September has been a busy month around Small Town as townsfolk are scurrying around getting ready for Winter. There’s canning needing to be done, firewood that needs to be chopped, and the outhouses need to be maintained.
In this month’s issue, our town gossip, Deborah Poirier tells us about how one jalopy’s joy ride ended in tragedy. And I give my first restaurant review from Uptown. So, I hope you enjoy reading this edition.
Car Gets One-Way Ticket to Impound
It was a dreary fall evening when some teenagers came across a gruesome discovery. As they were walking in the woods they came across a body lying in the pathway.
One of them had a cell phone. They made the 911 call. Fortunately, I heard it on the radar and headed that way so that I could get my story.
I made my way to the wooded area where the body was discovered. The police were there and the yellow tape was already up. I made my way to the police and asked them a few questions to see what had transpired here.
Word was that the body had been there only a few hours. There was fur all over the place so it was hard to tell the exact cause of death. As I moved closer to the scene, I discovered that it was a dead deer
They were still looking over the scene, but it looked like they would need forensics to come to the scene and process the area for clues. In the meantime, the body was sent for an autopsy.
Farmer John did the autopsy and discovered that the body was struck by a vehicle. After the scene was processed, we began the search for the killer. After having all the cars in town go through the lineup, we finally found the car that had caused this heinous crime and incarcerated it for drunk driving.
During the year, this case finally made it to trial. The car was found guilty of all charges and the jury’s verdict was that it be impounded for life.
Uptown: The Fancy ‘Burb that has Everything
Well, I was fixing to take the Mrs. on a really special day to a hog-tying contest in Small Town but my teenage daughter, Myka Litoris, insisted that the wife may like something more civilized. She told me about this tea house in Uptown that she thought her Mama would like.
So I left early this morning with the Mrs. to get to Uptown. Now, for those readers who don’t know – Uptown is a fancy suburb of Metropola (a really big city). Uptown is filled with all those rich city folk with indoor plumbing.
Anyway, we went to the fancy tea room my daughter wanted us to go to. As we entered the fancy place, I held my wallet in my front pocket tightly knowing this place would hurt it.
It was definitely fancy enough with all sorts of antique dishes – the type that Granny would display in her china cabinet.
Then they brought over a menu of teas that were as long as my arms if they were laid end-to-end. After a lot of looking and talking, the Mrs. and I decided on some fruit teas. The waitress brought the teapots over and got them steeping over a candle.
Then we looked at the menu for food. While the Mrs. was “oooo’ing” and “aw’n” at the food – I was silently screaming at the prices. Some of the items I’d never heard of before – just what is a Coquille St. Jacques? (pronounced “crock-kill saint jack.”)
Anyway, while the Mrs. was taking pronunciation lessons from the waitress, I was eyein’ the booze menu. Cause Lordy! I needed a drink!
When the desserts came, I knew my pain of feeling like a logger in a china shop was almost over. Wait a minute! I am a logger! Anyway, here’s some photos.
Then the bill came. I’m still consoling myself but I am glad that the Mrs. enjoyed herself. Fellas, your wife is priceless, a few dollars spent showing her a nice time goes a long way. And I do mean a long way. On the way home, she picked up some t-bone steaks and beer. So, I got what I wanted out of the deal too.
Summertime is always a flurry of activity here in Small Town with the city folks wanting to come and visit our quiet town. This month is our busiest month since Christmas of 2016 and we have 7 articles! Whew! I had to wipe my eyebrows with a kerchief just thinking about all the work that went into this issue.
In this issue: Aunt Blabby reassures the town pervert, Deborah Poirier updates us on the explosion that started the forest fires, Margo Prentice shares a story about bee stings, and there’s a group discussion about lumbersexuals.
So I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter!
Local woman wears fake glasses to look smarter
by Mike Litoris
All the residents of Small Town gasped in surprise when Sarah-Anne Snarkley appeared on the main street wearing fake glasses yesterday. Snarkley, who is described by locals as a person whose IQ is lower than the posted speed limit at a dead end, said she wanted to impress the new resident in town.
This reporter had to inquire, “What new resident?”
“The tall, handsome fella over there,” she said as she pointed towards the street.
I looked around but I couldn’t see anybody.
I said, “I’m not sure what you’re pointing at.”
“The man with the dog over there,” she said as she pointed towards a dog.
I started laughing and said, “That’s a lamp post with Sheila Dunham’s dog relieving itself on it!”
Snarkley got all huffy and walked away from me. She really is as dumb as a post!
Dear Aunt Blabby
“Dear Aunt Blabby, I can’t enjoy sex unless I am wearing a lumberjacket and work boots….and is it wrong that I married my wife because she is flat as a board and had never been laid? Sincerely, I’m a lumbersexual and I’m ok”
Lumber jackets are warm soft n fluffy and help to avoid chafing best thing really cuz who wants chafing during sex right? As for loving your wife cuz she’s flat as a board n never been laid, well that’s better then being a board with nails that stick in ya whenever ya do the dirty, not to mention the splinters…..does she stand in the yard with her arms out and let the cats climb her?”
Explosion in the park
by Deborah Poirier
All of a sudden, we heard a big explosion. It looked like it was coming from the National Park. It was summer and the park was full of campers. I followed the fire team as they made their way to the site. I had heard that the Fire Chief was having an affair with the town’s only arsonist and I wanted to get the scoop on that story. I was bitterly disappointed when nobody would dish out the details on the affair and instead I have to present this story.
As we arrived at the explosion site, it was packed with families trying to get out. I saw a perfect occasion for interviews.
I was lucky to speak to the bear family as they were running for cover. They were the perfect interviewees as they were close to that campsite.
They brought their cubs to have them experience camp life. They showed them how to scare people and take the food that was left behind. As they were eating, they were startled by a big boom that came close by. They thought it was a shotgun blast. They were worried that hunting season had started early.
As they were scurrying their cubs to safety, they turned around to see the campsite a few blocks away engulfed in flames.
I then had the opportunity to speak with the teenage chipmunks. They were enjoying their loud music and partying when they heard the blast. They were curious so they had to take a look.
The fire was blazing high, but they were able to see another family still around the campsite. They recognized the moose family. They assisted them to the entrance so they could be examined by paramedics.
I also had the opportunity to briefly speak with the moose family as they were being checked by paramedics. The head of the household said that he started the campfire with toothpicks and branches that he found nearby. All was going well when all of a sudden his son farted in the direction of the campfire and that is how the explosion happened. They did not know what hit them.
by Margo Prentice
When Billie Bob the three-year-old son of Sara ran through the door screaming, Sara was alarmed.
“Bite me, something bite me. Look see my head.”
He was playing outside when he came running into the house.
Yes, there was a definite bite on his ear. Sara saw the stinger and got him to sit still long enough to pull it out with tweezers. He had never been bitten before so she didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t very long until his ear got bigger and bigger.
It got so big that she could see the light of day through it. He wouldn’t let her touch it and after a short time. He said, “Don’t hurt Mommy.” But did he look strange! Looking lop-sided and with his small stature, his ear made him look like a garden dwarf. Sara could not contain her laughter.
He looked at her with his dark brown eyes, and shouted, “No laugh at me Mommy.”
She just could not suppress her laughter. Sara gave him anti histamine and sent him to his room and told him to lie down on his bed. When he came back into the kitchen the ear was still big and at the point where the bee stung him, was a point! She started to laugh again.
Sara had to go to the store so she put him in the car seat and off they drove. She put a hat on him but the big, red pointed ear just stuck out of the side of his head. In the store, he was well-behaved, but oh my, the stares. She overheard, “Look at that little boy with the deformed ear. Or so cute he looks like one of Santa’s elves.
She brought him home and still had to hold back laughing. He wasn’t in any pain.
“I’m not a bad mother, am I?” she thought.
Sara decided to dress him in green and put the cap on him. Then told him to sit in the front yard rockery and wait for their neighbour who would be coming home at any moment.
“Now just stand still, point you head with your new big ear showing and when Mr. Ballski drives by, wave at him.”
She felt like she had a living little elf in my front garden rock garden. When Mr. Ballski drove past he slowed down looked at my elf son, peeped the horn and shouted, “Very funny. ”
To this day even though Billie Bob is all grown she can still close her eyes and see her little boy-child with the giant see-through ear and smiles. Sara often wonders if she was a bad mother.
Town Honours Technology Inventor
by Mike Litoris
Twenty Small Towners showed up at the Town Hall today to honour Raymond Samuels. Samuels is known in these parts as the man who invented toilet seat warmers for outhouses. Samuels is a roly-poly, down-to-earth farmer in his mid-50s. We spoke to Samuels to get his reaction.
“How does it feel to be honored by the town?”
Samuels, “It was a surprise!”
“What gave you the idea for the toilet seat warmers?
Samuels, “I got inspired by having to use the outhouse during that -40C cold snap last winter. I knew I had to do something once I felt Jack Frost nipping at my butt. My wife suggested that perhaps I should warm up the seat with a hot water bottle from now on. That’s when I started to work on Operation Hot Buns a.k.a toilet seat warmers.”
“Many people are dubbing you “The Prince of Cheeks”. What do you think of that title?”
Samuels laughed and said, “I’m okay with that even though it’s cheeky.”
Two Charged in Mailbox Theft
by Mike Litoris and The Old Bastrich
There was utter chaos when the town’s only mailbox went missing last Monday. Frank Hardy was yelling and pointing at where the mailbox was supposed to be located. The mailman was whinin’ and cryin’ and snottin’ at the nose because he wasn’t sure where to pick up the mail now. Panic ensued when Jordan Alexis did his weekly nude jog passed the scene. The police were quick to respond to this emergency with kleenex boxes and hot chocolate for everyone. Afterall, chocolate puts people in a good mood.
Once emotions were placated, the police began to search for clues. They grew suspicious when they followed the trail of letters back to the Pinkpumps’ house.
The elderly twins, Prissy and Penelope Pinkpumps were born in the house the day before the stock market crash of 1929. It seems the twins heisted the mailbox after finishing a crate of jellied raspberry cordial. They were tired of going outside to mail their letters so they decided to bring the mailbox home.
The elderly twins have been charged with the theft of a mailbox and thinking while intoxicated. The mailbox has been returned to its rightful place and the mailman’s purpose in life has been restored.
by Mike Litoris
Small Talk is where I interview people at a local bar – before they get sent to the drunk tank. This month’s question focuses on the term the big city folks in Metropola are using: Lumbersexual.
“Lumbersexual? How do they deal with all those splinters?”
“Sex with lumber? Them big city folks sure are strange!”
“What a man does in the privacy of his own home with a 2×4 is his business!”
With great appreciation, I would like to Thank our contributors:
Annette Joyal as Deborah Poirier, Margo Prentice, Gord Pollock as Terry Floyd, C J Jackman Zigante as Aunt Blabby, Anne Bierworth as Annatooshus Belle, Frances Hamlin as Franny Farkle, Ron Kearse as The Old Bastrich, Jessie Blair as Mike Litoris.
Welcome to the January 2017 issue of The Small Town Times. In this month’s newsletter, Mike reports about a special event for The Ladies Home and Rifle Club. Our town gossip, Deborah Poirier, walks us through a mysterious car accident. Then we wrap things up with this month’s edition of Small Talk. Happy reading!
The Ladies’ Home and Rifle Club
The Ladies’ Home and Rifle Club met at the home of Mrs. Verna-May Litoris on Saturday, January 14 for their weekly meeting, and to celebrate Ms. Mary Watkins birthday. Ten club members, plus Mrs. Shelley Barnes who was visiting from nearby Small Town First Nations Reserve, two neighbourhood dogs, and a wild turkey hen were present.
Everyone joined in singing the club’s song, Nearer to Guns are We, and recited the Club’s motto: Find your own recipe. Mrs. Bonnie King performed an interpretive dance about the frenzied pace of gardening and canning season which was enjoyed very much by all.
The ladies then gathered in the first field behind the house on the Litoris property for gun target practice. This makes it a total of twelve target practices so far in 2017. During target practice, the wild turkey hen started chasing the dogs around creating a ruckus until the dogs accidentally knocked Mrs. Litoris down.
Everyone enjoyed the splendid turkey dinner which was provided by Mrs. Litoris that evening. Bonnie made a birthday cake beautifully decorated with pink and white frosting. A small figurine of a woman in a fancy ball gown carrying a rifle was the cake topper.
The next meeting for the Ladies’ Home and Rifle Club will be this Saturday, January 21 at the home of Mrs. Shelley Barnes. Mrs. Barnes will be demonstrating how to knit your own BINGO dabber cozies.
Visitors are cordially invited to The Ladies’ Home and Rifle Club.
Silent Night – Not!
A terrible accident happened in our little hometown, with three vehicles involved. They had someone in custody who was sleeping off the alcohol. Mon Dieu!
The ambulance had already taken away the other three victims involved in this crash. I did not have an opportunity to get their stories as they were too injured to speak. I will need to track them down later.
I looked around but all I could find were the clowns from the firefighting team and the police. I thought this was very strange because they usually just stand around doing nothing. I decided I needed do my own investigation.
I finally got to connive my way to see the evidence at the scene. I examined what was left of the vehicles and the tire marks at the scene. The first strange thing I noticed was that there was only one set of tire marks on the road and what looked like animal tracks running the opposite direction. How was this possible?
While examining the vehicles, I noticed that one of them did not look normal. It was freaky-looking. It had no tires, but reins attached like it was pulled by something. The seats had no seat belts on them and there were no doors or hood to this car. We looked in the bush for the roof of the vehicle but could not find anything. What a strange type of car this was.
I needed to speak to the individuals involved in the crash; my first person being the strange-looking person arrested. People told me to be careful of him as he is a fat, jolly, bearded joker all dressed in red. He constantly laughs and takes nothing seriously. Obviously, this was the person who was taken into custody because he was drunk!
I will also need to interview the other individuals involved in the crash to get the whole story. It looks like I have my work cut out for me in the upcoming days.
Small Talk is a new column where I interview people at a local bar – before they get sent to the drunk tank. This month’s question is:
“What’s wrong with our education system?”
Deborah Poirier, Town Gossip – “Sex Ed classes had no real tips. I had to learn about sex from experimenting in University.”
Terry Floyd, Professional Anarchist“It’s all propaganda! The real knowledge is in what the government doesn’t want you to know! That is why my café hosts a weekly Conspiracy Theorists meeting at 7 pm on Wednesdays. Beer is half price for those attending the meeting.”
Gertrude Smith, Power Napping Instructor– “Mr. Brown’s so boring I keep falling asleep in her class.”
With gratitude to our contributors:
Annette Joyal as Deborah Poirier, Tabetha Farnell as Gertrude Smith, Gord Pollock as Verna-May Litoris and Terry Floyd, Jessie Blair as Mike Litoris
Welcome to the December 2016 issue about Christmas in Small Town. As you know, Small Town is located in Maple Leaf Township, in Canuck County, somewhere in Canada. Our town really gets into the holiday spirit and we want to share that with you.
We start by introducing the latest issue of Outhouse & Home magazine. Then our reporter, Margo Prentice has a story for you. We then have a special photograph series sprinkled throughout the issue about how people in town have decorated for the season. Our new reporter, Annatooshus Belle, tells us her favourite memory of Christmas in Bancroft. Franklin Fogg reports about new holiday traditions in this town. Small Talk is a new column started by yours truly where I interview locals about hot topics of the day. Deborah Poirier reminisces about her Christmases in Cheticamp.
She always tells the best stories. She’s our correspondent, Margo!
It was July, the middle of a heat-wave when the Mall store managers had their first meeting. Christmas promotions needed to be finalized. I held the position of promotions manager. Not one of us was in the mood to talk about Christmas. It was a scorching hot July day, yet best time to start the process of the holiday sales. Wholesale shopping by each merchant had begun and advertising outlines set-up.
It was my job to hire and interview employees for Santa, his elves and wife after Halloween. The Santa from the previous years was contacted and would be returning. He was a dear old soul and the perfect person to play the role of Santa Claus.
I planned to have Santa’s entrance into the Mall as a parade (a small version of the bigger parades Eaton’s held in cities all across Canada.) The parade had children in costumes, a band and clowns walking through the Mall. Santa would ride on top of the back seat of a small redVolkswagen convertible. His red and green costumed elves were to throw candy to the children watching the parade. Workmen were busy setting-up Santa’s castle. A photographer is hired. Days on the month are put aside for special children to see Santa.
Then the unthinkable happened! A tearful young lady rushed into the Mall manager’s office. She sat down; pulled a tissue out and through her tears told us that her Father had died suddenly of a heart attack! Her Father was to be our Santa! For so many years he had been the delight of all and perfect for the job. He did not have the booze breath that tended to be an occupational problem of some Santas. He knew his role well and could relate to the children. Santa was dead! A new Santa had to be hired right away.
I decided to put an ad in the paper for a new Santa which I put in the personal column of the local newspapers. Nov 16, 1984, read Personal Column: “Santa if you are out there please give me a call I have speak to you it’s very important, love Virginia.” Phone 433-4367. A reply from an interesting candidate came. Bill was his name and he had been a rodeo cowboy and a rodeo clown. However, he also was a professional entertainer who sung country songs in bars.
“Did a lot of ‘gigs’ in my life,” he said. He told me that he had stopped drinking long ago, that working in bars he had seen what too much booze could do. Not too tall and a little portly, he had long hair, sparkling eyes and an engaging smile.
His grooming left something to be desired; I suggested he could have the job if he had some grooming done. Bill was given an account at the drug store for shampoo, toothpaste and after shave to put on his beard. I had his hair and beard trimmed by one of our mall beauticians. He was pleased with his new look.
He was a delightful man. He sounded and looked like a real Santa. When he walked from his dressing room down the hall to his castle he would wave a call out to the children with a ho, ho, ho.
Bill considered being Santa just another ‘gig’ he took this one seriously. He was a professional who never strayed from the role as long as he was dressed in his Santa outfit. You could hear him coming and leaving, saying with a wave for everyone “Ho! Ho! Hello boys and girls! Merry Christmas to all.”
Bill admitted that he had been thinking of finding himself a woman and that he had spent too many years alone. The new grooming and job gave him renewed confidence. The Mall manager decided to hire an older woman to be Mrs. Claus. Bill sure fell hard for Mrs. Claus; it was love at first sight! She felt the same way about him. Romance was in the air in Santa’s castle even before the children arrived!
Santa’s parade was a great success! Outside the snow was blowing and it was 25 F below. There was magic in Santa’s castle that year. I received many telephone calls about this wonderful man! Parents dropped into the Manager’s office say that Bill was perfect as Santa! Maybe this man was Santa Claus in disguise as a cowboy!
A group of blind children came to see him he was not told that the children he would be seeing that day were blind. The children ran their hands through his beard and hair, smelled him and gave him tender kisses. He left his station after they had gone and it was the only time he stepped out of his Santa character. Bill walked into the office with tears streaming down his cheeks. He had been deeply touched by these very special children.
The following summer on a sweltering July day, he came by to say hello with his new wife the former Mrs. Claus. He said being Santa was the best ‘gig’ ever and that he and the new Mrs. were settling in the country to enjoy the rest of their days. As he left that hot July day he waved and yelled, “Ho! Ho! Hello boys and girls! Merry Christmas to all.”
This month we thought we’d bring you some of the ways in which Small Towners have decorated for the Christmas season.
We’ll start with one of our sponsors, Coop de Jour. The Coop de Jour is a one-stop shop for all your chicken coop needs.
Annatooshus is a new correspondent but not a new resident to our town.
My Favourite Christmas Memory
As I crept down the creaky old staircase of our farmhouse Laddie became even more excited and headed to the front door. I could see out the picture window that we had fresh fallen snow through the night and that meant I’d have to make my own path to the barn. I made my way to the kitchen, let Laddie out who immediately ran to the closes tree and I turned to start the fire and get the house warmed up before my Mom had to get up and start her day. With her Diabetes, some mornings were tougher than others and were becoming more frequent lately. I didn’t want this to be one of them, especially with Christmas so close. I tried to be as quiet as possible and thankfully the kindling started quickly. With the fire started, and the airtight drawing, I made my way to the coffee pot and impatiently waited for the first cup to drip through. I shivered while filling a five gallon pail with hot water to take to the barn with me. Ten minutes later, I drained my cup of liquid life, zipped up my winter coat and opened the front door to head outside into the cold. My Dad came around the corner into the kitchen just then with a “Morning Squirt!” and habitually checked on the woodstove. I was 20 years old but Dad still called me Squirt with affection and I couldn’t help but smile back. “Morning Dad, coffee’s ready, I’m going to feed Stardust.” as he nodded he understood and headed for the coffeepot.
One thing about growing up in Bancroft, Ontario the weather can be quite moody. I discovered just how moody trying to make my way through the new snow that was over the top of my boots while lugging a 50 lb pail of water. Its days like this that make you wish for a Floridian address! I knew once Dad had his coffee and breakfast he would get the old 1970 Fargo snow plow going and make short work of last night’s storm. It was slow drudging across the yard to the barn but halfway across the yard our old Husky Keeshond dog came out of his kennel and barked his greeting to me. “Good morning my Pepperoni! Did you ask Santa for all this snow again?” I received a happy bark, bark, bark! in reply. Of all my animal friends, Pepper absolutely loved Wintertime!! We tried to keep him in the house but he was miserable with it being so hot so we had a kennel for him and a thick bed of straw and hay mixed and he was a happy thirteen year old dog! When Dad would plow the yard, Pepper would stand at the top of the snow bank waiting for Dad to come whistling up the driveway and cover him with snow…all you could hear was a happy bark! bark! bark! Silly old dog!
As crisp and cold as it was, it warmed up immediately when I opened the front door and was greeted with a “buff buff buff!” I saw my beauty with her ears perked forward happy to see me. Stardust nickered her greeting as I approached her stall. Her long black whiskers were covered in ice as I placed my hands on her muzzle to melt the icicles, her soft bay fur coat was so thick that I couldn’t resist and she quickly warmed my freezing fingers. “Good morning my FuzzyWuzzyNickerbum!” as we shared our daily hug. Her wise gray eyes and sunken temples showed each of her twenty-six years and her returned hug reassured that she loved me as much as I did her. After our moment shared of affection I was off to fetch her breakfast of hay while she drank the now lukewarm water that would warm her belly after a cold night. After a few bites I led her out to the front of the barn where she immediately dropped and started to roll in the snow. I laughed at her antics because nothing is more comical than watching a 1500 lb horse roll in the snow, four legs in the air and letting out several grain farts , ha-ha! When she was done, I put her back in the main part of the barn where she could come and go as she pleased all day.
I made my way back to the house with her feed bucket to make her warm mash of oats, sweet feed and bran with a few carrots and apples mixed in. She loved the molasses! Oh how I loved my mare! As an ex-Toronto police-horse, a Thoroughbred/Tennessee Walker cross, she had tons of spunk and personality and she was my best friend! My Dad received her as part payment for a bulldozing job he’d done for a neighbor in 1973. I am the youngest of four children and only four years old at the time and sadly I was the only kid who wanted her. For many a year after, my Dad would marvel at how he never expected the “old quiff” as he fondly nicknamed her, would still be with us. He would often mention how smart she was and swore she could count because she always knew when one of our cows went missing. This was our sixteenth Christmas together I marvelled and thought to myself I hope we have many more to come. Unfortunately two years prior we had hoped she would foal but sadly that didn’t happen and we all agreed we would not put her through that again at her age. So each moment was an even more cherished moment from that point forward knowing I would not be able to keep a piece of her with me for years to come.
As I entered the kitchen, the warmth of the woodstove sent my cheeks into a tingling frenzy, it felt so good I wanted to hug the stove! By this time, my Mom was up and sitting at the table having her breakfast after taking her insulin. She was having a good morning, thankfully! I started to mix Stardust’s mash and mix Peppers kibble with some warm water and leftover gravy from the night before, while sipping at another cup of coffee. That’s when my Mom asked me “Annie what do you have planned for today?” I had the next few days off of work and I replied “Not a whole lot Mom, just the usual, I have to clean out the barn, bring in a load of wood and then possibly some last minute Christmas shopping.” That was her cue! She had a list of groceries and things for me to pick up that would keep me busy most of the afternoon traveling from Bancroft to Bird’s Creek to Paudash. “Ok, Mom, I’ll get to it after I finish my chores.” I headed back to the barn stopping by Pepper’s kennel to give him his warm breakfast and several scratches of affection. One thing about Winter, you work fast when you’re outside. And you learn to bring in a lot of wood so you don’t have to keep going back to the woodshed!
Later that day as I was getting ready to drive to town and run the errands Mom had asked of me, my Dad pipes up “Since you’re going to town why don’t you head out to Graf’s Feed and buy your horse a bag of sweet feed for Christmas, here’s $20.00!” I was in total shock! My Dad never did that before. He’d help buy her the basics but any “treats” were my total responsibility and with minimum wage at just $5.25 an hour, well it could be tough for extras sometimes. “Really Dad?! That’s the best Christmas present, thanks!”. And off I go to Bird’s Creek in my old Ford pickup.
The town was busy being just two days before Christmas with everyone hurrying to finish their shopping and the lovely thing about small town life, most everyone was in a happy, friendly mood. Bancroft only had a population of 2400 then and as quaint as it was, it could sometimes be challenging. It was nice to be home again and to run into familiar faces, people asking how your folks are and wishing us a Merry Christmas and they genuinely meant it. Close to three hours later I was finally done and heading back home to our farm on Bay Lake Road.
I was still smiling about Dad’s gesture and how much it meant to me that he remembered a present for Stardust too. When I got home and drove up our driveway, I saw that my cousin was visiting and his truck was parked in front of the barn doors. My first thought was that he must be borrowing some hay. I parked the truck and headed toward the barn. As I approached I could hear Mom and Dad talking with my cousin and I squeezed past the truck through the doorway. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust from the bright sunlight to the darkened entrance but the first thing I noticed was Stardust outside looking in the back door excitedly and whinnying at everyone. Before I could even say hello or ask “What’s going on?” I heard it! At first my brain didn’t believe my ears but then I heard it again and my eyes focused on the cutest chestnut colt I’d ever seen in my life! I was stunned beyond words and then I saw my Mom’s face and her gigantic smile! “Merry Christmas Annie!” I heard my parents say in unison! I was shocked, stunned and didn’t know what to say other than “Oh my gawd! Really?!” My parents and cousin were all chuckling at my surprised response and the fact that they had me totally fooled this year. The Belgian/Quarter Horse cross colt was just a baby of not quite six months, he had a large blaze down his face, with one white sock on his back left leg. He was so beautiful and affectionate and I couldn’t believe he was all mine! And the cutest little nicker!! I was in love instantly!
I learned a lot with raising baby Shadow, Stardust and I loved him very much. It was a different bond with him than I had with Stardust but I loved them both equally. Our family shared many laughs and a few tears that next year when my mare suffered a bout of colic. Thankfully to the wisdom of some great local farmers and Dr. Fischer in Eganville, Stardust pulled through. We marvelled at how Stardust became Shadow’s adoptive mother and taught him what a young horse needed to know. And she disciplined him when he was naughty the only way a mother horse could. My Mom got to see me train and teach Shadow to trust and when it came time to see if he would allow me to ride him, he did without a single buck! That’s when I knew he had my heart and I had his. By the time my Mom passed on, I was in college then and my mare passed away from old age a few years later. She’d had a good long life and lived almost an extra decade with Shadow’s help. Stardust was 36 years old when she went to Rainbow Bridge. Unfortunately, I was unable to keep Shadow and had to find him a new home.
I was always an easy kid to please at Christmas and birthdays because of my love for animals but this particular Christmas will stand out in my memory for all my days. You see, what made it even more special was that my mom was terrified of horses. Even though she was raised and chose to live on a farm all her life, she was always afraid of horses after being kicked as a wee girl. And of course, me being her youngest child and I was absolutely head over heels in love with horses from an early age of three. I still remember my Dad’s friend’s horse King, he was a big old, gentle draft who loved children and the first horse I ever sat on. Looking back I know it was hard for my Mom and I know I scared her a lot with various injuries from learning to ride on my own over my childhood. But she loved me enough to let me spread my wings and find myself. That Christmas of 1989 will always remain my favorite memory because of the sacrifice my Mom and Dad made to make me happy. My Mom’s health started to deteriorate the following year and she was passed away just four short years later in the summer of 1993. To know that she loved me that much will forever warm my heart.
Shadow has a good life living amongst a herd of four other horses and is loved and well taken care of. He hasn’t been bounced around from home to home thankfully and I can visit when I come home to Bancroft from Toronto anytime. I was able to visit Shadow this past summer and he remembered me as soon as he heard my voice and came straight up to me from the field. He turned 27 years old this past summer and looks amazing! Its bittersweet when I visit him but I know in my heart he will always be mine and I his. I was his first human to trust wholeheartedly and I see the loving impact I had on his life.
This memory is from 27 years ago and it will forever be my favorite and I will always remember what my parents did for me and especially my mother’s love and the delighted smile on her face that December afternoon.
A now a word from our foreign correspondent ’cause he’s from the other side of town.
Christmas Canceled in Small Town
On November 30, local denizens reported a strange visitation on the grounds of the First Seventeenth Century Puritanical Church on Brimstone Street. Several witnesses reported seeing a suspect described as looking like a “skinny green bigfoot wearing a red coat and stocking cap” approach the church and nail a notice to the front door. The notice read:
“The observation of CHRISTMAS having been deemed a Sacrilege, the exchanging of Gifts and Greetings, dressing in fine clothing, feasting and similar Satanic Practices are hereby FORBIDDEN.
The Christmas holidays thus having been summarily canceled, a calendar of events has been drawn up for the month of December to wit:
December 5th: Krampusnacht–a boisterous celebration of winter featuring a mischievous scary/funny goat-demon who brings naughty children pieces of coal and bundles of sticks. There will be a torch-light procession. a Krampus costume contest, and a schnapps tasting. There will also be a appearance by Krampus’ lady friend Perchta, who distributes small silver coins to the good children.
December 17-23: Saturnalia–the festival of the Roman god Saturn, which will include a town-wide potluck supper to which the Mayor’s office will contribute a suckling pig. There will also be a masquerade ball and gift exchange and a five day work holiday presided over by Sherriff Gunther Toadstool as the Lord of Misrule.
December 21: Yulefest–A celebration of the winter solstice under the patronage of the Norse god Odin, a white bearded fellow who rode his eight-legged horse through the sky to visit households and distribute gifts. There will be a municipal tree trimming and burning of the yule log and decorations of holly, evergreens, and mistletoe. Town children will fill their boots with straw and grain in hopes to prompt a visit from the yule goat, who is another bringer of gifts.
December 25: Dies Natalis Solis Invicti–the birthday of the unconquered sun. A slightly belated solstice celebration, this is actually the birthday of two Roman sun gods, Sol and Mithras. Mithras was said to have been born of a virgin on a rock in a cave attended by shepherds, and to have been sent by the supreme god to offer salvation to humans.
December 31: New Years Eve–the twelfth and final night of the celebration of Yule. The town will have fireworks and hard cider at midnight.”
The “skinny green bigfoot” may have cancelled Christmas, but the spirit of joy, community, and revelry lives on.
Small Talk is a new column where I interview people at a local bar – before they get sent to the drunk tank. In keeping with the season, we asked people to share Christmas memories.
“My favorite memory is decorating Christmas ornaments with my boys when they were little. ”
Nick, the town drunk, says he hasn’t had any memories since 1997.
“When my brother and I were still very young (I was about 2). My stepfather spent a fortune on Xmas gifts. My brother and I opened each one. Then, instead of playing with any of the toys, we went into the kitchen and played in the lower cupboards banging on pots and pans.”
Here’s a photo:
“Christmas is crass commercialism, man! That’s why I’m offering 50% off the festive nog.”
Deborah is our Gossip Columnist. This month she talks about Christmas in Acadia.
Christmas in the Country
In the community of Cheticamp
People are going out at the beginning of the month of December to get their Christmas tree so that they can start to decorate and make it look like Christmas around the house. Stockings are hung in the living room and waiting to be filled by Santa.
Everyone is getting ready for the holidays, going out to the filled-up stores to shop for their Christmas gifts.
Then on Christmas eve, we all go to bed early in hopes that Santa will arrive and fill our stockings with gifts and put gifts under the Christmas tree. We leave out milk and cookies so that Santa can take a snack before he continues to other houses.
Then on Christmas morning, we all wake up to all the presents under the tree. We spend time with our loved ones and open the Christmas gifts that Santa has brought us.
Then we would join with our family members and have Christmas dinner together reflecting on all the great things that happened in the past year.
And as we grow old (and broke), we can still remember how the holidays were and take a look at it through a different type of lens.
Our final look at how locals are celebrating the holidays is a photo of the tree at The Anarchist Cafe owned by Terry Floyd. Terry says he’s a professional anarchist.
When we asked Terry about his holiday decorating choice, he said, “It’s the most joyous festively brainwashed time of the year! People come to my place for the nog not the decorations!”
We would like to Thank our contributors:
Margo Prentice as herself, Anne Bierworth as Annatooshus Belle, Annette Joyal as Deborah Poirier, CJ Jackman Zigante as Corajean, Tabetha Farnell as Gertrude Smith, Moonstorm White as Franklin Fogg, Gord Pollock as Terry Floyd, and Jessie Blair as Mike Litoris and Nick the drunk
This here’s the very first issue of The Small Town Times. We’re Small Town’s number one source for news and events. I hope you enjoy it!
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to find out what’s new in town before your gossipy Aunt Martha does.
Congratulations to Verna-May Litoris, for being named Woman of the Month for the magazine, Outhouse and Home. She is the wife of lumber mill worker and Editor of The Small Town Times, Mike Litoris.
In her interview, she talked about her work, life, and Mike or as she says, “the reasons I need aspirin”. Outhouse and Home has a county-wide distribution which makes Verna-May one of our local celebrities now.
Our Annual Hooping Contest was on July 21. Jim Murdoch won again this year for the second year in a row. The judges are always impressed with how he can hoop that truck tire. The runners-up: Brad Johnston’s horse who can swing that hula-hoop around its hind leg, and a polar bear who can hoop a car tire around its arm.
A bonfire and Corn Roast Potluck social was held on July 30. Buddy French called out the Square Dancing. Good times!
Yours truly, Mike Litoris, was on the cover of Men’s Health magazine for the July issue. My advice for healthy living: Plenty of fresh air, chopping wood, and a good wife who does everything else.
The Beer Belly Jug Band performed at The Anarchist Café on August 9. Six people attended…their largest audience ever!
August 12 was the monthly barn dance at Archie Bird’s barn dance out just off Highway 9. Archie says if you want to be put on the invite list to send him a letter. Please address it to A. Bird, RR#2 Small Town, Canada.
Upcoming Events in September
The Agricultural Fair will be between September 9 -12. On Friday, we’ll have hay rides, a corn roast and for dessert there’s some homemade pies from the Ladies’ Home & Rifle Club.
The Annual Tractor Pull will be on Saturday. Last year’s winner was Mike Litoris’ good wife, Verna-May. She pulled her tractor 20 feet in 1 minute! It looks like she may have some stiff competition from Ida Thompson this year. This event happens rain or shine.
On Sunday, we’re having a cattle auction and we’re hoping that you’ll feel moooved to attend. Monday’s for cleaning up after the cattle auction. We’ll need as many volunteers as possible to clean. Please bring your own shovels. We hope to see you there!
• Caution: Please don’t accept any Facebook requests from me. I just don’t know what I’m going to do or say next. I got depressed when I found out that I was friends with myself on Facebook. You’ve been warned! -Ida Thompson
• I’m looking for the riding lawnmower I lent to Buster Brown last week. Buster, return the damn thing! –Jim Murdoch
• Wanted: somebody with a pickup truck to help me pull a lawnmower out of a ditch. Contact Buster Brown.
Jessie Blair as Mike Litoris, Gord Pollock as Verna-May Litoris