The Road Behind Town
The Road Behind Town
By Kathleen M. Brosius

     Crows cawed in the distance, as my brother
Jim and I sat on our front steps. The hot sun
brightened the morning, as we planned our day.
John, our older brother, was in the house, his
attention drawn to a new book.
     Our mom, a school teacher, was attending
summer school classes in Fayette. She stayed with
our grandparents during the week that summer.
Daddy was a commercial fisherman; while mom
was gone, he stayed pretty close to home. But on
this particular day, he had gone to the islands to
check his fish traps. We had an old Jeep that
hauled fish nets and box traps, toys and kids to
and from the boat landing. Puddlejumper was its
     Jim and I decided to walk the old road that led
to the boat landing. Daddy would be coming home
soon and we would surprise him. He would be so
happy to see us and proud that we knew the way
to the Islands.
     At first the trip was smooth going. The sloping
road led out of town and onto the flat bottoms that
lay east of New Albin. We each picked up a sturdy
stick to help us, as we trod along. Behind us, our
little town grew smaller. The further we traveled,
the narrower the road became. Soon, we found
ourselves in the middle of the marshland that
separated the terrace from the wetlands. Years of
constant maintenance kept the road from sinking
into the marsh. Certain areas of the old road had
disappeared and heavy planks had been positioned
as a bridge for the few that used this lowly
highway. We carefully made our way to the other
side. Water from the slough lapped over the edge
at times. Determined, we continued on.
     The road began to rise, as we ascended onto
higher ground. After resting a little while and
wishing that we had brought a snack, we pressed
on. Elm trees and giant cottonwoods surrounded
us, as we walked deeper into the woods. We
spotted a deer, just as it disappeared into the thick
foliage. Soft breezes blew through the trees and
the smell of the Islands drifted to our noses. Wild
flowers were in full bloom. Red, blue, violet and
white dotted the woodland floor.
     We walked on. We were familiar with this old
road. Daddy’s old Puddlejumper practically knew
every bump and rut. We remembered many
journeys back and forth to the Islands. Today, it
seemed further than we remembered. The
afternoon crept on and the sun moved toward the
bluffs of Iowa. The rain that drenched us the day
before had produced muddy puddles in the road;
we stepped around them.
     We paused to listen for sounds of Daddy’s
launch or his Puddlejumper. The wind sent fallen
leaves and sticks across our path. As if knowing
that we might enjoy a show, the leaves chased
each other in circles then dashed off into the
brush. We grew weary wishing that the sound of
the Puddlejumper would soon rumble toward us.
     Through the trees, we saw a sharp turn in the
road, marking the halfway point to the boat
landing. A fallen tree lay alongside the road. We
scrambled on top. Relieved to have reached this
point in our journey, we decided to stay put until
Daddy came.
     We chatted about how fun summer was. We
loved the river bottoms. Our imaginations took us
on fantastic journeys as Tarzan and Jane, Roy
Rogers and Dale Evans, Kings and Queens. We
hung onto vines that fell from towering trees,
swinging back and forth until we dropped to the
woodland floor. Fish cradles became our castles,
fallen trees, our fortresses.
     The sun had begun to drop behind the Iowa
bluffs when we heard a motor. Was it the
Puddlejumper? Excited we peered through the
trees waiting for the vehicle to appear. I jumped
down, standing close to the road. Jim grabbed onto
a branch and slid to the path. It wasn’t the Puddle
Jumper. Disappointed, we watched as Eezy Becker
rumbled toward us.         Seeing us, he slowed and
stopped. “What are you two kids doing way down
here?” Eezy demanded. He and Daddy were good
friends and fishing associates. He would often stop
by and say hello when we were at the Shanty on
the Islands.
     Jim exclaimed to Eezy, “We’re gonna meet
Daddy when he comes home.”
     I asked, “Have you seen him?”
     Eezy told us that he had not seen our dad and
that he was probably detained. He insisted that he
give us a ride back to town. We hesitated, looking
down the lonely road that led to the boat landing.
Finally, we climbed into Eezy’s pickup.
     Disappointed and tired, we silently rode with
Eezy back to town. He tried to explain how two
young kids should not be wandering around all
alone on that road. We listened, our heads held
low. After depositing us at our doorstep, Eezy
drove on. We thanked him for the ride and waved
     An hour or so later, Daddy arrived home. We
excitedly told him of our walk to the Islands. He
was not amused. We were scolded and ordered
never to do that again.
     Jim and I spent a lot of summer days together,
we played games with the neighbor kids, but we
mostly looked forward to traveling to the Islands
in the Puddlejumper. We never attempted to walk
to the Islands again. We visit our old home town
occasionally. One place that we head for is down
the road that runs from the back of town to the
old boat landing at the edge of the Islands.