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. ūüėõ

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.

Randall’s Store

When I was a boy, Bax and Eli Randall had a store on the road in around the harbour in Shoal Harbour. ¬†I even remember an old gas pump outside saying something like 35 cents a gallon, though it wasn’t operational that I can recall.

The store had pretty much everything, building supplies (who didn’t have panel board on¬†their living room walls from Randall’s at some point?), groceries, appliances, and many other things, plus, lots and lots of dust! Dad used to say though that Bax and Eli would rather spend hours talking about chain saws and chain saw parts than they would sell a fridge or stove! ¬†I remember going there with Dad for plugs and feeler gauges and the like for the old pioneer,and they’d pull out the parts and talk about them and show them off. ¬†There was rarely a light on, or if so, very few, always so dark and dingy. ¬†Fussels cream and Carnation milk on the shelf covered in dust. ¬†It was…. heaven!

I always heard stories about the Randall’s being “frugal” as well, no idea how much truth there was to any of them, but my favorite had to be the story about Bax¬†bought 2 cars in St. John’s, and rather than paying someone to drive the 2nd home, he’d drive one a mile past the other and walk back and do the same over and over till he got them home!

I can still see the store now in my minds eye, not far from the old bridge as well with the double concrete loopy sides. ¬†If I remember correctly it was so narrow you used to only be able to have one car on it at a time, but that’s fuzzy now.

Fun memories!

Never enough stores

Random Island had about 2000 people when I was growing up, and of course a major metropolis like this needs somewhere to shop. ¬†So lets see, how many stores were there? ¬†I’ll probably miss a few but and misspell more, and only trying to list those on the go in the mid 70’s…

  • Boyd Smith’s – Petley
  • Ivany’s Cash Store – Lower Lance Cove
  • Fred Burt’s – Brittania
  • Art Vardy’s (I think?) – Hickman’s Harbour
  • Lislie Blundons – Hickman’s Harbour
  • Charlie Martin’s – Hickman’s Harbour
  • Willis Pelley’s – Lady Cove
  • Mrs. Burt’s – Lady Cove
  • Fred Reid’s – Weybridge
  • Hefford’s – Snook’s Harbour
  • Ron Reid – Snook’s Harbour
  • Bax Baker – Snook’s Harbour
  • Vick Smith – Snook’s Harbour and….
  • Apsey Brook Buying Club – Apsey Brook

The last one, people called ours, but it wasn’t, it was a co-op, owned by 3 or 4 families, and over the years run by May Smith, Cecilia Smith, Alice Smith and Mom. ¬†I can’t say I recall it being many places, it’s last location was the old shop building across the road from our house, and we ran it, but I do recall being in that same building somewhere else, I think down on Alice’s garden, but it’s foggy.

A lot of these weren’t stores like now, they had no “hours”, you just went to the door of the owner/operator and asked to go out. ¬†Some had more things than others. ¬†There was a freezer in the one in Apsey Brook, with some staples like pork chops and fry beef (who remembers fry beef?) and Braddock’s sausages. ¬†Treats like Screwball Ice Cream, Buried Treasure, Long Treats, and of course Hostess Chips in the foil bag. We sold salt beef by the piece, and sliced frying ham and wrapped it in waxed paper. ¬†Potatoes were in 50 pound bags and sold bv the each or the pound. ¬†And of course, we had Carnation mill and tea. ¬†Remember Red Rose tea with the little cards in them? ¬†Brown paper was on the big roll with the straight edge to cut it off. ¬†Our cash register was a drawer with old bowls nailed to the bottom.


One of my favorite memories was of Uncle Larry Leawood coming to buy cat food.  He always called it pullit cat food, cause he had been reading the french side of the label. God I loved that man, so full of hidden surprises.

Some of the stores had much more, Boyd Smith and Fred Burt both sold furniture as well as groceries, and you really could manage to get by without leaving the island if need be. ¬†I don’t know how any of these stores really made a go of it, there were so many for so few, but they lasted for years and years.

What did I miss? Leave a comment and let me know stories of stores back home.