Spruce Harbor, Maine, 2011 - Hemingford County, Minnesota, 1930 Part 2 Summary

In Molly's American History class they are studying Wabanaki Indians. Since Molly is part Penobscot Indian, she is very interested in this subject. She remembers living on Indian Island and in school learning some Penobscot words and American English words, which are taken from Indian words. Her teacher assigns the class a project in which they have to interview a person about the portages they have completed in their lives. A portage is the trek made on land by a person looking for the next body of water. On this trek they carry the canoe and all their belongings, keeping in mind to only take with them the items which are essential and most meaningful to them. The assignment is to ask a person about a literal or metaphorical portage they have undertaken. Molly decides to ask Vivian to help her with the project because, since Vivian is elderly, she would probably have the greatest chance of having a story to tell.

Molly during this time remembers some of her very young childhood. She thinks back to the times she had with her father, who named her Molly Molasses after a well-known Penobscot Indian woman. This woman, who lived before America had gained its independence, was from Indian Island and was said to have had the power to "interpret dreams, repel disease or death, inform hunters where to find game, and send a spirit helper to harm their enemies." Molly also remembers the night of her eighth birthday, because it is that night her father gave her the charms she wears on a necklace. He told her the fish, bear, and bird were Indian symbols designed to protect her. Six months after her father gave her the gift of the charms he was killed in an automobile accident.

Vivian is not exactly sure of the nature of Molly's school project. She had never heard the word portage before and after Molly explains it to her, she still isn't sure what Molly wants her to tell her. Molly decides the best way to start is to begin asking Vivian questions. Her first question takes Vivian by surprise, Molly wants to know if Vivian believes in ghosts. Vivian's response is she does believe in ghosts and that they haunt the people who they leave behind.

At this point Vivian starts to remember her life with the Grotes in Hemingford County, Minnesota in 1930. Mr. Grote was not able to supply the family with food because his hunting skills were not quite as good as he thought they were, also it was getting cold and winter was settling in. By summer the hunting had picked up and the food supply was more plentiful.

In order to escape the misery of her life with the Grotes, Dorothy, as Vivian was called back then, remembers a perfect day she had with her Gram. The two of them were baking and talking together, which made it a day to remember for Dorothy because she did not have to share her Gram with her siblings. Then they had tea together using her Gram's special tea cups. These thoughts made Dorothy feel a little less lonely.

Dorothy discovered the Grote children had lice. She told Mrs. Grote who blamed Dorothy for the lice infestation. She claimed Dorothy had brought it with her when she moved into the house. Mrs. Grote chose not to look at the lack of cleanliness in her own house and children. Dorothy was forced to boil all the clothes and bed linens, a chore which for the ten year old girl was almost too much to bare. Mr. Grote, after arriving home, did try to help Dorothy with her chores and he took on the task of shaving the children's heads. He did not shave Dorothy's head, but instead cut her hair very short. Mrs. Grote refused to allow her own hair to be cut, which was counterproductive to all the measures being taken by Dorothy and Mr. Grote.

Dorothy finally is allowed to return to school, but she is embarrassed by her short hair. Miss Larsen was wonderful to Dorothy about the situation, she told her the haircut was similar to one worn by the flappers. These were women in the 1930's who cut their hair short, wore shorter dresses and went dancing.

Mrs. Grote was once again pregnant, which led Dorothy to wonder if she would be expected to help deliver the child when the time came. She had no experience in this, because when her mother had children the neighbor ladies came to help with the delivery of the child.

One cold night Mr. Grote, who had taken to sleeping on the couch, came into the room Dorothy was sleeping in. He told her to follow him into the living room, which she did. He wanted her to lie with him on the couch to help keep him warm. Dorothy did not want to do this and told him so, but he was insistent and allowed Dorothy to fall to the floor as she tried to leave. He was behind her and touching her, finally he was trying to rape her. At this point just before he was about to complete the act, Mrs. Grote arrived in the room. She saw what was happening and was appalled by her husband's actions. She also blamed Dorothy and demanded that she leave the house immediately in the middle of the cold night. Dorothy had her suitcase thrown at her, but the suitcase burst open spilling the clothes onto the porch and the living room. Dorothy left with the clothes she was wearing and her coat and boots. She had no idea where she would go.

Molly and Vivian begin to bond a little through the class project Molly needs to complete. It allows both women to contemplate their lives and focus on who they are.

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