Chapter 6 Summary

Scripps O’Neil walks down the street of Petoskey. He avoids the barbershop he passed earlier. When he arrives at the pump factory, he is unsure that this is the right place, even though he sees pumps carried out. He fears that might be a trick. He stops one of the workmen and asks if their loads are pumps, and the workman replies that they will be in time. Scripps then knows this is the pump factory.

Scripps walks up to a door on which there is a sign: “Keep Out. This Means You.” Scripps is not sure if this means him, so he knocks on the door and then walks in and asks to speak to the manager. One of the men stops and says that he is the foreman, and what he says goes. Scripps asks if he can hire and fire people. The foreman says that he can do one as well as the other, so Scripps asks him for a job. The foreman asks if he has any experience, and Scripps admits that he has none in pumps. The foreman announces that he will be put in piecework. He calls over Yogi, a man who was standing looking out the window of the factory, and tells him to show Scripps around the place. The foreman tells Scripps that he is an Australian and then walks away.

Yogi Johnson is chunky and well built; he looks as if he has been through things. When Scripps marvels at the foreman, saying he is the first Australian he has ever met, Yogi breaks the news that he is not Australian but had just been with Australians during the war, and they made a big impression on him. Yogi was also in the war; he was the first man to go from Cadillac, Michigan.

Yogi shows him through the factory, where white men stripped to the waist and Indians wearing only breech-clouts take misfit pumps and break them up to be remade into tools. Yogi says that though the Indians work nearly naked, they have to be searched on the way out for smuggled goods. Two old men are handworkers and make the pumps designed for pump races. Scripps explains to Yogi that his wife left him, and Yogi tells him that he will probably not have any trouble finding another one. The other workers tell him to go slowly. Yogi puts Scripps to work collaring pistons. Scripps works them almost a year. In some ways it is the happiest time of his life, and in other ways it is a nightmare. Many strange things happen to him that year.