Friday, January 19, 2007

My Hometown





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.




32 comments:

snowbug said...

Or make new memories..

I feel that way a lot about my hometown. Things change, I don't want them to, but they do anyway. Still, there are enough of the old things to still cherish!

Life, or Something Like It said...

I will never make new memories there, but I am making new memories. I think that most people have that love/relationship with their hometown.....

dilling said...

time and distance and growing up do a lot to lend you some perspective. i hated Olympia for years, like it was the town itself that did the damage...but it wasn't and i ,too, remember the good times as better now...and the bad times as not quite as bad... now that I have had some true grownup experiences in just what bad can mean...know what I mean?

Life, or Something Like It said...

Dilling - I do know what you mean. I love my little hometown, now. I really did fall in love with this house because it reminded me of days gone by.
I loved the photos that you took on your last trip home. I wish that I could capture feelings, emotions, magic, with a camera the way that you do!

Heidi the Hick said...

Thank you.

Tears. Even before the picture of what's left of our grandstand.

Isn't amazing how a PLACE can have such a role in our development? Jethro's sister says the same thing: she'd never ever move back there, no matter how much she loves it.

You know how I went to school in Havasnot but we went to the bank and church in Smallburg? If I had to say where I was from, I'd say Smallburg.

It ain't perfect, never was, and it's not the same as it was when we were kids, but I still love it. We were just talking about Chase the other night. I drove around by the feed mill a few weeks ago when we were getting grain and shavings, and all of those little sheds are closed in now and locked! Kids today can't play Chase anymore, I guess.

Shame those horse barns are gone too because it seems like half the kids in town used to muck out those barns. I wonder if our grandstand would still be standing if kids were shovelling shit instead of setting fires.

You know I cried when I saw the smoking ruins. I don't know what I'm going to do next time I visit and it's all gone.

But thank you. Even though you know the town differently than I do, it's a big part of our lives, and this post made me laugh and cry. You're good at that.

Thanks for the tribute.

Life, or Something Like It said...

Heidi - I swear, you are my biggest fan. Shawn and I were talking last night about math class in highschool. I spent my whole time writing my 'novel' and not listening to one word that Mr. Math said. No wonder I failed...Mind you, I wrote some of my best short stories in that class...
I'm glad that you liked it.
I haven't been to the cemetary in years....Wanna take me when we get a chance to go? I'd like that....
I loved my time spent at the horse barns. All of that work that I did - for free! Good times, good times...

Tod said...

[I just can't bear the thought of going back. It might tarnish my memories.]

That is so true. I did that just a few weeks ago and it was sad. I find it weird when I visit my hometown and things have changed. It's like it shouldn't be allowed to move on from how I remember it.

Biddie, I love it when you write stuff like this. You make it so fascinating to read.

Life, or Something Like It said...

Tod - That's exactly how I feel! When I lived in Nova Scotia, my boyfriend and I found a secret roof top garden. It was so beautiful! We had (ahem..)so much fun there...After I had been back in Ontario for a few years, I went back to our secret place....It was over grown, and not nearly as magical as it once seemed. I wish that I had never gone back...
Thank you for the compliments. You're so sweet, Mr. Tod!

Nonny said...

Wow, just when I think I know alot about you, you post even more. My life seems rather dull compared to yours. I live in the same town I grew up in. I don't think I could live anywhere else.

You write beautifully Biddie, did you ever think about submitting freelance stuff to magazines etc.?

Life, or Something Like It said...

Nonny - I hardly think tha the life of a hit(wo)man could be boring!
I have lived a very interesting life - at least that's what I've been told. it almost makes me grateful for the boring life that I'm living now.
Thanks for the compliment..Heidi and Shawn are always after to do something with my writing. I don't think that I am very good, to be completely honest. I do like sharing it with all of my blog buddies, tho.

Heidi the Hick said...

YES BIDDIE, LISTEN TO THE REST OF YOUR FANS!!!

Your have a beautiful honesty. And it's all natural. Darnit I'm gonna cry over our lost Smallburg again.

Life, or Something Like It said...

Heidi - You know what's so funny? Those faux family members think that I am constantly lying. Seriously. If they only knew how honest I am.
There was so much more to tell, I could have gone on forever. I didn't even mention about my 1st ever friend in Smallburg, my Grossie. She was my great gramma, and I spent so much time with her and her cat, Tammy. I loved hanging with her. She was so cool for a great gran, and I still miss her.....
Anyway, I'll write my heart out for you and my blog buddies.

dilling said...

hey Biddie, I can't get to hickchic's site anymore...or to another blogger who won't switch to beta... can you get there?

Life, or Something Like It said...

Dilling - I had a problem earlier getting to Skippymoms blog, but I just got to Heidi's no problem. try again later, or try going through a link on another blog, that's how I got around the problem before.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

What a beautiful post. I guess the old saying is true and you can never really go home again.

Life, or Something Like It said...

whimsical - Thank you. I was feeling very nostalgic today and I've been dying to post the photo of the water wheel. I am so proud of the mark that my Dad made on our little community....I might go to the cemetary in the spring. We'll see......

drunk punk said...

my hometown had a few people and a lot of sheep. This was a worry. Mainly because some of the sheep looked remarkably like the farmers who owned them. Strange "Baaaahings" in the middle of the night and all the farmers wore welly boots - rumour had it welly boots stopped the sheep running away...

Life, or Something Like It said...

4D - Your hometown is about 15 minutes away from my step father's right? Maybe that explains him....
You crack me up, tho. Seriously.
BTW, how is Jax?

gawilli said...

We live in the house I grew up in and you are right, things are much different relived than they were the first time around.

Life, or Something Like It said...

Gawilli - Hi! long time no see!
I have actually lived in about 20 houses...or more, but the house in Smallburg is the one that I miss the most. It really was home in so many ways. My wedding reception was there (1st time round, in the back yard), my girls were all baptized in the little Lutheran Church, my Dad's funeral was in that church, too.
I often wonder what it would be like to still have the house in the family....although I am now estranged from my step's, anyway. I think that it must be wonderful to have my Christmas in the same house, for generations, grandchildren playing where my children once did. You are very blessed!

SignGurl said...

Sweet post! Very well written. I feel like I was in your head, lol.

Life, or Something Like It said...

signgurl - In my head? THAT must've been scary.

captain corky said...

Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

I used to play chase when I was younger but it was a little more violent. We used to beat that crap out of each other for hours. we made 800 different versions of this game but the end result was always the same. A free for all.

Life, or Something Like It said...

Corky - your version sounds like a game that my brothers used to plat with me. I think they called it - Let's beat the crap outta Bridget.
Good times.

Shauna said...

I know what you mean about tarnishing memories. . .I went back to the small town I grew up in and it WASN'T THE SAME. . .My old high school has all but lost its accrediation and the public schools there have a horrible reputation. . .I would much rather sit back and remember the fun times instead of looking at what I feel is a dying town. . .

Life, or Something Like It said...

Shauna - Our little town has flourished in many ways. It just so different now, and the since the grandstands burned down...(they had just been deemed a heritage site and were going to be restored after 60+ years)....It seems so strange. I still have other family there, but I seldom go back. Sometimes it really is better to remember how it used to be......

CindyDianne said...

This is a beautiful and poignant post B!

I think it's one of those things were you are thankful for the people you met that are now your family, but you don't have to wanna go back!

Life, or Something Like It said...

Cindydianne - Thank you. I have been thinking alot about Smallburg lately....I am actually NOT thankful for the people I met that are now family...Not the ones that are my brothers and sister and mother, anyway. If you mean Jethro and Heidi, then you nailed it right on the nose!

SkippyMom said...

Hey girlie...what [bitter &] sweet memories...I really enjoyed reading it.

Missed you! Sent you a letter!

Hugs!

Life, or Something Like It said...

Skippy! Where are you? Honestly, I've been worried like crazy! I hope that you're ok. I'll be looking for the letter! Big hugs!
Biddie xxoo

CindyDianne said...

Of course I meant Heidi and Jethro!

;-)

Life, or Something Like It said...

Cindydianne - That's what I thoyght you meant!