Obituary: 173 Big Bay Point Road

- jim Young


“You can’t go home again.” - Thomas Wolfe.


There isn’t much that is more exciting to a 7 year old boy than hanging around a construction site. Once the vivid imagination of a young boy begins to stir, the excavation for the basement will take him on a journey to China, the cement blocks of the foundation transform the hole in the ground into a formidable castle, scrap pieces of wood cut at a 45° angle become the bulky sails of a sailboat, the studded walls, as they are erected become prison bars that the young lad can escape through and rafters, when hung, will serve as monkey bars.


At least that’s how it was for me.


Most children are denied this experience today for the sake of safety. But in 1960 these opportunities were more readily available. And when your grandfather was building the house, even more so. That your grandfather might be building that house for you, well, that was the icing on the cake.


I remember my grandfather letting me help him “build” our house. Under strict supervision I would cut a board or hammer a nail. More often than not, the nails weren’t driven into the board any straighter than were the cuts I had made in the board. But my grandfather never complained and I suspect they may have been replaced when I wasn’t looking.


Grampa often taught me many valuable tricks of the trade as we worked side by side in the hot sun. He liked to demonstrate how rubbing the nail in what little hair he had left on his head would make the nail slide into the board at a much faster speed as he hammered away. Grampa explained it was due to the “static” electricity from his hair. It made sense to me. I was only 7.


When it was time for a break, Grandpa would sometimes even let me have a sip from his bottle of beer that had been warmed by the hot sun.


But then I blinked.


“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” - John Lennon


Some stuff happened between that day and today. 


There were some profoundly sad days, but most were painfully happy. It would require many more volumes of stories than I think I should ever be capable of writing to capture them all.


Suffice it to say, here I was, 64 years later standing on an empty lot surrounded by heavy machinery. The lot was as empty as it was the first day I stood here watching a bulldozer dig a basement for my family home.


The house was gone again and even the hole in the ground that the bulldozer dug that day so many years ago had been filled in once more.


The tall pine trees that I helped my father plant on another hot summer’s day were in the process of coming down as I stood there. What had taken a lifetime to grow would soon be firewood and literally destined to become a pile of ashes.


That 7 year old boy had somehow transformed into a 71 year old man.


As I stood taking pictures, the foreman, identified by his white hard hat, quickly came running over to investigate and see what I was doing. He didn’t look much older than I had felt back in 1960.


Before he could advise me that I was trespassing, I addressed his concerns.


“I watched my grandfather build this house 64 years ago,” I explained. “I just wanted to stop by for a few pictures.” 


The foreman nodded in silence and respect, acknowledging his approval with a gesture instead of words.  After snapping my last picture I turned to leave.


I hesitated and turned back to the foreman.


“By the way,” I said, “If you find a small 1957 Dinky Toy Milk Truck - it’s mine.”


The foreman smiled as I turned to leave home for the last time.


- 30 -


“Our house was a very, very, very fine house.” - Graham Nash

“Our house, it had a crowd. 

There was always something happening and it was usually quite loud. 

Our mom, she was so house-proud.”

- Chas Smash & Chris Foreman


I remember the year I had to help my father dig up the tile that led from the bathroom to

the septic tank right under where this tree later grew. But it was the city’s problem now.


A view from the back in the early years. The trees Dad and I planted were so small…

Photo from the collection of William S. Young

… but they grew!

Photo from the collection of Margaret J. Young


The birch was my mother’s favourite tree. Photo from the collection of Margaret J. Young

The remains of the barbecue I helped Dad build. Mom would cook dinner for the

family here and my sisters and I used it for burning notes at our end-of-school year parties.

But what falls into disuse is often reclaimed by nature.


Man, however, is impatient and doesn’t always wait for things

to fall into disuse before reclaiming them..


For well over 60 years Santa made his annual trip down that chimney to the delight of first, my sisters and I and then our children. Even my mother hung a stocking for Santa right up until her last Christmas. Photo courtesy of Curtis Lewis

My grandfather had built our house in the middle of the country.

My father always said he would only move “when the bulldozers get too close”.

In 1991 the bulldozers dropped their blades to begin work on the

first subdivision in the area. That was the year Dad passed away.

We hadn’t expected Dad to be so literal about it.

Photo courtesy of Mark Chalmers

“If you find a small 1957 Dinky Toy Milk Truck - it’s mine.”

Photo courtesy of Gary Elliott





Comments

  1. Wish I had of known you were there. I gasped when I drove by seeing the demolition

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually I was in Cuba when the actual demolition took place. My cousin sent the first photos and it was gone by the time we got home. They were just cutting up the last of the trees by the time I got there.

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