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Story Neighbours
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Thread: Neighbours

  1. #41
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    State WA
    Posts
    11,489
    Oh I hope they also took the back trailers and items . Thank you.

  2. #42
    I'm glad they have help dismantling the farm and buildings and such! thank you!

  3. #43
    Thanks for the great story.
    Hope to see moar soon.

  4. #44
    mighty fine story!!!!!


    WAB
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."---- Robert A. Heinlein

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    On the Rock
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    723
    Chapter 10 – Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff…

    Jan felt like she had spent the two weeks since the invasion running around like a chicken with her head cut off sorting through all their belongings, packing them and making hard decisions. Flannel sheets – check… 100 year old embroidered linen table clothes – hmmm… okay check… Canning jars – absolutely… television sets – only one with a built in DVD… questionable local paintings – not wanted on the voyage… Item by item she went through the house, the barns, the drive shed. Sorting, packing... Two shipping containers were delivered to the farm. In the first went all the household items. Slowly the house began to empty.

    Jan was glad that she was so busy at home. It had not become any easier in dealing with some neighbours or with the wider community. Not everyone was being relocated and as it became known who was staying and who was going a new and vicious streak of prejudice arose. Some people were killed outright. There were barn burnings and wholesale theft of livestock and food. The fences had withstood three assaults and she only had electricity because of their solar capability. All services had been cut to the farm. It was amusing only because she didn’t have a landline, and they had their own well and septic system. Her neighbours Scott Saville and his family and two other families on their road had appeared at her gate in the middle of the night and were hidden in the back trailers until the Americans could affect their safe removal. Their farms burned to the ground the left with nothing but their lives and the clothes on their backs. Jan and John did not leave the farm now and never unlocked the gate. One the second day, Jones had been called to a meeting with the CID and not come back. He had been gone for five day.
    Mrs. Jones appeared at the gate the morning of the fourth day, her arm in a sling, her face badly bruised. Beside her was a small suitcase – all she told them, she had been permitted to take. Becky had been unable to protect her from the group of women who had decided that she was a “farmer” and as such, she should go – even though she didn’t have a farm. Becky herself had only been saved because she was married to a Raven. Mrs. Jones, under supervision, had been allowed her clothes, the photos from her bedside, two photo albums, her jewelry box and her sewing basket. Everything else had to be left for community redistribution.

    “I am so glad that I left so many of my possessions with you,” said Mrs. Jones in a tired voice.

    Jan was furious but commonsense prevailed, as the eve of their departure drew closer, their world grew too dangerous to contemplate revenge. They did not want to draw more attention to themselves then necessary.

    Occasionally attention was warranted. One of those attention issues was David McDonald, who had arrived looking badly bruised, thin, exhausted and confused. All the attitude that he’d had before was gone, beaten out of him by the look of it. It was certainly a better behaved, politer David that they got back. He pitched in and worked like a champ and Jan was really pleased. She worried though as he woke screaming in the night. Surprisingly it was John who made the difference. His solid quiet support gave David the space he needed to heal.

    Jan had gone with one of the soldiers to retrieve both David and Andrew’s possessions from the house. David had told her of a few secret things that he really wanted. Jan had taken them plus the obviously beloved and worn teddy, the blankets and pillows from his bed, his clothes, and his books. Then looking closely at the furniture, she asked if they could take David’s mattress and box spring. Permission had been granted. Jan had then gone to the bookcase and taken a selection of photos of David and his family. Peaking in Grace’s room, Jan identified a few trinkets that had been left and packed them into David’s things so that he would have something to remember his sister by. Jan knew he had loved Grace and their mother, but was still confused by their behaviour.

    Jan then took Andrew’s clothes, his computer, clothes and some books. She pulled out the list she had been sent by Andrew and collected the few items he had identified as being from his parents – a mantle clock, and a couple of small paintings. Systematically, Jan the packed all the woolen blankets, duvets quits and pillows. Front the back hall closet, she packed David’s winter snow gear and grabbed Andrew’s coat and bots. Looking at their food, she also boxed all jarred and tinned foods. From the garage, she took a couple of boxes labeled “oil lamps” and “McDonald misc.”, their fishing gear and hunting guns. At the soldier’s suggestion, she packed the chain saw, shovels, and tool kits. Looking around, Jan concluded that rest of the contents of the house would be for Gillian to decide on. She locked the door and handed the soldier the key.

    With the Police Chief arrested by the MPs, Gillian had moved on again. She had found a new protector in the form of an environmentalist lawyer who taught at the Trent University in Peterborough. A long term hive of socialist propaganda, the university was now one of the foremost in the Province, eclipsing the perenial Holy Trinity of Queens, Western and UofT. Now ensconced in an elegant Victorian on Little Lake, she and Grace had not been back. Rumour had it that she was intent on signing custody of Grace over to the School Board. Sadly, because Andrew had acknowledged that Grace was not his natural child, even if she was his lawful child, he had been unable to intervene. The reality was that it was unlikely even after this short period of time that Grace would be redeemable. With the teacher’s union directing the socialist brainwashing of the students, and combining their curriculum with an eco-terrorist bent, it meant that even after a short period of time, it might be unsafe to bring Grace into the household. A number of families had recovered their children only to have the children burn their homes to the ground on account of the parents being “murdering destroyers of the earth”. The children freely admitted to the Army MPs that they had been taught how to do that by their teachers and that it was their job to destroy any so called “Relocators”. The children regretted only that they had not been able to kill their parents. After that, David stopped asking them to find Grace.

    Soon the containers were packed. The second container was filled with farm equipment, tools and feed. All that was left in the house were their beds and suitcases. As instructed Jan had packed a box with cooking clobber, another with food to eat on the trip, and a third with sleeping bags, pillows and quilts.

    The next day at 5am, the trucks came with the crates for the animals. Over the next 14-hours, the barns, outbuildings and house were taken down and loaded. Jan and Jones stood with the boys and watched the house taken apart. John was devastated. Even repeated reassurances that it would all be rebuilt were not enough. The theory of the dismantling had been fine but the reality was too much for him. Jan wrapped him up in his quilt and they sat in the bed of their truck.

    “John,” said Jan kneeling down to look right in his eyes. “We have explained that we are moving. We have explained that everything is coming with us. The only things we can’t bring are the basement and shelter because they are dug into the ground. In the place we are moving to there are people who are digging the new basement for us, including the new shelter. I know that the trees and land will look different but in our new home there will be mountains. Our home will be on Olsen Hill Road. We showed you the two pictures they gave us and the pictures of the local café. They told us they make really good blueberry pie there.

    “I want you to stay here on the truck bed with David. They are going to dig up the apple trees, so that we can take our orchard with us. So let us watch them do that together. See how they are wrapping up the branches to protect them… They’ll do the same thing with the roots... See how carefully they are lifting them…”

    Slowly John began to re-engage. David sat with him and they talked quietly. The two boys, so close in age, were each hurting for the homes they were losing. David wondered where his father was and why his mother had behaved the way she had. He knew that Grace was just like his mother. She had done nothing at the Police Department but dance around for the officers and try to sit in their laps. While a couple had let her, most had tried to get out of the room as quickly as possible. Since he had watched his mother do the same thing with the Police Chief, he knew exactly who Grace had been copying. He also knew that Grace was far too young to be behaving like that and that those men should not have been touching her. When he had complained, the Police Chief had beaten him and sent him to that farm. Even his mother had told him he was worthless, and then she had signed some papers giving him away.

    That had devastated him, but not as much as that farm. He shuddered. He never wanted to go to a place like that again. Every time he had opened his mouth, they had beaten him. If he hadn’t done exactly what he was told, when he was told, they beat him. And the nights… He shuddered again. When the MPs had retrieved him and he had got to see his father, his father had cried. There hadn’t been a part of him that had not been bruised or lacerated. The MPs had looked at the adults who had run that place and just shot them. All twelve of the children locked up there, and the three children who had been theirs, were all in the same shape. He didn’t know where the others had gone, but his father and the MPs had brought him to the McConnell’s and told him that he was to stay with them and go to their new farm with them. His father had told him that he would join them when the US Military would let him. Neither knew that it would be a long time before that would happen.

    Jan watched her life loaded onto the trucks to take them to the Fenelon Station. There were ten other farms above the swamps that were headed out, no two to the same area. The Saville’s were headed to cousins in Wisconsin. With their farm burned out, they had been flown out earlier in the week. The Walkers and the Mcleans had gone to Alberta. The Dicks who had also been burned out had gone to family in Manitoba. No one else from their line was headed to Montana.

    There were Canadians who were fighting the Americans. Some saw themselves as fighting for an independent Canada. But most were in positions of authority and terrified of loosing it. They began to promote the label of “Relocator” as a sign of treason. While Jan wore the scarlet “R” with pride, it might have been harder if she had not been able to take all her things – the buildings and orchard were an unexpected and extremely generous bonus. She hoped the old apple trees would make it. For the truth was that she was leaving a family property where land and sky were known, for a place that was completely unknown. In her own way, she was as unsettled and nervous as John. It didn’t help that the CID had taken Jones, and by the day of departure she had neither heard nor seen him in over ten days. She had had to do all the packing with the help of Mrs. Jones, whom both boys now called Grandma, and a group of young soldiers. She told their officer it was like trying to herd overeager puppies. They were wonderfully helpful, but all headed in opposite directions. She admired their officer for not losing his cool with them.

    While her bruises had fade, Grandma Jones was heart sick... that women she had known her whole life… gone to church with… gone to the Legion with… would turn on her… well it broke something inside. Jan wasn’t sure it could be fixed. Also she knew that Mrs. Jones was not well. She had told Jan so that day when they had cleared out the old farmhouse. But Jan couldn’t get her to tell what the issue was. As the days of packing wore on, Jan had finally had enough.

    “Mrs. Jones,” she said. “I understand your desire for privacy. However we have two young boys who are now building you into their support. If you are seriously or deathly ill, I need to know so that I can prepare them. As my grandmother used to say, unfortunately this is not all about you anymore.”

    Grandma Jones pinched up for a moment and then stopped. “Thank you dear for the timely reminder. I am not seriously ill but I am on cholesterol and blood pressure medications and I am having a harder and harder time getting them. When I went into the pharmacy last week, they refused to give them to me. Called me a Relocator and said I was better off dead.”

    Jan just about blew a gasket.

    “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Why didn’t you tell me this before? I’ll see what I can do.”

    Jan called over their local US military rep.

    “Lieutenant,” she said. “I have a potential medical issue with my mother-in-law. Is it possible for her to see a doctor stat.”

    “Unfortunately Mam,” he said. “I am not able to release anyone to take her into town to the doctor.”

    “I wish it was that easy,” said Jan. “Apparently, she ran out of her heart medications two weeks ago and the pharmacy is refusing to serve her and the doctors will not see her either. I have just learned of this.”

    The young Lieutenant closed his eyes in exasperation. This was not what he needed to have to deal with in the midst of moving these people. Picking up the radio, he called into base and requested that the unit’s doctor come out to the farm. Jan thanked him and all went back to work. An hour later the military doctor arrived. Grandma Jones was checked and given a six month supply of her medications. He then checked both boys. David had seen same doctor earlier and the man was pleased to see the boy’s healing progressing so well. Jan was with him when he checked John and looked at the medical file Jan carried with her. He concluded that John was in good shape.

    ***
    “The unit doctor became concerned with my grandmother’s experience,” John told the Committee. “So he began checking with the remaining families and found that nearly half had a family member who had been denied medical aid by the local doctors, hospitals or pharmacies. In one case a man had died of a heart attack because the ER had refused to treat him, the municipal cemetery had refused to provide a grave digger or access to the family plot, and the family had buried him in their old family cemetery on their farm. They were then charged with performing an illegal burial. The doctor reported his concerns back to the unit commander and suddenly each family was visited by a soldier. They began to log the full extent of service denials that were happening to those being relocated. They heard stories about kids being sent home from school, restaurants refusing to serve, denial of fuel, food at the grocery stores. When approached, the grocery store owner in Bobcaygeon freely admitted refusing to serve what he called “those damned traitors”. He also admitted that, while he would have done it anyways, but there had been a Provincial directive ordering the enforcement. Store after store, restaurants, service organizations, children’s clubs, doctors’ offices, everyone had received this directive. Someone was continuing to direct traffic and managing to get around the US military doing it. The commanders were not pleased. All of this was learned after Jan and her family had followed their worldly goods onto the train.”

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    State WA
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    11,489

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    On the Rock
    Posts
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    One last one for tonight...

    Chapter 11 – At the station…

    “I am not sure that any of us actually thought of the process of how we were going to get from CoKL to Rexford. I mean we knew we were going by train but the actually getting of A to B and what it would entail had not been a part of our thoughts. My mother was far more concerned about how to get everything packed. You know we had one rail car of furniture and good. A second of farm equipment and then a car and a half of livestock,” John told the Committee. “Certainly we had not contemplated the hows of our getting out of the Occupied Province of Ontario. Or the fact that most people would not be willing to see us leave with our processions, let alone our lives. This had always been our home. We were not used to thinking of it as hostile territory. It was a big paradigm shift.”

    *****
    Getting on to the train had not been pleasant. The family had been brought into town with the last convoy of trucks from their farm. As they got out at the station, they saw that a second platform had been built in the parking lot at Jug City. They saw that a small crowd had gathered just beyond the platform and beyond that the burned out shell of the Agri-Services store. As they went to get on the train, a woman with bound arms was pulled out of the crowd. Head shaved and badly beaten, Jan barely recognized Mary. Around her neck was a sign saying “I sold food to Relocators”. Several men pushed Mary to the ground in front of Jan and spat on her. Within seconds the MPs had surrounded the crowd forcing them back as vitriolic hate-filled words word were screamed out.

    Rocks, bottles and eggs began to fly. Grandma Jones moved as fast as she could to shepherd the boys onto the train. John had begun to shake and David looked terrified.

    “Grandma,” he whispered in shock. “My Scout leader was in that group.”

    Grandma Jones was only glad that he had missed the blonde lady on the end. God help her, Gillian had thrown rocks at her own child…

    A soldier helped Jan lift Mary onto the train. As bottles and eggs hit the railway car, the doors to the car were closed.

    The family was assigned one end of a Via Rail carriage, where the seats folded into beds. With Grandma Jones soothing the frightened boys, Jan got Mary into a seat and cut the bindings on her arms. Leaning over to kiss John, she pulled out her medical bag. Jan cleaned the cuts and applied Preparation-H to Mary’s bruises. The whole time Mary quietly sobbed. Jan got her to drink some water and covered her with a blanket. The soldier came back to check on her.

    “I’m sorry Mam but we don’t have a doctor on the train. Is she going to be okay?” he asked.

    “Physically I think she’ll be okay but mentally we’ll have to see. She’s been pretty badly beaten and not just this once. I won’t know the extent of her injuries until I can get her fully cleaned up. Her fiancé pulled out earlier this week – one of the Yoder boys. They are settling two farms over from us. Her father died two years ago and her mother moved to Toronto to live with her sister but I don’t have any contact information for her. So, we’ll take her with us. Soldier… do you know where my husband is?”

    “About your husband, I have no knowledge. Above my pay grade. About the girl, I’ll see if we can find her some clothes and there is a shower room at the top of the car. Do you want some help getting her there? I’ll get her accompanying you cleared. Obviously we can’t leave her here,” said the soldier. “Now the curtains have to be pulled down and lights will be turned off in the car for your safety once we get moving. We recommend that you leave the blinds closed for the next while as we will be moving through hostile territory and these passenger cars have come under attack on previous runs. It is just your family on this run to Lindsay. There we will be picking up the cars for another family from the Cambray area. Do you know the Codys?”

    The soldier smiled. “Supposedly,” he confided. “I heard tell that they are related to Wild Bill Cody… him who had the Wild West Show.”

    Jan shook her head. “I know of the Codys but never met any of them. They are over in the Linden Valley, technically Woodville, and look to Little Britain and Lindsay for supplies. I think they mostly grew feed corn. Where are they headed? ”

    The soldier smiled. “I gather, he said, “they are headed to family who farm on the Milk River on the Canada-US border.

    Jan nodded then looked at Mary. “I need to get her to the shower. Can you help?”

    The soldier helped Jan get Mary down the hall to the shower room. Then he ran off to get a spare pair of fatigues. In the shower room, Jan striped an uncooperative and bawling girl of her torn and shredded clothes.

    “Mary,” said Jan. “Look at me. Did they rape you?”

    “Not quite,” came the reply. “Well.. yes” she amended quietly.

    “Not quite? What does that mean?” asked Jan.

    “They used a gun… they put it in… the threatened to pull the trigger… then their hands were everywhere…” started Mary before breaking down and crying again. “Then they started. They thought the old men should have fun first. Only they couldn’t you know but they touched me… men I knew… friends of my father’s and grandfather’s… it was...” she shuddered and began to shake.

    ‘Yuck! Yuck! Double yuck!’ thought Jan, patting the girl. “Okay honey,” she said. “Let’s get you cleaned up. You’ll feel a thousand times better just with that much and some clean clothes.”

    “… but Jonas isn’t going too…” Mary tried again.

    “Mary,” stated Jan as she turned on the water. “He is not going to hold something like this against you. He’s going to feel bad enough for not having been there to protect you. Now in you go. Here is the soap and a wash cloth.”

    As Mary cleaned herself up and tried to scrub off the feeling of being touched by men she had known and always trusted. She also knew that she was lucky to be alive. She wasn’t sure about the two boys she had worked with. Both had been taken, along with her, two days ago from the feed store before it had been torched. She went to wash her hair and at the feel of her shorn head she began to cry again.

    “Mary,” said Jan as she handed her a towel. “The soldier is going to want to ask you questions about what happened.”

    “Good,” the girl answered. “Did they also get Kyle and Eggie free?”

    “They took the boys too?”

    “Oh yeah!” came the answer from inside a camo shirt. “And Mr. Wallis too. I don’t like the old man and he could be right mean, but he’s way too old to get beat on the way he was. He didn’t sell food to any Relocators, but he did tell us to sell them feed so their animals wouldn’t starve. He thought that the animals should all be kept here and if we didn’t feed them they wouldn’t be healthy for those who stayed. I saw Dr. P in one of their interrogation rooms. Supposedly he had continued to treat his patients even if they was Relocators. He said he swore an oath but The Council don’t see it that way.”

    “The Town Council made that decision?” Jan asked.

    “Yeah. I was pulled in front of them like they was some judge and jury. They was the ones who ordered this. Said I was a collab… a collaba something…”

    “A collaborator?” Jan asked.

    Mary nodded. “Then they ordered that my head should be shaved and I should be whipped at the cenotaph. They made me walk barefoot down Colburne Street and then tied my hands to the flag pole and… they pulled my shirt and bra off and whipped me… They left me there exposed… then when the train came they tied my arms and made me walk down here. I don’t know what I’m going to do…” She dissolved in tears again.

    “We are going to take you with us, Mary,” said Jan.

    Jan got Mary back to their seats. The soldier had turned one into a bed for her and she climbed in stiffly and curled up.

    Jan went back down the car to talk to the soldier.

    “There were a couple of things that she said that stood out,” said Jan. “The first is that apparently the Village Council apparently has decided that they are judge, jury and executioner. Council is made up of what used to be Church elders and Community leaders, and it has a long history of catering to the old families and making power grabs. I suspect that, because she has no family here, Mary was an easy target to use as an example of what would happen if you didn’t obey them. And with no one to defend or protect her, they went to town on her. She has been raped, marched through town and was tied to the flag pole at the cenotaph, stripped and publicly flogged. You might want to ask how your patrols missed this happening.

    “Secondly, she was not taken alone. Mr. Wallis, the Agricultural rep, was also beaten for permitting the sale of animal feed to Relocators on the premise that their animals should not be permitted to leave the Province. So was a local doctor. Dr. Pecher is very elderly. Also, two teenaged boys were also seized and she is worried that they may actually have killed them. I know that neither of their families are Relocators, but we will take them if you can find them and need to get them out of town. We’ll take in Dr. Pecher too. Mr. Wallis will be fine he has a lot of family here round and they are not going to be happy about his treatment. Families tend to get personal about things around here and vendettas are easy to start and hard to stop.”

    The soldier headed for his sergeant to report. Jan put her head back for a moment, wishing for sleep , but instead went to see how the boys were. Mrs. Jones had got them settled and dozing on the benches. She got out one of their cooler bags and handed Jan a bottle of water.

    “Well girl” she said. “You sure have some way of collecting waifs and strays and enlarging this here family. That Dr. P is a fine man and he’ll be a good addition to the community. Don’t know those boys but of course I know of the families and fine workers the lot of them.”

    Jan smiled at her.

    A half-hour later, a badly beaten boy and an old man were helped onto the train. A second boy, laid out on a stretcher, was carried on board. All three were dazed and confused.

    “We found them locked in the basement of the United Church,” said the soldier. “Bit of a gun battle to get them out. The medic on a quick check said they’d all be okay but him…” and he pointed at Kyle “…has taken some pretty nasty kicks to his lower limbs. It will be a while before he is up and marching happily.”

    Ten minutes after another soldier appeared with a couple of bags for the boys. He then went and talked to the old man.

    “Dr. Pecher,” he asked quietly. “I am sorry but your home and office have been torched. As we went to leave, a woman came up to one of the guards and handed him a bag and slipped back into the dark. We’re still trying to figure out how she slipped through our perimeter… Anyways, it has some photo albums and some small items that someone thought you would want. She included a letter. I am sorry I was not able to get more. We will replace your medical kit if you want one.”

    “Thank you son, and I’ll take you up on the offer of a medical bag,” said Dr. Pecher and put his head back, tears leaking from his closed eyes. Then he sat-up, blew his nose, and looked Jan in the face.

    “So young lady,” he said. “Looks like I am joining you after all. Where are we headed?”

    He then saw Mrs. Jones and smiled. To her dismay, Jan saw Mrs. Jones blush. ‘Oh great,” she thought, “how do I explain to my husband that his mother and the doctor are eyeing each other…’ Then she smiled to herself. ‘Why not... We all deserve some happiness.’


    *****
    “My grandmother married Dr. Pecher the next spring,” John said. “They had another ten years together before he died at the age of ninety. Then amazingly, at the age of 75, my grandmother married for a third time. Said she liked doing for someone and she wanted her own home. She died at the age of 86-years. She was a good woman and well liked.”

    Behind him the historians scribbled like mad.

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Atlantic Canada
    Posts
    8,616
    Outstanding. Simply outstanding.

    1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer

    Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.


  9. #49
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Where fog and sun meet.
    Posts
    3,445
    This is such a complete and wonderful story you are weaving with images of hope, despair, kindness and savegery.

    I look forward to the next twenty something or more chapters dear lady.

    Not sure where the rock is located but I gather you may be east of the mighty Missisippi.

    Thank you for taking the time to post your fine story here.

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    On the Rock
    Posts
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    Thanks Siskyoumom! My Rock is well east of the Mississippi... in fact its as east as you can go in North America. The Rock is another name for Newfoundland.

  11. #51
    Join Date
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    Chapter 12 – Tracks south…

    The train began to move out shortly thereafter. Jan was surprised at the smoothness and hoped that the livestock were travelling well. She wasn’t entirely sure of the route, but figured that they would be headed to Windsor and then across. But, they hadn’t even cleared town when the passenger coach came under small arms fire. Via Rail coaches were really not designed to be bullet proof and they were lucky no one was hit. She could hear fire being returned and then a boom as the Salvation Army thrift store and distribution center took a direct hit. Even behind the curtains, Jan could see that the resulting explosion was way too big for only old clothes to have been stored there.

    “So that’s what was there,” said Dr. P. Jan looked over him. The dark bruise on his jaw was spreading, so she pulled out the Preparation-H and applied it. “Well I knew they had taken the fertilizer from the Agri-Co and had taken it somewhere. It’s what saved that blamed fool Wallis. They were really going to roast him until he offered it up. I should really go check on the boys.”

    “Both are breathing evenly and asleep, Dr. P.” advised Jan.

    “In that case,” said the doctor. “Let’s see what my parting gift bag contains.”

    Jan laughed. ‘One could always count on the doctor to find the bright side,’ she thought.

    He picked up the bag and opened it carefully. Inside were three photo albums – one of his grandparents, parents and childhood and two of his married life and kids. Wrapped in napkins were a mortar and pestle that had been his great-grandfather’s; an old butter mold with a pear at the bottom – it had been his great-grandmother’s; a carved reindeer and sled made for him in his childhood by a DP who had worked on his father’s farm; his stethoscope given to him when he graduated from medical school; the gun his father had taken off a German SS officer in WWII; two hankies with his mother’s initials embroidered in the corner; and a small jewelry box containing his mothers and wife’s wedding rings and his father’s medals. There was a file with all his personal ID papers. He looked up at Jan his eyes and cheeks wet.

    “Oh my,” he said. Pulling out his handkerchief he wiped his eyes and blew his nose. “I figured these were all gone. I was resolved to it but I sure am glad to have them.”

    He pulled out the letter, read it and handed it to Jan.

    Dear Dr. P,

    I saw them pull you from your car at that roadblock and figured there’d only be a short window to get anything from your house. Hope I got what was most special. Its stuff you told me about over the years and I figured if you survived them, you’d want it. I’ll tell you so you know that I was the one that burnt your house down. They was talking about coming back for your files and using them to ensure cooperation. I don’t figure that it is any of their danged business what is in anyone’s medical files so the lot will have go. I used gasoline in there. Poured it in each drawer, so it burned really well. If the Army comes I’ll give your bag to one of the soldiers. Thank you for all you did for me and mine.

    Best respects, Dee

    The doctor smiled and gave a small laugh.

    “She’s a pistol that girl!” said the doctor. “I delivered all four of her babies. One back when she was a teenager… Fought her daddy on that one… Once I was sure what she really wanted, I helped her get the baby adopted to a good family. She waited until she married to have the other three.

    “We should be coming into Lindsay soon” said Jan. The train barely slowed to take on the other family and attach their cars to the train.

    The Codys looked as rode hard and hung-up wet as she was sure her own family did. An extended family, there were two sets of grandparents, six other adults and twenty children from teenagers to toddlers. One teenaged boy on crutches and another had a broken arm. They went as sat with Eggie and looked at Kyle on his stretcher. Jan could only wonder at the boys as one of the Cody’s said to Eggie:

    “You catch Kyle with your sister or sumpting?” That Kyle was moon-eyed over Eggie’s sister Tanya was an open secret. That Eggie thought 15-year old Tanya was too young to date was equally well known. The boys all laughed and settled down to exchange stories.

    Jan realized that she knew Lynn Cody as one of the tellers at the BMO in Fenelon. It was just that she had thought her last name was Naylor. Turned out that was her maiden name, and she’d been married to Jim Cody for twenty years and had eight kids – six of whom were teens! Jim’s younger brother Andy Cody was married to Lisa James and they had six kids – four teens in that house. Mary Cody was divorced and had moved back home with her four – three teens and an unexpected three year old. Sam Cody was widowed and had two little girls, aged two and four. Their mother had died in a car accident the previous winter and he had been fighting his in-laws for custody, a fight that had become extremely bitter once they realized that the Codys were being relocated. Matthew and Gail Cody were the parents and Martin and Jackie Cody were his brother and sister-in-law. The family had been full to bursting in their broken down old brick house and bluntly the opportunity the relocate had been a golden one for them.

    They all settled down in their car and it rumbled out of town towards Ponty Pool and Cobourg. Jan had been told that they were trying to get everything to a secured rail yard at Cobourg before 7pm. Jan had wanted to know as the cows would have to be milked even if the milk would have to be thrown away. Jan watched as the boys settled into a solid group of nine – Kyle laid out, Eggie and the Cody cousins Matt, Martin, Jamie, Tom, Mark, Eric and Tyler. Two seats down the girls collected – the two sets of twins Sama and Andrea, Lydie and Gail, and Sally. Heather went and sat with Mary and the two talked quietly. The three Cody middle boys Gordie, Joe and Drew gathered around David and John. The littles played on the floor between the rows – Agnes, Samuel and Ginger. The noise was incredible and Jan could not remember the last time she had seen so many kids playing so well together. It bode well for the trip.

    While the Cody couples all got themselves settled at the far end of the car, Jan and Grandma Jones got things sorted out at their end. Jan pulled out bedrolls and extra blankets. She then found the cooler bag with their dinner in it and wondered how she was going to feed three more. “Loaves and fishes,’ she thought.

    It was this separation that proved to be lifesaving. As they cleared the old iron railway bridge south of Lindsay, there was an explosion at the far end of the car. Jan and Grandma Jones had already been bending down. Dr. P was laid out on one of the berths. The kids all hit the deck, but the adult Codys were all killed instantly. The carnage was horrific and while the train kept going as gunfire erupted from both sides.

    She ran down the car and grabbed the littles off the floor and tossing them to sisters and cousins and herding everyone towards the back of the car as soldiers came pouring in. All the while, children were yelling and screaming in fear as the world continued exploding around them.

    “Quiet!” ordered Jan. “Quiet! Let the soldiers do their work. Everyone down below window level.”

    Another burst of gunfire blew out two more windows and the cool night air poured in, chilling those already shocked with terror and exhaustion. Jan grabbed the few blankets she could see and the older kids wrapped up the littles and the injured. Huddled under a window, Grandma Jones held John and David. Beside them Samuel, who held tightly to his car, would not let it or his sister Heather go.

    Heather looked over at Jan. “What happens now?” she asked helplessly and shocked.

    Jan looked around at the twenty-five children in front of her and said simply. “You stay with me. We’ll find a way.”

  12. #52
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    Chapter 12 – Two dozen plus her own…

    “Are you telling us that your mother took in all of those children?” asked Congressman Kennedy from Massachusetts.

    “She took them all in without knowing where we were going or how it would all come together,” said John with considerable pride. “You all used to have a program called ‘No Child Left Behind’… My mother lived it. She truly believed that children were a gift from God that was to be cherished and supported. It was just until then, all she’d had was me.”


    *****
    It took almost an hour to clear the way forward. Until then there was nowhere for them to move to, so they all stayed where they were during the half hour trip to Cobourg. A screen of soldiers blocked their view of the dead at the other end. One by one, Jan and Mrs. Jones shook the children clear of glass and cleaned as they best they could the small cuts while Dr. P attempted to see if there were any more significant injuries. It was dark and cold, and the crying, emotionally wrung-out children clung to one another. They were all exhausted, very chilled and heart sick by the time they arrived at the depot. There they were led off the train and into one of the barracks.

    “Mrs. Jones?” asked Jan. “Can you and Dr. P watch the children, while the medic checks them while I go check the livestock?”

    They nodded and Jan went and spoke with the older children. Selfishly Jan hoped that the livestock had all survived. She suspected that the goal was to stop the train and steal the livestock so their attackers were not aiming for those cars. More than ever, their lives were now going to depend on those animals. Matt and Jamie chose to go with her to deal with their family’s livestock. Sama and Andrea came to deal with the milking.

    The cattle were all fine and with a soldier to guard the girls while they milked the eight cows, Jan and the boys left to go to the next car. One of the quarter horses had caught a piece of shrapnel in its left flank but that was easily removed, cleaned and patched-up. They were fed and watered and settled quickly. The third car was a bit of a mess. There were three hens that had been hit. Matt dispatched them quickly and Jamie ran them back to the barrack to be cooked up for dinner. They left them with Heather. She and Mary quickly plucked and gutted them before chopping them up to stir-fry and the into the soup pot. With thirty people to feed, three hens wouldn’t go far.

    One of the other tragedies was that one of the pigs had been hit across the neck by shrapnel. The only luck was that he had fallen snot down and bled out. A quick talk with the Sargent indicated that they would be here for 24-hours while new passenger rail cars were obtained. With the help of two soldiers, they hoisted the pig outside the barrack and cut him so that he finished the bleed out properly. Jan was able to access her canning jars. Martin Cody had been apprenticing as a butcher, so Jan let him handle the cutting while she and the girls prepared to can as much as they could. Food simply could not be wasted. She was annoyed that they would not be able to render the fat, but in talking with the depot cook, he was willing to trade butter for the leaf fat and fatback on a pound per pound basis. So Jan ended up with 7 ½ lbs of butter. She clarified it to ghee and canned it too. It was a long 24-hours in getting it all done but as a first team project, Jan figured that they could not have come up with anything better.

    During that time she met twice with the Relocation Coordinator. First when they had buried the Codys, and then when they had met to discuss the children’s future. The Codys out west were unable and unwilling to take on twenty children... Lord knew the idea was daunting. They’d take the boys on as unpaid field hands but would take none of the girls or littles. Jan decided that the older children needed to involved making the decision, so she and the Coordinator met with them.

    “Okay listen up all of you,” said Jan rising her voice only slightly over the babble. “This is Major Johnston who is in charge of the Relocation venture for this area. You’ve already met him when he came to pay his condolences. Now he has talked to your cousins out in Milk River. Major…”

    Jan turned the floor over to him.

    “Okay here’s where things stand. Option 1 - Mrs. McConnell has offered to keep you all. Option 2 – Your cousins are willing to take the seven boys on to work as field hands in exchange for room and board. But they won’t take the girls or the small children who can either go with Mrs. McConnell or go to an orphanage. Option 3 – you all go to an orphanage. I would like to add a fourth option for those seventeen and older. Enlistment in the military is an option and we would welcome you.

    “Now Mrs. McConnell has made it very clear to me that you all are old enough and have been through enough to have an input into your lives. I am sorry to rush you but decisions need to be made quickly as it impacts which way the train will head.”

    The children broke off into family groups. Then Matt, Jamie and Heather spoke together before Matt turned to the Major.

    “For the time being, we think that going with the McConnells will be the best solution. We will take all the things our parents packed with us and add our livestock to theirs. Our only concern is that it is unlikely that the McConnell’s house will be big enough to house us all plus the other four kids that Mrs. McConnell has adopted in the past two weeks as a result of this military action. Is there someone who can help with that? Also Heather and I want to go into the military, myself as a soldier and Heather as a nurse. We can’t do it until our siblings are settled so we would like to defer enlistment for a year. Can that be done?”

    Jan smiled a big smile and was pleased to see the kids thinking ahead that way.

    The Major was even more pleased. There a few more boys in that group who would make fine soldiers and he intended to grab them while he could.

  13. #53
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  14. #54
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    Wow, quite the exposition. Excellent work!
    How many miles to Galt's Gulch?

  15. #55
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    Truly excellent work. I take it from an earlier chapter that you are not a fan of Justin Trudeau?

    1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer

    Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.


  16. #56
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    Nope but then I didn't care for PET either... and I don't think that JT is half as capable as his father.

  17. #57
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    Chapter 14 – A growing family…

    “I can remember,” John told the Committee, “Sitting with my mother at the long table in the barracks that night. It was an enormous decision that she made. With time I can see that there were no other options in her mind but at the time I wasn’t happy. She was my mother and I was used to having her to myself.”


    *****
    “Are all those kids really going to come and live at the house with Daddy and Grandma?” John asked with the look of a kid whose whole world had gone through the blender and he had no idea where anything stood any more.

    “I hope so. What do you think?” she asked.

    “Well I don’t really want them all to come, but I guess that they are. Right?” he said with hopeful resignation. When Jan nodded, he continued, “Well then I’ve got two thoughts. It’s going to be really crowded. So we need to have some big bedrooms added on. Can we just do two – one for boys and one for girls?” he suggested.

    “That’s a good idea but maybe we’ll do a boys, a girls, one for the littles, one for Grandma, and also have two rooms for Dr. P.”

    “Why does Dr. P get two rooms?”

    “Well he needs a bedroom and an office to see patients in,” said Jan.

    “Can’t he share a room with Grandma? They keep holding hands and looking goofy at each other.”

    Jan wanted to laugh. “Ummm… well… how about if they get married they can share a room, but not until then. So what was your other thought?”

    John looked at her seriously. “Where did they take Daddy?”

    Jan turned and put out her arms to hug him, but he stood back, waiting for her answer. Jan’s arms dropped.

    “I don’t know John. Every time I ask they refer it to someone else or say above my pay grade. But I miss him desperately. At least before he would call us, this time he doesn’t seem to be able to and now we don’t have a phone. At least he knows where we are going. I can only pray that he will be able to join us soon. Besides,” Jan looked at him and smiled. “We have a whole lot more kids now and I want help with the dishes!”

    John smiled. “What are you writing about?” he asked pointing at her notebook.

    “Well,” she said. “I figured that I had better start recording information on the kids. I need to know things like birthdays and allergies and stuff like that.”

    “Am I going to be in there?” he asked.

    Quickly she drew a five column chart. “You bet! I need to know their names, ages, dates of birth what grade they are in in school and what their work co-ops were. You know honey, those work co-ops were just about the only thing I agreed with the school board on. Made the kids able to work in our community rather than having them all go to Toronto to work in offices and have no skills. You know John. No system is ever entirely wrong. You can hate the system but admire aspects of it. The key is to identify and replicate the good without falling prey to the bad. Apprenticeships are really good.” So she wrote:

    Matt Cody - age 19, DOB Sept 12, School - finished, Work - Farming… interested in being a soldier
    Jamie Cody - age 18, DOB Jan 4, School - finished, Work - Farming
    Heather Harris - age 18, DOB Mar 5, School - finished, Work - Nurse’s Aid… interested in being a military nurse.
    Eric Harris - age 17, DOB May 11 , School - Grade 12, Apprenticeship - Auto mechanics co-op
    Eggie Roberts - age 17, DOB Apr 23, School - Grade 12, Apprenticeship - Agri-Co co-op, chicken farming
    Mary Taylor - age 17, DOB Aug 3 , School - Grade 12, Apprenticeship - Agri-Co co-op, accounting co-op
    Kyle Ball - age 17, DOB June 15, School - Grade 12, Apprenticeship - Agri-Co co-op, pig farming
    Martin Cody - age 17, DOB Oct 12, School - Grade 12, Apprenticeship - Butcher co-op
    Tom Cody - age 16, DOB Apr 18, School - Grade 11, Apprenticeship - Grocery store co-op
    Sama Cody (twin) - age 15, DOB June 6, School - Grade 10, Apprenticeship - Fenelon Dairy co-op
    Andrea Cody (twin) - age 15, DOB June 6, School - Grade 10, Apprenticeship - Fenelon Dairy co-op
    Mark Cody - age 15, DOB Sept 25, School - Grade 10, Apprenticeship - Handley’s, lumber yard co-op
    Tyler Harris - age 15, DOB Jan 21, School - Grade 10, Apprenticeship - Mechanical co-op @locks
    Lydie Cody (twin) - age 14, DOB Aug 27, School - Grade 9, Apprenticeship - Bakery co-op
    Gail Cody (twin) - age 14, DOB Aug 27, School - Grade 9, Apprenticeship - Farming co-op
    Erin Cody - age 14, DOB Oct 31, School - Grade 9, Apprenticeship - Tailoring co-op
    John McConnell - age 12, DOB Apr 2, School - Grade 7
    David McDonald - age 12, DOB May 24, School - Grade 7
    Sally Cody - age 10, DOB June 28, School - Grade 5
    Gordie Cody - age 10, DOB Nov 9, School - Grade 5
    Drew Cody - age 8, DOB Jul 15, School - Grade 3
    Joe Cody - age 8 , DOB Feb 22, School - Grade 3
    Agnes Cody - age 4, DOB June 17, School - JK
    Samuel Harris - age 3, DOB May 26
    Ginger Cody - age 2, DOB Sept 2

    John kept watching. “Now I’m going to colour coded the kids by family. Jim & Lynn Cody’s kids were blue. Andy & Lisa Cody’s kids were yellow. Mary Cody’s kids were pink and Sam Cody’s kids were purple. Now, why don’t you go play with David. I need to have a little chat with Heather.”

    Looking around she saw the girl and went over and joined her. Heather had a sleeping Samuel wrapped up in her arms. Both had been crying.

    “Do you want me to put him down on the bed for you?” Jan asked quietly.

    Heather shook her head. “He’ll only start crying again. He’s not too heavy. What’s up?”

    “I’ve just been writing you all in my book to try and keep everyone straight. I don’t have your father’s name or the name of the girls’ mother…”

    “Oh!” said Heather. “Well my dad is Eric Harris, Sr. But he has remarried and has two children with his next wife. Just to be confusing those kids are Eric and Jane. The other Eric is three months younger than Samuel. My parents had been separated for a couple years and decided to give it another try. It was a disaster, and then my dad met this other woman and left. Dad didn’t know that Mom was pregnant until she was six months along. She didn’t tell him. He was sorry about it after but she was really mad and hurt. We haven’t seen him since he left. He tried but Grandpa was pretty angry too and ran him off a bunch of times. I know that Dad and… I think her name was Kathy. Mom always called her ‘that woman” with a big heap of scorn. Now the little girls’ mother was Aunt Marie. She was pretty and fun but her parents were really nasty. They hated Uncle Sam. Whatever you do don’t let them take the girls. Aunt Marie told us never to let ourselves be alone around her daddy as he liked little girls.”

    Jan filed that little bit of information away under ‘oh yuck’. Just then Agnes walked up.

    “You can’t be my Mommy,” announced the girl. “You can’t be an auntie either.”

    “Why not?” asked Jan.

    “Because they all die.”

    “Well then why don’t you call me Tante Jan,” said Jan.

    Agnes looked at her consideringly and finally nodded her ascent.

    “Why did you choose that title?” asked Heather.

    “Do you know where we are going?” asked Jan.

    “Somewhere in Montana,” replied Heather.

    “We are going to Rexford. It has a large Amish community and we are going there because I ran a non-mechanized farm at the north end of Fenelon Township. While we are obviously not Amish, the German language is spoken and there is also a formality to the way that they live. Children do not call adults by their first name. It’s rude and disrespectful. Calling me Aunt or Tante would be a politeness. While calling me Mrs. McConnell is overly formal.

    “Now I need to say this to you. I have no idea how long it will take us to get to Montana or how things will come together when we get there. Currently my husband is missing and I have adopted 23 young people, his mother and an old man in the fifteen days since he has been gone. But I do promise you this. You will all have a home with us until you choose to leave. You and the older kids are almost adults so I will not try to be your parents but I will give you a safe harbour to finish off being teens and help guide you where you want to go. But I do promise to raise Samuel and the other younger children. If you are not happy with things you must come and speak with us. I cannot fix or resolve anything I don’t know about. Now Samuel is solidly asleep. I will put him on the cot next to you so that you can lie down to. Sleep while you can.”

    Jan went back and finished filling in her chart and then started an individual page for each child. Ten-year old Sally then joined her and started talking. Jan figured that the book would be full by the time they reached Rexford.

    *****
    “I have that book here,” John told the Committee. He could hear the historians buzzing behind him. He handed it to an aide who took it forward to the Committee. He could see them handling the fragile pages and looking at faded writing. “That is the original book. It was started before we ever left Ontario. My mother wrote the daily news and weather… what happened to the livestock and crops… which neighbours she saw or shopping she did… My mother started a new one several times year. She noted our illnesses and accomplishments, our apprenticeships, marriages and family details. She kept them for every year from the train trip until her death. She died at the age of ninety. The archive in Rexford has the other volumes. There are more than two hundred copy books in total. As they had their own families my sisters and several of my brothers kept them too. I gather some of the grandchildren have also kept the tradition. When these girls marry, I will give them each a note book as their wedding gift.”

    The girls blushed and lowered their eyes. The Congressmen looked at each other. They had never heard of such a thing.
    Last edited by Lake Lili; 02-20-2014 at 09:12 AM.

  18. #58
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    Sorry folks... the chart that looked so good in my hard copy, doesn't want to work here, so its hard to read the kid's details...

  19. #59
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    not a problem at all! we can still read it.

    1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer

    Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.


  20. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by Lake Lili View Post
    Sorry folks... the chart that looked so good in my hard copy, doesn't want to work here, so its hard to read the kid's details...
    I say to make up for it you give us 3 more chapters! Just kidding. This story is just spellbinding and I can't believe how quickly it is coming. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  21. #61
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    Chapter 15 – Rolling again…

    When they got on the train the next day, they were no longer in a passenger car. They were now being transported in a modified troop car. It was modified to have a kitchen at one end and bunks stacked four high at the other. Jan and Mrs Jones promptly started to hang curtains for a girls’ side and a boys’ side. There were fifteen boys and Dr. P on one side and 10 girls with Jan and Grandma Jones on the other. Although on the first nap Agnes, Samuel and Ginger all piled onto one bunk like a litter of puppies and slept together. Heather remarked that it was just like home and then burst into tears. She and Mary went off to talk together.

    In the middle of the car were two big tables with enough bench space for them all. At the other end was a kitchen area with a big wood stove for cooking and eating. It wasn’t pretty but it was insulated and they were warm. The only problem was that there were no windows but then even if there had been they would have been blacked out for safety. They had been told that they would be going through Toronto at night. The rail lines ran right through the downtown core and there were safety concerns with all the bridges. The train was coupled with more cars with more families from other areas headed west. Jan knew they were there, but did not meet them. Several times a day, she and the older kid would make the dash between cars to check the livestock. The children all seem to be holding up as well as could be expected. As they worked through their grief, several times a day someone would dissolve in tears and need hugs and pats to get them back on track.

    Milk was needed for the younger children so Sama and Andrea were milking twice a day. The milk was all being strained, boiled and served as hot chocolate or cooked into cereals. Anything left was given to the pigs. It was a huge waste but conditions were just too unsanitary to be able to drink it cold or keep it.

    The chickens were laying but the numbers were way down due to stress, cold and lack of light. There were usually enough eggs so that every other day everyone could have one boiled with enough to bake some treats with. One of the chickens had turned cannibal and so she ended up in the pot before she could teach the others. The pigs were happy to take care of the very few scraps that made it off the table.

    One of the big challenges turned out to be related to the soldiers that were posted to their car. There were always two on duty in the car at any time. Guard duty went always to the youngest and the young men clearly enjoyed being with people their own age, especially the girls. While most of the Cody girls were modest in dress and Mary being engaged to an Amish boy was naturally plain in her dress for all she wore fatigues, it turned out to be Heather that was a problem. Raised in the city by a mother who encouraged her to “dress with the times”, Heather’s tops were too tight, too low cut and too short. Her jeans were too tight and too low. She flirted outrageously with the soldiers who were equally lonely and lapping up her attention. Finally Jan had to step in.

    “I realize that you are bored beyond all comprehension and that you see chatting with these young men as a way to relieve the boredom but I need to point a few things out. (1) I am not your mother and I am not trying to replace her, so count that come back off your list. (2) You behaviour threatens the careers of these young men because sooner or later they are going to reach for what you are advertising and you are going to say they attacked you and their careers will be over. This is the real world, not high school, and they will be forever destroyed. (3) You claim you want a military career, well you are on trial here, and right now you won’t be getting in based on your behaviour. (4) Your behaviour threatens the safety of the group because while you are distracting the soldiers they are not paying attention to our safety. If you are looking for something to do, I would suggest that you take your career aspirations over to Dr. P and start talking and learn as much as you can from him. He is the doctor going into our new community, and play it right, and you could spend a year gaining experience as his nurse before going into the Army.”

    Heather opened her mouth. Jan put up a hand. “Think it through,” she said. “Now go and dress in something that doesn’t look like your marketing your wares at Church & Isabella.”

    Heather flounced off looking for sympathy from Mary. With the bruises still vivid on her faces, Mary was not at all sympathetic.

    “Grow up!” she stated. “This is a war. We are being forcibly relocated. I was raped. A whole lot of us have been beaten by people we knew and trusted. Your family was killed. Mine are who knows where. We are being taken in by a woman we don’t know, who went from having a special needs twelve year old to twenty-five kids and two old folks in the space of two weeks, and her husband is missing. And you… you are treating this like some school trip to summer camp! Aghhhg!” Mary stomped off.

    Eric hobbled up on his crutches and slung an arm over her shoulder. “She’s right Sis. They both are. Now come spend some time with Tyler, and Samuel and me. We need some family time. Just us four. We need to talk some hard truths for us and decide where we go from here.”

    He led her over to a bunk where the other two boys were. Tyler was playing trucks with Samuel.

    “Okay,” started Eric. “Harris family conference and game plan time. So we decided that we are going to Rexford with the McConnells and our cousins and the others. Heather has already said that she wants to become a military nurse but is going to defer for a year to get us settled. As Tante Jan correctly pointed out Heather would be smart to volunteer to be Dr. P’s nurse. So that is her taken care of.

    “I’d say for me that school is done. Don’t look at me like that Hez – I was never a good student. Somewhere in Rexford is going to be an agricultural implements repair operation and I am going to go looking for that. That old guy next door to our place, Mr. Van der Lipp, gave me the name of an old guy he knew in Rexford. He’s Amish too and hopefully he’ll set me up with someone in their Colony.

    “Tyler needs to get back to school. He’s book smart as well as mechanically inclined. It will also give us more social contacts in the community beyond who we meet through the McConnells and the Army. At least we’re lucky in that we know a lot of the Amish families who are moving there. But there are going to be differences between the two Colonies and we don’t want to become the nails that need to be hammered between the two while they sort out those differences.

    “Also Tante Jan pointed out to Hez something that I hadn’t thought about and that is that like it or not Jan will become Samuel’s mother. We can hate it all we want because we know who his mother is, but reality is that Mom and Dad are gone and he needs the security of parents just like we did at his age. So we need to be prepared for that and be glad that it is someone decent like her and that he didn’t get packed off to an orphanage, adopted out and lost to us. Thoughts?”

    Tyler looked up at them. “I miss Mom & Dad but I sure am glad we are not going to be slave labour at the cousins. Remember what it was like on vacation there. We did all the work while they sat around and issued orders. I was talking to the Army Corps of Engineer guys when they were laying the tracks at the bottom of our farm about the type of work they did and I am really interested in learning more. So I would say long term I’m for the Army too but we’ll see how it goes.”

    “I am going to get changed in a second,” said Heather. “I’ve had a chance to think over what Tante Jan said and I think I was just trying act like I would have if everything was normal and Mom was here. But you know Grandpa wasn’t too happy about how I was dressing and behaving. I just didn’t think that anyone else saw it as an issue and he was just being an old grump. But I’m thinking that Grandpa might have been right and it was Mom who was wrong to encourage me. Tante Jan was really direct in saying why it was an issue and I think it bodes well for us all in the future if she can discipline that way. I am sure a lot less concerned about Samuel than I was. I couldn’t see how we could all go off and leave him with her. Even if I were to not go into the Army and was to marry in a year or two, he needs stability now and I’m glad she is willing to give it. Same with Aggie and Ginger. Those two haven’t had a stable place to live since Aunt Marie died. I did tell Tante Jan about Aunt Marie’s daddy so I don’t think she would let them go there. The other cousins, the middle ones all need support and guidance too. In going with the McConnells at least we are able to stay together.”

    Samuel looked up. “Are Mommy and Daddy in Heaven with Aunt Marie?”

    Eric looked at him and said “Yes.”

    “Good,” said Samuel. “Then there is someone there to show them around.”

    The older three looked at each other and tried not to grin and failed. “I’m off to change and to talk to Dr. P.,” said Heather. “If you have a moment you two should each talk to Tante Jan about your plans. She has this notebook going and she is writing down the important stuff. So if it is important to you to have her remember, then tell her. With twenty-five of us, she can’t possibly know otherwise.”

    The train kept rolling through Toronto without incident. It simply did not stop. The local populations were being kept well back from the rail lines and the ports and with unauthorized incursions resulting in fatal injuries successful attacks were becoming fewer. No further chances were being taken. With no standing Canadian army and a population well used to being over policed, the general populous was not the issue. The problems were being incited by the police and by what the teachers were teaching the kids. Soldiers were not used to viewing the frontline enemy as children and in this war that was who it was turning out to be.

    But the train kept rolling out and away from this. Originally they were to go through Windsor but the lengthy hold keeping trains on the Canadian side of the boarder were turning them into targets, so the train shunted and headed to Buffalo.

    *****
    Meanwhile, at the Detroit station a very frustrated Jones waited with his Army guard for a train that did not appear to be coming. At the last minute, they boarded a train headed for Chicago.

  22. #62
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    Chapter 16 – Rolling into the future…

    As the train rolled through the Southern Ontario night, Jan got the younger kids tucked in. Prayers were said in the safe knowledge that saying them could no longer result in prosecution or persecution. Grandma Jones sat on one side of the wood stove with her knitting. Sama sat with her learning to knit and pearl... and dropping more than a few. Dr. P sat on the other side. He was guiding Heather through a copy of Grey’s Anatomy. He was beaming at the opportunity to teach once more. Jan sat with a couple of the older kids, notebook out, learning a bit more about them.

    Tom Cody talked in glowing terms of his apprenticeship at the Sobey’s grocery store in Fenelon and at how the manager Mr. Marcus had spent an hour with each kid every week mentoring them on the things that made his store the top Sobey’s in the Province. He desperately hoped that he would be able to find another mercantile mentor in Rexford. Jan made a note on his page in her book as he waxed lyrical on the importance of cleanliness and display, the processes of ordering and stocking, and how to price to sell. Jan was impressed with the amount he had learned. Mr. Marcus had run an excellent operation, even if it had been too pricey for her to shop there.

    Sama and Andrea talked, in the disjointed way that twins often do, about dairy cattle and cheese making. Sama talked with great fondness of cattle and their care. She asked if she could manage the dairy part of their herd. Andrea wanted to manage the other end of the process, caring for the milk and making the cheese and butter. Both of them loved working in the vegetable gardens too. They said that Sally was a big help and things just grew for her.

    A light bulb went off for Jan. Recognizing that with the number of people in the household a different management style would be needed, she asked the kids to give her a list of their skills and favoured activities.

    Lydie wrote carefully on the paper that she loved baking and cooking but hated laundry. Erin noted that she loved clothes – from making them through caring for them, including laundry. In her small suitcase she had brought her button collection. Eggie, whose real name was Nathan, wrote down that he loved chickens and wanted to manage poultry operations. Kyle wanted to handle the pigs. Gail was in love with horses, especially heavy horses. Jamie wanted to be involved in the cropping, but hated dealing with livestock. Mark wanted to be involved in rebuilding the buildings and to look after structural repairs and the wood piles. Tyler wanted to be involved in maintaining the mechanics of the house.

    Jan stopped them there. “You realize,” she said, “that the farm is not mechanized and that there will be no electrics into the house.” The children goggled at her. “Part of the reason that we were chosen to go to Rexford was that we could operate without utilities. All electrical power at our last place was courtesy of the solar panels we had. They provided enough power to maintain a small fridge for dairy, a small freezer, the fences and the computer.”

    Jamie looked at her with fear of confirmation in his eyes. “You mean I’m not going to have a tractor to work with? You mean I’m going to have to work with hoses?”

    “Yes,” said Jan. “Jones and I know how and can teach you. You’ll love the equipment and the horses are trained for that type of work.
    “Now while you keep writing down what you like to do and hate doing, which of you can tell me about the supplies your parents packed and what livestock they brought. I know that your house did not come and I gather your barn did not either…”

    Heather and Matt looked at each other.

    “Well… Matt started.

    Jamie laughed. “The house was old. Really old brick and it was falling down. I mean Grandma needed to have the plumbing fixed and they found that the floors upstairs were rotten and there was no support under the toilet. Then they found that the second floor wasn’t really attached to the outer frame and then that the outer frame was rotten where it stood on the sills and that the logs that made up the main floor had rotted to the point that some were actually no longer touching the outer walls and… anyways, the contractor called in the inspector and they condemned the house. We ended up living in the green drive shed with porta potties on each side for the boys and girls and dividing curtains. The CoKL had already told my grandparents that they had until the first snows came to find a better place for us or they would take us…”

    Heather then took over. “The Americans invading and deciding to relocate us was God sent. None of us wanted to go to our cousins but it was better than being taken and split up by the Province. We’d have never seen the littles again.”

    Jan nodded and said. “Okay but what did your family pack to bring with them?”

    Heather said “Well we had some food.” Heather pulled the Army packing list out of her pocket. “Not a lot but 200lbs of potatoes, 120lbs of onions, 300lbs of rice, 500lbs of flour and another 500lbs of white sugar. We also have 200lbs of wheat berries and 300lbs of popcorn. Mom also had 200 gallons of white vinegar, 50 gallons of soya sauce, 20 gallons of Diana’s Honey Garlic BBQ sauce, 30 gallons of maple syrup. There are boxes of spices and such. We had also just taken delivery of this month’s permitted purchases of salt, yeast, and chocolate. There are cases of tinned meat and canned things like fruit, veg and wild meats. We have 10 dairy cows and their calves, 10 beef cows including six steers – three of those ready for slaughter, 40 chickens, 3 sows and 14 gilts. We had to shoot the boar, he was just too mean to transport safely. We still have two male pigs from this season’s breeding and we are hoping to trade him to someone for increased genetic diversity. Frankly we are not very well positioned and I am not quite sure how we were going to do it when we got to Alberta.”

    Erin then added “I know that Grandma had 600 jars and 14 cases of lids for them. Each case had 24 boxes of 12 lids. Some of them were those reusable Tattler lids but after they were outlawed, she couldn’t get them anymore and so was real careful and always tried to reuse the lids once. I worked most often with her in the canning.”

    “Did they have a dehydrator?” asked Jan.

    “Yes,” said Erin. “Grandma had three small ones that worked pretty well. She used them for drying fruit and veg only. She said she didn’t trust them for meat, but we had a smoke house for that.”

    At the end of the night, Jan had a rough idea about the supplies that they would have at hand and the skills that the kids had to contribute.

    She mocked up a work chart in her notebook.

    House
    Cooking: Jan, Mrs. Jones, Heather, Erin, Lydie
    Baking: Mrs. Jones, Lydie
    Dairy: Andrea, Sama
    Housekeeping: Jan, Mrs. Jones, Mary, Heather, Erin
    Clothing: Erin, Sally
    Wood Box: Mark, Tom
    Health: Dr. P, Heather
    Childcare of Littles: Jan, Mrs. Jones, Mary, Heather, Erin

    Facilities Maintenance
    Building: Mark
    Equipment: Jones, Tyler, Eric

    Barn
    Cows – beef: Martin (also apprenticing as a butcher), Sama
    Cows – dairy: Sama, Andrea
    Pigs: Kyle
    Chickens: Eggie
    Horses – heavy: Jones, Jan, Gail
    Horses – riding: Jones, Jan, Gail
    Crops: Matt, Jamie
    Vegetable Garden: Mrs. Jones, Sama, Andrea, Sally
    Orchard: Jan, Kyle
    Yard Maintenance: Jones, John, David, Gordie, Drew, Joe

    On another page, she began to try and figure out how much space they were going to need. The log house had two bedrooms, which of course had been fine for three. It was impossible for twenty-nine. Her fingers flew as she figured that two large dorm rooms and three regular sized bedrooms. She started sketching the house and seeing how the dorm rooms could be added. She figured that Dr. P and Mrs. Jones could have separate cabins.

    Suddenly there was a scream in the air and the train shuddered and stopped… another scream and another shudder… then a third… then the train seemed to leap forward and race down the tracks. The two guardsmen leapt to their feet and each ran to an opposite door. Jan sent the kids to their bunks. She allowed them to double up as they needed but all little feet were to be off the floor.

  23. #63
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    Chapter 17 – They kept coming…

    With their guns drawn, the soldiers stood guard. A group of ten moved through their car, and out the back. Jan and the other two adults exchanged fearful glances. They heard two shots. Shortly thereafter the back door opened and two soldiers came each carrying a child. The second soldier had an older child by the hand. All three were black with smoke and covered in… well who knows what it was and speculation wasn’t going to get it off. With haunted eyes, the lead soldier said:

    “Will you help? Their car is gone. They were under the seats…” his voice trailed off.

    Jan and Mrs. Jones reached for the children. Jan quickly took the water off the top of the stove and poured it in a basin.

    “Heather”, she called. “See if you can find me some small track pants and sweatshirts.” The looking down at the oldest child she asked quietly, “What is your name?”

    The child didn’t respond.

    Jan sat the child she was holding down on the table and stripped off its clothes.

    “A girl here,” she said to Mrs. Jones. She popped the child in the water and gently cleaned her off before wrapping her in a towel.

    The little wiggly girl was then placed in front of Dr. P, who checked her health, before passing her off to Heather to be diapered and dressed.

    “The little girl is about 18-months old… maybe 21-months but not two yet,” he said.

    “This one is a boy,” Jan told Dr. P. “Long gash on front of his left thigh. Not deep.”

    Jan passed him the boy. Dr. P cleaned the gash. No stiches were required but he taped some gauze over the wound, and Heather dressed him.

    “Same age as the girl,” said Dr. P. “It’s possible that they are twins or close cousins.”

    “Twins,” said a small voice. “Thems mine. Hilda and Kurt.”

    “Do you know how old they are?” Dr. P. asked.

    The small head shook. “Thems supposed to have birthday party at new house.”

    “Do you know where your new house was going to be?” The little head shook no.

    “Do you know where your old house was?” The little head shook no.

    “Do you know how old you are?” The little head shook up and down.

    “Can you tell me?” The little head shook no.

    Can you tell me your name?” The little head shook no.

    “Why not?”

    The child looked at her like she was an idiot. “Cause I’m not allowed to talk to strangers.”

    “Ah…” said Jan. ‘Well that is a very good reason.”

    Gently, Jan sat the child on the table and began to wash face and arms. When she went to remove the child’s shirt, the child resisted.

    “You can’t see my private areas. They’s mine,” said the child.

    “I understand,” said Jan seriously, all the while trying not to smile. “We are trying to get you cleaned up and put in clean clothes. You watched us bathe Hilda and Kurt and know that we didn’t hurt them. So may I bathe you too? Then we can all get something to eat.”

    After due consideration, the child nodded. “Okay. Whats is we going to eat?”

    As she removed the child’s shirt and torn pants, she noted the bruises on the child’s upper arms and then the stripes and scars across the child’s back. Gently she bathed the child.

    “You have a lot of cuts on your back. We’ll have Dr. P. put some magic cream on them so that they don’t get infected. How did you get the cuts?”

    “Iz get whupped for talking back and not cooking enough dinner for Daddy.”

    “Oh!” said Jan, her mind racing. “And where was Mommy?”

    “Oh she was entertaining Daddy’s mean ole boss. She hates him but if she don’t go entertain him then Daddy won't gets to keep his job. She was really happy we was movin so she donts got to entertain no more. Daddy aints always mad. Just when he gots to allow Mama to entertain that man.”

    Jan and Mrs. Jones exchanged looks. Both had heard of that sort of thing but never up from a child.

    “Okay!” said Jan. “Let’s get Dr. P to work his doctor magic and then we’ll get some dinner.”

    She looked at Dr. P and mouthed “Girl. Whipped with a belt. I need to get one of the soldiers to see.”

    Dr. P. nodded and Jan went to the end of the car.

    “Private. Would you please radio your Sergeant? We have an abuse issue with one of the children who needs to be seen before the child can be released to their parents again.”

    The soldier looked at her and grimaced. “They were the only survivors from that car. I know that Sarge wants to speak with you too. So just a second.” He lifted his radio.

    A short while later a weary looking man in his early thirties came into the car. The babies were asleep, side by each, on a bunk. Samuel was playing cars with the little girl, with Heather supervising. The quick meal of KD had been well received by the children.

    Jan put a cup of coffee down in front of the Sergeant. He scrubbed his hands with his face.

    “With all due respect, I can’t wait to get back to the US,” he said.

    Jan smiled into her coffee.

    “Okay,” he said. “Here’s what happened. Rocket fire has taken out the last three cars of the train. We lost two cars full of people and a box car full of belongings. I lost six soldiers. Saved were the two babies who had been put in boxes and shoved under the seats. I don’t think I want to know what type of parent does that. The third child was asleep on the bottom shelf of the luggage compartment by the head.

    “I am deeply sorry about your men,” said Jan. “The rest of the information fits. So… the three are siblings. The twins are Hilda and Kurt and the older child refuses to tell us a name. However the girl has been whipped and recently as the marks are fresh, but there are older scars below. The girl has said that it happened because of her father’s frustration at being unable to prevent his boss from demanding that her mother ‘entertain’ him.”

    The sergeant looked disgusted. “Why didn’t he quit?!?”

    Well,” said Jan. “It is illegal to quit a job. You can be fired but if you are then you lose your children because you are deemed ‘unfit’. Technically something like this could result in you being permitted to change jobs, but in all likelihood the wife would be charged with prostitution and the husband with trying to bribe his boss. By the time it came to court they would have lost their home, the children and their reputations. Chances would be good that neither would ever be hired again, so they would end up doing hard labour as vagrants. You can’t win under this system.”

    “He won’t have to worry about anything now except explaining his abuse to his Heavenly Father,” said the sergeant. “Our issue now is the three children. Looking at the transit papers, the family’s last name was Schmidt. They had five children. The youngest three were Inga, Hilda and Kurt.”

    Jan got up and went over to the children. She hunkered down beside them. Looking at the little girl, she asked. “Is your name Inga?”

    “Yous guessed! Yous is very smart.”

    “Okay Inga. You play some more with Samuel and then its bedtime.”

    “Whats I’m supposed to call you?” asked the girl.

    “Her name is Tante Jan” said Samuel.

    “Das ist a goot name.”

    “Inga?” asked Jan. “Do you speak German?”

    “Yes!” said Inga. “Mein Mama speaks German cause she used to live on a farm. She showed me once. A lady she said was my Oma came out to the truck to see Hilda and Kurt but then Opa made Oma go inside and we left. Mama cried. She said that Opa cared more about rules than family.”

    “Thank you Inga. You can go back to playing now.”

    Jan returned to the table. “Sergeant, where did this family come from? I suspect that the mother may have been Amish or Mennonite, perhaps even one who was shunned. Now we’ll take these ones with us too. The Colony may be willing to adopt them or find a way to get them to family, if not, we’ll keep them. But that now puts me at twenty-eight children. Now, without being crass, what do they have in the way of supplies, animals… anything?”

    “The Schmidts were from Elmira. There were three other family that were completely wiped out in those two cars. When we get to the secure rail yards in Buffalo, you can go through all their things and take what you need. We can probably also give you their livestock, although they didn’t have much. One of the families also had a house and barn. Perhaps that might solve your space issues,” suggested the Sergeant. “Thank you for agreeing to take the children. There was no next of kin listed for the family.”

    *****
    “You know,” John told the Committee. “Over the years, my mother took in many children. In Rexford, she became the go to option for children who were orphaned, unwanted, in trouble… whatever the reason. She took them in, gave them a home, and made us a family. The Rexford Colony made a good choice when they agreed to accept our family. But she always expected to be paid for her work. She felt that if families did not pay for the care then they were abandoning their children and she never wanted a child to feel that way. She also told me once that volunteers were idiots. They received minimal recognition, their skills were routinely dismissed, their advice underappreciated or ignored in favour of high priced consultants who said the same thing, and they were viewed as less competent. All because they weren’t paid, so she always made sure she was.

    “All men,” John continued. “All men may have been created equal, but we all know that they are not born equal. The lives of my siblings before they came to taught us that. But the right to work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labours… The right to speak your mind without fear… The knowledge that freedom has a price that your must be willing to pay. These things seem so obvious. But we all know that for the most part they are an illusion. Until the reforms, for more than a century, many worked incredibly hard so that many more can sit around on the dole and do nothing, or sit in prison and be cared for. The right to speak freely and make what every choices you want has never really existed. There are consequences to your words and choices. If you say the words you have to be willing to accept the consequences. And the majority view freedom as either a God-given right or something they are owed.

    “Now I was raised and lived side-by-side with the Amish. But I am not Amish, although many of my siblings and children have joined the Brethren. For some of those who did not join it was the disciplinary measure of shunning that was the line in the sand. It was decided that because the parents of Inga, Hilda and Kurt had been shunned that they could not be adopted within the Colony, although the twins did join as adults and married into the Colony. To me the sticking point as not faith, or style of dress but their policy of pacifism. I believe that mid-20th Century writer Robert A. Heinlein was correct when he wrote: ‘Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty.’ If you want freedom, you must accept that there is a price to pay.

    “The US Constitution is an agreement of rights and responsibilities. For example, the right to bear arms is balanced by the peoples’ responsibility of ensuring that government remains of the people and acts in their best interest. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms tried to guarantee equality all people in all things but failed to demand that they be accountable in their demands. All teachers should earn the same amount – regardless of level of education, experience, skill, or subject. The school curriculums were taught to the lowest common denominator as no one could fail – that would create inequality. Guidance counsellors encouraged children to view professional designations as the only possible career choice, even though Bay Street careers were not available in their communities and a well-trained mechanic could earn twice as much.

    “Anyways… enough of my thoughts…”

    The General in the third row wanted to cheer.

  24. #64
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    WOW what a great story !! I LOVE it !! Moar please
    I've got my duck taped now what???
    God Bless
    MawMaw

  25. #65
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    Fantastic story !! Thank you so much Lake Lili ...

  26. #66
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    I also agree - Wonderful story!! Keep it coming!!
    ( \ o / )
    / _ \

    Sammy55:
    Following my Lord-
    Where He leads me,
    What He wants of me,
    Who He wants me to be.

  27. #67
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    Chapter 18 – Deluded little heroes…

    In another train, rattling though the night, Jones dozed fitfully. Mostly he was barely coherent with exhaustion and worried sick. He might have been off working before but he always knew where his wife and son were. Now he didn’t. They had left Fenelon on time and then vanished. How the heck could a train full of people vanish? Well technically they hadn’t, vanished they had just disappearing into an information back-out. The younger of the two soldiers figured that the train would have to go through Chicago to go west, so they might catch it there. If not, Jones decided he was heading on to Rexford to wait for Jan. He closed his eyes and prayed that he might sleep a good part of the 11-hour trip.

    *****
    “During this time,” said John to the Committee. “Things all over Canada were imploding. A whole lot of people who had been dissatisfied and they were fighting the government, but they weren’t necessarily supporting the Americans. A whole lot of people who supported the current government were fighting the Americans. A whole bunch more were supporting the Americans, but some of them were spies. And then there were the Anonymous anarchists, in their Guy Fawkes masks, who used any opportunity possible to disrupt and distort. The Federal and Provincial governments were at odds in their response and the US Army was running out of patience.

    “No matter which way you went it was a circus. The cities were burning and the American military began to practice neighbourhood closure. If as protests were started up and agitators moved in, the Army locked the area down and let itself burn out. Thousands died and many more were injured. Attempts to blame the US military were refuted with images that showed them not to be the aggressors. Overseas and in the US, Anonymous activists were arrested – possession of a Guy Fawkes mask became an automatic five year jail sentence.

    “Now a days, those with dissenting opinions are given the opportunity to express themselves, but they must show their faces. Hiding behind a mask is the act of a coward”

    *****
    “We should be reaching the border shortly. We will not be stopping until we have reached the secured rail yard. It should take about an hour. If we stop again any sooner, move everyone onto a bunk again, so that the soldiers can move freely.” With those final words the Sergeant left.

    Jan sat there shaking her head, wondering what Jones was going to say. Twenty-eight children!!!! Twelve of whom would be at home for the foreseeable future. The others were all teens who would require guidance as they prepared for their own lives.

    “Well Girlie,” said Dr. P. “Looks like you’ve got yourself a new career. Best hang out a shingle and call it what it is – The McConnell Home for Children. Or you could call it what it will be – Bedlam.” He headed off to his bunk, cackling to himself.

    “Whatever is my son going to say?” said Mrs. Jones in an irritated and slightly aggressive manner.

    Jan looked at her and replied slightly more sharply than intended, “He’ll accept that there were no alternatives. Who would you have me abandon? Everyone on this voyage is here because John and I have taken you in. Should there have been a cut off?” Jan took a deep breath. “Thank you for your help with the kids. We are all exhausted and wrung out. I think we should all go to bed before we say too much.”

    She turned and started taking the littles to the bathroom for the midnight potty run. Ginger and Agnes were snuggly and happy to include Inga into the puppy pile. Samuel put on his jammies and decided he wanted a big boy bed. He lasted ten minutes before joining the puppy pile. The twins had their diapers checked and were left to sleep. She walked along the row of bunks, tucking in hands and feet, and covering up slumbering bodies with their quilts.

    Mrs. Jones stopped on her way back from the bathroom. “I’m sorry for my comments,” she said to Jan. “I am really tired and I’m not used to so much happening and… well… I am worried about Angus and Becky. Worried that I won’t see either again...”

    “Come with me,” said Jan. She led Mrs. Jones back to the table. They sat down on the benches and bowed their heads.

    “Heavenly Father…” said Jan. ‘Heavenly Father, we ask that you watch over us as we travel to our new homes. We ask that you watch over Angus and Becky. We ask that you help us guide, mentor and parent as appropriate these young lives that have been entrusted to us. Help us to show them love, compassion, humour and stability. Please watch over these young soldiers, that their tours of duty bring them safely home to their families. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”

    “Mrs. Jones,” Jan said. “You know that there is nothing more we can do but to hand it over to the Lord and pray that He will guide and protect us. Now we are slowing and should be at the border shortly. I am going to need your help managing the kids while I go through the contents of the other cars. So grab some sleep while you can.”

    Mrs. Jones patted her daughter-in-law’s hand and quietly went to her bunk.

    As the car quieted, Jan prepared coffee for the soldiers on guard. She also quickly mixed up a batch of cinnamon rolls for the next day. So she was standing there with a pot of water and the flour canister when an incendiary device came through the ceiling. Without thought she dumped water and then flour on it. It fizzled and went out. As it did so, the soldier shot through the roof and a body followed the device into the car.

    “What the blink?” exclaimed Jan. “How did that get opened?”

    The body lay unconscious and bleeding. Jan reached out and pulled off the hood to reveal a young child of no more than eight years. She lifted the child onto the table and quickly applied pressure to the wound.

    “Dr. P.!” she shouted. “Front and center... Injured child.”

    The old man stumbled from his bunk bringing his kit with him. Within minutes, he had extracted the bullet, stitched and dressed the wound. He then gave the child a shot of penicillin and another for pain relief. The child was coming around and began to snarl as he saw the adults around him and the Sergeant come through the train door.

    “Quiet boy!” ordered the doctor. “Or you’ll undo all the hard work we did patching you up. Why in God’s name were you up on the roof of the car?”

    “Teacher says I’ll get a medal if I stop the train,” the boy slurred as the medications took effect. “Must stop train… teacher says… hero… I’ll be a hero…”

    “Don’t look at me this time,” said Jan as the Sergeant turned as looked at her. “I am not taking on a rabid, brain-washed child. I’ve seen the death and destruction these kids can cause. You all can sort this one out. You all have doctors that can handle this type of deprogramming. I won’t endanger the children you have already entrusted me with to cope with this. Nor will I bring such a child into the community where he might be dangerous to them and vice versus. How did he get past your guards? We didn’t hear him land on the roof.”

    The Sergeant nodded. One of the soldiers carefully picked up the child from the table.

    Jan looked at him again. “Don’t underestimate this kid. Three farms on our road were burned out by a gang of ten year olds taught to do that by their teachers. In one case, it was the child’s own family. He set fire to the house at night so that they might all be killed – his parents and two siblings. Just because he is a child, treat him exactly the same as you would a child soldier from Africa. Treat him as if we were dynamite. He is just that dangerous.”

    The Sergeant looked a Jan with an air of condescending disbelief.

    “You think that I am making this up don’t you?” She said. “The schools have been at this a long time. It started back in 2011 when the Toronto District School Board gave all their students a home survey – how many siblings, how many parents at home, how many grandparents, where do they all live, who earns the money in the family, doing what jobs, what education do your parents and siblings have, has anyone in your home ever gone to prison, has child services ever been involved with your family… The questions went on for five pages. Two kids brought the surveys home and showed their parents and there was a blow-up in the press but by then it was too late. The school board had the information.

    “In 2018 the school boards in bedroom communities outside of Toronto set-up a boarding facility. It was sold to parents who commuted as a convenient option to ensure that their kids were cared for while they commuted to Toronto. The kids stayed Sunday night through Friday evening. The following year, it was made mandatory. It both parents commuted then the children had to stay in the boarding facility unless there was an adult over 21 residing full time in the home. And remember they knew who was at home because of the surveys. Then it became the cool place to be and parents suddenly found their kids demanding to be able to go. Other school boards followed suite. Employers found they could demand longer hours because the kids were all in boarding. Parents found they had lost their children and had ceased to be the primary influence in their kids’ lives. That is how you end up with eight year olds who think that they will be heroes for throwing Molotov cocktails into train cars. Good luck with that one but watch him, if he can, he will kill you and claim a laurel leaf wreath for doing so.”

    The Sergeant shook his head in disbelief.

    “How did you all not manage to get caught in the net?” He asked.

    “Oh!” laughed Jan tiredly. “I escaped because my child was deemed too impaired medically and because we lived on a farm in a rural area. There were rumours that a boarding facility was to be set-up in Lindsay for parents who commuted to Oshawa and Peterborough to work, but it hadn’t happened yet. Likely the other kids didn’t go because they lived in Fenelon. The Cody kids were about to be seized by Child Protective Services because their family home had been condemned as unfit for habitation. Had they been seized, they would have been sent to a boarding facility in Oshawa from which they would never have left.

    “Sorry gentlemen, I have to get some sleep.” Jan wiped her face, exhaustion showing.

    She looked over at the child being held by the soldier. His eyes were open and he was watching her. They all heard him speak in the small quiet voice.

    “I will kill you lady. Yous a traitor. Yous is dead. Bang.”

    The soldier holding him deliberately squeezed his arm and the child’s face went curiously blank before it screwed up and the child cried out.

    ‘Hmmm…’ thought the Sergeant. ‘Manipulative little shit. He actually could control the pain long enough to consider which response might elicit the most sympathy. Keep a careful eye on that one.”

    *****
    “It was 3:00am before the train was cleared at the border. Five more children were found. One had knocked out the soldier on guard and then heaped straw in the middle of the cattle car. He was about to set fire to it when he was apprehended. One was found in the food storage car, smashing jars and trying to break into pallets of food. One was caught cowering in the bathroom. Two more were caught on the roof, trying to break into the cars.

    “It was a lesson in unexpected tactics,” John told the Committee. “The US Military had no real experience in dealing with child soldiers. Oh the occasional suicide bomber in the sand pits had been a child, but for most of the world, our cultures recoil at sending children out to be soldiers. Even more it is impossible to train our youngsters to shoot a young child. It destroys them.

    “I am not sure what the military did with those kids. If they were smart they’d have dropped them into the Niagara Gorge and left it to God to decide. In any event, I am sure that your Military archivists can pull those records and tell you.”

    From behind John came a commotion, and a four-star general stood and came forward.

    “General McCormack would like to address the Committee,” he stated.

    The Committee members looked at each other. Then Congressman Kennedy announced, “The Committee recognizes General McCormack.”

    “Gentlemen, Mr. McConnell,” said the General. “Discussion of operative tactics pertaining to this operation will cease. The Official Secrets Act is in effect and will remain so for a further seven years and eight months.

    “I can however tell Mr. McConnell that his mother’s fears and warnings were well founded and… And that if they had been heeded, far fewer would have died. The five children pulled from that train were highly trained, very disciplined and extremely dangerous. If they had been adults they would have been executed as rabid dogs. Instead some of the softer more media sensitive members of the leadership felt that rehabilitation would be best. It was marginally successful for two, one of whom later under a sub planted command killed her grade 12 class and her teacher. The other three were kept in solitary confinement as each attempt at release resulted in the attempted murder of the people around them. The one successfully rehabbed, returned to Ontario and killed the teachers who had taught him the skills. He then committed suicide.

    “Not all of the child soldiers we encountered in Ontario were this fanatical or rabid, but some certainly were. Most of the ones that were came from the suburban areas where the Provincial boarding schools had completely removed them from their families. Those in urban or rural areas seem to have mostly readjusted well and four generations later there are few issues.”

    “Thank you General” said the subdued Congressman Kennedy.

    “Thank you for telling me General,” said John as he struggled to stand. “We will add a note to the official records.”

    The general placed his hand on John’s shoulder.

    “No need to stand for me, Sir,” he said. “I grew up in a house with a plaque over my door. I now know what it means and I will now have one put above mine.”

    “It is good to know where you came from,” John replied. “When you forget your history, Our Heavenly Father will make you learn the lessons again.”

  28. #68
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  29. #69
    I love this! Very well done...

  30. #70
    well done thank you

  31. #71
    This is a wonderful story and I hope it is not over!! I hope we can find out what happened on the rest of the trip and when they arrived!!


    WAB
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."---- Robert A. Heinlein

  32. #72
    just...wow. thank you so much for this story

  33. #73
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    Chapter 19 – Where’s the beef?!?

    Jan lay down on her bunk and stretched out under her quilts. Who would have ever thought that a train bunk would classify as comfortable! Within minutes she was asleep and as she went under, she thanked God for getting them all safely thus far. Her subconscious registered the slowing through the border and then the train picking up speed as it sped towards the secured rail yard in Buffalo, but she was so exhausted that she kept sleeping, trusting that the soldiers would do their duty.

    At some point in the night, John climbed into bed with Jan for a snuggle. ‘Poor kid,” thought her brain. “He’s gone from me full time to me in a hundred directions.’ She pulled him tight and held on as the train rocked through the night.

    6:30am came early but they were all up with jobs to do. Sama and Andrea were coming through the door having milked the two Short-Horned Milking cows and the now thirty strong Jersey herd – twenty-two of which had belonged to the other families.

    “That was incredible to do!” said Sama, “But we need help. Can we train John and David to help us? They are both steady and quiet and both have big hands.”

    “Good idea!” said Jan. “They both need a regular chore.”

    The girls were pleased to report that they had been able to trade 60-gallons of milk to the base cooks in exchange for 25-lbs of butter.

    “How did you figure that out?” asked Jan, still sleep addled but interested.

    “Well,” said Sama. “A gallon of Jersey milk is about 8.7 lbs. We got 60 gallons, so about 522-lbs of milk. It takes 21.2 lbs of whole milk to make a pound of butter. So we had the equivalent of 24.6-lbs of butter. So we traded for 25-lbs of butter. The cook is going to make a hard cheese with it, so he was not so worried about the milking taking place in a rail car. He’s willing to do trades on the next two milkings, so we need to figure out what we need.”

    “Really great job girls!” exclaimed Jan the fog finally clearing from her brain. “I’m really impressed. Actually I’m impressed that you milked 522-lbs of milk and that you pulled off that exchange. If you can, I think we should try a pound for pound trade for flour, sugar and oatmeal.”

    Sama strained the milk and then poured one gallon of milk into the porridge kettle and set it on the stove to boil. The rest of the milk was scalded and poured into the clean jugs and stored in the cold chests. It would be used for cooking throughout the day and any left overs fed to the pigs.

    Gail took over cooking the porridge, adding several handfuls of blueberries and some cinnamon. Lydie pulled down the bowls while Sally set the table. Mrs. Jones got the tea and coffee going, along with the hot chocolate for the littles. Heather had got the Three Amigos – Gordie, Drew and Joe, up and starting to dress. She had then taken the little to the bathroom while Mary dealt with the babies. Jan watched as the family began to find its feet as a unit, and found herself relieved. She pulled out her notebook and headed to the table.

    The older boys had gone out to deal with the rest of the livestock and coming back in went to wash-up before joining everyone at the table. Grace was said and porridge passed out. Each sweetened to their own taste, although Mary had to stop several of the boys from overdoing it.

    “Okay everyone,” said Jan rising from her chair. “For those who missed it we have three new additions to the family. Inga Schmidt is 4 years old and she and her twin siblings, Hilda and Kurt are the only survivors of last night’s attack on the train. The attack killed 6 soldiers, and three other families in addition to the children’s. As you say your prayers, I ask that you include all of them.

    “The army has given us all the livestock and possessions that belonged to these families. I know that the young men here were checking out the animals. Please report to me after.

    “We are going to have to go through the contents of the baggage car at top speed. We’ve been given four hours to sort through the car starting at 9am. Anything we don’t take will remain here and be sold. Keep all clothes and linens you find. They may not suit us but they can be reworked or turned into something else. Fabric is in short supply and we have a lot of bodies. Same applies to shoes and boots. Any jewelry we come across needs to be handed over to the military. Any kitchen and food related items come with us period. We also need beds, mattresses, kitchen chairs, tables, dressers, sofas… We have to have furniture for 32 people to park themselves on now… Also, the Schmidts may have had personal papers. Please keep an eye out for them. If we find any papers pertaining to the other families, please give them to the soldiers. Martin, can you set up here to create and enter the inventory, so that we can figure out what we need ASAP?

    “Mark, Tyler, Lydie and Gail – can you for please take the littles. I have been told that as there are families that live inside the rail yard, that there is a play park. Please head over there and let them all burn off some energy. There will be a soldier assigned to you for security. Erin, could you and Grandma Jones please handle the babies. Dr. P. will be here to hold down the fort and to deal with the military.

    “In about ten minutes, after I have met with the boys about the livestock, we’ll head over to the baggage car. Please use the bathroom before we go. Now boys…”

    Jan shooed everyone off to their assigned positions. She opened the note book and started a livestock page. They had her original herd of one Milking Short Horn cow and its heifer calf and her Black Angus beef cattle – five heifers and their calves (two heifer calves and two bull calves) and two steers that had been due to go to slaughter and needed to as soon as they got to Rexford. Then they had Mrs. Jones’ unrelated Milking Short Horn heifer and its bull calf. The bull calves had all been castrated. Now her heifers were due to calve in March and she thought that Mrs. Jones had said her heifer was due in late April. The Codys and one of the families killed had had small dairy herds. One of the other families killed had also had White Park beef cattle, a British Heritage breed. Also called White British, it wasn’t a breed she knew a whole lot about but they were nice looking animals. She hoped that the breeding files had survived.

    Jan wrote the numbers down and it quickly began to add up.

    Cattle
    McConnell: Dairy - 1, Beef - 5 // Heifers - 1-S/5-BA, H-Calves - 1-S/2-BA, B-Calves - 3-BA, Steer - 2-BA, Bulls - 0
    Jones: Dairy - 1, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 1-S, H-Calves - 0, B-Calves - 1-S, Steer - 0, Bulls - 0
    Cody: Dairy - 12, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 6-J, H-Calves - 3-J, B-Calves - 3-J, Steer - 6-J, Bulls - 0
    Schmidt: Dairy - 0, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 0, H-Calves - 0, B-Calves - 0, Steer - 0, Bulls - 0
    Others: Dairy - 25, Beef - 10 // Heifers - 24-J/6-WP, H-Calves - 6-J/3-WP, B-Calves - 5-WP , Steer - 3-WP, Bulls - 1-J/1-WP
    Breeds: S=Milking Short Horn BA=Black Angus J=Jerseys WP=White Park

    As the boys filled in the figures for the other livestock on the train, Jan asked Sama and Jamie to go through any paper work they could find to see when the heifers had been bred and what their relationships were. She was glad to have the bulls – one a Milking Short Horn and the other a White Park.

    Jan and Jones also had two teams of heavy horses – hers were Ardennes and his Belgium – and the horse-community wide debate over whether the two could be considered the same breed had been settled with both deciding they were not. Both teams were trained to the plow. The boys confirmed that there were also two teams of Clydesdales. The horses looked to be in good shape as was their tack.

    Horses
    McConnell: Riding (R) - 3, Heavy (H) - 4 // Mares - 1-R/1-H, Stallions - 2-R/3-H 0
    Jones: Riding (R) - 0, Heavy (H) - 0 //
    Cody: Riding (R) - 2, Heavy (H) - 0 // Mares - 1-R, Geldings - 1-R
    Schmidt: Riding (R) - 0, Heavy (H) - 0 //
    Others: Riding (R) - 4, Heavy (H) - 4 // Mares - 1-R/1-H, Geldings - 3-R/3-H

    In total they had nine riding horses, which would be handy as they had no cars. Jan’s three riding horses had also been cross trained to pull a buggy and a sleigh. She had brought both with her. Matt admitted that their horses were strictly riding, but were great with kids. The other four had good barn manners and considering their stress, the boys figured they should be okay. They had no stallions in the mix which could have been an issue but considering where the community they were joining, Jan was sure they could find someone with the appropriate stallion to stand stud.

    “Okay guys,: said Jan. “Great start here, but we have to go deal with that baggage car ASAP. Give me the notes on the other animals and I’ll put them in the book.”

    Jamie handed over the other notes:

    Poultry
    McConnell Chicken - dual: 6
    Jones : Chicken: egg - 12, meat: 11
    Cody : Chicken: egg - 24, meat: 30
    Schmidt: Chicken - dual:6
    Others: Chicken: egg - 40, dual: 12 // Geese - 16 // Ducks - 12: // Turkeys - 4
    Total Chicken: egg - 76, meat - 41, dual - 24 // Geese - 16 // Ducks - 12: // Turkeys - 4

    “Good Lord!” exclaimed Jan. “I really need to meet with you Eggie on these fowl numbers. We also need to do some planning on how many expect to eat and how we need to achieve those numbers seeing as we are headed into winter. Low light will really impact egg production.”

    Jamie then handed over the last list.

    Other Animals
    McConnell: Pigs - 1-S/5-F
    Cody: Pigs - 3-S/8-F 0
    Schmidt: Rabbits - 5/1 0, Dog - 1
    Others: Rabbits - 5/1, Pigs - 2-S/6-F, Dog - 1

    “The only comment I have is on the dogs,” said Jamie. “I know that we need dogs but the dogs could be a problem as none originally belonged to ay of us. There is one dog in there that is an Akita. He’s gorgeous but they tend to be one master oriented and not great dogs around kids. I’d recommend letting the Army find it a new home. There is also a fat old Lab there. If it is kid friendly… We should keep it.”

    Looking at the numbers again, Jan saw that they had eleven steers and nineteen fattening pigs that were ready to be processed. It was a mind numbing number, but worse was the fact that keeping them fed through the winter was going to be a problem and they needed that meat to feed the family. She was commenting on it when Mary walked by.

    “We are going through Chicago. Why not have it done at the stockyards there?’ Mary said.

    “Well now that is using your head!” exclaimed Jan.

    “So,” said Jan. “Those steer are weight in at 1100-1300-lbs each. While stressed on the train, they will be arriving finished on grain for the past 2-weeks. So if the average steer is 1200-lbs, how does that work out Cody?”

    Cody sat there with a paper and pencil. “Well if the live weight of a Black Angus is 1200-bs. That would give us a hanging weight of 750-lbs and a take home weight of 500-lbs. I know some of them are White Parks but I don’t know the weights on them but it can’t hugely different, so we’ll plan based on Black Angus numbers. On 11 steers, that is a take home weight of 5500-lbs of beef. Processing cost is usually around 60¢/lb, so about… hmm… is the price paid on the live weight, the hanging weight or the take home weight?”

    “Hanging weight,” answered Jan.

    “Okay so 750-lbs per steer on average, times 60¢/lb, will give us… Oh wow… just a shade under $5,000..” He paused and looked at Jan. “Can we afford that?”

    “Not much of an option,” said Jan. “We need to eat and can’t process that many at home with the number of people we have. We’d pay far more than that if we had to buy it in a store”

    “Okay,” said Martin. “Now each steer will give us approximately:
    24-28 ¾” thick T-bone or Porterhouse Steaks
    24-28 ¾” thick Rib Steaks
    12-16 ¾” thick Sirloin Steaks
    12-16 ¾” thick Round Steaks
    6 3 lb Rump Roast
    24-30 3 lb Chuck Roasts
    6 3 lb Sirloin Tip Roasts
    1 Tongue
    1 Liver, and
    190 to 200-lbs of Ground Beef

    I can’t compute multiplying that by 11 steer but it should be enough for the family. Right?”

    Jan looked at Martin. “Well if each steer gave us 190-lbs of ground beef, times eleven steer, makes for 2090-lbs of hamburger. Let’s assume that each hamburger is ¼-lb. So that would be 8360 hamburger patties. And with 32 people in the family that is about 260 burgers per person… I think that we’ll be okay.

    “Now we also have 19 gilts that are at bacon weight. They are about 220lbs each,” said Jamie.

    “Well a 230-lbs gilt will net you 165-lbs hanging weight, and 118-lbs take home,” said Martin. “Processing charges are usually about 75¢/lb. So we are looking at about $2350… On average, each gilt will give you:
    2 14 lbs Ham
    40-50 ¾” thick Pork Chops
    4 3 lb Pork Roast
    20 lbs Bacon
    6-8 ¾” thick Pork Steaks
    4 4 lbs Pork Hocks, and
    24 to 30-lbs of Sausage

    “Personally the idea of 380-lbs of bacon can only be seen as a good thing.”

    Everyone laughed and had to agree. Nothing was as tasty as Tamworth bacon. Again Jan was impressed with the kids and the breadth of their knowledge. All of them admitted that their apprenticeships had given them the space to grow both personally and professionally and all wanted to find something similar in Rexford.

    Dr. P. then came and joined them.

    “Good news and bad news,” he said. “There are no longer any slaughter houses along the train lines in Chicago. Also given the armed camp mentality of the city, I wouldn’t push to stay. But Mary had the right idea and I did find a meat processor in Kalispell, MT. The Lower Valley Processing Company has been around since 1974. It’s a family run operation. The Sergeant is going to get in touch with them to see if we can truck the livestock directly to them from the train stop.

    “Now the processor will wrap the food for freezing. If we rent a restaurant in Eureka for two months while the house is going up, we’ll be close enough to monitor that and care for the animals. We can then use the commercial kitchen to process all the meat and can it. We can also process any fresh vegs we can find. We can set our beds up in one dining area and use the other for dining and living in. There is a restaurant on 93-N at the north end of town. Since they are paying for accommodation until the house goes up, we’ll get the military to make the arrangements and we can go from there.”

    “One more thing,” said Mary. “We’ll need to order jars and lids to do this. There is no way we have enough and we’ll need a few more pressure cookers too. Why don’t we order them through the Walmart Super Center in Kalispell. With that size of an order, they can deliver them to the restaurant in Eureka. I’ll get with Martin and Grandma J and figure out how many jars we need.”

    ‘Excellent!” Said Jan. “Thank you for figuring out a way forward. Kids let’s get yourselves pulled together we need to head out to work on that baggage car.”

    *****
    “The two months we spent at that restaurant were a riot,” John told the rapt audience. “Literally and figuratively… It was there that pecking orders amongst the kids were established and my mother’s patience and boundaries tested. Dr. P and Grandma got married and we so proud to have been able to do it in the local Baptist church. We all grew up a bit and really let go of our old lives.

    “Martin was the first to go. Once everything was canned, he went back to Kalipsell to work for the Lower Valley Processing Company. They ran a highly regarded apprenticeship program and they were impressed with what he had learned. He was with them for three years before he came back to Rexford and set-up his own processing operation. He married a local, non-Amish girl. They had four children and he lived well into his seventies. His grandson runs the operation Martin started.”
    Last edited by Lake Lili; 02-20-2014 at 08:44 PM.

  34. #74
    Truly enjoying it. Thank you.

  35. #75
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  36. #76
    I haven't said it, but this story is fabulous!

  37. #77
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    Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement. Very much appreciated. Am just making some minor changes and will be back tomorrow with some more. Have a good night.

  38. #78
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    Chapter 20 – How far is that to Reading…

    Jones was mostly asleep, when he heard the compartment door slide open. He felt rather than saw the two young soldiers rise and snap to attention.

    “As ease soldiers” ordered the voice.

    He continued to feign sleep even as the person who entered nudged his feet.

    “Good he’s still asleep…” said the harsh voice. “Change of plans men. We may need this one for a while longer. In three stops you will all get off for a stretch at Dowagiac, MI, and be met by members of the Michigan National Guard. You will leave our guest with the soldiers you meet and get back on the train. You will then get back on the train going east and rejoin your units. You have fourteen hours to do so or be marked as AWOL.

    Jones was fairly certain that this was not a meeting he was going to enjoy but he also figured there was no way that they would let him off the hook either. He wondered if the soldiers knew how unlikely it was that they would be able to rejoin their units in 14-hours. The time was designed for them to also end up incommunicado. As for himself, the only issue of importance was to let Jan know.

    When the senior office left, Jones pretended to wake up and then asked to use the bathroom. With nothing in his behaviour to cause suspicion, the young soldiers let him go on his own. Using the already stamped front cover of his paperback novel, he fashioned a post card.

    Dear Brother Amos,
    My trip has been so interesting that it has been decided to extend it. Off on tour shortly. Arrival delayed. Return unknown. My love to the wife and boy.
    Brother A. Swallow


    He addressed it to Elder Amos Yodder, Olsen Hill Road, Rexford, MT

    As he left, he had to wait while an older couple pulled their belongings together to get off at the next stop at East Lansing. Obviously farmers who had retired to the closest town, they exuded solid comfort. Jones lifted down bags for them and even carried several to the railcar door. With his soldiers paying no attention to him, he quietly asked the older lady if she would mail a letter to his brother, the pastor. Mrs. Simpkins smiled and readily agreed, tucking it into her purse.

    The next day, Mrs. Simpkins stopped in at the post office in Gladwin, MI, and mailed the postcard along with two of her own. While she wondered if they ought to have stew for dinner that night, she never gave the postcard another thought.

    *****
    “The postcard reached Rexford two weeks before we did,” John told the Committee. “Elder Amos Yodder held onto it and passed it along to mother as he had many postcards in the past. My father had all sorts of what he called super secret spy tricks that he shared with us. Even today, the postcard book is a common one we all use. Plans can change at a drop of the hat and communication is key. The simpler the better. If my father had used a cell phone or electronic means of contact, he would have been caught out within minutes. The less moving parts to a machine, the less there is to go wrong. A postcard to a drop box or person has so little to go wrong. My father’s post card…” John paused and held it up. “The postcard said nothing that was out of the ordinary. The only code was the word swallow. He used it because swallows always return.”

  39. #79
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    Loving this story -- glad you decided to share your writings. Just, MOAR, please?

    DM

  40. #80
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    Chapter 21 – Coup de foudre…

    With the troops marshaled, Jan led them over to the baggage car. Kyle stayed back with Dr. P, his feet and legs just not yet ready for heavy work. Instead he took control of lunch, prepping the veg for soup and making sandwiches.

    One car was scorched on the outside but the open doors showed that there was no damage from the attack. The other car was a burned out shell in the center with each end showing as crispy. Jan sent Matt and Jamie over to see if there was anything that could be salvaged from the decimated rail car. The boys loped over and hiked themselves up. Almost immediately there was a shout.

    “Tante Jan!” yelled Jamie. “There is a girl back here!”

    Before Jan could even move, six soldiers ran past her. With Jamie’s help they got her onto a back board and off the car. Since there was no medical centre in the rail yard, they took her to Dr. P for an immediate assessment.

    “She was under a pile of boxes. We saw her leg sticking out,” said Jamie. He kept staring at the girl and as concerned as she was, Jan had to smile.

    Dr. P came down and checked her vitals. “Breathing normally… Pulse a bit thin but steady… not surprising… Contusion to forehead but no obvious breaks or open wounds… She is chilled. I’d say that she was in the car when it took the blast and went down under the crates and boxes. Being outside all night did her no good but her lungs sound clear. So I say take her to the local hospital and get a complete set of x-rays, including lungs. Then bring her back here. We’ll pop her into a bunk and feed her up. We’ll see where we are in a couple of hours.”

    Jan could see that Jamie wanted to go with them but Jan put out a restraining hand. “I need your help here Jamie. You can sit with her later.”

    He looked mutinous for a moment but then turned around and rejoined Matt on the rail car. Two of the soldiers stayed to help them as they pulled apart the boxes. In short order the four young men had cleared the car. There wasn’t much left. There had been boxes filled with shattered glass and china, inanimate victims of the blast wave. But there were a couple boxes with clothes and one full of bolts of cloth and sewing notions. Jamie felt pretty certain that his sister Erin would be drooling over those, and that Tante Jan would be pleased too.

    In the back corner though, they found something that worried them all - a small suitcase, a box of food, a small camp stove with fuel canister, and a sleeping bag. There were two garbage bags in the corner, one with neatly compacted garbage and the other in a bucket had obviously been used as a toilet. The boys made gagging sounds but the soldiers were impressed by the planning. The suitcase contained several changes of clothes – all handmade. So no identifying labels but the cloth was of good quality, the stitching even but the colours plain.

    “The clothes are like those of the girls on our road back home,” said Matt. “You know the Amish girls.” Jamie nodded in agreement.

    “That fits,” agreed Jamie. “But why is she stowed away?”

    Meanwhile Eric and Heather had joined Eggie and Jan at the other baggage car. Crates were pried apart, boxes and suitcases opened and the belongings of the other four families gone through. It was brutally hard and occasionally depressing work, and even when they were joined by the four from the other car, they were all exhausted by 1pm when time was called on the exercise.

    In the end they had a pile of linens, clothes, winter wear, shoes, boots, several pairs of x-country skiis, quilts, several crates of kitchen stuffs, animal care products, books, school supplies… the list went on. They kept beds and mattresses, dressers, trunks, sofas and chairs, and especially kitchen chairs and tables. They also found the Schmidt family bible and a box of letters and photos that they’d tuck away for Inga and the twins. In glancing through the photos, Jan found one of the mystery girl.

    “That’s our girl, isn’t it Jamie?” Jan asked.

    “Yeah. I think so. Is there a name on it?” He asked.

    “Nope but I’ll bet Inga might be able to identify her. I’ll bet she is a sister of Inga’s mother. But why she is stowed away and not with the family is anyone’s guess but it likely saved her life.”

    *****
    "She was Inga's aunt, a young woman who had run away from her abusive father and sought shelter with her sister. But being only fifteen, she would have been sent back and her sister charged with harbouring a runaway. You know technically shunning was designed to bring a family member back in line. Unfortunately in this family's case it was applied against the child and not the father. Back when my mother was a child if a child said they had been abused a witch hunt occurred and the accused tried and found guilty before they were ever charged. Divorcing parents used the accusation as a means of getting more or eliminating the other spouse. Every man who dealt professionally with a child was suspect. The pendulum for dealing with these issues had swung too far. By the time I was a child, the Province had declared the abuse of children a resolved issue. So unless a child was killed or so badly abused they could not ignore it, it did not happen. And anyone who claimed it did was usually incarcerated for slander. Children had become disposable," John told the Committee.

    "She and Jamie danced around each other for a couple of years before marrying. They then adopted Inga and the twins. It would have been hard on my mother, except they built a house across the yard and they continued to live en familie."
    Last edited by Lake Lili; 02-22-2014 at 06:29 AM.

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