Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Would you believe it? Attacking Vikings: Part 2

Many people probably saw newspaper articles based on the press release I put in my last post about the Viking ship coming down the Illinois River in early September, 1966. They probably thought "Hmm, interesting," and left it at that.

Not my dad.

Instead, Dad set up a line of spies - his patients - quite a few miles up the river to keep him posted on the approach of the marauding Vikings.

It wasn't until mysterious phone calls started coming in that my younger sister,  Carolyn. and I got an inkling of what Dad was up to.

Carolyn was about to start her freshman year of college, and I was about to head off for my senior year, so we were pretty cool.   That coolness was challenged when Dad came into the kitchen that morning.

His spy network had reported that the Dread Vikings had been sighted not far up the river, "They just passed under the bridge at Henry," etc., and would arrive in our waters within a few hours.

It was perfectly obvious to Dad that we needed to dress up like Pirates, climb aboard The Shiloh, and attack the Vikings.

Well, as I mentioned before, Carolyn and I were cool college girls: way too cool for something like that!

Our older brother wasn't around, for some reason, and our younger sisters had already begun the high school semester so they were exempt from this adventure. Our musician mom had already left for a music rehearsal in Peoria, so she was not going to be drafted into the whirlwind, either.

The phone rang again, but this time it was a report that one of Dad’s OB patients was in labor. She was a first time mother, so it appeared that Dad wouldn't be back in time to attack anybody. As he got ready to leave for the hospital in a disappointed manner, Carolyn and I felt reprieved: surely he would not be back in time to make us do this totally uncool thing!

As he went out the door, however, Dad said , “All right, girls, I expect you to carry on in the Johnson tradition.”

From left to right: my mother and my younger sister, Carolyn!

What could we do? We HAD to attack those Vikings!

We called Jack Weber, the local funeral director and the only guy in  town who knew how to drive Dad’s boat, and whom neither of us had ever met. We also called a couple of other women to fill out the pirate crew.

Me and my fierce Pirate Dog, Mogie, ready to attack!
It was only then that we started blacking out our teeth and painting on mustaches etc. to look suitably piratical.

Just before we left for the boat, however, both Dad and Mom got back to the house and donned pirate garb - Dad painting a really effective scar on his chest, as I remember.  We went down to The Shiloh, hoisted the Jolly Roger, and were off to defend Chillicothe against the Viking menace!

Oops, Deedy got her wires crossed!

Her June 18th event is at the Manchester Barnes & Noble Store!!!

(Boy, is her face red.)


June 18 Booksigning in Manchester, NH! Come join the fun

Sat., June 18, 3-5 p.m., Deedy (Dorothea Jensen) will be be signing copies of A Buss from Lafayette at the Manchester Barnes & Noble Store. (1741 South Willow Street Manchester, NH 03103 603-668-5557)

 There will be costumes, book "artifacts", fiddling, and more!

(Sounds like fun. Wish we Izzies could be there, too!)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Would you believe it? Our Deedy attacked some Vikings. Real ones.

Here's another post from Deedy (Dorothea Jensen to you) about something that happened a l-o-n-g time ago (in human years).

Love, the Izzies

* * *

I’m taking a little break from writing about writing fiction or poetry, in order to talk about something that actually happened fifty years ago.

First I have to give you some background on my family. My dad was a family doctor in a small Illinois town. Our house was on the Illinois River, and my dad, an avid sailor, had a gaff-rigged 37 foot ketch. Dad had bought it from one of his patients, who had built it.  This sailboat was called the Shiloh because it had been “a hell of a battle to build.”

The Illinois River was not an ideal place to sail such a vessel, and we got stuck in the mud nearly every time we tried.  Dad would then get out of the boat to haul it out of the mud, looking very much like Humphrey Bogart in “The African Queen.”

My father was always coming up with ideas for adventures that we five Johnson kids noticed didn’t seem to occur to other kids’ dads . But the greatest adventure he ever dreamed up involved attacking a Viking ship on the high seas of the Illinois River off the coast of Chillicothe, Illinois.

It was August, 1966, and a department store in St. Louis wanted to promote the fact it was going to start selling Scandinavian products.  As a publicity stunt, they found a half-sized replica of a real Viking boat, and hired a crew of men from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. The newspapers told how they were going to sail down from Chicago to St. Louis on the Illinois River. This was so long ago that the press release for this event was not xeroxed.  Not e-mailed. Not scanned. Not posted online.

As an introduction, I am now scanning and posting said press release online. Right here, right now: