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Enough Glory

By Robert Leslie Bellem

 Rostoff took all Macklin's blows and still kept coming, like nothing human 

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 5 (UP)—District
Attorney Buron Fitts said today he had obtained
evidence that several murders have been
committed on the Pacific Coast in the course of
Communist party infiltration activities. He said
the evidence would be presented to a grand jury

Dispatch in the New York Times
August 6, 1940

HE HAD a hunch there'd be trouble tonight. Men getting hurt: himself among them, maybe. He advanced on the platform. The hall hummed with an electrical tension he could feel almost physically, like a warning touch. It was something to make you afraid if you were a coward. Or to make you all the more steadfast if you believed in your message, as Shell Macklin did.

His friend Dave Obrowski from the stockroom of the Amalgamated Motors plant was introducing him. Doing a loud job of it. A little too loud:

"Our next speaker is a man we all know and respect. Nobody could call him un-American; his father fought in the war to save democracy. He's been in the machine tool division of Amalgamated Motors eight loyal years . . ."

Shell Macklin frowned. He didn't like this preamble. It sounded too much like an apology for him. And he needed no apologies for what he had to say. This was America. A man had a right to talk if he wanted to. That was the meaning of free speech, wasn't it?

He felt like a green boxer climbing into the ring. Jittery. There were a lot of strangers in the crowded hall; fellows he didn't recognize. Beefy lugs who muttered among themselves. They looked like cops. Or hired gunhands.

Obrowski kept talking. ". . . been a laboring man all his life. He knows the laboring man's problems. He loves the United States as much as we all do, but . . ."

There it was again. Apology. Fear. Maybe Obrowski sensed the same tension Shell Macklin felt. And Obrowski was a little fellow with a limp earned in a shop accident. Not much use in a fight. Even a guy with two good legs and two good dukes would need a lot of moxie to tangle with those bruisers in the first few rows.

Obrowski finally ran down: "I give you that patriot and worker for the Cause, Shell Macklin." He stepped back.

Macklin took the center and waited a moment for the beginning applause. It was thin, scattered. More booing than cheers. He had the jitters again.

It was tough enough to make your first speech to a friendly audience; but these catcalls gave him stage fright. A big, bald man in the front row said: "Sit down, you lousy Red."

That did it. Macklin lost his nervousness. Anger was what he had needed. Now he had it. He put thunder in his voice. "We've got hecklers with us, fellows. That's okay with me. Maybe they'll learn something."

Somebody whistled encouragement.

He said: "I'm no speaker. But I know what I feel. What I believe. I know we're living under a corrupt and outmoded form of government that needs changing."

The big man with the bald head made a raucous noise with his lips. His eyebrows were thick patches of unmowed black lawn that came together in a single line. "You stinking yellow bum!"

MACKLIN spoke directly to him. "You say I'm yellow because I'm against the System. Because I want to throw off my chains. I say I'm as good a patriot as you. Maybe better."

"Oh, yeah?"

Macklin's mouth straightened. "At least I don't believe in manufacturing murder machinery so a privileged few can fatten their pockets the way Amalgamated is doing. Six months of tooling for production of airplane engines.

"For America, they tell us. For Europe and profit, I say. So bombers can drop their eggs on women and kids."

The bald man said: "Why don't you quit your job if you feel that way about it?"


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