Indiana Summer by Margo Dean

Rich girls from the north shore,
those cigarette-smoking sophisticates,
went back to Chicago and their
boyfriends at Northwestern
at the end of our first year of college—
or maybe to Paris to visit mothers
who were shopping the designers
on long vacations away from the fathers.

I went to serve the common man
in a land called Indiana.
No ivory tower for me, no sir—
My anthropology class was the
Ranch House Diner in Lafayette,
across from a factory and open 24 hours.
Elvis sang "In the Ghetto,"
and our heads pounded to the song
"Excedrin Headache Number Ninety Nine."
I learned every song on the jukebox
as I waited tables and made coffee
in the hot hard summer of '69.

One evening on second shift,
the boss turned off the jukebox.
The sudden absence of music got our attention
as he plugged in a TV on the counter.
That was the night we stopped everything
to watch men walking on the moon.
Trucker and factory worker, cashier, cook,
waitress and busboy— we stood entranced
as Armstrong's heavy shoes stirred the moon dust.

Everyone watched but Annie.
Wiry, wizened, with cigarette dangling,
she clattered plates and silverware,
going about her business,
ignoring the great event.
"Annie," called the boss,
"the men are on the moon-
Come on out and forget the damned dishes."
"Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit," Annie yelled.
"They might be somewhere,
they might be on Mars,
but they ain't on the moon—
it's all bullshit."

The last weeks of summer went fast.
I came in on any shift with too
little notice, too little pay, two
sore feet and an aching back.
While I filled the sugar bowls
and Annie washed the dishes,
half a million people grooved
in the rain at Woodstock,
and the Age of Aquarius
dawned in Indiana
on a battered jukebox
at the Ranch House Diner.

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