Author Maureen Haddock published Get a Bigger Wagon in 2005, followed by Get an Even Bigger Wagon in 2012. Small prairie towns in the nineteen fifties provided the ideal environment for children with independent spirits to develop into entrepreneurs. The townspeople encouraged industrious youngsters to build their characters while keeping their egos in check. This book tells the story of one such independent spirit and his adventures.

With Love, From Iraq is the love story of an entrepreneurial young couple, new to Canada, who faced many hardships while escaping Iraq.


The Drayman

Taken from Get a Bigger Wagon written by Maureen Haddock c 2005

It was one of those mornings in the fifties, in small town Saskatchewan, when the snow was almost gone and the gumbo clay roads smelled of dampness. The air was crisp and cool, yet the early morning sun felt warm on the cheeks. The little boy left his house with a full stomach of cereal and orange juice and began the walk to his friend’s home. The sun occasionally bounced off a puddle of water right into the little boy’s eyes, making him squint and contort his smooth little face until he resembled the adventurer he perceived himself to be.

His friend was ready when he knocked on the door. Both boys were wearing flannel shirts that offered cozy protection from the spring winds. Their blue-jeans were tucked into rubber boots that rose right to the creases in the backs of their knees. As always, the friend’s red wagon was in tow, just in case they came upon a valuable rock or an animal in need of help.

The two set out enthusiastically, chatting constantly as they headed toward the north end of town. They traveled through back alleys, backyards and water filled ditches, always looking for something to investigate. It was fun for them to let the gumbo collect in large blocks on the bottom of their boots and then wade gingerly into frigid water-filled ditches to dissolve the clay. Their feet could scarcely tell the feeling of cold from wet.

Suddenly, their adventure began. Just off the alley, right in front of them, was a huge garage with its doors open wide. This garage was filled to bursting with bottles! The boys looked at each other and without speaking, gathered up at least four cases that seemed to be slightly outside the garage, tucked them into the red wagon, and hastily began their retreat. Just as they turned to leave, a deep voice shouted, “Hey, what are you boys doing?”

The man gave chase and the two boys headed out as fast as their rubber boots would allow. They ran down the alley stumbling forward in their haste with one boy pulling the wagon and the other steadying the bottles. In spite of the substantial size of this man, he seemed to be gaining on them. The boys knew they would have to leave the wagon. They hoped he would stop to retrieve his bottles giving them time to get away.

Free of the wagon, but filled with adrenalin from the fear of being caught, they continued to run through the north end of town past the park and on to the downtown area. They didn’t stop there! They ran several blocks to the Esso Gas Station on the highway and on into the field where they approached a dugout. They slid to the inside edge of the dugout, pressing their tummies onto the damp ledge, leaving only the tops of their heads and their eyes peeking over to keep watch.

At first they lay very still, perhaps hoping to become part of the bank. Their flannel shirts were wet from the sweat of terror, excitement, and the relief of having escaped capture. It was a long time before they ventured out of their hiding place. The sun was high and hot and their stomachs were empty. The two decided to go home to the friend’s house for lunch.

The walk was long but enjoyable. They felt safe and secure that their identities were unknown. For a while they even allowed themselves to be a bit giddy about the whole incident.

As they rounded the corner to the friend’s house, they realized the adventure wasn’t over just yet. There, on the step to the house, sat the drayman. He, of course, owned the bottles they had collected from near his garage. He, of course, paid people to give them to him for resale. He motioned for the boys to sit down on the step beside him.

The drayman’s talk was something about stealing and where that can lead a boy and something about keeping this between them, as men. The part that stuck with the boys the most was that, if they were really in need, they should just ask for help but never should they steal.

The lesson was sinking in. Still, the boys were confused as to how the man had discovered who they were and even where one of them lived. They had to ask. The drayman rose and gave a stern look at each of them. It was clear that this had been a very serious morning. Then he slowly raised his hand and pointed one gnarly finger towards the name and address written inside the wagon.


During our years in business, my husband often gave someone a second chance by keeping a shoplifting incident between those involved. He often made it clear to them that if they were in need they should ask but never take. When I asked him what else he might have learned from this incident, he smiled and said, “Well, if you are going to do something silly, at least don’t leave your calling card.”

Caught in a Web

One hot July morning, in the late fifties, the boy wandered outside after savouring a breakfast of orange juice, milk, and toast drenched in syrup. The prairie sun had begun to warm the trees, and as the dew evaporated from the leaves, a bitter green fragrance filled the air. The boy closed his eyes, inhaled deeply, and smiled.    

It wasn’t long before his lengthening legs had taken him down the main street of the small town and right to the door of his friend’s house. The boy enjoyed this friend’s ideas and his home had great things to explore. In the basement there was a working miniature train set, a pool table, and a fridge for soda pop and snacks. In the backyard, they were allowed to throw darts or shoot arrows into stacked, rectangular bales of hay.

The boys decided to start the day with a little archery practice. At the back of the friend’s garage, the bales of hay were stacked against the faded green siding. Attached to this straw wall there was a large bull’s eye. A line in the dirt marked the spot to stand while making a shot. Cheating was forbidden.

The boy and his friend placed arrows carefully into their bows and aimed at the target. The boy loved the sound of the arrows cutting through the air. He was disappointed when they missed the target. Often, they missed the bales, finding their way into the siding.

The boy and his friend fell into a game of war with an invisible foe. They hid behind a bale that they had dragged away from the garage. They engaged in full battle with an enemy they imagined was somewhere near the target. Their excitement escalated as they ran, yelled, and gestured dramatically. Then it was over. They fell to the ground, victorious.

Calm at last, the boys took in the scene. The garage wore arrows like a porcupine wears quills. Worst of all, one siding board had split horizontally, the full length of the building.  Looking into each other’s eyes, they knew what had to be done.    

Frantically, they began removing the arrows from the building, only to find that each arrow left a telltale pockmark in the old siding. In panic, they strategically relocated the heavy rectangular bales to camouflage most of their wrongdoings. Satisfied with the cover-up, they walked to the front yard, hoping no one would venture to the back in the next few days. After a moment of penance, they retreated to the front step. It was time to talk about how to spend the rest of their day.  

It was very hot outside, so the coolness of the friend’s basement appealed to them. This basement was very dark when the lights were out. They had often enjoyed the fun of sneaking up on one another, each trying to be the first to expose the other with a flashlight. In the intense darkness, the challenge was to avoid tripping over furniture or boxes. There were many obstacles in the basement. The friend’s mother held choir practice for her special singing ensemble in this space, and the boys often increased the difficulty of their game by scattering her stacking chairs, boxes of music, and coat racks throughout the room.  

This day began like all days in the dark basement. Shins were bumped. Flashlight bullets hit their targets. Sounds of injuries were dramatized, but when the friend tipped over his mother’s sewing basket and spools of thread rolled across the floor, a new idea was born. They could tie the metal legs of the chairs together with threads, and in the dark it would make movement difficult. 

With most of the choir chairs tied together, they blackened the basement, and declared a new kind of war. Walking into a thread would jiggle a chair, and the metal clatter would reveal the location of the hunted. The hunter would shower a beam of flashlight bullets on his prey. Death by flashlight seemed a little disappointing after such complex navigational maneuvers. The boys craved a more exciting conclusion to the moment of discovery.

The friend had another perfect idea. They should soak wads of toilet paper in water and squeeze them into bombs to throw at each other. The boys put aside their flashlights and enthusiastically prepared their new ammunition.

Once again in darkness, the boys were completely caught-up in their game. The battle was intense. An entire hour was lost as they crawled under the webs, ducking to avoid the wet mushy toilet paper bombs, and listening before aiming to throw one. The boy loved the swish of the wet bombs that sailed past him and grunted from the sting each time one hit its mark. This was war!  

Then it happened. The door opened, the light went on, and the soldiers, blinded by the brightness, heard a most threatening and unnatural sound. As their eyes grew accustomed to the light, they realized it was the friend’s mother. She was panicked. Choir practice would start in less than an hour. The basement had to be cleaned.  

The boys took a moment to look around them. It was a battlefield. Gobs of dripping tissue hung from chairs, which were twisted into unusual positions. Creative blockades made movement impossible. The walls beyond their battle were dripping with paper masses and looked as if a flock of pigeons resided just above. Some wet bombs clung to the floor, drying where they landed.  It looked terrible. It looked wonderful. It had been an amazing afternoon. Now, they were prisoners working for their captor. It was the perfect end to their battle.   

The last chair was replaced as the choir members began to arrive. The boy headed up the stairs toward the door. The last thing he heard as he left was something about being banned from the basement for the rest of the summer. The boy was sure the friend’s mother would relent, in time. She usually did. Meanwhile, the soldiers had already made a plan for the next day. They would ride their bikes to the nearest lake, just sixty miles away.


When I heard this story, I felt sympathy for the friend’s mother. I asked my husband what he could possibly have learned from this incident. He said, “Well, sometimes you can’t see your idea until someone sheds some light on it. Also, not everyone will appreciate your ideas. Even more important is the notion that if you make a mess in your life, you have to clean it up, or in some cases, pay it off!”

With Love, From Iraq

Excerpt from With Love, From Iraq: A True Story of Hope, Perseverance, and Becoming Canadian

Maysoon Has the Best Day of Her Life (Chapter 10)

One day, in late summer, Wajid and Maysoon made a plan to attend the carnival that had, temporarily, sprung up in Maysoon’s neighbourhood. Following cultural expectations, they arranged for their siblings to act as chaperones. Maysoon planned to leave the house on Sunday morning, with her younger brother, saying that they were going to church. Waiting until Sunday was harder than either Maysoon or Wajid could have imagined. 

That morning, instead of going to church, Maysoon and her brother set out to meet Wajid and his sisters. From a distance, Maysoon could see Wajid. Everything around him seemed blurred. She walked toward him, trying to appear calm, but feeling completely imbalanced. Her heartbeat felt uneven; she thought she might faint.

Making a Home in Istanbul (Chapter 28)

While they were still in the tiny hotel room, Wajid sprayed their new space for bugs and gave it time to air. The hallway leading to their room had a doorway onto the street, as well as one to the backyard. The door to the street didn’t lock and was rarely closed. Passersby had continually tossed litter into the dark passageway. Maysoon carried thirteen large bags of garbage from the hall and stairs before they could begin cleaning. Rats and scorpions were common visitors. One day, Maysoon saw a large cat. She was horrified to discover, upon closer investigation, that it was an enormous rat. After that, she barely noticed the smaller things like mice and centipedes. Maysoon and Wajid worked diligently to rid their room of all these disease-carrying creatures. Wajid painted over the mouldy walls, but within hours the white began to darken in places. He knew it would be an ongoing battle to keep the mould at bay.