The Wagon

After living one and one-half years in the South Cariboo, we decided to pack it in and return to North Vancouver. The first winter snow had fallen and we did not want to experience another bitter winter with the possibility of no work.

Our 1942 Chevrolet station wagon “Blackout” model had been modified with a two ton truck engine installed. During the driving lessons up our backwoods gravel roads, the art of double clutching became a necessity. It was like riding a bucking bronco. Perseverance prevailed though and the vehicle and I became good partners. It was a necessity, as I was expected to drive the seven miles to the highway and a further fifteen miles south to 100 Mile House to do banking and major shopping.

The “chevy” was unique with its’ wooden slat doors and looked pretty fancy, though well worn, for being eleven years old. It would now be given its’ biggest test.

We packed as much of our worldly possessions as it would hold and leaving room for our border collie “Laddie” to lie down in the back. The remaining furniture was being shipped via the Pacific Great Eastern Railway to North Vancouver.

We said our goodbyes and started on the winding rural seven mile trek to the main highway. The wagon was cold and groaned under its burden, but it had proven a good worker over the previous six months and we had no concerns. The well-worn tires slipped and slid and on one corner drifted into a snow bank. When we opened the door to get the shovel, Laddie jumped out and started down the road back to camp. It took a lot of luring and many false starts to convince him that we were on the road again and wanted him to come. After some more hesitant over-the-shoulder looks he decided our way was the best way.

Our long journey “home” was filled with many memories we had gained while living in Lone Butte then on to Blackwater on the eastern shore of Lac La Hache, and the many new friends. Sliding into the snow bank reminded us of another slide that had occurred a couple of months previous. We were dressed in our best “bib and tucker” for the formal “Hunter’s Ball” being held in Lac La Hache. The weather had been continuous rain for several days. The Cariboo rural roads with little or no gravel became a sticky gumbo. Luckily boots had been stowed on the back seat and after many athletic gyrations were put on.

After an inspection it was determined that we would only make the situation worse if we tried to jockey the wagon out of the mud bank. My husband rolled up his pant legs and I hiked up my long dress. We were about half-way to Lac La Hache. After debating which way should we go, we turned around and headed for home and to get some help in the morning. The mill manager had a jeep and it was his assistance that we got to get us out of that mess.

Other than our slide in the snow our journey south was uneventful and we soon found ourselves at my parent's home.

We found our own accommodation after the New Year and we both had jobs. Mine was in a North Vancouver office and Ralph in an office of a brick manufacturer in Vancouver. We still had the “wagon” and Laddie usually insisted that he come too on our urban journeys with the back seat being his. Unfortunately some of the bolts that held the back seat in place had come out somewhere along the way. If a sudden stop was necessary and if Laddie were sitting upright for the view, he would be catapulted into the front with us.

Ralph took the “wagon” to work each day by crossing the second narrows bridge then travelling up East Hastings to Boundary Road. One morning while following this route, a wheel rolled in front of him down the Boundary Road hill. He sympathized with the poor sucker who had lost a wheel and came to a stop. The wagon slowly tilted off to the front left and Ralph realized that the lost wheel was his.

We decided that it was time to retire our $150.00 investment that had served us well over the past two years through many rural and urban journeys.

 

The Wagon

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I am a true British Columbian who has lived/travelled to most corners of the Province as well as across Canada. My writing has appeared in two Okanagan anthologies, local papers and Canadian Stories.
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