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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Flying Bluenose

Robie Tufts' first honeymoon happened in the early 1900's when steam engines were still the primary means of transportation in the Valley through to Yarmouth.  Boarding the big train in Wolfville on a hot summer day, Robie soon complained about the heat, stuffy cars and feeling extremely uncomfortable about lighting a cigar with so many women in tight quarters.  If the gentleman in him was considerate of the ladies and their health, it was the claustrophobic gambler groom that compelled him to think outside the box.  When the train stopped in Kentville for more passengers, he inquired with the conductor if it would be possible to ride out some of the remaining trip to Digby on the cow catcher to the front of the engine where it would be cooler.  The conductor fearing for Robie's life pleaded with him not to go as did his new wife.  To this he snapped: "... my ticket doesn't say where I sit on the train."

Now with a beautiful day's view all out in front of him, perched on the cow catcher, he had lighted cigar in hand before the Bluenose steamed out of Kentville.  As they rolled along past woodlands, farms, fields in the shadow of the North Mountain he remembered how wonderful it felt to be alive.  But as the train moved into pure agricultural land it began picking up speed.  Soon he was being pelted with beetles, flies, grasshoppers and dragonflies as they high balled between stops.  "I was obliged to put my hands up for some distance to protect my face" he said.   Battered with bug juice for his experience, but none the worse for wear - when they reached Middleton he retreated to the passenger car with his new wife for the rest of the ride to Digby.


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