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AMERICAN STORIES - Hard Rock Maple

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Now, the Special English program American Stories.

Our story today is Hard Rock Maple. It is about two people living in New England. They seem like the hard rock maple trees often found in that area, nothing can make them move. Today's story was written by Fredric C. Heali. Here is Shep O'Neal with our story.

Old man Calvin worked in a wheat mill not far from his house. Calvin's wife had died many years before. Now he lived with his son Everett. Father and son were happy living together in the old family house. They liked eating together and talking about what had happened during the day. After eating, they would sit in the living room and read.

Their life together was warm and pleasant. But one night after supper, Calvin and Everett said sharp things to each other. Everett quickly walked out of the room, he said no more to his father that night.

The next morning, the old man awoke early and cooked his own breakfast. Usually he would cook for his son, too. But this morning the father went to work without even talking to his son. Everett got out of bed when he heard the door close. He made his own breakfast for the first time in many years, he was still angry with his father.

The old man came home after a long day of work at the mill. Everett returned from the store two hours later. Neither man talked to the other, they were still angry. And this night they did not even eat together.

Many days and nights passed in the same way. Father and son did not talk or even look at each other. They still lived under the same roof. But they acted like two strangers. After eating, Calvin sat in his chair and read a newspaper. Everett sat across the room in another chair, reading a book.

Sometimes while reading, Everett would slowly look up toward his father. He wondered what kind of a person his father really was. He knew that he was a good worker and that he was honest. But his father did not seem friendly with anyone. He seemed to have no emotions.

Everett could not remember ever seeing his father kiss his mother. The son wondered, "What kind of a man is he really?"

Many more days and nights passed with father and son saying nothing to each other. Days became months. But the heavy silence between the two men continued. They still lived in the same old house, but they did not talk.

One Sunday morning, Everett looked out of the window and saw that the ground was covered with snow. Someone would have to clean the snow off the sidewalk, either him or his father. If Everett offered to clean the sidewalk, his father might think he was trying to be friendly. He did not want his father to think so. He was still angry with him. But if Everett did not do the work, his father might think that he was being too cruel. Everett did not want him to think that, either.

While he was deciding what to do, Everett heard a noise outside. He looked out of the window again. He saw his father cleaning the snow off the sidewalk. The old man had been one step ahead of his son. Father had made the decision.

More weeks passed, and father and son still did not talk to each other. Then one day, Everett saw that his chair in the living room was getting old. The seat was broken. It needed to be fixed. Everett remembered that this old maple wood chair had been in the house for many years. It had been there even before Everett was born.

"It is still a good chair," he thought to himself, "I will not throw it away. I will have it fixed." Everett called his friend Alfred on the telephone. Alfred worked in a store where he fixed old tables and chairs. Everett asked him please to come to the house to look at his old broken chair.

The old man was home when Alfred came to the house. "Hello Alfred, I've not seen you for years, not since you were a little boy."

Everett was in the kitchen while the two men were talking. He was surprised to hear his father's voice. He had not heard Calvin talk for almost five years.

Everett thought to himself, "So, my father will talk to other people." This made him angrier. "I will never talk to him now!" Everett said.

Eight more years passed, Calvin, the father and Everett, the son still had nothing to say to each other. The days and nights were still the same. The two men ate alone, then they sat in the living room and read.

Calvin was getting very old. One day, he stopped working, then he was home all the time.

One night, Everett looked at his father for the first time in weeks. Father looked tired and lonely. The old man's hair had become completely white just like snow. The son felt sorry for his father.

He said to himself, "We are together even though we do not talk. I am lucky to have someone here with me. It would be terribly lonely without him. "

And then another winter came, the cold wind blew and the ground again was covered with snow. Inside the old house father lay sick. He was very old now and it did not seem he would live much longer.

Everett drove his father to the hospital in town. A young doctor took him to a private room. Everett waited outside in the hall.

A few minutes later, the doctor came out and said, "You can see your father now."

The doctor and Everett walked into Calvin's room. The son went in and saw the old man asleep. Calvin looked very tired. Everett sat down in a chair next to the bed and waited.

After a time, Calvin moved a little, but he did not open his eyes. Everett wondered if he would ever see his father's eyes again. Then the doctor came back. He told Everett that he knew that he and his father had said nothing to each other for 20 years.

"That is our personal business." Everett said. Then the doctor told him how sick his father was. "He might die soon," said the doctor, "you should talk to him now. It will be your last chance."

Suddenly the old man opened his eyes. He looked around the room. He looked at the young doctor and he looked at his son. He smiled weakly at Everett. And Everett smiled back at the sick old man. Then Calvin opened his mouth and tried to talk. Everett quickly put his hand over his father's mouth. He did not want to hear Calvin's voice even though this was the last chance. The old man did not try to talk anymore. His eyes closed again and he was asleep for a long time. The doctor said, "He will not awaken again. He is dead."

Everett moved from his chair and got his hat and coat. He walked to the door and then turned to the bed. He wanted to look at his father for the last time. The doctor said with anger, "He wanted to say something to you before he died. Why did you stop him?"

Everett answered, "It was my father who first made the decision that we should not talk! He was the one who felt we had nothing further to say to each other. I did not want to hear him say he was sorry. I did not want him to ever think he was wrong."

Then Everett walked out of the hospital. He drove home very slowly. When he entered the old white house, everything seemed strange. He said to himself, "This will be a lonely house now."

You have just heard the American story "Hard Rock Maple". It was written by Fredric C. Heali. It was published in Yankee Magazine in June,1966. Your narrator was Shep O'Neal. The Voice of America invites you to listen next week at the same time for another American story in Special English. This is Susan Clark.

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