Sunday, October 28, 2007

Love in a Cloud of Dust

In the thirties, the trains ran through Saskatchewan touching almost every small town and city on the map. That made it easy for desperate young men to hitch an illegal ride, leaping onto the nearest boxcar as the train left the station. There were so many of them leaving the prairies that the boxcars were rarely empty. They left in search of a living in other parts of the country. It was called riding the rails and thousands of men did it, leaving home for years and often returning the same way they left - by rail.

It was one of those men that changed a summer for a young girl. A handsome fella, or at least that's what I'm told, who came into town on a boxcar with others like him. They spent two weeks sleeping under the town water tank. They begged for food door to door and sometimes they were given a packed lunch and other times they were asked to sit in at the table but they were never refused. And that's where she met him.

She was sixteen years old and desperate for some fun. She was only in town by chance and it was by chance that she met him. She, a lonely farm girl and he a desperate young man not yet out of his teens and riding the rails to adventure.

He stayed in town with the others like him for two weeks. In that time she found many excuses to come into town, to seek him out. She fell in love. Now no one knows if he loved her in return. What we do know is that when the men trouped back to their boxcar, there was one extra. One man who was not really a man. A young girl with a cap on her head and her hair tucked under it. One girl who had exchanged a dress for a pair of pants and was determined to fit in, leave small town Saskatchewan and head to the big city and adventure with her beau.

Well when she got on that boxcar she created the most drama that town had seen in years. Her father searched everywhere for her. Finally he involved the police and they tracked her down, pulled her off the boxcar and brought her home. No one talked about it much after. Except one senior who years later relished the chance to tell the story with a nostalgic tone in her voice. A love story for sure - unrequited love on a boxcar.

"Come with me. Please, Eva. At the coast you can be someone. There will be places for musical talent like yours. Please, come west with us.” Verna - "From the Dust"

Safe travels


1 comment:

jean said...

I have been reading through your blog entries and enjoying them thorougly. This is all so interesting, and I love the old photos. You have such a lovely writing style. I must say, I am really looking forward to reading your book!