Klondike

Private RoadEventually I moved to a house on a cratered lane known as "Private Road," across a pasture from the Shenandoah River below Keyes Ferry in West Virginia. The road was narrow with high banks. If you didn't back out of my driveway just right, you could wedge your car up on the bank across the road, with your wheels spinning in the air. That happened to Becky the weekend I moved in.

A neighbor to told us to find Lou, the dad in a cheerful family who lived in a half-finished house up the slope from mine. He came down with his truck and pulled Becky's Datsun off the bank, snickering the whole time.

Becky and a USPS mounted copLou was a detective with the U.S. Park Police. He mentioned they had a temporary job for a groom with a mounted police unit. Becky applied for the position and went to work at the Park Police barn near the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. She cleaned stalls, and fed the horses, supplied a couple of cats to patrol for vermin, and generally kept an eye on things. Part of her job was to get the mounts ready for major deployments of equine-mounted force. I was hanging out with her during one such event, which took all the horses out except for a big fellow named Klondike.

Swing carouselKlondike was part draft horse and wore manhole covers for shoes. He wasn't happy at being left behind and raised a ruckus trying to break down the paddock fence to go after the herd. Becky approached him from his right side and latched on to his halter. He wheeled to the left and lifted her off the ground. She flew like the chair on the loose end of a swing carousel, but she hung on tight. She had a set to her jaw that reminded me of the way she looked at Mom during an early power struggle over fish.