When we were home for the 90th anniversary reunion of Chapleau High School, we were unable to find the time to bring back our childhood by going to play at The Big Rock, located in what is now called The Peace Park on the banks of the "back" as opposed to the "front" river.
However, I did manage to get a photo of it, and asked Harry "Butch" Pellow, one of my oldest friends, to share his memories of The Big Rock, an important place in our lives when we were kids growing up in Chapleau.
Thanks Butch. Those were the days my friend.
Here is Butch on The Big Rock.
|Butch and I before heading to The Big Rock|
By Harry 'Butch' Pellow
The Big Rock was just that.
Emerging from the coarse grass and somewhere from the centre of the universe this seemingly giant granite boulder sat waiting for us to creep up on it as the sun rose on any weekend on a spring, summer or fall morning. Beside it, the ground was exposed by the regular weekend scraping of heels, the rock’s movement due to frost heave in the winter and erosion along the edge of the hillock. In this recent picture you can still see exactly what I mean and all that after almost 65 years. (See THE BIG ROCK above)
hideaway from bandits or the law, and where we would shoot, maim, wing, or capture and tie up our adversaries whomever they might be. It was a dry gulch, a mountain top, a cliff, a destination, a point of arrival and a lookout. In fact it would be anything we put our mind to making it out to be.
In the early mornings as the sun rose low from the east with dew on the grass it had a crystalline appearance that quickly faded as the shadows shortened, and by evening it was dark and foreboding. We hid from passersby and calls to dinner from whatever origin in the east of downtown and from the river to lower town.
It was our place, and we shared it only infrequently with new friends or others who we would invite in because we needed reinforcements for the cavalry or our posse.
There were the usuals including Morris, Evans, Schroeder, Bolduc, Stein, Hong, Fink, Pellow, Cachagee and other guys too; and even on occasion a few girls who for now will remain nameless, but they would saunter in to see what was going on and wanting to be part of the intrigue and never at the early hour we were there.
Dawn Goldstein enjoyed special status and was part of the usual group.
It was our time, and it remains a mystery to me today that I would even be able to have this incredibly vivid visual and olfactory recollection of the cool, fresh morning air being carried on the breeze over the windy, weedy, Nebskwashi River with its sparkling water creating a glare over the rock that was blinding.
|Me with "Nanny" my grandmother, all set to be the sheriff|
There were other rocks too, other players, and other intrigue, but it was always the cowboys and the other guys; the good guys and the bad guys; and until I saw “Shane” I don’t recall anything meaningful but the out of doors in the movies of the day, and never really seeing the kitchen or parlour of a good guy’s family home. For sure they lived somewhere besides behind a big rock, but in those days at the big rock we really didn’t care.