If you can’t steal from your friends…

The winter and spring before I moved to Nova Scotia was the first and only time I drew EI. I had left the hotel/accounting business and was looking for something different, and eventually decided to go back to school, and then, then and then…. well that’s a whole long time ago, and a different story.

While I was off, I was lucky to get to spend a lot of time with a good group of friends from back home on Random Island.  Eric, Derek, Lorrie, Julie, Corey, Barry, Bernard, Jim, Trina, and I’m sure I missed someone.  Don’t feel insulted, I’m old and forgetful 🙂

We spent many a day ice fishing, trouting, barbecuing, playing cards and up to general no good.  One of our up to no good plans started before that year, and was a staple pastime of Eric and I for quite a while.  And that, as the picture indicates, was making home brew.

Everyone told us we were nuts, because it wasn’t fit to drink, and I’ll admit some of the brews (John Bull) out there that people used weren’t.  But Eric and I read up, visited the brew shop, asked questions and decided to try Coopers Lager.  We took our time, followed instructions, bought some gear, racked the brew, let it settle, re-racked it.  Bottled it, let it sit…. and when we were done, well we had something that tasted very like Canadian Lite.  Say what you will about that, it was a popular beer back then, and for a home brew we were pretty happy.  I remember Randy being especially skeptical, but he enjoyed it when he tasted it.

Hmm, off topic here, I wonder whatever became of the home brew Rod Smith put away for years and years in his basement, will have to ask him….

Over time we tried more varieties, ales, stouts, and some were good, some less so, but for a while, we always had about 15 dozen beer on hand in my basement.  Like all Newfoundlanders, when a case of beer is open, you offer your friends one, and we shared the home brew as well.

But sharing has its limits! One night, as I was nearly asleep in my room, one friend, who shall remain nameless (cough Lorrie), with some gentle persuasion, (she didn’t need much) from someone else (Eric) walked into the basement, bold as you like, and made off with some home brew!

What a bunch of crooks I have for friends!

Its flippin September, time for flippin school, and …. flippin cards!

I think Roy Marsh and Paul George, not sure who's facing away. That may even be me, not Roy, I did have hair back then! (Photographed from RandomMemories Yearbook)

I think Roy Marsh and Paul George, not sure who’s facing away. That may even be me, not Roy, I did have hair back then! (Photographed from RandomMemories Yearbook)

In Random Island Integrated, spending my days
Classes from Randall and Loder, makin me dazed
When along came a couple of guys up to no good
Flippin their hockey cards, like bad boys would

Apologies to Will Smith for the bad interpretation!  School time is here again, and that was often met with a lot of groans and sighs from us kids, but there were some positives too, often we didn’t see our friends for the whole summer.  While Random Island doesn’t have a lot of people, its also not so easy for a kid of 10 or 12 to get the 15 miles to his best friends house unless he biked it.

Like all kids of that generation, we were also all hockey mad, and of course we all collected the o-pee-chee hockey cards.  We’d buy a pack when we could, or bug our parents to, but of course the real way to collect hockey cards is in the school hallway, flippin them! Odds! Evens! Oh man, you won my lucky checklist! I’m not flippin for that one! That’s a trophy card! I’ll give you 10 for it!

I can still hear the familiar refrain after all these years, and the pleasure of winning a stack, and the agony of losing all your cards and trying to borrow 5 from someone.  And I still swear to this day that checklists were luckier than the rest!

The Pop Shoppe

Over the weekend, my buddy Bernard and I were discussing a memory of growing up in pretty much anywhere in small town Canada. For people of my generation, a trip to The Pop Shoppe was a fun and regular occurrence.  Unlike traditional pop, and before the time of so many store brand pops, there was The Pop Shoppe.

The Pop Shoppe back home, was, at least the only occasion I remember, down on Memorial Drive in Clarenville, just about right across from the medical center.  There was a hair salon in the same building in later years.

They operated on an interesting business model, franchising stores to people, and selling their own product in refillable, returnable glass bottles.  You’d get your product in cases of 24 and once done you’d return your bottles and get your deposit back or put towards your new case.

What was best about it though for the kid in me, was the assortment of flavors.  There were the usual copy cat ones, Cola, Lime Rickey, Root Beer, Sparkle Up, but by far the best, and maybe the best pop ever was Black Cherry.

Stubby Beer Bottle

Atlantic Superstore here used to sell a store brand black cherry flavor, but its no longer available, and while The Pop Shoppe has been reincarnated, I don’t see it for sale in any local locations, but man was Black Cherry ever good!

Another unique feature of The Pop Shoppe were the stubby bottles, like the old stubbies we used to get beer in back in Newfoundland, except clear and with The Pop Shoppe branding painted directly onto the glass.

Once the local one closed up, I still had some bottle laying around and for a time reused them to make Hire’s Root Beer from the little bottles you could buy at the co-op and Mercer’s.  Though I think as many of those exploded as were consumed, but that too was a great pop, and Hire’s, in my mind, while it and Crush were still independent was the best root beer I ever drank.