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R. V. Cassill 51 WHERE SATURN KEEPS THE YEARS I R. V. Cassill You must see Helen Ward in her moment. It is that moment of blood and decision which makes her years of achievement intelligible, alas— which makes visible the ghastly halo she wears through her continuing service. She goes on, Helen, doing what she was trained to do. We are told she is one of the most respected pediatricians in Albany. Helen was Amy Ward's daughter, and that in itself will have to explain why she was the first and only member of the Ward kin to become a doctor or, in fact, any sort of professional person. The Wards are good people, most of them, industrious, capable and dependable, but they are essentially contented people. A couple of generations back they began to move into our little county seat town from the farms down toward the Missouri border and now they are installed here as proprietors of garages, dealers in farm implements and repair, beauty parlor operators and rural mail carriers. Frank has the propane dealership for Hackett township, and two of his daughters are high school teachers. They have clung to the Methodist church, taught Sunday School, been fervid supporters of the high school athletic teams. Two of Helen's uncles went to Africa as missionaries in the Thirties, and a cousin served a prison term for reviving the old crime of cattle rustling, stealing not only twenty-seven head of beef from feed lots across the state but the van in which he was hauling them to Kansas City for sale. Deviants from a stock that has mostly bred true—bred true and married their kind, except Amy, who bore twin boys and Helen to Alvin Ward. Amy was a farm girl from one of those families that was not about to leave the home place until after the war when the banks and insurance companies bought up the worst land in the county, junked the houses and barns and turned all the hopeless family farms into grazing land again. By then Amy had her children, but having come off the farm she was not as content as Wards are supposed to be to think that Chesterfield was the end of the migration. From that clay farm she'd brought a vision of the world and her responsibilities to see that it was run right. True, she taught in the Methodist Sunday School like her sisters-in-law—taught to eight and ten-year-olds what most of their distressed parents would recognize as Communist doctrine about racial equality, the iniquity of the death penalty, and the treachery of Harry Truman in using the United Nations as a cover for imperialism in Korea. "Amy believes these things," her husband defended her to his brothers, who thought that would have been all right if she just kept quiet about them at family dinners and didn't cause bad feelings in the church congregation "where, you know, Alvin, we got plenty of hard-shell old-timers that don't know they've comein from the farm, that still hanker for the old straight line gospel." Her in-laws might credit Amy for her "spunk"—but remembered that she herself had just come in from the farm. Amy had left high school to enlist for pilot training in the WACS during wartime and had failed at that. What made her so much smarter than the President of the United States and the editorial 52 THE MISSOURI REVIEW writers for the Des Moines Register? "You know, Alvin, it might make a little more sense, what Amy is crusading about, if there were any Negroes in Chesterfield, for an example," Floyd Ward thought. "Hell, there are not but three families of them in the whole county, I'm told. And I'm told nobody any more bothers them and they don't bother nobody." Surely that was close to the way Alvin saw it, too, loyal husband though he might be. He was a troubled fellow when the Methodist minister had to arrange a showdown with Amy and relieve her of her duties as a Sunday School teacher. Alvin...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 51-59
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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