Page 47 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneThe ScourgeI was told many years ago by a forest ranger that surface or ground fires are, in some instances, hard to control. The reason being they can, at times, act quite insidiously. The reason being that they can travel beneath the surface and it is difficult to predict where they might re-ignite again. This portends great danger for firefighters as they could easily become surrounded by flames without any way to escape. I believe that this holds true in many instances of life. On the surface, what one might sense or feel is peaceful and tranquil can easily be a smoldering cauldron of corruption and depravity. The neighborhood that I grew up in ,Woodlawn, I can look upon as being a village that contained friends, neighbors and professional people. It was, for all practical purposes, self contained. Little did I realize that the village that I lived in was on the verge of decaying from within.Two of my classmates were Anna Mae and Bob. Woodlawn was never what one would consider as an upscale community. Yes, there were pockets of what one might call as plenty, but for the most part, the people were overwhelmingly hard working blue collar types and their children for the most part fit the mold. Most of my friends lived in apartment buildings as opposed to single family homes. While some buildings were well kept, others bordered on slums. No matter their circumstance or status in life, people struggled to maintain themselves and their families the best way they could. The scourge that descended upon us was not limited to any certain economic or social class, but became one of opportunity. Without being judgmental, the determining factor was the moral fiber with which the individual was built.Bob loved Anna Mae there was no doubt. Bob left for the Armed Services during the Korean War. What he left behind was what one might call a fresh faced wholesome girl. When he returned, he found a drug infested prostitute who had sunk to the depths of depravity. The irony is that Bob became a policeman like so many of my other friends did. As he rose through the ranks the further Anna Mae fell to her vices. Then one day, the police raided a known drug house. In it they found a female corpse. Bob asked that they pull back the shroud that covered her body and he blankly stared at what might have been to what had become. The ground fires are still burning across America and where they will crop up next only the Devil can tell.47

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