’19 A To Z Challenge – J

330px-Queen_Victoria_by_Bassano

My little home town was dying, as I was born.

The word that I want to discuss, is

Jubilee

the celebration of any of certain anniversaries, as the twenty-fifth (silver jubilee), fiftieth (golden jubilee), or sixtieth or seventy-fifth (diamond jubilee).

the completion of 50 years of existence, activity, or the like, or its celebration:

Lighthouse

IN THE BEGINNING,
among other things, my home-town was a Great Lake port. A dock was built, almost a mile out into Lake Huron, to an island, to provide calm moorage. Small, sail-powered lake freighters brought wheat from the prairies, iron ore and timber from Northern Ontario. Before the existence of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, these goods were shipped by train to the Toronto area, below Niagara Falls.

The availability of cheap lumber encouraged the establishment of three furniture factories, and later, a plywood plant. There was money to be made – money to be had, and local tax revenues allowed the town to pay for many civic projects. Even today, it is the smallest town in Ontario, with a hospital.

In 1897, Queen Victoria celebrated her 60th anniversary as ruler of the Empire – her Diamond Jubilee. The town had recently foreclosed and seized the property of a sulkie racetrack, half a block wide, and two blocks long, just above the downtown area. Some namby-pamby toph who had not done market research, found that he couldn’t get enough paying customers from dock-wallopers, train crews, and factory workers. They might have watched horses that actually ran, but not swishy ones that only trotted, and dragged a cute little cart behind them.

The town filled in the track and manicured a baseball diamond and outfield. They put up a safety screen behind home plate and built a set of wooden stands. The 8-foot whitewashed wooden fence and ticket gates from the racetrack remained. To honor Victoria, and her achievement, they named it

Jubilee Park.

Then, times and technology changed. Lake freighters became larger, built of steel, and motor-powered. They could steam all the way to the mouth of the Niagara River, and the now-common trucks could move freight faster and cheaper. It is well for the town that, as its freight industry died, the tourist industry burgeoned. There are more summer cottages, paying year-round taxes, than there are residents’ homes. Still, the bloom was off the rose.

By the time I was born in 1944, the plank seats of the bleachers had become wowed, dried and splitting. As a child, for years, I wondered about the purpose of a decrepit, cabin-like construction beneath one end of the bleachers. When I finally thought to ask, I was told that it was a long-extinct concession booth.

Later, smaller, steel-framed stands were built down the first- and third-base lines. Perhaps being too lazy to walk any distance, many men parked right behind these stands. Many a pop foul sailed over the bleachers, to dent fenders and break mirrors and windshields. The attraction of small-town softball is long gone. The town has built a children’s playground in what used to be the parking area. I have not been back in years, but it would not surprise me to find that USB ports have been added, to recharge kids’ electronic devices.

Time relentlessly marches on, but us old-timers can only shuffle along, muttering, Remember when?”

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Flash Fiction #36

Maze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Melanie Greenwood

 

Labyrinth

Does the long rail go on this side??  No, it can’t, the clip doesn’t fit!? Are you sure that this is a water-bed frame?  It’s looking more like a wardrobe.

Take that short piece back off the top.  These assembly instructions are like a maze.  They would be easier to understand if they were written in Urdu.

What’s with these little stick men??….Is that one giving me the finger?

I hurt my back loading this thing in the van.  That’s the last time we buy furniture from IKEA.  Next time, we buy something already assembled, and let Sears deliver it.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Segway

I’ve recently read no less than three articles where the word segue was incorrectly used/spelled, because a writer, trying to appear erudite, had no idea what he was writing.  The word, pronounced, Seg – Way, reminded me of the Segway scooter, the two-wheeled person mover, which balances on its tiptoes, by means of gyroscopes.  The company is located near H. E. Ellis’ pile of tires in New Hampster.

On their website, the company brags about being green because Segways produce no emissions, and shows a picture of a wind turbine, but most people plug it in to recharge from an electrical outlet supplied by a sulphur-laced coal-burning power plant.  They also list Segway racing.  I wondered how you hop up a Segway, until I found that they were sponsoring BMX motorcycle races.

When these things first appeared, almost 11 years ago, there were people who touted them as a game changer.  They were to completely revolutionise the personal transportation scene.  These cheerleader types were what I like to refer to as seriously demented.  These things cost almost $4,000.  For that kind of money, you can get a decent-sized second-hand automobile which will carry four people at sixty MPH, enclosed and protected from the weather.

The only places where they are bought and used, is at companies with large, sprawling buildings, and malls.  If you’ve seen Kevin James, in Paul Blart – Mall Cop, you have my sympathy and pity.  If you send me a stamped, self-addressed postcard, I will send you, absolutely free, your choice of either two tickets to his new movie, Zookeeper, or enough IQ points to get you up to being able to watch Lethal Weapon or Rush Hour movies.

The automotive Big Three try to bully their suppliers into using single-floor plants.  It obviates many potential problems of moving parts from floor to floor in case of power failure, or other emergencies.  My company’s Plant II, which they sold, was one floor.  Despite the Jeep plant in Toledo being five stories high, Chrysler urged our management to move to a single-floor facility.

Plants like that often use golf carts for management to get around.  They cost about as much as a Segway, but again, will carry up to four people and/or freight, move faster, and you ride sitting down.  Some buildings are so crowded with machinery or stored goods that golf carts are not useful.

I did two weeks of Monday to Friday, midnight security in a building where furniture for Electrohome was made, stereo and TV cabinets, as well as easy chairs and footstools.  They had a boiler in the plant which required a 24/7 rotation of Stationary Engineers, but for the two-week summer shut-down period, the place was empty, therefore, security guards.

To make the hourly security patrol around the vast, winding pedestrian walkway on foot would have taken almost an hour, and then it would be time to do it again, with no-one to answer the phone or watch the doors.  For the supervisors, they provided three or four pony-bikes.  Remember them?  Small bikes, banana seats, back wheel larger than the front, protruding, chopper-style steering!  I suppose it would have been possible to roll Segways around the twisty, narrow walkways, if they’d been available back then.  I did it with the pony bike.

My then teen-age son accompanied me for a couple of midnight shifts.  Like the big kids we both were, we brought along water pistols, and rode around trying to hit different targets on the fly.  We each earned a compliment from the other.  I have taken almost 350 hours of gun handling/safety training.  Despite playing with “only water-pistols” I controlled the muzzle, and never pointed it at anything I didn’t intend to shoot.  The son lauded me for that, and I returned the praise for having noticed, and learning to do the same.

The furniture moved from department to department on roller conveyors, 30 inches off the floor, some of them powered.  In the shipping department there was a roller ramp, where the pallets/boxes rolled down to the floor.  The second night the son came with me, I rolled into the shipping department on my little pony bike, with him right behind me.  I saw that roller ramp, and silliness ensued.  I rode my bike right up the ramp, and onto the conveyor system, and he followed me.

Soon, we were making the security rounds by riding on the rollers.  The bikes were short enough that any balance problems could be immediately solved, just by putting feet on the conveyor side rails, but that never happened.  You had to maintain modest, steady acceleration.  A sudden powerful push on the pedals produced a short stretch of wildly spinning rollers. I bet you can’t do that with a Segway.

You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.  A big part of security work is boredom, and how to combat it.  The employer hopes that as much energy and attention as possible is directed toward actual security of the facility, but, ya gotta have a little fun sometimes.  My son also accompanied me on a Friday night shift in a small-town, where they had an arena full of expensive boats for a weekend boat-show, and a broken lock on the back door.

For obvious reasons they didn’t give us the key to the refreshment stand area, but there were chairs inside, as well as paper cups and ice we wished to use for soft drinks we brought along.  Two curious monkeys investigated the stand.  I found one way in at the same time the son found a different way.  When two of the organizers staggered walked in around 2 AM, after closing a bar, we immediately waved to them.

After being asked, we pointed out the soft spots.  One could be fixed by having personnel reminded to lock the steel roll-down.  The other was a hole in a concrete wall, where they had inserted an easily moved popcorn machine.  Not so easily remedied.  Fix the damned lock on the back door!