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Saturday, August 29, 2015
|Jim, Kim, Dr Bill, Butch, Brigitte, Roger|
While thinking about my trip to Chapleau to launch 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War' with my co-author Michael McMullen, I decided that while home I wanted to do the backyards and backlanes just one more time.
On previous visits since I moved to British Columbia just over 26 years ago, I simply didn't find time, although I did visit the 'Big Rock' on the Nebskwashi River, now in the Peace Park, where we played for hours in our growing up years.
|MJM, Sharon Swanson, Michael K.|
Harry 'Butch' Pellow, my lifelong friend, summed up the importance of the 'Big Rock' in a column some time back. Butch wrote in part: "But it wasn’t just a rock. It was the centerpiece of a cowboy movie, a hideaway from bandits or the law, and where we would shoot, maim, wing, or capture and tie up our adversaries whomever they might be. It was a dry gulch, a mountain top, a cliff, a destination, a point of arrival and a lookout. In fact it would be anything we put our mind to making it out to be."
|Butch and Brigitte|
But the back lanes and backyards were also important -- in fact, they were major transportation routes going through friendly backyards and going up and going up and down lanes to get wherever we were going.
I couldn't find a suitable quote about back lanes, but I did recall a Nate King Cole song from 1953: "It's just a little street (back lane) where old friends meet and treat me in the same old way."
Ken Schroeder, another lifelong friend, who lived on Aberdeen Street, one lane and a backyard from our place on Grey Street, volunteered to come along, and in the beginning, I could just see us trudging up and down the lanes and through the backyards -- even though for the most part, we would have no idea who now lived in the houses along our routes.
I set out from the Redwood to start at Grey Street, and several hours later, made it. In the meantime, Ken arrived, and we decide we would drive, rather than walk the lanes and just look at the backyards. Off we went down Lorne Street from Birch, up the back lane behind where the old old rink and the Chapleau Memorial Arena were, down Lansdowne, up the next lane and so on.
I must admit that Ken has a much better memory than I do. He actually remembered where everyone had lived in every house from Lorne to Grey streets looking at the houses from the backyards.
Anyway, when we reached the Aberdeen Lane, Ken pulled his vehicle over behind the house where he lived, and advised he wanted to take a photo of me with the rhubarb. I'm still not sure of the significance of me with the rhubarb, as I don't think I raided the Schroeder rhubarb, but I complied with Ken's request.
We ended our tour at the Peace Park, and what a wonderful place that is. Congratulations Chapleau!
Along the way, Ken and I shared so many fond memories of growing up in Chapleau in the 1940s and 50s and we laughed a lot. One I recalled was us driving up and down the Aberdeen lane in a red truck that his father owned -- long before we had such a thing as a driver's license.
Then we proceeded to the Redwood which we still remember as the Boston Cafe, the obvious place for us to end up. It's where we would go in our growing up years. Michael McMullen and I signed some books, and enjoyed the company of old friends. Thanks to Jim Hong who helped so much to make it all happen.
And thanks to Ken Schroeder for taking me up and down the back lanes, and reminding me of who lived there. Great fun.
But it was also a mini reunion with more than 60 mostly from Chapleau friends who were able to make it for the occasion. It was great that Harry 'Butch' and Brigitte Pellow, Dr. Bill Pellow and daughter Kim, and Ken and his wife Sig were able to be there too. Michael's wife Alison (McMillan) was of course there, and Ian Macdonald had to leave a bit early.
Reflecting on it all now I am reminded of a comment made by country singer Lyle Lovett: "You don't have to have anything in common with people you've known since you were five. With old friends, you've got your whole life in common." My email is firstname.lastname@example.org