Welcome to The Miller House
Don Lehman, 2018


Cover Index
Chapter 01
Chapter 02
Chapter 03
Chapter 04
Chapter 05
Chapter 06
Chapter 07
Chapter 08
Chapter 09
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

Chapter Seventeen

On Monday, June 10th, 1957 at 9:35pm Carl boarded the train. Francis had given him the biggest hug just before he walked out the front door. His suitcase was already loaded in the taxi. She gave him a sealed envelope for Wilson and said goodbye. She told him how handsome he was. Carl was dressed in new, denim jeans and a dark red, oxford shirt. Again, she had tears in her eyes. It was the second time an the past week that Carl had seen her cry. She was standing at the front door wiping tears when Carl waved as the taxi pulled away. Carl did not feel afraid of the trip as he had weeks before. Once he decided he was going and he learned a little about traveling by train, the fear just went away. Ozzie wanted to go to the train station with Carl and Cappy, so Carl gave the taxi driver Ozzie’s address. Ozzie was waiting on the porch. Then the next stop was the station. It was shortly after 9 pm when Carl unloaded his suitcases from the taxi and paid the fare from money he was carrying in his pocket. He told the driver Cappy and Ozzie would need a ride home after the train left at 9:35. He had put two, ten dollar bills and ten, one dollar bills in his wallet and five twenties in a pocket inside a shoulder bag that he carried with him. The letter from Francis to Wilson was also in his shoulder bag along with a sketch pad, pencils, two apples and some crackers. On the last page of his sketchbook was the address and phone number of Wilson Miller. Carl would call Uncle Wilson as soon as he arrived at Penn Station in Baltimore and wait there until his uncle arrived to pick him up.

Cappy sat on a bench outside the station by the suitcase while Ozzie and Carl walked inside. There was an office, a ticket booth and benches where others were waiting. There was also a small shop with cigarettes, candy bars, newspapers, paperbacks and magazines. A friendly lady sold Carl three candy bars and the paperback, Fahrenheit 451. She kind of gave Carl a funny look when she handed him the book. Carl knew a little about the novel but had not read it. He gave Ozzie one of the candy bars. Before the train arrived, Ozzie told Carl he knew someone who wanted to meet him when he got back from Baltimore. Carl asked who and Ozzie just laughed and said, “It’s a girl, you dummy!” Carl was curious but he didn’t ask any questions. They just walked back out and and waited with Cappy. Carl surprised Cappy with one of the remaining two candy bars and showed him the paperback. Cappy was not familiar with the book. Ozzie asked Carl to send him a post card from Baltimore and Carl said, “Hey, I don’t have your address.” He pulled his sketch book and pencil from his bag and Ozzie wrote his mailing address. Then they just stood around and waited, nobody had anything to say.

The train rolled in on schedule. When the porter looked at Carl’s suitcase, he just said, “Son, you might as well just cary that suit case with you. It’ll fit into the overhead compartment. Cappy gave Carl a pat on the shoulder, shook his hand and said, “Safe travel!” Then he took a step back. Ozzie was about ten feet away and waved, Carl waved back. He then boarded the train, the conductor checked his ticket, helped him stow his suitcase and told him to find a seat. Carl got settled and as the train pulled away, he waved again at Cappy and Ozzie. Ozzie was smiling but Cappy was just looking, maybe he didn’t see Carl.

When the train got going, Carl looked around. The car was about half full of travelers. He realized it was at least three hours before dinner so he snacked on the Baby Ruth candy bar he had purchased at the station and got his sketch book out and started drawing details of the inside of the train car. There were no corners, the ceiling rolled into the side walls. There were two rows of what looked like glass panels down the center of the ceiling. He guessed that they were lights but they were not turned on now. He drew a section of the wall that included a window, two double seats and a small section of the ceiling. part of the ceiling and wall was shiny stainless steel and reflected what seemed to be random lines and shapes. He was looking at the detail from an angle so it was a little tricky getting the perspective but he had a lot of practice. There was a stack of drawing in the second story of the garage, mostly of details of the interior including the roof rafters, the locked trunk, the large window, his books and chair. He became aware that an older gentleman sitting across the isle was watching him draw. It felt strange to be on his own, traveling. After a while, he put the drawing pad and pencil away and pulled out the new book. Mr Barkley, the book seller, had recommended, Fahrenheit 451 and this was an opportunity to read it. He knew it was a book for grownups and maybe that’s just why he bought it! He started the book but felt restless. After two pages put the book down and looked out the window a while. He liked watching the passing landscape but he was not accustomed to being confined in such a small place like this seat in this train car.

A few of the other passengers were reading books or magazines, the older gentleman that had been watching him draw was napping or at least he had his eyes closed. Some people were simply staring out the window. Carl decided to take a walk through the train. All he had seen so far was the inside of this one car. He placed his things in the bag and slung it over his shoulder and went exploring. After walking forward through several cars for passengers, he entered a lounge where a well dressed man was leafing through a stack of papers and smoking a pipe. the smell of the pipe tobacco reminded him of the ballroom back at the Miller House. A few others were sitting and chatting in the comfortable chairs. The next car was the diner. The tables were being set for lunch. Carl turned and started walking back. He knew he was in his car when he recognized the older gentleman who had been watching him draw before. The man also recognized Carl, smiled and nodded. When Carl approached his seat, the man stood, said hello and reached out his hand. Carl shook hands with him. The man said, “I’m Robert Reilly.” Carl introduced himself. Mr. Reilly then asked Carl if he was traveling alone and Carl said that he was and added that he was going to Baltimore to spend a few weeks with his uncle’s family. Mr. Reilly then said that he was also traveling alone and that he would be pleased if Carl would join him at his table for lunch. Carl said that it would be his pleasure and thanked him for the invitation.

Carl sat and continued to watch the passing scenery. When Mr. Reilly stood and nodded to Carl, he got up, picked up his bag and followed to the dining car. When they were seated, the waiter filled their water glasses. Carl ordered a toasted cheese sandwich and banana. Mr. Reilly had a glass of apple juice and a chicken salad sandwich. He then started talking about what an opportunity Carl was facing, experiencing travel and meeting relatives. Then he said that he noticed that Carl was drawing in his book and asked if he drew often. Carl replied that he drew almost every day and had, since he was quite young. Mr Reilly asked it he had taken classes in school. Carl hesitated then said no, then added that he had never gone to school but that he had studied some art books. Mr. Reilly was clearly surprised but did not ask for details. He responded by saying that he worked as a commercial artist. Carl asked what kind of art and he said that he mostly designed book covers. He added that he was interested that Carl drew pictures and then added that he had noticed that Carl had an important book. Carl reached into his bag and pulled out this Fahrenheit 451. He examined the cover closely. Mr Reilly said that he was a freelance artist and had a studio in Washington, DC, on Q Street. He pulled out a business card and handed it to Carl then added, If you are ever in DC, you are welcome to come by the studio, it’s on the second floor above a camera store. Carl said he didn’t know when he would ever be in Washington DC, but that he would like to visit the studio. He told Mr Reilly that he was familiar with Q Street and asked if it was near Dupont Circle. Mr. Reilly was intrigued and said that it was and asked how he knew the city. Carl explained that he was interested in maps and liked to copy them. He explained that he started drawing imaginary maps when he was much younger, then later, copied actual maps of large cities around the world. He said that in his imagination, it was sort of like traveling. Carl also added that drawing maps had helped him learn the states, capitals and even the counties in a few of the states, like South Carolina and Maryland. Mr. Reilly smiled asked if he would draw a picture of Maryland with the counties and the capital. Carl knew it was sort of a test but he said, “sure.” He pulled out his drawing pad and pencil. He drew the outline of Maryland. He put a star in the Chesapeake Bay and wrote the Capital, Annapolis at the correct spot. The drew in the counties, starting with Worcester bordering on the Atlantic Ocean, drawing all the counties and ending with a line designation Garrett County all the way to the western part of the state. Then just for fun he drew a circle where the District of Columbia is located. Mr. Reilly shook his head and said, “You got it, Kid!”

They had finished their meal and the waiter had returned and taken their plates. My Reilly paid for Carl’s lunch which he had not expected, Carl thanked him. When they returned to their car, they shared a seat and Mr. Reilly asked if he could see Carl’s sketch book. The only person who had seen any of Carl’s sketches was Cappy and of course his mother. He explained to Mr. Reilly that he had not shown his pictures but at the same time he reached into his bag and pulled it out. Mr. Reilly slowly leafed through the book, carefully turning pages. He told Carl that the pictures showed that he had talent and experience with perspective drawing. He especially liked the drawings Carl had made in the garage, upstairs. He also asked about the drawing Carl had made of the Miller House. Carl explained that it was where he lived and worked with his mother. Mr.Reilly then asked Carl if he could draw a quick picture in Carl’s sketch book. Carl said sure and turned to a blank page. Mr. Reilly moved across the isle and sat facing Carl asking him to turn as well. They were now facing each other and Mr Reilly had the sketch book in his left hand. He pulled a pen out of his coat pocket and asked Carl to look at him. Mr. Reilly looked at Carl for a bit then he then made several bold strokes and then work on some details. when he was finished he handed the book back to Carl. It only took a few minutes. Carl recognized his face immediately and was amazed at the accurate caricature. His long hair was illustrated with flowing lines. Mr. Reilly had signed it with an artistic signature. While Carl was still looking at the drawing when Mr. Reilly said the he was going to take an afternoon nap and turned, settling into his seat.

Carl closed the book and placed it back in his bag. The drawing and comments that Mr. Reilly had made were exciting to Carl and his mind was racing. He thought about getting off the train in Washington and seeing the city, then after a few days, finish the trip to Baltimore. He could call Uncle Wilson and let him know that he was coming two days later. He was feeling independent and the fear that he had when his mother had first proposed the trip had disappeared before he left home. He was ready for an adventure and why not start in Washington. He could visit Mr. Reilly’s studio. He had the address on the business card in his pocket. He decided that he did not want Mr. Reilly to know that he was getting off because he didn’t know what he would say. Maybe Mr. Reilly would disapprove and try to discourage him! Carl put his bag over his shoulder and went looking for the conductor. He knew that he was making an impulsive decision but he suddenly felt that it was something he needed to do.

The conductor was in the last car. Carl introduced himself and told him that he had a sudden change of plans and need to get off the train in Washington instead of Baltimore. He added that he would be traveling on to Baltimore in a few days. The old conductor had sleepy eyes and stared at Carl without saying anything. It was like he was trying to analyze the situation. “Can’t do that, Son. Your ticket’s fer Baldymer.” It took Carl a moment to think about the accent and the refusal. Then he repeated that he had changed his plan and that he would get off in Washington DC. Then the conductor explained that his ticket was for Baltimore and if he got off, he would need to buy a new ticket to get from Washington to Baltimore. Carl told the old man, that was no problem, so the conductor seemed satisfied.

Carl still did not want Mr. Reilly to know he was getting off the train. He didn’t want Mr. Reilly to try to take care of him. He wanted his independence. He decided that he would wait until Mr. Reilly exited, then he would grab his suitcase from the overhead, slip off the train and quickly walk a few blocks from the station before deciding what to do next.

When he returned to his seat Mr. Reilly was awake and talking with an attractive, well dressed woman and a young boy. Mr. Reilly stopped Carl and introduced his new acquaintances. The woman was a Miss Ziegenfuss who was accompanying her young nephew to private school in Manhattan. The boy was dressed in a tweed suit with knee length trousers and a beanie hat. He reached out and shook Carl’s hand, then turned and stared out the window while the woman engaged Carl in conversation. She complimented Carl for his, “unusual long hair” and asked if he had ever had a traditional cut. Carl just said his mother had trimmed it but it had always been at shoulder length or longer. Carl changed the subject by offering that he was going to Baltimore for a visit with his uncle and family he had never met. He was surprised that he had not stammered in his conversations with Mr. Reilly and he was not stammering now! The lady asked where he lived and he told her about Greenville and the Miller House. She commented that it was interesting, as boarding houses seemed to be disappearing in the Atlanta area. She then said that she lived with the boy’s mother, her sister, in Atlanta and the boy’s father was in Manhattan. The boy would live at the school and not with his father. There was a pause, then she added that the boy’s father was much too busy to look after him but wanted him to have the very best education. The woman then asked Carl what grade he was in. Carl told her that he had never been to school. It clearly took Miss Ziegenfuss by surprise and she look horrified. Mr. Reilly, who had not spoken since the introduction, said, “Oh, but Carl is very well educated. He’s well read and has a talent for drawing.” Miss Ziegenfuss seemed relieved and said that she was a fourth grade teacher herself and thought highly of a good education. Carl didn’t know what to say next so he told her he was pleased to meet her, nodded in Mr. Reilly’s direction, turned and walked the few steps to his seat. Back in his seat, he looked out the window and wondered about the young boy. Carl guessed him to be about nine or ten. What would it be like for a young boy, growing up in Atlanta with his mother and aunt, now headed to a boarding school in New York City. Then he realized that the first thing the woman said to him was the comment about his long hair. He realized that his hair was probably the first thing most people noticed about him. When he thought about it, he was not surprised because he realized that the unusual way the boy was dressed, was the first thing he had noticed. Carl then thought about Mr. Reilly and was pleased by the compliments. Carl wondered if he truly was “well educated” and “well read.” His mind skipped around to Ozzie and the girl Ozzie said wanted to meet him and what it would be like if he decided to go to school in the fall.

Carl suddenly remembered the comment Miss Ziegenfuss made about the disappearance of guest houses in Atlanta. He wondered about the future of the Miller House. So much was happening. Almost all of the things he was thinking about were unknown to him a year ago, maybe even a few months ago. Carl reached into his bag and pulled out his leather string with turquoise beads and tied back his hair. He knew the turquoise complimented his light, almost blue, eyes. He thought about the store clerk in Duncan who took him for a Cherokee. Many of the Cherokee that Carl had seen around town had his complexion and long, dark hair, but their hair was usually black and their eyes were dark as well. Carl wondered if his father was part Cherokee. Carl had never thought much about his appearance but he decided it was ok to look different and that maybe he would never cut his hair. And maybe he didn’t want to go to school! He was so deep in thought that Mr. Reilly repeated his name several times before Carl heard and look around. Mr. Reilly wanted to know if he would join him for dinner. Carl said he would be happy to join him again.

Carl’s head was so into the plan for getting off the train in Washington DC, it was difficult to make conversation at dinner. Mr. Reilly noticed his distraction and asked if he was worried or had concerns about his visit to Baltimore. Carl answered by saying he was not worried but had a lot on his mind. He changed the subject by saying that since their conversation at lunch he was thinking more about his art and wondered what he aught to do to improve his drawing abilities. This opened the door for Mr. Reilly to talk about his own career development and opportunities. Carl realized that he would probably need to do formal study if he wanted to be a successful artist but his mind was still on the immediate issues. Was he really going to get off the train in a few hours and explore a large city, alone?

The sun was setting when he and Mr. Reilly returned to their seats. Carl knew that the train was racing through Virginia and would soon be pulling into Union Station. He thought about seeing the Capital Building and the White House. He wondered if President Eisenhower was in the oval office at the White House or vacationing at Camp David. He thought about looking at great art in the National Gallery. He wanted to see real paintings by Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. Then he would go to Baltimore. It was becoming real to him and the decision was made, he was getting off the train. He would call Uncle Wilson right away so he wouldn’t worry. The train was scheduled to arrive at Penn Station in Baltimore at 10:45pm. Carl guessed the stop at Union Station in Washington would be at about 9pm if the train was running on schedule.

  Chapter 18