In my last post I wrote about the group of kids who grew up together in North Surrey in the aftermath of WWII.
The flush of prosperity that the rest of North America experienced in the late 1940s passed over North Surrey for some reason. Until the kids were old enough to drive they entertained themselves fishing, swimming, learning box and to smoke cigarettes and getting into mischief along the banks of the Fraser River.
The bond they formed was quite something. Any one of them would risk his own life for another. And so it was in the summer of 1947 when a group of them were playing on the bank of the Fraser River my mother did what all of the kids were strictly forbidden to do. She went out onto a log boom and – as she had been warned countless times – slipped between two logs.
She couldn’t swim and had never learned to hold her breath under water. I would not be here today had my “Uncle” Joe not ignored his own safety and raced across the logs to where my mother fell through. The only sign of her was a clump of wet hair stuck to the side of a log and Uncle Joe grabbed it and pulled my mom to safety. Even though she couldn’t swim my mother might have been able to pull herself to the edge of the log boom and get her head above water. But the lump of wet hair that was used to save her life held her in place beneath the water and she would surely have drowned had it not been for Uncle Joe’s heroics.
Because of the community’s economic struggles many of the kids went to work exceptionally young. Uncle Joe was just 14 years old when he borrowed money from his parents and bought his first commercial fishing boat and licence. He also helped out with the boat launch yard his family owned on the bank of the Fraser River.
About 20 years ago Uncle Joe tore down an old shack on the boat launch yard and built himself a beautiful bungalow with huge windows along the sides of the house overlooking the Fraser River. I have spent many evenings there watching the harbor seals crest and the eagles and shore birds hunt.
Last weekend I was down at Uncle Joe’s place and was charmed by the lovely garden he has created and filled with vintage charm.
The antique mangle isn’t just decorative. It is still put to use wringing out towels and blankets that come off the boats wet.
Another antique still in use is the large antique winch is used to wind up the garden hose.
A small but working antique lighthouse perched in the rock garden.
An antique wood duck decoy floats around the rock pond.
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