As the Footplate Padre says the railways have their fair share of humorous stories and many a yarn had to be curtailed as if the full truth had been known, as no one would have believed the 'real' story.
Truth, it seems is quite often stranger than fiction and this story is such from the annuls of the Western Australian Government Railways, as the railways opened up the wheat country around the period of the First World War.
Early wheat farming settlements were being established in the great wheat belt of Western Australia prior to WWI. Many of these communities were small, and the long distances covering the Western Australian wheat belt meant that the means by which trains crossed on the single lines were crossing loops. Often these crossing loops had a small settlement, perhaps a single homestead, and a couple of railway houses.
This particular story titled "Maiden Ride" appeared in the Footplate Padre's 1992 book "All Night Sitter - Train Divers' Memoirs" on page 16, published by IFH Publishing Co.
This story is initiated by a setting of the scene, that when these wheat trains came to such isolated "crossing loops" where trains might only come once or twice a week, everyone would meet at the railway hut if there wasn't a small platform, and there the small community would get all the latest news from hither and thither.
This was particularly important for the women of these isolated communities and none more so than at Yarloop in the first decade of that new century, now well over 100 years ago.
Yarloop was just so typical of such a railway crossing settlement in that era. As the children of these families grew up, there was little to do part from being home schooled and reading, and sometimes, if there were enough children, a single teacher school and a teacher's house was constructed, but mostly they were home schooled in these tiny settlements.
Daughters proved a problem for many a family as suitors were limited apart from the young railway firemen as they passed through and this was how many a romance developed culminating in marriages. This is such a story.
The young lady was being courted by this particular young fireman who sought every train trip along this section of line to Cookernup so as to spend 30 minutes or so at the crossing siding with his young beloved.
On this occasion he sat her on the buffer of the guard's van while he whispered his tantalising sweet-nothings in her ear, and finally he heard the driver blow the whistle and he had to make his departure and ran to the steam engine and the train departed.
Alas the young lady day-dreamed and failed to alight from the buffer and hung on for dear life for miles and miles until the train arrived in Cookernup. It was said that when the young fireman learned of this, he rushed back to the guard's van.
The young lady was beside herself and was comforted by her prince and shortly thereafter marriage bells were ringing.
The Footplate Padre says that the Bush Padres of the era played an important social role as they travelled to those isolated settlements. They bought news, gave good counsel, offered wisdom, told the children Bible stories of Jesus, presented prizes, gave a good word and conducted Communion.
Th Bush Padre was all round good bloke, nothing pretentious! It's much the same today.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html