Jan/Feb 2007  •   Fiction

Ten Who Made America!

by David Ewald

Artwork by Ira Joel Haber

Artwork by Ira Joel Haber

1. John Henry

America's original steel drivin' man. Took the nation by storm when he invented the steam engine. Fought racism to become the first black president of the Transcontinental Railroad. At the peak of his career, died of a heart attack while choking to death on a piece of steak. During Henry's funeral, the Poet Laureate of the United States was quoted as saying, "So passes the finest man to ever drive a nail into his own coffin."

2. Paul Bunyan and his Babe

A woodcutter from the backwoods of Maine, part-Canadian but with the blood of a Patriot, Bunyan was so big no house could contain him. Nor could it contain his wife, Babe, who was equally impressive in size. So they took to the road in an old jallopy, headed down Route 66, a banjo on their knees, to promote the benefits of eating flapjacks.

(five a day keep the doctor away)

They made it all the way to the golden state of California, but finding their message falling on deaf ears, they soon turned to picking grapes for a living. They started their own company, Grapes for Glory, and hired half the nation. Their hard work and determination single-handedly led us out of the Great Depression.

3. Johnny Appleseed

He could not tell a lie. When his father asked him, "Was it you, my son, who chopped down this apple tree," Johnny said, "It was I, Father." Young Johnny traversed the globe before settling down to the life of a soldier. He fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, on the side of the settlers and the slaves. He killed many a poor man, and when the fighting had ended, he hung up his Smith and Wesson six-shooter and took a seat in the Senate, where he defended a woman's right to choose.

(and he never lost his love of apple pie)

4. The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Starred in the longest-running sitcom, the cast of which included several other survivors from the Led Zeppelin disaster. After toiling to save the dolphins and feed countless starving children, she started her own wildly popular day-time talk show and released a line of beauty products, Molly Made Me Up! She died having donated millions to public radio and fitness gurus worldwide.

(when she pointed her rifle, people listened)

5. Hiawatha

The little Indian girl that could. A tragic tale of love and redemption in America's Heart Land. Canoed the Colorado River to the tune of Muddy Water's "Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Premature Baby Now" before settling down in Zion and marrying Joseph Smith Junior, Junior, Junior, a trial lawyer who later was called on by the Supreme Court to defend the Puritans at them Witch Trials of Super Salem Sunday. During the "These Charges are Bullshit You Must Acquit" phase of the trial, Joseph Smith Junior, Junior, Junior grew ill and took to bedpan. When little Hiawatha learned of her husband's dying day, she turned into a seagull and flew to his side. Seeing his one true love in seagull form emboldened JS Jr Jr Jr with the blood of the Holy Spirit, and using this newfound power, he turned into a grasshopper Hiawatha carried, in her beak, to the sea, the sea, the great salty sea.

(quoth the baby floating in the pool: nevermind)

6. Davy Crockett

King of the Wild Blue Yonder. Suited up and shipped out as leader of an exploratory mission to the Red Man's planet far far away, across the mighty black Las Vegas-lit ocean no ship had yet crossed. The Nina, the Santa Barbara, and the Tonto were the names of the three flying saucers under Captain Crockett's command. Braving rough winds, cabin fever, and mutiny, the convoy reached the mysterious Red Man's planet in October of 2149. Having landed, Crockett was the first to place his foot in the Red sand, and driving a stake into the Utterly foreign soil, he proclaimed this new planet property of his majesty the Emperor of America. The next century was spent converting the illegal aliens to Christianity, and a hard, hard rain did fall during that trying time. A commemorative statue of Captain "Rocketman" Crockett now stands where the sun don't shine.

7. Molly Pitcher

As legend has it, the count was bases loaded with two out and Casey at Bat. No one could stop Casey. He was one mean sumbitch. All others Jello-ed in his presence. But not Molly. She came down from the stands at Ebbets Field that fine May Day and strode bravely across the field toward the mound. Bob Hope tossed her the ball. Molly cocked her head and tilted her cap and gritted her eyes. Across the way Casey popped his big league chaw. The crowd hushed. You could drop a needle and never find it. Molly's eyes shimmied to the right, to the left, behind to look out the back of her head, but it was just her and Casey now. So this housewife and part-time big-box store volunteer wound up her arm tight as an ass in a New England January, and with the collective history of underrepresented peoples on her side she let 'er rip! It was the pitch heard 'round the world. After witnessing the Mighty Casey swing air for the third and final time, folks everywhere took hammers and boots and fists to their televisions, and the revolution, at last, was underway.

8. Daniel Boone

A brave American if there ever was one. Threw off the shackles of Civilization to live among the Blessed Beasts and the children of this earth. Trained in the ways of the rifle by a marmot and the spirit of a squirrel. After killing him a b'ar when he was only three, Boone, with nothing left to learn and nothing left to lose, took off for Frontierland. In a final fit of fury, he fought valiantly but died inevitably alongside Uncle Sam I Am and Mickey Mouse at the Battle of the Big Bad Bulge.

9. Betsy Ross

Born to parents who never made it past elementary school, Ross spent her formative years in an Indonesian sweatshop, where she labored 13 hours a day, 7 days a week sewing women's undergarments for U.S. consumption. Though her life was a Living Hell, the Dream of America was always with her. In Amerikay, people told her, the streets are paved with gold! And so, at the tender age of 19, she emigrated to Old New York, gateway to the new world. The first thing she did was go to see the CEO of the faceless corporation selling those women's undergarments. The CEO, smitten by her skin-magazine beauty, offered her his hand in marriage and half the money in his coffers. Together they formed a more perfect union and worked to abolish the ACLU, the NGLTA, the NRA, the CIA, the WYSIWYG, the NIMBY, the KAFKA, and the TOLKIEN, all while promoting a more Prostate America. Betsy even sewed together a youth soccer league team banner reading, "This Bomb's for You." Tragically, she and her husband died in a plane crash over the Bermuda Triangle.

10. Paul Revere

Pray tell, children, have ye heard of the midnight ride of Paul Revere?

A Hollywood stuntman by trade, Paul worked for 17 years in "the industry" before Disillusionment slammed home and he took off a ramblin' and a rollin' on a rootin' tootin' road trip cross-country to Boston, the place of this country's birth. Paul got a job as the town crier, and after a week he was a crying like the best of 'em, crying up and down the streets, on the T, telling folks when it was bedtime. But Paul fell victim to Temptation. A fellow crier convinced him to moonlight as a drag racer, and so at midnight, when the crier's shift traditionally ended, Paul and his compadre, his amigo, his head honcho of affairs and entanglements, dressed up in drag and drove off together into the Wilds of New Hampshire.

(live free or die, Columbine is nigh)

One night, oh starry starry night, the SCUDS bursting in mid-air, Paul let the speed get to him. He overcompensated on Dead Man's Curve and went over Blind Man's Bluff, but he did not die. No, he did not die. For Paul was destined for Great Things in this Country, and as soon as his Hummer, that kind, crafty, resilient machine, hit the ground without exploding, he pointed it in the direction of the city and so sped down the streets, rapping at every window, rousing all the Bostonians with this, his famous cry: "The redcoats are coming! The Redcoats are Coming! THE REDCOATS ARE COMING..."

But by this time no one knew what he meant.