Faded Memories

Saskatoon, Canada

Flying over Saskatchewan we are struck by the darkness below. A few farm lights. Very few towns. Mostly wide open spaces!!

We arrive in Saskatoon at 7:30 PM. By 8 we are having a glass of wine at Cut, a downtown restaurant. It took a mere half hour to get our bags, rent a car, drive into the city, check in to our hotel and drive to the restaurant, finding a parking space directly in front. How is this even possible? Half an hour in Vancouver would barely be enough time to get out of the airport.

We have a late dinner with Don McIver and his new wife, Arlene. He is a law school buddy of Craig’s and was a party pal of mine at university. A connection we were not aware of at the time. Don catches us up on all the news of old friends. Most are married, with kids, good careers, and doing well. Typical prairie kids who went out into the world with their newly minted educations and, most importantly, prairie values.

The next morning we go for a run along the river. Blue skies, yellow aspens, the sun sparkling on the river, the iconic bridges standing stalwart.

A drive around the various places we lived while going to the U of S is more confusing than rewarding. I can’t remember the address of the run down old-timer I lived in in City Park. Can’t even really remember which street. The house on Bottomley Avenue where Donna, Linda, Cheryl and various others lived may or may not still be there. I don’t remember the address nor which block and none of the little old bungalows look familiar. This seems strange, given how much time I spent there.

We have better luck finding the apartment behind the gas station on 7th Ave. “Crest” apartments. I lived there in 1973 with K.B., Mae, Linda & Robbie. All five of us in a two bedroom apartment. Robbie & Linda in one bedroom. Us girls in the other.

By the time we find the little house on Main Street where Craig lived as a toddler and the house on Munro Ave where he lived as a school boy it is time to head out of town. But right around the corner is 2310 Wiggins Ave, where my friend Garth lived. We make a quick drive past. I spent time visiting Garth and his family in the early 60s … Craig & I wonder if we saw each other on the local playground?

We have travelled the world over and have rarely been lost, but getting out of Saskatoon proves a challenge. The first mistake is getting on highway #16 instead of #5, but I find a side road connecting the two, and for a while it is fun driving down a gravel road. Soon we come upon a paved highway that looks like the one we are seeking so we turn onto it. Ten minutes later we are back on #16, where we started. Back to the map and plan B. On to Colonsay and another left turn onto a road we hope will connect us to highway 5, which it does.

As a child I travelled this road every summer with my family on road trips from Kamsack to Saskatoon. What I most remember, besides singing along to AM radio, is that the roads were constantly under construction. The process of paving the old gravel roads took years and those years coincided with my childhood. The 200 mile trip would sometimes take up to 5 hours. No air conditioning to combat those hot prairie summer days. But it was an adventure! Saskatoon could have been New York. It had amenities like the A & W, miniature golf, pet stores, movie theatres. Not to mention the biggest draw of all: my four male cousins who lived in a big modern house in Greystone Heights. My sister & I adored those boy, not least because they seemed so urbane.

All these years later the memories are more than a bit faded and I am writing this, in part, to preserve what I do remember of the past. I graduated from university in 1975 and moved from Saskatoon two years later, in 1977, to L.A. I guess Saskatoon no longer seemed like New York!

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