By Mel McConaghy
When I was about 14 years old, my brother Jim had gone to work at Norm and Alf Strom’s Tabor Creek Saw Mill, on the south side of Tabor Mountain.
Our mother, being tired of trying to support the remaining three of us boys on a waitress’s wage, took a job in the kitchen at the mill.
Bud and Bruce, the two youngest boys, went out to live with our sister Betty and her husband Pat, at Aleza Lake. I was in grade eight, and had to go to high school in Prince George, so mother boarded me out on the Burns Farm. It was about two miles from the mill, and I rode the school bus back and forth. Now, at this point in my life, sawmills and trucks were looking a lot more appealing to me.
On this particular day, my timing was right, and I reached the sawmill at suppertime. After supper, I helped mom out in the kitchen for a while, and then went out to the bunkhouses to see if I could catch a ride back to the farm with anyone going to town. I hung around until about eight o-clock, and having no luck with a ride, I decided I would have to walk. The evening was one of those clear, cold nights, with the temperature hovering around -10, and it was not too bad for walking. It had snowed the previous night, the lumber trucks and all the traffic had packed the road, but in the center, there was about four inches of yesterday’s snow. Good walking.
Maybe I should give you a little back ground on teenage fashion of the time. I was wearing a pair of Air Force flight boots over my shoes. The flight boots were heavy sheepskin lined, leather topped rubbers, that had a zipper up both sides. The style was to wear flight boots half unzipped, so they flopped around a bit. The farther down they were unzipped, and the more they flopped, the ‘cooler’ you were. I left the bunkhouse and headed out of camp, very aware of the bush around me. Suddenly, a branch broke on a tree just behind me, and the snow cascaded down. My vigil on the snow banks increased, as I scanned left and right, and my rising panic began to reach a feverish high. I realized that I was not alone anymore.
Then I heard it! It sounded like a woman screaming, and I knew from what the guys had told me, it was a cougar. I thought, ‘Feet don’t fail me now!’ The next morning, a trucker told the lumber piler he thought there was a Sasquatch around, because he had seen footprints at least 18 inches long, and eight feet apart, going down the center of the road. The piler said he thought he had heard a sonic boom the night before, but there were no jet planes around our part in 1951. I didn’t tell them that it was me, flying home in my flight boots.
My Life Through a Broken Windshield by Mel McConaghy
Mel McConaghy is a retired trucker and author from Prince George, British Columbia. Mel’s tales are his views of life “through a broken windshield”. They are entertaining and humorous in a folksy style.
Visit Mel’s website at www.melmcconaghy.com