What happened to the half-ton, tell me that!

We moved to Barrie in a blizzard, March 1, 1971. Bob Norman had rented us the bottom floor of a house at 128 Bradford St. ($95 a month). It’s now under pavement at Jacksons Toyota and across the street was Beaver Lumber, managed by Andy Malcolmson. The Shanahan’s lived one one side of us and The Whites (who owned Deluxe Taxi) on the other.

We were beginning our lives in Barrie. My sweetie had just secured a job with CKVR, on the very bottom rung of the ladder. And I had talked Ron Tyler into hiring me as editor of The Banner (which was the forerunner of what you’re reading now).

The point of all this is to tell you that we moved here from Kingston and I can tell you almost to the item everything we brought. That’s because we had it tied under blankets and it all fit in a borrowed half-ton pickup truck.

And now, two apartments and two houses later, we’re moving again.

The amount of clutter going to the dump won’t fit in a half-ton pickup.

I think in the 30-odd years we’ve anchored ourselves here, we haven’t really worked… we’ve just accumulated stuff. We must have made it a full time job just accumulating. I mean, where did 6,000 books come from? Well, I’ll tell you where 6,000 books are going… only 100 are on their way to what we hope is our last house.

So, I’m in the process of picking up items, looking at them, thinking about them, and putting them in boxes, either to head off to Barb Richards silver tongue at one of her auctions, or to sit on our boulevard as a ‘gift’ to someone else. Still, too many things are finding their way into boxes to be moved.

What’s in this old canvas bag? Oh my! It’s the rubber dinghy. Hmmm. Last used just after baby daughter was born, so that would put it in 1984. Dare I take it out of the bag? It’s likely to need a hole repair. Do we need the oars? Okay, this is boulevard material.

Let’s see… when did I last use my yogurt maker? Holy smoke… why do I have three of them? One’s orange (must have come from the 70’s), one’s gold (no idea where that came from) and one’s blue (I remember buying it at Consumers Distributing). I might make yogurt once we get moved and life slows down. Maybe I should keep one. But will I ever make yogurt again? What if there’s a depression and you can’t buy yogurt? Do I even like yogurt? Does anyone in the family like yogurt? Is there any family left to move to the new house?

These are my evenings these days. For weeks I’ve been moving like a bulldozer from room to room, pitching, purging, culling, sorting, boxing, labelling, taping. Frequently I think about my in-laws, two wonderful people with two little sons who moved here with nothing more than a satchel and started from scratch.

Maybe we should just take the bedrolls and camping equipment.

Now moving in and of itself is not news. It’s a continuum of activity and it’s happening to more people in Barrie than anywhere else in Canada. (1,744 new families unpacked thousands of boxes in our fair city last year!) all of this makes me feel like devoting a column to the inventor of cardboard.

What makes me feel a little special in all of this is the aura surrounding our move. We’ve sold our house to people who are becoming friends. Excited about moving to Barrie and eager to begin new lives here, they’re dropping off belongings every week, filling up the closets we’ve emptied for their use.

And at the other end of the scale, we’ve made new friends in the house we’re moving to. Ron and Karen have opened their doors and their hearts in the midst of their own cardboard box marathon. We’ve trooped through with cabinet maker Dave Baptist who’s created a few built-in book cabinets (what else!), Diane Robertson who’s going to replace some of Karen’s passion for pink with some of Donna’s bias for blue. And together we’ve enjoyed a glass of wine, a visit to their new home, discussions around “our” house and why the original builder did what he did.

We’re very fortunate. I know that.

Usually people don’t even know the names of the people they’ve bought from or handed over to. But we’ve made two new sets of friends in people who have the same passion for the old Caldwell farmhouse that our family has an enduring love of. Michael and Kathleen are as exicted about the history of “their” new house as we do of it. And since we’ve been so emotionally connected, it’s nice to pass it off to people who want to continue to open the door and say, “Come on in!”

With our move to Ron and Karen’s house, we know we’re entering their history. There is a flurry of phone calls and emails moving among all three families… “do you want the drapes that were here originally,” asked Karen generously one day? “do you want me to leave the wall of dried flowers in the bathroom?” I asked Kathleen. This kind of civility, which is based in a generosity of spirit benefits us all. It’s making our transitions connected and pleasant and I know when the dust all settles, all three families will be sitting down to a table together, at one of the three “new” houses.

It’s funny how life comes full circle, too. Our oldest kid, the one who wanted the bar of soap and the shower many columns ago, now has a half ton pickup. I’m tempted to notch each trip as we lug our “must haves” over to the new place next week. It’ll be more than one, I’ll bet. And there won’t be a blizzard (hopefully!)

And when Ron Tyler hired me at The Banner so many years ago, neither of us ever expected that the last house I’d live in would be the one he and wife Betty built as their last home.


Thanks, Ron and Karen. Thanks, Michael and Kathleen. Thanks, Ben… for the pickup.