A little boy lost on Blueberry Mountain!

This is such a friendly community, small enough that, having lived here much of my life, I am constantly receiving nods and greetings from people I pass whom I can’t name. I’m sure this happens to most of us, but sometimes I try to identify them.
The fellow I see most mornings at McDonald’s was that way. When he kept on hello-ing me, I had to stop the other morning to ask his name.
He answered with a smile and these words: “I’m the little lost boy on Blueberry Mountain!”
That might have been all the help I needed, but the incident was too long ago. My memory can be fantastically good sometimes and completely useless at others.
But having said “Blueberry Mountain” got me wondering at least, because in a recent column I discussed picking blueberries by the hundred-weight. This was back in the thirties with my parents and one of our favourite berry patches was among the rocks close to where the town’s garbage has been dumped for many years—Blue Mountain as it was once known.
My “new” acquaintance went further. He said much of the town was looking for him after he strayed away from his parents, the Ed Langstaffs, and went missing for over 20 hours when he was only 10.
As he wandered among the rocks, he eventually found a high plateau where he could see airplanes landing to the east. He figured where the town and lake were located, but that would be miles and miles away.
So he spent the night up there and wondered about bears which he had been told were also fond of blueberries. But the only animal he saw was a porcupine.
When daylight came again, he found a road and followed it to a farmhouse.
He had never heard the searchers calling for him, evidently because he had gone too far into the bush and the walking was difficult in wet muskeg.
After young Lloyd Langstaff was taken home, the long, lonely hours were replaced by excitement as his story attracted reporters “from all over,” including Winnipeg and Minneapolis.
This was 1950 and the press was hungry for good stories. I don’t remember even being among those reporters, but Lloyd told me the other day that I had gone to his home too, because he remembered me all those years!
So when someone you don’t recognize says hello, acknowledge the greeting because this could be someone you should know quite well. Even if you haven’t seen him for over half a century!
Lloyd doesn’t say that experience put him off berry picking or whether he ever went to Blueberry Mountain again! I’m sure there aren’t many around anymore who knew that name, but it was a popular spot for many of us for years.
After the blueberries were picked, we made our way out there on foot again for cranberries in the late fall and later for firewood (which is forbidden in homes by the insurance companies today).
So Blueberry Mountain was almost our second home. But this is the only story of a lost child there that I ever heard of–and many children were taken there every summer through probably half a century.
Lately, though, since boat and car travel became increasingly popular, Blueberry Mountain has almost ceased to exist in our lives.
So I’m happy Lloyd brought it all up again–in spite of many bad memories or nightmares it may have cost him!
Still remarkably soft-spoken today, Lloyd learned that when the searchers called for him, and he answered, they couldn’t hear him. Either his voice didn’t carry well or he was too far away.
He spent his working years in the CN railroad office here, but never forgot his boyhood ordeal! And now I remember getting his story as a free-lance reporter soon after college!
• • •
While we’re on local outdoor subjects, I’m sure nobody can remember having ever seen local homes and business places looking more beautiful than they are this summer. With flowers so plentiful, it’s going to be hard to better current appearances in future years.
So how about a contest with judges appointed to look around and name some winners. After all this is centennial year and what better way to celebrate it?
Some of us would volunteer to drive around and submit names of deserving local florists for prizes to be decided. But let’s get on this quickly before this glorious summer fades away!
• • •
Buck and Gert Bujold have had his sister and brother-in-law from Holland visiting this month.
• • •
Last week I suggested that the Tim Horton for whom our newest restaurant is named might be related to a former and famed native chief of the Manitou reserve near Emo, and an other Horton. but I stand corrected because the home of Toronto hockey star Tim was Cochrane, Ont., and local folks who lived there say there was probably no native blood in Tim Horton! So there, now it’s out!
• • •
Seeing Aage Rude in a wheelchair recently recalled our goodwill visit to Estevan, Sask. years ago aboard Ken Mosher’s plane. I was accompanying town councillors, including Aage, Ted Gladu and Larry Cousineau and their wives, and repaying an Estevan visit here in a twinning program organized by Ottawa.
We learned quite a few things, such as what to do with schools that might be abandoned or torn down. Out there, these buildings are taken over by ethnic groups for teaching languages, crafts and arts of their native countries.
We marvelled at the variety and talents of such people and saw them in their annual July 12 parade—a great mixture of Oriental and European races being applauded and welcomed by the locals.
Yes, we should be hoping for more immigration here to boost our economy and make use of such public buildings as we don’t seem to need them anymore. The idea really pays off out there, we learned! Offer them the Red Dog Inn as temporary lodging.
• • •
I’ve been missing Bob Murphy at the Mohawk gas pumps. The younger attendants are just great, but Bob acts more like the host who makes sure you understand he’s glad you stopped—always smiling, dispensing goodwill and kindly declining to accept tips!
• • •
Jack Gagne, his dark good looks almost unrecognizable against his snow-white hair and beard, stopped in Safeway’s parking lot to help me load my groceries.
So I had to tell him that the old Gagne drugstore on the Scott-Portage corner with its for sale sign always reminds me of my courting days when my future wife, Emily, would meet me there at Gagne’s soda fountain after leaving her high school secretary desk.
Most drugstores were offering sodas and milkshakes then, along with the Ray Sl Holmes confectionery further west on the 200 block.
• • •
And you’d better believe it, because Bill and Faith Adair are looking forward to next summer again at their bed and breakfast business at Bear’s Pass, where their extended family are a great help.
Bill has been told by his doctors that his cancer worries are probably behind him. He’s been attending the Thunder Bay cancer clinic regularly for years, along with other local people who believe that dreaded disease is more common here and also in Atikokan than we want to believe!

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