LOOKING BACK: A royal visit and a big royal screw up

LOOKING BACK: A royal visit and a big royal screw up

Herb Moore

By Herb Moore

Special to the Chronicle

We’re going back a few years, about 80.

The king and queen decided to visit Canada and I think the month was May. It had been planned that us kids would get to see them. I was going to school in the small town of Deroche,  a very small town in the upper Fraser Valley, and we were taken by school bus to Abbotsford where their train would stop for a short viewing. I reckon I’d be around eight years old.

After a two-mile walk to school we were loaded on the school bus for the trip to Abbotsford. I don’t remember how long a trip that would have been in those days; close to two hours I’d think. After being taken off the bus we were put on a freshly made grandstand to wait for the royal train to arrive.

And there they were standing at the rear of their coach waving to us folks, old and young. I can still remember seeing them. Wow! It was quite something. It would be many years until I got to view royalty again.

The train pulled out and I just had to wait to be loaded on the school bus for the trip home, and wait I did. Time went by and I realized that soon I was all alone on that grandstand walking end to end trying to see others from the school. No luck. The sun had faded and soon the air started to chill. Gotta say I was getting scared and not the only one.

My mom and dad, brother and sisters were getting anxious, too. We didn’t have a phone on the farm; they had no way of contacting other families other than walking to their homes to hear if their kids were missing. Finally, dad decided to locate the school bus driver who lived on a farm within walking distance to question why I hadn’t made it home.

After dad questioned him regarding head counts it turned out the driver had never felt the necessity in the past as the kids just waited to be picked up at roadside and dropped off at school. I did not use the bus as we lived close enough to the school; only a couple of miles.    

Without hesitation the driver agreed to take my dad and brother over to Abbotsford to have a look for me. Of course, by then, it was getting real late, but I remember it well. Huddled shivering on the wooden grandstand, no one around and feeling abandoned, I cried, but it didn’t help; time just dragged on and then I heard something. Yes, it was getting louder. Then a sound I’ll never forget. “Herb, Herb, where are you?” My dad and my brother called my name. I don’t remember the trip home; reckon I slept most of the way.

To this day I’m not sure why I missed the bus. I’ve always been a bit of a loner so probably sat by myself, so missed out on loading. I kinda think back to being real uncomfortable and having to answer a call of nature, and the only place I could hide out was underneath the grandstand. So  maybe I was otherwise  occupied when they were loading.     

Seems to me there was a fair amount of discussion between my folks and the school regarding bus trips the following week.