I remember turning down a street, going around a park, to get home. I think it was called Seyton Place. But I have no idea. The only way I can remember is not think about it. It comes into my head when I am writing about something else.
I can picture the route only at that moment. Not when I think about it. I can see the fence around the back of the baseball field. I can see myself driving. I don’t know why I remember any of it. It doesn’t mean anything, like a childhood hallway or smell, always there but not.
The Young Chronicles detail my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the initial eastward bound leg, I now head west from Newfoundland through the Maritime provinces.
June 19, 1983 Mileage 292 miles
Ride One: Sydney to Kelley’s Mountain, Nova Scotia. Red pick up. Drivers works for CN Marines, dives on wrecks and has seen many sharks, whales and trout.
Ride Two: To Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Green car. Red cap, beard, knives. (Wait: 3 1/2 hours.)
Ride Three: To Truro Turnoff. Car n/a. Boring history teacher, sweaty chin and shorts.
Ride Four: To Moncton, New Brunswick. Car n/a. Beers and quarter pound of cheese. Former Mountie, works as a bartender now. Has driven Sydney to Edmonton straight.
Overnight in Moncton. No hostel. YMCA closed. Only have $15. Walked around, followed by a silver Mazda camper pickup truck. Went to the A&W and left my bags there and ran after the camper as it sped away.
No one at the A&W was willing to put me up for the night. Went to the police station to report the stalker but didn’t have the license plate. Policeman: “I don’t know what to tell you.” Asked to sleep in a jail. He called The Sunset Inn and guaranteed that I would pay the next day. Front desk clerk told me of a guy who left a gold chain as collateral and then skipped.
June 20, 1983 Mileage 61 miles
Waited outside of Moncton for a long time, looking at their signs of community pride: Moncton, You’re Okay! Hey, Moncton, Picture This! 4H Thinks Greater Moncton Is Great! Welcome One And All From Moncton With Love.
A truck side-swiped a car just past me. The sideview mirror skittered twenty feet ahead. A bystander picked up for the driver. “Sir, are you all right?”
Ride One: Moncton to Shediac. Family car. Shared Moosehead beer and cigarettes. A painter by trade.
Ride Two: To Kouchibouguac National Park. Silver Honda sports car. Comical laugh. Loved Bach’s Variations. Anti-Wagner. Teaches education at University of Maine.
The following excerpts are from my journal from hitchhiking across Canada in 1983, heading out east from Toronto to Newfoundland and then back across to British Columbia.
Day Nine Mileage 1345-1507 (Includes PEI-Nova Scotia Ferry)
Ride One (Cavendish to Hunters River) Ford Granada. Nice old farmer. Talked about weather, bugs, gas, cars and tourist season.
Ride Two (Hunters River to Charlottetown) Beat-up brown pick-up. Sailing fanatic. Said that the “Hey Hey” song originated in Chicago.
Ride Three (Charlottetown to Georgetown turnoff) Old Chevy. Older woman with daughter and son. Many stories of getting out of the jailhouse.
Ride Four (Georgetown turnoff to Harbour Island Ferry Terminal) Sports car. A continual interrupter who talked about drugs, including snorting coke and shrooms in the school yard.
Ride Five (Caribou Island N.S. to Westville) Old green two-door. John Lennon look-a-like and attractive girlfriend.
Ride Six (Westville to Port Hawksbury) Company van. Terry, a native of St. John’s, an oil rig inspector. Very little conversation.
Ride Seven (Port Hawksbury to North Sydney, Ferry to Newfoundland) White Cougar. Clive on his way home to Newfoundland from Toronto. Very tired. Did some weaving and shoulder sliding. Prefers female hitchhikers “because you never know”.
I learned the following Newfie expressions from Clive on the ferry: Proper Ting (affirming a proposed action), Mare (tomorrow) and Nipper (mosquito). Ferry cost: $10
Day Ten Mileage 1507-2207 (Includes Newfoundland Ferry)
Ride One (Portes-Aux-Basques to Grand Falls) This terrain, flat and deserted, is much better suited to Clive’s wild style of driving.
Ride Two (Grand Falls to Clarenville) Old manual pick-up, slow on the upgrades. Very friendly moose hunter. Average moose gives 1000 pounds of meat. Stories of the Screwdriver Murders. Belief in capital punishment.
Ride Three (Clarenville to St. John’s with a stopover at Finney’s Pond) Small white pickup. Will and Bob. Very friendly guys took me fishing in mostly frozen pond. Bobby appeared in the film Orca. Will loved junk food. Truck couldn’t make it back up the hill. We had to leave the truck behind and hitchhike together to St. John’s with a drunk van driver who nearly had several accidents on the drive.
“When I was a kid…” Davis trailed off. “I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and I pulled down my underwear, and saw this brown stain. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I was six or something, come on. I knew I shouldn’t have done it. And I felt so bad. You have no idea. I didn’t want my mother to see. I pulled them back up. I wanted to wash them out, but I didn’t know how to do that. I changed out of them and went down to the laundry room. I was going to stuff them in the bottom of the laundry basket, and she was there, like this terrible magic. “‘What are you doing? You have to get ready for bed.’ I froze. I couldn’t even bend my knees. And she saw. She didn’t say anything. Nothing. She just looked at the stain. And then she left. She never said anything. I couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to go down for breakfast. I wanted until the last possible minute, hoping she wouldn’t be there. But she was. And still, she said nothing. And I went to school. She wasn’t the same with me after that. Or maybe it was me. She didn’t kiss me goodnight.” He stood up abruptly, looking like he needed to get sober. “Anyone need a drink? I need a drink.”