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171 The week of the Clayton auction, the “letters to the editor” section of the Link Lake Gazette was nearly bursting with commentary about recent events. A young girl, upset about the spot-rot problem, wrote: Dear Editor: My two brothers and two sisters and I have an acre pickle patch that our pa gave us. He said we could keep half the money we earned, as long as we did all the hoeing and weeding. We all worked hard, even my youngest sister who is only three years old came out to the patch to help. Our cucumbers grew real good, and they produced lots of cukes, too. Then the spot rot came and the pickle factory people wouldn’t buy our cucumbers anymore. What are we supposed to do? Now we kids have no money. Pa and Ma needed the money too. It’s just not fair.” Sincerely, Amy Wilson, age 12 Everyone’s heart went out to that little girl and her family. But she was only one of many kids in the Link Lake community who were feeling the sting of a shortened cucumber season. 22 Jake Stewart Dewey John expected several letters from the people in the Rose Hill School District after the election. But there wasn’t a peep out of those folks; they apparently had chosen to fight their battles among themselves and keep their disagreements out of the newspaper. That wasn’t the case with the “Preacher affair,” as people referred to it. One letter writer accused the paper of whitewashing the whole thing. This person started off with “Dear editor: Your paper has sold out to H. H. Harlow.” How in the world this person came to that conclusion escaped Dewey John. She slammed the paper for its “continuing big business bias.” Another writer went after young Andy Meyer: “The manager of the pickle factory is not able to control his workers. Andy Meyer has allowed the pickle factory to become a love nest. He has lost control of his small staff of workers and should be fired. Anyone who allows such immorality to take place has no right to manage anything. H. H. Harlow should replace him, and quickly, before we hear of some other scandal at the pickle factory.” Still another critic, a member of the Church of the Holy Redeemed , mailed the paper a four-page tirade that began: To whom it may concern: That harlot bookkeeper at the Harlow pickle factory seduced a popular area preacher and noted spiritual leader right under the less-than-watchful eyes of the factory manager. Mr. Andy Meyer has failed his Christian duty to maintain a Christian purpose and a God-fearing atmosphere at this historic Link Lake establishment. The pickle factory manager has tarnished the reputation of our fine village, and has put our entire congregation in a state of mourning at the loss of their revered pastor. 172 Jake Stewart 173 Jake Stewart Dozens of letters like these piled up on Dewey John’s desk. He’d never seen anything like it. Tangle a preacher in a sex affair, and pens and paper come out and the comments fly. Few people seemed concerned about what had happened to the couple or where they had run off to. Neither of their cars was missing, the depot agent said neither of them had bought rail tickets, and the Greyhound office in Plainfield had no record of them purchasing bus tickets. Marshal Quick concluded that a long-distance trucker had picked them up and took them who knew where. A story began circulating that around the time of Preacher’s and Helen’s disappearance, a white eighteen-wheeler that had delivered a load of lumber to the Link Lake Lumber Company was seen leaving town with more than one person in the cab. Helen’s neighbor, Abigail Martin, told another version of what happened. “I saw a big black car pull up in front of Helen’s house in the dead of night. I think it had Illinois license plates—and it looked like a mobster’s car,” Abigail said. When Marshal Quick asked her why she thought it was a mobster’s car, she said, “Well, the car was big, it was black, and it was night.” She didn’t recall whether anyone had gotten in or out of the vehicle. “But it surely looked suspicious, very suspicious.” Karl Swanson, Helen’s ex-husband? The marshal thought. He tucked...


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