Entertainment


There was no television, and no telephone. Newspapers arrived weeks late. Our main contact with the outside world were the radio stations in Campbell River, or Courtenay.

Occassionally, a mission boat run by the Seventh Day Adventists would put on a show at the Legion Hall. This was usually a film, such as a travelouge, and or a slide show. There was some evangelizing, but this was mostly a get together for the locals.

A favourite summer pastime was softball games at the school grounds. Everyone played. Elliotts, Lamberts, Robinsons, Keelings, Whittingtons, Gansons (employees at Whittington's logging operation), and Ernie Alexander and some of his crew. Most of the dogs would also get into the game, somehow. The Tiptons, owners of the store when we arrived, were too old to play, but usually attended. When the Hopkins took over the store, their boys would also play. The crew from the Canadian Hydrographic Survey boat joined in one summer evening.

I and my cousins, when they visited from Courtenay or Vancouver, whiled away many an hour fishing for dogfish. We were told these fish should be exterminated, as they interfered with the salmon fishery, so we did our best.

My mother claims to have invented cut-offs, so we could get through the summers. One summer it rained almost every day, but generally we had lots of sunshine and lived outside.

When the tide was running full through the Octopus Islands, we would take a boat and drive through the tidal bore in Canoe Pass. This bore dropped off some five to six feet when the tide was large. Parents told us not to do this, so it seemed like a good idea to try it.

Salmon fishing and just walking in the bush were the main entertainment.

We lived near the water, on the water, and in my case, in the water. I did a lot of swimming, and with mask, snorkel and fins became an avid skin diver. A wet suit was out of the question, but the long underwear did actually help keep me a little warmer, by cutting down the circulation of really cold water against the skin while I was skin diving.

In this outfit, I whiled away lots of time in the water, watching octopus, flounders, crabs, ratfish, perch, urchins and the rest of the marine flora and fauna of our bay.


The water was cold, but on a hot summer day, the sun would bake the mudflat at low tide, and as the tide came in, there would be a couple of feet of tolerably warm water on top. When I dived to the bottom, it was always a shock going through the thermocline into the really cold stuff.

A few years ago, we were touring in Gary's boat out of Campbell River, and dropped in to the old home site. I was amazed to see a rocky shore where the mudflats had been. I guess the mudflat was maintained by erosion caused by logging, and when the logging ceased, the mudflat in turn was eroded, to reveal the rocky shore.

Gary liked to build a bonfire for Halloween. He would start a few weeks before the great night, collecting all sorts of wood, old tires, anything that would burn. One year, an arch wheel had cracked and been replaced, and was sitting idle. These war surplus bomber wheels were made from a manganese and aluminum alloy, and, if heated enough, would burn.

He constructed a pile of wood and other combustibles around an arch tire and wheel. The bonfire was rougly a cube, seven or eight feet on a side when he finished.

On the big night, after the popcorn balls and pass-the-orange at the Legion Hall, we returned home, and he lit his masterpiece, and we set off a few fireworks. It burned intensely, and the wheels melted and caught fire, producing an intense blaze.

At some point, someone through a large rock into the fire. The result was spectacular. The rock must have hit a puddle of molten metal, and may have exploded from the heat. Something blew up in the interior, as a geyser of molten and burning metal erupted from the centre of the bonfire, and showered down around the spectators. No one was hurt, and all agreed it was quite the sight.

I recall he was forbidden to use arch wheels in his later bonfires.


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