Monday, August 9, 2010


Transportation. Out of Shaughnessy Heights and back to the wartime house.

Hitch-hiking was the most logical mode of transportation for teenaged North End girls. That was the summer that I started to head to Grand Beach every weekend. Every weekend. In those days, it seemed like quite a trek, but now when I realize it is barely more than an hour north of the Perimeter, I smile at my lack of worldliness.

By that time I had reached first-year university. Riding in a car pool to the Fort Garry campus from the North End in time for 8:30 classes was no small feat. Missing my ride home would mean an hour-long bus ride or a thirty-minute hitch.

In first-year university, my car pool started right in front of our wartime house. It was with a neighbourhood chum in my own grade, Bruce, who lived only two doors down. I went to U of M with the Commerce guys: Bernie, Gaylord, and Bruce. Bruce drove like a maniac south up snow-laden Route 90, passing two-ton delivery trucks in the far right lane, speeding over the tracks at Taylor, and passing on the curve toward McGillivray. There was no faster way to get there than in Bruce’s red Belair. But I wasn’t in Commerce, so my schedule never matched for the ride back to the North End. I learned to ply my trade as a hitch-hiker. I had the gift of the gab from many years of chatting it up and down the back lanes of Shaughnessy Heights. Everything in life was interesting. There was always lots to talk about and interesting questions to ask. The risks of hitching were simply urban myths. None of us knew anyone who’d been mugged or raped or stabbed. The most I was ever offered was a cool $100 on the corner of Notre Dame and McPhillips. I just hopped out and put out a fresh thumb. I was almost home.

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