The school day in Brigham City, Utah was like any other day. The autumn leaves were ablaze with color as the first taste of winter eased across the mountains, and the cool crisp air of the Rockies invigorated the populace. In an area steeped in tradition, the approaching holiday season filled it with anticipation of food, family, and friends. Thanksgiving, and Christmas were not just “Happy Holidays” here, there was a living link to the past, one that could be touched, smelled, and felt, so real that you could almost hear the creaking of the wagons bringing the original settlers through the mountain passes, forging a life out of a desert, and a salty lake.
“New Baby” had come here, too. His real name was Stevin, but, since he was the youngest of five his nickname was simply “New Baby.” Of late he insisted on being called “Babe,” but the original stuck somehow. All his life New Baby had to watch as his older siblings got on a big yellow bus and ventured off to a mysterious place called “school.” He languished, waiting for the day when he would be a big boy, and he, too, would be found worthy to mount the steps of the grand vehicle, and take his place among the giants in “school.”
New Baby, like his three brothers and sister, had been adopted. His mother had fallen into transgression back in Texas, where he’d been born, and his grandmother had taken the charge, adopting all of them, giving up a very prominent real estate career, and relocating to the Great Salt Lake. She had married a man named Joe. Joe was a Vietnam Vet. Three bronze stars, one silver, a Purple Heart, and a great big case of Agent Orange, awarded to him for his service. Right before his death Joe had purchased a home in Brigham City. The “Big Blue House,” the children called it, and they considered it to be a wonderland. It wasn’t as dry and hot as Texas, and there were trampolines, and swings, and apple trees. Two weeks before he died, Joe formally adopted all the children, and bequeathed them his legacy. The “Buddies,” as they called themselves, were secure for life.
Because of inter family jealousy, the complications of relocation, and every day life, on occasion the state would come around and reappraise the children and their situation. The result was always the same. They lived at a palace, ate the best food, had the best medical care, and knew it all came from Joe. New Baby missed Joe. Back in Texas Joe would go into his wood shop at Christmas, and make toys. The last Christmas found Joe in the National Cemetery at San Antonio, Texas. New Baby found himself pounding on the door of the shed, waiting for a toy that would never come.
Although he couldn’t quite comprehend the gravity of the situation, he somehow pieced together that his relocation to Brigham City was a kind of closure, and Texas seemed much farther away than heaven. At any rate, he was now in school, Thanksgiving would come, all was good. All but one final bit of business.
In order to tie the knot and finish the business in Texas, the state of Utah had to have one more “wellness” check for the Buddies. The very reason their birth mother had lost them was a tremendous tale of abuse that had left them scarred. All but New Baby. He had come to grandmother the day after he was born, and all he’d ever known was wood sheds, toys, and apple trees.
Today was the day for the final interview. It fell upon the girl, the oldest, to be drawn into the office for the meeting. She was nine, and had done this before so it wasn’t a big deal, that is until the final bell rang. She had a duty. She told the two caseworkers, and the principle that she had to go to take New Baby to the bus that would ferry him to the Boys and Girls Club. He played basketball after school. His older sister would meet him at his school room, take him to meet his other three brothers, and they would all go to the club where they would spend a couple of hours playing before grandmother picked them up, ending another perfect day in Paradise.
When New Baby exited his class the sister wasn’t there! She had been detained in the office by the two case workers, and the principle for more “pressing” business. In spite of her insistence, she sat there, locked down while New Baby waited by the classroom door. After a bit he worked his way to,the school yard. Perhaps she was there, or even his three older brothers could be there. Why, that’s where all the children go, isn’t it? It was his first year of school, and he hadn’t grasped the difference between recess, and dismissal. There were no children in the school yard!
Working his way back to the main hall, he passed his classroom again, completely ignored by the teacher, who was much too busy with her life to worry about one little lost boy trying to find his siblings. About that time another child told him that big sister was locked in the office! Unknown to him, while he was searching the school yard, his three older brothers had already boarded the bus, and were by now at the Boys and Girls Club. For the first time in his life, New Baby was alone!
He wiped his eyes, and formulated a plan. First, he had to face the fact that his family was gone. Next, he had to get back to Texas! PaPa, his grandfather was in Texas. The Boys and Girls Club was safe ground. During the summer PaPa had taken him there so he reasoned that somehow, someway, if he could just find his way there PaPa would come from Texas and save him, and he knew that Texas was just the other side of the mountain. So, without further thought, and absolutely no interference from the teacher, the caseworkers, or the principal, New Baby strode out of the front door of the school and began to try to find the Boys and Girls Club.
He had absolutely no idea where he was going. He wound his way down the residential street to another, and then another street until he came to a very large street, one with lots of speeding cars whizzing by. New Baby knew he had to take a chance, the time was now! If he ever wanted to find the Boys and Girls Club, and PaPa, he HAD to make it across this road. So he lunged out into the traffic.
Miracles appear when we least expect it. Somehow New Baby got across four lanes of traffic, only getting brushed by one car. His very presence there alarmed the motorists who stopped and secured him. By now, the fine public servants back at the school had become alarmed, the grandmother was there, big sister beside herself, and in short order, New Baby was back,with family at the Big Blue House.
The Mormons believe in Guardian Angels, and one was most certainly there that afternoon in Brigham City. Of course the case workers, the teacher, and the principal would begin the proper spin, in true bureaucratic fashion, so as to secure their pensions, dissecting the details of New Baby’ journey to “Bountiful,” but the core facts remain the same: a six year old child walked out of a public school, and strode into traffic because the people who were charged with his care, and protection were just too darn BUSY to be bothered. The Prophet, Joseph Smith was surely the crossing guard that day!