My hometown is a place that Heidi fondly refers to as Smallburg. I hated most of the time that I spent there. It was a small town, a place that many would call quaint, or think of as haven away from the city. For me, who was used to living in a townhouse complex with 81 units, it was both a nightmare and a dream come true. It was more than just the location that was scary to me, it was the fact that my Dad and I moved out to the boonies to be closer to his new fiancee and her 3 kids, while my older brother TMOC went to Toronto to live with Betty and Stan. You wouldn't think that moving 15 minutes outside of the city that I grew up in would be a big deal. It was.
The first place that my Dad and I lived was a one bedroom apartment on a huge farm that had a gravel driveway and a cool old barn out back. I loved the rickety old barn, with the birds in the loft and the antiques littering the floor. I spent many happy hours there, by myself, or with my soon to be sister. We had no cable, being so far out in the country, and our home phone was a 'party' line. We shared the line with 3 neighbours, and when the phone rang at one house, it rang at all of the houses. Most of what we owned was in storage and I spent way too much time listening to my Dad's old Glenn Miller albums.
School was another problem. I did not, could not fit in. I was used to walking to school with TMOC, or riding my bike with my friends. In Smallburg, I took the bus. The same bus that the other kids had been riding for all of their school aged lives. Every day was a trial for me. I got beat up getting off the bus nearly every day, and the mornings weren't much better. I can't remember how long we lived there. It was a temporary home for us, a place to stay until my Dad and step mom got remarried. I was 11, and in grade 6. I hated it - everything- so much that I stayed home from school for almost a month. That back fired big time, and I ended up repeating the whole year.
After Dad got married, we moved into 'the big house,' a cool turn of the century home with stained glass windows and a bathroom bigger than my room at the townhouse. This meant blending in with 2 new brothers and anew sister, who constantly reminded me that "we are three." Like I could ever forget that I didn't belong in this house, with it's fancy furniture, plush carpeting and secret cupboards. The only bright spot was the horse barns, on the road behind my house, a short bike ride away. I spent many afternoons there, mucking out stables, and talking to the horses. I finally had room to play. I was free to explore the whole town, wade in the river, watch baseball games at the grandstands, hang out in the public library,(my fav hang out for many years) or sit in the big old oak tree in the back yard. I can remember running to the park after school and watching the fall fair being assembled. The carnies always let us play on the rides, and I can remember climbing on the carousel and ruining a skirt that I hated. The trouble that I got into was so worth it.
Most of the kids still hated me, and I was lonely. I taught Sunday School at our little Lutheran Church, babysat most Friday nights, and stopped at Tony's Donuts a couple times a week for day olds. That was it. My life in Smallburg.
Things got better in highschool. I finally fit in, found a niche, and a great bunch of friends. I found Heidi there, in our English class. We have been friends ever since.
It didn't last long. I got kicked out of school, and sent away to Nova Scotia for my own good. Know what the crazy thing is? I missed Smallburg. In Nova Scotia, all I could remember were the good times. I remember playing 'chase' with half of the town. Of course, Jethro was there, with his sister, and my brothers, and everyone else between the ages of 8 and 20-ish. We had a 5 block radius to hide, in teams, and search out the other teams. We played kick the can, and road hockey, swam in Jan's pool (Welcome to our OOL! Notice there's no pee in it? Let's keep it that way!), or at my aunt and uncles. I played with baby cousins and smoked my first cig with Kim behind the horse barns. The grandstands? We broke into the concession stand one night and ate our weight in chips. (They came in foil bags then). We went to Short Stop where "Duh, Ross" worked. That place was always a score because there was 15 cent table that had treasures galore. I once bought my (step) mom a bottle of 15 cent mouth wash for her birthday that Duh Ross convinced me was perfume. (I know, I know, maybe I should have been called Duh, Bridget). The cool thing about Duh Ross was that you could pick anything at all from the store and tell him that it came from the 15 cent table. I once got a 10 pound heart shaped box of chocolates for a measley 15 pennies.
My Dad was on the board of trade there, and designed the war memorial that was rebuilt in 1991, and helped to create the largest working water wheel in North America. It is still there, almost 8 years after his death. The horse barns are long gone, torn down to help make room for the hall where Jethro and Heidi held their wedding reception. The grandstands that once looked like the photo below, recently burned down, and now look like the other photo. It just about broke my heart, and I'm pretty sure that Heidi cried when we heard the news.
It's strange what time and a little bit of life expirience will do to your perspective. I actually miss Smallburg now. When I saw the house that we're living in now, I feel in love with it because it reminds of Smallburg. The same place that I hated, loathed, and cursed the whole time that I lived there.
My Dad is still there. He is buried in the small town cemetary that is also the resting place of my Granny, my Grossie, and far too many highschool friends. There is a plaque that bears his name, and a gravestone that I haven't seen in over 4 years. It's funny, you know? I miss the place like crazy, but I just can't bear the thought of going back. It might tarnish my memories.