Monday, 2 September 2019

Des Moines to St. Paul, 1954

By Dianne Moritz

I never questioned why. Bert mixed martinis while Mother wrapped peanut-butter sandwiches in a brown paper bag for my lunch.

Bert drove us to the station in our shiny, new Chevy, the train already in, ready to pull me away to St. Paul.

A red-cap took my suitcase and I climbed aboard. When I looked back to wave, they were gone.

I couldn't eat. So pretended I was a daughter to the woman across the aisle: reading stories, feeding her children fried chicken and warm biscuits. I was her naughty child, punished, alone, quietly coloring in my book, waiting for welcome back into the happy family circle.

My fantasies evaporated, quick as tears, while fields and farms blurred past the window. I fell asleep, slept the trip away in dreams, running, chased by a bad guy who smiled a white smile.

I ran to Aunt Ada's cold arms, but she turned away, emptying her change purse, to find a dime tip for the Negro porter.

Sometimes, when I remember, fear catches me again...wild, out of control, like red crayoned scribbles.

* * * * *

Dianne Moritz writes poetry and picture books for children. Adult essays have been published in The NY Times, LA Times, Woman’s World, Romantic Homes, Sunday Woman, Our Iowa, and others. Online memoir pieces have been in Fewer Than 500. Spillwords, The Drabble, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and elsewhere. Visit her website: and her author page on

1 comment:

  1. That shit stays with us, doesn't it. This rings too true not to be true.