Kickass, the doorstop dog, listens as the keeper recounts one of the many journalistic acrobatics he used in escaping the office, particularly in the spring when the birds and the frogs were singing: He was in Spooner–then the location of the Railroad Museum Saloon, when, on a late spring afternoon, he climbed into an empty boxcar and rode it up through the north woods as daylight played out and the train slowed and stopped several miles east of Superior.
It was an exhilarating experience with some memories vivid to this day—the silhouette of a flying owl over the treetops, the quick passing look at several small communities, the ever changing wooded view through the boxcar door, the curiosity about the unknown end of the ride.
The keeper was born at the height of the great depression when, social historians say hundreds of thousands of young men left home to “ride the rails” in hopes of easing the survival burden at home and in search of a better life.
There was no such drama involved with the keeper’s “ride:” it was simply part of one of his spring office escapes; and it ended with a very long walk into Superior as he chose not to wait out the unknown freight yard delay and its possible risk of encountering disapproving authorities.
None of it had been planned: it just seemed like the thing to do at the time, and if the keeper had the opportunity to jump into another boxcar this spring, he would do it, taking Phyllis along, of course.