Glory Days in Carleton Place– Larry Clark

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Glory Days in Carleton Place– Larry Clark

Memories of Carleton Place- Larry Clark

Early 40s to 1955, we lived at the intersection of Napoleon and Arthur St. which was just over a 1/4 mile from the railroad tracks. For more moments I can count, this was our playground-amongst and amid the numerous variety of trains that were parked adjacent to and a mile beyond the stockyards, sometimes stretching almost to the 11th line. Of course, there were cattle cars which themselves were pleasurable to be around but by far the most interesting were the troop trains which were sidelined there on occasion. When I saw the train arrive I would grab my comic book collection and head for the tracks to find many willing customers for my used comics. I would soon have sold out of comics and then would offer to run to the corner store (Woodward Ave) to purchase refreshments (bars and soft drinks) which I then sold to the troops. (I should be a millionaire by now?) Perhaps not, because they sometimes paid me with funny money (foreign)-I hardly knew the difference-until that first time I tried to use it to purchase something-when the store owner straightened me out.

On one such occasion, I very nearly managed to get myself in trouble because of one such coin (large foreign) with which I was somewhat intrigued. I was examining the coin  as I headed for home and while turning it around in my fingers and dropped it in the deep grass between Lansdowne and the tracks. I searched the area fruitlessly, frustratedly; and cunningly, I decided I could easily resolve the situation! Marking the approximate location, I ran home to procure some matches and I lit a small fire in the grass. Up until that moment the only fires I had experienced were the one in our wood stove and I was soon aware that this was different. It was spreading rapidly and I was not able to put it out. Oh Oh, The trouble I’m in-I ran for home to get help (to hide)-we didn’t have a phone but in any event I was saved as a group of men (firefighters?) appearing almost out of nowhere, soon had the fire out. Later, I sneaked back to search again; never did find that coin but then I didn’t experience the displeasure that my actions should have created. 

This other bit of exercise was not approved of by my mother, in fact, in no uncertain terms I would be expressly forbidden to play on/near the tracks. This admonition I would hear as I went out to play (on the tracks by a circuitous route). What she couldn’t see couldn’t hurt her-right (not like when I would be playing hockey across the road, with my jacket removed-she could see that). Boxcars provided the greatest entertainment as we could climb on top:  run back and forth the length of the train, leaping across the spaces between the cars, looking through, skirting the windows of the cupola then down the ladder. Doing this, we had a great view and were usually aware of any railroaders in the vicinity, allowing us to scramble down and out of sight as the occasion required.

The greatest interest was in the railroad cars carrying the detritus of war. Broken and damaged aircraft, tanks and discharged artillery shells etc. The shiny brass shells were the greatest interest. There was variety of  sizes- some at least 2-3 feet in length. I do believe that a couple of them (or more) fell off the train so we ended up having to dispose of them.

Ray Paquette-I vaguely remember the house which was located beside what we called Dibblee’s Quarry at the end of Napoleon where it joined Lake Park Road (the 11th Concession of Beckwith). The quarry featured in our boyhood because we often swam in it in the early spring before the Mississippi warmed up.

Joann Voyce-The quarry is now part of Mahogany and has a fountain in the middle of it.

As we got older and perhaps even more daring we would abandon the train and enter the bush (cedar) where we knew that the hobos hung out. This would be the bush (mostly cedar) between Fraser’s swamp and Dibblee’s quarry. They were in a small clearing where they had constructed a circle of stones around a campfire. From them, I learned of an easy way to start a fire (not that I needed a lesson) which was to take some of the cotton (soaked with oil) from the axle bearing boxes. The idea was to take a little from several boxes so as to not create an overheating hazard to the axles. I later learned that all these actions were rather frowned upon.

We very much enjoyed this hideaway and quite often brought food to be cooked and in the case of beans-ate them cold; sometimes sharing with the odd hobo that came along-as time went on not very many. We spent a lot of time in the trees (Tarzan was popular then) and from time to time we had some mishaps but we were usually able to keep things covered up (well at least as much as Tarzan would have done).

Thanks Larry!!

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

One response »

  1. I believe the house beside the quarry was occupied by the Bamford’s. Their daughter ? walked by our house almost daily, enroute downtown CP. I can’t remember her name and remember even less about the other occupants of the house.

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