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.

Fill in!

Comes the cry from Vince’s or Ivan’s, fill in! No we didn’t need to fill in any holes, except those around the table.  Fill in is the cry to fill your seat around the poker table.

Fall Friday nights were often spent at Ivan’s or Vince’s, playing poker, not the texas hold-em of today, but dealers choice, usually 5 Card Draw.  Get a jackpot? Well then someone needed jacks or better to open the next hand.  We also occasionally played some blackjack or blind indian, high or low chicago, and I forget what else.

The biggest difference in our games was though the gizmo.  The gizmo was an innocuous film canister.  Well, its what held it anyway.  The gizmo takes some explaining; the first hand of the night was the gizmo hand.  All players put a loonie in the pot and we played as normal, with the winner winning the gizmo, and its value being the contributed loonies.  Here’s where it gets interesting, when it was the winners turn to ante, he anted the gizmo, basically a free ante.  but if anyone else wanted to play that hand, they had to ante its value.  So we could automatically have a large pot on the board before we really started.  Tradition then said the winner added another loonie to its value so as the night went on, it got more and more valuable.

Of course with increased value, often no one played the hand at all, but sometimes…. well holy cow!

Of course there were other memories of poker night too, like the night Ivan’s brdige collapsed, or Dale Butt calling for Tracey and Eric saying “Terra Nova fisheries, Connor speaking”.  To be followed by two more “Duffet’s Building Supplies, Carpenter Speaking”, and finally “House of the Lord, Jesus speaking” before he caught on he wasn’t getting wrong numbers.

Memories of me and Howard raising each other over and over, him with a pair of 3s and me with a pair of deuces.  And Chris Haynes laughing his head off cause he had thrown away three nines. Memories of being “notched”, of Vince feeding the rabbit, of Vince opening a jackpot and then throwing away his openers and taking 5 and still beating Jim Bailey and memories of watching the OJ Simpson chase on Ivan’s small black and white tv.


Going to Work with Dad

Dad at Work

Dad at Work

From the time I was born till he retired, Dad worked at the department of highways as a clerk.  Now a clerk for the department of highways may be an office job, but the offices them selves were usually one room buildings attached to bunk houses the department had set up in various working areas around the province.  Sometimes, when I was young dad may have stayed at these locations overnight or worked later than is the norm now.  One of the curiosities I remember was dad calling home on the old mobile phones and having to say over after we finished speaking.

As a kid one of the great things about Dad’s work, was that in summer time I could actually go spend the day at his work site, in many of the locations.  When I was a small boy, he worked out of Shoal Harbour Pit, a pipe yard for making concrete ditch pipes.  The old pit is gone now, but it was located where the ball field is now.  I can’t really remember much about this location except the little white shack dad worked in.

For another summer at least he worked out of a similar camp in Robinson’s Bight, not where the community is now (there wasn’t one there then) but closer to lady cove, in an old gravel pit by a brook.  As a kid I spent days there with him, playing around the area, catching trout in ice cream tubs, catching water skippers (I hadn’t remembered water skippers in years till I started writing this!), and of course sharing lunch from dad’s seemingly huge lunch can.

Mostly though, i remember dad working at the salt shed in Clarenville, first in the old style camps, and the later, as seen in the picture a better building, still with an attached kitchen and bunk house.  As a kid I’d go to work with dad, and sometimes spend the day, exploring the yard, playing with the glass beads they used to add to paint for road lines, marveling at all the salt in the salt shed, making castles out of the sand blasting sand, and of course playing poker with the adults at lunch time :).

Other days tho, I got a kid’s delight, heading out on the old float (flat bed) with Ches Baggs, or on a dump truck with someone, perhaps Ted Ryan, I forget who did what now, or hanging out with Paddy Mitchell, though I complete forget what he did.  Also trips on the grader, bulldozer, and god knows what else anymore; all in all a young boys delight.

So many characters were there too, with their many accents and mannerisms, and so much shared food and fun.  Of course nowadays, you’d never get away with such things, nor would you likely trust your child to be gone for the whole day with a lunch can on heavy equipment with co-workers you really only knew from work.  But it was a more trusting time, and a smaller world.  And I was lucky to have got to spend so many wonderful days with such patient men who took a young scrawny kid and spent the day with him, as well as spending wonderful days with my dad.