THE BALLAD OF BADGE #1696
“GUARD SHACK FEVER”
Through the Main Gate’s guard house wall…
came the winter wind’s wildest call…
Head North! Young Man!
‘less fortune and fame
fall upon a luckier name!
Officer 1696 of the security crew…
the soot blackened, hard working miners all knew…
sat in the shack on his tush
with a steady job of cush
to man the gate
and paid to wait…
for the coal and taconite ships’ first line
to watch the mine…
and whittle away his time!
When the winter sun sank in that dimmest of shacks
he heard arctic wolves howling through hoarfrosted cracks…
the wicked north wind would taunt and tease
and never cease to blow!
He smelled the smoke of the fire’s ease
and welcomed its orange-yellow glow!
Dreaming of huskies, head nodding indeed…
harness the team with Fisher in lead!
put Pine Marten in point, Sitka in swing
this trail-saavy team is worth some ka-ching!
with Mail Pail, Wolverine, and Woodsmoke in wheel
always in search of the next warm meal!
Mushing along the trapline trail…
dusting his tracks with a red fox tail
howling their woes in stunted spruce stands
frostbitten fingers in far away lands!
guard shack fever was making him sad
he battled his brain ‘til he woke half mad!
Still the wind would wildly beckon…
just how, his poor mind strove to reckon
the crazed man’s vision timelessly endured…
‘til his lonesome spirit was almost cured!
when at last, the great awakening came…
Badge devised his getaway game!
Trade in the steady cush
for adventure! deep in the bush!
stumbling out of the shack
and without looking back
he left the main gate…
while up at the outpost, awaited his mate!
She made up the grubstake, nothing they lacked
the outfit was readied, loaded and packed
harnesses, toboggan, rifle and lead
she mended his snowshoes, gill net and sled
a kettle, wool blankets, some rope and a tarp
traps, snares and his axe, razor sharp!
They drank up the wine, made no delay…
Hike! Huskies! Hike and Away!
a beautiful sight: they lit out with passion!
tapping a tail wind, legend in action!
He wintered up north, God only knows where…
six-dog dirty and loaded for bear!
the trapper Badge was, he covered his track…
but would he, could he, ever go back?
Erik Simula, Badge #1696.