Nostalgia

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!

CCM Targa

A couple years ago I got back into riding bike, and then the other day I saw an ad for an old vintage 10 speed.  It reminded me of the one Keith had and I inherited.  An old CCM Targa.  There’s been quite a bit of new technology and difference since those days (and price too!).

If memory serves, dad got both Keith and I bikes at the old Western Tire location on Marine Drive in Clarenville. Keith got the 10 speed, and me being younger, and smaller, I got an old 20 inch coaster brake bike with a banana seat and a sissy bar. That bike was ridden sooooo much.  I think everyone in the community learned to ride on it.  And I loved it.  I wonder is it still going somewhere?

But back to the 10 speed. In those days, our roads were still gravel, I’m sure it wasn’t the ideal road surface for those smooth tires. But it was, to  us at least, pretty amazing to be able to change gears and make riding easier or more difficult.  I think to that point, the only gears I had seen were on an old 3 speed, that had them somehow built into the hub.

Technology certainly has changed though.  I remember in order to change gears, it was totally by feel, trying to just edge these two levers till the chain moved into the right position, nothing like now, where you can just click the shifter.

All the same, I can’t really think either of our bikes wen’t far. I think I took the 10 speed to school once, and other than that, probably the furthest I went on it, or the coaster brake, was Elliott’s Cove, or perhaps Random Heights.

I think my biggest memory was the old plastic handle bar tape constantly peeling off the steel handle bars.  Used to just pull it through to knot it.

Nowadays, and maybe then on higher end bikes, but I had never heard of anything like the Tour de France in those days, the tape is cushioned, frames are made of aluminum or carbon fibre, or even titanium, gears are clickable, and built into the same control as the brake levers, tires can be tubeless, and I have ridden as much as a 100 km in one ride.

But one thing hasn’t changed, and thats my love of feeling the wind in my face, and hair (or lack of it) and feeling free and relaxed when in the saddle, even if it took me a long time to rediscover it.

 

Music Class

The item in the image above, if you don’t remember, was used to draw music staves on the chalkboard (though it was also co-opted to use for cursive writing and maybe, just maybe, to make writing “I will not chew gum in class”100 times easier).

I posted it a couple days ago on twitter, and it seemed to blow up, my most interacted tweet ever, so I guess there’s a lot of nostalgia for it!

Balbo Elementary (shared on facebook, if this is yours, let me know and will credit)

As I write this, I’m sitting in the old shoal harbour school, Balbo Elementary, upstairs (oh what fun Hughie Reid and I used to have playing on those stairs), grade 2, and Dorothy Guillam (I probably am totally botching that spelling) is using a device like it to draw staves on the board.

Brings back memories of terms I’d forgotten, treble clef, bass clef, etc. To be honest, I had totally forgotten that until a user on twitter mentioned the old mnemonic to remember notes “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge”. I’m sure she drilled that into us too, or similar, though to be totally honest all I really remember was, that to a 7 year old brat like me, she seemed ancient, and totally “prim” especially as she was from the UK and had an accent, which made her seem upper crust and “proper” to me.

I am not sure the truth of this, but I’ve heard that she was somehow involved with the community of Weybridge on Random Island changing to this name, from its former name of Foster’s Point.  If you have any details, please leave a comment and let me know, would love to learn more.

Music class kept on going to about grade 6 I think, with lots trying to learn an instrument.  I even had a guitar back in the day, but if I’m not tone deaf, I’m at least tone dumb, and, as dad used to say, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Laura Rogers was the last music teacher I had, and one thing I do remember from my time with her, and I’m sure every parent does too, with a sense of dread, was this hideous screeching thing.  They call it a recorder, and say it’s a music instrument, but I personally think it was some sort of practical joke, or mild form of torture from music teachers everywhere to parents.

I can remember Dad now yelling out at me “Peter, for the love of God, stop!” when I was trying to play/practice it.

Anyway, Happy New Year! And I hope this took you down a nostalgic rest stop!

Three on the Tree

While out yesterday to drop off some tools to my sister, Annette, I saw a pickup go by that somehow reminded me so much of ones that Ross Smith used to drive.

While he had big lane with a long road gong right down to his house, the truck was a staple diagonally across the road from our house, parked near the church step.

Nothing special in and of itself, but Ross always, always got a truck with a standard shift, but unusually, at least to me, the shift was on the steering column like an automatic.

He probably had to special order these, but I can’t really say, because its not like I ever checked Hickman Motors inventory to see if they stocked them!

I actually drove it a few times, mostly when I was working at the Clarenville CO-OP. Sometimes when I’d get a ride home from work, I’d start walking home from Elliott’s Cove, and at that point in time the old Cormack Lounge was still on the go.

When I’d be on my way home, I’d often stop in to see if there was anyone to give me a ride home, or perhaps call Dad to come get me. And Ross didn’t mind stopping and having a beer or two in there sometimes.

Depending on how many he had had, occasionally he’d ask me to drive the truck home for him. I remember him describing the shifting as moving the gears around the outside of a box.

I honestly can’t say I ever had it in reverse, so no idea how that worked, nor really much recollection about any of the other gears. But I do remember it being a unique experience.

Have you ever driven or even seen one?

Reflections

This post is probably for me more than anyone, but feel free to read, or skip….

 

I don’t remember the exact date anymore, but sometime around the 26th of this month, it will be 22 years since I got in the old Corsica with Keith and came to Halifax for a 9 month course.  Mom and Dad followed to spend the winter up here too, and my sister, Annette, was already here; the main reason Mom and Dad came up.

Well Dad lasted 2 winters, passing in March 1998, but maybe his happiest years in a way too, spending them with the little girl he doted on.  I’m moving into my 23rd winter now I guess.  Funny how things work out, had no expectation I’d ever be here beyond my course.

I finished the course in July 97, and had a job starting the Monday (or Tuesday, I forget) after I finished, in Gander.  Packed up the old Corsica again and moved there from July to January 98.  At that time the school I had gone to offered me a job and the option of being close to Mom and Dad, and really having enjoyed my experience there, I moved back to Halifax.  Again, never really thinking about staying.

Apsey Brook from across the sound.

Well 22 years has come and nearly gone, a house mortgaged, brown hair (what hair? Hayley will ask) changed to gray, red beard changed to white.  And I guess somewhere along the line Halifax (technically Bedford) became home, even if I will always call Random Island home. When you look at it, I’ve only been here nine less years than there.

Not even gotten back much lately, but, and I guess this is where this comes from, I did go “home” in September for a week. It was kind of a good bye trip I think, and while I may very well go back again, maybe sooner, since Eric is so generous with a place to stay, it was still kind of a farewell tour.

Friggin’s Cove Pond

I got to visit old haunts, re-live memories, visit Dad both at his gravesite and in my memories at places like Friggin’s Cove Pond.

When you move, in your mind the people and things you’ve left behind don’t change. I had such thoughts – Walking from the old mill site across “the land” to McGrath’s Cove, walking down and seeing the old root cellars, other little things that no one but me would get, like 2 huge ant hills on the path from Uncle Hay’s to Colin’s.  It was all gardens in my memory.  The “paths” were often used by trucks back then, the gates big enough for horse and slide and vehicles.  Well without a machete, or perhaps a chain saw, that’s not happening anymore.  What were roads and paths are forest.

Gull (Sapphire) Rock

I went to the rattle (Friggins Cove Rattle that is) though it was dry, walked on “The Level” and Granny Walters hill. The sea arch at Phillip’s Point, Gull (or Sapphire to the older generation, though not sure what generation I am! Aside: Why did we kids call it Gull Rock I wonder?) Rock, saw the “black rocks” fishing mark. Saw an Apsey Brook sunset.  Visited all the communities; went across the neck, out to southwest arm, the brickyard, I can’t even remember it all already.

I loved it, always will.  And I miss the good friends I have there, pretty much all one family really, Bernard, Eric, Barry mostly, brothers from another mother.  But while its “Home”, I don’t know that I could live there anymore.  There are facets I love of course, but being there for a week and doing something every day isn’t the reality of anyone’s life.  And mainly I guess, for me, at least till she’s out on her own too, Home is where Hayley is.

 

Snook’s Harbour Pond

I’ve written a little about Aunt Ethel and Uncle Will before, but something I did know, but had forgotten was that Uncle Will wrote quite a bit of poetry.  I know I’ve seen this before, but had completely forgotten it, or where.  Thanks to Eric Cooper for the picture.  Enjoy and reminisce a bit.

Troutin’ and Smokin’ (“We’d have to kill him!”)

By Eric Cooper

For many years I’ve had an interest in smoking (foods that is,lol). My first smoker was a Luhr Jensen Little Chief. Peter Smith and I bought it between us. That little smoker got lots of use, as we experimented with different kinds of meat and fish. Smoked herring was, and still is my favourite. We also made lots of jerky, which was a big hit with everyone. Smoked trout was also very good and Junior Patey liked it more than anyone.

Junior loved to go trouting, just like me. We went together numerous times, always enjoying it. One time for an upcoming weekend he suggested that we bring the smoker to his place to smoke some trout. But of course first we needed to catch some. We decided to go to figure eight pond to try our luck. The trout weren’t overly big there but at least we would have a good chance to catch our quota. Rod Smith loved smoked trout too and we knew that he and Peter would most likely be there for the feast, and maybe a few other friends. So off we went, myself and Junior to the pond.

Trout

It was a long walk to the pond but that didn’t bother us at all. The trout were biting really good that day and we felt very confident about catching enough for our get together. We had a great day trouting and proceeded to make our way home. Back in those days there was an old cabin near round pond. We stopped there to take a break and have a coke, and I decided to count our trout. I laughed and told Junior that I think we “slightly” exceeded our limit. A friend of mine Bax Quinton was a fisheries officer at the time. I said to Junior, “what would we do now if Bax happened to come along?” His quick response was “we’d have to kill him!” I laughed and when I looked at him he grinned and chuckled and said “oh yeah we’d have to do it there would be no other way around it!” It was so funny the way he said it, I’ll never forget it.

I fried some of the trout and the rest were smoked and eaten at Junior’s house on the weekend. It was a great weekend with friends, lots of laughs, smoked trout and a few India beers. Such good memories.

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.

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”.

The Strange Case of Ralph’s Car

Not written in a bit, just because its not often a story comes to mind I’ve not already written! Probably cause I’m gettin’ old and just keep repeating myself. 😛

Anyway, was thinking about old times today, and for some reason, the strange case of Ralph’s car come to mind.  Now I’ll preface this by saying I really can’t remember if this is true, or if its me remembering a dream or something as true, but in any event, it SEEMS like it was true to me.

Back in the early 70’s, Ralph Smith used to have this big old car, well what car’s weren’t huge back then.  I remember Dad got a Chevy Nova in 72, and people thought it was tiny with its little 6 cylinder engine, but I digress. I believe Ralph’s was an Olds 88 or 98. something like the model on in this picture.  Seem to remember it was white with a green roof, but not sure.

f0258ed5fbec449322206f533c0c3783This car had some peculiar wiring issues in my memory.  Most are probably too young to recall, but back in olden times, we used to have these old car radios with analog tuners, and buttons you’d pull out then push in to set the channel.  AM radio of course, that’s all we had in those days, even if the radio could receive FM. On another topic for another day, who remembers scanning the dials late at night looking for skips? Remember getting all kinds of weird things like that, but I digress again. In any event, these old cars had an auxiliary option where you could turn the key backwards to listen to the radio, or use the wipers and a couple other options.

I seem to remember hearing about the weirdness of Ralph’s car, but then one day I saw it (or dreampt it, who knows, twas 40 years ago!).  We used to have a little store back home in Apsey Brook back then, well we didn’t was a small co-op of people that had it actually, but we were operating it.  Which meant going out to it with customers when they’d come looking not spending the day out there.  In any event, I remember Ralph coming over one day, and the car being parked outside on the side of the road.  Seem to recall me and Keith and Lorne being aboard with the radio on, and with the weird wiring…turning on the emergency signals, and then touching the brake, and the car would start!

Drop me a line with your old memories, or write me a post to add here, love hearing and relaying the old memories of home.