Before he became a dairyman, Grandpa Bill claimed to be a lawman. Everyone doubted it though because Grandpa was also known for his stories.
For my eighth birthday Mom and Dad let me and Adam go for a visit to Grandpa and Grandma’s for a week. We were excited because we’d get to help take care of the cows with Grandpa and Grandma would let us collect the chicken eggs.
In the middle of the week Grandpa decided that he was going to take us for a train ride. On the drive to the train he told Adam and me stories about how he had hobo’d for a couple of months.
“I had to give it up because I found getting on and getting off to darned hard on my rear end and my head,” he told the boys.
Adam and I laughed as Grandpa rubbed the top of his bald head.
The train consisted of two flat cars with rails and benches and a steam engine. After a herd of folks got off, another bunch of folks got on; we were in the second bunch.
Once the train pulled away from the loading platform I stood up on the bench and tried to look over the car carrying the coal, catching a face full of smoke as the train belched and picked up steam.
Adam laughed at me as I sat there with tears streaming down my face and coughing.
About the time the tears started to dry up, the train began to slow down. It had come to a flat area. Grandpa pointed out the two men riding horses ahead of the train.
“The fools shouldn’t be gallopin’ in rough country like this,” Grandpa said.
One was tall and skinny while the other was shorter and just as skinny. They had neck scarves pulled up over their face and each had a six-shooter in their hand and they were robbing the train.
The taller one shouted, “This here’s a holt up! Give us your strong box and no one will get hurt!”
He pulled one of his guns and fired it into the air. Everyone jumped back, expecting to get shot at any moment. I covered my ears.
Grandpa was standing close to the tall train robber, when he grabbed the man’s gun. As he did that, he spun the robber around on the heels of his cowboy boots.
The bandit was so surprised that he let go of the gun and Grandpa hit him over the head with it.
Then Grandpa pointed the pistol at the other robber.
Jus’ as suddenly Grandpa busted the smaller robber along the side of his head. But he didn’t go down like the first one.
Instead he raised his fists and tried to punch Grandpa. His punch missed Grandpa completely.
Then the robber yelped out in pain. Adam had rushed forward and bit him squarely on the thigh.
The short bandit knew he was over matched and he tried to make a get away by quickly break for the side rail. Grandpa saw his move and took careful aim with the pistol.
The sound the pistol made caused everyone to stop cheering and duck. The robbery had become serious.
Then the gun went click, click, click as Grandpa pulled the trigger. The short train robber jumped in the middle of his horse and disappeared into the woods.
Grandpa turned and looked at the first cowboy that he had laid out. It was his gun.
The train’s engineer was nursing the cut on top the robber’s head. Both of them were looking real mad at Grandpa.
The rest of the trip was uneventful for Grandpa and we two boys. Everyone made it back to the train station in one piece.
During the short ride back I kept looking at Grandpa as he sat there with the useless pistol in his hand. He looked dejected and he would sigh a heavy sigh every once in a while.
We were proud of Grandpa, though. He had caught one train robber by hitting him on top the head. The other one got away because the gun was empty.
We could hardly wait to tell Grandma all about what Grandpa had done.
When we got home, Grandpa headed out to his work shed. He was embarrassed that he had busted up a staged robbery on a tourist train.