TFA: The Towel
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The Towel

We came down the road from Lake Josephus and down the road from Seafoam. We stopped along the way to get a drink of water. There was a small monument in the forest. I walked over to the monument to see what was happening. The glass door of the lookout was partly open and a towel was hanging on the other side.

At the center of the monument was a photograph. It was the classic forest lookout photograph I have seen before, from that America that existed during the 1920s and 30s.

There was a man in the photograph who looked a lot like Charles A. Lindbergh?. He had that same Spirit of St. Louis nobility and purpose of expression, except that his North Atlantic was the forests of Idaho.

There was a woman cuddled up close to him. She was one of those great cuddly women of the past, wearing those pants they used to wear and those hightop, laced boots.

They were standing on the porch of the lookout. The sky was behind them, no more than a few feet away. People in those days
liked to take that photograph and they liked to be in it.

There were words on the monument. They said:

"In memory of Charley J. Langer, District Forest Ranger, Challis National Forest, Pilot Captain Bill Kelly and Co-Pilot Arthur A. Crofts, of the U. S. Army killed in an Airplane Crash April 5, 1943, near this point while searching for survivors of an Army Bomber Crew."

0 it's far away now in the mountains that a photograph guards the memory of a man. The photograph is all alone out there. The snow is falling eighteen years after his death. It covers up the door. It covers up the towel.

Richard Brautigan
Trout Fishing in America