They attended sports events, choral concerts, theatricals, lectures, welcome sessions for foreign students, homecomings, convocations. Her father had served on all the notable campus committees and in the faculty senate. He had received many awards and honors, all duly noted in his obituary. After his death, a scholarship at the School of Law was named for him.
And the university library archived his publications, his personal papers, and the plaques and framed proclamations, the distinctions that had charted and crowned his career. Archivists had sorted through it all, arranging and cataloging. Her father would have liked the idea of having his own well-ordered and climate-controlled space, preserved for all time. There might be other items that could go to the archives; the daughter would keep an eye out for them and set them aside.
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Her mother had held on to a share of memorabilia, scrapbooks, and such. Her father was older than her mother and his memories of the university went back to the Great Depression when he was a student here. The monthly room and board at his fraternity house was eight dollars, and there were times he and the others struggled to come up with even that much. A loaf of bread cost ten cents, a bus ride a nickel. To hear her father tell it, it was a time of hardship cheerfully borne, when he and other students still managed to have their share of thrifty fun with dances, serenades, and hayrides.
There were ice cream socials and organ concerts at the music building. They gathered to listen to the radio, they made fudge and popped popcorn.
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There were no cars on campus, no smoking allowed. Women students had to be home by ten thirty at night, eleven on weekends, a view that carried over to the raising of his own daughter, and which had caused a certain amount of friction.
The Boy Who Spoke Clouds
But that too had been such a long time ago. His wife might not have her own archive, but she did have her own story. She was dreaming bits and pieces of it even now, lying in the hospital bed. Her story was not yet over because there were these final pieces to finish. She had grown up and gone to college back east. She came from educated people who expected daughters as well as sons to better themselves and to make their way in the world.
She had met her husband when she arrived at the university to take an instructor position in the history department, her first teaching job. These were the war years, and as men were in short supply, the department was obliged to make do with whoever was available. She settled into her rented room and the routine of classes and grading papers and loneliness.
The war hung over everything, the excitement and dread of what happened in those unimaginable places half a world away, where bombs fell and armies marched and there were so many dead that they too were a kind of army. The war was a constant, solemn reminder of the many things larger and more important than any one person, certainly more important than yourself and your own silly problems. The history department had her teaching a patchwork of courses: She was on shaky ground with everything but the American, and kept waiting for her students to find her out and denounce her as a fraud.
She was only a couple of years older than they were, and conscious of her lack of authority and credentials.
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But the students mostly women, a few men either unable to enlist or waiting to be conscripted were too distracted by the hysteria and romance of wartime to pay her much mind. They sat politely enough in class and turned in their blue exam booklets filled with haphazardly written answers.
It was her job to hold them accountable and to insist on standards of knowledge and scholarship, but it was difficult to be very severe with them. History was something that had already happened, and life, their lives, were in the anxious now. Most of the girls had boyfriends in the service, or at least wrote letters to someone away at war.
The boyfriends wrote letters back from the places they were not allowed to identify. The girls followed the war in newsreels and radio broadcasts and looked at names on maps and pieced together a good notion of where the boyfriends were. There was an urgency to it all. Some of these romances ended badly, tragically. The whole country was at war.
The war effort involved not just the obvious, the weapons and implements of war, the planes and bombs and tanks and trucks, but the manufacture of canvas for tents and for the webbing that was used for holding canteens, wood pulp for paper, fine optometry lenses for binoculars and scopes, leather for shoes, feed for animals, copper for electrical switches, great quantities of wire, of cable, of cement. All manner of commodities and substances were needed, scrap metal, rubber, aluminum, tin foil, cooking grease, all of it elevated and consecrated by the solemn necessity of war.
A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl
Everyone was to do their part. People trained themselves to recognize the shapes of enemy aircraft overhead. They saved up to buy war bonds. The boyfriends came home on leave wearing their uniforms. The girls left school to marry them and wait out the war at one or another army or naval base. Who would care, at such a time, about the Golden Age of Exploration? And yet history shifted underneath your feet, she knew that. The present was a dizzy perch that every so often began to spin and slide. You held on to your life with both hands, you told yourself to pay attention to this moment, the here and now.
But one minute passed into the next, and then the next, and at some point you looked back and everything was over and people called it history. Anyway, at that moment in the here and now which had in fact long since passed , she needed to slip into the shared bathroom and wash out her underwear in the sink with the bar of yellow soap that was provided. Then carry the bundle, wrapped in a dripping towel, back to her room, where she would hang it over the radiator to stiffen and dry.
There were times you wished that history would just go ahead and swallow you down. When her father died it had not been unexpected, exactly—he was by then a very old man—and it had gone quickly. A collapse at home, a trip to the hospital, his death the following day. Everyone should be so fortunate. The choices presented to you only gave you the illusion that anything made much of a difference. Was it a terrible thing to wish that it could all be over? Like everything else here, the garden had been neglected.
Once her parents had reached a certain age, the daughter had made a project of coming over to help with it. But just as she had uselessly nagged and prodded them about keeping the house up, her efforts with the garden had never been enough. Now she was going to have to hire someone, a landscaper or a maintenance company, to come and weed and cut things back and restore order. The original beds and borders were choked with honeysuckle bushes and all manner of stalky and creeping weeds. You could lie on the grass beneath the arbor and look up at the grape clusters and the blue sky between the sifting leaves and feel as if summer would never end.
She and her brother had been greedy and impatient for the grapes to ripen and had always picked some of them too soon, when they were thin and sour. When the fruit turned heavy and purple-red, they had raced the birds and wasps to get to it. The grapes were sun-warmed and slightly bruised and she had stained her chin with the sticky juice.
She had never tasted any grapes that were as good since. Its wings started flapping and and it flew out of the sky right at the boy! The bad news was it seemed like he was going to hurt the boy, flying around him like crazy. The boy ran as fast as he could towards his house. The house was big and black. There were no windows.
He always wore a black cape with red on the inside. While he was sleeping, he had a dream.
The Boy with his Head in the Clouds/More!
In the dream, his mother came to his bed with a warning: He walked over to the graveyard again. This time, even though it was darker, the boy saw the bat cloud was still there. It was all too much to think about: The person was wearing very dark clothes and a black cape with red on the inside. What is Emily Mortimer Watching? Share this Rating Title: Use the HTML below. You must be a registered user to use the IMDb rating plugin. Photos Add Image Add an image Do you have any images for this title?
Edit Cast Episode cast overview, first billed only: Arthur Timothy Read voice Oliver Grainger Dora Winifred Read voice Bruce Dinsmore Jane Read voice Daniel Brochu