It took almost an hour to clear the bridge of the cars so that the caravan of vehicles could pass over it. Mostly they were able to pop the older vehicles into neutral and just push them off the bridge, with JJ and JP steering and working the brakes. They rolled pretty easily; they just had to be careful because some rolled backwards down the slope of the bridge. The kids had a blast and really thought they were helping big time, which helped them feel like they were fitting in.
Those from the hospital stayed in their vehicles: one van, one suburban whose seats had been removed to make more room, an old Frito Lay truck that had been there to make a delivery to the snack machines, and two ambulances that they got running at the last minute. Patrick’s family had also made it to St. Jude’s with the two trucks that he said he had (he just failed to mention that they were big enough to almost be called semi’s), the one jeep and they had, and a bus that they got running. The two mini-semi’s finished pushing all the more stubborn vehicles off the bridge and the group was on its way as soon as they recovered Bobby Joe’s truck.
In Payneway, they stopped and a fire was started to signal their friends that they had just dropped of there- was it only this morning? They went ahead and figured they may as well get everyone fed and take stock of what and who they all had while they waited for Jim and Ron.
“For just the six of us, we sure did manage to gather quite a bit,” observed Sparky.
The six friends grinned at each other. “Yeah, we seem to have the attraction that a dog has to fleas” snipped Sparky “Only we seem to have gotten some good fleas.”
Sam helped Sandra get out of the ambulance and made her comfortable in the fresh air, not too close to the fire. The sick kids were helped out also and made comfortable too. Patrick and his family donated enough food to fill everyone’s bellies with a good meal.
Everyone had canned stew and homemade biscuits that Patrick’s mom whipped up fast and cooked them over part of the fire where she rigged up a camp oven that her husband had made her for camping trips.
Since there really wasn’t time for everyone to meet everyone else in Memphis, they decided to go ahead and get everyone acquainted while they ate. Halfway through the meal, Jim and Ron pulled up on a couple of bicycles that looked like they were from the fifties.
They about wiped out at seeing the big group of people laughing and joking around, with everyone having big grins on their faces, and great smelling food in their hands. It was indeed an impressive sight; especially with some of the kids hooked up to portable IV stands.
After the food was gone and things cleaned up and repacked; many decisions had been made.
Patrick and his family were practically begged to stay and live in Payneway and the children from St. Jude’s were to go with the rest of the group to Harrisburg since there was a clinic there. Not to mention, Momma Sue.
Total of those staying in Payneway:
Pat (Patrick’s dad)
Melinda (Patrick’s mom)
Sara (Patrick’s wife)
Patrick and Sara’s children:
Megan- age 13
Morgan- age 13 (yep, twin girls)
Matthew- age 11
Marcus- age 8
Belinda (Patrick’s sister)
Ryan (Belinda’s husband)
Belinda and Ryan’s children:
Bryan- age 16
Jacob- age 14
“Bean-Sprout” aka: Clarissa Joy- age 5
Total of those going on to Harrisburg:
Dr. Margaret Rutherford
And four nurses:
And the ten children:
Molly Evans- age 2 months
Mikey Sinclair- age 5
Todd Belmont- age 5
Annie Hayes- age 6
Ethan King- age 8
Emma Stone- age 8
Julie Freeman- age 9
Ricky Smith- age 10
Georgie Bennett- age 11
Brennon Michaels- age 12
JP was getting ready to climb into the big truck, when he popped off with “Too bad the cell towers don’t work, or we could keep in touch by cell phone.”
Big Mac and Doc looked at each other and hollered over to Ron and Jim who were getting ready to lead Patrick and his family to their new home.
“Hey Ron! Jim! Hold on a sec, we’ve got an idea” Big Mac yelled, and then sauntered over to tell them the idea.
“Young JP gave us a great idea, see that cell tower there?” All the men looked up at the tall silent tower that was just a few hundred yards away. “I don’t see why we couldn’t see a light at night or a brightly colored flag of some sort during the day, especially with some good binoculars. If you look over that way towards our town, you can just make out the cell tower there.” Now all the men looked east to spot the far away cell tower. “Maybe we can rig up some sort of signal if either of us need some help, like one steady beam for big bad trouble, blinking light for need help, no danger; and maybe we can find a colored piece of clear material that is green for all is well, just checking in” finished Big Mac.
Bobby Joe spoke up and said “We need a red light for danger, do NOT come.”
“You’re right,” replied Ron “We will need some sort of arranged signals, like if we could use a doctor and such.”
“We need to train the nurses to be doctors and everyone should have some sort of medical training. I’m hoping that the doctor will train people in her spare time and then we can see if someone wants to move here permanently. You can send your people to town a couple at a time then to be trained. I’m sure we will be working closely with each other especially since we have all these fertile fields in between us that I’m sure we all will be using. Why don’t we set up a day and time for a meeting to work all these little and big ideas out so that things can go smoothly and safely for all of us?” said Doc.
Dr. Rutherford broke in “That sounds real good, but boys, we really need to get these kids to their new home and settled in. This is a lot of stress on them and that is not good.”
So it was quickly decided that in ten days there would be a meeting in Payneway.
And the caravan rolled on home.