Vol. 13


The Backyard Coaster

c. 1938; Pictou, Nova Scotia, Canada

It was the summer of 1938, and my grandma Patricia was one of eight siblings. She had six brothers and one sister; she was the youngest girl in the family. Her brothers were always getting into trouble and pulling jokes on each other. The last trick they pulled led to a close call.

One day my grandma’s brothers made a goal to find trouble. As they were walking home, they found an open dump, where they stumbled across an old conveyor rail, wheels, and other pieces. They all knew this was going to be fun, and they had a plan for what to do with the rails. In the backyard of their home was the steepest, meanest hill you would ever see. The brothers smiled a mischievous smile.

They began to build their coaster. At the top of the hill, they pieced the rails together like a track going down the hill. Then they dashed to the garage to get the wagon they had built from the rusty spare parts, and they placed it on the track. It fit.

Now they were ready, and the oldest boy, Joseph, asked proudly, “Who’s gonna try it?”

Everyone was smart enough to not try anything the boys had made. No one said anything. The only one who had no clue what was going on was the third-youngest boy, Bernard. Joseph snatched Bernard and convinced him to ride the wagon.

Bernard grinned. He liked the idea of being the bravest and knew he would now be included in the group, so he agreed to ride. He plopped himself into the raggedy cart. Smiling the biggest smile in the world, he wiggled and jumped in the cart. Joseph stepped back and gave the wagon a big push.

The old rusty cart gave way. It rolled vigorously down the steep hill. As it got going faster and faster, Bernard finally understood why no one else wanted to ride in the wagon. He felt a small bump, and before you could snap, he was in the middle of a busy street.

With his hands sweating, his heart pounding, and his face red, he screamed in rage and fear. He had trusted his siblings’ coaster when he really shouldn’t have. The cart zoomed past loud cars that were honking at him. He could hear muffled voices in the background, and everything seemed to slow down for a second. A loud honk rang in his ear and broke the silence.

There was another bump, but this time it was much larger than the earlier bump. This one was enough to launch him, and that’s just what happened. Paralyzed by terror, he flew up in the air but somehow stayed in the cart, which hit the hard cement bricks of the house across the street.

My grandma’s father stepped out to see Bernard, scratched and bruised, walking up the hill with the wagon. Since Bernard wasn’t really injured; his parents were more worried than angry.

You can still see the chip in the house to this day. The siblings got in some trouble for their antics, and they all learned to think before acting.

Ilonka Guilliams; Missouri, USA



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