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Injun Summer - John MacCutcheon's wonderful illustration was first published by the Chicago Tribune on September 30, 1907.
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Injun Summer - by John McCutcheon
"Indian Summer"
Glenn Miller and His Orchestra with Ray Eberle
Recorded Nov. 5, 1939

Yes, sonny, this is sure enough Injun summer.

Don't know what that is, I reckon, do you?

Well, that's when all the homesick Injuns come back to play. You know, a long time ago, long afore your ganddaddy was born even, there used to be heaps of Injuns around here - thousands - millions, I reckon, far as that's concerned. Reg'lar sure'nuf Injuns - none o'yer cigar store Injuns, not much. They wuz all around here - right here where you are standin'.

Don't be skeered - hain't none around here now, leastways no live ones. They been gone this many a year. They all went away and died, so they ain't no more left.

 
 

But every year, 'long about now, they all come back, leastways their sperrits do.

They are here now. You can see'em across the fields. Look real hard. See that kind o' hazy, misty look out yonder? Well, them's Injuns - Injun sperrits marchin' along an' dancin' in the sunlight. That's what makes that kind o' haze that's everywhere - it's jest the sperrits of the Injuns all come back. They're all around us now.

See off yonder; see them teepees? They kind o' look like corn shocks from here, but them's Injun tents, sure as you're a foot high. See'em now? Sure, I knowed you could. Smell that smoky sort o' smell in the air? That's the campfires a-burnin' and their pipes a-goin'.

Lots o' people say it's just leaves burnin', but it ain't. It's the campfires, an' th' Injuns are hoppin' 'round 'em t' beat the old Harry.

 
 

You jest come out here tonight when the moon is hangin' over the hill off yonder an' the harvest fields is all swimmin' in the moonlight, an' you can see the Injuns and the teepees jest as plain as kin be. You can, eh? I knowed you would after a little while.

Jever notice the leaves turn red 'bout this time o' year? That's jest another sign o' redskins. That's when an old Injun sperrit gets tired dancin' an' goes up an' squats on a leaf t' rest.

Why, I kin hear 'em rustlin' an' whisperin' an' creepin' 'round among the leaves all the time; an' ever' once 'n a while a leaf gives way under some fat old Injun ghost an' comes floatin' down to the ground.

See - here's one now. See how red it is? That's the warpaint rubbed off'n an Injun ghost, sure's you're born.

Purty soon, all the Injuns'll go marchin' away agin, back to the happy huntin' ground, but next year, you'll see'em troopion' back - th' sky jest hazy with'm and their campfires smoulderin' away jest like they are now.

Copyright 1907 John McCutcheon

John McCurtcheon's "Injun Summer" appeared in the Chicago Tribune every autumn from 1912 to 2002. Click on this image to order it online for $5.95 from the Tribune Store.

Near the end of October, as Halloween approaches, Chicagoans put on a warm jacket, rake their leaves, and think about the beautiful autumn days they are enjoying and the ones they remember from their youth.

When I was a boy growing up in Berwyn, Illinois, a suburb 10 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, my father and I would rake the leaves in our front and back yards, place them in our rusty old wheel barrel, and dump them in a pile in a vacant lot across the alley from our home. Then we burned them. The aroma was always enchanting.

On the Sunday before Halloween, the Chicago Tribune always ran Injun Summer by John T. McCutcheon on the front cover of their Magazine section. Every year. The Trib began doing so in 1907. Before long, many other newspapers around the company ran Injun Summer as well.

My father read Injun Summer to me every autumn when I was a boy, just as his father had read it to him when he was a boy growing up in the next town over, Riverside. Tens of thousands of other fathers read Injun Summer to their children every autumn, not only in Chicago but across America.

A few years ago, the Trib stopped doing so. Why? One Tribune Magazine staff member told me that they did not want to offend Native Americans. Offend Native Americans? What about offending generations of Tribune readers who love Injun Summer by not publishing it anymore?

Oh, well, today's Trib will be very happy to sell you a poster of Injun Summer from the Tribune Store. Better buy one before somebody complains....

We have posted Injun Summer here for you to enjoy and to share with your loved ones, wherever you live.... Simply copy and paste this link into an email to them:  http://tuxjunction.net/injunsummer.html

George Spink
Los Angeles
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Postscript: On Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, The Chicago Tribune ran Injun Summer again, the first time since 1992. It even appeared online! Just follow this link to see it:

http://trib.in/nWhIXr

 

 
   
 
© George Spink, Los Angeles, California, United States of America (2011-2012)