Categories
Little Bits of Stupid Photography

If a Car Hits a Tree in the Forest…

If a Tree Falls in a Forest
Will My Dad Find Out?
Taken August 9, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

Of course, my Dad found out. He always found out everything I was up to, and he always gave me a chance to own up to it, relating the dirty deed to me in a manner designed to make me believe he really didn’t know who had done it. You know, in case I wanted to get it off my chest. Which I never did. Even though *I* knew that he knew…. nope. Wouldn’t admit to it. Never.

Like that time when I was five, and the kids up the street and I set fire to the empty field behind my house. Somehow we managed to stomp it out before it got away from us, and we all went home for supper, absolutely certain we were in the clear.

And then, my Dad read the “Police Report” out of the newspaper (yeah, the one that had been printed before we found the matches, but I was five and that was beyond my scope) out loud….

“…The POLICE are VERY worried about the three children, 2 boys and a little girl, who were playing with matches in the long grass, today. They are VERY worried that these three children don’t know any better and could have been BURNED TO DEATH, because they don’t seem to understand that fires can very quickly get OUT OF CONTROL and BURN CHILDREN TO DEATH before their parents can get to them. ESPECIALLY if their parents believe their children SHOULD KNOW BETTER. The POLICE hope these three children, 2 boys and a little girl, have LEARNED THEIR LESSON, and NEVER DO SUCH A STUPID THING AGAIN…”

And he turned to me and gave me that chance to own up: “Do you know who those three children are…?”

Me: “No,”

“Well what do you think of what those three children did …?”

Me: “I think they’re very lucky they didn’t get caught and go to jail.”

Right up into my teens, I would stubbornly stick to the “Wasn’t Me” defense, even when handed unequivocal evidence that it was so me.

Like that time when I was 16, and was accused of stealing a magnum of Champagne out of the wine-cellar, drinking it, and hiding the empty bottle under my bed, I said, “Wasn’t me.” Even though the evidence was found under my bed… with the date of the crime etched on the label… along with the signatures of myself and the friends I passed it back and forth with.

“Wasn’t me.”

But about that tree….

When I was growing up, we spent almost the entire summer on the boat. We traveled all over the Great Lakes on one boat or another – at first, sleeping on the boat, which was cool, but then my parents built their camp on Cockburn Island (That’s pronounced “Co-Burn”, remember. Suzi, stop laughing.).

By the way, a “camp” is what Northern Ontarians call “The Cottage” – for those of you who might picture tents, or a lumber camp. The “camp” is now owned by my sister Tootie and her family, and it’s a bona-fide second home. It ain’t “camping” by any stretch of the imagination.

It was a slow build, though. The first year, we lived in the woodshed (huge by woodshed standards) while the main house was being built. We had an outhouse, kerosene lamps, and a woodstove. The refrigerator was a propane unit, and my Dad built a pump system for the water that pulled it from a cream can under the sink with the push of a button. He didn’t think my mom should have to lift a pail to the sink. He was a nice guy, my Dad.

Everybody on Cockburn drove old beat-up trucks and cars. When you bought a vehicle for “The Camp”, you either had it ferried over on a barge in the summer, or drove it across the ice in the winter. These old things could live forever over there, it seemed. Didn’t need a safety, either, although that was still illegal, but since nobody was gonna check…

And it was on Cockburn Island that everybody learned to drive. The unspoken rule seemed to state that once you hit the age of fourteen, you could drive on Cockburn. Everybody did it. That was my argument to my parents, anyway, when they wouldn’t let me drive over there. Their return argument was… well… inarguable: “Well, YOU’RE not gonna.”

But I was determined to be like everybody else and drive, dammit.

So, I went to the camp across the road and lamented to the Neighbour-Lady all my woes. Neighbour-Lady was a nice gal. She always had her long blonde hair wrapped around her head with pins in the mornings after she washed it, because she didn’t like the natural curl it had. She always wore green eyeshadow. And she always had a beer open.

Neighbour-Lady had cancer, but wouldn’t take treatment. Much of the time, she was “tight”, as my mom would say – not “falling down drunk”, but she generally had a buzz on. I guess it was one way to deal with cancer.

Anyway, I was over there complaining to Neighbour-Lady, and smoking her cigarettes. She wouldn’t give me a beer, but she gave me cigarettes all the time. And that day, she solved my “can’t drive” problem for me, by loaning me a car.

Now, to this day, everybody in my family thinks I stole that car. I did not. Neighbour-Lady loaned me that car. Never mind that the car did not belong to her. Or that I didn’t have a license. Or parental permission to drive. She handed me the keys and said, “Take it. Don’t smash it up.”

I was half-way up the road while she was still popping open her next beer.

Ahh…. the freedom! I drove up the long side road and turned right on the “main” road that would take me down to the Government Dock. There was a guy on the Island that summer, that I had a crush on. On the Mainland, this guy ran in a different circle, and wouldn’t give me the time of day, but on Cockburn he would talk to me. Probably because there weren’t many teenagers on the Island at a time. And I was there. So…

I decided to go to the dock, because he would likely be swimming there. I had to sort of “happen to run into him”, of course, so he wouldn’t know I had that crush, you see, or I would have gone to his camp to find out where he was.

As I came up the road, it was fairly obvious that the dock was deserted, so I decided to make a left, and go to the other side of the Island to the sand beach. Maybe he’d be there. And I could drive there, because I had a car. I was cool.

I was so cool that I could light a cigarette while negotiating a left turn, having never driven a car before, and not end up in the ditch.

Or not.

It worked out okay, though, because the ditch was adjacent to a government building where large logging machines and road-maintenance equipment was stored. I found a guy with a grader that yanked me out of the ditch, and promised not to tell anybody. Oddly, I don’t think he did, either, because no one has ever brought the ditch portion of this story up to me.

So, on the road again, I re-lit my smoke without incident, and drove to the beach. And, oh joy! My crush was there! With his entire family and then some.

We swam for a bit. Talked for a bit. And then I tried to convince him to let me drive him back home. Because I had a car. I was cool.

But he would not get in that car. I think his reasons included the phrase, “death wish”, and the fact that he didn’t have one.

I’m not sure how I finally convinced him, but he did reluctantly agree to a lift. Apparently, it was just so he could wax derisive of my driving skills, though, because he wouldn’t stop wincing, advising, and clinging to the dashboard.

I finally got tired of the exaggerated terror he was exuding and decided I’d show him what scared was, and floored it. Of course, I chose to do such a thing while going up a steep hill, forgetting about the curve in the road on the other side of it.

For the record, I missed the tree the car was trying to hit. But I over-corrected, and hit a tree on the other side of the road, dead on. Very hard. Poor tree.

And poor car! The front end was smushed in. The driver’s door wouldn’t open. I still have a faded scar on one elbow – the only injury sustained in the accident – unless you count the car. Or the tree. And I’m sure my crush didn’t speak to me for years after that. He probably felt bad, because it was his fault I hit that tree. I mean, if he hadn’t been putting down my driving in the first place…

And what are the chances that the first vehicle to drive up that lonely road to happen upon us would be my father’s truck…?

Pretty good, as it turns out. He didn’t speak to me for a while, either.

When I turned 16, though, the first thing Dad did, was register me in Driver’s Ed. I passed, and got my license. And not once would my father loan me his car – not even when I was grown and on my own, and had a perfect driving record.

Except for the tree incident.

Which happened on Cockburn.

And what happens on Cockburn is supposed to stay on Cockburn, dammit!

But still my Dad always said no. Followed by, “Remember that tree you hit on Cockburn…?”

It’s the only time I couldn’t get the nerve up to try “Wasn’t me.”

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Cannonball” – Damien Rice

Categories
Radio Les The Landlady

Knickety-Knackety Now-Now-Now…

Almost Edible
Almost Edible
Taken July 1, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550

Ruby wanted me to post a picture of snowshoes for this post. I would have, too, but I couldn’t find any snowshoes to take a picture of, and the ones stealable online were all too small to suit me. Besides, Ruby’s cherry tomatoes are gorgeous, aren’t they?

Ruby and I got talking about snowshoes in the spring (I know, I know – I’m SO behind in these posts!), when I mentioned that another winter had gone by, and I hadn’t bought snowshoes for the kid and myself.

I used to snowshoe in school, and on Cockburn Island with my Dad, but Ky would never even entertain the thought of going with me, until this year, when she took it up in school herself. And fell in love with it, just like I did. We never managed to get ourselves any equipment before the snow melted, though. Sigh…* Next year, maybe…

Anyhoo… The mere mention of snowshoes got a story going…

We used to snowshoe all the time in Northland, you know. We used those old catgut snowshoes – ever see them?

Me: Yes, I have. I used catgut snowshoes, too. My Dad had them on Cockburn, and I think that’s what we had in school.

Well, they don’t make ’em like that anymore. Now, they’re those lightweight aluminum things. Don’t take nothin’ to get those things going. The ones *I* used were heavier than *I* was!

Me: Yup. And if you don’t bang the snow out them every so often, you’ll get bogged down with the weight…

That’s right! You have be careful how you bang ’em, too, or you’ll end up on your face.

(I laughed hard at this – I remember ending up on my face more than a few times.)

I think we spent the whole winter on snowshoes, now I think of it. We wore them for syruping, too. Imagine hauling pails of sap with snowshoes on…! We did it, though. We worked hard, now I look back on it, but I don’t think it occurred to us that we were working. We were having too much fun!

Me: Did you ever just snowshoe for the sake of snowshoeing?

Of course! We snowshoed all winter. Everybody did – even the teacher. He boarded at our house, you know. Slept with my brother.

Me: Your school teacher boarded with you?! God, you must have hated that!

You’re telling me I hated it! I didn’t like that guy much. He thought he was funny, always joking around… Any time a man walked into our kitchen, he’d yell at me: “Ruby! There’s somethin’ in the kitchen with pants on!” He used to make me so mad!

(Let’s all take a break here, while I try to stop laughing…)

I teased him back, though, I guess. I got in big trouble with him over that once.

Me: What’d you do?

Well, he got sweet on this girl in our class one year. He wasn’t much older than us, after all, and he took a shine to this pretty thing that had her nose in the air all the time…

Me: Uppity, was she?

Uppity?! She wouldn’t even talk to the rest of us girls, that’s how uppity she was! Anyway, the teacher was sweet on her, and one day when us kids were all out snowshoeing on the ice, this girl was with us, and we started teasing her about the teacher. She got mad at us, and sat down on the ice and wouldn’t speak to us at all.

So we thought, “Oh, to heck with her,” and off we went without her. Well, when we come back around again, she was gone. We could see two sets of snowshoe tracks making off into the bush, and we knew the teacher had come by and they’d gone off alone together. We made fun of them back and forth to ourselves all the way home. I could hardly keep a straight face at the dinner table that night, with him sitting across from me, let me tell you!

Anyway, that night, my sisters and I were upstairs getting ready for bed, and I got singing…

“She sat on the ice, and she wouldn’t talk
Knickety-knackety, now-now-now.
When the teacher came along, they went for a walk,
Knickety-knackety, now-now-now.”

(At this point, I must interject with the news that Ruby actually began to recite a ditty she’d made up over 70 years ago, and probably hadn’t thought twice about since…. I was flabbergasted. I daresay Ruby was too.)

Well! Didn’t that teacher hear me from down in the kitchen! He came barrelling up those steps – scared the bejeezus out of me! Told me right off, and I got mad at him! I said, “Oh, but it’s alright for you to say, ‘There’s somethin’ in the kitchen with pants on,’ every time somebody comes in!”

And he turned right around and never said another word.

I finally had the sense to dig out the digital recorder. I turned it on, fully expecting her to balk, but…

Ruby sang! When I asked her if I could blog it, she actually agreed. “But,” she said, “You should put up a picture of catgut snowshoes. I’ll bet most people that read your blog have never seen snowshoes!”

Ruby’s tomatoes will have to do, though. I’m more excited to share her voice with you. Check it out.

“Knickety-Knackety” – Ruby Daniel, 2008
Click it! Click it!

Random Song-for-the-Day: “I Kissed a Girl” – Kerry Perry

Categories
Little Bits of Stupid

You Want Fries with that Burger…?

Les and Goldie, 1971
Ain’t I Angelic… “looking”?

Ah, yes, appearances can be deceiving, though, can’t they? The dog knows differently, you can tell by the look on her face.

This picture was taken by my father in 1971. I would have been around 5 at the time. The dog (her name was Goldie), was 4, and I think my dad might have loved her as much as, if not more than, he loved me. He never once forgot her name, whereas I still get referred to as “Vel-errr…Kar-errr… Lisa! No…. Diddly-Do-Over-There”. He does that to all his kids, mind you, so it’s not like I’m singled out. He had too many kids, and just the one dog.

Goldie is in nearly every photo taken of me by my dad from the time she was brought home to the time she was “put down” when I was about 13.

She was old and had been through some tough times – surgery for removal of an “India Rubber” ball she accidentally swallowed (my dad still has that – ask him where my first tooth is, though) … rheumatism resulting from being accidentally run over (by my dad!!!!)… poor ol’ dog.

My parents didn’t tell me they’d put Goldie down until 4 days after the deed was done, because I was in the middle of a monstrous school project. They were worried I would be so upset that I’d get a bad mark. I cried. A lot. Not because the dog was gone, so much as I felt guilty that I hadn’t wondered where she was for 4 days. Some friend I turned out to be.

ANYWAY…. that’s not what this post is about. It’s about an incident that happened around the year this picture was taken – and probably the reason I hate cooking so much…

I think we were on Cockburn Island (stop laughing, Suzi), but it could have been one of a myriad of other islands in the North Channel that we “boated” to. I know there were other families there –

1) because my dad (along with several other dads) was three sheets to the wind (ummm… for those not in-the-know, “three sheets to the wind” is Sailor-Talk for Drunk.), and it took other dads present for such a thing to happen, and

B) because My Brother the Trespasser wouldn’t play with me, and it took other kids present for such a thing to happen.

So, all the other kids, being older, were… I don’t know…. gone, and I was left all by my lonesome 5-year-oldness to amuse myself. Under the arguable watchful-eyedness of a bunch of drunks. I could hardly help but get into trouble.

We were BBQ-ing that night. Well, the other families were BBQ-ing. Ours was “Hibachi-ing”. My dad loved his little Hibachi, because it didn’t need any dismantling for storage (we lived on a boat in the summer, remember?), or have to be strapped down on the deck.

hibachi
It looked exactly like this.

Yes. Very small. Very low to the ground. About up to a 5-year-old’s shins. Reachable, in other words, to both a 5-year-old girl who only looked like an angel, and a 4-year-old dog who would eat anything within reach provided my dad wasn’t yelling “UUT! Oh, NO YOU DON’T!!” at the time. As I recall, that worked on both dog and girl equally well.

But, as you will recall, my dad was three sheets to the wind. And he did a silly thing. He told me (ME!) to “keep an eye on the Hibachi and make sure Goldie doesn’t get into the hamburgers.” Imagine that! And then he went back to his lawn chair, his rum, his buddies, and Nat King Cole on the 8-track.

So, I picked up the spatula and “kept an eye on the Hibachi”. As well as any 5-year-old who’d never wielded a spatula before could….

Now, this is about the point where the way my parents tell this story and the truth part ways. Ahem…*

To my knowledge, my parents don’t read my blog… in fact, I’m pretty sure that My Brother the Trespasser is the only member of my family who ever has, and I’m not even sure of that, truthfully… but if I get in trouble for the following admission, I will be forced to inform my parents who it was that taught me how to remove a locked wine-cellar door from its hinges quickly and silently, and put it back the way I found it, equally quickly and equally silently. Not to mention the party I swore I’d keep quiet about in exchange for such a valuable education. I swear I’ll tell. Fair warning, oh Brother Mine.

My parents maintain that I was “playing house”. That I “didn’t know any better”. That I just “had quite the imagination as a child”. Ri-ight. Goldie would have ratted me out in a heartbeat if my dad had thought to offer a milk bone. As it was, I think she may have scored the whole meal.

I was trying to flip the hamburgers over. I knew it had to be done; I could smell them burning. No amount of arm-waving, or sleeve-pulling, or “excuse-me-ing” could get my dad’s attention, and truthfully, it never once occurred to me to go to my mother because this emergency pertained to The Hibachi, which was most definitely my father’s turf.

And he ignored me.

And I saw my chance to finally be The Hero, and save supper.

So, I gingerly slid the spatula under a hamburger patty, and attempted to deftly flip it over, whereupon it promptly flipped off the Hibachi. Into the sand. Of course. May I remind you at this point, that I was 5.

You may not be aware, unless you’ve dropped a hamburger patty into the sand, that sand does not scrape off a hamburger patty. Completely.

But it can be disguised.

With more sand.

On all the other hamburger patties.

You can fit about eight hamburgers on an Hibachi grill. It takes approximately ten minutes for a 5-year-old girl-that-looks-like-an-angel-but-who-has-an-imagination to drop seven hamburger patties in the sand (on purpose!), scrape as much sand off as possible, and return them to the grill, sand-side-down.

They didn’t catch on until the second bite, as I recall, but they haven’t let me forget it, since. I believe we had bologna sandwiches for supper that night. Goldie ate sandy hamburger.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Ramblin’ Rose” – Nat King Cole

Categories
The Landlady

…Like a Woman Scorned.

jealous
Guess Who’s Jealous, Now…?!

I was telling Ruby tonight about posting my Dad’s harrowing experience on the ice in 1938. I had been about to add that I thought he was jealous of all the attention she was getting from my readers.

I didn’t get the chance, because once I told her the story she jumped right in with, “That’s nothing. I know people that drove trucks over the ice to Cockburn Island.”

Umm, well, actually… so do I. My dad is one of them (no, Mushy, not the kind of “ice truck driver” you were telling me about… just stupid Canuckians trying to save a buck). He did it when the crappy truck he had over there already finally died, and he didn’t want to pay The Bargeman a bzillion dollars to get another one over there in the summer. He tossed his snow machine in the bed of the slightly less crappy truck and away he went. Ijit. He drove the snow machine back the next day.

And Ruby continued telling about when one of the Bruce Mines Robinsons (Sandtrampers, originally, they were) “drove over there with his skidoo in the bed of the truck. Smart, he was – that was how he got himself back again, wasn’t it?”

I didn’t dare say another word about my Dad. I have another story from him to post, as well, but I think I’m going to post another from Ruby first. I see her more often, so I guess she should get precedence. Not to mention, she has the fan-base. And I don’t want her to raise the rent…

I did ask her if she’d ever been to Cockburn herself.

“Nope,” said she.

“Why not?” I asked. “Just never had the opportunity?”

“Nope,” she laughed. “I just never had a boat.”

* * *

So I have a favour to ask of you all…. does anybody out there (anywhere on the planet…?) have a Velvet Elvis painting they’re willing to send to Canuckia? I’ll pay for it (I’m poor, though, remember, so go easy on me…), and the shipping, too.

No, my taste in art is not “off” (no offense to Velvet Elvis fans, or Elvis fans in general) – but I need it as set dressing for a soon-to-be-starting web production of “Magnificent” proportion. I would have thought I could find a Velvet Elvis painting at some second-hand emporium here in town, but so far, no such luck.

PS – Day 12 Smoke Free!!! The “Patch” is spectacular. Last night I dreamed that Stuart Little moved in… and for some reason, so did Ky’s dad, and we got into a heated argument over whether Stuart should have his own little cup to drink from (my argument), or whether he should drink from the cats’ dish (The Dad argument), since he was eating cat food anyway. Stuart – not Ky’s Dad. Poor little mouse should have his own cup, dammit…

And Craig Ferguson is still stalking me. In my dreams, that is. Last night, he made his producers hire me for some unknown but extremely well-paid job, and had them commemorate it with a really ugly porcelain plaque that said “Welcome On Board!” That’s right – “ON Board” – not “Aboard”. I KNOW!!!! How weird is that?!

Obviously, Craig Ferguson does not have a boat.

Random Song for the Day: “The Middle” – Jimmy Eat World

Categories
The Father Chronicles

Ruby’s Right – You Can’t Trust That Internet.

Horses in Winter
Team in Winter – Source Unknown

I found this info while looking for links for this waaaaaay back story of my dad’s that he told me on Saturday. I’m still shaking my head.

Ruby says you can’t trust that Internet – and I guess she’s right, this time, at least. This is not a “Ghost Island” I’m about to talk about, although there aren’t many that can say they live there year ’round. And apparently the Canuckian Government Census-Takers ought to make the odd phone call now and again.

Cockburn Island (Island Week)



Cockburn Island is a ‘ghost’ island in Ontario, which despite the apparent signs of life (there’s a small town and marina) has an official population of zero. The 1996 census listed a population of just two, but both people had left by 2001, making this the least populated incorporated municipality in Canada.

Some of these abandoned houses are supposedly still used as holiday homes, but what interests me if the makeshift airport to be found deep in the forest. It’s evidently still in use but I’ve found no mention of the airport around the internet. Most websites say that the marina is the “only way of getting on the island”, but it’s clearly not. If you asked me, an abandoned island would be the perfect place for an evil empire to keep its headquarters…

Thanks: Matt Blum & Taylor

  blog it

Clearly, one can’t believe everything found on the internet. Wikipedia has this to say, slightly (slightly, I say) closer to the truth:

“Cockburn Island is an island in the Canadian province of Ontario, located in the Manitoulin District. It is separated from the westernmost point of Manitoulin Island by the Mississagi Strait, and from Michigan’s Drummond Island by the False Detour Channel.

Cockburn Island had a permanent population of ten in the 2006 Canadian census. The island does, however, have a recreational summer population of anywhere from 50-200 people. In the 2001 census, the island’s population had been reported as zero, due to Statistics Canada’s counting method of rounding off population figures for communities of smaller than 15 people.

It is the least populated incorporated municipality in Canada, and township offices are located on the mainland in Thessalon, actually in the district of Algoma. The island is not connected to either Manitoulin or Drummond Islands by bridge or ferry service. The only available transportation is by private boat or float plane from Manitoulin or Thessalon.

A small portion of the island is taken up by the Cockburn Island 19 Indian reserve, which also has no permanent population; this is a heritage land belonging to a First Nation whose primary community is located on Manitoulin Island. The remainder constitutes the township of Cockburn Island.”

First of all, the “airport” is an airstrip, upon which small planes can land and take off, and sometimes, they even do! In really stormy weather, when you can’t get out by boat, and you have a heart attack, or appendicitis, or you fall out of your tree, making a radio-call for a plane is the only way off the island to a doctor… assuming the weather isn’t so bad that a plane can’t fly, in which case, you’d be SOL. Luckily, this doesn’t happen often.

Secondively (Suzism), “both people had left by 2001″…?! Nope. One died, and her husband most likely spent that winter on the Manitoulin. He went back to Cockburn, though, and eventually remarried. Ummm. Not sure where he found her, but it probably wasn’t anywhere on the Island itself, which is only 15 miles across – hard to miss a woman, even if she’s trying to hide. I haven’t met the new wife, but my kid has, and she says the new wife is pretty groovy. They raise peacocks. Or something.

Thirdly, Cockburn Island proper is now privately owned, by some rich guy from somewhere in the U.S. I haven’t met the new owner, but my parents have, and they say he’s pretty groovy, too…. He’s let everybody that owns land and buildings keep what’s theirs… I think they have to sell to him when they’re sick of the place or something. Fair enough, I guess.

AND….. no. It’s not pronounced the way you’re laughing at, either… It’s pronounced “CO-burn.” Stop laughing, now.

So how do I know all this? Well, my parents are “Haweaters,” having been born and raised on Manitoulin Island, as opposed to “Sandtrampers”, which is what they’d be if they’d been born and raised on Cockburn Island. There’s always been a fairly friendly rivalry between the Haweaters and the Sandtrampers. Having been raised by Haweaters, but having spent much of my childhood on Cockburn Island, I wonder if I might be able to call myself a Hawtramper…? Sandeater…? Hmmmmm….

Thessalon is where *I* was born and raised. I generally refer to it here, Where the Walls are Soft, as “Teeny-Tiny Town”. My dad opened up a farm machinery sales business in “Teeny-Tiny Town” in 1947, married my mom in ’48 and moved her there from the Manitoulin. His business turned into a Ford dealership (please, no “Found On Road Dead” jokes…) and eventually, he sold it – 1977, that was, and got himself a job rebuilding, and then captaining a big ol’ steel tugboat called “The Debbie-Cin”, with which he hauled a barge back and forth from Cockburn Island to Thessalon for The Midway Lumber Company.

Dad had a cottage on Cockburn Island by then, although we’d spent many summers docked at the so-called “marina” (cement pier) there, before the camp, as we Northerners call a “cottage”, was built. The town on Cockburn, by the way, is called “Tolsmaville”. So there, Internet. I taught you something.

Anyway, back to the job my dad had, hauling timber on a barge… it’s interesting, mainly because my mom and I got to go back and forth with him. What would have been an hour’s boat ride in my dad’s 31 ft cabin cruiser took about four hours in The Debbie-Cin. That’s when we were towing an empty barge from Thessalon to Cockburn. The return trip, with a full barge, was more like 7 or 8 hours. I did a lot of reading that summer.

But it’s even more interesting, now that I learn that my dad came full circle when he got that job. He had another job hauling stuff from Thessalon to Cockburn during The Dirty Thirties. 1938, to be exact. He was 18 years old.

That was my first job off the Manitoulin. I guess it was my first job for anybody other than my own dad, now I think it through a little. My brother Marvin got it for me. He’d been hired to haul hay to Cockburn from Thessalon, because he had a team of horses. Not everybody did, you know, and most of them worked in the bush hauling out timber, although you didn’t see much of that in the winter, I guess.

The boats couldn’t run in the winter, obviously, and sometimes Marvin would get a job carrying the mail, or hauling farm parts over the ice. There was a lot of people living there then – they didn’t start moving off the Island until after the War started. World War II, I mean.

Me: That’s when the ferry stopped, wasn’t it?

What ferry?

Me: The ferry from Meldrum Bay to Cockburn.

(snorts) I don’t know where you hear this stuff. There wasn’t no ferry from the Manitoulin to Cockburn! You’re all mixed up. They tried running a ferry from Blind River to Cockburn for awhile, but they couldn’t make a go of it, and it shut down after a year.

Me: I thought I heard it from you..!

Well, like I say, you’re all mixed up. Now, where was I?

Right, Marvin had a team of horses… So, he could usually get a job hauling something in the winter. He didn’t have a boat, so people like Bill Jones made runs in the summer, carrying the mail, and goods, and people back and forth between Cockburn and Meldrum and Thessalon, but Bill would usually hire Marvin to help out in the winter, and that year Marvin asked me to give him a hand. They had hay to haul from Thessalon to Cockburn, and Bill Jones only had Marvin’s team, and his own and one other to do it. Gord Nichols, I think it was.

Remember how we’d go on the snow machines and follow the tree-line? That made the trip easier, when they set out everybody’s Christmas trees in a line all the way from the breakwater in Thessalon to the breakwater on Cockburn. Any old idjit could follow that. They didn’t do that in 1938, though, and a lot of idjits got lost and froze to death. (laughs)

Bill Jones knew what he was doing, though. He’d been doing it awhile. It was my first real job, and I was nervous. We had to haul a great big sleigh full of hay, and I was driving. I didn’t have to worry much about getting lost, because I was following Bill, and Gord Nichols was behind me. I was kind of leery of the ice, mind you, because the Great Lakes don’t really freeze. We were on the North Channel, and you could usually count on decent ice, but you had to be careful because there’d be air pockets, and sometimes you’d hit open water real sudden. Lots of people went in, and lots of people lost their teams.

Anyway, we got about half-way to Cockburn and decided to stop for lunch. It was cold as hell, and we stomped around a lot, clapping our hands to ward off frost bite. Remember how I used to make you do that at the half-way mark? You gotta make sure to do that now and again – if you sit still too long your toes’ll fall right off, when you take your boots off.

So we stomped around and unhitched the teams and led them up to the back of Bill’s sleigh to feed. We were just about to eat lunch ourselves, when Bill noticed the water coming up around his feet. He started to yell at us all to get the hell away RIGHT NOW!!! I never run so fast in my life!

Marvin had the double-trees and he’d just managed to hook the goose-neck into them (Les Says: I have no idea what that means, but I didn’t want to interrupt him at this point…) when the back end of the bob went down through the ice and dumped all of Bill’s hay into the channel.

I don’t remember who hitched up Marvin’s team, might even have been me, but all of a sudden we were flying over the ice, with Bill yelling to spread out so we didn’t all go down at once for the weight. I was scared to death and I didn’t have anybody to follow anymore. I was sure I’d somehow do something wrong, so I kept trying to hand the lines over to Marvin, but he wouldn’t take them.

I found out later, that Marvin had already lost two teams that winter, delivering mail, and that’s why he had me driving in the first place! I was mad over that for a long time.

We did finally get to Cockburn. We’d lost a sleighful of hay, but the horses all got there, and so did we, so I guess it could have been worse.

But I never hired on with Marvin for a run like that again.

Random Song for the Day: “Oh No” – Gogol Bordello