Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Think That I Shall Never See

From Richard Critchfield, Those Days: An American Album (New York: Laurel 1987), p. 391. The narrator's voice is that of Critchfield's mother, Anne (Williams) Critchfield, who is recalling what happened after she applied for the position of policewoman at the Police Department in Fargo, North Dakota (c1939)—

Almost two months later, the Police Department phoned one day and asked me to come in. I reported to the station downtown and they gave me some clerical work to do. Soon a tourist-park policeman brought in two boys. One was carrying a brand-new Boy Scout ax. They'd been caught chopping down trees in a park south of town. He left it up to me what to do. That first day and from then on, I was given pretty much of a free hand. I thought: let the punishment fit the crime. I told the boys they must memorize Joyce Kilmer's "Trees." They did. I was to work as a policewoman eight years. Just in my last months, a big husky policeman came up to me, grinned, and began, "I think I shall never see…"