Moral Ambivalence and Quiet People

Moral ambivalence on a quiet afternoon.

Moral ambivalence on a quiet afternoon.

Watch out for the quiet ones. They often take you places you didn’t think you’d go. After Buck Crenshaw and his twin threw William Weldon from a hayloft and broke his arm in THE HOUSE ON TENAFLY ROAD I thought I’d never see Buck again.

But there was Buck in his quietly scheming yet tentative way tapping my shoulder. I’m going to West Point, he kept saying so when an actual human friend wanted me to tag along on a trip up to the academy to see her son I was game. I’d been going to football there for a while, but this time we walked the grounds on a perfect late spring day.

Buck came along, of course, in my mind. What’s the story, Buck? I asked myself or Buck or my muse. No one answered, but weeks later after I promised Buck I’d write something about him (I’d already imagined him now in cadet uniform, with violet eyes like his mother’s and sandy colored straight hair sitting at his desk and being far more studious than I would have guessed) I stumbled upon the controversy surrounding admittance of the first black cadets to West Point.

West Point Military Academy, courtesy Library of Congress

West Point Military Academy, courtesy Library of Congress

I shook my head, no. I’m not going to write about evil white boys hazing perfect black boys. I knew life was more complex than “this color is good; this color is bad” and I didn’t want to touch the subject. AND THERE IT WAS. Buck sat a little smugly at his desk now (polished uniform buttons and all). Yes, he seemed to say, I want no part of this messy race stuff. I want to be an officer and beat my twin brother in all things and win Rose Turner’s hand in marriage and THAT’S IT.

But what about this Milford Streeter (who is as seriously flawed as everyone else) arriving as one of the first (but not the first) black young men to give the Academy a go?

Buck looked me in the eye. So? What of it? I’m at the top of my class and going for colors. I have nothing against Streeter and I’ll be the gentleman  I’m supposed to be.

But what will your brother Fred and his friends a year ahead of you at West Point think when you befriend Streeter?

Buck got a little ruffled at this question and replied: I SAID I’D BE A GENTLEMAN TO STREETER. I NEVER SAID I’D BE HIS FRIEND.

I noticed something in the way he said it though–a crack in his aloof and confident demeanor. Buck Crenshaw wasn’t hard like his brother. He’d allow a sort of friendship and there’s where Buck’s troubles began.

Perfection is a myth. Flawed humanity is the reality. Compassion is the only hope.

Buck and I would love for you to read his story. WEARY of RUNNING is now available in paperback and for KINDLE at AMAZON.COM.

And for those of you who haven’t read the other story about the people of Tenafly Road, my first novel THE HOUSE ON TENAFLY ROAD will be on sale (KINDLE COUNTDOWN) in ebook form beginning Friday, June 5th-12th.

Benny Havens Tavern~The Fun Spot for Future Officers

Oh! Don't slip!

Oh! Don’t slip!

When I was young my friends and I stole away from a high school class trip to get drinks, but this place looks like more fun! The future officers even wrote a song about it.

“No amount of rough terrain, bad weather, or strict rules, kept cadets from their favorite watering hole. Cadets, such as Custer, Poe, and Davis, would routinely risk their lives, or at least their studies, to venture down river, after having snuck off base, to go drink at the popular tavern. The cadets would sneak out of their windows after lights out and either travel through the dense forest rife with cliffs to the bar, or should the dead of winter have proven cold enough, they would have stealthily skated down the Hudson River right to Benny Haven’s.” Shane Cashman

Read the rest of the article here.

Benny Havens
Come fill your glasses, fellows, and stand up in a row.
To singing sentimentally we’re going for to go.
In the Army there’s sobriety, promotions very slow.
So we’ll sing our reminiscences of Benny Havens. Oh!

Oh! Benny Havens, Oh! Oh! Benny Havens, Oh!
We’ll sing our reminiscences of Benny Havens, Oh!

To our kind old Alma Mater, our rockbound highland home.
We’ll cast back many a fond regret as o’er life’s sea we roam.
Until on our last battlefield the light of heaven shall glow.
We’ll never fail to drink to her and Benny Havens, Oh!

Oh! Benny Havens, Oh! Oh! Benny Havens, Oh!
We’ll sing our reminiscences of Benny Havens, Oh!

May the Army be augmented, promotion be less slow.
May our country in the hour of need be ready for the foe.
May we find a soldier’s resting place beneath a soldier’s blow.
With room enough beside our graves for Benny Havens, Oh!

Oh! Benny Havens, Oh! Oh! Benny Havens, Oh!
We’ll sing our reminiscences of Benny Havens, Oh!

west point benny havens