Copyright 2021 by Lew Goddard
his home he stepped onto the cinder and gravel mixed surface of the
three block street where he lived with his parents. The air was warm
and dry at nine o’clock this July morning contributing to a
crackling sound as he continued to walk. There were no sidewalks in
this area south of the Western Pacific railway that was parallel to
the street... At a point about 30 yards from home he turned to a path
leading through the eight foot high slab fence that separated the
activity created in the area of the grain elevators and coal bins
beside the railway. Two slabs had mysteriously disappeared at some
time allowing a shortcut to the down town region.
the railway the thunder of a train was loud and close. When he
reached the siding south of the main rails he stopped and decided to
let the train pass. With its smoke stack belching and the drive
wheels synchronized to the necessary speed it crashed by disturbing
the quiet of this small western town. The engineer was visible in his
smock and high peaked cap. The engine gleamed through the soot that
covered most of the high gloss black paint attenuating the glare from
the sun. Vibrations disturbed the earth as it passed and occasionally
a complaining steel wheel would shout its need for lubrication.
or so cars passed in a matter of minutes.
over the tracks Main Street came in to view. It was devoid this
morning of vehicles that had angle parked and filled the two blocks
the previous evening. Saturday night was the main shopping and
entertainment exhibition of the week.
feeling of loneliness could not be avoided when one traversed the
street this morning with the only sounds were of birds and a far off
closing of a door.
young man chose the east side of the street as he usually did.
Concrete sidewalks had been poured years ago and some were cracked
with most being uneven due to traffic and the harshness of climate in
this Saskatchewan community.
eyes weren’t on the sidewalk; he had no problem with balance,
there were things to find wherever he looked. Now that was a real
find, a full un-smoked tailor made cigarette no one had placed in his
mouth. In front of the pool hall there was a shiny quarter lifted to
reside in his front left pocket. A few feet further on was a large
portion of a cigarette and that went into his shirt pocket with the
Memorial Hall rested at the end of the first block and he climbed the
cement steps and sat on the top one. The high railings were
constructed of brick and mortar shadowed on each side by huge Spruce
trees. Seated there he was virtually invisible to passersby.
wooden match came from his right hand pocket and he lit the partly
used fag by scratching the striker end on the brick. The whole one
would be treat later in the day. He inhaled the fragrance that really
didn’t taste all that good but to a mere fourteen year old he
felt he was a full grown adult. Smoke was exhaled from his nostrils
and mouth and he watched it disappear. There was no thought of the
person that had originally placed this cylinder in his mouth and what
contagious disease that may be harbored. Indeed there was no thought
about the hazard of cigarette smoking containing a few thousand
harmful chemicals amongst carcinogens.
the smoke was finished he placed a mint in his mouth so that the odor
would be masked. It was not really necessary since his Dad smoked a
pipe and everything in their household smelled like smoke including
the boys clothing.
more block to go to his morning destination. The Co-op, two
residences, the Anglican Church went by and he arrived at the home
where he was to pick up two quarts of fresh milk. The front door was
bypassed and when he arrived at the back door the inner door was open
behind the screen door. He just walked in because he knew where the
glass milk bottles were and where to leave the money that was always
the right amount. The milk was not pasteurized but it was kept cold
on ice at the vendor’s home. No one ever asked how old it was
and no one ever seemed to become ill after ingesting the cream off
the top and savoring the rest especially when it was cold.
Refrigerators were virtually unknown in the nineteen fifties.
return trip was on the west side of the street. From the north end
the first block was all residences, the Goodwins, the Lowes, the
Coles, and the Blacks. The next block started with the Josephson
general store, then Heddles grocery come drug store, the Chinese
restaurant built of rock and mortar, the hardware, the hotel and
beverage room, the Legion, Madley’s grocery store and
apartments and finally a portion of the building that always seemed
to be vacant. One car passed with two people inside. They waved, he
waved back. Everyone knew everyone in this small town.
same feeling of loneliness was again evident as he left Main Street.
morning the only other treasure found was an empty beer bottle that
was placed in his back pocket. It would be exchanged for one cent
down the road.
over the tracks through the shortcut and back home. One quart was
nearly consumed that day and the other placed on the floor of the
cellar under the home. The family always ran out before the next
Sunday but no more was ever ordered.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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