If you are not familiar with the classic Canadian show “Trailer Park Boys” Your welcome, I have just added a new one to your pandemic playlist. The “mockumentary” style show follows a group of people living in a fictitious trailer park in Nova Scotia. The show has always made me laugh in part because I was a trailer park boy!
My love of the outdoors started early in life. I grew up in a family who fell in love with the great outdoors after moving from Scotland to Ontario. Origins Post My parents, grandparents and an assortment of other relatives bought trailers and settled into life at Sandy Beach Trailer Court on Balsam Lake. I was a baby when my parents got their first trailer and so many of my summer memories revolve around the park. Most of my time was spent outside, the trailer itself was for sleeping. We fished, hiked, played at the park, swam, caught frogs, sneaked cigarettes and had a lot of fun. All said and done my folks had their place on the same lot for some 40 years prior to “retiring” from the park a few years ago.
I can’t say that my adventures growing up as a Trailer Park Boy were nearly as entertaining as Bubbles, Julian and Ricky but there are a few that stand out:
The Day I Drove Old Dixie Down
Growing up our main sea vessel was a 16 foot Peterborough boat powered by an 85 Horsepower Johnson outboard. My earliest memories of the boat are that it was already old! If I had to guess a vintage it would be mid to late 1960’s. Regardless of her age I loved going out in that boat. As a treat my Dad would let us drive a short distance sitting on his lap. I clearly remember hI’m asking me to take us to Flo’s Cove one morning. I moved to the front, waited for him to sit but he told me go ahead, just not to fast. Well that was a little like telling a dog not to bark. As soon as I got us up on plane I kept easing the throttle down and checking to see if I was yelled at to stop. Nope, in the clear. I decided to throw caution to the wind and just mashed the throttle down as far as it would go. Not expecting it my Dad stumbled a bit at the back and suddenly his favorite fishing hat blew off his head and into the water. “Andrew, stop the ^$#@ Boat” was all I heard and I complied (I knew my Dad’s tone and this was an angry bellow). In a panic I jammed the throttle back, completely going past neutral and into reverse at top speed. Alas it was too much for the old motor with a loud grind and a puff of smoke, old Dixie breathed her final air.
Frogging for Harry
My first foray into the working world started at the trailer. My needs were varied: fishing lures, candy or video games which meant I needed to make some coin. My first job was catching frogs. Fishing was a major past time throughout the trailer and frogs were considered a premium bait. Our neighbor Harry would always pay $2 a dozen and so we headed out to the docks, a few small ponds and even drainage ditches when it rained to catch leopard frogs. Poor Harry probably didn’t realize what he signed up for as every weekend we brought him loads of frogs looking for our wages. I swear on a given weekend we probably bought him 6 dozen frogs. We never thought about what he actually needed, we just tried to figure out how much money we needed for Pacman or a bag of Big League Chew and went to work. I mean if Harry fished 3 times a weekend I would bet that 2 dozen frogs were more than enough but to us $4 didn’t split well between the 3 or 4 of us on the crew that weekend. Harry never turned us down and always paid promptly but looking back now I am pretty sure when we weren’t looking Harry dumped those frogs back into the ditch before he left for the weekend. Nice guy that Harry.
Banned in Coboconk
The greatest words in Trailer language was “We are going to the Go Karts” There were two tracks near Coboconk that we could visit – one that was a racing oval and one that was full of twist and turns. Generally the go kart visits happened when we were on vacation for a week. On the infamous day my 3 cousins Colin, Cameron and Kenneth were up for the week. We were a crew - loud, rowdy and always looking for the next adventure or contest. One afternoon the 5 of us (plus our Dad’s and my Pop) piled into my Dad’s suburban and headed up Highway 35 to hit the Oval Track. As we waited around the BS started as we razzed each other about who would be the fastest (get the most laps in). Finally our turn came and we roared out of the gates (as much roaring as a 2.5 HP go kart can make) and started jockeying for position. I must point out that while we were all competitive, the rivalry between Cameron, Colin and Kenneth was intense. As we proceed around the track there was a little bumping. To quote Day’s of Thunder “Rubbing’s Racing”! At one-point Cameron forced Kenneth’s go kart close to a wall of tires and eventually rubbed him right off the track. Kenneth in a bit of a rage jumped out of his cart, pulled it out of the tires and jumped back in. The fact that he was blocked from going back the way he came didn’t deter him. With a glint in his eye he spun his cart around, ignored all yells from parents. Grandfather and track owners and proceed to drive straight across the grass infield to the other side of the track. With laser precision he smashed through the tires just in time to clip the side of Cameron’s kart for payback! The scene was chaotic as multiple adults ran out onto the track shaking fingers and cursing a blue streak at Kenneth and with a finger point worthy of a big league umpire, we were out of there! The ban was for life I think, although we just ended up switching our allegiance to the other track (Plus they had ice cream!) but the story lives on forever. Or at least every time the 5 of us get together.
Ah the trailer! Growing up I fell in and out of love for the place. There was a period where I wanted to stay home on the weekends, see my friends, go to parties and I resented going. Later I loved going up for a day to fish around the opening of bass, walleye and muskie fishing seasons. I even introduced some of my friends to fishing at the trailer Grasshopper When my daughter was born we spent more time there, even renting a cottage by the beach for a few weeks. Molly loved the trailer just like we did as kids.
The freedom, the parks, the beach and the other kids. She was quite sad when my folks told her they were “retiring” and occasionally, asks if we can go back (and we will!)
Trailer Park Boy