PERSPECTIVErnReturn of the Alienrnby Thomas Flemingrn”The whole world, without a native homernIs nothing but a prison of larger room.”rn—Abraham CowleyrnThe fonner offices of the Tmmies Socieh’.rnHis father used to sav that the country was good; it was onl}’rnthe people that made it intolerable. Now his father’s sonrnwas headed up to that north countr)-, where he had not lived forrn40 vears. He had been back, several times oer the years, fishingrnfor trout on the Brule River or trolling for walleve on tliernChippewa Flowagc. He had visited the desolate city of his birthrnseveral times, and once or twice looked up old neighbors orrncalled a school chum, but most of the neighbors were dead, andrnthe chums were off making new lives in the Twins.rnNo one stayed if he could help it. Once, wlien he was aboutrnten vears old, his mother’s brother, a Coast Cuard officer, hadrncome to spend a few das.rn”Mv God, Mar’, how can you stand this burg?” he asked hisrnsister at the end of the first dav. “There’s nothing here, and thernpeople . . . ” and his uncle went on to talk of the places he hadrnlived—Japan, New Orleans, San Francisco.rnUp to that point, lie liad thought of Superior as one of thoserncities like Rome or Paris that were known all over the vodd.rnWith a population of 32,000, Superior eoercd almost as muchrnground as Chicago and had the second-largest train yard in thernUnited States. She also had the largest grain elevator, longestrniron ore dock, the biggest charcoal briquette plant.rnIn what other cit)’ could a boy walk out the back door of hisrnhouse and, cutting through a mile of fields where tiie’ pickedrnwild strawberries and over hills thick with raspberr)- bushes, endrnup in the big woods that led, in one direction, to a sheltered bayrnof Lake Superior, and, in the other, stretched on endlessly intornthe great wilderness of the world?rnThe had spent weekends and sometimes whole weeks at thernfamiU’s primitive cabin on Lake Nebagamon. Weeks at thernlake began with a tiip to the ice house on Winter Street, w herernit was always winter: Huge blocks of ice were pulled out of thernsawdust with hooks and tongs and loaded into the back of thernblack Oldsmobile 98 for the long 30 miles ocr country roads tornthe lake.rnAt least once during the summer, they w ent fishing wifii fake,rnan Ojibwa fishing guide. Whoever sat next to Jake and did as hernwas told never failed to catch fish. They took their catch backrnhome to Superior, where Jake would clean and cook the fish.rnWhen the bo plagued the guide with his questions, Jakernshowed him how to make hidian leather out offish skin, and everyrntime he thought the skin was ready for drying, Jake wouldrnsay: “No, take it over diere and scrape it thinner.”rnNext morning, his father drove Jake back home, probabK’ tornthe Lac Court d’Oreilles reservation that runs along the soutiirnside of the Chippewa Flowage cast of Hayward. Ha’ward wasrnonce a logging town proverbial for its roughness; now it is asrnsweet and insipid as the “home-made” fudge its residents sell tornIllinois tourists, as suburban as Minocqua.rnDriving north from Illinois witii his friend from Mississippi,rninto the green-swelling hills of Southern Wisconsin, he rememberedrnhow in Douglas Countv they had looked down onrnthe lower part of the state, where people in Milwaukee or inrnprosperous farm towns like Monroe grew soft from gcntie winters,rnrich cheese, and ea,sy living. In the Northvoods, men wererntough, and even the massive beer bellies that flopped over thernbar were ringed in iron.rnWisconsin leads the nation in per capita consumption ofrnbeer and brandv (though much that goes b that name up therernwould astonish the inhabitants of Cognac), and the northwesternrncounties, by his estimation, were the most alcoholic in thernstate. His sampling methods were admittedly primitive, but arnman could easily drink his way into unconsciousness simply byrnhaving one drink in every bar w ithin a square mile, and a f5ouglasrnCounh’ pub crawl might take him from the Anchor on thernbad side ofTower Avenue in Superior, up the street to the ElbornRoom and the Dugout (next to Frankie’s), to the East End andrnAllouez taverns made famous in the stories of yXnthony Bukoski,rnout to the Kro-Bar and Twin Cables in Brule and down tornFinell’s and Bridge’s in Lake Nebagamon.rnFrom the car w indow, he w atched the black loam of SouthernrnWisconsin hirn into red cla that thinned out, as they drewrn10/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn