My Caledonia Street Days

We lived in Barrie, Ontario, for seven years, I think. We lived on Penetang Street. It was somewhere close to where it changes to Collier Road. I don’t remember much of those early years. I only remember my school was Codrington Public and the teacher might have been Mrs. Flynn.

After Barrie, we moved to Niagara Falls, Ontario. I remember I attended James Morden School for my first year here, which was for grade six. The only teacher I remember from there was a Mr. Block.

Living on Caledonia Street put James Morden School right in my back yard. Getting to school was real easy. I just climbed over the fence into their yard. They informed me I couldn’t touch, or climb, the fence.

There was a tree in my backyard. One branch came way out into our yard. I could just reach it, climb up onto it, and walk the branch to the tree and jump down the other side. So far, so good, I didn’t reach, touch, or clinb their fence. They soon discovered my arrangement, and told me, “No more. I couldn't be using a tree on school property.”

Out came some rope. Properly placed on the branch, I could run, grab the rope, and go over the fence without touching it or the tree. That lasted for a while until they caught on. I was again advised that this was unacceptable. As it turned out, the tree was rooted in their yard. I ended up walking around.

It was at this time in my life I met my future wife. We became such an item, that everyone just knew someday we would grow up, get married, have a family, and have that little house with a white picket fence. Guess they were partially right. I don’t ever remember a white picket fence, or any particular fence for that matter.

I spent the one year at James Morden School and then a couple more at Princess Margaret School. In those days Princess Margaret was just grades seven and eight. Click here to read a poem written in grade seven

I have to thank my Princess Margaret school-mates for a lot. You see, I was just a little guy. I was small in stature. You would never know that now. I’m carrying two hundred and thirty pounds, but that’s today. In school, I was small.

When the football teams were picked, I would be the last one left. When we played a game, they would say, “Hike.” Not a second later, I would be flat out on the ground. I guess you can figure out how long I lasted at that.

There was always someone who was bigger and stronger than me (a lesson to remember in life). I was often picked on by some of these bigger guys. I now thank them. I knew I could never beat them, so I learned how to out-think them. I could often talk them into leaving me alone. I was also part monkey. I would climb the goal posts and sit up there until they finally gave up and went home. They would try to shake me down, throw things at me, but I could just sit there and go with the flow. After they left, I would go home. They would never come up after me.

While I lived on Caledonia Street, I also delivered newspapers. I took on a Globe and Mail route covering Drummond and Dunn to the hydro canal and to McLeod. It wasn’t long before I had taken on another route. In the summer I would do any route my manager, Doug McLeod, asked me to take on. Any carrier in the city could go on vacation and I would deliver their route. I hated to collect though. I had it arranged I would do the delivery and the carrier would collect upon their return. I took on any and every route I could.

The only problem with doing these Globe and Mail routes was they were in the morning. I didn’t really enjoy getting up so early, but I did it. I would rather get up early in those days than have to rush home from school to do papers, or in the summer, leave Dufferin Islands (a local swimming hole) to rush home to do papers. In those days the Evening Review was that, an evening paper. One of my friends, I forget whether it was Paul Mooney or maybe it was an Ostrander, not Paul, but I forget his first name, had a Review route. When we hung out together we would have to hurry from what we were doing to go and get his route done.

During the school year I probably would have been late with the evening papers anyway. It sometimes took a long time to get off that goal post.

I also had a dog then, Wags. I thought it was a Cocker Spaniel, but am told it was a Border Collie. The dog would get me up in the morning and would go with me on my paper route. I never had to put a leash onto her, she always followed voice direction. At the beginning she would attack the papers and rip them apart after every time I threw one from my bike. It took some training and patience on my part, but she caught on to leave them alone. After that she was fine. Actually it worked out great. She learned the papers belonged on the porches, because I would show her that’s where it belonged. Instead of her tearing the paper apart, and if my toss missed the porch, she’d pick it up and put it there, right on the porch. I don’t remember what happened to Wags, or when.

I had a customer on Weaver Street (now Hagar Street) that had a window the same size as their front door, right beside the front door.

One morning I threw the paper and it skipped on the porch and hit the bottom left corner of the window. The window smashed. I stopped and placed the paper in between the two layers of glass so the owner could guess I was responsible. I was surprised it didn't wake them up. He was a teacher at Westlane School. After school I went to their house to confess my error and arrange to get the window fixed. Here's their side of the same story.

At about three o'clock in the morning they were awakened by a large crash. After getting up to investigate the noise, they found their largest living room picture had come off the wall and was on the floor. Well at least they knew what the noise was.

I come along around six thirty and smash their window. They didn't even get up. They thought maybe the picture now fell over or some such thing.

When they go to get the paper they see the window. They never even had a thought that I, Harvey, might have done such a thing. They thought I put the paper in there just to be funny. He quizzed all his students in each class at school that day. He figured it was one of them. He figured one of his students was mad at him for something. I understand he apologized to all the students the next day and told them what really happened. After I explained what I had done, I think he was actually relieved to learn it wasn't one of his students. He agreed to pay half of the replacement cost even though I said I would pay for it all. After all, it was my fault. He said they really didn't like the glass there anyway. They would replace it with wood and put a planter on it. It's still that way today. I helped pay for that.

I had a house I delivered to on Frederica Street. In the summer they left the porch window open. I would throw the paper right into their porch and usually land it right on their mat in front of the door.

One morning the window was closed just two inches. I hit the glass with the paper on those two inches. I paid to have that one fixed too.

Another good friend, probably my best friend for many years here at that time, was Joey Gulliver. It became a saying in our house for my mom to ask if Joey had a cow. She would send me to the store for milk and somehow I’d always have to stop by and visit Joey on my way (he lived right across the street). A trip to the store that should have been ten minutes was probably more like an hour. I'm sure sometimes more, but my mom always knew where to find me.

Joey, Paul Mooney, the Ostrander, Paul Ferguson, and I spent a lot of time together during those years. A lot of fun and it was all innocent fun. How things may have changed.

From delivering newspapers I purchased my first bicycle. It was a Sturmey Archer three speed, bright gold in color. I think it was a CCM. I could go anywhere with it. I would ride it to Sherkston Beach, to St. Catharines to meet my dad after work (I’d ride home with him in his truck), and off for many adventures and experiences. One time I did get lost and thanks to a nurse on her way home, she stopped and led me with her car back to something I recognized so I could get home. I don’t know who she was, but thank-you to her.

My mom was mostly a stay at home mom. She never actually had a job she had to report to on a regular basis. She was pretty much at home when we three kids would come in. Her's is another story though. Go here to learn about my mom.

Living on Caledonia street in the nineteen sixties and early seventy's was my time of growing and growing up. I'm sure I was a mischievous kid, but in those days it was all in fun. No vandalism. No taking that which wasn't yours. I don't think we even locked our house doors. We were just energetic kids having fun, and mostly outside. No computers, no game systems, nothing that separated us from our friends. We just grew up in innocence and fun. I didn't have a cell phone either.

From Caledonia street I ended up going to Toronto for year, then on to Kitchener. But that's another story.

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Harvey Gordon