Sunday Morning

Lew Goddard

© Copyright 2021 by Lew Goddard

Photo of a street scene.
Photo of a street scene.  Property of the author.
Leaving his home he stepped onto the cinder and gravel mixed surface of the three block street where he lived with his parents. The air was warm and dry at nine o’clock this July morning contributing to a crackling sound as he continued to walk. There were no sidewalks in this area south of the Western Pacific railway that was parallel to the street... At a point about 30 yards from home he turned to a path leading through the eight foot high slab fence that separated the activity created in the area of the grain elevators and coal bins beside the railway. Two slabs had mysteriously disappeared at some time allowing a shortcut to the down town region.

Approaching the railway the thunder of a train was loud and close. When he reached the siding south of the main rails he stopped and decided to let the train pass. With its smoke stack belching and the drive wheels synchronized to the necessary speed it crashed by disturbing the quiet of this small western town. The engineer was visible in his smock and high peaked cap. The engine gleamed through the soot that covered most of the high gloss black paint attenuating the glare from the sun. Vibrations disturbed the earth as it passed and occasionally a complaining steel wheel would shout its need for lubrication.
Forty or so cars passed in a matter of minutes.

Once over the tracks Main Street came in to view. It was devoid this morning of vehicles that had angle parked and filled the two blocks the previous evening. Saturday night was the main shopping and entertainment exhibition of the week.

A feeling of loneliness could not be avoided when one traversed the street this morning with the only sounds were of birds and a far off closing of a door.

The young man chose the east side of the street as he usually did. Concrete sidewalks had been poured years ago and some were cracked with most being uneven due to traffic and the harshness of climate in this Saskatchewan community.

His eyes weren’t on the sidewalk; he had no problem with balance, there were things to find wherever he looked. Now that was a real find, a full un-smoked tailor made cigarette no one had placed in his mouth. In front of the pool hall there was a shiny quarter lifted to reside in his front left pocket. A few feet further on was a large portion of a cigarette and that went into his shirt pocket with the whole one.

The Memorial Hall rested at the end of the first block and he climbed the cement steps and sat on the top one. The high railings were constructed of brick and mortar shadowed on each side by huge Spruce trees. Seated there he was virtually invisible to passersby.

A wooden match came from his right hand pocket and he lit the partly used fag by scratching the striker end on the brick. The whole one would be treat later in the day. He inhaled the fragrance that really didn’t taste all that good but to a mere fourteen year old he felt he was a full grown adult. Smoke was exhaled from his nostrils and mouth and he watched it disappear. There was no thought of the person that had originally placed this cylinder in his mouth and what contagious disease that may be harbored. Indeed there was no thought about the hazard of cigarette smoking containing a few thousand harmful chemicals amongst carcinogens.

When the smoke was finished he placed a mint in his mouth so that the odor would be masked. It was not really necessary since his Dad smoked a pipe and everything in their household smelled like smoke including the boys clothing.

One more block to go to his morning destination. The Co-op, two residences, the Anglican Church went by and he arrived at the home where he was to pick up two quarts of fresh milk. The front door was bypassed and when he arrived at the back door the inner door was open behind the screen door. He just walked in because he knew where the glass milk bottles were and where to leave the money that was always the right amount. The milk was not pasteurized but it was kept cold on ice at the vendor’s home. No one ever asked how old it was and no one ever seemed to become ill after ingesting the cream off the top and savoring the rest especially when it was cold. Refrigerators were virtually unknown in the nineteen fifties.

The return trip was on the west side of the street. From the north end the first block was all residences, the Goodwins, the Lowes, the Coles, and the Blacks. The next block started with the Josephson general store, then Heddles grocery come drug store, the Chinese restaurant built of rock and mortar, the hardware, the hotel and beverage room, the Legion, Madley’s grocery store and apartments and finally a portion of the building that always seemed to be vacant. One car passed with two people inside. They waved, he waved back. Everyone knew everyone in this small town.

The same feeling of loneliness was again evident as he left Main Street.

This morning the only other treasure found was an empty beer bottle that was placed in his back pocket. It would be exchanged for one cent down the road.

Then over the tracks through the shortcut and back home. One quart was nearly consumed that day and the other placed on the floor of the cellar under the home. The family always ran out before the next Sunday but no more was ever ordered.

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