|Our favourite past-time, on the floor watching TV|
Chatham was a great place to live. PMQs were full of kids; I had so many friends in our little neighbourhood. I was thinking of what we used to get up to as I was out jogging this morning and trying to figure the best way to portray it. Let's start with summer. For pretty well every summer we lived in Chatham, my morning started off with swimming lessons at the base pool. Of at first light, running or riding my bike to the Base - side and the Rec Centre, I'd spend an hour at swimming lessons. I did my Beginners, Intermediate Red Cross and as well, my Elementary and Intermediate RLSS badges while there.
Just to digress slightly before I continue, the Rec Centre was a great place at that time. Everything went on there. When we were in Chatham, there was an indoor swimming pool, a five-pin bowling alley, a gymnasium, a movie theatre, a great snack bar, a corner store with all the sweeties you'd want to take to the Saturday matinee, a post office (after John was born, my mother started working there), a barber shop and I'm sure just near there was a library. I spent a great portion of my life in Chatham hanging out there.
So back to summer activities. After swimming lessons, back home and then across the highway into the woods with my pals, playing guns or just running about. Either that or a make up baseball or football game in the field just between the highway and 'across the highway'. For your understanding, just past our area of PMQ's was an open field that bordered the main road from the town of Chatham to the main base. Across that highway was a large forested area that bordered the Air Force base's runway. There were great places to run around, playing soldiers or cowboys. At one part there were a couple of old graders and plows (I'm assuming that they belonged to the Motor Transport section and were used for training or something.) Well, they were available for us kids to climb over and pretend we could drive. Lots of fun. So around lunch, it was time to head home for a quick lunch and then normally we headed back to the swimming pool for an afternoon swim. A couple or more hours in the pool and dashing back home for afternoon TV and supper and then quite often back to the pool for an evening swim. By the end of the day, every light had rings around it from all the chlorine our eyes absorbed. The pool was always a fun place to spend time. I remember, not fondly, my brother, Rick, encouraging me to finally try the high spring board. After I climbed that ladder, went to the end of the board and looked down at how far it was to the surface of the pool, I headed back to the ladder to climb back down again. He, of course, knew how gullible I was, told me it was against the rules of the pool to climb back down the ladder. I HAD TO JUMP!.. So I sat on the edge of the board and pushed off, screaming all the way down. Of course, after that it was fully speed run down the board and launching yourself into the pool. Amazing that nobody was ever hurt with all the kids that were in that pool.
Summers didn't just revolve around the pool, of course. I played hardball as soon as I was old enough to, moving from pitcher to 2nd base and then out of harm's way into Center field. I loved baseball, still do enjoy watching. My dad used to pitch to us in the front yard to teach us how to catch. He'd played in the leagues up in Northern Ontario when he worked in the gold mines and he had been a pitcher. He could throw it pretty hard; I'm sure he held back for us, but we did learn to catch. Poor Paul Duggan used to get a dislocated thumb from catching the wrong way.
Most summers we used to rent a cabin at Manderson's Beach for a week and stay out there, swimming, spending evenings around a campfire, roasting marshmallows and twisters (dough rolled around a stick, toasted and then filled with jam... to die for). Every year the fairgrounds opened up in Chatham and my Dad would drive me and my friends down one day, drop us off so we could spend the afternoon on the rides and stuffing our faces with snacks. It was a nice adventure as we weren't much older than nine or ten and off by ourselves. Most summers, we would also pile into the car and head off to visit our relatives back in Ontario and Quebec. Mom would make sandwiches, pickled eggs and other snacks for the first part of the journey and we'd either drive through the United States on the way up or on the return trip and through New Brunswick and Quebec the other way. One summer we visited Boston Mass, stayed at a hotel outside, took the subway into the downtown core, were amazed at how big the buildings were. The subway took us by Fenway Park, neat to see it from close up. On these trips, just before we left, I used to gather my comic books up, get my wagon and take about 30 or 40 of them around PMQs, knocking on doors and seeing if anyone wanted to trade comics with me. That was a cheap way for me to get new comics for a trip. I'm amazed when I think about it, that I was allowed to do that, but the PMQs were a relatively benign, closed environment, so I guess my parents weren't too worried about anything happening. The funny thing about this was that in many cases I ended up trading comics with the dad, not the kids. Funny that.
|My love affair with comics/ reading and with Supergirl :0)|
|Mr. Dressup, Casey and Finnegan the dog|
|The $.10 solid bar of toffee if you wanted to splurge|
The matinees were great. They always started with the weekly serial, either a western or a detective story or something with knights. Each week left you with the cliff-hanger (how was he going to survive his car driving off the cliff!!!) And this was followed by the feature film. I don't know about the normal Saturday kid's matinee, but we had some pretty scary films at times; The Murders of the Rue Morgue and others. I often spent part of my afternoon in the bathroom, waiting for the scary bit to finish (yes, I was and still am a chicken). But there were great comedies, westerns, war movies. I did love going to the movies, it was such a great experience. I remember my sister Christine taking me and my buddies to see A Hard Day's Night (it was an evening movie, so I guess I needed a chaperon, or she just wanted to see it... it was The Beatles of course) and afterwards, all of us singing Beatle songs and dancing in the streets on our way home. Or going to see Goldfinger (another evening movie... my parents were pretty relaxed about this) and on the way home after waiting for Odd Job's metal hat to come sailing out of the woods at our necks).
As Rick moved on to University and Chris started working downtown and dating, John was pretty well my main companion at home. I babysat him, we played GI Joes, had lots of fun. Of course, he was also the brunt of most of our jokes; we did like tying him up with his pyjamas and throwing him on the couch to see how long it would take him to untangle himself. And when he did, we'd do it all over again.
|Open Channel D|