Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude

Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude
Where Great Intelligence Goes To Be Insulted

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Retracing Baloney Bob's Magical History Tour

No, I am not picking on Unca Bob again. I am thinking today of Baloney Bob - possibly the only marksman better than Yours Truly in the world! :)

Light years ago I used to look forward to weekends the way only young people can. This time of year that meant hunting trips, camp fires, cigars and BOOZE - oh gawd, lots of BOOZE!

My wife and I had turned a corner of sorts at that time in our lives. Like many couples when we were young we were so poor we didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. But now we were both working, we had our own home and I could even afford a decent hunting rifle and the odd trip out! Having a good rifle and putting it to good use brought me to the attention of Baloney Bob at one of the gun tournaments and we discovered a few things in common: we both liked hunting, we were both shithouse marksmen, and we were both drunks!

We used to go out deep into Alberta's 'koobasaw country' that was settled by ukranians, Lithuanians, Estonians and other bohunks and rubber begonias back at the turn of the last century. These are the people that were Bob's ancestors. On a trip long ago we stopped at a grave yard, where Bob got out and showed me the graves of his grandparents. The grave yard and church grounds were immaculate even back then and the church looked much like this one that I found during a trip out to Bonnyville today.

These immaculate little churches are all over the place
in koobasaw country.

I didn't go in; although it looks like a skating rink
the icy crust was very thin.
It's treacherous stuff to walk on.

His family had a summer cottage nearby and we piled up there for the night to sit around the campfire, sink a few pints and plan the next day. Bob must have gotten into some green beer or something because he spent the entire night barfing and retching and keeping us awake.

The next morning I shot a young spike buck right out of the gate and I was pleased as punch. The weather got hot so we dipped into a tiny but busy village called Duvernay and went into the pub to stick our noses into some glasses. I struck up a conversation with some of Bob's relatives and the boys got antsy and wanted to go hunting - but I was enjoying the company so we parted ways for the afternoon. I sat in that pub with some elderly gents and bought a few rounds, ate a couple metric tonnes of perogies from the restaurant and the day flew by without me or the fellas noticing. Bob and Skinbag came back shortly after supper to show me another deer they had taken and pick me up.

Duverny is pretty much dead today.

16 years later I passed back the same way on the road home from sales calls and thought I might stop in at Duvernay for a bite. There's only ghosts and echoes here now. 16 years ago the town was all tiny, neat old homes owned by local retired farmers and gassy but friendly elderly stub-farts. A little black kitten came out to see me but the place is pretty much an empty, forlorn dump now.

I sat in the middle of that time warp and just shook my head. It's like I'm growing up all over again. I remember as a boy hitting my teen years and looking on in befuddlement at the toys of my childhood and wondering just what in hell it was I found so wonderful about them. (I remember looking on in befuddlement at the girls the same way and wondering why I was obsessed with them).Today I'm doing the same with all my hunting guns. The thought of getting up early and going out to drop the hammer on a deer or a moose just leaves me cold and bored. There was a time me and my friends LIVED for it. And this town - the old farmers are all gone... and nobody has moved in to take over. Of course I knew the family farm was a thing of the past long ago...but now even the traces of that era are blowing away as if they never were. I'm glad I got to see some of it before it was all gone.

Today Baloney Bob must be retired. Last time I saw him he looked like a villain of James Bond's - he had had some eye surgery that left him blind in one eye, he had gotten soused one day and took a finger off on a table saw - and he was having problems with booze. But I remember him when he was a big, ropey farm kid with a big smile and bright eyes that handle himself and the game when it was on the ground.

I spent most of the day driving and thinking and remembering old days with old friends. I know you can never go home - but it would be nice if ya could at least stop by an old watering hole for old time's sake.


  1. I know the feeling, Glen. I get that way looking through old family photos, too. My great aunt always said "Time changes things." My wife's grandma worded it "It feels like I'm living in a strange world." And so it does.

  2. There are times, Gorges, when I wonder if I woke up on the right planet sometimes...


  3. Hmmmm. Photos of churches and visiting disappearing small towns. Seems familiar.

    I moved around a lot when I was in school so I never really formed a connection to any one place which may be the reason I like to see lots of places.

  4. For good or ill, nothing ever stays the same. Not so long ago, I visited the house where my mother grew up. Back then no one bothered to lock their doors. Now, not so much.

  5. 'Thought of goin' back, but all I'd see are strangers' faces, and all the scars that love erases. But as my mind walks through those places I'm wonderin'... what's come of them...

    Neil Diamond... "Brooklyn Roads...

    It's just life happening, Glen. The world that was ours belongs to others now. Old Indian saying: We don't inherit the land from our parents; we borrow it from our children...

    We've had our times, Glen... and they were good times... Rejoice! Take pride in every wrinkle, and every grey hair (even if you do have more hair on your back than on your head)!

  6. Thank you so much for stopping by, boys - it's nice to be heard! I didn't mean to plagiarize you or your fine work BW, I just saw one of these churches on your blog and it spurred me to take my own trip down a side road of memory lane. It's good when you do it, but bittersweet when I do it. ;)

    I would have been happy, Pete, to see faces in Duvernay. But hell's bells, this place is now a corpse. The buildings are rotting and one day BW will come along and even the echoes will be gone.

    But you're all right - ya can't get attached to homes, buildings or places. But I think I will leave this part of Alberta for BW if it's all the same to you!

    1. I am hardly claiming plagiarism. I like to see rural places from someone else's perspective. Especially if they have some kind of connection. I am looking forward to more of this kind of post. I have no claim on rural areas and was having a bit of fun with that comment.