Photo = Kansas City, MO (Jan. 2010)
Sound = George Street (Feb. 2009)
Photo = Kansas City, MO (Jan. 2010)
Sound = George Street (Feb. 2009)
This is a riff I’ve been playing with for a while. In a rush, I threw it down so I wouldn’t forget it. I added some guitar and bodhran but encountered some sync issues in my panicked pace. After listening to it a few times, the scattered effect of three instruments coming in and out of unison almost adds to the tune’s frantic nature. For now, this is where it sits.
The photo was snapped accidentally while sitting on my porch. I decided not to delete it at the time and like the rough recording above, I’ve grown to appreciate it as it is.
Powder blue, automatic transmission, and cassette deck included, this car was the car of the times. In the year following our purchase, the number of K-Cars on the road became so large that I’d often pass the time on trips into town counting how many other Ks I could see. I think the record was something like 41 over the course of a 30 minute drive.
Once while leaving the shopping centre with my Mom we loaded our bags into the back seats, sat down and buckled up, before realizing that we were in someone else’s car. The key wouldn’t work in the ignition even though it unlocked the doors. As if we had just realized the car was about to explode, we bailed pretty quickly hoping no one, especially the owner, witnessed our blunder as we scrambled out and did our best to play it cool.
Years later I would have another K-Car experience in the very same parking lot with another of these powder blue beauties. I thought it was worth a mention as it has since been remembered as one of those moments where you realise that you’re not as young as you used to be. You know the kind. Like when you first noticed you could no longer drink beer all day and last until midnight or better yet, when you found yourself buying wine on purpose.
My friend Derick and I were out driving around one day and stopped to have a look at this collection of classic cars that was on display in the mall parking lot. I forget now but I think we heard about it on the radio moments before. Anyway, it was your usual car show with mostly hot rods and high-sitting pick-up trucks, hoods up, doors, open and their owners standing proudly by answering standard questions about body modifications and lift kits.
As we came to the end of a long line of vehicles, there was one that didn’t seem to fit the mold. Parked modestly next to a Trans Am or some other jerkmobile was a powder blue K, complete with its standard rear sloping suspension issues and sun-faded interior. The owner was a local eccentric who was an acquaintance of both Derick and I.
In keeping with my trade-mark foot-in-mouth-isms, I said something along the lines of, “You picked a funny place to park. Did you know there was a car show here today?”
I must mention that I’m notorious for saying before thinking. In fact, just a few days before I sat down to write this story I had congratulated a friend on his new job that he was actually turned down for. Mislead by a comment I read on a popular social networking site, I had assumed that he got the news he was hoping for but, I was wrong and had to suffer the embarrassment of another awkward situation.
The owner of the car corrected me by saying that his car, now over twenty years old was considered an antique to which he proudly displayed his membership certificate to the New Brunswick Antique Auto Club. What made the impact of this realisation even more dramatic was the way his backseat was cluttered with old magazines, grocery bags, and a snow shovel. Our automobiles were often in great need of a cleaning much like this one. On any given day you could find orange peels in the side door compartments, tea cups clinking together under the driver’s seat and from time to time, a collection of goat droppings, hay and wood shavings left behind from one of several animals Mom had picked up or delivered. Yes, we lived on a farm.
This was also the car that I decided to drive to town once, before gaining a driver’s licence. The details of this incident remain a bit cloudy. I all can remember was that Mom and Dad were away for the weekend and I really wanted to be in town for a party of some sort, so I more-or-less stole the car and drove in. Sadly, when my parents returned and saw their car missing they were a bit upset and I had to concoct some kind of lie as to how it got into town. In a way I’m kind of glad that I have blocked much of this story from my memory as just thinking about it now brings on that awkward feeling, like when you wake up from a dream and don’t want to fall back asleep because you know you were in some kind of trouble. When I think of my teenage years, that feeling is more or less the emotional soundtrack.
I don’t know what it is about Gagetown that I find so attractive but it might have something to do with its simplicity. Gagetown is a village located along the St. John River. It’s basically a one horse town. One bar, one gas station, a marina, and a whole lot of awesome history.
As I get older, I’m starting to notice that I’m a bit of a history nerd and a huge fan of small, rural towns and villages. I’m constantly fascinated by their unique histories, weather-worn buildings and homes, and the simple thoughts of what used to be. Like stepping outside my surroundings, a visit to Gagetown offers continuous satisfaction with its craft shops, it’s cable ferry, and its winding roads that run between apple orchards and abandoned farms.
There are no buses, no taxis, and no busy intersections. There are no traffic lights, no merging lanes, and crowds of booze hungry college kids.
Sometimes it’s just nice to see how others live.
Our next set of wheels was a Ford Granada purchased from my Uncle Stephen. Stephen and his husband Allan were often assumed by us kids to be well-off, having both retired early in life to travel the world. They always had nice cars and kept them in immaculate condition.
In my mid-teens I became fascinated with exotic European cars due in part to my close friend Derick who would play a heavy role in influencing my life. Derick was once a serious car aficionado and the only one of my friends with an interest in European automobiles. I think he even had a subscription to Road & Track magazine and that said something. Through him I gained a love for music, beer, and humor as well as an appreciation for foreign cars.
After witnessing a regular turn-over in Stephen and Allan’s vehicles of choice, and thinking that they could afford just about anything they wanted (this was before I had much understanding of finances), I decided to do my best to persuade them to purchase a fine set of European wheels. Specifically, something from Germany.
BMWs, Mercedes, Porches and Audis had become somewhat of an obsession for me and I recall taking great pride in my ability to spot them and list their stats for anyone who would listen. I talked cars regularly with my uncles and would often suggest they look into purchasing a nice BMW 535, stressing the fact that if they could, why wouldn’t they.
“Germany makes the best cars,” I’d say. “Why not invest in a fine German automobile? Those Germans, they really know what they’re doing. I can’t believe you guys haven’t bought a Mercedes yet. I mean, they’re right up your alley. Wow, Germany really have their shit together, huh?”
But the topic would quickly drift elsewhere and their seeming reluctance to share in my praise for all things German would eventually make sense to me. Years later, when sharing my enthusiasm with Dad about how cool it would be if Stephen and Allan had a BMW, he reminded me that this would most likely never happen as Allan was Jewish and lost the majority of his immediate family in the Holocaust. Open mouth – insert foot.
It seems to me we didn’t keep the Granada around for too long as it was no bigger than the Aspen and wasn’t really in the best of shape when we bought it. In fact, all I can remember about it was that the back floor had rusted through in one place and I could see the ground skipping past as we drove. It wasn’t long after we made this discovery that we retired the old girl and bought a brand new, top of the line Dodge Aries, also known as a K-Car.
This beautiful stretch of forgotten road is part of the old highway which ran between Fredericton and Oromocto. Now deserted, it is used primarily as a walking and biking trail despite it’s somewhat creepy past, explained here in this RCMP press release.
On Tuesday evening, October 19, 1965, John and Isabelle Felsing were out walking their dog, as they did quite frequently. They walked along a dead end road, the Oromocto Flats Road in Lincoln New Brunswick, which is near the riverbank. It was hunting season, and several hunters were in the area that day. But what happened this particular evening, was a most bizarre occurrence. John and Isabelle Felsing were shot and killed, simultaneously, with one #4 shot, from a twelve gauge shotgun. The person who shot the Felsing’s were standing between them and the riverbank, only fifty to seventy feet away, when they took aim, and fired. (Both shot on left side from riverbank).
Over the years, numerous suspects have been interviewed, and as a result of the investigation, no new leads have turned up. Even at this point in time, it is not known if the shooting was intentional or accidental. The only person holding this information is the one who committed the offence, or a friend who may have been hunting with then.
A mysterious X has been painted on the road, possibly marking the spot where this tragic event took place.
The Dodge Aspen. I remember being so excited to finally have one of those cars I’d only seen advertised in the back pages of National Geographic, minus the stylish exterior wood paneling of course. “This was a car that would turn some heads,” I remember thinking when it arrived in our driveway.
As memory serves, the only head turning this car brought us was when we pulled into the parking lot of St. Vincent de Paul church for Sunday mass. By the time the Aspen was in full service to the family, we had expanded our ranks, adding two new siblings to the fold and thus needed the larger troop transport.
Throughout my childhood and well into my adult years, my parents played on-again off-again roles as musicians in our church, playing for regular weekly services and acting as occasional choir directors. Our five passenger automobile became the Christian equivalent to a VW hippy van. And much like those peace and love flower children of the 60’s arriving at music festivals ready for an extended stay and a weekend of music, dance, and drug influenced philosophy, we’d pull into the church parking lot, our ride stuffed to the brim with music gear, instruments, song books, and a baby bag piled on top of four God-fearing kids. And our drug was the Holy Spirit (affects may vary).
I’m not sure why my memories of this car are so intertwined with those of my childhood Sunday mornings but for some reason, the two seem to go hand in hand.
As I hoped, this car definitely turned some heads and at times, we must have appeared to be traveling in some sort of Christian clown car. I’ve since chalked the whole thing up as a character building exercise and thankfully, we all passed with flying colors.
The Aspen remained in service to the Carters for quite some time if I recall correctly. But sitting here now typing my recollections, I’m not having much luck resurrecting memories besides the few I already mentioned. I guess it didn’t make much of an impression on me as I entered into my double digit years. My mind must have been elsewhere, drifting towards more fascinating interests like BB guns, biking, and trying to find the best fishing hole around.