knew right away that the new boy had, for he didn’t talk quite like they did; but careful and precise, without the customary drawl.

“You should tell us about them in class,” Letty offered. “I’d like to hear about foreign places. Maybe I can travel to them myself, someday.”

“Maybe,” Dym offered a shy, yet wholly charming smile. “But Sergei … that’s my big brother,” and he gestured towards the young man who was still watching them from the sidewalk. “He says that I shouldn’t start folk talking about our business, lest the wrong people hear about it.”

“What kind of wrong people?” Douglas was intensely interested, but just then the school bell rang, and it was time to go inside – Douglas to his class, and Letty, Stephen and the new boy to theirs.

Dym shrugged and replied, “Just wrong people. Bad people.” He turned to wave to the young man watching from the other side of the wrought-iron and brick fence which marked the boundaries of school grounds. The young man returned the wave, and then strode away as the group of children mounted the stairs towards the main school doors – a portico held up with four tall white pillars, and the words “Science – Religion – Patriotism” engraved in gold letters across the entablature.


That night at supper, Letty’s father said the blessing over supper dishes, and Mama got up to bring in a basket of fresh hot biscuits straight from the oven. Mama set down the biscuits, wrapped in a clean cloth, and Papa unrolled his dinner napkin and looked at Letty and Douglas.

“And how was your first day at school, then? I understand that Letty’s class has a new student.”

Letty wasn’t startled that Papa knew everything. He was the mayor of Luna City, and knew everyone and everything, so it wasn’t a surprise at all, that Papa knew of the new boy, Dym.

“He’s nice, Papa,” Letty replied. “I like him, lots. He’s been to all kinds of foreign countries. And he said something about not talking too much about it – because of bad people. Why, Papa – is it dangerous to talk about bad people?”

“In a way,” Papa replied, with a most serious expression. “It’s called political persecution – and your friend Dym’s father is a refugee from political persecution. His family thought that they would be safe, here in Luna City. And so they shall be, as long as we all do our part to keep them so. Never talk about him and his family to strangers. Say nothing about them to anyone that we do not know – to outsiders. Professor Marcus and his family are all good people. And we don’t want to see any kind of harm come to good people as they are, do we?”

“No, Papa,” Letty and Douglas chorused, and Papa took a biscuit from the basket of them, split it and spread it with butter.

“Good.” Papa took a bite from the biscuit and helped himself to the casserole which Mama had set in front of him, at the head of the table – a layered casserole of potatoes, onion and rice, interspersed with a little bit of ground beef, over which a quantity of tomato sauce had been poured before being consigned to the oven. “But if you see or hear about any strangers in town, asking about Professor Marcus or his family – you must tell me at once, or go straight to the police station and tell Chief McGill – or any of his police officers. Promise me that you will.”

“Of course, Papa,” Douglas replied, and then Mama scooped out a generous spoonful of the casserole to everyone’s please, and they talked then of other things.

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