Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

March 23, 2013

THE PLAIN SIDE: A father sacrifices his son so that others might live

William Carson took his hand off the lever that raised the drawbridge. Now the slowing-moving freighter could continue sailing up the river.

He checked his watch. Eleven-thirty. It would be an hour and a half before the passenger train came through when he would need to have the bridge lowered for the train to steam across. That was ample time to enjoy a picnic lunch with his youngest son, who had accompanied him to work on this April Saturday.

William glanced down at the river bank before descending out of the tower he worked in. Seven-year-old Joshua had taken a break from skipping rocks and was watching the steamer glide up river.

Father hailed son as he emerged from the base of the tower, two lunch boxes in his hand. “Ready for lunch Joshua? I know a nice spot.”

“Yes! I’m hungry. Can we see the river from your spot? Did Mom pack chocolate milk in my lunch?” Joshua skipped to his father eagerly.

William chuckled. “Is water wet? Do fish swim?”

Joshua looked up, a question in his blue eyes. “Huh?”

“Yes, we’ll have a gorgeous view of the river,” William smiled. “And Mom knows how well you like chocolate milk.”

“Yes!” Joshua put his hand in his father’s as the pair climbed the path leading to the picnic spot William had discovered.

William and Joshua Carson enjoyed their ham sandwiches and milk while perched on the sunny, grassy spot near the crown of the hill. William was obliged to answer questions about boats and trains before almost every bit of his sandwich. This he did happily. He thoroughly enjoyed the company of his son today. His job as drawbridge operator, though he was quite glad for it, had a tendency to become lonely at times.

Williams’s faithful old watch regularly came out of his pocket during lunch. It would not do to be as much as a minute late lowering the bridge for the passenger train. The thought of what would happen if he was ever late had given him nightmares early in his career and was still  ever-present in his mind. The train would come steaming around the bend and — if the bridge was up — must surely wreck and go plunging off the trestle down the bank and into the river below. With good reason William watched the time carefully.

Making sure they had a few minutes to spare, Father gathered the lunch boxes and the blond-hair pair headed back to the tower.

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