by Kellie Underhill
Whooping It Up in Blackville
When he woke Sammy walked out to the main road. He looked left and right wondering which way to turn. To the left he saw a church on top of a hill. To his right there was a bridge and on the other side he could see a couple of buildings, one with a neon open sign in the window, the other with pictures of ice cream cones on the outside. Food! Sammy made a beeline for the bridge.
Inside Big E Chicken Sammy ordered a sub sandwich, which was a new menu item. He sat at a table by the window and tried to look inconspicuous, but none of the staff or other customers seemed to take any particular interest in him. He relaxed and enjoyed his food. Maybe the danger had passed. When he finished he went next door to the ice cream stand for a cool sweet treat and then sat on the patio basking in the sunshine. A teenaged boy with longish hair and baggy clothes was also sitting on the patio. “Excuse me,” Sammy said to the boy. “But I wondered if you could tell me where I might go around here to meet some people.”
“Dunno,” the boy mumbled, eyeing Sammy warily.
“Oh,” Sammy frowned. “So there aren’t very many people around here? No parties or hangouts or anything?”
“Dunno,” the boy shrugged. “Depends, why you want to know?”
Sammy hoped he wouldn’t have to get into it, but the boy wouldn’t help until he knew the whole story.
“Cool, someday I’m gonna hitch all over and see the world.”
“Yeah, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” Sammy said. “Right about now I’d give anything just to figure out who I am and find my family.”
“Yeah, I guess,” the boy said sounding unconvinced.
“So, where can I go to meet a bunch of people?”
“Well, everybody’s doing that Dungarvon Whooper Festival today,” the boy said. “There’s some stuff going on in the park, and there’s a play tonight.”
“You don’t know about him?”
“No,” Sammy shrugged. “I really don’t know a lot about anything anymore.” The boy explained how a man was robbed and killed in the logging camps and how his ghost could be heard to whoop.
“A priest came and blessed the ground, to quiet him down,” the boy said. “Some people say it worked and he never whooped again, but some people say it didn’t work and you can still hear him whooping back there.”
“That’s a little creepy.”
“Yeah,” the boy agreed. “I think the play’s going to be pretty cool. They’ll tell you the story better ‘n me and there’ll be some whooping going on.”
Sammy didn’t think he was connected to the Dungarvon Whooper and the idea of a whooping spirit gave him chills. If he ever hoped to sleep again he didn’t think he should see that play. He thanked the boy and went back to the park.
More Molasses Please
Many people were at the park. He recognized some of the activities he’d seen at the Scottish Festival including the tossing of the Clachneart. He pivoted and headed in the other direction to avoid getting caught up in that competition again. The emcee came over the loud speaker to announce the woodmen’s competition, and Sammy wandered over to watch men compete using tools from the days of the Dungarvon Whooper.
At the Bread ‘n Molasses tent many people had baked loaves of bread. Judges were slathering pieces with Crosby’s fancy molasses and tasting to determine the best. The winner was a girl named Tammy. She jumped up and down with excitement at being chosen. Her eyes seemed as big as saucers and her long brown hair was tied in braids. Sammy thought she was beautiful. He worked up the nerve to congratulate her on the win. “Oh thank you,” she said, giving him a hug. “You’re very sweet.” He blushed. They spent the rest of the afternoon talking about baking and Blackville and browsing all the arts and heritage displays.
“Are you going to the play?” Tammy asked as the sun set.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Me neither,” she said. “Do you want to come to Nine Pine’s for nachos?”
Nine Pine’s Nacho Night
They entered the Nine Pine Shell lounge and the first thing Sammy noticed was the photographs of local truckers all over the wood walls. The lounge was packed and they squeezed into a table in the back corner. They ordered plates of chicken and beef nachos. The music was old country and many different people sang. After they ate someone came around selling 50/50 tickets and Tammy bought a bunch.
“The other half goes to local people who need help,” she said. “If I win, I’ll donate my half too. They helped out my sister one time.”
That was one of the things Sammy liked about Tammy. Yes, she could be a bit tomboyish, but she had a heart of gold and a generous spirit. He enjoyed spending time with her and as the night progressed and people started to get up and dance, he asked Tammy to waltz. They glided across the floor like they were one person. When the song ended, the performers said goodnight.
“Well, we’d better see about getting you a room,” Tammy said as she tweaked his nose. “They’ve got the Fisherman’s Rest Motel rooms right here. I’ll be back in a sec.” And then she bounced off, pigtails flying.
Outside room number two, Tammy handed him his key. “Well, I guess this is good night,” she said.
“I guess so.”
“If you’re ever back in Blackville . . .”
“Yeah, I know.”
He looked at the ground and kicked at the dirt. They shared an awkward silence. “Well, good bye then,” she said leaning in quickly to kiss him on the cheek and then turning and running away. “Don’t forget me,” she called back. Sammy touched the place on his cheek where he could still feel her lips. “I won’t,” he whispered.
Big Feeling Moose
Sammy emerged from his room in the morning feeling rested and alert. He went into the restaurant and ordered breakfast. Many of the truckers whose pictures were on the wall were also having breakfast. They were a friendly bunch and one named, Marcus, agreed to give him a ride as far as Doaktown.
Marcus dropped Sammy off in front of the B & L Restaurant, blew his horn and drove away. There was a moose lazing around on the front lawn. “Hello moose,” Sammy said. “Great day, eh?”
The moose ignored him and Sammy tried a different approach. “I wonder if you could tell me if there’s anything to see or do here.” The moose remained perfectly still and didn’t say a word.
“Okay, then,” Sammy said. “Sorry to have disturbed you. Have a nice day.” No response from the moose.
“Sheesh, some people,” Sammy muttered and went inside.
“What was that?” the waitress asked as she led Sammy to a table.
“Nothing, just talking about the moose outside.”
“Oh, Bruce,” the waitress said. “Yeah, he’s a big star around here. People love him. In hunting season we put a red hunting vest on him so people won’t shoot him.”
“Well, that explains why he’s so quiet, I guess,” Sammy said. “He’s big feeling.”
“Uh, yeah,” the waitress said. “And he’s also a carving.” She giggled and took Sammy’s order. He didn’t know if she thought he was just a funny guy, but Sammy felt pretty silly and embarrassed.
Welcome to the Glendella
After lunch he walked across the bridge and through the village of Doaktown. It was the kind of quaint place where everyone he met said hello and all the houses had welcome wreaths hanging on their front doors. He passed a Salmon Museum, golf and country club, restaurants, a Pharmasave store, a flower shop, and more. Beside Taylor’s Motel he saw a huge house, with pillars and balconies and massive windows. It was like an estate from Gone with the Wind. He couldn’t go by without knocking on the door.
“Welcome to the Glendella!” a cheery woman exclaimed. “Come right in!” Sammy stepped inside and looked around. There was so much to see in this home!
“Would you like a tour?” the woman asked. When Sammy nodded she led him from room to room talking about the house and all the collectibles inside. Her passion for her home was contagious. He marvelled over the handcrafted fabric ceilings, didn’t dare touch any of the Victorian Dolls and angels, and enjoyed learning about the antiques. After the tour the woman invited Sammy to have a cup of tea. Once seated her interest turned to Sammy. “Have you been travelling long, dear?” the woman asked.
“Yes, I’m afraid so.”
“Will you be staying in Doaktown or just passing through?”
“I haven’t decided.”
“We have rooms available at the Motel next door,” she said. Sammy nodded.
“So have you been taking in all the attractions? Seeing all the sights here?”
“Well, no, not really. I had lunch at a nice restaurant, then I walked through town but I didn’t go in anywhere until I got here.”
“Oh my dear! You need to get out and do some things, you’ll miss all the fun!” she laughed. “There are all kinds of activities happening with the Salmon & Fiddlehead Homecoming Festival. There’s pageants, jamborees, movies, dances, breakfasts, craft sales, an ATV run, carnival games, a petting zoo, Bingo, BBQ, a canoe run, fireworks,” she paused to take a breath, “and so much more if I listed it all you’d miss the whole works! Now go on, skedaddle and have some fun!”
… to be continued …