From the Journal of Martin Way:
March 10, 1936
Where should I begin. Oh, yeah! How about here, right in the middle of the story where I am. Bramble used to tell me that the middle is the only place you will ever be. That makes sense since you can’t start over and at the end, well it’s all over.
Who is Bramble? He was my sometime pal, sometimes antagonist (does that make me the protagonist?) from University days. I am the protagonist of my life, I guess. Anyway he stopped by to see me on his way to the west coast, California. He leaves tomorrow by train. He says he might even send me a letter or two along the way. He has the wildest, unsettled mind I know and yet much of his behavior, reckless as it is, has a mad sense to it. He revels in adventure and unplanned life, and yet somehow manages to engage me at a deep level. I will never be as free as he is, I could not be so and stay sane. I have a need to examine what I live through, digest it and form ideas from that. He seems to pluck ideas from wherever he inhabits. He also forces the people around him to provide his restless mind with fuel for his ceaseless exploration of the limits of society and his endurance. He has crossed many lines I will not yet approach.
I am moving out to Marionville in the middle of the state to do some work for a friend of my father’s. He says there are plenty of jobs for a hard worker and handyman like me. It is not like moving is difficult these days as I own very little and have few deep connections besides family. My mind I take with me. That is full of half thoughts and needs clearing out anyway.
March 18, 1936
I dreamed I was working on a huge wooden door for a ancient lodge, ¾ of a circle, made of cross-sections of immense tree trunks embedded among planks and divided in the center with heavy iron pull rings on either side of the center line. It was all of golden oak.
The actual work I am doing is fence repair and small carpentry jobs, Little niggling tasks that take a lot of physical labor and leave my mind free for loose thoughts. Nothing much comes of them, but I keep thinking.
March 23, 1936
A scared little man was shouting in my head all night, all my little fears and anxieties personified. I woke several times with his shrill voice screaming hysterically about nothing in particular.
Today Carl and I start the barn for Myron Lacey. I have plenty of framing experience so with Carl’s steady hand, we should do a fine job of it.
March 29, 1936
Out on the Lacey farm today putting up the new barn, the sun hung low and golden on the eastern haze as we finished the back wall. Carl is a quiet man to work with and allows space for my thoughts. At that time in the morning all is damp from dew and shining.
“This is a fine time to work!” Carl said suddenly and shocked me out of my thoughts.
“Yes, the best,” I replied taking a good deep breath of the early spring air still and cool. I could feel the life in my lungs.
When the day is starting and your body is fresh for the task, nothing is better.
Later Mrs. Lacey came out with some fresh bread and coffee. She is a delicate looking woman, younger than me. Mr. Lacey went to Pittsburg to find a wife and came home with this shy, thin girl.
“There’s not much to her.” Carl said, looking after her as she made her way back to the house, “Seems like the first stiff breeze would carry her off.”
What an image! A young woman blowing in the wind to new place, like Dorothy in Oz, only not a child. She, like so many women, seem to exist for men and their needs, blown here and there not able to shape their own lives.
By noon we told Lacey that we would be ready for raising after our work today and finished up early. A good day’s work. I am satisfied with most of my days, but still have the need to build on ideas that come to me. I need to speak with people who are paying attention to their ideas too, building in their minds and using what they know and think to add to my ideas.
It will not do to stay here. I have written to the University and my sponsors. I will go back next year, but now full of purpose and an idea of expanding without fear.
The barn will rise soon, and then I will find another task. There is plenty of work around here in the spring. Still not a lot of money to be had, but enough food and a warm place to sleep each night.