As I was driving to the city for an appointment yesterday, I saw two trucks stopped on a frontage road paralleling the highway.
They had been travelling in opposite directions and had pulled over next to each other in the centre of the road so the drivers could chat.
It brought back memories . . .
In the fifties, in the sparsely-inhabited and phoneless outer ranchlands of Southern Alberta, neighbours didn’t see each other much. Busy with ranch demands and family life, they only got together at county shindigs and the occasional branding or barn dance.
Oh, they travelled the same roads to and from the nearest towns, but the chance of running into one another on those long trails was slim to nil.
When it did happen, it was cause for excitement . . .
A cloud of dust appears on the horizon, slowly coalescing into a dark spec. Then into a vehicle.
As it draws closer, said vehicle is recognized – a friend or person who is not yet a friend.
The vehicle slides to a stop in the middle of the road.
Your car does the same and you look out to see that the other person is already leaning on his crossed arms out his open window – ready for a chat.
Everyone in each vehicle crowds around their driver for a peek and a listen.
Inevitably, there’s a few minutes of chatter, beginning with: “Well, Enes! I haven’t seen you in dog’s years! How are you? The kids? And how’s Mark?”
And Mom’s answer: “Oh, everyone’s fine. Busy. You know.”
“Heading into town?”
“Oh yeah. This crew never stops eating. And I have to make a call at the hardware and the shoemakers.”
“Yeah, the missus sent me on much the same errands. Oh, she’d like to drop by sometime, if that’s okay.”
“I’m always happy to see her! Tell her to bring the kids down for an afternoon. They could go swimming.”
“Had any rain at the ranch? We’re so dry, the birds are building their nests out of barbed wire and the trees are bribing the dogs.”
“You still have birds? And Dogs?”
This goes on for some time. Until one or the other realizes that they have to be somewhere . . .
Then it ends with: “Well, better get back. I’ve got ice cream and we all know how much it likes this hot weather! Could you please tell Mark that I’ve got those bulls that need testing and we still haven’t done our vaccinating. Maybe have him stop by?”
“I’ll do that.”
“And you and the kids come by any time! The pot’s always on and you know you’re always welcome!”
The driver shifts into gear and, with a wave, heads off down the road.
We continue our trip, with us kids all swivelled around to watch the truck disappear into another cloud of dust.
On the prairies.
In the fifties.
It was always personal, neighbourly and eye-to-eye.
And you took it when you could get it.
|Where you headin'?|
P.S We kids often re-enacted the whole visiting-on-the-road scenario. When playing with toy cars, we would inevitably stop beside someone else and discuss plans - which usually included going for groceries.
P.P.S. It was even funnier when we were playing with model planes. Did you know those guys can hover? Well, when they see someone they know, they can hang there for inordinate amounts of time and discuss the weather.