Emil came to me again last night with a new story pertaining to his life. I have come to realize I was one of the only people that ever listened to Emil. Or maybe he never shared much. Either way I am listening:
I was but a boy Julianna. Sixteen years old working on a farm in Wisconsin. Not that it matters where. The folks I worked for were very kind to me. I had a place to sleep, the best food I had in all my life considering my folks were real poor. That being why I struck out on my own at such a young age. Most kids would be scared but I wasn’t any more scared than when I never knew what my next meal would be or if I could go to school or not. Usually not because I had to work the fields to help the family. I had ten brothers and sisters. Pa died young so us boys had to take up the work load. I did learn to read before I had to leave school which helped me get along in life some better.
I took a fancy to the owner’s daughter. Yup, a real farmer’s daughter story Julianna. Her name was Tillie. Actually Mathilda Mae but she was Tillie to me. Prettiest little shy girl I ever met. We would sneak out in the middle of the night and kiss in the hay barn. I knew if her Pa ever caught us I would be thrown to the roadside like a sack of Pa’s newborn kittens. That always did bother me when Pa did that. I would go fetch those kittens and hide ‘em out. Then I would show the mama where to find ‘em. Sometimes she would try to bring ‘em back to the barn where Pa would have really done ‘em in if he found ‘em. I would move ‘em back until mama cat got the message. A little pork fat and cows milk at the new hiding place always did the trick.
I recall vividly the day Tillie came running out of the house towards the barn where I stayed, screaming crying like someone was after her. Come to find out they were. I grabbed my pitchfork and ran outta that barn ready to fight a bear off her. But it weren’t no bear Julianna. It were her Pa and he was fightin’ mad. How could I hurt Tillie’s Pa, my boss man. He grabbed Tillie by the arm and marched her directly past me into the barn hollerin’ for me to get on in behind him! He sat us both down on a bale of hay and began shaking as he informed me Tillie was with child while hollering a mess of bible verses I was somewhat familiar with. Then he stormed off back to the house. One would think he would have kicked me off the property that day. Actually he never did. But what he did do was near unforgivable Miss Julie. Near as bad as puttin’ them kittens in a tied up bag at the end of the road or into the creek. That’s what he did to Tillie and me. He took our beautiful little baby boy and he gave him away to strangers. My first born yanked from me only cause I wasn’t a full growed man yet. Even though I did all that full growed men did. I knew how hard this was for me but I could in no way even begin to imagine how empty Tillie was. She didn’t come near me for almost a year. By then she was sixteen and I was seventeen and she was pregnant again. We told Pa if’n he was thinkin’ about given our second baby away he needed to think again. We were going to run off alone this time. Tillie scared her Mama near to death sayin’ that so we got some better treatment that time. We had a healthy baby boy and six more after that Miss Julie.