The young boy's uncle took him to see the Cardinals play at Sportsman's Park, and the uncle parked in 1941 Plymouth on the street near the stadium. As the uncle locked the car, another young boy approached and asked if he could collect 25 cents for watching the car. The uncle coughed up the quarter. When asked later why he did so, he said he paid so that when he returned to the car its tires would not be slashed.
Weeks passed, and one afternoon the boy was digging in the front yard when a woman drove up and parked. She had clothes for the neighborhod dry cleaners. The light bulb flashed over the boy's head.
"I'll watch your car for 10 cents," he called to her.
"Why should I pay you a dime to watch my car? she asked. "Nothing is going to happen to it."
So when she went into the cleaners the boy grabbed a double handful of dirt and threw it through the open window.Then he went into his back yard and began digging.
Some minutes later, he noticed the cleaning lady, the motorist and his grandmother talking near the house. They motioned him over.
"Why did you throw dirt in this lady's car?" the grandmother asked.
"I didn't," he said. II
The young man was working part-time for the university's public information office as a writer and photographer. One day his supervisor told him that a group of Hungarian freedom fighters was on the campus, and that he should take their picture. The young man, steeped in John Donne and Dylan Thomas, wouldn't have known a Hungarian freedom fighter if he saw one in a bowl of soup. But he grabbed up the Crown Graphic and headed out to the old wooden building where the group was registering or something.
He put the Graphic on a table near the door and went to speak to the tour leader to set up the picture. Several freedom fighters stood by.
"Okay," the young man said. "Line 'em up against the wall and I'll shoot 'em." One of the freedom fighters, it would appear, understood some English, and when the dust from the untreated wooden floor settled it took about 20 minutes to round up the group from behind the trees.
"What the hell happened?" the supervisor damanded.
"I don't know," the young man said. III
The cub reporter was working the thankless night shift on an afternoon paper, and as he made the police checks by telephone he could see the snow piling up in the street. Then the phone rang, and it was the editor telling the cub to go out and get weather stories.
So the cub headed out into the near-blizzard that was raging south through the Mississippi Valley. He walked through the deserted streets and saw nothing but a neon sign that said Walgreen's.
After an hour and a half, he returned to the office. Looking at the old Underwood, and, knowing a lot more about Wallace Stegner than about Joseph Pulitzer, he wrote a story about finding a bum named Jimmy Causey in a doorway, alone, cold, hungry, clad in an overcoat from the Salvation Army. At 11:30 he dropped in into the city desk basket and went home, thinking that the dayside would get a kick out of it.
The next day, before going to work, the cub got his newspaper and saw, to his horror, that the Jimmy Causey story was prominent on Page 1.
He skulked to the office and in the lobby saw a mountain of food and clothing, and the city editor told him that there was also money in envelopes for poor Jimmy, and that the reporter should track him down.
"He probably left town," the reporter said.
"Go find him," the city editor said.
So the cub reporter went out and looked into every doorway, feeling something like a Eudora Welty character, hoping against hope that there could really be somebody there, or vaguely hoping that there would be some bum who, for a price, would say he was Jimmy Causey, collect the loot, and scram.
But there was nothing.
"He must be gone," he told the city editor. So then the food and clothing was dispatched to St. Vincent de Paul, and the cash went to the Community Chest.
Before he went home, the assistant city editor came up to the cub and said, "You made that story up, didn't you." It was not a question.
"No, I didn't," the reporter said.
Editor's note: The author of this article was asked if it was autobiographical in nature.
"No, it isn't," he replied.