It was about that time that I started to date a girl from town named Lina Lentz, a voluptuous blonde with large brown eyes, a ready smile and a happy, easygoing disposition. She was a pleasure to be with, and people liked her. She was also—and this sounds much harsher than I intend it to sound—as dumb as a brick. But she was the girl who laughed away the dark clouds, and she arrived exactly at the right moment.
I met her on a winter’s day, one of the best in my life. There is a large pond in the middle of the village of Deep River, Roger’s Pond, and when it was frozen over the locals ice fished and skated there. Teens congregated around a small fire at the pond’s edge. That’s where I saw her first, standing around the fire with her girlfriends, covered from neck to toe in a long black coat of a kind popular with the girls that year. Her bright blonde hair poured out from under a white crocheted hat and spread across her slender shoulders and seemed even brighter set against her coat. White home-knitted mittens covered her small hands, and the winter’s cold had turned her pretty face crimson. A fog settled across the pond combined itself with the white smoke from the fire, and giving her an angelic appearance. We stared in silence at each other for a full minute until someone broke the spell and cracked, “So when’s the wedding for you two?”
It was a good day.
Lina’s family arrived in Deep River from Sweden in the early nineteenth century, and her grandfather was one of the town’s founders. Her father was a rough sort, with a gravelly voice and disposition that made me nervous. We were opposites of each other in every way possible. He didn’t know what to make of me, or what his daughter saw in me.
But he didn’t have to worry about me marrying into the family since my relationship with Lina was strictly physical, and nothing else. In fact, we barely spoke to each other, and on reflection, I really didn’t know much about her, what she liked, what she didn’t like, her favorite foods—nothing, really. I did know she was a shapely, amorous girl who was fond of sex.
We spent the early summer of 1969 in a massive field on the grounds of St. John’s that gave a splendid view of the river below and was far away from everything else. The field gave us privacy to get on with the heady business of exploring each other’s bodies.
Lina waited for me there, having already laid out a blanket for us and prepared a lunch she brought from home. Like most kids of the time, we brought along transistor radios and listened to our favorite AM rock stations, FM being mostly an empty wasteland.
One day in early May, we were laid out naked across the blanket, resting from our latest round of explorations. We were silently staring up into the blue sky and listening to the radio when toward the river I saw a large group of older people with cameras and binoculars staring up at us from the nearby railroad tracks.
“Look,” I said. “Voyeurs!”
Lina opened her eyes and saw them, smiled and waved at them, and several waved back. “What country are voyeurs from?” she asked.
She stood up and did a slow, very sexual interpretation of a football cheer for the folks:
Give me a T!
Give me an I!
Give me a E!
Give me a T!
Give me an S!
What’s that spell?
As I said, she was a good girl but she was a dumb girl, God bless her, and I stood and gave her rousing applause anyway, and we both took long and graceful bows.
What we didn’t know was that the group was made up of state and local officials who were on a research trip to consider funding a tourist railroad on the old tracks running along the river’s edge. Someone in the group sent Father Mac Donald a grainy but accurate photo of Lina and I in all our naked, smiling glory.
A few weeks later, I was called into Father MacDonald’s capacious office on the second floor, where he flashed the photo at me.
“Can you explain this?” he snapped, his finger unknowingly tapping the portion of the photo where Lina’s breasts were.
“No, Father,” I said. I tried to sound repentant but I couldn’t. I found myself fighting back the urge to burst out laughing. I don’t know if it was nerves or the fact that I just didn’t care anymore.
He pushed the black-and-white photo closer to my face and said, “Well, isn’t that you?”
“No, Father,” I laughed. “I don’t have boobs.”
He literally threw the book at me, a large black bound book. I was restricted to my room for two months and denied all privileges, and became a sort of legend in the storied history of Mount Saint John.
In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.