Join in the continuation as Bridget, who made the best of her days in Coldwater until she aged out of the system, decides to make the trek to Sanilac County in search of her orphaned siblings. Is her quest to find them too late?
Many a night I cried myself to sleep over missing them. Each time I looked in the mirror I was reminded of my twin, and I spent years feeling like I had lost half of myself. Still, when the sun rose each morning, I reminded myself I was alive, and God put me on this earth for a reason. It was my job to figure out just what that reason was.
Catherine, the other orphan train rider that landed in Coldwater with me, placed-out almost immediately, and I hugged her goodbye on the day she left. I never saw her again. We hadn’t had time to become close, not really, but our shared experience had been enough to bind us. I was left to wonder if I would always feel so alone.
One year bled into the next, and I thrived with the daily routine at Coldwater. Many children came and went while the majority of the staff remained. I, too, remained and stayed at Coldwater until I aged out when I turned 18. With all of my kitchen experience, I gained work immediately at the Branch Hotel & Restaurant; proprietors Mr. and Mrs. Day ensured I earned a fair wage, and they offered a small room, so I could stay right at the hotel. The room was little more than an oversized closet, but it suited me fine. I preferred to spend my time in the kitchen working, and I formed a strong bond with Mrs. Day. Often, when I was off the clock, I remained in the kitchen because I loved her company, and she, mine. Mr. and Mrs. Day taught me family sometimes had little to do with genetics.
As soon as I had enough money to pay my fare and with a promise to the Days that I would return, I told them of my intentions to make my way to Sanilac County to search for Donovan and Feena. I had no idea where to start, not really. It was Mr. Day who suggested I start at the Sanilac County Courthouse and look at the most recent plat map to see if I could find any parcels owned by Mr. Carpenter. At least, then, I would know where in the county to begin my search. It was hard to say if Mr. Carpenter was still in Sanilac County – or if Donovan and Feena were. It was 1932, and the Great Depression added to the uncertainty of the times. Donovan would be 21. Depending on their circumstances, Donovan could have taken Feena and left the Carpenters when he turned 18 provided he could support himself and my twin.
I had more questions than answers, but the Sanilac County Courthouse in Sandusky was a place to start.
Mr. Day saw me to the depot to ensure I safely got on my way, and he reviewed once more my route along with what trains I would have to connect with at which stations. I commented aloud to Mr. Day how few people were lingering about as we waited for the train to arrive at the Coldwater station. Mr. Day explained the Depression was beginning to take its toll, and people couldn’t afford the fares as they once did. He wondered aloud whether the Depression would cripple the railroads; there was so much uncertainty. I knew business had been slower at the Branch Hotel, too, but I had never really considered much beyond my immediate world.
My journey proved uneventful for the most part and offered me more than ample time to reflect on my life – and if I found Donovan and Feena – where my life would take me from here. A hotelier all of his life, Mr. Day had advised I stay at the McDonald Hotel in Sandusky since it was within walking distance of the Sanilac County Courthouse; it was my great relief that upon arriving at the Sandusky depot, I noted that a coach from the hotel was already waiting to pick up passengers from the daily Detroit, Bay City & Western (DBC&W) train. I handed my one lone suitcase to the station attendant, who promptly stored it and assisted me in boarding the coach while the two horses waited somewhat impatiently to transport me and two other passengers to the hotel.
Be sure to look for the continuation next month as Bridget continues to search for her siblings, Donovan and Feena. Would her trip to Sanilac County's Sandusky give her more questions than answers?
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