by Rose Klix
Summer 1953 I turned three years old. My parents owned a wood-paneled station wagon, termed a woodie. Dad planned to help his sister’s family relocate from their home in Leavenworth, Kansas. Mom, my five-year-old brother Jim and I accompanied Dad on this trip.
Once the car wheels stopped turning, we kids played outside in the Kansas summer. Mom and Dad tasked Jim with watching me. Soon a badminton game distracted him.
I wandered off. The inclined sidewalk, lined with concrete retaining walls for the raised track-house yards, continued slightly uphill. I watched tiny patent leather shoes as I placed one foot in front of the other. A dog barked. I screamed, ran a few steps, tripped, and sobbed.
I sat on a stool inside a house with unfamiliar people. A towering slender lady and equally tall lanky man looked like my Grandma Rose, only much younger. Someone called in a report to a radio station. I listened to the announcer talk about a lost little girl.
I wasn’t scared. Several times they offered me an ice cream cone. Trained to not accept food from strangers, I shook my curls, and tried not to be tempted by the treat.
My parents never heard the radio announcement. Mom said maybe I’d been missing an hour. Mom and Dad walked frantically down the street, knocked on all the doors, and combed the neighborhood. I’d only wandered about three blocks away. To each person answering a door, Mom described the white blouse and a bright orange skirt she’d made me. No one remembered seeing a stray toddler.
When my parents approached the couple’s yard, Mom told Dad, “I just know she’s in there.”
Mom started up the steps. The lady opened the door and said, “Here’s your little girl.”
The man carried me off the stool and set me on the porch. I ran to hugs and between sobs, I said, “Big black dog. I scared.”
I never learned the names of my rescuers. I often wished I could thank them.
On the way back to where my aunt lived, we passed one guarded yard. A black toy poodle yapped at us. Dad laughed. “A Toto dog frightened you in Kansas.”
Five kids and three adults crowded into the station wagon to return to Rapid City. The sun warmed my back while I slept and snuggled in the pile of their clothes behind the backseat.
Car seats and seatbelts weren’t yet mandatory. Many times through the years, even into our adulthood, Mom used a special safety belt. She thrust her arm across the passenger’s chest while simultaneously stepping on the brake.
I do appreciate God’s angels protected or guided me to turn such scary incidents into petal experiences in this lifetime. I challenged myself with several questionable adventures whenever I wandered away from safety.