Looking Back Through Generations

How soundly he sleeps – this sixteen year old teenager. In a minute or two the alarm will ring its head off, announcing four A.M.  He will awake with a start, and still feel very tired. This is a normal feeling for him. This boy works eight hours every week day as an apprentice, learning the practical aspects of TV repair.  Four nights a week he studies electronics and math at technical college. Then on Wednesdays and weekends he walks through the dark of night to his other job, setting up the stands at the open air markets.

At seventy, I am still working a part time job as an industrial inspector, plus working on twelve rental homes in my spare time. I never ever thought I would still be working at my age.  You would think that having worked that hard since you were fifteen, you would slow down in the autumn of your life. However, looking back at this boy, I understand my obsession for work.

The house is cold – no money for coal. He’s already dressed, downstairs, eating his cereal.  Mother always said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

     I wonder if she can see her teenager and how hard he has had to work, since she died, when he was just fifteen, and his father went into hospital with TB.

Now he’s running. Hey Wills! I think. The market will still be there. Slow down!

    Get out of my head. You don’t understand! If I’m late, some other kids will get my jobs. If I’m first and set the stands up fast, I can fit in three or four stands in a morning. Lazy kids only make a few shilling! I must make at least five pounds on weekends, and a couple more pounds Wednesday mornings. The rent on me mother‘s house is eleven pounds a week. Me apprenticeship only pays five pound a week.  Get it!

     Wills, I think. You’re killing yourself? You’re up late scrubbing floors, and beating mats over the cloths line, in the dark, why?

    I bloody have to, don’t I? Got to keep me mums house spotless the way she did.

    Wills, but she’s gone and your Dad’s still in hospital. So who would know?

     Remember, when she was in hospital dying, she said “when I’m gone, look up to heaven to talk to me, Alan! She knows!” 

     So Wills, stands to sense, she must be able to look down and see you.

    So  you know how disappointed she would be, if her house was a mess!

     Wise up Wills! When will you realize there’s more important things to do with your time than giving end tables the white glove test!

     You’re bloody daft! Teenagers don’t listen to common sense !

I’m dosing in my Lazy Boy reclining chair. I see Alan. He’s now built like a man. Must be in his twenties.

     Hey Wills! I think. What ya doing with that drill against the side of the TV Cabinet?

      I’m making this into an ITV Ready TV.  Mugs bring in their BBC only TV’s in trade, and pay good money to get the same TV with a bloody hole in the side. Then when the new TV station ITV comes on the air, they’ll complain they don’t get the new station! So I’ll go out and sell them a tuner and an aerial. I’ll make a bleeding fortune!

     Wills, that’s totally dishonest! Mother will turn in her grave!

     It’s only a stop gap till we can get the legitimate typewriter business going.

    Wills, you know that’s Bull Shit! Just an excuse! It will be your downfall. Mark my words. The police have seen every con in the books. You could go to prison or be run out of England. Be warned!

    You have no guts.  Always wanting me to play it bloody safe!

     Wills, you fool! With your tenacity you can make a fortune honestly!

     You try living in the East End of London now the bloody war’s over.  There ain’t no money, jobs are as scarce as hens teeth, and everyone is on one fiddle or another.

       Wills, Wills, Wills! Stick by the morals mother taught you! Save yourself a lot of grief.

The police will put you away, or you’ll have to scamper out of England.

     You’re bleeding nuts! And driving me crazy!  I’m a smart London boy.  I ain’t getting caught and never leaving London. So get out of my head!

It is years later.  Our whole family, six kids and twelve grandkids, are vacationing together at Carlsbad. Old guys like me are afraid of skin cancer, and seldom sit on the beach. However, today I’ve been busy building a huge sandcastle on the beach for some of the younger grandkids. I’m now laying on a blanket, under an umbrella, with my eyes closed.  I see a younger Alan, on the beach, he looks tanned and buff.

     Wills, I think, you still around? See my prediction came true, you came to America.

     Yea! Chased out of England by the police and The Mob! Guess I should have listened to you!

      So Wills, did you ever revert back to being honest?

      Sure did! When I came to America I made a deal with God, that if he got me out of England I’d never do anything dishonest again.

      And Wills?

      Never have! Been times when I was tempted to do dishonest acts. Like during my divorce, I hated giving that ………. , who never worked a day in her life, half of everything I’d worked so hard for. But honesty has paid off.  I’m very successful.  There’s been a few bumps in the road, but I believe I’ve turned out to be the man my mother would be proud of. 

    I’m sure she is, Wills.  You have a wonderful life ahead of you…enjoy it!    

by Alan Wills

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