Category: Family Stuff

12

I wanna play with my toys and make bubbles and run and shoot bad guys with  my Nerf gun.

I want to talk to a new girl at school. I want to do my studies and I want to do well in school.

Why are adults telling me what to do? When to bathe? What to eat?

Why are the rules so strict? Why can’t I go to the mall on the weekend and spend time hanging with my friends?

Why do I have to do homework? Why are there final exams? Why is it important?

I wanna play with my old toys but I also want to date girls. I want to be a kid and I want to be treated like an adult. I don’t want to grow up but I have to.

Why can’t I make decisions for myself? I am grown up! Why don’t THEY see it?

Why do I have to follow THEIR rules?

Why do the other kids laugh at me when I tell them about my latest toys? Why do they laugh when I talk about my neighbourhood friends?

Why are they so mean? When will it all stop?

Why can’t it be like it used to be? Why can’t we all get along?

Why can’t my parents understand my battle? The one with being a kid vs growing up?

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We Understand. We were 12 once too. We used to question our parents’ decisions too. We used to get angry with our parents all the time. We used to wish we were little kids again so we didn’t have to deal with all the crap that comes from growing up. But we did grow up, and when we did, we seen that our parents made the rules so that we could become the people we are today. So that we could raise our kids so that they could become all that they will become. Because we love our kids.

Sometimes I wish I was 12 again…

With Heavy Heart….

A little girl in a family of many, she always had a sister or brother to play with. Growing up on a western Newfoundland farm wasn’t easy, but she had the love of her parents to keep her safe and happy. Running in the hay fields, playing with the dog, her homemade dolly under her arm, she was always the feisty one. Those were the easy years, probably the only easy years for poor Jeanie.

The family moved to a more populated area, thanks to the poor health of her daddy. From there, things changed. Jeanie was of age now and searched for someone to love her. At first she met a man who loved her to pieces, and she loved him, but something or someone put a wall up that separated the two. Her first chance at happiness gone forever. Then she met him.

They say evil comes in many forms, his evil was there for all the world to witness. His charm hid the ugliness that he carried with him, and she was swept off her feet. The two married in no time, because that was the way back then. No sex before marriage, or the Devil will get you!

Things weren’t easy from there. They moved into a small, dingy house that should have been demolished, but wasn’t. The roof leaked, the floors squeaked, and it lacked any sort of insulation.  His controlling ways drove her family away, and he kept Jeanie to himself, when he wanted her. They were in the house only for a few years, and that was all it took to break her soul and her heart.

Four babies in four years, a boy and three girls. The boy was strong, as were two of the girls; the fourth wasn’t so lucky. It was cold that winter, and one morning when Jeanie went to feed the little one, she lay still in her crib. With Daddy out drinking, possibly waking up in the arms of another, Jeanie was found lying on the floor crying, a dead baby in her arms.

Her family intervened and took her under their wing, until he came home. No remorse for the fallen child, he blamed Jeanie for everything. Her fault the baby froze to death, her fault the others were nearly starving. He wasn’t concerned, his drinking buddies came first, and the little money they received from welfare wasn’t for Jeanie and the kids, it was for him and his buddies. Eventually his drinking and cheating ways ended the marriage, and he moved on.

Left with with a boy and two girls and no place to live, Jeanie depended on handouts from her family and a bit of welfare from the stingy hands of the government, poverty was her only friend. With a broken heart and no choice, Jeanie spent a lot of time alone. She found a friend in a box of cigarettes and a lighter, and spent many a night smoking her life away.

Bars and nightclubs were her newest friend, someone out there might actually be looking for a good woman who could love them, but she never found them. Instead, she found Richard. Oh, he was quite the bluff; that or she was naive, or both, but after a night of dancing and a short courtship, she was back in front of the minister, hand in hand with a man who loved her and her three children. A fourth child, his first with her, was born.

This time she had a house on the coast. A lonely, forlorn place where nobody knew you and the nearest neighbour lived miles away. This was where he kept her. No chance for her to attract anyone, no place for her to run. He worked away, and sent money to care for the kid, his kid. The others didn’t matter. One day the phone rung. It was a woman. Jeanie was confused at first, then hurt. The woman claimed that Richard was her lover, and that she was fed up with him leaving to go to the arms of another woman, even if she was the mother of his child.

They say a heart breaks only once, but Jeanie proved this wrong. She was ready to throw it all away, and she did. Years of moving from one shit hole to the next, she lived by her wits alone. Her kids had grown up and moved on, and she was alone once again. Maybe she drank and smoked too much, but who cared? Everyone had their life to live, why bother with someone who has given up on God, and on herself as well? She never wanted to burden others, and she didn’t. And then she got sick.

The doctor warned her to quit smoking, but with a heart that was broken so many times, why heed the advice of yet another man telling her what to do?  Years of abuse to her body left her in the hospital, after suffering a massive heart attack. Her ticker couldn’t take it anymore. The doctors performed surgery and she recovered nicely. A warning to quit smoking again was heeded, at least while she lay in the hospital bed; but that ended quickly afterward.

The heart attack actually brought cheer to Jeanie, as family and friends, and even her kids were at her side, in her hospital room holding her hand, talking about the ‘good times’ and supporting her. It was here that she seen some hope. She moved in with her brother, living in a basement apartment in the community where most of her sisters and brothers called home. She was happy again. Some freedom now, she found happiness didn’t depend on having a man at your side. She kept in touch with her kids, and their kids as well.

A grandmother! Who would have thought? As much as she celebrated her new lease on life, she knew it wouldn’t last, nothing did. A pain in her chest, she thought for a minute she was suffering another heart attack. She was wrong. This time it would be much worse. Cancer. Her constant smoking had brought on another curse. Her lungs were filled with tumors. The doctor recommended treatment, which made her sick and weak. With the love of her family behind her, she went through numerous radiation and chemo treatments that made her feel worst than the pain of Cancer, but she did it anyway.

It took months of treatment and even longer to recover from the radiation, but she pulled through. A talk from her doctor involved her throwing away the very thing that caused the cancer in the first place. She did try to quit smoking, but the habit and the addiction to the drug called nicotine overpowered her desire to stay healthy. She told others she had quit, but continued to smoke. A pain in her back a few months ago, a visit to the hospital, and news that wasn’t what she had hoped for put yet another nail in her coffin. He gave her three, maybe four months to live. She offered to quit smoking, maybe prolong her days, but he told her to smoke if she wanted to. Not only would it do her no good to quit now, but the pain from quitting might actually end her life even quicker.

Today she lies in a hospital bed, weak and dizzy from the drugs being pumped into her body. Cancer had spread into most of her body now, and its just a matter of time. Yet she seems happy now. She spent the last few days getting her affairs in order. Her kids and grand kids are here now, and so is everyone else who have supported her in the past. The men in her life are long gone, thankfully. They only hurt her anyway.

Just the other day, with her entire family standing around her hospital bed, she lay holding a cake that read “Happy 70th Birthday Jean”. She had a smile on her face because in this room, love was present. Love you Aunt Jean.

Three dogs

1661915_10154832678985123_791877687067291139_nPeople say “Wow, three dogs! That must be so cool” While they are loveable, having three dogs can certainly be demanding. For instance, when I crawl out of bed at 6 a.m. and attempt to get ready for work, and of course all three of them have to go outside to do their business! This is okay on weekdays, but they know no weekends. so its the crack of dawn for me EVERY day! …and then, before I get my breakfast, they are ALL hungry…so feed them or they drive me insane by  crying. I know, I know, I should be stronger and do the dog whisperer thingy and make them respect me….but this is hard when everyone else in the house is trying to sleep and the dogs are whimpering and barking. so I feed them. They have me well trained! Same thing when I get home from work. First one up and the first one home….so let us out, our bladders are going to explode and we are starving, so feed us…NOW! Alas, the barking and whimpering doesn’t work this time. Nobody home by me, so barking won’t wake anyone…so bark on. But the soft spot in my heart realizes that they have been in the house all day, never destroyed anything (major), and perhaps they really are hungry. So I feed them before working on getting supper for everyone else. All this while Marley, (the year and a half old Sheltie) brings me my slippers (slightly chewed, but what dog can resist chewing just a bit), boots brings a tennis ball, (he is the one in the front, a mixed breed, and most loveable and sook of them all), and Halle, the Pomeranian…you know what they are like…bark bark bark…but since she is 7 years old and only 3.5 lbs…she is almost cute enough to get away with it. 10399990_10154844521550123_7011101043178091156_n

Rememberance Day Salute to a Hero: Anthony Luedy

Pte. Anthony Luedy was my grandmother’s younger brother. In 1941, Anthony left the small coal mining town of New Waterford, NS with dreams of fighting for his country. He, like so many more, would never return to the quaint little town where his loved ones lived.

During his time overseas, Anthony sent many personal letters to my grandmother. The letters spoke of the amazing things he seen in this very different world. At just 19 years old, I would imagine Anthony seen things that he could have only imagined; and some things that he truly regretted seeing.

Anthony had a very close friend. He mentioned him in all his letters home. The two, who were both very young and very naive, worked together to get through basic training, each standing up for the other. They were both shipped overseas at the same time, and even shared a tent once in a while. Back then, true friendship sometimes meant living or dying. It probably helped with the loneliness and fear as well.

The alarming thing about this story is not the bravery that both young men showed on the battle field. It is not about the sacrifices they both made either. The thing about this story is how tragically both young men died.

Just after Christmas, January 14, 1945 to be exact, Anthony and his friend returned to their tent soon after several days on the battlefield in a country so far away from where they came. During one of their nightly conversations, while cleaning their guns and preparing for the next battle, Anthony’s one true friend mistakenly forgot a shell in the chamber of his gun. While attempting to clean the gun, it misfired, killing Anthony instantly.

Nobody could blame this on the young man, but that did not take away the guilt that he felt. Seeing his compadre’ lying on the floor next to him, he couldn’t take it. All the battles they fought, side by side, each watching the others back, and now Anthony was dead, by the hand of his friend.

The next morning, as if nothing had ever happened, Anthony’s friend, along with the rest of the troop, were commissioned to do battle once again. As the story goes, Peter (not his real name, his name was lost with the rest of Anthony’s letters) walked out on the battlefield unarmed. He lasted approximately five seconds before being mowed down by enemy gunfire. Apparently he could not live with the mistake he had made the night before, and for that, he gave his life for his friend.

The newspapers did not report the fact that a young soldier lost his life in friendly fire. Nor did they mention that Peter committed suicide on the battlefield. Instead, it was reported that two young men, both 23 years of age, lost their lives while protecting the democracy and freedom that we all take for granted.

For that, I salute Pte. Anthony Luedy. Hero.

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Sitting in the truck, Anthony Luedy. To his left, my grandmother, Emma (Luedy) Blanchard, and to the right, Dora (Luedy) Jennex. This was just prior to Anthony being deployed overseas

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A Close Shave

Last week, my 12 year old step son came to me to ask a favour. He wanted to learn to shave. Sure, there were a couple of hairs growing under his nose, but I didn’t think he was ready for this step into manhood. Maybe I couldn’t accept the fact that he is growing up.

As I stood there and explained the basics of shaving, I thought back to my childhood, and the times where I stood and watched my grandfather shave. He used a straight razor that was nothing short of a beast. The thing looked like it fell right out of a slasher movie. I remember how he drew the blade against a long piece of leather that hung from the edge of the table, and then proceeded to lather up a homemade brush that he made from horse hair; carefully swirling it in a cup that he swiped from Gram’s cupboard.

He took great care in covering ever inch of his lower face, until he closely resembled Santa Clause. Then, with the care of a surgeon, he proceeded to drag the sharp blade over his face, cutting every hair, and thankfully no flesh.

He had a little razor for me too. He fashioned the thing out of a piece of alder wood, whittling the handle so that it matched the one he used. The blade was attached with a small screw, and although the edge was not filed sharp, I thought it was. Standing next to my grandfather, the two of us shared in a special moment together.

When we finished, he took boiling water from the kettle and poured it into the heavily enameled basin, and using a face cloth, he proceeded to wipe his face clean. He cooled the water down to wash my face.

“There, now you are a man!” he said.

I explained to my son just how easy it is to shave nowadays. I gave him the basics of shaving, and began to shave my face. He watched me first and then imitated my actions. He was shocked at how sharp the razor blade was, and how smooth it made his face feel. I explained how today’s razors were so much safer than the ones my grandfather used, and even the one my father uses to this day.

When we finished, he wiped his hand under his nose. “Wow, smoother than a baby’s bum!” he said. Those were the same words I used while my grandfather and I shaved together.

“Welcome to manhood” I told him, and winked my eye.

Heroes

When I was a kid, my heroes ranged from Superman and Batman to the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Every Sunday morning after Church, my dad would allow me to go to the local convenience store and pick out a few of the latest comics. I remember how excited I was to get home and read about all the superheroes and how they managed to save the world with their special powers.

Now that I am grown up (well, at least I believe I have grown, my wife might have something else to add) my heroes are a little different. Growing up, I realized that a man doesn’t have to don a red cape and fly just to save the day. I learned that a woman doesn’t have to come from the Amazon to get anywhere in life. Most of all, I learned that heroes don’t live in Bat Caves, Fortress of Solitude, or other hidden locations. My heroes are right here.

When I was a kid, I saw my dad come home from work, his hands bloodied and the skin torn. I seen him wake up at 5 in the morning and come home beat out and tired, and still manage to be there for me when I needed him. At the time, I didn’t see this as being a hero, but he was, and he still is.

My dad, despite being undereducated, was never a lazy man. Education in my dad’s day was a privilege that he was not allowed. In fact, education in his time was set aside for the rich. My dad was never rich. So he used what he was given in his lifetime. Two strong hands and an even stronger work ethic.

Most of the jobs my dad worked were manual labor. Hands on handle of a wheelbarrow brought blisters that bled, but he never complained. His favorite job was that of a janitor position that he had won. When he interviewed for the job, his resume was sparse. A few jobs such as cab driver and logger, he was almost ashamed to enter the room and hand the thing in. When the employer seen that my dad worked the jobs he did, my dad got the job. The employer told my dad that he was looking for an honest, hard worker. He said that my dad’s work experience showed that he was that person. I believe dad worked there for about five years, and only left because the company that ran the building set up shop elsewhere.

So my dad went into the woods and worked as a logger. He worked so hard that we hardly seen him. He would come home at night and head for the bed. By the time I woke up in the morning, he was already half way through his day. He still never complained. In fact, every day he thanked the blessed Lord for giving him the strength to work this job.

Underpaid and unrewarded, my dad worked for pennies. The contractor who ran the operation decided that rather than have the men drive back and forth every day, they would have to stay in a logging camp for the entire week. That way, the greedy bastard could work the men even harder. In a time where work wasn’t plentiful in the province, those cut-throat employers knew how to manipulate the fine Newfoundland men who worked for them. My dad tried the camp thing, but quit after one week.

I still recall the day he came home, his chainsaw swung over one shoulder, his knapsack on the other, and his head down. He felt as if he failed his family by quitting. Mom said that it was about time. The work was so hard that my dad had himself nearly starved to death. I still hear mom saying that we would be better off on welfare than seeing my dad work himself to death.

Welfare wasn’t something my dad was proud of, and it wasn’t something that he seen as a way out. With that, my uncle had just started a logging contract with a local papermill, and my dad was the first person he called.

Dad worked for his younger brother until the day he retired. When I turned sixteen, I expressed to my dad that I wanted to be just like him and become a logger. I remember my dad crying.

To this day I will never forget what he told me. He said that I was much better than this line of work, and that I should use my God given talents and become something that I want to do. He didn’t want me working my fingers to the bone and bringing home measly pay checks, barely enough to get by. When I told him that I wanted to try this, and later do something else, he still disagreed. I worked alongside my dad for the next twenty years.

For a glimpse of a typical work day, you can check out an old post of mine, in which I take readers back some fifteen years, into the tall brush and hardy forest of Western Newfoundland. Hope you like it. click this link

My dad is still as busy as ever. At 77 years of age, he and my mom spend fall mornings in the woods, cutting firewood and hauling them to the woodshed to provide heat for one another. After 51 years of marriage, they still do everything together, hand in hand, heart in heart. My heroes.

living in an idiot proof world

My missus picked up a new can opener at Wally World yesterday. The thing claims to be ‘Idiot Proof’. Thing is, I couldn’t get it to work. Does that mean that I am an idiot?

In this world of ‘making things easier’, I think we have gone too technical. A can opener; why does it have to be so difficult? Instead of using the $15 piece of plastic garbage, I hauled out my old faithful pocket knife and using the trusty can opener blade, I opened my can of beans and wieners with ease. No batteries, no blister packing that cuts your fingers. Idiot proof.

Back in my grandfather’s day, there were no idiot proof crap things. Everything worked because it was made to work. Actually, my grandfather made most things himself, and if they didn’t work right, he started from scratch and worked at it until it did work. Idiot Proof.

I remember walking up to the fence he built to keep his cattle from leaving the cow pasture. He had this giant gate made from spruce boards that he sawed on a sawmill that he made himself. The gate fastened to the fence by a piece of rope that he hung over the top post on the gate and the fence. Simple, but it worked. The cows couldn’t figure it out, and that was all he worried about. Idiot Proof.

The sawmill itself was his creation as well. Powered by an old Austin motor, the mill, although small, was used to cut every board that he used to build the barn, the shed, and even his home. A blade that he picked up at a scrap yard in a neighboring city ran by a belt that was hooked to the little four-cylinder motor was not complex but it worked. Idiot proof.

He had a truck, but he didn’t really need one. The old Ford worked most of the time, and when it didn’t, he tackled his horse ‘Bess’ to a cart and used this method to haul hay and other farm essentials from one side of the pasture to the other. He even rode into town on horse and buggy from time to time. A handful of hay and drink of water for the horse.  Idiot Proof.

The tools he used to cut hay were also simple. Although my uncle bought my grandfather a John Deere tractor to cut the hay, my grandfather preferred to do it the old way. A Hand- scythe, which is actually a long blade scythe attached to a spruce handle that he made himself managed to work just right for my grandfather. I remember seeing him out in his fields at five in the morning, swinging the long handled scythe to and fro, hay falling behind him.

He did try the tractor, and at first he was amazed at how quickly the thing managed to cut his grass; but when the thing ran out of gas, he jumped off the tractor, and with his trusty scythe, he continued cutting the hay. The tractor sat in the field until he felt it was in the way. Then using his horse, he towed the tractor to the barn where it sat until the day he died. “don’t like those new fangled things that try to make things easier. Sometimes things are best left to the old way. A way that allowed a man to be one with the grass he cuts and the animals he feeds”

My grandfather was stubborn, but what he said makes a lot of sense, especially in this idiot proof world in which we live.

 

Tying Knots….or Just Got Married

My grandfather was good at tying knots. Unlike knots these days,  the knot that my grandfather tied lasted over 70 years. These days it seems as if people are tying slip-knots.

My dad wasn’t too bad at knot tying either. His knot is fifty years strong and  still holding tight. I can only hope that the knot I tied on July 26 will last as long.

To try and figure out just why the knots lasted so long is beyond anyone’s guess, but if my grandfather were alive today, he would attribute it to love and devotion. I can see that love and  devotion in my parent’s eyes as well.

The wedding went great. Through almost a year’s planning, everything went over without a hitch. Well, almost.

We decided on rental tuxedos. We asked around and the establishment that we chose promised to do  a great job. We got fitted in February and the tuxes only arrived on July 23…and mine was too small.  The only thing that fit right was the cuff links! A 45 minute trip to a neighbouring city and a refit and two days later another 45 minute trip to get the suits….one day before the wedding. Lucky it fit or I would be getting hitched in my jeans and a t-shirt. My bride would like that one…

All that aside, everything went great. Candice’s family arrived from Alberta and set themselves up at a hotel in town, and we all attended the rehearsal together. Both families gathered for the first time and we had lunch together.

On Saturday, the weather was hot but sunny and dry. The photographer arrived and the women and men dressed in separate houses. I wasn’t permitted to see Candice as tradition didn’t allow it. Once the men had their tuxedos on, we posed for pictures in my parents’ backyard and the ladies did the same in our yard. Hell, even the dogs got their pictures taken with Candice.

My beautiful bride rode to the church in her father’s 1986 Pontiac Parisienne, the pride and joy of her family. Her grandfather bought the car the year that he retired, and with barely 60,000 clicks on thing, it wasn’t used much since. Earlier that morning everyone got together and gave the old girl (the car, not her grandmother) a good waxing and vacuuming.

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I don’t think anyone was ready for the church we chose. Steeped in tradition and elegance, Our Lady of Mercy church stood tall in the large lot where it was erected way back in August of 1914. Originally built for the growing community of Aguathuna, the church was set to serve the growing community of miners who worked at the local limestone quarry. Maps from the era showed where the community was destined to become the province’s first city. That all fell through when the mine closed and most of the citizens left for greater fortunes elsewhere.  The church no longer belongs to the Catholic Church. It has been sold to a heritage group known as The Gravels. This organization is responsible for the church’s  upkeep and often rents the building for weddings.

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Myself  and my groomsmen arrived at the church first. We needed to ensure that we were ready for the ceremony (At least that’s what the minster said. He said that all too often grooms arrive late or not at all.) The room  where we gathered looked as if nobody had entered the room in years. An antique pipe organ sat in the middle of the room, and a few church pews and a small alter adorned the wall behind us. The  minister explained that this room was used when the congregation was small, and the outside church was used when the place bustled with parishioners.  While we explored the old records and other antiques in the room, the ladies arrived.

I had everything under control (ya right) and wasn’t even breaking a sweat when the church music began. The song “Love Never Fails’ began to play and that was our cue to enter the church and take our place.  The first to walk up the aisle was my son, accompanied by my two nieces. He had a smile ear to ear he walked up the aisle. Next were our bridesmaids, who each stopped next to the pew where me and my groomsmen stood, and took their corresponding partner to the front of the church. Cool and collective, I wiped my now sweaty palms against my pants leg. The song changed to one my lady and I chose earlier that week. The song was called “How Beautiful”, and ironically, the minute the lyric “How Beautiful’ played, the church doors sprung open and there she was. Half the congregation looked at my bride, but a few stared at me, and my reaction to the most beautiful woman  I had ever laid eyes on. I anxiously awaited her father to accompany her up the aisle, and when  he did,  we shook hands and he presented my future wife to me.

The minister gave a delightful sermon,  as he explained why people should marry.  “It isn’t due to money or riches or convenience, it has to be about love. Not the word love, but for all the things that love brings.” He went on to say that true love is so much more than words, that it can  mean standing in front of a bus for the one you love. That is how special true love is” Great sermon that really made some people think.

Afterwards we posed for pictures along the picturesque areas surrounding the church and on the beaches nearby. Later we rode in the pontiac and headed for our backyard where our photographer continued to take pictures of my beautiful bride, myself, and our family and friends. Later we headed for the club for supper and our reception. One of the good things about being a wedding dj is that I got to create a playlist and play my own wedding. Don’t worry, I charged myself a fortune!

A dance with my bride to the Keith Urban song “Making Memories of Us”, a dance with my mom, my bride’s dance with her grandfather and her dad, and finally our entire wedding party gathered  to dance to the Nathan  Carter tune “Wagon Wheel” (If you haven’t heard of this young man, do yourself a favor and check out his albums on iTunes. At only 24 years of age, this young Irishman is one of the  most talented singers I have ever heard)

As soon  as the dances were over, we thanked everyone for coming and I turned on my playlist. The crowd danced into the wee morning hours and everyone commented on the great time they had. …and now a few wedding pics….

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Honey Bee Bread and the big fright

I woke up early this morning. Actually couldn’t sleep. Started thinking about how I am raising my son and how I must have given my mom so many grey hair while growing up.

I wouldn’t think of letting my son do the things I did as a kid; however, mom had no knowledge anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t the type of kid who was involved in anything bad, like smoking or drugs, but I was quite the daredevil in my day.

When I was a kid, my best friend  ever, Ricky and I spent all our time together. We build cabins, we fished, camped, rode our bikes, and built go-carts.

The go-cart incident still sticks out in my mind. Ricky was quite the carpenter in his day. He could build anything with just a few pieces of wood and old junk he found in his dad’s garage. I remember once, we scrapped his dad’s old snowmobile. The suspension featured  little wheels called ‘boogie-wheels’. Ricky tore the suspension apart and retrieved these wheels, which measured about five inches in height. With that, we cut a piece of plywood in two so that it measured 8 foot by three, and fastened the wheels to the board. Ricky fixed two pieces of rope to each side of the wheels and inserted a long bolt in the middle, and created a  steering system. Our own invention  for brakes was a hole in the floor in which we inserted the lug wrench from his dad’s truck (I still remember his dad cussing at us for taking it without asking him).

We brought our contraption  to the top  of the steepest hill in the community. The contractors had just laid a covering of new pavement, and the hill was as smooth as a baby’s ass. (Ricky’s description, not mine)

Like two Olympians on a luge, we lay on our backs, me manning the brake and Ricky steering, we took off like a light, only to have the steering rope break. We should have used new rope, but we were too poor to buy any, besides, Ricky’s dad had lots of used rope in the shed. Anyway, without steering, it was up to me to apply the brake. I shoved the lug wrench handle into the hole and it scraped on the pavement, but to no avail. Perhaps a trial run was in order, but hey, we were kids!

The little cart (or board with wheels attached) took off, the two of us screaming like banshees, and headed down the hill. Just when things couldn’t get any worst, we seen it. A Honey-Bee bread truck heading towards us. With the two of us on our backs, not six inches from the road, he couldn’t have seen us. He didn’t apply his brakes, but headed straight for us….and over us. That’s right, we went right under his truck.

Ricky used to stutter, but for a brief moment, and I will never forget it….he didn’t.  He let out a ‘WHOA” and said “HOLEEEY FUCK! WHAT A FUCKING RUSH! LET’S DO IT AGAIN!”

Of course, I didn’t. Scared me straight I guess!

Ricky was such a good carpenter for an eleven year old kid. He could have done something with his life if only he didn’t discover drugs and booze.

Krazy Karpets, Sno-Skates and Mini Skis

When I was a kid,  I didn’t spend my holidays or weekends indoors during winter like kids  these days. We went outside slidin’.

Behind my grandfather’s house, across the cow pasture, there was a gigantic hill, about a mile long. the hill was created when my grandfather took his dog team up the mountain to haul firewood during winter. He cut the path out and from then on, it became ‘Teddy’s Hill’. My dad used to slide there as a kid, and so did I.

The hill wasn’t without danger, as halfway down there was a giant rock that stuck out. When the kids played on the hill, my grandfather would first go out and using his shovel, he created a bank around the rock. When kids hit the bank, they made a jump that led them over the rock and on down the hill. My dad said that they couldn’t afford sleds, so the made due with the hood from one of Grappy’s old pickup trucks, waxed with animal fat.

Of course, we didn’t need the truck hood, we had modern sleds. First we had wooden  toboggans. I remember climbing on a ten foot toboggan, along with six or more other kids, and flying down the hill. The walk back up wasn’t easy, and took almost twenty minutes, but it gave us kids time to chat and plan our next trip down the hill.

During the later winter months, when the snow became sticky, we fashioned jumps toward the bottom of the hill. Again, several kids on one sled, the added weight hurling us even faster down the hill, but when we hit our ramps, kids went everywhere. Can you say FUN?

One Christmas, I was lucky enough to get a Krazy Karpet from Santa. Whoa! This thing was cool! A thin piece of space age plastic that rolled up under your arm until you were ready to use it. No longer did I need to drag a heavy wooden toboggan up the steep hill, I could walk effortlessly with my sled rolled up under my arm. And Go! Did it ever go, it flew! The trip  down the hill went at least two times as fast. I was the envy of the other kids. Imagine, me being the envy…in no  time,  all my friends had these cool Krazy Karpets, each a different color.

One day I seen an  ad on television for the newest sliding sensation. The ad was from K-Tel, and it  was the latest craze for kids. Mini-Skis.

Those short plastic skis were made from the same space age material that made the Krazy Karpets fly so fast, but molded in a tough, sturdy style. The skis were red in colour and although  they were only about a foot and a half in length, standing on them was fairly easy….at least they were in the ads.

I asked  mom and dad for a pair, but being  so poor, I had to wait for Santa. On Christmas morning, I was the first to get up, and the first under the tree. I ripped my gift open, excited to find my cherry red mini-skis, only to find…..

Sno-Skates. Stupid Sno-Skates. Essentially Krazy Karpets that tied to each foot. I remember the ad on TV. A kid headed down a hill, a terrified look on his face. He only had a few teeth in his mouth, possibly from some Sno-Skating accident. I almost  cried.

“Mom, what the hell?” I pleaded.

“Santa said the store was sold out, but these are better.” My mom assured.

Reluctantly, I headed up the hill that Christmas day, trying to make the best of my disappointing Christmas morning. The other kids laughed their asses off at my stupid gift. Like the kid in the ad, I too headed down the hill with a terrified look on my face. I only wish I would have made it to the bottom of the hill. I didn’t. I went face and eyes into the rock. The same rock that our Krazy Karpets and our toboggans and even our cheap plastic sleds were able to avoid. The Sno-Skates took me head on into the rock. When I was dug out of the snow by laughing kids, I was surprised to find that one of my Sno-Skates had broken. I wasn’t all that sad.

Later that winter I did manage to buy a set of Mini-Skis. Well they weren’t actual Mini-Skis, at least not the ones made by K-tel. They were called Super-Skis. Some Japanese knock off of the originals, but it didn’t matter, they were all that I expected them to be. Down the hills, over jumps, even  being towed across the fields by a  ski-doo, I used my Super-Skis until the bottoms were all but worn out. What fun.

Ah to be a kid again.

These days the hills are but barren  mounds of dirt.  Kids these  days don’t  ski or slide. They play video games. Boring!

What I Wanted

 

What I got