Thursday, November 12, 2009

Memory Lane 12. Beaches.

When I was a kid, we lived in and around Vancouver for about 10 years. In the summers, we'd often take day trips when Dad had a day off. And because he was a Mountie, we often took those trips mid-week, and so avoided the weekend crowds.

Back then, little short jaunts seemed like Just So Very Far! We'd drive to the Great Aunt's house on East 59th, and my brother and I would moan and complain that we were getting car sick. Good grief, I think I drive farther to church now than that. Oh well. I guess I was priming myself for long car rides even then.

The most fun LONG Day Trip that we'd take, though, was to White Rock. Back then, it wasn't some touristy Mecca. It was a strip of beach, with little steep streets running up the hills, and little wartime four houses on those steep little streets. Mom and Dad knew some elderly folks, and we'd visit them for tea on those White Rock Beach trip days. I remember the lady of the couple, so grandmotherly, and so... I think she was Norwegian, but I'm not sure. Probably Ukranian, actually. She had a Norwegian Christmas Cactus, so that's why I'm getting confused. For years, mom had a slip of that plant growing on her kitchen window sill. Oh, and they had big Shasta Daisies in front of their little meticulously maintained house on the steep White Rock street.

So we'd visit with this old couple, and then we'd head down the steep street towards the water.

It was kind of magical.

We'd play in the sand, and turn over rocks, and pick up crabs, and then dad would gather us together, and we'd go up to the railroad tracks that we had crossed from the street where we parked to the sand. Dad would give us each a penny, and tell us to quickly put it down on the rails, and then go stand with him by the car. There was probably some train schedule, or maybe a distant whistle that I couldn't hear, but in my mind, my dad had some sort of wild sixth sense about when the train would be coming.

So we'd stand there with Dad, huddled by the car, and the big freight train would come lumbering by. Slowly. And interminably. Usually there were dozens of cars being pulled behind the big black CN or CP engines. We'd count the cars, trying not to lose track. while we watched the train go by, clickety-clack. And maybe the engineer would blow the horn when he saw my brother standing on the hood of the old pink 58 Chevy, nearly peeing himself with excitement.

Then as soon as the train had gone by, we'd run to the tracks, and get our flattened coins. Oh man, they were hot at first. I'm sure it wasn't the best thing we could be doing. Once someone gave us a stern talking-to because we could DERAIL THE TRAIN! Another time, we put our pennies on the rails, only to have these nasty boys come running by JUST ahead of the train, scooping up the coins, and running onto the other side of the tracks. I was so sure they'd be run over, I nearly had a seizure. My little eight-year-old heart could barely take the strain.

But most of the time, it was just idyllic and fun.

Oh, and for the record? I think I still have that dress. It has a little tie that completes the ensemble. And there's a turtle applique'd on the tie.

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