Monday, October 01, 2007

The Search For The Twins - Part IV, The Final One

(Part III of this story ended with Rebecca rushing to tell Julia, who was resting on the porch, that the twins were missing. )

"The twins. They've disappeared, Julia. I can't find them anywhere." Rebecca gushed.

Of all the children, Julia found the twins the hardest to manage. They were happy little boys infected with rich imaginations that enabled them to craft a make believe world for themselves that could keep them busy for hours. But they were too inquisitive. They were curious about everything and they were not afraid of anything. As if that wasn't bad enough, they had this uncanny talent for disappearing from sight in the blink of an eye. "There isn't a nook or a cranny anywhere on this farm that those boys have not tried to investigate." Julia told David one night as she vented her frustration with the twins.

Julia had been especially uneasy about the twins ever since that one incident that happened the week before. So when Rebecca told her the twins had disappeared, that incident leaped into Julia's mind. At first she was weak from the adrenalin that coursed through her body. But soon she felt this boost of energy that reminded her of ice on her skin. She jumped to her feet. The Sears catalogue that had been in her lap dropped to the floor. "Quickly, Rebecca, go fetch David at the threshing machine and tell him to get to the pasture as fast as he can." She knew that David would understand.

"LOUISE." Julia shouted toward the kitchen. "Come quick and take the children." Louise hurried out of the kitchen and onto the porch. The two women exchanged a few words. "You stay here and Let ME go, Julia." Louise insisted. "No." Julia responded firmly, and she left.

Julia's heart was in her throat as she ran toward the pasture. How she wished Jacques was there. The dog seemed to know instinctively when to fill in for Julia and David and watch the twins when they could not. But shortly after that incident last week, he had taken off to be with his lady love for a while at the Boudreau farm and he had not returned yet.

Was it happening again? She asked herself. "Oh, God....please not again." She prayed. That frightening day the week before was in the forefront of Julia's mind now in vivid detail. David had gone to town that morning for supplies and had taken the oldest child with him. Rebecca was in the house with the other children except for the twins. They were outside with Julia. She herself was out in the garden hoeing a row of carrots and assuming that the twins were right behind her playing under the oak tree. All of a sudden she heard Jacques yipping incessantly in the distance.

Julia looked up and there were the twins just on the other side of the fence in the pasture and, what looked to be, only yards away from the bull. He was showing his muscled broadside to the twins which Julia knew was a sign that he would be turning any moment and charging the twins. She raced toward the pasture with the hoe still in her hands thinking she might have to use it to beat him off. As she got closer she could see that Jacques had placed himself in between the twins and the bull. He was yipping and dodging back and forth in front of the bull as if to distract him.

When she got to the twins , she quickly coaxed them under the fence to safety and then called to Jacques to come to her. The dog slipped under the fence but continued his yipping. The bull flared his nostrils and looked at Julia in a way that would haunt her dreams for years to come. She began to think he might try to bolt right through the fence. Slowly she moved the children to in back of her. She knew not to turn her back on the bull or move too quickly as this could incite him to charge. Slowly she walked the children backwards hoping to reach some kind of cover close by. But the bull's interest in Julia and her children waned suddenly and he turned and sauntered off as if nothing had ever happened.
That evening Julia and David sat on the edge of the twins' bed and talked to them. "Now I want you to promise never to go near the bull again." David said to them firmly as Julia plumped up their pillows. "But we want to ride him, Papa." They chimed in together. You would have thought that their freshly washed faces bronzed by the summer sun and exuding all their childlike glee might have inspired heaven to make the beast gentle enough for little boys to ride. You would have thought. Afterwards, as Julia and David sat at the dining room table sipping cups of coffee from what remained in the pot made that morning, Julia asked him once again to get rid of the bull. He agreed and said he would look for a buyer.

They had not had the bull that long, but from the start the bull had shown signs of aggression toward human beings. Fearing that he could hurt someone on the farm, Julia wanted David to get rid of the bull right away once they discovered this about him. He was supposed to be a good breeder though and, for that reason , David decided to keep him. "We will just have to teach the children to stay away from him." He had told Julia. But Julia knew that this was little more than wishful thinking, and she was right.

The clamor of the threshing machine had turned into a soft hum as threshing activities came to a halt. There would be no more threshing as long as the twins were unaccounted for. Threshing machines were dangerous back then with their long wide belts that could suddenly slip out of control. David had shut down the threshing machine before heading for the pasture along with some of the other men to look for the twins. It was shortly afterwards that Julia slipped, twisted her ankle, and fell to the ground.

Louise was holding the baby and watching with Marie and the other children from inside the fenced yard by the house. She saw Julia fall. "Oh, no, Marie. Look what's happened to Julia." She gasped. "I have to go to her. Here, Marie, you take little Phillip." Louise tried to hand the baby to her, but Marie backed away.

"Oh, I'm no good with children." Marie said as she backed away. This is what she always told people whenever anyone invited her to hold a baby or take care of a child. When it came to children, she kept her distance. But her reluctance was due to the pain she experienced when her only child, a boy, passed away at three years old. It was just too painful for her to hold another person's baby or play with other people's children.

"Take him." Louise responded angrily. "I have to go and help Julia. Take him." She demanded as she shoved Phillip at Marie who clumsily accepted him into her arms.

"Now you've gone and done it, Julia. You've gone and done it." Louise said as she helped Julia to her feet. "Let's get you over to this bench. And you stay here. I'll go hunt for the twins." Julia did not object. Instead she sat there in pain on the bench, while the minutes seemed to hang on forever, hoping the twins would show up by some miracle all of a sudden.

Louise went on to join Rebecca and a number of men who were combing the farm looking for the twins and calling out their names. "Leon......Leonelle." They would call. While David and some of the men were looking for the twins in the pasture, the others looked in the barn and its hay loft for them. They were looking in the carriage house, the chicken coop, the tool shed, the milk shed, the orchard, down by the creek, in the fields. They were looking for them everywhere always calling out their names. But they had not been able to find them yet.

When Julia married David and became a Catholic, she completely embraced his faith rich with all its religious symbols, its patron saints, blessed statues, holy medals, holy water. It was what she turned to in times of trouble when things seemed beyond human control. The winter before last everyone in the household had come down with the flu and she was too sick to cook and take care of them. With a raging fever, she pulled herself out of bed one day and went through the house with her vessel of holy water and sprinkled it everywhere. Everyone recovered. Was it a miracle? Who can say? What is a miracle anyway? Who can say?

Then there was the tornado. David was helping another farmer deliver a calf the day a tornado hit and cut a wide swath through the farmland in their area. It brought down trees and demolished barns and homes. Julia was home with the children by herself. When she noticed the stark stillness of the leaves on the trees that day and saw that foreboding clouds were starting to swarm in the darkening sky in the west, she grabbed the crucifix from off the wall and set it in the kitchen window. Then she gathered up the children and rushed them down into the cellar.

The storm arrived. The doors to the cellar began to slap against each other and their frame violently from the force of the wind outside. It stirred up dust in the cellar and dispersed it into the musty air causing Julia and the children to cough. Surrounded by root vegetables and mason jars, Julia huddled with the children. She pulled out her rosary beads which she always kept tucked in her pocket. "Our father who art in heaven......." She began to pray that day in the cellar.

Except for the hickory tree that blew over and landed on the chicken coop, no one was hurt that day. Even the chickens came out of it unscathed.

And so it was as Julia sat on that bench after twisting her ankle and waited for word from David who was still looking for the twins in the pasture, that she reached into her pocket and pulled out her rosary beads and began to pray. Her eyes were closed and she was just beginning the second decade of the beads when she heard that familiar wonderful sounding "yip." It was Jacques. He was standing in front of her. He had come home.

"Jacques!" She squealed as she bent over and threw her arms around him. "I'm so glad to see you, boy." With both hands, she grabbed the fur around his neck and roughed it up. "Where are the twins? Come on boy, go find the twins." She said excitedly. But Jacques already knew the whereabouts of the twins. He began to coax Julia in their direction. As she limped along behind him, he would stop now and then to let her catch up always throwing his head in the direction of the twins as if to say, "Come on, follow me." He was leading her to the ice house where Marie had parked her spring board so that it would not be in the way.

Julia was a few yards away from the spring board when she heard that familiar wonderful sounding "giggle." Then she watched as one curly dark head popped up from inside the spring board followed by the other. It was the twins. They were safe. She kissed the rosary beads still in her hand and dropped them into her pocket. Her joy was so intense that she forgot about her twisted ankle and tried to run. She could not wait to wrap her arms around her boys.

Julia reached inside the spring board for them and pulled them toward her. She started kissing their faces, first one then the other. Over and over again she kissed their faces while she gushed in French "I love you. I love you." Finally, she heaved a sigh of welcomed relief. Then some thoughts began to cross her mind. Surely, she thought to herself, they had been able to hear everyone calling for them. So, she asked herself, why had they not answered. As glad as she was to find them and know they were safe, it was time for her to start asking questions.

"Everyone has been looking for you for a long time. Where have you been?" She asked them.

"Here." They answered pointing to the inside of the wagon.

"Did you know everyone was calling for you?"


"And you didn't answer?"


"And why didn't you answer?" She folded her arms and waited for their response, but they said nothing.

"Mon enfants, je te parle (My children, I am speaking to you)."

The twins hung their heads, because they knew they should have answered when they were called. Julia put her hand over her mouth; she was fighting a grin. She tried to appear serious and shook a finger at them. Then she lifted them out of the spring board. "You march right into the house this very minute." She ordered, and she gave them a symbolic smack on their bottoms to send them off. They scampered toward the house. She rushed after them and gave them another smack on their bottoms adding, "And no pie for you today."

Before going into the house, Julia waved to Louise who was coming out of the barn at that moment. "You can call off the search, Louise." She yelled, "I found the twins and they are okay. Get word to David."

When Julia came into the house, she could hear singing in the living room. She walked through the dining room and into the living room where she found Marie down on the floor with her skirt hiked up to her knees singing and playing patty cake with little Phillip who,it was obvious, had taken to Marie. "Oh, Julia, I see you found the twins and they are safe. Thank the Lord." She said cheerfully as she rose and picked up Phillip from the floor. Her hair was mussed up. A good sum of it had come loose from her bun. It was obvious that Phillip had been interested in her hair and pursued that interest with gusto by grabbing a big handful of it.

"Julia, I was just thinking about something." Marie continued while cradling Phillip. She was indifferent to the hunk of hair that hung down on one side of her head. Julia found this indifference a refreshing departure from Marie's usual prissy self. "I was wondering.....well, would it be all right with you, Julia, came by here maybe once a week, maybe more, and, uh you with the children? "

Julia opened her arms wide and embraced Marie warmly. "It would be a blessing, Marie." She replied.


What is fact about this story and what is fiction? Well, it was a fact that the twins were hiding while everyone on the farm was looking for them and calling for them that day. As the story goes, they were hiding under a buggy and watching the whole thing take place and apparently having a good time of it.

It was a fact that Julia was a religious woman. I remember hearing the story about the time Julia dealt with a tornado and used some religious object, perhaps a crucifix, to ward it off. One other fact about Julia is that she loved her family. As you can imagine with all those children, their descendants grew to be many. Julia kept a mental record of all their marriages, births, names and on and on in the family. On her death bed, she was attempting to recite this mental record. What a precious woman!

Most everything else in the story is fiction. But there may have been a bull in which the children took a dangerous interest. There may have been a dog. Perhaps his name was Jacques afterall. And there may have been small miracles take place in Julia's life at least what she thought of as miracles.

The photo above is of Julia and David and their eleven children. My grandfather Leon is in the back row just left of center. The man with the white hair and glasses and seated in the front row is my Great-grandfather David. When I was a little girl of four or five and he came to visit, he would offer to pay me a nickel if I would sing him a song. I was more than happy to oblige him. Everyone liked David. According to my cousin Lloyd who I consider the family historian, David was a good, honest man.

One last thing. As you can readily see, no one in this photo is smiling. There must have been a law back then against smiling in photos. This photo does not reflect the happy dispositions which members of this family possessed in actuality. If the photo were to reflect that, everyone would have huge grins. This was a very affectionate, loving family too.

CREDITS: A few of the farm photos, representative of the historic Kline Creek Farm in DuPage County, Illinois, are the works of Michelle Benedicta. Also, I must give credit to my husband for taking a series of photos of Kline Creek Farm himself. I have used several of his photos too.


  1. I guess that's universal from that period - photography was serious business!

    We had a "bad seed" cat - which does sound better than a bull. Never could come up with any othe explanation. He was the offspring of one of our cats, was treated exactly like our other pets - but you didn't dare put your face near him. He'd scratch anyone anytime without notice to the point where we couldn't keep him.

    Thanks for the story and glad it had a happy ending.

  2. I love how you concluded this story. My grandma was one of 11 children and grew up on a farm. I recall hearing stories of all their adventures.
    Her photos don't show smiles either!

  3. I just loved this story and with the birth of my twin great nieces, I read with great interest the outcome of the story. It had to be an interesting life with 11 children in the family. My mom had 10 siblings and I so admire my grandmother for the strength that it took to raise that many children. The farm life from your story was also interesting in that everyone had to work as a team to get the work done. You are a talented lady and I appreciate that you shared your talents with us. GREAT JOB!

  4. Seeing Paul's comment above made me smile and think back to the time I mistakenly thought he was a rogue interloper leaving you a harsh comment...when it was actually a year-old post and he was your friend asking an honest question. Strange that I put my nose in that situation. (My reaction was based on some bad comment experiences I had. I've learned better how to respond... I think...)
    Anyway... back to the glad the were okay. You truly had me worried.

    This was a very engaging story. I love farm lore, and you've capture it well.
    There is a raw, unbuffered earthiness to farm life that has always appealed to me, but there are often frightening and even tragic chapters to the farm stories I know. My Julie has a precious Aunt Katherine in Kansas. She is about 80, and when she calls us on the phone, her voice is so sweet. She is the kind of lady who could express pride or disappointment in me and it would mean something from 800 miles away. (Fortunately she has not had to do the latter.) Anyway, one day on their farm, they could not find their oldest son, who at the time was about eight. They first found that his horse and saddle were gone from the barn. (He had a small horse of his own.) Then they came upon the horse standing beside the pond in the north pasture. The empty saddle was a frightening sight. As they came closer to the pond, there was their boy floating face down. He had taken the horse to the pond for a drink. As the horse bent way down to the water, the bent back and sloped neck was too steep to stay in the saddle and the boy toppled head-long into the shallow water. They don't know if he broke his neck or just drowned, but he was gone. Fifty-some years later, there is a tender tear and smile in her eye if the subject comes up. She is a sweet lady.
    Farm life was and is hard but it often a place of unfiltered faith as you have painted here.

  5. Living on a farm, or ranch, in those days was not easy. It is a wonder that all the children made it to adult hood. I wonder if Julia nursed all of her children. Being a mother was definately a full time job and a lot of work. It sounds like Julia was a strong woman, who wasn't afraid of work and gave love freely. What a great story, I hope you tell us more about the family.

  6. Paul: I think the lack of smiling faces in photos of that time period might have to do with a throwback from when shutter speeds on cameras were slow and people had to hold a pose for a long time. I'm just speculating here.

    In researching bulls, I learned that certain breeds (Jersey and Guernsey) are more aggressive than others. Also, if the young bull is not properly socialized and penned with other bulls rather than by itself, it will be more aggressive toward humans. I also learned that a bull will show its broadside before it charges so that it looks large to its foe. I used this information when writing my story.

    Yes, I am glad it had a happy ending too.

  7. Susie: About that ending, I am glad I could count on the facts to make it a happy ending. Large families back then were the norm. I think it had to do with needing help on the farm. I wish I knew more stories about Julia and David, because I am sure there was adventure in them. I guess I am going to have to fabricate the stories.

    Nancy: I hope your twin great nieces are coming along nicely. I know they had a challenging start. Yes, everyone worked as a team back then on the farm in that time period. Extended families lived together too. If it wasn't the newly married living with Mom and Dad, it was Mom and Dad living with their adult child. Today, when extended families live together for whatever reason, it is seen as a weakness rather than a strength. Isn't that something.

  8. Tom: I had forgotten about that incident with Paul. I have also forgotten what it was he wrote and you wrote. Apparently, it wasn't anything significant or I would remember. Let bygones be bygones.

    That is a tragic story about how Aunt Katherine's son died. It is an example of another useless death. I say useless, because surely when a person loses their life, it should be due to having put it at risk for a good reason. Freak accidents like that one drive me nuts. This story reminds me of what happened to the son of one of my school mates.

    It was during harvest time not too many years ago. They were storing grain in the silo. My school mate's son (a teenager) fell into the silo. The grain buried him alive and, of course, he died. His mother was horribly torn up over it as you can imagine. When I think about it I shudder. Like Aunt Katherine, you don't get over the loss of a child. It stays with you forever. Especially you don't get over it when it was a freak accident.

  9. Lucy: I think my great-grandmother might have nursed all her children except for one perhaps. That one was my Aunt Bernie. She was born premature. She was so small that her head could fit in a teacup. Aunt Bernie had some developmental problems as a result of her premature birth. I know she had a hearing problem and I am not sure what her other problems were except I know that she was very short...well under five feet tall.

    I have to think that it was her mother's (Julia's)loving care that brought Aunt Bernie through those crucial first few months of life. She went on to live to the ripe age of 81. Now wouldn't that qualify as a miracle of sorts?

  10. Great story and great pictures to go along with it! ~ jb///

  11. In Iowa we had (I should say local farmers had) huge blue silos called "Harvestore" and that company got sued for that very type of accident. The courts found that if this company was going to design the worlds best silo and charge about $100,000 for each of them, that they should put a ladder on the inside. This would not always prevent death from being buried in the grain, but it would prevent death from heat and lack of air which also took some kids who couldn't get out of them. It is a very tragic thing and impossible to forget. If I'm not mistake, Harvestore went out of business.

    I enjoyed the details of your characters and that they seemed to have real thoughts and reasons for why they did things.

  12. By the way, it was an Easter post and the question had to do with the resurrection. There were no hard feelings. =)

  13. Oh what a sweet ending. I am almost sad to see the story done...: )
    I have so enjoyed it all and can quite visualize everyone and the farm and even the dog. : ) Oh let's do hope there was one!

    My Grandmother was one of 15! So many stories, some very sad and some just awful. Still, there were some with funny endings and sweetness.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.


  14. As always Susie, a terrific read about your family. Big families were the norm back then. My Grandmother Gallagher was one of nine.From some of the pictures I have you're right about smiling for the camera, they don't

    This is one story that wouldn't have been complete without all the bull;-)

    The first post I read when I came to your blog a couple of years ago was about your Grandfather.

  15. LZBlogger: Thanks for stopping by. Hope you come again.

    Tom: Speaking of farming accidents, imagine the accidents that took place with farm animals. I remember that a horse on the farm stepped on my great uncle's leg when he was a young man. It never did heal right and years later he had to have it amputated just below the knee.

    I tried to make my characters act in ways that made sense at least to me. The part about the rosary beads and crucifix may have seemed unrealistic to some of my readers, but I know how much these religious articles meant to Catholics back then and how they were used. In fact my Great-grandma Julia gave my husband and me a crucifix when we got married. That was her wedding gift to us. It is funny, but I just now remembered that.

    Oh, yes, the fog is lifted. It was, as you say, a question about the Resurrection.

  16. Susie Q (the other one): I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I am kind of sad, too, that it has ended. As I was writing it, I felt especially close to my Great-grandma Julia. I hope she likes what I wrote about her. Your grandma was one of 15? Well, what's four more kids once you have had eleven.

    Jenni: As you know our younger daughter has seven children. Today that is unusual. One hundred years ago though, it might have been thought of as a small family. Oh, yes, you and I started corresponding with each other after I wrote that post about my Grandfather Leon. It was almost like it was meant to be. I'm glad you have enjoyed this story. Thanks for your kind support.

  17. I understand about the "fog"... I've noticed until now that there are two Suzie Qs.
    Isn't if funny how we suddently remember vivid details like what you remembered about that wedding present? I think even forgotten details in our memory affect the way we see things (or write). They're part of the texture of the fabric we weave even if we forget they are there.

  18. This has been a great series.

    I remember a bull my grandfather had on the farm when I was growing up. He was a smaller Black Angus, but I never once turned my back on him. I did make the mistake of turning my back on a young heifer. I didn't even know she was there until I feet were lifted up in the air. Thankfully, she was just playing.

    So glad you took all that time and
    energy to put this story together.

  19. This has been wonderful. Now, will you tell us another, please? I enjoyed this so much!


  20. Tom: I have run across several Susies in blogland. A rather common name I guess.

    Sharon: When I was doing research for this story, I ended up finding out a few things about bulls. One was never turn your back on a bull. That cardinal rule applies to male geese (ganders) as well. It seems in the animal kingdom we have a few back stabbers.

    Pat: I am glad you enjoyed this story. I have another story in mind about a birthday party I attended as a child. Maybe in a few months. In the meantime I'll being doing much lighter stuff.

  21. This was simply wonderful...I am late reading this last and final part, but I loved each and every one, and especially loved this happy ending.

    I can see a couple of the family members "almost smiling"! :)

  22. SusieQ, this was a wonderful story. (I posted a comment here previously, but for some strange reason it didn't show up...) Anyway, I can just picture the twins hiding like that. It sounds like something children would do, doesn't it?

    It's wonderful reading about stories on a farm in "another part" of the world. I felt as if I were right there.

  23. I know you're going to be gone for a while. Important things are calling. Hope you're back reading and writing by the holidays (Feel free to count Halloween as a holiday.)

  24. Susie...these are wonderful! You are quite a talented wordsmith. I hope you keep it up!

    I love your Julia character...she's so warm and earthy...I want to see her in more situations. And your dialogue is beautiful! Very natural.

  25. Tammy: I was glad this story had a happy ending that was based on fact. I am sure all parents can relate to the apprehension Julia felt when she could not account for the twins right away and danger lurked here and there. I remember the time my husband and I lost track of our daughter in Sears when she was about five years old. The first thing that came to my mind was that she had been kidnapped. But we found her and she was okay.

    Josie: I was thinking the same thing about the twins and how typical their behavior was that day. I felt I was right there on that farm, too, while I was writing this story.

    Tom: I don't know when I will get back to blogging. It all depends on the progress that is made with our special needs grandchild. He is in an emotional crisis right now. My husband and I are hoping that our presence in our daughter's home will free her up so that she can spend more time with him.

    Rosie: Thank you for your words of encouragement. Coming from you with your background in writing, it means a lot to me. When I return to blogging I hope to write more short fiction pieces with Julia as the main character.

  26. I can't argue with that. You're doing the right thing, but we miss your voice in the choir! I have a post dated Sunday, October 21, that may be an encouragement to you as look to bring hope and brighter days for those you love.

  27. I dear heart...I don't have your email so will try to reach you this way. I have been thinking about you, and after seeing some of these comments, I think I know a little of why you have been away. You will all be in my prayers and thoughts.

    I will look forward to your return to blogging AND writing!
    You have a gift for it.

    Many warm hugs,

  28. SusieQ, I enjoyed reading your story just as I have enjoyed reading your stories and poems over the past 40 plus years. I am so glad that you have readers who enjoy your writing too. I feel they are getting to know a little about you that I love so much, and I am glad to share you in this way.