Memories

The Arcade

I was at Bedford Place Mall yesterday morning, and being an early bird Giant Tiger wasn’t yet open.  This mall is kinda like a wasteland now, other than Giant Tiger and Dollarama, there’s not a ton of businesses, or traffic.  At least I guess not, being the early bird I am, I don’t see it anyway I guess!

But while waiting, I wandered through the mall, and had a look around.  Not going to give you the directory, but there are a couple of interesting shops for card collectors and giftware anyway.  But this, to me at least, was new.  An Arcade!  Self serve by the looks of things, and can even pay by phone now!

It reminded me of years back, going with Mom and Dad to Clarenville to get groceries.  There was an arcade in Dalfens Mall then (it’ll always be Dalfens Mall to me) – owned by Eric Freeborn I believe.  If memory serves, it may have been once upstairs over the Chain Store too? Or was that just the video store owned/run by Scott MacDonald? (I need to write about that too, I nearly bought a Betamax!).

Somehow, it was always dark, and Dad would give me a dollar or two, and I’d run over and play a few games.  We never had much money to spare, so my dollar usually was just 4 games, each game being a quarter each, and used to have to get change from someone on the counter.  I was never very good at most games.  I had some skill with a few, but they were usually not in the arcades long either, with a constant rotation of games coming and going. It didn’t matter much though, I enjoyed watching others play nearly as much as playing myself, and learning how in the process.

I really can’t even remember the games now, I bet Pac Man, Galaga, Defender and Zaxxon were the constants.  I do seem to remember Ms. Pac Man too.

One lasting memory though, was looking at my watch, or the clock, and realizing I said I’d be back to meet Mom and Dad at the CO-OP and that the arcade would be closing,  turning and making for the door in a hurry, only to realize it had already closed when I ran face first into the glass door!

The Cremation

Back in the early 90’s I think it was, one of our regular clan, and one of the hosts of our semi-regular poker games, Ivan Patey, went away to the mainland for work.  He’d been gone a while, and none of us (the gang of people, I can’t speak for his family) had heard from him in quite some time.

Anyway, we had no clue how he was doing, or where he was, and yes we kinda missed and worried about him.  But of course we can’t show that!

We also have our streaks of dark humour, morbid if you will, and I’m sure most do, and while we were pretty sure he was ok (and he was) we also joked around that he had died.  Yeah it may not be funny to you, and sorry if not, but at the time, in the moment, we did, and I think he would see the humour in it too.

Around the same time, someone, Don Hart or Gary Cooper had the old club open again for a spell.  Never a very “going concern” business I don’t think, but was convenient for us.  In the closet there was an old jean jacket vest over a hoodie (memory fades, not exactly sure the look now) and no one ever claimed it.  I think it may have been there since before the club re-opened, but no idea.  It did however look exactly (to a few of us anyway) like one Ivan used to wear, so we claimed it as his.

One night, feeling especially mournful, a couple of us, who I’ll leave nameless, felt it was time to pay our respects.  So we took the jacket to the beach and set it afire and said a few words for our departed friend (departed for Toronto that was).

Missed ya then, and miss ya now buddy.  Sometimes I wish things could be as they were.

The Alouette

“Alouette, gentille alouette”

We probably all sang that song in elementary school, though I’m sure I massacred it worse than most.  The song isn’t the only memory of that name though!

Back in the…umm..80s? and maybe before, as he had it a long time, Ross Smith had an old Alouette Snow mobile, very like the one pictured.

Later on he sold it to Dad, I hope for not very much, because to be honest it wasn’t worth very much! I did get to have a few adventures on it, one I’ve documented before.  Though more of a great memory of Uncle Hay than an adventure really. We went out on the sound on it fishing one year when it froze over, you can read about it by clicking this sentence.

I’m sure the machine in its time was a good one, but it was, if memory serves, a 1974 model, and weighed about 4 billion pounds.  For those who know such things, it had a 2 cylinder Kohler engine, it was probably very like the one mentioned in this article.  The 440cc that is.  It also had a center drive track that we had to replace, was pretty rotted out when we got it.  I think we had to order it in, and if I remember correctly, from Parts Unlimited (Thanks Dennis, I couldn’t remember the name) that was just in past Murphy’s as you went in around Shoal Harbour.   I remember Elvis Cooper and I stopped there too on our trip down to his cabin one winter.

It had a speedometer on it, and god knows how accurate it was, but I once took it on the ice up to Snook’s Harbour, and though it wasn’t running on both cylinders correctly, the thing was clocking 80mph.  I’m sure that was inaccurate, but it could definitely bang along!

But like I said it was heavy, you needed to be a lot stronger than me to deal with it to be honest.  Also was a pull start, and that could strain the guts out of you just getting it going.  I once took a ride in to Island Pond path behind Apsey Brook (which if you know the area, wasn’t a very good path to begin with), and when on the way out, slid off the track a little right by a goowitty scrape which sloped down to the brook.

Of course I couldn’t budge it, and of course, like always, it flooded, I ended up walking all the way out and having to ask Sam Kelly to come in and help me get it out.

After that, I honestly don’t remember much about it, which is probably for the best.

Afterthought: Lorne Patey also had an old Ski-Doo once.  A 1972 Evinrude I think it was.  Another name you don’t associate with snow mobiles anymore!

March of Dimes

Short post, but for whatever reason, was driving along somewhere today, and something jogged my memory of the March of Dimes, or more specifically, the little folder we got at school (I think).

It wasn’t exactly like the one pictured, I think it held more dimes for one thing, but also I seem to remember it being blue.  I really just remember trying and sometimes succeeding in getting dimes insert into the little slits.

I believe the charity used the dimes for Polio research, or similar to that.  Anyone else have memories and pictures of that?

Dr. Chase’s Almanac

Nowadays we seem to have the Farmer’s Almanac, and maybe we did when I was a boy too, but what I remember most is the Chase’s Almanac.  Like all of the, full of anecdotes, and bathroom reading material, and planting times etc.

Oh me Nerves!

Oh me Nerves!

But I think what stood out most were the ads.  I’m not sure where the almanac came from, whether we bought it, or if it were delivered door to door, but the ads were for things that no store carried, or at least none that I remember.  The biggest being Dr. Chase’s Nerve Pills.  As my buddy Eric would say, Oh me nerves!

Another thing I remember was that it had a puzzle in the middle.  I guess one crossword a year was enough for most people!  Actually if memory serves the crossword was part of some contest.  Anyone have any pictures or memories of it?

Radio Phone – Over

A short post tonight, but was somehow reminded of Radio Telephones today.  I can’t say I have much memory or experience with them, but there was a time when I was a small boy that for some reason dad was away for work.  Somehow I think it was only over around Clifton, but though that seems close, it is quite a jaunt, especially back in those days on gravel roads, and it quite likely was in winter.

rotary_1I am pretty sure it was winter cause my memory is pretty vivid of talking to him on our old white rotary dial phone, and it being dark outside.  I was pretty small, and was never a late night kid (some things never change).

What was kinda cool, or not cool about those phones was that you could talk, or listen, but not both at the same time (half-duplex vs. full-duplex), so the people on the phone had to take turns.  When you were done speaking, you’d say “over” so the other person knew you were done and then they could speak.

Small memory, but another small one with dad; I remember that holding that big old receiver and talking to him and saying “over”.

All The World’s a Stage

stage2floatsA fish stage that is! Been having ideas for things lately, but thats another topic and another site… 🙂 But it led me to remembering the old fish stages back home when I was growing up. Dad never worked as a fisherman, and we never had a stage of our own, but like everyone we went fishing and used others, or at least was in them lots.

I remember most especially Uncle Lionel Kelly’s stage, with all the wooden barrels and tubs, not the more plastic of today, though of course times change!  The old splitting table, with the little piece of wood nailed to it to hold the fish against when cleaning (does that have a name?).  Using an old double mitt to hold the fish so it wouldn’t slip around.  The old splitting knife, give a quick flick and the fish quickly slid into a tub.splitting_table

tubsGaffs and hand nets hung on the wall, floats and buoys and grapnels everywhere.  A twine loft with nets, the old …. um the name escapes me…. thingy with a bobbin of twine that he could quickly slide in and out to mend tears in the nets.
One tub was full of cod livers making cod liver oil, an old punt or dory outside with a sculling oar.  God that man could scull a boat!

Outside on the bank, flakes to dry the fish and caplin racks to dry the caplin. I don’t remember his stage having one, but many also had a smoker, used to smoke herring into kippers and smoke caplin into… well smoked caplin!  I’m not sure if they smoked other fish as well, maybe mackerel?

Of course us small boys were out on the wharf head a lot, catching tansys and conners and flatfish, and beating the occasional scuplin off rather than touch it!

The pictures here are of Raymond Blundell (in the hat) and Cecil Trowbridge, taken by my buddy Eric.  The stage and gear is Raymond’s Appreciate all their help, love the memories it stirs!

Calling All Kids!

One of the major things that’s changed over the years, is the sense of safety we enjoyed as kids.  No we weren’t any less brave or less of risk takers than today’s kids, but there was a sense that everyone watched out for everyone’s kids, and also that there were no external dangers like stalkers and the like.

We often were told to go outside in the morning, and unless hungry, may not be seen again till the evening.  Wherever you were, whoever had food, usually got something for you, even if it was a slice of jam bread.

But we also had to listen for when we were called to come home, and were expected to come right away.  Sound carried far in those small communities, there wasn’t any background traffic, or industry.  You could hear a door close pretty much anywhere.  But some people could be heard even further!

My Aunt Vick had this call, I’m not sure what to call it, maybe the closest thing was a yodel, but whatever you call it, it was piercing, and we had no trouble hearing her up at bottom from their house a half mile away.

There was also Ralph Smith. Ralph didn’t call out for Lorne (his nephew, who lived with him) he whistled.  And did that whistle carry.  Once, during a wind storm, the remnants of a hurricane I believe, we were on the beach, quite a way from their house, but even with all the wind, and the lop breaking, we could hear Ralph when he whistled.

Remembering Ralph also reminds me of another story.  He had this big old car, of course I guess almost all the cars were big back then, but anyway… It had some weird wiring issue.  In those days, you could turn “back” the ignition to turn on accessories, listen to the radio, etc.  This old cars ignition was so worn that you could do that without the key.  Well for whatever reason, when you did that, and turned on the radio, pressing the brake pedal would start the car!

Of course time muddles memories, and the exact combination of actions may be mixed up, but the story is true!

Nar bit Contrary!

Dad (Willis), Hay, Mae (Litty), Lawrence, Lindo Smith

Dad (Willis), Hay, Mae (Liddie), Lawrence, Lindo Smith

Dad’s brother Lindo died in 1979, when I was 14. I don’t have a lot of fully fleshed out memories of him, but lots of little anecdotes I guess. From other people’s recollections, I’m pretty sure he was liked quite a bit, though some or all might say he was a teensy bit contrary. I really doubt that, I mean saying snow was black just to be contrary isn’t contrary right?

He was a carpenter, lastly working at Stanley’s in Clarenville. But besides that I know Aunt Vick had the post office in Snook’s Harbour (can still remember the mail slots in the old porch) and also they had a store (who didn’t?) with this huge old cash register.

Whatever he may or may not have been, I know he seemed to be good with kids, or me anyway. If Mom or Dad had to be away, we mostly always seemed to stay with Aunt Vick and Uncle Lindo, and if I was up in Snook’s Harbour playing ball or whatever, it was like a second home to me, always a place at the table.

One of my memories of Uncle Lindo was from when I was there eating. I have an odd delicacy I love. Trout tails! Yes, that’s what I meant. If you fry trout in pork fat and flour the tails become crispy and tasty, like trout bacon, and I love them. When ever I was up at Uncle Lindo’s and there were trout, he’d always cut the tails off and give them to me, remember that so vividly!

I have another memory of spending time with him down in his stage looking after the salt cod. Just me and him, I don’t recall much else, but something about it sticks with me and makes me feel…. warm.

Another was of his two dogs, Fuzzy and Fluffy, who, if I remember correctly would only eat cat food! And he’d feed it to them from a fork or spoon.

Another was his love of wrestling, he’d watch it in the dark in the living room up in Snook’s Harbour, where all I could make out on the screen was snow. We used to go to Clarenville stadium in those days to see the likes of Sailor White and Mad Dog Vachon.

Datsun 620

I also remember he had this Datsun B210 for a car, I can hear the beep beep now. Was unusual to see a Japanese car back home in those days. He also had at one point, I believe, a Datsun pickup. It was white, and seemed to have all these compartments in the side of the box, or at least I think it did.
One of the more vivid memories though was a camping trip we took at some point when I was a boy. Mom and Dad, Keith and I, Uncle Lindo and Aunt Vick. We did a lot of booting about, places I don’t recall really. I remember one spot where him and I were trouting from this little rocky point. I also remember a fire one time where we roasted flings (those curved cheesie things) – they were made with real cheddar and tasted like yummy melted cheese.

But the best, or the worst part was one night we made camp after dark. It was wet, the old canvas tents would leak easily if you touched a point of canvas, and we were all pretty miserable. After getting to sleep, at some point during the night we were wakened by the unholy racket of a train passing by a few feet away. In the dark, we had set up tents right next to the train track without noticing!

Show and Tell

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Tool drawers from Santa, cap gun from Santa, Chimpy Puzzle from ?

One of the things that was common in my community at least during Christmas, was show and tell. This was more for adults than your elementary school show and tell though.  But I remember we used to always visit Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, and sometimes just others in the community during the week or two after Christmas.

We’d have a cup of tea (ew) or coffee, or purity syrup some cherry cake, or fruit cake (again ew) or my personal favorite, gum drop cake! Often there was shortbread with a cherry on top (the dried candied cherries used for baking).

But the highlight of these visits was the show and tell.  At some point the host would get down under the tree, and pull out all the gifts, tell what it was, and who it was from.  Often the same thing was done with all the Christmas cards.  In a a way it was showing off I guess, but it didn’t seem so then, it seemed natural to do.

Probably an odd tradition, but something I miss now, heading to Aunt May’s, Aunt Mary’s, Uncle Hay’s and Ralph’s for the show and tell.  RIP all of them, Merry Christmas to you all, and hope your traditions bring back fond memories as mine do.

PS: Dad still had that chest of drawers for nails and washers and things when we moved away from Newfoundland in 1996 I believe.  It lasted a while!