Many years ago, the little village of Imlay, was a beehive of activity around the clock. The Great War was still raging, and Imlay was a terminal for the Southern Pacific railroad, on the busy East-West mainline corridor. During the steam engine days, prior to the 1950's, the railroad terminal was where every train stopped for fuel and water, and change of crews. The steam engine used a lot of water. And Imlay had water, piped down from Prince Royal canyon. Had it not been for the water, Imlay would have never been invented, and my brother-in-law, Robert Martin of Imlay, would not have been working on the railroad steam engines as a Fireman.
The railroad business slacked off some during the winter months, and the low seniority railroaders were laid off their jobs for a few months every winter. Most of them worked in the local mines during the winter. Bob worked at the Standard gold mine, about 10-12 miles west of Imlay. He was laid off, and he, along with his wife Lila, my sister, moved up to the Standard mine. I loved to spend the weekends with them. I was a mischievous kid back then.
Any of you old timers remember Frankie Stewart? Sure you do. He was very mischievous, even more so than yours truly. Together we were a pair to draw to. Rotten to the core. One Saturday, I was there visiting, and Frankie came down to visit me. He came up with this idea, I swear it was not mine. He said, when Bob gets home from work this afternoon, lets lock him out of his house. I was a little leery of that suggestion, us being young ornery kids, and Bob being an old timer. He was 21 years old. But I agreed, after Frankie called me chicken a few times.
Lila wouldn't stand for it. Every time we locked a door, Lila unlocked it. Getting nowhere fast. Frankie said let’s tie her up. I was leery about that idea, because she was tougher than us both combined. She didn't resist too much, and we successfully got her hogtied in a chair. Ready for the real action now.
Bob arrived from work. We watched him walking down the canyon trail. He was surprised to find the door locked. He went around back, found it locked also. He looked in the house and didn't like one bit what he saw. Two punk grinning kids looking back at him, and his wife hog tied in a chair. He started pushing the door, trying to break the lock. Both of us pushing back from the inside. He ran around the house, we were waiting for him. In about two minutes time, he was at the boiling point, and I was at the panic point. I said Frankie, I'm leaving. I ran out the back door and started up the mountainside. Wondered how Frankie was faring, then he flew past me, in overdrive.
We sat up on the hill talking and laughing our fool heads off. Then it was getting dark and cold, and lucky Frankie went on to his house. I sat in the cold for a long time till Bob cooled off. I think what happened, Lila felt sorry for me, and talked him into letting me back in. I slept with one eye open that night.
The next morning, I cut a pile of firewood as a peace offering. It worked, and we laughed about that incident till Bob and Lila died a few years ago. And the kidnapped girl laughed most, when we were reminiscing about it. They are together again now, somewhere Up Yonder, somewhere beyond the blue. See you guys soon, and Bob, hope you don't lock me out.
Roy Bale can be reached at email@example.com.