When my sister Amy was almost 19, her friend convinced her to secretly hitch-hike out to Vancouver from southern Ontario, a trip of over 4000 kms one way.
The young ladies stitched ‘VAN’ patches to their back packs and with straightened hair and bell bottoms, off they went: flower children off to find themselves. (The prior year, my brother Matt had gone west with a buddy, hopping on and off rail cars. It was a trendy thing to do then, to head West and to always ‘hit the ground running!’)
They were lucky to get rides in transport trucks with very attentive and caring knights of the highway who fed them and took them the extra mile to their destination. They also took them on little side trips to Banff Springs Hotel and to the Okanagan Valley. The gentlemen put the girls up in a hotel room of their own for two nights…sheer luxury and after four days they were dropped off in Vancouver at a hostel which the men paid for, for a night. So generous!
The next day, the young women went to see Donna’s uncle in Port Alberni. He gave them money to stay in a hostel for a further week so they could visit Wreck beach, Gas town and Stanley Park.
The friends walked all over the city seeing various vendors, musicians with tambourines and hippies everywhere as well as trans folks. Amy and Donna didn’t have a clue as to what they were seeing sometimes.
At Stanley Park in Vancouver, the sight there was not the best. The park was strewn with tons of garbage and many youth were strung out and laying around on the grass. Some folks were meditating or in some sort of drug-induced trance. Everyone was friendly but, it wasn’t anything like what Amy and Donna expected.
At the hostel which was nice and clean and more wholesome, there was a kitchen with folks baking bread. The meals there were mostly stews and bread. Sitting in a circle at the hostel, everyone would share stories about where they came from. There were many minstrel musicians and artists there with a general attitude of living on love, not working and being cool.
Walking through Vancouver one morning, seventeen-year old Donna saw a dance studio with a dancer in the window. This dancer became her husband and they are still together today, going on to open a water-bed franchise and doing well on the water-bed trend of the eighties. Remember that? (Amy reminded me that she had two water beds in her apartment in the eighties where I lived while waiting to get into the army. My husband Dean installed a waterbed in his residence room at university!)
In Gas town there were many people sitting on the sidewalk and shooting up and doing all manner of weirdness, almost like a mini Woodstock. They seemed to be doing anything they wanted without a thought for the law. Long hair, headbands, bare-chest, jeans, cut-off shorts, macrame belts with beaded tail a hanging down the thigh.
‘Georgie‘ girls would walk by in peasant blouses, long, flowing skirts and hair, floppy hat, beads, bracelets and anklets and Jesus sandals, patched and needle-pointed bell-bottom jeans and no makeup. No bra. Some wore moccasins and everyone had a backpack which identified them with sewn-on patches of their home town and of different places they had been. No cell phones. No email. No video games. No social media and no effing selfies. Just patches, music and spoken word. Imagine.
At the white-sand, nude Wreck Beach Amy recognized John from home who was sunbathing nude, stretched out on the fine, warm sand. Amy told him to throw a towel on if he wanted them to speak to him.
Soon the money ran out and Amy needed to get home. From the ‘free’ phone at the Trans Union office, she called Mom and Dad and begged for airfare, mentioning that she didn’t even have money for food. Back then, a student could fly across country for under a hundred dollars.
‘Our blond daughter is coming back from finding herself! Wailed Dad to Mom.
Amy waited all day in Gas Town for the money transfer to come through, seeing sights that made her head spin. Men dressed as women. Gay lovers. Protests of every sort. The needle and the damage done.
Back home to reality and work at A&W. Dad and Mom had let Amy, Matt and Mark have the house that summer while they were at the lake for the summer. Bad move as there were parties galore and the house was getting more and more weathered due to them. In the seventies when the baby boomers were teens, there were just so many of them about that they took over every aspect of life. They walked around in packs. It’s hard to believe now in 2019, that they were ever that young. The baby boomers are now aging and their vast numbers are taking over the assisted-living homes, seniors resorts and most of Florida. Stores are stocking more and more seniors’ needs: reading glasses, purple shampoo, compression hose, knee-braces, Epsom salts, sore muscle balm, soup and the like.
Anyhoo, at home, Amy kept an eye-ball peeled for Donna’s dad who was the police chief. She thought she would be killed if he saw her as he was sure to blame Amy for the loss of his daughter to Vancouver…man.
(Eva Player – daisy pic – and Google images..thanks again )
At eight months pregnant, my friend Nancy asked me if wanted to go on a road trip with her to her hometown of Virginia Beach from Leesburg, some four and a half hours away. It was summertime, her two girls were out of school and she wanted to take them down to see their grandparents. We piled into her SUV with snacks and a cooler of drinks, including my ever present bottle of prune juice. You see, at that time, I had been told that one of the keys to a healthy pregnancy was to ensure a daily movement…of… well, the bowels. Always a sucker for health tips, I grasped onto said tip and sure enough, I would have a glass of cool prune juice every morning of my 270 day pregnancy term (I haven’t touched it again, since). Keeping that in mind, when I awoke on the second day of our trip and being out of routine, forgot to take my beloved prune juice, I was more than a little worried by mid-morning when nothing had, as of yet, moved.
Nancy was a nurse. She understood my worry. She asked her youngest daughter, Kerry, to bring me a glass of prune juice. We were seated on the patio, just taking a break after a stroll around the neighbourhood. Out comes eight-year old Kerry with quite a large glass of prune juice. Where I would normally have about four ounces, this was more like ten. Feeling rather touched to be served, I graciously accepted Kerry’s offering and, what the hell, drank it down, hearing Mom’s voice in my head: Waste not, want not, Morgan.
Not long thereafter, Nancy offered to take all of us for a walk on Virginia Beach, about 20 minutes away. We again all got into her vehicle and off we went. Nancy was pointing things out all the way with a look of nostalgia on her face: there was her old school; her old shopping area; her old hangout; her old favorite fast-food joint; her friend’s house. I could feel the vibes of her memories and could almost see a youthful Nancy running along beside us as we slowly toured the neighourhood.
Onto the highway next and up the ramp and over the bridge. Suddenly, my bowels started to feel odd. I must be imaging it, I thought. Everything is fine. Everything is fine, I thought. Next, out seeped a silent but deadly one with the automatic instantaneous human reactions: windows rolled down; four noses into the clean wind; worried eyes; hands over mouths. Sorry, sorry. I seem to be having a reaction to something. I told Nancy and the girls.
My guts churned and roiled and tiny stink-bomb expulsions continued. A few miles later I was bent in two holding my very pregnant middle. Which was difficult in itself. It was like bending over at basketball.
Oh my god Nancy, I have take a dump right now!!!
Nancy told me to hang in there and to let her know when it was a true emergency. She clearly did not understand. My pants would be soiled in a matter of minutes if I didn’t get out of the vehicle and onto a toilet. All I could see out the windows though, was a guard rail and what looked to be a fairly seedy area of the city.
This is truly an emergency, Nancy. I see an Arby’s. Can we go in there?
By this time I wasn’t talking very clearly because I had every part of my anatomy CLENCHED.
Nancy said, Morgan, that’s a really bad part of town. Are you sure?
Yes, Nancy. Hurry!
Nancy pulled in and out I got, walking funny into the Arby’s due to my full-body CLENCH coupled with my huge baby belly. I found the Lady’s room which was just inside the door. In I went and closed and latched the door. Maternity pants down and onto the cool toilet seat. What happened next was not pretty.
A bomb went off into that toilet bowl.
At that point, the couple of other ladies who had been in the bathroom, made a hasty departure with an OH MY GOD, just outside the door. I can hear you. I thought. Whatever, I had to get this out.
I was on the toilet for a few more minutes and was feeling a whole heck of a lot better. Washing well then waddling out of the Arby’s, there was Nancy with wild eyes, her driver’s side window cracked open pushing coins out to a Rastafarian-looking guy who was obviously quite down on his luck.
Jenny unlocked my door and I hopped in and off we went to the beach.
When Dean and I were honourably released from the military in 1992, (see post A Posting to Germany and a Lifelong Romance 🥂) we brought back a 1976 VW Van with us from Germany and called her “Betsy’. Like the one in the picture above (from google images) but our Betsy was dark green. We knew that travelling would be part of our lives, having already seen a lot of Europe and enjoying the experience of embracing other cultures and locals but, before seeing the rest of the wide world, we wanted to experience our huge, beautiful country first. We would travel every Province and each Territory with the mandate of seeing at least one National Park in each of them.
We spent the spring with Dean’s parents in Newfoundland, which was sweet, as it gave us some quality time with truly wonderful and good people.
To be in the vicinity of my father-in-law when he laughed was magical. He was like an elf with a sweet spirit and kind nature. When he would laugh, his shoulders would come up and his body would shake while his laughing smile took over his whole face. One couldn’t help but be drawn in.
Dean’s mom was an incredibly strong, kind and thoughtful matriarch. She worked tirelessly and subtly for her family (which was ever expanding with more and more grand and great grand-children), supporting them with Sunday Jigg’s dinners, knitted and crocheted sweaters, table cloths, toques, mitts, socks, home-made pies, jams, chow and beets, baby-sitting and advice.
Neither of them was given to showy acts of affection like hugs or spoken I love yous, but their love was obvious and ever present and seen in the way they looked at you, asked if you had had enough to eat or in the manner they would engage in conversation or try to help with a concern. Dean’s parents were the best kind of folks and it was my absolute pleasure to meet and live with them that spring. I could see why my Dean was such a wonderful young man.
We had spent hours getting Betsy ready for the trip. We wanted to be completely self-sufficient. We had tons of storage space in her. Under the seat in the back we neatly stored many containers of dried foods: a variety of beans, rice, lentils, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, dehydrated vegetables, coffee, hot chocolate and sauces. In the front top area we stored two dozen gallon jugs of water. There was also a coleman stove, fuel, pots, plates, utensils, knives and a cutting board. We packed her with our clothes, laundry soap, wash basin, books, candle lantern, down duvet, pillows, maps, hiking gear and more. We were kitted out AND we had several bottles of preserves as well as home-made wine and Bailey’s thanks to our sister-in-law’s suggestion. (We would have never thought of that. Ever.)
We had already seen lots of Newfoundland and had hiked several hikes at Gros Morne and Blow Me Down so off we went to the ferry and arrived in Cape Breton and pointed Betsy up the Cabot Trail. Its a highway trail that travels the edge of cliff for a few hundred kms with breath-taking scenery of the big blue below.
I have to say, the drive was terrifying. I would lean way over toward Dean as he was driving, away from the certain death of driving off that cliff.
Next was P.E.I. where we camped on a red sand beach and, in the pouring rain went to a pub in Charlottetown to celebrate our anniversary. A big indulgence, since we were on a very tight budget but which was quite lovely due to the rain and our special occasion.
On to New Brunswick where we stayed at Fundy National Park and walked on the ocean floor, marveling at the huge high tides, not knowing that a decade and a bit later we would be living in a tidal town just across the water (see post: A Simple East-Coast Life ) Next was Quebec where we visited La Maurice National Park and where we had picked up an old friend and her two pre-school boys to travel and camp with us for a couple of days. That was eye-opening. The boys never stopped and consequentially, nor did their Mom. We had been enjoying such decadence, doing whatever we pleased. Now learning that, as a parent, it’s not all about you. Who knew? It was a valuable lesson to behold.
At another park in Quebec we did an overnight canoe trip which was very scenic and physically challenging during the portages but, horrible in the torrential rain for hours.
In Ontario, of course there were many visits to make to family members and friends residing there. It was lovely to be greeted, questioned and welcomed and to bathe and launder our clothes was nice too. In Ontario we visited Point Pelee National Park with it’s long boardwalk that traverses some wet lands on the way to the sandy beach of Lake Erie. It is the southern most tip of Canada.
From there we heading North and wow, Ontario is a big province. We headed up to muskeg country and then across the top of Lake Superior. We stopped in an unmanned provincial campground and met a couple of wonderful travelers. A Dutch guy biking across Canada and a 65 year old Retired US Naval Captain who was traveling and sleeping in his station wagon: John Shaughnessy. We cooked up a simple pasta meal and invited them to join us at our picnic table. It was a lovely evening of travel talk. When we offered more food to the Dutch guy, he accepted. John Shaughnessy would say: ‘No, no. You go right ahead.’ Good answer, right?Another thing we liked about John Shaughnessy is how he would greet new people. It could be Joe Gas Pump Man, he would stick out his hand and say: ‘Hello. John Shaughnessy. How are you?’ It was fascinating comparing military stories with him. We had just gotten out of the Army and this was a retired US Naval Captain. That is four gold stripes to our two. To us, that was something. He was bright, adventurous, charming and intelligent. We would see him several more times over the next few months, partly because we encouraged him to travel our way. We all got along famously.
In Manitoba we visited Riding Mountain National Park and in Saskatchewan – Grasslands National Park. One night, in Saskatchewan, we pulled over at the edge of a vast farmer’s field. There wasn’t a soul or a vehicle around. We could see for hours, so we knew that for sure. We decided to camp there for the night and so, popped up the top of Betsy. We used to call the top of Betsy upstairs, as in, I’m going upstairs to bed. Watching the sun set in the West, we thought we had it all: each other; a wonderful adventure; good health; good humour (most of the time); and just when we thought that list was complete, we looked over to the other horizon to see the moon rising in the East. Such a big beautiful sky in the prairies. That was the first time I had ever seen both orbs in the sky.
In Alberta we
visited Elk Island National Park and it was here that we encountered a very large bison in the woods. We had been simply hiking along quietly, on a hot, twisty trail through woods of young saplings. Suddenly, looking up, we saw a huge snorting shape quietly staring at us and a bit beyond him, his harem lying on the ground. We retreated, rather hastily and then breathed a sigh of relief.
From there we headed north into to the bottom of North West Territories, stopping at Fort Simpson where, with John Shaughnessy, flew into Nahanni National Park in a tiny Cessna aircraft, puking all the way. No kidding. The updrafts of warm air batted us around crazily. Thank goodness for the airsick bag. The scenery was gorgeous but I, for one, was way too nauseous to enjoy it. Once on the ground we hiked into the falls. Spectacular and quite noisy. I immediately dunked my head in the freezing cold water, aiding the departure of the nausea. I should say here that John Shaughnessy sure as heck did not get sick.
Next we meandered our way to Alaska and decided upon a truly physically challenging adventure: hiking the the Chilkoot Trail at Klondike Goldrush National Historic Park starting in Skagway, Alaska and ending three to five days later in the ghost town of Bennett, BC. It is the trail that had been used in the 1890s by the Goldrush crowd heading over White Pass to find their fortunes in gold. John Shaughnessy bid us farewell, as it was not part of his plan to do such a hike. We would miss him. The hike was challenging for sure. The photo is of the prospectors in the late 1800s who were risking life and limb in the hopes of finding gold. When I look at that angle they are hiking at, carrying huge loads, in ancient gear, I think: hopeful desperation. Many died horrible deaths due to harsh conditions, starvation, tooth decay, frostbite and many other unpleasant issues. The line formed by the ant-sized black dots in the photo are heading up over the pass after having gone through The Scales. At The Scales their amount of supplies were weighed and assessed. They had to have one ton of goods per person!! They had to have certain survival items, like a tent, frying pan and so many pounds of flour, sugar etc before being allowed over the pass. Dean and I had a back pack each. We were good. Three days later, Dean and I walked into the final camp ground of the hike. It had been a physical test but it also had been eye candy and interesting to traverse the same path as those old fortune seekers. We also met Michelle and Mike from Oz, whom we visited a couple of years later. (See post: We’re Not in Canada Anymore…this is Oz (age 28)).
From British Columbia to Kluane National Park in the Yukon and then to Banff, Alberta where we enjoyed the hub-bub of that city. It was in Banff that we were pulled over by the police which was puzzling because we had done nothing wrong. The Mountie leaned into Betsy and asked: ‘Are you Dean Joyce?’ Dean’s face fell. If a cop in Alberta knew your name, that couldn’t be good. ‘You need to call home as soon as possible.’
Finding a pay phone and making the call, we were informed of the sad and tragic news that Dean’s father had suffered a massive heart attack. We flew to Newfoundland the next day. After quite a battle, Dean’s father rallied and lived another ten wonderful years.
On boxing day of 1996 we packed up our tiny little three cylinder Chevrolet Sprint hatchback aptly named Puny, put our two big northern dogs in the backseat (Delta and Grizzly), and started our 7000 km, eight day trip south west to Toronto. Dean was enrolled in the very expensive nine month intensive Information Technology program at a downtown Toronto school called Information Technology Institute (iti). We had spent three years above the Arctic Circle living in Polar River first and then Inuvik after that. We had had good employment and a great group of friends but, it was time to move on and start something new.
As we rolled out of Inuvik on the Dempster Highway, in the dead and dark of winter and -35 Celsius, we were not unaware of the risk of travel for the first 800 kms of this road trip south to Dawson City Yukon with just one gas station at Eagle Plains, about half way. The moonlight shone above us and lighted the way over North America’s most northerly and remote highway, which in fact is actually a gravel road. It was a good omen, I thought, that moon. It was sure to be a fine trip with a moon like that shining above us and leading us on.
Just to give some idea of our situation in the car. We had huge Canada Goose parkas on. Large layered mittens, a toque each and Sorel boots rated to -60. It being so bitingly cold outside, our little car could not keep up. We just broke even for heat, which means, we were quite chilly for the first couple of days. Few people had cell phones back then. A friend in Inuvik had given us his cell phone in case we ran into an emergency.
Not long into the trip, we realized that our front windshield was frosting up, even though the fan and heat were turned on high. It didn’t take much to figure out that the fan had stopped working. Our focal point out the front of the car was rapidly diminishing. I wanted to turn back and get it fixed. Dean said no, we could do that in Dawson. Just then Delta and Grizzly lunged into the front seat, their heads and shoulders anyway, because they had sensed a heard of caribou moving methodically across the dim tundra. Our wee vehicle was surrounded by their graceful presence. (Like the picture below, only dark outside). We felt honoured to be in the midst of their serenity. Delta and Grizzly just wanted to give chase. On we rolled.
We pulled into Dawson City Yukon and it was -45 degrees Celcius. Nothing was open in town so we retreated to the corner of the highway and stayed in a motel there. Carefully plugging in our car so that there would be every chance that it would start in the morning. After a satisfying turkey dinner, hot shower and good night’s sleep we breakfasted and clambered back into Puny. Dead. Upon examination of the cord we found that someone had stepped on it (probably me) and with the cold, it had snapped. Useless. We would need a ‘cold start’ at $50. It worked and we rolled out of Dawson on square tires due to the extreme cold. We were Whitehorse bound with the hopes of getting our heater fan fixed. In Whitehorse, at Crappy (a Player family nickname for Canadian Tire) we were able to get it repaired. The service department stayed open late for us and were very kind.
The most remarkable thing about the rest of the trip, which we were already aware of due to several cross-country drives, was the shear vastness and emptiness of our big beautiful country. The Prairies were endless and so windy that Puny used twice as much fuel as usual. The Prairies in the winter had white-outs and dangerous snow drifts right across the highway. Dean, my Newfoundlander, is an amazing winter driver so I wasn’t too worried, really.
We finally pulled into Toronto seven days later. Our friend Nee was home and we crashed in with him. He had found us an apartment right behind his on St. Clair. Excitedly we went to look at it. Sadly and disappointingly though, it was little more than a slum and was a serious firetrap. It just would not do. We had stupidly paid the slum-landlord first and last month rent, from afar, sight unseen. Bad idea. When we met her she tried to tell us the place was fine: rotten wood floors, drafty old windows, old, dirty paint, crappy old kitchen and ancient wiring.
We told her we wanted our money back.
She and Dean were in the kitchen and I was standing in the kitchen doorway. She stamped her foot and said this is ridiculous and tried to get past me through the door. I stood my ground and filling up the doorway space said not sweetly: Where do you think you’re going? She turned around and filled out an ad for the apartment telling us that if it were to rent, we would get our money back. Next, we called the fire marshal who declared the place a fire hazard. We got our money back.
The next day we found a 2.5 story brick house with a great kitchen, hardwood floors, attic study and a fenced yard in the North Beaches at Birchmount and the Danforth. It was ideal and cheaper at $900 a month.
Dean started his program and worked like a dog, ending in nine months as the Valedictorian of his class. While he did his program, I decided to volunteer at my sister, Eva’s camp as much as possible. We ended up putting on a week-long boys’ camp which was a lot of work but truly successful and rewarding for everyone involved. I also helped with small maintenance jobs, errands, painting and cleaning duties. It was a very good summer and it was so fun to be with my big sister and at the camp again.
In the fall we bought our first little house in Milton, Ontario upon the advice of a savvy Real Estate agent and Newfoundlander with an office in Campbellville. Our side-split bungalow was on an older street with tall trees. Dean had gotten a job as a technology trainer and was traveling a lot. While he did that, I fashioned a small apartment in our basement and rented it to a nice young couple. Next, there was an offer by Dean’s company for us to move to Virginia. We sold our house to the first people who walked through and off we went to Leesburg, Virginia. Nine months later, Leo was born. We were over the moon until…but that’s another post.
My two big sisters were Irish twins — born ten months apart. They had the most awesome bedrooms down the basement of our little red-brick bungalow in Barrie. Their faux wood paneled walls and wall-to-wall carpeted bedrooms were not only super cool and trendy, but they were adjoined so that if you wanted to go into Eva’s room, you had to first walk through Amy’s. Eva had a single bed in her room with an afghan on it that she crocheted herself. She was (and still is) very creative and multi-talented – always making something, or writing a poem, baking, painting a paint-by-number or organizing a get-together. Eva’s zest for life is contagious. People flock to Eva, wanting to be apart of her exciting and enthusiastic life.
Eva also had throw cushions on the bed with hand-stitched whimsical hippos, frogs and turtles. Her room was so interesting that I would love to just sit and look at everything and wonder at how she must have made it. Eva was twelve years my senior, my God-mother and I adored her. I was so lucky.
Amy’s room sported a double bed and a walk-in closet that had its very own light and light switch. As a little girl I would imagine it to be my play house and I would wish I was big enough to wear some of Amy’s great clothes. Amy is a very gentle soul. She has many friends and many we call Amy’s Men. She listens well and can empathize with just about everyone she meets. She hears her clients all day while she expertly works on their hair and makes them feel good about themselves. People love Amy from the moment they meet her and look into her beautiful blue, kind eyes. She is one of those soft-spoken, nice people that everyone wants to associate with. Amy 11 years older than I and I also adored her, she was the most beautiful woman, on the inside and out, that I knew and I was very proud to be her little sister. Amy and Eva pretty much raised me from the time I was a tiny.
One night when I was seven years old, I was curled up beside Amy who was reading her homework assignment to me aloud. She was attending the Barrie School of Hairdressing at the time. I shared Amy’s double bed with her. Eva walked in, all excited, and announced that she was going to Windsor to attend Mark’s graduation from Law School. Mark was a school friend of hers who lived down the hill and who just loved Eva. He wanted her as a girlfriend but, unfortunately, Eva really never could muster up those kinds of feelings for him. Eva however, still really liked him as a friend and was looking forward to the adventure of going down to Windsor to attend his grad. We would, of course, stay with our relatives and not at his apartment (which he shared with some other guy). I guess I was a type of chaperone for this mission and would keep Eva, my big sister that I was in awe of, company while she drove.
We started out early in the day in Eva’s new, green, 1974 Maverick –“The Mav”. The plan was that we would pull off the highway about once every hour so that Eva wouldn’t be too tired by the time we got there. It’s about a 6-hour road trip to Windsor and sure enough we pulled off for a break each hour. Eva would buy us a treat and we would sometimes gas up the Mav and then we would be on the road again. The trip took us on multi-lane, fast 400-series highways all the way to Windsor which is situated on the border with The States. We sung all kinds of great tunes. Eva is a talented singer and loves to entertain. We sang Band On the Run, Country Roads, Out on a Date, Maggie May and more. My big sister Eve was so much fun! I could hardly believe the adventure I was having and how lucky I was (compared to my four brothers and Amy who had to stay at home).
We arrived in good time and I was amazed at the absolutely largest bridge I had ever laid eyes on. Eva said that was the bridge to The States and that it was a mile long.
Holy Cow! I thought.
We found Mark’s apartment and he and his roomie welcomed us in with open arms. There was lots of smiling and some cute flirting going on. Eva was an expert joker and loved to wittingly poke fun. Mark would get all shy, blush, wave his hand and say,
He opened the fridge to offer us a refreshment. Eva politely declined but, I couldn’t help but notice that all of their food, even the peanut butter was in there. Yuck! Cold peanut butter, I thought. We were big peanut butter eaters in our household. Mom would buy peanut butter by the gallon bucket and it would be gone in a week. We would usually find a butter knife in the emptying bucket. One of us had just left it in there.
We NEVER put peanut butter in the fridge!
I had to ask. I was so curious. Why do you have all that food in the fridge? It turned out that their apartment, which was actually in a really old huge brick house, probably out of the Victorian era, had bugs – cock roaches. Keeping food in the fridge deterred these pests.
Suddenly I had to use the toilet.
Eva said she would come in with me to freshen up while I used the toilet. As we walked into the bathroom I noticed that the bathtub was different from our late 70s model in our brick bungalow at home. This tub had feet. Everything looked different and old, but really neat at the same time. Eva explained antiques to me as she applied some blush, mascara, then some blue eye-shadow and a bit of pinkish lipstick. I can remember feeling like I was learning a lot on this trip.
I did a poop, wiped, and hopped off the toilet, yanking up my jeans and turning to look at it. There, in the bowl, was the biggest, fattest poop I had ever produced, or seen produced, in my young life. It was huge and it curled all the way around the toilet bowl! I was pointing at it and saying:
Wow, Eva, take a look at this!
When I noticed the look of utter horror on my big sister’s face.
Flush it, Martha! she ordered, before it stinks up this place really bad!
I reached over and pulled on the ancient flushing lever. I couldn’t figure out why my oldest sister wasn’t as amazed by what I had produced as I was. The massive, man-poop was going to be gone in an instant so I watched it closely as it was going to disappear down the hole. Around and around and around it went but…
Instead it proceeded to float up higher to the rim of the bowl. Geez! I was amazed at its size and bulk.
Eva hadn’t been watching. She had been brushing her long, dazzling hair.
Look Eva, it’s not going down. I said. I wasn’t the least bit disturbed by this.
Oh NO Martha, she said in dismay as she pushed her shiny, straight brown hair behind her ears, They’re gonna think I did that! indicating with her head nod my big prize poop.
Oh never mind, you’re too young to understand. We’ve got to do something before they wonder what the heck is going on in here!
Eva looked frantically around the bathroom until her eyes fell on a scoop beside the toilet that had been fashioned out of an old bleach bottle.
The rest of it happened pretty quickly.
She opened the window.
She grabbed the scoop.
She fished out the huge poop coil and,
she tossed it straight out the window!!!!
When I looked out to see where it landed, there it was: a large brown lump, below the window, on a small roof, about ten feet away from my wide-eyed wondering face.
Eva simply closed the window and the curtain, took one last glance in the mirror and quickly washed her hands. She then plastered a somewhat nervous looking smile on her face, took my hand and opened the bathroom door.
Years later, after recounting this story to my best girl friend Kelly, she was doubled over laughing then stood straight up and while smiling widely said,
Who says pigs can’t fly?
We both laughed some more.
When in Australia in 1994, I told this story to a group of women with whom I was working at a tomato and garlic farm. (At the time, Dean and I were doing our best to make money in order to be able to continue our travels to Nepal and India.) We were standing in a circle around a huge wooden crate of fresh picked garlic and we were cleaning it of it’s extra layers and roots. It was mind-numbingly boring work, but better in the barn doing this work than out under the scorching sun. Anyway, I asked the ladies if they wanted to hear a story. Of course they did and said, ‘Ah mate. Let’s hear it!’. A few minutes later they were bent over double laughing at this story. Some manager came over to ask if everyone was okay. They all waved at him that we were fine, breathless with hilarity. I was quite pleased that they found it that funny. Anyway, I will never forget relating this story to those ladies in the Ozzie barn.