Butter Rum Cartoon

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Saturday, January 7, 2012


Andy and Agnes and Dad (standing) and me (sitting)
I could write a lot about Andy and Agnes Brekhus. They were like my second parents. I spent countless enjoyable hours with them on their Allen, Washington dairy farm, and, after they retired, at their Camano Island home on the shore of Utsalady Bay. Andy and Dad were good friends all through life, since elementary school in Stanwood. I've already written a post about Andy introducing me to Curt the hermit, but could also write about their Samoyed dog pulling me on my sled, and about the Brahman bull who chased me and even tried leaping over a barbed-wire fence to kill me, and about the man who attempted suicide across the road and Andy saving his life, and about homemade rootbeer, and the possum that played possum, and about shocking my head on an electric wire, and about their niece Cathy, and Andy's flatbed dumptruck, and the auction, and being surprised by a wild cougar while hunting, and about shooting rotten eggs, and about Andy being my foreman in the pea fields, and about the voyage to Goat Island, and all sorts of adventures; but here I'll just tell the brief story of the train bridge.

Andy and Agnes came to visit us in Sultan when we moved there in 1965, and Andy and I went for a walk to explore some of the town. So what's a 57-year-old man going to do with a 16-year-old boy? Step out to the middle of a train trestle bridge and wait for a train to come, that's what. Two bridges cross the Sultan River where it runs into the Skykomish---one is the Highway 2 bridge, and south of it and parallel to it is a train bridge. The highway bridge has a sidewalk; the train bridge doesn't. Andy and I were talking about how we had never been on a train bridge while the train crossed it. How could we go on through life without experiencing this adventure?

The Sultan Train Bridge
So, the two of us stepped from tie to tie on the high train track until we were in the middle of the bridge, and we talked about all sorts of things while waiting for a train. Finally we heard one coming in the distance. Andy climbed precariously over the railing and stood leaning out while holding onto the railing bar. I thought this was a bit risky, and thought I'd do much better. I quickly crawled inside one of the steel girders. No way could I fall, stuck in there, and no way could the train hit me.

The tremendously loud train charged onto the bridge, passing between the girders with a hundred cars. The bridge shook violently and I watched Andy avert his face from the wind while holding tightly onto the trembling metal. But I didn't watch long, for the bridge shook so much that I began hitting my head against the inside of the girder. It hurt, and it seemed like the train would never stop roaring across the bridge. I was literally beat up inside that girder I thought would protect me, while Andy was out there having a blast.

Afterwards, with our ears still ringing, the two of us had a great laugh as we walked the three blocks back to my house, despite my headache. Perhaps this was why, at work at the postal annex until I retired last March, I scoffed at my employer's constant reminders to "be safe." Sometimes we can be too safe.

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy the following: Proof of Insurance.
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