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Ramsay Street Kids

For the Ramsay Street Kids.

        Having spent my childhood in Campbellton and looking back as I make a gradual stride past the forty-year mark I do so with fond memories. We had a ball us Ramsay Street kids. We were a poor bunch by today's standards. We Charlongs, Charettes, Steves, Savages, Taylors, Servants, Doucettes, LeBlancs and LeClairs playing out our little lives in our own little world. Those were days when trains ran past our home at 8 Ramsay heading to and from the Campbellton Wharf. It's quite a site seeing a train rumble by just a few feet outside your front window and it's a small miracle that no one got hurt.

        The beach running along Ramsay and Chaleur from the wharf to the point under the graveyard was the playground for most of us offering up a whole new set of adventures every day no matter what the season. You'd be amazed with the things a kid would find and drag home to an unsuspecting mother. Then there was Janet's Hill where we'd spend endless days and nights sliding on toboggans and crazy carpets under the lights from lower Patterson. Dozens of kids with nothing better to do than just have good old fashion outdoor fun. I still feel a little bad about sending Donnie, Dougie and PeePee Charette down the hill and into the snow-covered pipes. Why they did it I'll never know.

        In the summer we'd find ourselves traveling as far west as the 'Ocean Woods' making our way along King Street and heading up Prince William to the tracks. I can smell the ties as I write this and I can see Joe Boudreau behind the counter at Boudreau's Canteen. Candy from what seemed every corner of the world, a freezer full of ice-cream and of course cigarettes. Lots of cigarettes. Always a warm smile and fatherly advice from Joe on things like how to fold your money properly and with respect. You don't see canteens much around Toronto, mostly Beckers and 7-11s.

        The Riverside Park was different then. I remember asking the guy or girl on duty at the little ice-cream shop if I could check under the wooden stand for loose change that had fallen through the cracks. Finding fifty cents in those days felt like work well done. There were swings, slides, grass, teeter totters, half-buried upright tires and spring seats. There were softball games played under the lights with stands filled to capacity and Mike Woodwarth announcing from the tiny wooden box at the top of the stands. No one threw underhand like Ronnie Parker, had to be 120 milesanhour.

        I have a son now. A beautiful fun loving boy with a whole life ahead of him and friends of his own but in a way I wish he could have been there hanging with us Ramsay Street kids.

        M. Charlong


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