Capers our parents never knew
To the Editor
At the dock on Head Lake in Haliburton, on practically any early summer morning you could find Bill fishing. When I joined him our adventures for the day would begin. Our neighbour, Lee Roberts, told us once that Bill and I reminded him of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer – right down to the straw hat, raggedly shorts, stringy shirts and bare feet.
As a matter of course, all our parents ordered us out of the house till supper time so our imaginations usually worked overtime. A bunch of us or in combinations we’d embark on one venture or other: Greg from up the hill on Mountain Street, or Doug not far from him. Maybe Gary from “Little Haliburton.” Allan from up Cedar Avenue – or Dennis not far up the street from Al. Fizz might come too, from the other side of town. Dave from up the way. Dennis liked to whittle, and showed us how to make airplanes, Doug like to play Monopoly, Greg liked to get the movies down right, I favoured my regiment of toy soldiers, Bill talked about local politics; we thought he was crazy. Gary and Alex were into Daniel Boone and Davy Crocket.
One day, Doug, Bill and I had set up my regiment of solders for battle, when it occurred to us that we must have real fire, after all, that’s what happens in war. So, down the hill from the Douglas place – very carefully – we lit a fire. We controlled it easily; the flame would go a little here or there and we’d simply put it out, no problem. Then, a great gust of wind happened and the flames leaped up and took off toward the Douglas place. Doug and I did the sensible thing – we ran and hid in some nearby bushes and watched. It wasn’t every day you could witness a house burning down. And there they were: Bill and Mrs. Douglas, doing the responsible thing – running around with water and brooms and sand putting the fire out. Finally, the fire conquered, we watched Bill catching a tongue lashing from Mrs. Douglas for playing with fire. Bill never let on that we were also in on it maybe because he was smaller and there were two of us.
Once, nine or 10 of us chose sides had a (friendly) gun fight with real guns; it was great fun pinging bullets off large rocks we hid behind. Bullets off a rock make really neat pinging noises – just like in the movies! We hadn’t counted on ricochets though and I caught one in the left arm; a bruise, but it put a halt to our foolishness! Amazingly, another caper our parents never learned of!
I remember Fizz and me imagining we were Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone having a (pretend) knife fight with real knives real careful-like! I didn’t slip too much when I accidentally stabbed him right in the wallet pocket. He howled like a banshee but we agreed we both were at fault and would split the costs of whatever the Doc billed (no health care then) and decided to visit Doc Good – telling him Fizz had sat on a knife! Turned out the cost of the bill came to $4; I ask the doctor myself. When I approached Fizz he said the cost came to $8 so I grinned and gave him $2! Again, our parents never found out.
With my job at the Molou theatre as ticket-taker, I could easily be bribed. Especially, if I happened to owe a favour to somebody, or if someone was bigger and threatening, or I happened upon a girl. Once or twice a few of us sneaked into the Golden Slipper; they played great music there and some of us were starting to find girls attractive, for some reason (we didn’t know why)!
By 1955 our gang began breaking up Alex became a military policeman, Alan got a job at a clothing store, Gary moved to Sault Ste Marie, Greg became a doctor in Windsor, Doug got a job at Curry’s and Dave became a lawyer. We never saw Fizz or Dennis again. I got into military intelligence and married the hat check girl at Golden Slipper. Bill married my cousin and became deputy reeve.