Edna Ferber: Buttered Side Down


This will be a homing pigeon story. Though I send it ever so far--though its destination be the office of a home-and-fireside magazine or one of the kind with a French story in the back, it will return to me. After each flight its feathers will be a little more rumpled, its wings more weary, its course more wavering, until, battered, spent, broken, it will flutter to rest in the waste basket.

And yet, though its message may never be delivered, it must be sent, because--well, because----

You know where the car turns at Eighteenth? There you see a glaringly attractive billboard poster. It depicts groups of smiling, white-clad men standing on tropical shores, with waving palms overhead, and a glimpse of blue sea in the distance. The wording beneath the picture runs something like this:

"Young men wanted. An unusual opportunity for travel, education, and advancement. Good pay. No expenses."

When the car turns at Eighteenth, and I see that, I remember Eddie Houghton back home. And when I remember Eddie Houghton I see red.

The day after Eddie Houghton finished high school he went to work. In our town we don't take a job. We accept a position. Our paper had it that "Edwin Houghton had accepted a position as clerk and assistant chemist at the Kunz drugstore, where he would take up his new duties Monday."

His new duties seemed, at first, to consist of opening the store in the morning, sweeping out, and whizzing about town on a bicycle with an unnecessarily insistent bell, delivering prescriptions which had been telephoned for. But by the time the summer had really set in Eddie was installed back of the soda fountain.

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