|Quick! Take a picture!|
In Southern Alberta, in the sixties, the country roads were more a suggestion than an actual fact.
Sketchy at best.
When conditions were dry, they stretched, bare and passable for miles.
When conditions were wet, Heaven help you.
Gravel was non-existent.
Drivers used such words to describe them as: Greasy. Slick. A blooming nightmare.
The county employed men and machinery to maintain said roads.
Actually catching sight of one was right up there with spotting a unicorn.
Definitely something to pass on to your children.
“Kids, there was a time when I saw . . . the road grader!!!”
But occasionally, their presence (rather than the lack of it), would be felt.
Let me explain . . .
My next older brother, George was driving our Dad’s late-model truck.
I used to know the make, model and year.
Now all I can remember is: It was yellow.
Moving on . . .
He was heading out to see friends.
Or just coming back from seeing some friends.
Both activities took him along the same stretch of road.
He topped a rise.
And there, completely blocking the entire road, was a pile of gravel.
A large pile of gravel.
Pushed there by the road grader.
Or dropped there by a passing gravel truck.
Then abandoned while the mastermind took a much-needed coffee break.
Stopping was out of the question.
George was left with two choices.
And two seconds in which to make one.
Hit the gravel.
Or hit the ditch.
He chose the gravel.
The truck engine instantly began to make loud, distinctly un-muffled noises.
Well, that would apply here.
He stopped and got out.
The manifold had been neatly and surgically separated from the rest of the muffler system.
Fortunately, that was the extent of the damage and George was able to drive home without further incident.
To face the Wrath of Dad.
After a few minutes in which:
1. George’s driving was severely called into question.
2. A diatribe against the roads and road maintenance in general.
An appointment was made to get the muffler replaced. I went with Dad to facilitate this final decision.
We were driving down the main street of Milk River.
Now, normally, Milk River is a quiet place.
Conversations while standing on the street corner are entirely possible.
There was one going on as we passed.
Between, believe it or not, several of George’s friends.
Dad and I smiled and waved.
Then Dad shifted the truck into neutral and floored the gas pedal.
The truck made a loud, distinctive and courageous ‘BLAAAAAT’ that echoed off the buildings and shattered glass.
Okay, I’m making up the ‘shattered glass’ thing, but the rest is true.
The whole street turned to look.
Put the truck back into gear.
I stared at him.
This was the Dad who, very recently, had been berating my brother for - and I quote - ‘horsing around causing vehicle damage’.
Dad obviously knew what he was talking about.
The acorn definitely hadn't fallen very far from that tree.