You don’t have to believe this story, but once upon a time I became a choir boy at St. John’s Anglican church—and almost passed out one hot summer day during the service.
We had been enjoying the beach at Pither’s Point Park beach on the July Saturday before—and to say the weather was hot would be an understatement.
My sunburn was not merely a severe discomfort. Excruciating would describe it better after I had donned the choir costume: a stiff white collar with a black tie, the traditional black cassock or rober, and a surplice.
All this would take about half an hour to become ready to file up the aisle and march towards the altar.
Fortunately, there were also grown men in that choir. So when my cousin Claude could not remain standing as his sunburn pain worsened, he was fortunate to have husky Jack Keenahan behind him to carry him back out of sight of the congregation.
This happened behind me or I might have been next.
To say my sunburn may not have been so severe, you should have seen the blistering later all over my own back. In fact, the blisters broke in a few days to give me a wet shirt!
Mr. Keenahan and Rev. Maltby, our archdeacon, made a good team to inspire small boys. They established a Boy Scout troop and by then we were ready for all activities, including a week on Rainy Lake and later a corn roast.
A barge ride coming home downriver gave my friends an opportunity for some impromptu singing and I remember how good the late George Calder and others became!
And, say, if you never heard campfire vocalizing, well, we had it!
Later, Mr. and Mrs. Keenahan organized the popular Drum and Bugle Corps using some of their Scouts, but by that time I had drifted away, moving first to Mine Centre to learn that my sunburn was now missing me every summer (apparently because I had developed some immunity after that wretched first event).
I confess I became more of a beach boy than singer, although the good times in the Anglican church groups were a highlight of my youthful years!
• • •
A long line of railroad flat cars loaded with spruce logs and apparently headed south reminded me of those piles we always had years ago around town, including a pile at the end of Third Street East next to the Flanagans’ old home.
There, we kids could hollow out a cave inside a pile to amuse ourselves.
Such piles disappeared here years ago.
• • •
Arnold Brown is one of few that I know who has visited Newfoundland and its popular city, Cornerbrook, and yes, he has heard of its homemade whiskey!
That’s not called moonshine but “Newfie screech,” which I’m warned to avoid.
Someone else reports North Dakota has one homemade brand they call “ninety over proof,” although that seems exaggerated because “forty over proof” is another name for it.
• • •
Now that fishing season is here at last, there is growing, if belated, disappointment over the loss of our fish hatchery to Kenora—obviously a politically-motivated move because Kenora seemed always to come ahead of other communities hereabouts.
The hatchery stood back of our library for many years and, under custodian Neil Galbraith, was considered a great asset to our commercial fishing industry, also waning now!
I remember when we might skip Sunday School to view the young fish which would leave in cream cans to be emptied over Rainy Lake. Commercial fishermen would assist our conservation officers in providing the spawn.
• • •
Sure, it’s been raining a lot, but our farmers are looking forward to a great hay crop. And say, those tulips added to the gorgeous blossoming of our lilacs and fruit trees reduces our anguish over the wet weather!
• • •
Carla Moser came along with a grandson, which surprises me because as a friend of my daughter, Sara, Carla seems too young for that responsibility.
And then I obtained the red-haired little boy’s unique name. He is Utah Broughton from Geraldton, Ont., the great-grandson of our long-time police chief, Louis Camirand.
Carla has two brothers, Kirk and Jean, who both delivered the Winnipeg Tribune for me, and one also was red-haired, though I no longer remember which one.
I should have asked Carla’s mother, Mrs. Jean Camirand, who was present.
• • •
Another big boat arrived from Iowa on Friday as my eldest daughter, Sara, and husband, Ted Aarestad, came from Sioux City, Iowa for a stay among us and at our camp on Lobstick Island (close to the Noden Causeway).
Next, I will lose a second daughter to Iowa as Marion and her three girls accompany husband, David Allison, to Des Moines, where he will continue coaching hockey.
I’ll have to give Iowa a second look myself having years ago accompanied my late wife to a church convention there.
• • •
The Legion supper attracted 170 diners on Friday evening and it was very well-cooked and catered as usual. The next day, we met one of the volunteers at lunch, who talked about peeling a mountain of potatoes for that dinner.
• • •
It’s always a pleasure to meet Rollie Hyer, a lifetime Legion member, accompanied by his wife. And it’s been quite a while since I last saw Norris Piccinato, who claims there are more than two dozen Italian families in this town.
• • •
While the rain beat down relentlessly last Wednesday, and a huge loader filling trucks in a ditching project was blocking the entrance, McDonald’s was visited by Mine Centre School students on an outting which resembled another McHappy Day for excitement!
Because I once attended Mine Centre School when it was only one room, I talked to a young lady accompanying the students, who have about a dozen teachers involved at their present school compared to only one teacher in my day (a long time ago definitely).
So I asked the young lady helping with the kids, whose father and mother’s family names are Blackjack and Whitecrow, respectively, about that present school which sits beside the highway today (there was no highway to Mine Centre in my time, when people rode trains there).
Just Passing By logo