Authors: Katherine Schlick Noe
215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003
Copyright Â© 2011 by Katherine Schlick Noe
All rights reserved.
For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book,
write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company,
215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.
Clarion Books is an imprint of
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
The text was set in 13-point Norlik.
Map by Jennifer Thermes
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Noe, Katherine L. Schlick (Katherine Logan Schlick)
Something to hold / by Katherine Schlick Noe.
Summary: In the early 1960s, Kitty is one of only two white children in her class on
Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon, where her father is a government forester, and
although past injustices and pain are still very much alive there, she eventually finds
friendships and opportunities to make a difference. Includes map, author's note,
glossary, and pronunciation guide.
[1. Race relationsâFiction. 2. Family lifeâOregonâFiction. 3. SchoolsâFiction.
4. Indians of North AmericaâOregonâFiction. 5. Forests and forestryâFiction.
6. Warm Springs Indian Reservation (Or.)âFiction. 7. OregonâHistoryâ20th
centuryâFiction.] I. Title.
Manufactured in the United States of America
DOC 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
who took a stand
One, this is Sidwalter Lookout.
" A woman's voice, strained and urgent, drags me out of sleep.
Seconds later, the siren on the roof of the jail across the alley goes off, so loud it hurts. Something's wrong.
I know what's coming next. A door clicks open in the hallway, and suddenly, light seeps through the crack under my door. Then my dad's bare feet cut a shadow out of the strip of light.
"This is Station One. Go ahead, Sidwalter." He is talking into the two-way radio, and he is calm, like always.
The woman comes back on.
"We've got lightning strikes on the other side of HeHe," she says. "I can see the glow from here." I recognize her voice. She checks in every night from the fire lookout tower way out in the woods. August is danger season for forest fires.
"Ten-four," my dad confirms. "Keep an eye on it. I'm headed down to Fire Control and will call you from there. Station One out."
Dad doesn't move. He must be staring at the map of the Warm Springs Reservation taped to the wall. He'll be tracing the web of lines anchored by Mount Jefferson at the corner of the reservation and by the rest of the Oregon Cascades. Looking for water sources and access roads. Getting his mind all the way awake and focused on fire.
Steps echo again in the hall, heavy this time: Dad's fire boots. The rusty spring on the back door creaks open.
Next, I hear the pickup start, back away from the garage, and turn in a sharp spray of gravel. And then the night is still again.
I wish I could go back to sleep, but my heart is racing and my mind is showing me pictures of fire. I breathe slowly and let my thoughts drift.
Funny, I know the Indian women up on the fire lookoutsâMrs. Wesley on Sidwalter Butte, Mrs. Quempts on Shitike, Mrs. Suppah on Eagleâbetter than any of the kids who live at Warm Springs. My brothers have already made friends. A guy named Jimmy showed up the day we moved in and asked them to go to baseball practice. Now Jimmy comes around just about every day and they go off somewhere, leaving me a sitting duck when Mom wants chores done, which is almost always.
We've been here two weeks, and I haven't seen even one girl.
In the morning, I follow voices out onto the windowed porch. Mom is bent over the sewing machine, making curtains. She looks perfectly comfortable, as usual, despite the heat.
Bill is standing in the doorway, peeling his damp T-shirt away from his chest.
"How are you going to get there?" Mom asks, like she always does. I wonder where he wants to go.
"We can walk. It's not that far."
She sighs, then holds up a hem and cuts the thread with her teeth.
"Mom, we'll watch out for cars," Bill says. "We'll be fine. Please?"
Finally, she nods. "OK, but you have to be extra careful." She always says that, too.
"Great. Thanks, Mom!"
I follow Bill into the kitchen. "Where are you going?"
Bill reaches into the cereal box and takes a handful of corn flakes, which he crams into his mouth. "Swimming," he says, chewing. "At the creek."
I know about the swimming hole in the cold, fast-flowing creek up Shitike Road. We've driven to it, but for some reason Mom doesn't want us to walk up the road. In Virginia, we could walk anywhere.
I'd give anything to splash around in the water. "Can I go?"
"Just Joe and me with Jimmy," Bill says.
I hate when he makes me beg. "But ... I want to come."
Bill shakes his head. "Find your own friends."
Easy for you to say. All the kids here are boys.
I pour the last of the cereal into a bowl.
Mom comes into the kitchen. After a small silence, Bill huffs and says, "
She is staring him down. "Bill," she says, "Kitty goesâor nobody goes."
I can't believe she's taking my side! I spoon up my cereal fast, in case she changes her mind.
Jimmy is waiting on the back steps. The four of us scuff up the alley and then leave the shade of the big trees for the open and dusty trail that winds down the hill to Shitike Road. It's scorching out, but the crushing heat feels bearable now that I'm headed for cold water.
The road is quiet, just a cluster of houses and a couple of dogs panting in thin shade behind a fence. I don't know any of the Indian families that live down here.
The pavement ends, and the rest of Shitike Road stretches out in front, a dry graveled ribbon all the way to the mountains. Bill and Jimmy walk ahead, talking baseball. Boring stuff, like how 1962 is a great year because some guy named Jackie Robinson got elected to the Hall of Fame.
Jimmy's the catcher for the VFW Little League team. Any boy at Warm Springs can join, even Joe, though he hasn't played yet. Bill's on third base, but his heart is set on pitching. Yesterday he came home all happy because the regular pitcher got benched. Maybe he'll get his chance tonight. It's the last game of the season.
I drop back, keeping out of the dust that they kick up. Joe trails behind, flinging gravel into the ditch. Walking to the swimming hole takes much longer than going by car. Finally, we come to a straight stretch where I can hear the creek tumbling off to the left through the thick brush.
Bill and Jimmy stop and look back.
"Remember where the trail is?" Bill calls.
Trees and bushes press close on both sides, coated with dust. I don't see any trail. "I don't think this is the right place."
And then something blasts past my legs, skitters through the gravel, and plunks Jimmy right in the ankle. A rock the size of my fist.
" he yells, and crumples into the dirt.
Bill whirls around to look back at Joe. "What the heck are you doing?"
But Joe didn't throw that rock. He's way behind us, standing in the ditch to one side of the road. A wedge of Indian kids in cutoffs and shorts comes up behind him, a tall girl in the lead. And she looks really mad. "Hey,
" she shouts.
"What's that?" I ask Bill. He shakes his head.
Jimmy straightens up, brushes the gravel from his legs. "What do you want, Jewel?" he calls.
"You know her?" Bill asks, surprise in his voice.
"Oh yeah." Jimmy nods. "
Now a boy pushes through the group and steps out in front of the girl named Jewel. On his feet are ragged tennis shoes. He holds a rock in his fist.
"Uh-oh," Jimmy says quietly. "Raymond."
"Who's that?" I ask.
boy named Raymond is as tall as Jewel and looks just as angry. He flips the rock up and down in his hand and says something I can't hear. Joe's head jerks away, his arm comes up. Raymond raises his fist.
Joe's only eight. Raymond towers over him. "
" I yell.
"Kitty!" Bill says through his teeth. "Shut
Raymond turns and stares at us. Then he lets the rock fly. I duck behind Bill and cover my head as the rock skips through the gravel and lands in the ditch.
Raymond waves his hand off toward the creek. "This is our spot," he says. His voice is hard and angry. "You don't belong here." He points up the road. "Go on that way."
The Indian kids disappear through the brush.
I'm so angryâor maybe scaredâI'm shaking.
None of us wants to stay and argue. We take off and get a good hundred yards farther before I can make myself stop and turn around. The road behind us is empty.
that kid?" I ask.
"The pitcher who swore at the coach yesterday," says Jimmy. "Again."
He bends down and touches his ankleâa big old goose egg, swollen and purple.
"So, you get to pitch tonight?" I ask Bill.
"Yeah," he says. "That rock was probably meant for me."
I want to get off this stretch of open road and away from those angry kids. "I don't want to go swimming anymore."
" Bill says. "They're gone. We'll find the path up here and forget about it." But he just stands there, not going any farther.
Finally, Jimmy says, "Aw, let's go home." He turns away from the sun and limps down the road.
Bill shakes his head at me and Joe. "Not a word to Mom," he says. No worry about thatâshe'd never let us go anywhere again if she knew.
I'm sweaty and dusty and scared. I don't see any of the Indian kids, but I can hear them shrieking and laughing in the water. We start the long walk back toward Warm Springs.
At the curve at the end of the straight stretch, Bill calls, "Car!" and waves us off into the ditch. For once I'm glad he's here to order us around. I didn't even hear the engine.
I turn to see a roiling cloud of dust and gravel and then a battered black pickup bearing down on us. It skids to a stop just ahead and slowly backs up.
"Now what?" says Jimmy.
The pickup pulls alongside us and stops. The driver leans out the open windowâan older Indian woman about my grandma's age. "What're you kids doing out here?" she asks. She has a deep blue scarf tied over her hair, and her face is creased deep, stern. I can't see her eyes behind her dark glasses.