Chapter One

The Crash

My haunting memories, I was about two and a half years old and can’t remember a lot about those times, but a couple of incidents really stand out in detail during them more fragile years, because of the commotions surrounding them.

As we go through childhood and according to psychologist’s, in my understanding anyway, we retain ‘shock memories’ if you will, memories of trauma always stick with some of us, no matter how old we were at the time.

Maybe other reasons I can recall them was the talk by adults in later years regarding the past times, but I recall at least TWO of the incidents, from my tender age of 2.5 – 3.5 or so years old. I know this is a very boring start to a wilderness type story, but hold on while I grab some memory hints to better the upcoming chapters. I MUST begin from somewhere and it is as if I have to get off my noggin what’s rolling around! (Not so much..)

Okay, so here is a glimpse of two kids in a car parked on a slight incline facing downhill, too young to ride a tricycle coherently almost, but old enough to cause havoc…

Mom had gone into a convenience store at the top of a hill somewhere in George Town, Ontario and she was using my first (adoptive) step father’s (Soren’s) car, a 1955 Thunderbird Coupe with a standard transmission, believe me it was a standard, as you can imagine what happens next… (When the Thunderbird was introduced in 1955 it was intended to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette. It was a two-seat car with clean styling, exceptional comforts according to Soren, and lush V8 refinements) …anyways and she parked it against the curb facing downhill, with the wheels straight, with two fart brain monkeys in control, who just needed some time.

In those days, driver’s education books probably didn’t even exist, let alone teach folks a lot of common parking mistakes OR Mom wasn’t paying attention. Not sure if she had forgotten the safety brake also, but that would make sense. I do remember her telling older brother Jim ‘Don’t touch anything, I will be right back. OKAY?’ And somehow Jim ended up in the driver seat, mom had probably told him to sit there so him and I were safe, but the grandeur of that awesome soon to be born spaceship we were now in control of was too much.

I remember mom giving us both a banana, to keep us brats busy I suppose, but the bananas never outlasted her quick stop, we had other things on our minds, or at least the devil was on our side. Now, Jim was trusted to supervise me when we played outside at home, and he would not let me on his side of the car, probably just doing his duty, but of course he suddenly lost all self-indulgence control. We were stoked to raise hell!

Jim and I started playing around right away, over the door went half his banana, I remember him tossing it and right away he was behind the wheel, Mom had the keys, so we were just fine, what could go wrong?

What a big toy we had, we’d never been allowed to play in it, not to mention sit alone and enjoy our imaginary highway fling, well at least the older one with some actual white stuff under that lid knew what he was playing with, for me, I just kept staring at that stick, I remember that ‘thingy-MA-doodle’ in the center between captain Jim’s chair and co-pilot, numbskull.. Guess who.

Brother raced down the speedway, roaring at the top of his lungs, sometimes screeching to a halt for whatever his cause was, maybe little ole ladies with puffy poodles crossing, but we were away and never to be heard from again. Screw the little red wagon, we had the power sled from hell.

I was giggling or trying to laugh hysterically, “blah! blah! blah!”.. I screamed with my chubby cheeks, I can’t remember saying anything intelligent, but it was important for him to continue the antics as it was SOOOO exciting, and I helped him make the whole situation a lot better by wiggling that stick between the seats – ‘vrooom! vroom!’..he yelled, and twisted and turned and all but tore that steering column out of the car.

The adrenaline was kicking in. We scoured the universe, he was captain of the *UBB ship and we were trekking from galaxy to galaxy. (*UBB = Us Being Bad)

..back to earth…blah! blah!’… I squealed for the last time – and Jim yelled back, ‘we are going to crash..eeerrrrhhh!’ (pretending to screech around a corner or something as only HE knew of the ship’s capabilities) ..and I yanked that stick shift to help him ‘vrooom! vrooom! …one more time. The last I seen of Jim as captain of the universe, was him looking over at me and screeching… “No! What did you do?” he stood there dumbfounded, on the seat, holding that steering wheel, trying to understand why that car was suddenly moving, and moms not in the driver seat!

Probably not even 5 seconds, later there was more yelling, or rather the top of lungs death call screaming… “Help! Someone stop that car! STOP THE CAARRRR!!” I didn’t see it, but I guess Mom had just come out of the store on time and was chasing the car down the steep hill as it gained momentum. Word is a fellow out weeding his lawn had heard the commotion and I guess he was just a bit down the hill from the approaching sled from hell and came running.

At the bottom of the hill was lots of buildings I understand, and we could have both died, no belts on, the soft top was reclined and surely, we would have been flung a few feet at a dead stop.

I remember the skinny lawn weeder guy in a plaid shirt and jeans, shouting at my brother who was trying to fix the stick I had removed from the geared position, and of course, at just age around five-topping-six, he didn’t know about clutches, let alone able to reach the pedals! Anyways, the weed guy shouted ” MOVE OVER!” as he grabbed the driver side door and big brother jumped onto the seat beside me, leaving room for the guy to climb in and stop the car. Mom came running up, panting to hell, and gasping in a hoarse frightened voice, “Thank you! Thank you!”

Well …so ends a real boring chapter. Nothing here but thin air now! Let’s see what Chapter Two, the ‘Sand Pit’ brings, if you are trying to count sheep…

Chapter Two

Sandpits Kill

Yawn now, as mentioned before, I remember a lot of the ‘extreme’ things from when I was REAL young. Be it a gift or what have you, some people I have talked with over the many years barely remember their teen moments!

It was round about the same summer as ‘The Crash’ in chapter one that God took away my brother’s friend and school classmate, Sammy. I don’t think they knew each other for long since we had just moved there not much prior to the incident.

There were a bunch of us kids playing on a large field adjacent to a quarry that housed (if I remember correctly) a Sand Pit for the towns road sanding or gravel needs. This giant sand pile resembled a small pyramid now that I come to think of it, with an almost flat top on it. A death trap waiting in silence.

All of us had been warned NOT to go near the sand piles that were as big as houses to us, and my brother was charged in keeping me away from them since he was about 5-6 and me two and a half…give or take a few months. I believe it was Georgetown Ontario. Which reminds me of a dear old lady me and brother called Nanna. She wasn’t a real grandma, but moms best friend Eileen, who looked after us two boys on different occasions, while mom worked I believe in what was a sock factory or knitting place.

One day Eileen and mom were gabbing away in the kitchen and Eileen was fiddling in a drawer looking for something, and then she turned to me and said “you like?”.. and she handed me this beautiful little brown wallet that had a horse etched into the hard leather. Wow, that smell of hardcore new leather was intoxicatingly aroma delicious and I gazed at it over and over without a care what it was actually meant for! I kept that little wallet for years, until one day I lost it over the side of a boat, but that’s another story, and well I am getting off track aren’t I?

Back to the Sand Pit, I remember playing around with some stones or rocks on the ground and heard big brother yell out ‘Hey Sammy! Not supposed to be up there, I’m telling! I looked way up to see Sammy about halfway up this Pyramid and didn’t care, my rocks were too important.

“Sammy get down!” My brother screamed again, and I watched him take off running to the house. I watched my brother yelling through our little blue house door… “Mommy! Mommy! Sammy’s gone!” I had no idea what was happening but stood up and watched mom and a couple other women come running from the house and start clambering to the top of that sand pile.

Suddenly there were a bunch of people swarming that devil’s mound and the last thing I remember of this was mommy grabbing me up in her arms, sobbing away as she brought me into the house. I wasn’t allowed outside anymore that day and couldn’t understand why. I wasn’t told anything then, as I was a bit young to comprehend that a little boy named Sammy who was about six years old, had climbed that awful pyramid and God rest his little soul had slipped into the hollow center of that soft coned pile of sand. Sammy had suffocated before he was found.

It still haunts me, I felt the horror in everyone around, I was confused by the sudden onslaught of panic, crying, sobbing and screaming and it stuck to my memory like glue. It was a night of hell in my understanding from later tales, both for the parents and my mom who sobbed for hours and hours.

Chapter Three

The Divorce

Truthfully, I remember our little blue house, probably a rancher style, somewhat dull, maybe greyish interior walls and green fluffy lawn for playing on outside. I don’t think we lived there very long because there wasn’t a lot of memories associated with the house. One thing rings a sharp bell with my noodle though, and this was an incident that would set a divorce in action as I would learn more of a little onwards into my young life. One sunny afternoon, my brother and I were playing outside, and we started to argue about something and I, of course, was very dominant I guess, or more likely stubborn being all of about 3-ish.

I can smell the wind and the warm sun on my face, there was some dog doo on the lawn, had got some on my shoes earlier on, and mom had to clean me up. Out I went again and back to fighting with brother. Something happened, I think brother slapped me, and I went bumbling to the door tattle telling on brother whom obviously I was irritating terribly, from the stories I heard of. He may also have shoved me or pushed me, it wasn’t that traumatic, and he was trying to woo me back out onto the lawn so as not to get him in trouble. But I, as a miniature antagonist, HAD to get him in trouble, show him who’s boss and get mom after him.

Mom told me “stop fighting, go play” as she stood in the living room, I think she was reading a newspaper or something. I was adamant of course, as all terrible two’s of my age would have it, stood my ground and demanded in my quirking and barely understandable sentences that Jimmy needed.. “spanking mommy” “Jimmy needs spanking” The next remember stepping onto the door instep or whatever you call it, and I turned around to look at brother trying to call me out. “Kevin! Come here! Let’s play, see?”

Suddenly, a booming voice yelled from behind me, “what the hell are guys fighting about now?” I understood later that Jimmy and I fought quite often, and Soren had seen his fill of bickering brothers. Here is one moment I would remember, I turned towards the inside of the house and saw Soren talking loudly now with mom and then their voices started raising more and more. I remember words like “damn little bastard” and “damn it” and “go to hell” as the squabble heated up.

Now was the time to shut up, even I as the antagonist was no match for bearded father, so that’s what I did. Mom and dad were more of the center attraction than bugging my brother now, so I stood there watching these two adults argue, it was a bit frightening, but no so much for me to run away. I turned again towards my brother outside and he was motioning me to come out frantically, I guess he realized they were having an argument and for us to stay clear.

Suddenly, and without warning, I felt myself flying through the air and landed face first on the lawn, probably a good five feet or so from the door instep I had just been standing on. Lucky for the tall grass, or I could have suffered a terrible scratch or worse. I sat up and started to cry and brother came over to comfort me. Then the yelling turned to a screaming match. I remember later that day Soren telling me loudly to stop teasing Jimmy, and mom yelling at him for the last time that day “leave him alone, I won’t have you touching him again!” ..referring to me of course.

Years later I found out Soren was tired of my actions and lifted me with his foot in my lower back and had launched me out of the doorway onto the lawn. Turns out he never did much favor me and brother was his suck. It was shortly after that apparently, that mom had filed the divorce. I understand as she would have no one touching me like that, I guess I was HER suck.

A marriage split in half cause of a whiny little bastard, it bothered me a lot to find that out, especially wishing I had the same daddy back that my brother Jimmy was living with now. We were separated forever more a short time later when Soren married his new wife, and my mom married a new bushman, the Trapper Bob. Jimmy would go on to live with his new mommy, not far away for the time being, in fact on the same land close by in another log home on the trapline.

This tale gets a little different, as you will find out later in the book. Just so the reader knows, my daddy Soren would go on to marry my new stepsister, who was around 29ish? And mommy dearest would marry the new stepfather, Bob, who was my step sisters father… don’t worry, you aren’t the first person, nor will you be the last rereading this trying to get what I just said. In real life, people have asked me the same damn thing over and over…”What? What did you just say?” And after they have picked it apart, said more or less on the same lines as “Oh, okay, nothing incesty or terrible, no blood relatives involved” etc. blah blah blah.

On a side note and just for thought, shits and giggles, and before I close off this chapter about me being a bull-headed youngster, there is another smaller incident I remember. When mom would remind me of it years later in her stories, she always laughed about it, obviously finding it very humorous.

She was trying to get me to drink a bottle of milk and I hated it because it made me feel sick, she didn’t know, and no one else did that I was lactose intolerant. Whenever mom would give me a bottle, it would make me feel sick or as a kid would understand it, just not good at all. I would be what some would mention as colicky, wah, wah, wah, for almost an hour till my tummy settled down.

One night she gave me some warm tea, a very diluted tea instead of milk I understand, and I guzzled the whole bottle following it off by crashing into a slumber. The next day and I kid you not, she handed me a bottle and it actually upset me and I started cranking. I understand I took a big swig on that bottle of cow juice and apparently I started screaming and threw the bottle into the air, as far as away I could, probably two-three feet?! I kept screaming for my tea and sure enough from recollection mom went and got me a damn bottle of diluted warm sweetened tea.

From that night forward it was tea for a nice drink…not milk. Of course, she didn’t know then that also later in childhood she would serve me a cold breakfast of oats or cereal and diluted carnation milk (heavy milk) and every time I would feel like dying afterward for at least a half hour or so. I was and still am very intolerant of lactose.

End of chapter, see you on the next…gonna go get me some warm tea!

Chapter Four

The River

Revving up from the yawns, let’s move on with the story now, shall we? The last three chapters were more of me remembering me being a ‘terrible two’s toddler… and sweet endearing moments, for some. For others a yawn away from suicide.

As I have mentioned before and will try not to repeat much more as time passes on through the many chapters coming up, I remember a lot of what I called ‘shock’ memories. But not all memories of bad, some are of great enthusiasm, wonderment, bewilderment if you will and put it any way you like. Growing up in the wilderness can be very demanding not just of adults but of a child as well. Let’s make an example. Pretend you are sitting in a room full of one set of different pictures, many different colors, and the same routine day in and out. After a while, your mind not only bores of it, the mind gets used to it all being the same and ignores it. Then suddenly one day, you walk into a room full of every single color you have never been exposed to before, sights, sounds, people and things you don’t understand because you have never touched, felt, smelt, tasted or chewed. But that’s not all, every day that you wake up, that room has a new outlook for you. So as in real life, people get used to the same old boring day to day BS, and that is NOT living free at all.

Life is about going outside in that rain and playing in it, harnessing the power of anything and everything a young mind could want to do and not want to do. I will also assure you now, that not all times were tough, not all times were happy, not all times were sad, but times were real, meaningful and down to earth. Each day was unique, there were no humdrum boring school bus days, 6 hours of sitting in a dreary class room or following any set pattern except daily survival and learning to make, build, forage, clean, sweat, work, play and sleep hard from exhaustion. EVERY DAMN DAY! Even as a little child, I was fast becoming a young man and had to help with chores.

I don’t remember mom meeting who she chose as would be my new stepfather, probably because I was looked after while them two had met and decided to get married. It’s actually frustrating because I feel like Stewie off that cartoon family guy that wants to get even with the world because I know nothing about what was on the other side?

Anyways, so here is a real fond memory. Mom gives thanks to a conductor on a passenger train as she is stepping down outside of the train to disembark. She is holding me close cradled in her one arm, great big bag on the other arm and …and this giant bearded burly man says “here I’ve got him”

…Again I felt like Stewie and didn’t like that at all. But he wooed and cooed me to be quiet and I really remember the wood smoke aroma on this big burly thing carting me down a small hill to the tree cut line about 300 feet from the train tracks. I stared into the face of this big smiling bushman as he gurgled some nonsense at me, trying to make me comfortable.

Suddenly we entered the forest, and I remember the yelping and fussing of something beyond my understanding. Just around the bend in that pathway with huge trees towering overhead, we came upon a site that left me dazzled for my age. I heard mom exclaiming “wow..they are beautiful!”

I didn’t know how to count, so obviously can’t say exactly, but there was sooo many of these gentle giants laying in harnesses on the snow-covered pathway, some partially buried in snow beside the trail, and waiting. Turns out later I was about to get a seven-mile long sleigh ride pulled by 9 (I think it was) ..part wolf part Husky dogs down a frozen river to my new two-story log home.

I remember the big man reaching down as he bent over still holding me and opening the canvas and blankets attached to the top of the huge dog sleigh obviously telling mom “hop in”. She did so and he promptly handed me over and then wrapped the blankets and canvass over me and mom and gently tied us in. Then the mighty voice of dog god thundered…MUSH! HO! And I remember that sleigh taking off like something I should have been dreaming about. Mom was delighted, no…she was ecstatic and kept squeezing me and snuggling me in sheer delight as we made our way through a two-mile deep woods trail until we came to a sudden entrance to a river. We had just travelled through what is known as a trapper’s portage. There were some parts of the river that was not passable during winter freeze up, and that’s another story.

Whoosh! And we descended the 50 or so foot embankment, unto the snowshoe pathway atop the frozen river, that had been tamped down by snowshoes for the sled to glide on freely. You see a trapper would beat a snow pathway down the day before with snowshoes so that it would freeze overnight or for days making it much easier for the sled dogs to pull a heavy load. This was required after all big snow falls. Dogs are like small simple low powered snow machines, they can get bogged down easily and that’s like overworking a farm horse before noon. It just wasn’t done; your dog was your friend and a survival partner.

Down that river we went, I think it took about three months in my mind, I was having so much amazement induced fun, watching these majestic beings upfront wagging their bushy tails and trotting along, pulling me and mom. Now and then the man would grunt and you could hear him breathing heavy as I presume he ran behind the sled keeping it straight and forward.

Suddenly we rounded the last bend and I didn’t see anything at first because the giant two-story log home was way off about a quarter mile towards the other end of the stretch, nestled high up on a hill and surrounded by popular and jack pine trees good few hundred feet away.

We reach the hill up to the house and ‘MUSH! MUSH! MUSH!’ ..that giant bellowed out behind us and up the hill those huskies went sled an all. We stopped beside the log home and he yelled out “we are here”

My new home… I didn’t care..the first thing I did was struggle to get out of the sled frantically because I wanted to hug one of those massive teddy bears. Awe damn they were so much affectionate, I remember a female licking me so hard, probably the wetness on my face from the snow kickup on the trip that she was merely cleaning me. She towered over me, and it turned out her name was “Mandy” I couldn’t leave Mandy alone the rest of the afternoon. And mom couldn’t keep me inside, I needed Mandy sooo bad. She eventually tired of my hugs and crawled under the house to get away from me.

…Alrighty then, time to sleep and dream of Mandy. Seeya in the next chapter.

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