“This is Just Weird”
“Are you related to Grandpa Jimmy, ‘cause you kind of look like him, only a lot younger.” said Ben.
“Nope, not related, I am Grandpa Jimmy.”
“That’s impossible!” said Kate.
As if to confirm Grandpa Jimmy’s identity, Bandit trotted over, stood on his hind legs and pawed at Jimmy, about waist high, while wagging his tail. That was his way of greeting people he liked and hadn’t sniffed for a while. Naturally, Bandit expected a return of the affection. Jimmy reached down and patted his head.
“Come on, let’s go in the hangar and I’ll explain. Got some coffee brewin’ if ya want a cup, Tali.”
The gang followed Grandpa Jimmy. Everything looked pretty much the same except much newer. It felt like they had walked into a museum or a time capsule. Ben saw them first and made a beeline for the bikes, with the gang close behind. The rack had five bikes, but these were not the same ones they had parked there. They were super old fashioned. Ben read the emblems on the bikes.
“There are three boys’ bikes, a Schwinn Phantom and two Huffy Western Flyers. The girl’s bikes are Hiawathas. Look, they all have these awesome racks behind the seat for carrying stuff and the girls bikes even have baskets attached in front of the handlebars. Guess girls had more to lug around in the old days.”
“Look at these prehistoric headlights on the front fenders,” said Willy. “They actually have bulbs in them, but no batteries. I think these things attached to the front forks are tiny generators. You’re supposed to push that gear against the tire and then it generates power when the bike is moving.”
“Come on guys, you can talk about bikes later,” said Kate. “Let’s hear what Grandpa Jimmy has to say.”
At least one thing hadn’t changed, and that was Grandpa Jimmy’s antique coffee pot. Steam was coming out of the spout as it percolated. He poured a cup for Tali. She took a sip and then noticed that many of the pictures that had hung above the workbench were missing. “Where are all the pictures?”
“Haven’t taken them yet,” answered Grandpa Jimmy. ‘Ya see, the Shirley Ann brought you back to Buena Vista in the year 1951. The same year it was in Alaska.”
“So, uh…, what about my mom then?” asked Tali.
“Well, your moms and dads and some of your grandparents ain’t been born yet.”
“This is really getting weird,” said Jold.
Willy didn’t seem to mind how weird it all was. The microcircuits in his analytical brain were computing at warp speed. “The Shirley Ann can do more than fly us around the world, she can time travel too. Right?” he asked.
“Yeah, kind of magical, huh?”
“Can she take us into the future?”
“Nope, can’t do that, she can only take ya where she’s been. She was built in 1949, so that’s as far back as you can go.”
“Can we tell her where we want to go?” asked Ben.
“Kind of. But I’ll bet you already got that figured.”
“I knew it, I knew it! Whatever picture we take with us is where we end up,” said Tali.
“Yep,” said Jimmy.
“How long are we going to be in 1951?” asked Kate.
“She’ll take you back after your next adventure.”
“Then let’s grab a picture and get going,” said Tali as she leaned forward to scan the pictures for a destination.”
“Okay by me,” said Jimmy. “But wouldn’t you like to see what Buena Vista looks like in 1951 first? You can take them bikes if ya want.”
“Absolutely,” said Ben. They all nodded yes and sprinted for the bikes. Bandit jumped to his feet and charged after them, he was ready for a run.
They each pulled a bike from the rack and hopped on. Kate claimed the red Hiawatha, of course. No gears on these antiques, guess you would call them one speeds. No hand brakes either. A little trial and error and they had it figured out; stop pedaling and coast, then step on the back pedal to brake. Step on it hard enough and the rear wheel locks up. Great for skidding to a stop.
Ben led the way. “Anyone hungry?” he asked. “Let’s head for the Burger King first and get some fries.” The road from the airport to town wasn’t paved, that was different. And the town seemed to be farther away. When they got to where they thought the Burger King should be, next to an old gas station, all they found was an empty field.
“Wow!” said Willy. “My dad’s store hasn’t even been built yet.” They peddled on, headed for main street. Almost nothing was recognizable. Another empty lot, “that’s where the Phillips 66 gas station is supposed to be,” said Jold. The furniture store that Kate’s parents owned was a Woolworths. “What’s Woolworths?” asked Kate. At least the Town Hall was exactly where it used to be.
“That car parked in front of the drug store is just like the one my dad is restoring in our garage. It’s a 1949 Chevy,” said Ben. The drug store had the name, ‘Lariat Drug and Soda Fountain’. “Maybe we can get something to eat,” said Tali, “I’m really getting hungry.” “Me too,” said Jold.
At the back of the store was the soda fountain. It was a lot like a modern-day ice cream store. There were six stools mounted to the floor in front of the counter. “What can I get for ya?” asked a young teenage boy. We serve all flavors of ice cream, sundaes and floats. He kept staring at them kind of strange. “Where did you get them unusual clothes?” he asked. That was the first time they realized that no one was dressed like them.
“Oh yeah,” said Kate. “We’re all going to a costume party. Could I have a chocolate malt please?”
“Sure, what do the rest of ya want? “We all like chocolate malts,” said Ben. “Yeah, for sure,” said Jold. They were surprised when he served their malts in tall glasses with a straw and spoon in each. No paper to-go cups here. “Can I get a cup of water for my dog?” asked Jold. “Comin’ right up,” he answered. Then he handed them the ticket. Twenty-five cents each. They couldn’t believe it.
After Bandit slurped his cup of water they were off again. “Maybe we better head back to the hangar, were getting a lot of strange looks,” said Tali. “Yeah, I think so too,” said Ben.
The mountains and a few old buildings were all they recognized. Things had really changed in seventy years. They rode back kind of slow without talking much. When they pulled into Hangar 1, Grandpa Jimmy was waiting. They put the bikes back in the rack and walked to the workbench.
“You guys don’t look so happy, what’s the matter?”
“I think we all want to get back to the Buena Vista that we know,” said Tali. “We all want to see our families.”
“Well then, get aboard the Shirley Ann. She’ll bring you back, in the right year this time.”
“What about the adventure we have to go on first?” asked Willy.
“You just had it, your ride downtown. It may not have seemed like much of an adventure, but I got a feeling you all may have learned somethin’ pretty important.”
“What’s that,” asked Ben. “The best time to be livin’ is in the time where God put ya with the family He gave ya,” answered Grandpa Jimmy. “So get aboard, I’ll see ya back here soon.”
“Aren’t you coming Grandpa Jimmy?” asked Kate.
“Nope. Two of me at the same place at the same time? Now that would be impossible!”
“All is Not Lost” Jold and Willy turned to look; they too could see the sun reflecting off something shiny. “Let’s run for it before the sun completely disappears,” said Willy. “Yeah, run for it!” said Ben. The two of them, along with Bandit, sprinted off. Ben hung...
“Raging Water” For Tali, the imagined stories of the missing loot just made her sad. Her hopes of helping her mom save their home were dying. “I’ll be glad when we get back, my mom needs me now,” she said. “Are you going to have to move?” asked Jold. “Probably,...
“The Foolish Enter…None Return” A full moon and flickering fire made reading the map feel even more like a long-kept secret was about to be revealed. They studied it while whispering their thoughts as if someone were listening through the wall in another room. Not a...
“Eeek! It's a Rattler!” Within minutes they were airborne. Bandit settled down in one of the captain’s chairs, Ben and Willy took their seats in the cockpit with Jold scrunched down on his knees between them, while Kate and Tali sat next to each other on the sofa in...
“A For Real Treasure” Ben called Kate, Willy and Jold to let them know what was up with Tali and that Grandpa Jimmy had a plan. It would be an adventure and it might help Tali and her mom keep their home. No doubt, the inseparable gang would rally behind Tali. Nothing...
“How's That Possible?” The gang climbed aboard the Shirley Ann and locked the door. The windows fogged over, and the engines started. They felt her throttle up, swing around, then stop. The motors shut down and the fog evaporated. Peering through the windows, it was...
“Back to the Shirley Ann” Early the next morning there was a knock. The elder, Tukkuttok, opened the door, it was Cheryl. He motioned her in. She looked at the boys, “Mark's going be OK, he will have to be in the hospital for a few weeks, but he’ll be fine.”...
“We Can Make It” Ben looked at the broken runner. “I’ve got an idea.” He unzipped his backpack and pulled out a tightly wound ten-foot nylon cord that was rated for 250 pounds. He tied one end to the side rail behind the broken stanchion. Then he made a loop on the...
“Danger at the Cabin” “We won’t let the wolves get you April, I promise,” said Kate. “That’s right,” said Tali. “It’ll be okay, Bandit will let us know if something is wrong. What do ya say we keep reading, the story’s just getting interesting.” April nodded...
"No Time to Lose" The short dog sled ride the gang had taken, from the Shirley Ann to the cabin, was exciting but not even close to what they were about to experience. The dogs must have sensed that the gang was inexperienced and hardly ready for the full power of a...