Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Early Days of GPKer's

Hi Marty, some more observations and memories.

re Doug Garrett's swimming story-- the favourite spots for our Third Street Gang were(a) the Perras Quarry directly north of the Perras home on Third Street which was very close to home,and had a couple of logs for beginners to hold on to as we learned to swim on our own.

The only problem was Mr Perras handyman,a Mr Dupuis I think, who was told to keep us away and (b) on John Marcotte's farm. At one point the Creek which ran alongside Churchill near Springfield, cut under Empire to cross Murray between Young's and Houltons,then across Devonshire to Meander through The Country Club of Montreal, and the Big Creek which cut across Regent, Murray near Stan (butch) Newbury's house,through Stan and Teddy Charles property and then across Devonshire met up somewhere on Marcotte's farm.

That union created a pond right by the CN Railroad tracks near Preville. There we swam to our hearts delight in the buff ,ofttimes to the Chagrin of train passengers,rolling past. Further down the train line where it crossed Taschereau just south of current Brossard there was another swimming hole, but sometime in the late forties/early fifties a story began to circulate that a dead horse had been dumped in the pond and that rumour ended any swimming at that place.

The spot that I think Doug was referring to in LaPrairie was an in-ground pool that was part of the Boulevard Hotel and the admission fee in 1952 was ten cents if I remember correctly. We also used to swim at the St Lambert site but it was supposed to be only for residents of St Lambert and swimmers had to buy and sew on their bathing suit a CSA(community Sports Association) badge.

Since we kids from Greenfield Park were not able to buy those badges our only option was to sneak in. As Doug said there was a set of concrete steps leading down from a grassy park area between Riverside Drive and the seawall to a very large flat concrete pad at river level ,

On this concrete pad were wooden changesheds and cubicles for storing your clothes. If one could get down the stairs without any of the lifeguards(one blonde brushcut guy named "Butch" sticks in my memory) you could slip between the sheds and the seawall and get changed and start swimming. The only shortcoming was that once in the water, one dare not get out and walk around because we did not have the requisite badge on our swimsuit.

Not only did we have to avoid the scrutiny of the lifeguards but also some of the more "look down their noses at Park kids" St lambert residents who were inclined to squeal on us to the lifeguards.

One of those I remember was George Hodge. If he saw any of us he would go and tell "Butch and Butch would tell us to get dressed and leave. George was vigilant but dumb. If we knew that it was George who blew the whistle on us we would wait upstairs for him to go home for dinner and give him a mild thumping.

We had to have a couple of these "chats" with George before he learned to keep his mouth shut. The final swimming spot I remember was in the St Lawrence across Riverside Drive from The Country Club Of Montreal Clubhouse where the Seaway now is.

After the early morning batch of golfers ,us caddies who had not "got out" had some down time until the next rush of golfers at around noon. Always at the ready with our bathing suits on under our jeans, it was a simple task to walk across the "highway" down the river bank ,doff our outerwear and have a pleasant morning dip on a smooth slate bottom, always on the lookout however for the effluent coming downstream from La Prairie as Doug said.

Thanks John,
I remember those places

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