Whoa Whoa Whoa

By now they were home again. Grandpa tied the horse to the hitching post and went in to change his clothes. Deep in thought he came out to unharness Fly and take her in the barn. Since it was a nice April day the back door was open and Fly scooted out into the pasture to trot freely around the corral for a circle or two. But the hay stack was too tempting. It stopped her in mid gait.

Jake loved the Air Force. The challenge working with intelligent people suited him perfectly. He understood control. As pilot he could feel the thrill of being in control of his air machine but at the same time be responsive to the control that earth’s atmosphere had on his machine and on his very existence.

Visits to Morden to see Ruth were few and far between. On July 19th 1941 at 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning in a quiet ceremony at All Saints Anglican Church in Winnipeg Jake and Ruth were married. Only Ruth’s parents and Katie and George were present.

Even fewer trips took Jake home to see his parents on the farm. Actually he never came back to the old homestead. He reasoned it would be too painful for his parents and their neighbours.

The war was not going well for Britain. More Canadians were needed. Jake had no fears. He faced orders with an uncanny calmness when they came. He would be transferred to England as soon as possible. He was needed over there perhaps as an instructor of young British recruits.

There was no time to say good byes. Telegrams had to suffice.

The depression had hit the farmers hard. Poor weather made for poor yields. Grandpa was behind in his rent and he had no money to pay. The owner came to check on the future of Grandpa’s farm. They sat in the wagon shed for hours. Grandpa with his sparse knowledge of English could not keep up with meaningless chit chat of the visitor. Not surprisingly the conversation was mostly one sided.

The essential gist of the discussion was that there was a buyer for the farm but the owner did not want to displace Grandpa outright if Grandpa had any hopes of making a go of it.

Things looked pretty grim.

“Well how did it go?” Grandma asked when Grandpa came in.

“Oh. He was very nice. He said he would wait.”

“Wait? Wait for what?” demanded Grandma.

“He said he would wait for another year since we have no money.”

“Why only one year?”

“There is a buyer.”

“What? A BUYER? Now who might that be?”

“Mr. E wants our farm. It’s for Peter.”

“DONNERWETTER (Thunder Weather). That SCHEISSDRECK (shit dirt). Will we never get rid of that piece of Kuhdreck (cow manure)?”

“Now. Now. Patience, my dear woman. We have a year. Much can happen in one year.”

“Well, I hope so. Mr. E is last person in the world I would sell this farm to.”

“But we cannot decide. We don’t own this farm. Remember?”

“Nevertheless.”

The first port of call for Jake was Bornemouth, England. A group of Royal Canadian Air Force officers were stationed in a downtown hotel awaiting further orders. On June 6th 1942, Pilot Officers Bailey and Morgan were with Jake when a German fighter bomber came streaking in from off shore and strafed the downtown area with machine gun fire. The pilot dropped a bomb on the hotel where Jake and his friends were sharing a cup of tea on the patio. The building was shattered and everyone was killed. Jake was 25, Bailey 23 and Morgan 30. A black and white photograph sent to Grandpa and Grandma showed many rows of white crosses in a special section partitioned with a low hedge within the North Cemetery of Bournemouth. One of them marks Jake’s grave.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
author
Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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