So, away we go!

While it may be preposterous to suggest there are half-a-million cars crossing the international bridge here daily, a lower guess also might seem ridiculous—as the long lineup stretches for miles and right past Wal-Mart!
Only the U.S. Customs people or the bridge toll collector could clue us in for our traffic volumes, but let’s just say they would have to be setting records almost since June began.
For all my years here, I’ve never seen the beat of this.
Fishermen, of course, represent the lion’s share of drivers, but if you want to check on licence plates, you may discover a surprisingly large mixture of Ontario vehicles in the daily outstreaming.
But altogether here in the past week or so, it appears about half the world has decided to invade Minnesota via the international bridge! And I doubt whether even Ronald Reagan’s great funeral Friday had much influence on this traffic, crowded as that was.
I spoke to various parties of visiting fishermen, coming or going, and learned that Dryden’s waterways unusually are attractive, although our own Emo Walleye Classic late last month was very busy also.
There is an Eagle Lake near Dryden that many visitors mentioned.
But if this record traffic is any indication, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship planners need not be worried about attendance again this year either, because our visitors seem to be able to drop everything and get here for whatever goes on.
Canadians may not be as generous with their own time and travel plans, but I’d guess from the Ontario volumes departing here that somehow we have learned to copy the American’s style and hop the border just as well—and hang the rising gas prices.
Why stay home and grumble about the crazy June weather we’ve been getting when, no matter how cool it remains, summer comes late and doesn’t last long anyway.
So let’s go and show those Americans we can drive our cars, too.
• • •
Gordon Busch is a name we knew well for Busch’s transfer or truck hauling business, and his name is still here, I learn, although those trucks are gone. Of course, I knew Dennis Busch also, but it took Gordon Jr. to revive the memories over lunch in the RL one noon.
And I also had to recall the name of colourful Red Rippenbark, who helped Gordon Sr. for years.
• • •
Claude (Claudeo) DeBenedet stopped to remind me of things from our boyhood, when life could be fun and we played “can-can” in the street with tin cans and brooms in a game similar to the English cricket, and we had the town fire trucks parked right across Portage Avenue from his home back of the first old hockey rink.
The scene is greatly changed today, and I doubt very much that the firemen would still allow kids to climb into their bell tower to watch the American July 4th fireworks across the nearby river.
I also doubt there would be enough willing Italians available to help my dad install all the concrete needed for the floor in the old Memorial Arena (now the ’52 Canadians Arena).
Claude was among them, as well as his own father, Angelo DeBenedet, Dan Belluz, and Sam Piccinato, recruited from the papermill by Tony Vandetti for the project that would take 52 hours, with very little rest, to finish an unbroken floor.
This was in 1950, only two years before the coveted Allan Cup, the national title of senior hockey, came here for the local Canadians whom everyone adored.
• • •
Ross and Evelyn Webb were visiting from the Lakehead and that brought back a load of memories also, Evelyn being a former Mine Centre-ite like me and Ross the father of my former Winnipeg Tribune carrier, Brian, who made his deliveries with a pet skunk on a leash.
Evelyn was sister of my boyhood friend, Harold Thayer, who drowned in B.C. at 18.
Her sister, Velma, was married to Howard Neely, who toiled with me in a much earlier Safeway store where we piled hundred-weights of flour and sugar right up to the ceiling!
Evelyn’s father, Walter Thayer, drove a team of horses on his farm.
Also here was Gail Moser for another summer at Bear’s Pass. It’s been 14 years since she and Ken moved away after he got the present Canadian Tire store carrying on so successfully while she was a district board of education trustee.
Ken flew his own plane to Estevan, Sask. with a local party, including town councillors, their wives, and me, after Estevan sent us a group of visitors in a community “twinning” program.
This was very good time!
• • •
When I got started reminiscing about the Steep Rock iron mines, where I didn’t work long before leaving for Port Arthur shipyards and then the wartime RCAF, I wanted to bring up a Fort Frances name I had forgotten.
But Art Leger, whose family once operated cabins near Pither’s Point Park, was the name I finally remembered.
Art was a welder like me and asked me to help make the dredges to carry the pumps for emptying Steep Rock Lake into Seine River and eventually on to Rainy Lake.
But the muck startled everyone—including the late Rusty Green, who was worried it would spoil his beer-making at the local brewery. Right away he got the Steep Rock president down here and the silt soon was diverted into a swamp.
• • •
As soon as Darrel Webb passed away the other day, my phone starting ringing. He was appreciated for his lifelong support for minor hockey teams despite serious arthritis suffering.
Gordon Calder phoned first, then Melvin Haukaas followed up.
• • •
Congratulations to Bud and Mable Cyr on their 60th wedding anniversary. I hear Bud is still making those gorgeous grandfather clocks so popular for gifts or raffle prizes.
I can remember meeting Mable before he did because my friends and I used to cross the river where she lived and we became acquainted while in our teens.
Mable was a Kettleson whose father I seem to remember was a woods contractor.
Bud is the son of busy Gene Cyr, who farmed in Crozier at the highway next to the government weigh scales. His sister, Jean, tipped me off about their big event of a week ago Sunday.
• • •
And I’m wrong again when I name Mike Dokuchie as a tow truck operator here a few years ago. That was his brother, Walter, while Mike stuck to cooking those great Ukrainian dishes like perogies.
• • •
While many insist our old guard, the Liberal party, is going down in the coming election, that could have serious consequences for this area which has stayed loyal to the Liberals for many years.
Not that this region could expect much attention after the next election anyway, having been swallowed by all those Thunder Bay politicians, regardless of which party wins.
Our good times with the Reids are probably all gone now. We’ve gotten into the same bind as the Americans because of complacency, but many of us no longer want to continue voting now anyway.

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