Canal Excerpt

Exclusive excerpt from A Dog’s Life :


Franklin broke the silence, “I took a drive down the road yesterday and saw a canal.  It looked like there were locks and paths on either side.  Is it used anymore?”

George looked at him, coming out of his dream, “Oh no, not for years.  It was used a lot at one time mind ya.”  Still looking at Franklin he went on, “I guess you wouldn’t know the history, you being new here.  See, this town was built on that canal and this here water.  We were what you might call a port city, just on a smaller scale.  This goes back a hundred fifty years or more I guess.  This whole area,” he pointed out to the lake and along the shore leading North and East, “used to be full of boats docked up to be loaded or unloaded.”

Franklin was fascinated, and only interrupted to exclaim so, “Really?  That’s interesting.”

Mr. Henderson seemed to like having an audience (as Franklin could tell), “Oh yeah.  The goods would come down the canal from other towns or right on wagons from our town.  Loaded up or taken off right here, and off they went.  I used to guide the boats down the canal when I was a youngin’.  Us boys had a great time, but the mules were smelly beasts.”  He shook his head to get rid of the smell as it came back to his mind.

“Mules?”  Franklin asked.

“Yeah, we used to use mules to pull the boats through the canal.  Don’t look so surprised.  I know I hide it well, but I’m an old man ya know?”  He laughed, and Franklin couldn’t help smiling along.  “Yeah, most of the boats still needed pulling by that time; this area didn’t have any fancy powered boats that could make it through the locks.  Now that was our favorite part.  There was a group of us boys that would take turns pulling the mules just for the chance to help work the locks.  And when the locks were in place and the water would come in, we would have contests to see who could eat the most apples before the canal filled up enough to move on.  It were a good time, I tell ya.”  He seemed to drift off into a happy place of reminiscence again.

“So where does this canal lead to?”  Franklin woke George out of his dream, while the other ladies finished what they were doing in the cottage and headed towards the men.

“Oh.  Let me think.  Yeah, it ends up in River’s Junction.  Yup, just about the end of there too now I think of it.  Guess that’s where they got their name.  From there, people would come and go to drop off their goods from the other towns, like Fellow Township, Corburt, Langard and the like.  River’s was just a drop off and pickup place I suppose.”  He looked back towards the cottage, “Here comes the wife.  Guess it’s time for us to get a going.”

“What nonsense are you filling his head with?”  His wife called out to George, as the two men moved back toward the cottage.  She turned to Franklin, “Don’t let him tell you his wild stories about the ‘good old day’, ’cause half of them aren’t true!”

“Woman!”  her husband scolded her, “One day I won’t put up with your shenanigans anymore.  I told you there are plenty of other women out there that would appreciate me better.”

“Why don’t you go and find them then?”  She chided him back, “I’d like to see one of those younger models put up with you.”

He huffed a big sigh, “Ya got me all riled up now!  Let’s go.”  He headed back to the car, not waiting for his wife.  “So long, Frank,” he called out over his stooped shoulder.

Franklin was a little taken aback, but called back, “Thanks again, George.”

Lucy approached and shook Franklin’s hand, “Good meeting you.”  She glanced over her shoulder to her husband and then back, “Pay no mind.  We both pretend to bicker because we like to make up.  Been doing it for 62 years now, so I guess we ain’t stopping anytime soon.”  She smiled back at him and turned away.

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