Walking in my own footsteps
The old hills still look the same but sadly the faces I used to see on them are no longer there.
A half-century has passed since my Guardian paper-route days in the 1960s in Tyne Valley, so it’s little wonder few, if any, of my old customers are around.
That was one of my many thoughts as I retraced the paper route this week.
One thing I had this time that I didn’t have back in my carrier days was some company. I enlisted grandson Anderson, soon to be 10, for my walkabout.
Walking up one of the four roads leading in and out of the village, I glanced over at a fairly large tree. As a sapling, it had done its best to provide a bit of shade for a family gathering my late mother was on hand for.
A little further up the road, I pointed to a lawn I used to mow for $2. I, or rather I should say Dad, provided the gas and lawn mower for that princely price.
Anderson wasn’t impressed by the return on investment, which led to a discussion on inflation and the cost of living.
Returning back to the Valley’s scenic centre, we took a rest break. Off in the lower pond we spotted a pair of Canada Geese, who were shepherding five goslings.
Another memory of the pond crossed my mind. It was a far different day, a chilly winter one, cold enough to allow mischievous young boys to jump around on ice cakes. I didn’t mention that adventure to my companion.
Up the hospital hill road we walked; it’s the shortest but steepest of the four. Back in the one-gear bike days, it was a challenge to make it all the way up without having to jump off and start walking.
This time we hoofed it all the way up, and in a lovely gazebo behind the manor we took another breather while listening to birds chirping and enjoying a gentle breeze.
At the top of the Barlow Road hill sits a fertile field. In my younger days I helped dig potatoes from that field. The goodnatured farmer’s nickname was Radio, given to him by a grandchild.
Walking back down the hill, I spotted a home that was once rented by the village’s bank manager. I recalled the banker’s wife was a great tipper at Christmas.
I’m not sure how excited Anderson was with my commentary. But, I did impress him when I said I once successfully recorded the scores of an entire NHL hockey season on a calendar in one of the village’s general stores.
Atop the fourth hill, the main one that at the top forks into either the Canada Road or Allen Road, I was flooded by many memories as I looked upon my old home, the village’s former two-room school (now a daycare), the church I attended and a cemetery with plenty of MacDougalls in it.
Prior to going up that hill, Anderson and I were startled when a truck drove past us followed closely by a dog – an extremely fast-moving one. Impressively, the Border Collie matched the truck’s speed all the way up the long hill.
I ran into a friend and inquired about the dog. Surprisingly, he turned out to be the dog’s owner. He said Cupid often gets to ride with the man in the truck, but he couldn’t this day because the man was going to work.
I told him I had been worried how far the dog would have chased the truck, especially given the heat of the day.
“Oh, he always stops at the Credit Union at the top of the hill,” my friend said.
So, it seems, it’s not just me that the hills have made an impression on. Just as they have helped frame Cupid’s boundaries, they have always helped frame my memories.