Well it may be a small exaggeration to think of carbon dating this old body but I can recall things from my youth that are no longer around or in use. They may be found in pictures etc in a museum
I was fortunate to be raised in a small town of 300 people. A town so small nothing could be hidden and what you did was everyones business.
In the art of sharing I woukd like to bring you back in time when I was that adventurous kid who felt he always lived on the edge of things. Gather around and lets go back a little in time and explore just some of the memories I had as a child.
Trains Were a Big Thing
There was very little which came to our small town which did not arrive on the train.
No matter where we were as young lads when the sound of the steam engine whistle sounded there would be a mass exodus of kids riding their bikes at breakneck speeds to be the first on the platform.
We were fortunate enough to have a great Station Master Mr. Wooly who liked kids. He was a good friend of the family so I was granted some privileges over the other boys. It did not take long to learn the meaning of the various whistles. One long blast meant the train was passing through without stopping. In those days there was no radio communications between train and Station. Messages of morse code would be passed from Station to Train and back again if there was a message forwarded from a previous stop on a long handled stick with a loop on one end held high. The Engineer would reach out and scoop it out of your hand. Seconds it would be tossed out the window. The kid who managed to get to it first would be rewarded a peppermint.
There was something very intimidating about standing on the platform while this very large steam belching monster closed in on you. Of course there were all the stories about people being sucked in as they sped past. A successful catch by the train or the ground would net you two peppermints. It was a great time to be alive.
An example of hoop catching but with a far more modern diesel train. I left home before they arrived.
My little town owed two Clydesdale which were used to transfer freight from the train to various businesses in town.
Like many a small town there was a hotel and every Wednesday would be the beer run. It was the only time as kids we would get a peek into the beer parlour.
Cliff McKay was the general go too guy in town as he was payed to look after the freight, do the weekly garbage pick up, cared for the horses, was the curling, skating rink ice maker, school bus driver as well as the local dog catcher. If you made it in good with him you were granted several privileges and were allowed to drive the team pulling a wagon.
If you worked hard you would get paid .05 cents for the day. In those days that was big money plus you had the prestige of doing something important. After the days work the horses would have to be curried, watered and fed, plus the livery stable had to be mucked out and fresh straw placed for bedding. It was always taken care of by one of us young guys while old Cliff would go drink his daily two glasses of beer.
There was always work for us kids if we were hungry enough to do it. A few of the coveted jobs were having the paper route, another doing chores for other people, hunting gophers for the county just to name a few. I can recall often taking my earnings and buying hamburger to help mom and dad as in those days it was hard to make a living in the Barbershop and Pool Hall.
One of the better jobs was going out with what we called the Speeder Gang working on the railroad doing maintenance. The picture above was one very similar to the ones I used to ride. It seemed at the time to run at a breakneck speed. It would hold 6 full grown men and often I would be allowed to sit atop while speeding down the track.
These men were hard working men, out in all sorts of weather doing very heavy work. Of course being a kid there was the usual bantering back and forth. I would be assigned to the easier jobs but. It was here the big money could be made... lol... a whole nickel an hour.
Every few miles there would be what they called a siding. A few railroad ties and two short rails. It was here the speeder would be lifted by all the men and set off to the side allowing the several trains to pass safely.
Like everything else the old has fallen away. Today they have massive machines which come along and do what it would take a crew 2 weeks is completed in mere minutes.
Parents never worried about their children in those days. I like to think they believed in them. Dad taught me at the age of 8 the proper care and handling of a gun. It was a small 22 caliber rifle but just the same dangerous.
After the safety lesson I was allowed to carry the gun unloaded of course to walk to one of the many fields to hunt gophers for the bounty of a penny a gopher tail.
We as kids were out the door shortly after sunup often riding our bikes 10 miles to the river to spend the day fishing or swimming. We were expected to be home for meals and chores. If not we told our parents where we were going. Our signal to the end of the day was when the two street lights came on we had to be home.
Any adult who caught you misbehaving had the right to grab you by the ear and haul you home to your parents. Often the ear pulling was minor to what was waiting. The term honour your mother and father had meaning as well as consequences.
Today as I sit back and think of my childhood I have to say it was hard at times. We never had much but we had family. Toys were what you had made. A sick and a tin can would occupy us for hours. Anything could be made out of nothing.
I am thankful I was born when I was as I look at the world today. I never had a 800 dollar BMX bike. Mine came from a dump which I took apart often to fix. It was life then and I was truly blessed to have parents who allowed me to experience freedom...
Hugs to all...
© Rolly A. Chabot
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