Number-one need: a truck stop!

Get Ken Munn going on one of his favourite subjects and you are quickly convinced that what this town needs worse than anything else right now is a truck stop—and a very large one, maybe something about several miles square! This parking lot for all those huge trucks which have nowhere else here to wait would be welcomed by drivers of all those over-sized vehicles! You know, the 20-tonners which now have nowhere to go after they pull off the highways. Also for all the huge trailers being towed in more frequently by tourists every year. Their stopping place here, their “home away from home,” should contain a restaurant or at least a coffee shop, telephones, a small grocery store, and every convenience to make certain visiting truckers don’t merely swear when forced to overnight here! It’s widely known by now, with all that over-sized traffic (not merely those giant pulpwood haulers), there’s absolutely no local area nearly big enough for them. Where’s our hospitality? This town could make them welcome along the main drag, preferrably along part of the west end, conceivably the only logical area. First off, install a convenient service station for refuelling and possibly repairs, as well as a tire shop, a newspaper stand, and maybe even a drug store to attend to drivers’ ailments.
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So, I’m only one year past my prime, like so many of you! But here again I can still make birthday cake disappear thanks to my daughter, Carolyn, and generous use of McDonald’s space for the well-attended party last Thursday. Just keep those huge Safeway cakes coming!
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Our winter travellers keep bringing back reports from all corners of the world! Bob Wepruk, for instance, impressed with the Andes, keeps on saying “mountains, mountains” when asked about his trip to Peru. Then he names an unexpected assortment of wildlife found there, including penguins, better known as an Antarctic bird. Bob and wife, Sandy, are now expected to bring his dance band back to Rainycrest monthly, having missed their stint in February while using every form of conveyance: train, bus, airplane, and boat. But unlike conditions in Mexico, they were never shot at even once in South America! Ray Skirten, meanwhile, got his golf game going down in Arizona. And Jerry McFarland tells about seeing white sharks in San Francisco Bay in California. Tthere are many others home from adventures in foreign corners.
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Next we’ll be hearing from two local girls’ hockey players, Hannah Firth and Rosemary O’Sullivan, both from Emo, who are headed into U.S. college playoffs this month in Massachusetts after their recent trip into Iowa.
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Leesa Wickstrom took in a relative’s wedding in Florida.
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Wondering about the old Barwick hotel, which I last saw during ownership by Sam Gallo many years ago? I learned it has been removed and converted into a lighthouse on the Rainy River.
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That TV coverage of a town council discussion on health care amounted to an almost complete waste of time! It was expected that Allan Bedard, a recent candidate for council, might be heard on that topic which he discussed before the municipal election, but he did not appear and watchers were disappointed!
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My new gold miner friend from near Kenora, Ray Jordens, who is employed by Musselwhite Mine at Pickle Lake, reports the price of just an ounce of that popular treasure is roughly $680 today. Allow all you want for the difference in price ever since the 1930s when gold mining was a major employer around here, it’s difficult to compare to the price of gold (at $30 an ounce then) up to its modern value. I don’t know any other items trading on that big an increase, no matter where you look! That’s way over 20 times its old value! My father worked underground at Mine Centre 70 years ago and they used to say few were better with a sledge hammer. And the men holding the drill always trusted Tony not to miss when he swung that hammer!
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Quiet Couchiching reserve just east of us presents a much more urbanized appearance recently, possessing several impressive new government buildings but also an overhead sign reminding that “Cruelty to women is illegal!”
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John Law, my Mine Centre schoolmate, was contacted locally after I had believed his family (like the Zoochkans of the same era) had moved with other railroaders west to Rainy River many years ago. That move followed the arrival of speedcars for track workers who could then cover greater distances (we knew the Laws as Lowes in those days, with Scotty Law at Turtle Tank, five miles east, being the only area CNR worker called Law earlier).
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Declining school populations and less need for larger schools are predicted because of the current lower birthdate, which had soared after the Second World War. Also in the TV news report last week was a turn-around on dieting, with the new idea that heavier food, such as hamburgers, is more beneficial for those trying to control weight.
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“Nutty” keeps arriving late and had almost missed this week’s column because he is so lazy this spring! He probably won’t even be getting his peanut crop planted after the snow goes. But Nutty has not saved much of that ton or more peanuts I bestowed on him during those very cold days. Now Nutty is full of plans about how he will have wife “Bridey” selling peanuts next fall. Of course, she has her own ideas on that subject, holding the belief that a husband who doesn’t earn enough to feed her and the kids is probably not worth having. So she is starting to pack to allow Nutty to run wild with his chum “Outlaw.” There won’t be much inducement for Nutty to hang around after that, especially since he has a new lady friend back in the bush who has never even tasted peanuts! Meanwhile, Bridey is storing that ton of peanuts for her family and Nutty can complain all he wants!

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