Between my Junior and Senior year in High School my brother-in-law came to me with a proposition. He was married to my oldest sister and ran the buses for the school in the little town they lived in. He wanted to go and pick up a new bus in Lima, Ohio and asked if I wanted to accompany him. The deal was sealed when I discovered he’d asked 6 girls my age to go on the train trip to Lima and then ride the new bus back to Northern Montana for a vacation/sightseeing trip.

We boarded the eastbound Empire Builder in Malta, Montana and began the journey. Anyone who has ridden a passenger train for a couple days knows what comes next, first excitement and then not being able to sleep and finally when do we get there? We changed trains in Chicago at Union Station. I had never, ever encountered that many people in one place at one time. Being a hick from Montana I just sat and marveled at all the people and the crush of humanity. Of course in Montana we always said hello to whoever we came in contact with, but in Chicago I quickly discovered this wasn’t the thing to do. People didn’t respond at all and would not look at you when you spoke, if they did they wondered what the heck you were after.

A little about my traveling companions, my brother-in-law Fred (RIP) was a great guy who always enjoyed taking young people on a great adventure. My cousin Glena who has the best smile of anyone and reminds me of my ma. There were 5 other girls who went along and we were all hicks..

After Chicago we went toward Lima, Ohio. On the way there were sights I never will forget. My first views of cities in disrepair and run down condition. Young boys along the tracks throwing rocks at the passing train. Rusted out cars and literally poverty right out the window.  It was about 10pm when the train rolled into Lima. We disembarked and headed out in this city to find something to eat and a place to stay.

We entered and all-night restaurant and imagine the sight, one man, one 17 year old boy, 6 young girls all 16 or 17 years old. All fresh off the prairie of Northern Montana. The place was deserted except for a cook and a waitress. We ordered and then the place started to fill up. Even as naive as I was I soon realized we were in the wrong part of Lima, Ohio. All any of us wanted to do was eat and get the hell out of there. Finally the place was filled to overflowing and all I mean all were looking at the hicks from the sticks.

In all of this a young man of about 19 or 20 came in from the street and walked boldly up to our table. He looked directly at my pretty blond-haired cousin Glena who was sitting in the booth next to me. He said to Glena,”There is a guy out in the car in the alley who wants to see you.” Immediately she scooted as close to me as possible and said, “I’m with him.”

Here is what you have been waiting for, I blurted out, “No she is not..”

My given Indian name after that day is Russell/NotsoBrave… By the by we survived and my wonderful girl cousin Glena has forgiven me..

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