The first cottage experience in my life was the Caddy Lake cottage. I don’t have a lot of memories about this place as I was only 3 at the time, but a couple of them are quite vivid. The one that stands out the most is in fact probably family legendary, and it involves a car.
Here we are, my sister Gail and myself in front of the cottage, next to the driveway, which is on moderate slope. This will become important later. I think Gail is restraining me here so that I’d hold still for the picture as my arms seem to be pinned behind me.
Before the cottage was built and before the driveway, it looked like this when you’re standing at the cottage looking towards the lake, down the hill.
By dad and Grandpa built the cottage by hand. And “by hand” I mean no power tools, in fact there was no electricity at the cottage. Every board cut with a hand saw, something that is almost unheard of today. Lighting was by candles and kerosene lamps. A wood cook stove was the main source of heat in addition to cooking. No microwave, no blender, no dishwasher, no washer, no dryer, no indoor plumbing!
One story I’ve been told was that my mom and some of her friends were there with us kids and I guess it was cold so they loaded up the cookstove with coal (or coke, not sure which) but apparently they over did it as the story goes. The coal expanded, lifting all the round cast iron covers off the top of the stove and it is said that the whole stove was glowing red. I’m not sure how they resolved that but there was quite a bit of panic as they thought the wood stove might set the whole cottage on fire.
My big memory of Caddy is waiting in the back seat of the car at the top of the driveway as our parents were packing up to go back to Winnipeg on a Sunday night at the end of the weekend. We were given strict instructions to stay in the back seat and don’t touch anything!
We’ll, I’m almost 3, and a guy and this is boring so before long I’m hanging over the seat playing with the steering wheel. The car is a manual transmission “3 on the tree” an apparently the parking brake is not set. I manage to shift into neutral and the car starts rolling down the driveway towards the cottage in front of ours, and the lake. This is not good.
Just then my dad and Grandpa come out of the cottage with their arms full of stuff only to and see the car picking up speed going down the driveway with Gail and I in the back seat. They literally drop everything, run down and get behind the car and manage to stop the runaway vehicle before we can cross the road and hit the neighbours cottage.
I’m not exactly sure what happened after that but I’m sure I was in a bit of trouble that probably ended with a spanking. I’ve blotted that part from my memory.