A horror story was upsetting for Atlantis!

This incident that I’ll call “The Kayak Kid” is actually a horror story–as you will agree having seen the Ranier rapids in full boil this summer.
Now kayaks are said to be catching on again.
You’ve known that our new-found Atlantis has held perils for us right along, and the fact we are so proud of our fabulous heritage here has much to do with our survival stories.
A bunch of us were assigned, in another hot summer long ago, probably about 1947, to load gravel trucks by hand at Pither’s Point beach.
Let’s see now, we had several young guys, mostly since deceased, like Spreck Thompson, Ed Blasky, Ernie Wolden and truck driver Art Hayes, probably none of whom would outlive the Kayak Kid. That’s what we called the little lad whose life was spared one hot day.
Other significant names in our group included the late George Salo, the foreman. George was an old Finlander from the bush camps with a keen sense of humour. As he sat on our rockpile, he would assure us that he didn’t want us working hard,” just fast and steady, bhoys,” he would caution us in quite an accent.
Besides me, there was also Fred Sus, soon to become the hero of this story. Fred and Eddy Blasky teamed up well and came in handy when we used those rocks to blend into hand-mixed cement on our next job, which was fencing around the papermill’s radio tower out on McIrvine Road.
This was halfway to the airport built later, and not far from the bark piles which bagpiper Bob Hamilton still hopes to turn into profit and recreation with his oft-postponed skiing business.
While the sun beat down and Trucker Hayes kept on returning for yet another load amidst our groans, there was a shout heard from the water’s edge.
Someone had seen a tiny craft tip over in the swift current and spill its passenger just above the rapids. A horrifying event was about to take place within 100 yards of us.
All we could make out at first was a small arm hanging onto a stick, which turned out to be a kayak paddle. It was a stick so small you could not imagine it supporting even a small boy in that wicked maelstrom of foam and wild waves which can create a whirlpool at least 10 feet deep.
The boy, refusing to let go of that stick, missed the whirlpool or this would be a different story. His luck carried him under Ranier bridge, through the rapids, and eventually into the calmer part of that crazy water, but also further from shore.
As he bore down on the American coast, though, he seemed to be picking up more speed.
By now, somehow we were coming out of shock at all this and, almost without thinking, responding in different ways to an emergency no one ever contemplated. I never ran so fast before and soon was floating a pulpwood stick ahead of me out towards that desperate boy.
But right off where the old Hallett sits on the point today, there appeared a small skiff and motor carrying its owner and Fred Sus, who had recruited someone netting minnows near the old pumphouse. Quickly, they hauled the boy aboard while everyone shouted with relief.
I never learned the name of the Kayak Kid but I still witness his distress every spring at Ranier bridge. I marvel at his deliverance while wondering where that kind of luck comes from.
I’ve been close to drowning victims at other times and wished fervently they were so well favoured. But his boyish sense of bravery and self-preservation is still unmatched in my memory.
Most of my fellow shovellers on the beach that day were not to be so fortunate when their own turns came, mostly very prematurely, too.
And I sometimes wonder yet whether old George Salo went wandering off with another joke on his lips!
• • •
Dave Brockie recalls the cost of performing on the old Point Park pavilion floor. A nickel a dance, he declared, so who believes now they didn’t know how to make money in those days?
• • •
Margaret Caldwell has just observed her 90th birthday at Stettler, Alta., a familiar occurrence for many of those who spent their earlier years here in Atlantis.
This was reported by her niece, Norma Pattison, while organizing a barbecue.
• • •
Calvin Muckle loaded Gordon McTaggart for a boat ride all the way down Rainy River last week to celebrate Calvin’s return with enough inspiration to restore Pither’s Point Park pavilion for our new Atlantis.
Go for it, boys!
• • •
But Bob Brown has trouble at his Timberwolf Lodge on the road to Dryden. His generator which powers the whole resort and businesses broke down the other day and, learning a new one would take $16,000, Bob rented one while thinking it over.
• • •
Everyone to the west is getting excited over Chapple Day activities in mid-August, partially at Steve Both’s farm opposite Sturgeon Creek School.
One of the Scott girls, Robbie Ogden, is looking for old photos of their place that also is remembered as a McRae homestead.
• • •
I had to ask the Red Dog Inn’s present managress, Tammy Hayward, whether she remembered what age her great-grandma Annie Lawler reached because I knew Annie at 100 years as a real whiz.
But she weathered only one more year.
Her son, Bud, was a popular hotelier and the family originated at Pinewood. His granddaughter followed in his footsteps.
• • •
A fishing cap bearing the acromyn “GOATS” is referring to Grouchy Old Administrative Types, Calvin Muckl explains.
• • •
They’re back! The Andrusco gang from all points of the compass are here Saturday night at the curling club for a social from 6-7 p.m., including a line dancing demonstration. Then at 8 p.m., all three–Eugene, Allan, and Billy–will pick up their instruments for dancing until 10.
There also will be a buffet, and lots of chance to get re-acquainted with our most famous local musicians.

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