It was early winter in 1967. We were residing in our old rented farm house nestled in the countryside, between Bancroft and the famous AlgonquinPark. The rambling frame house was owned by Fraser Lake Camp, and for one thousand dollars of renovations , we were given 3 years rent. Sandy rented a sander and he refinished the beautiful birds eye maple floor in the living room and the avocado green drapes, I had made for our Toronto apartment from bed sheets, looked really good on the large windows. My sister in law Stella, also pregnant, helped me wallpaper the downstairs bedroom in a yellow floral. How she managed that, with five children at home, amazes me today.
The rolling hills are covered in forests and small farms had been settled along the Little Mississippi River for a long time. It is a beautiful area of Ontario. When we arrived there from Toronto, all fresh faced and eager, the locals were keeping an eye on us. There was a group of older men that sat on the porch of Caldwell’s General Store and watched that “young city fella” tear by in his VW bug, wondering what could be so urgent. I was totally amazed when some of the local ladies had a baby shower for me because I was expecting our first baby. I recall undershirts, diapers and rattles, small gifts by today’s standards, but the goodwill was huge. In the local newspaper, the description of the event included the statement, “Kathryn and her young husband……”. I remember wondering if it was obvious that I had robbed the cradle, as Sandy is a year younger than me.. I will never forget the enthusiasm Sandy had for life cutting and carry wood, for our wood stoves and the first winter he hauled water and put it in big barrels on the porch.
I recall after I would wrap Jonathan into a snug package for the night, Sandy would hold him carefully over the wood heater, to get him toasty warm, knowing the rooms would get quite cool by morning.
Sandy purchased a small bulldozer to skid timber in the wood lots and during the winter he let it be known he would also clear snow for others. Cash was short, because sometimes it was hard to get the cut wood hauled, so when someone asked him to plough their roads he was delighted.
The dozer was unloaded and now he was crawling along the snow packed road and having got too close to the shoulder slipped into the ditch and the whole machine fell on its side. Alex jumped to safety, but his heart sank. With some help, he managed to get the cat back on the road, but now night was falling. He started it and put it in gear and as it went forward, the local man with him tapped his shoulder to draw Alex’s attention to the trail of red transmission fluid on the white snow. The cat came to a halt.
There were no cell phones in that day, so when he left in the morning, I could only hope all went well and he would come home with a check or some success.
I remember that evening, sitting at the kitchen table, with the wood stove casting a pleasant heat, and even though our bouncing baby boy was smiling broadly, we were anxious.
We had left the city, Alex having quit his welding job, to come up to the countryside he loved, and also we were involved in the staffing of the Fraser Lake Camp. I am sure more mature folk thought we were foolish to leave the security of our jobs. To ask for help from relatives and friends did not seem like an option, , and a credit card, what was that? A transmission repair was so beyond our budget it was worrisome, to say the least.
Early the next day, he went back to the scene of the “disaster”. . What happened next defies explanation, in my skeptical mind.
Because he was alone in that winter wonderland, he started the engine, and he does not know why he slowly put it in gear, He knew without a shadow of a doubt that all the fluid had drained out on the bush road, as witnessed by the neighbor that was riding on the dozer with him. But it engaged and moved forward!!!
He drove to the jobsite and completed the snow plowing he intended to do the day before. That dozer continued to keep us in rent and groceries for the rest of the winter. We got some strange looks when he enthusiastically shared this remarkable happening.
Several years later, that same little machine had an engine problem and Sandy took it into my brother’s shop. Knowing Cecil, it is pretty safe for me to say, he had been skeptical of Sandy’s account from a few years earlier.,
Now, apparently, it is most common, when an engine is out, for the mechanic to drag his hand through the bottom of the transmission housing, to check if there might be microscopic filings indicating wear of the transmission.
Sandy was looking at Cecil’s face when his hand came out of the transmission holding broken housing pieces, chunks of gears and as he laid them on the bench, he said to another credible mechanic, Sandy’s brother in law, “look at this, why is it still working?”!! It was too much to comprehend. </p How did that transmission get repaired in the middle of the night on that dark bush road? Or was it at the instant that Sandy put it into gear, a rather brash and seemingly silly thing to do?
If the transmission fluid had been analyzed what brand would it be??
Why would the mess be left? It appeared to be verification to those two mechanics, that Alex’s previous story about the transmission being destroyed was true.
To some Christians it was just another miracle, but for me, the replacing of smashed steel, and a fresh batch of transmission fluid, seems above and beyond.. We received it as a gift from God who gave more than we asked for.
Forty seven years later, I still marvel at this incident, but of course I was in for more amazing events in our life together.