Please listen to the audio presentation of this story with David Neufeld by scrolling to the bottom of this page.
Welcome to Vantage Points Flashback. We highlight personalities, places and opportunities in history, offering us a unique sense of regional belonging. Thank-you municipal councils for your support.
Elephants in Melita
It was one of those seasons. Non-stop rain. Trouble is, edges of our roads would get soft. Well, I suppose that made it possible for us to see the elephants. They would have passed right on through otherwise.
It was 1950. The Cole Brother's Circus was going through town when one of the trucks overheated. Came to a stop across from Jack Olson's farm. As they got water, the truck slipped sideways. Sunk to its axles. It was late, so we got up early the next morning to pull out the truck. Well, wouldn't you know, a couple of circus fellas came along with, elephants.
We don't see elephants much around here. Massive creatures. Smart too. They seemed to understand what was needed. The handlers harnessed the beasts with wide belting, around their chests and over their backs. They strained with all their impressive might, but the truck hardly moved. The fellas then got their elephants to pull the back of the truck around into the ditch, thinking they'd get it going the other direction. Well, they pulled it around alright, but the truck sank even further. And the harness broke, t'boot.
Now we had two elephants without harness. I suppose galloping across the Prairie free, as by gone by didn't even come to mind, which was a good thing!
Somehow, they understood their jobs though. They put their foreheads up against the back of the truck and pushed.
Fortunately, a loaded fuel truck came along. He couldn't get past. So, we chained him to the circus truck, to pull backwards. A trainer motioned to the largest elephant. He put his head against the front bumper of the fuel truck. Shucks if he didn't dent in the bumper, pushing it right into a front tire!
By this time, farmer Jack saw the performance. He chugged up with his 22-36 International, with steel lugs. He first pulled the bumper away from the tire. Then he hooked to the back of the fuel truck. The elephants weren't to be sidelined though. They needed to see the job through! One pushed on the lower side of the mired truck. The other pushed the rear. Lo and behold! The combined power got the truck out. Hooray! I pinched myself to make sure I was seein' right. We had to admire the intelligence and stick-to-itiveness of those elephants!
I was hauling fuel those days as well. So I was around when the driver told our boss that his bumper was bent out of shape by an elephant. The boss accused him of falling asleep at the wheel. Why else would he cook up a story like that! Since I was within earshot he called me over. Boy, am I glad to see you, he said. Tell these fellas about the elephants. They don't believe me.
What elephants? I said. Just to add to the fun!
Elephants in Melita was first written by Jerry Drier. I adapted it from a version in Vantage Points 5. Vantage Points is a 5-book series, of short stories about the layers of history in Southwest Manitoba.
Please learn about Turtle Mountain – Souris Plains Heritage Association by visiting our website: www.vantagepoints.ca.
To hear past stories go to www.discoverwestman.com/community or click HERE!.