Sunday, November 4, 2007

Squareface -- Our Story So Far

Part 1 – Down in the Dark 1911-1914

“Squareface” Tony Stayner born in Chicago of recent Lithuanian immigrants works as a mule driver in a coal mine in central Illinois from the age of 12 to 14. Tony grows up fast in the rough world of coal mining, but his love for animals, especially his mules, helps him keep a part of himself safe. A fire in the mine brings Tony face to face with his own mortality at the same time that the growth of his body is threatening to take him away from the mule driving job that is only for boys.

Tony has a rich fantasy life that revolves around letters from his older brother who is a cavalry soldier stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, guarding the border during the chaotic revolution that is raging in Mexico. At the age of 14 Tony hops a freight train south, lies about his age and blunders his way into the U.S. Army.

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Part 2 - The Bells of Hell 1914-1916

Tony serves as an infantry soldier at Fort Bliss, Texas. He is part of a unit that is guarding Mexican refugees who survived the Matamoros Massacre of the year before. Tony’s education accelerates on the Army base and he hears his first recorded music on a gramophone at a Mexican brothel.

In April, 1914, during the Vera Cruz Crisis, Tony’s unit is deployed to the Texas border town of San Elizario, a few miles south of Fort Bliss and on the banks of the Rio Grande. While Tony and his fellow soldiers endure a grueling routine of guard duty and vigilance, the Mexican revolution plays out on both sides of the border.

When rebellion heats up in Texas during the Plan of San Diego, war comes home on a small scale for the young men of Tony’s platoon. A close call leaves Tony shaken and his true age is revealed.

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Part 3 - The Supreme Experience 1917-1919

In the spring of 1917 Tony is about to turn eighteen and he is working in the coal mine again. He is no longer a mule driver, but toils at the back-breaking job of a miner. His experience in Texas has left him older than his age and alienated from his family.

When President Wilson announces the War to End Wars and asks Congress to declare war on Germany, Tony is eager to reenlist. He won’t be eighteen until August, so he needs his parents’ permission if he doesn’t want to wait...

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2 comments:

Tony said...

JD,
Tony Stayner here, youngest son of Joe, 2d son of squareface, and named after my grandfather. I googled my name and found this. Cool you are working on it. Is there any more? have you done research on this? Lots in here I've never heard before. Keep going!

Tony

jd chandler said...

Hey Tony
Sorry I didn't see this comment before now. I have a quite a bit more of this and I have done a lot of research on Tony and his life. I haven't let many people read it, but I might be willing to share. I got kind of stuck with the project but I would like to finish it. Email me at jdchandler2002@yahoo.com if you see this comment.