Ed glanced at his wife, chewing a length of straw like a bat fighting a downdraft. He’d seen his share of miraculous beginnings – calves, chicks, kittens. But this was different. Alma shot Ed a look of feral angst that left his suspenders quivering on a high A, maybe B flat. He had to act. Now. Ed put one long arm around his swollen wife and gingerly settled her in the back seat of Henry and Agnes' 1933 Nash 1120. Agnes–Alma's sister–and husband Henry shone dimly yet indispensably in Ed's clouded vision of the moment's significance. A single bead of sweat formed on his left temple despite the October chill, held in place by grit stubbornly resisting gravity. Dust. Always dust. Blowing the greed of Yankee industry west across southern Kansas like thoughts through a man’s plague-fevered mind. Swirling, surreal, slipping through cracks to coat the hidden machinery of life. No choices now. Alma and his seed, his posterity, needed expertise Ed’s plow-hardened hands lacked. They started for Meade, hoping that at least one man remained tethered to his home during the vagaries of storm and darkness. Eerie blackness thickened with the broken earth that had first enticed them into making a go of farming. Parallel ditch shadows served as macabre guides past parched fields to the clouded lights of community. 1500 farmers, preachers, bankers, blacksmiths, mothers, children...and one doctor. Alma groaned. Henry coaxed the Nash to Doc’s house and Ed dove into the thick air, stumbled to the front door. He pounded and pounded, desperation strengthening each tendon, each muscle. Finally, a voice with no more than ten years' experience hollered wildly through the door, “Ma and Pa ain’t here!” “But we need a doctor! My wife’s about to pop!” “Pa ain’t here! He ain't here.” A man of narrow experience but wide heart and deep duty, Ed knew his role in the next scene of God’s drama. "Henry - we've got to go on to Fowler." Henry nodded, and they started the painful 15 mile crawl to a town half the size of Meade. Two more drops of sweat joined the first on Ed's temple as Alma's time clearly drew closer. But Fowler produced no more doctors than Meade had. Not wasting time on pleasantries, Ed yelled to Henry, "Minneola!" Another ten miles to an even smaller human-made, wilderness-defying wide spot in the dirt road. Nothing. No one to help. Ed and Henry consulted with terse phrases, furrowed brows, hidden fears. Their last, best hope was 20 miles due north: Dodge City. Though its fame as the "Wickedest City in America" had faded decades earlier and the Earps and Mastersons had ridden their last raids, Dodge was not first on any Mennonite's list of sacred grounds. "We gotta do it, Ed." "I know, Henry, but..." Then, from a place long hidden in his Anabaptist ancestors' past, Ed felt a growing impulse to resist fear, a sense of rightness and courage, stamina to embrace the pilgrim's life again. The urge spread to every atom in his soul, inflating Ed to his body's formidable height. He set his jaw toward the city of sin, spat out the last pulp of chewed straw, and nodded to Henry. "We're wastin' time." Though they were bumping inexorably toward the last battle, into enemy territory, Ed felt nothing but an urge to get on with it. Alma's contractions were separated by fewer and fewer minutes. The car bounced like a baby goat stretching for its running mother's teat. But a bleak smile formed on Ed's face. His eyes focused, piercing the roiling dust. Alma was going to give birth to his first-born in Dodge, a city turned from darkness to light by this shining act of defiance. Ed remembered little of what happened next. They never found a physician, but a chiropractor lent them his four-poster bed and ultimately adequate skills. Marilyn Joyce Enns was born on October 18, 1937, in Dodge City, Kansas. Not far away, in the Mennonite community of Pretty Prairie, two-year-old Elwyn LaVerne Schrag slept soundly in his parents' two-story farm house. Marilyn and Elwyn eventually crossed paths, received demerits for holding hands at Grace Institute of the Bible, and married. They gave birth to Lynelle, Lori, Brian, and Brad. All Kansas-born. All imbued with the Mennonite leanings toward pilgrimage and defiance.