A kinder, gentler time we lived

Just a few of Sandy's favourite things he misses now that he's retired.

A kinder, gentler time we lived

Wringer washing machines, clotheslines, 45 RPM records, eight-track tapes and single-speed bicycles with coaster brakes; natural swimming holes along the Alouette River, rotary dial telephones, sawdust burning kitchen ranges, taking out the ashes, hitchhiking uptown from Hammond or downtown from Whonnock and playing hookey to go fishing; old beater cars that usually needed a push to get them started, the flashing amber and red traffic signal at 8th Avenue and Lougheed Highway when it was the only traffic light in either Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and Royal Columbian was our nearest hospital; commercial fishing seasons on the Fraser River when it was still a viable industry, two and sometimes three shifts per day at Hammond Cedar, intense rivalry between Haney and Hammond senior baseball teams;  the influx of Dutch families and Hungarian refugees in the early and mid-1950s, Klondike Nights and mill Christmas parties in the old Hammond Hall and Saturday night dances at the Pitt Meadows Hall with the Tippe Brothers and other old bands; watching the Indian Chief test pattern on 21-inch black and white television sets, rooftop antennas which had to be adjusted to bring in Seattle or Bellingham television signals, when you didn’t need a safety helmet to ride your bike, and it was still unheard of to ride your bike on the sidewalk; stuking peat at the McTavish Road farm, gathering cascara bark and pitching bales of hay; when the Lougheed Highway was only two lanes wide, attending hockey games at Queen’s Park arena to watch the New Westminster Royals battle the Vancouver Canucks in the old Western Hockey League, and traveling by Pacific Stage Lines bus to Vancouver; home garden plots that could provide most of what you needed for fresh vegetables and preserves, the broadsheet Gazette newspaper, the Haney and Hammond CPR railroad stations, and our five-man B.C. police detachment; loaded logging trucks on their way from local logging operations to either Maple Ridge Lumber or Whonnock Mill, when Maple Ridge’s planning department consisted of one or two people, the Maple Ridge fairgrounds on 8th Avenue, before the move to the Albion Flats, and the old Aggie Hall on 9th Avenue; Mr. Trerise’s Maple Ridge Bus Company, Saturday matinees at the Haney Odeon, the Swing Inn, the Saywright Funeral Chapel, Hub Motors at 9th and Lougheed, Scobie’s 8th Avenue blacksmith shop, the original Bruce’s Market in Albion, and the Ruskin General Store; Dutch farmers at Pitt Polder, dipping for oolichans from the log booms above Hammond Cedar on the Fraser River, Fournier’s old Hammond Hotel, Hammond Cash and Frozen Food Lockers, ice boxes, Emmerson’s Market, and the old juke box in the Haney Cafe; one-cylinder Easthope-powered fish boats and their familiar putt-putt exhaust; sleigh riding on the Maple Ridge Golf Course; the original Maple Ridge Senior Secondary School at 9th Avenue and Dewdney Trunk Road; aluminum coffee pots; the Alouette Inn; the Pacific Stage Lines bus depot, the Lougheed Highway Shop Easy Store, the 8th Avenue Super Value Store, Haney Brick and Tile, the Selkirk Street St. George’s Anglican Church, Foggo’s Hardware Store, the Maple Ridge Hotel, and, finally, Frank Taverna’s Barbershop.

These are just a few of my favourite things that no longer exist. I want to tell you that I miss them and that we truly lived in a kinder and gentler time when they were still around.

When my wife and I retired and traveled south every winter, it occurred to me that many of us work hard for many years to achieve nice homes and all the trimmings for ourselves and our children, then can’t wait until we retire, sell everything and live in a tin box in the desert.

For me, the message was simple: we accrue a lot of things throughout our working years that turn out to be not so important after all, and that progress isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.