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A miracle on the tracks (04/13/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
A railroad train and a little Lewiston girl became big news in Winona's Republican-Herald on July 15, 1939! There may be some who will recall the incident. It was news to me, as I read the newspaper article.

Lewiston natives, we began writing to one another some time ago. Anne Cady Grulkowski and I have been sharing stories of our families and our childhoods. The Cady family lived on a farm on the outskirts of Lewiston. They later built the Country Club on the property. Anne rode her pony where we now live, on Second Street South.

Anne's 1939 newspaper copy reads: "Being Run Over By a Train Is Fun, Thinks Ann Louise Cady, Unhurt."

Anne Louise Cady, 22 months young, had toddled after her sister Irene, who proceeded to ride her bicycle to a neighbor's farm on that fateful July afternoon. By the time the little girl had reached the railroad tracks she sat down between the rails to pick out shiny, pink quartz pebbles to take home to "Mommy."

She was oblivious to the westbound Chicago & North Western freight train as it headed her way at about 3:30 P.M. A very devastated engineer, J.H. Deegan, slammed on the air brakes and tugged at the whistle cord. A frightened Anne Louise sprawled face down in the ballast between the tracks when she realized she had no chance to flee! Conductor J.S. McDonagle of Waseca nearly had a stroke!

"Engineer Deegan's heart ground and ached with each strain of steel as the freight ground to a stop," the newspaper stated. Miraculously, the train crew found Anne Louise still on the tracks, but unhurt. Eight railroad cars had passed over the child. From her house Ruth Cady had heard the shrill blasts and ran toward the crossing thinking cattle were on the tracks. What a shock when the engineer appeared, carrying her child in his arms!

"Anne Louise sat up straight and fearless. She said nothing, although she is able to talk a bit, but she seemed to think it was nice to be carried back from her long walk down to the tracks. She didn't even cry."

Thus ends the 1939 newspaper article. Anne recalls that after the incident she was in a state of shock for three days and rocked in the rocker saying little. Back on the tracks, it had been her naptime, and she had been asleep just before the freight came upon her. The train had stopped just in time, before the pipe from the caboose could strike her.

Mentioning to me that this incident in her young life is one of the reasons for her deep, unwavering faith in Christ, Anne is indeed an inspiration! She has become a great writing companion and a friend. We once lived across Lewiston's Harrison Street from one another, when our Kelly was a toddler and her four were youngsters. Our busy, private lives had kept us from getting acquainted.

Anne's late father, Harold Cady, served on the Lewiston School Board for 15 years. He was a friend of my Grandpa Harry Lewis' family. At the same time, I vividly remember her mother Ruth as an attractive and classy lady with an artistic flair. Ruth showed me how to paint sunflowers with fluid, sweeping strokes on the backdrop for our LHS senior class play, "Green Valley." She also applied everyone's makeup.

The "Cady" name was as well known as "Lewis" was"¦way back when. Anne's paternal grandparents, Ed and Caroline Edith Cady, had lived on the homestead down the road from the Brethren Church. They were Sabbath 7th Day Christians. Anne cherishes happy memories of summers spent with her Grandma Caroline Edith after her Grandpa passed away.

It makes me feel grounded to have someone from the "old school" to reminisce with as we share memories from years gone by.

"Dear Anne,"¦"

Janet Burns is a lifelong resident of Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.

 

 

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