This article was originally published by Doug “Uncola” Lynn at TheTollOnline.com
Life is hard as it is. Too many rough roads to travel. Too many chains to untangle. But no matter how cruel the world may be, life becomes less hard when you got a good friend.
True friends say good things behind your back and bad things to your face.
In the late nineteen-forties, three young men graduated college, packed their gear into a Willy’s four-by-four and took a road trip into the Canadian wilderness where they built a log-cabin. They felled trees by hand and used nineteenth-century tools to construct the cabin of such quality, it was shared by multiple generations of their three families over the next five decades.
As one born in the turbulent sixties and growing up in the nineteen-seventies, I was lucky enough to catch the tail-end of a time when boys were boys and men were men. It was also very fortunate that my childhood best friend’s father was one of the three men who built the cabin. It had a wood stove and an old-fashioned hand pump in the kitchen that drew water directly from the lake. An outhouse was positioned around 30 yards from the back entrance and the front porch offered limited views of the water through veritable walls of trees.
Usually a group of four to six of us would drive more than a day’s time to reach the cabin and our party generally consisted of two or three seasoned older men and a similar number of us young bucks. And, every visit, we spent about the same amount of time repairing, maintaining, and improving that old cabin as we did fishing.
We cut down trees and built a bigger boat ramp, assembled docks, listened to the loons at sunset, and witnessed the Milky Way in all of its glory, in the enchanting black of night.
Once we young bucks were of a certain age, we’d chug a beer, do a shot, or both, and burn ticks and leeches from our bodies with freshly extinguished match tips. Many times we missed the targets.
Another time, four of us arrived at the cabin on a Sunday and realized we forgot to buy beer before crossing the border. Canada didn’t sell beer on Sundays. So, after cursing ourselves, and much weeping and gnashing of teeth, we waited impatiently until the next day. Once again, we made the trek into town that Monday which, to our combined horror, just so happened to be Victoria Day. Canada didn’t sell beer on Victoria Day either. Fortunately, we were able to persuade a fly-n-fish charter service to illegally sell us a case for $50 USD; which, back then, was about four to five times the price south of the border; depending on the brand.
On another trip, after we cut out a bunch of rot from the cabin’s exterior and painted the entire structure barn red, I stepped out to piss over the railing of the front porch after midnight. The next morning, I woke up and saw my Fruit of the Looms were red. Blood red. Momentarily forgetting the previous day’s painting, I panicked and started stumbling around and swearing worse than a drunken Andrew Dice Clay at a feminist rally.
Everyone came running my way all at once and, when we figured out what had happened, I’ve not since heard a group of guys laugh as hard. Close, on many occasions, but no cigar.
Although that old cabin and the older men are gone now, we middle-aged bucks still laugh about those incidents and many other similar events, to this very day. But having moved away many moons ago, I don’t get to see those old friends as much. Even so, I think of them often.
Much of the vitality in a friendship lies in the honoring of differences, not simply in the enjoyment of similarities.
In a way, you are poetry material; You are full of cloudy subtleties I am willing to spend a lifetime figuring out. Words burst in your essence and you carry their dust in the pores of your ethereal individuality.
— Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena
Around 13 years ago, in a new area, one of my newer friends there introduced to me to a guy who was actually my neighbor. The friend who introduced us, commissioned my (previously unknown) neighbor to work on various classic cars. It turned out that my new acquaintance’s place was hidden in plain sight and within walking distance of my homestead: just a left, a right, another right, a left, a right, and another left away from where I lived.
As alluded to before, I grew up in the fading ether of the Norman Rockwell era. Although my small hometown wasn’t exactly “American Graffiti” it wasn’t too far off. We had a drive-in and a main-drag where all the kids would cruise. Of course, the “strip” was aligned with gas stations that were full of blue-jean adorned dudes wearing t-shirts, smoking cigarettes, and talking shit to one another.
My neighbor, being a little older than me, very much reminded me of those guys at the gas stations. In fact, his fenced-off acreage actually reminded me of the old gas stations. It felt like home.
Over time, I became friends with that neighbor. He would do work for me, I would help him out when I could, we’d do lunch on occasion, and some mornings he would catch fish and invite me over for some freshly filleted and fried breakfast.
Imagine our mutual surprise when, after a time, I learned that his father was one of the original three men who built the aforementioned cabin in Canada. Moreover, after we made that connection, we both acknowledged a vague recollection of each other as kids spending one night’s overlap there between family stays.
It was really cool when I found some pictures of his Dad and me fishing together. He looked at the pictures, smiled, and said: “Yep! That was Dad”; and we both shook our heads in wonderment.
What a small world.
Through the years, I have enjoyed hanging out at my neighbor’s place. Although some might call him a hoarder, I tend to look at him more as a collector; perhaps because I understand his…, shall we say…, eccentricities.
He’s rebellious, but also a first-rate mechanic, an old soul with artistic sensibilities, and possessing a childlike innocence that is infectious to say the least. I can spend hours at his place and it, truly, feels like traveling back into a friendlier time.
He’ll talk your ears off, but will usually get the job done on schedule; as long as he doesn’t become distracted by the next project too soon. He’ll be poor for a stretch and then he’ll sell some car to another rich guy from Minneapolis, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, and be flush again for a while.
Although he’s had a common-law wife for decades and they never had children, he remains a cross between man’s man and a big kid; with his house and shops appearing as a combination taxidermy museum, circus show, and auto-auction all rolled up into one hell of a good time.
When I said “shops”, I used the plural because they’re a maze of connected buildings, separated by layered plywood doors with fabricated locks and handles made out of recycled tools, chrome-plated fasteners, rusted bolts, and old springs. He has multiple vehicle hoists, a paint booth, parts storage, a circa nineteen-eighties Sinclair gas pump from back when gas was a dollar a gallon, and an empty thirty cent Pepsi dispenser.
In his living room, he has a gravity-worn leather sofa, haphazardly patched-together stereo equipment, a pinball machine, and a “Your Wate and Fate” character reading and prophecy device that I’ve yet to try.
I’ve seen him take a nineteen-fifties Bel Air sedan and turn it into a coupe, fabricate a welded metal hog’s head for his buddy’s smoker, paint the entire hood of a divorcee’s Toyota for $30, grind the rusted license plate bolts off my kid’s car, and throw in some smoked venison and homemade applesauce as a bonus just for stopping by.
In the time I’ve known him, we’ve both suffered physical ailments and healed; and we’ve cheered each other up when our ailments were mental. Some nights when I couldn’t sleep, I’d call over to his shop at 1:00 AM and, if he was still working, we’d go enjoy some breakfast at a local 24-hour restaurant.
We’ve also road-tripped with other friends – six of us in an early-nineteen-nineties Olds 88 to a small unincorporated town that would be impossible to find on purpose, or even by accident; and a bar there that served breaded tenderloins the size of hubcaps. Why? Because it was Tuesday morning. That’s why.
I keep my friends close and my better friends closer. What are the odds of us finding each other out here in the random universe, all floating along like Forrest Gump’s feather?
I would say the chances were small. And that’s why I wake up some mornings feeling like I won the lottery yesterday; and with the anticipation that today could be even better.
We are the gold.
Well ain’t that specious!
hey…..anybody miss warchild, dammit? when was he on here last?
I’m holding him in my forced labor camp. One to many comments on my wheesky lol. Kidding aside I thought I saw him on here less than a week ago. I’m sure the ol’ boy is fine…
i THINK i got an email from him back in the days when we had eppe gettin’ us together…i’m gonna go look.
True stories are always the best. Some years ago I was prospecting in the Central Highlands of Arizona. It was late August of a dry year. I had some gravel that was mostly pyrite I wanted to pan but couldn’t find any water. Finally found some in Miller Creek west of Thumb Butte, a volcanic plug west of Prescott.
There’s a nature path that follows the creek that the locals use for an easy hike. I heard a mom’s voice warn “Don’t get too far ahead, There are bears in the woods” and looked up to see two little girls, looking a lot like the Olsen Twins, up on the bank along the path. They stopped to watch me pan. The oldest, maybe six or seven, said “Whatcha doing mister ?” as she climbed down the bank to get a closer look. The younger one followed her with her thumb in her mouth.
I said, “I’m fishing!”. She looked at me suspiciously, put her hands on her hips and declared in her best I’m nobody’s fool voice, “You’re not fishing !” I said yes I am, I’m fishing for gold. I’m a prospector”.
“Gold ???” she said, her blue eyes growing into giant saucers. “Yes, see?!” and I raised my pan from the creek where I had panned most of the dirt out and the pan was full of gravel spotted with pyrite that flashed in the morning sun.
“What are you going to do with all of that gold mister?” she asked, the dollar signs flashing in her eyes. “Oh I will take it to the bank, I said. “What bank are you going to take it too?” She asked as if she were plotting her first heist. “Chase bank” I replied matter of factly.
She turned to look at her mom and said “He is going to take all of that gold to Chase Bank mom.” Looking at her mom must have triggered her memory because she turned back to me and asked, “What are you going to do if a bear comes down the path, mister?”
“Well, I said, “If he is willing to work, I’ll teach him how to pan.” She replied, getting very animated, “What if he is a hungry bear? He will eat you up !!! GRRRRR !!!”
I said, “Well if he is a hungry bear I’ll just run away.” Now she thought she had me and she got very animated; ‘Silly Man! You can’t out run a hungry bear !!!”
I looked at her and said, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you !!!” Her blue eyes got bigger still and her mouth dropped open as she contemplated being eaten by the hungry bear while I ran away …. then that light flashed in her eyes again (much like a red eyed cylon warrior) as she turned and started running up the creek bank past her little sister to her mom, and she said: “Mom, that man is going to let the hungry bear eat up Maryanne!!!”
Maryanne looked at me, terrorized by the imaginary hungry bear that was going to eat her up, stopped sucking her thumb, and began to cry: “WHAAAAAAAAA !!!”
Mom stopped her crying by suggesting it was time to go home and bake peanut butter cookies.
Dad had been watching all of this from the top of the bank trying not to wet his pants as he smothered his laughter, while filming it with his I phone. I said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make her cry.”
Dad said, “I have it all on my I phone and I will transfer this to my computer when I get home. This is a memory we will treasure for many years to come. Thank you!”
Every great story has a moral; no the moral of this story is not “you cannot outrun a hungry bear”. The real moral of this story is that “All of the gold you discover while prospecting is not in the pan.” 🙂
thank you durango.
I have always thought it was kind of amazing that a little girl her age; maybe seven years old, would react to the idea of gold the way she did.
Maybe it’s in our DNA !!! 🙂
Pussy uncola trying to write again. WTF Mack?
Why dont you just call yourself Dougy 7-Up. Dougy uncola, no not cola, dougy uncola. WTF.
Why dont you send these articles to Boys Life Magazine. This is an adult forum.
You know Thar, you would probably be a lot less miserable if you just went ahead and finalized your sex change. Then your vagina would only hurt some of the time
Why? Did yours stop hurting after your sex change? lol Man up dude.
It was just something your mom said. I mean your dad. No wait. Your mom. Your family is so confusing. I think it’s the little peach-haired mustaches that throw everyone off.
Day dreamers will be slaughtered first in SHTF.
Excellent item. It reminds us that relationships not things serve the needs of our common humanity best. Well done Doug!
I am being honest when I say stories like that are feel good ones from days gone by. I enjoyed it and not only do the stories make you feel good but also remind me of how old I am getting. The thing that grabbed me the most was the comment in the first part about knowing what gender we are and no confusion about that issue. Anyway y’all have a great day. Keep your powder dry and your six covered. God bless
I felt old when there was a mention of $1.00 gasoline. I remember keeping a quarter in my pocket for a gallon in case my motorcycle needed fuel (small bike, small tank) while I was out.
It was nice to think of back when before light pollution was a thing and you could (up in Michigan) lay on a blanket in the front yard with some friends and count the stars. Or sit on grandma’s porch in the evening and watch the fireflies. Now you aren’t guaranteed either even in a campground unless you’re way out in the boonies.
youtube -> “magnet fishing”
VERY very fine article, Doug!
Thank you for it.
I second that.
there are those that may think he’s talkin’ about ME in this story….i put this up on faceplant. we shall see if i get any comments about that. i HAVE lived a charmed life.
I grew up in Oakland, California during the fifties when it was almost all white European. A beautiful peaceful city with architecturally lovely buildings, clean well kept homes, well dressed citizens. Mothers and fathers together raising white European children with white European traditions and a culture that included respect for teachers, parents, your friends parents, and adults in general. We went to Church on Sunday dressed in suits or dresses if you were a girl. The mass was in Latin. The priests were real men. And there was nothing anybody did to hurt a child because father’s were like guard dogs over their families. It was a Norman Rockwell drawing come alive.
Then the blacks started moving in from the South for jobs in the North. At first they tried to fit in and most behaved themselves like white people. But as the trickle turned into a flood, the whites started moving out.
Stories were coming in about teachers being assaulted by black kids. A white girl was said to have been crippled by a black girl in a jealous rage because the white girl had gone on a date with her boyfriend. More stories. More fear. More white flight. Eventually when my father caught a black teen hanging around our house, casing it out, and watching my sisters; my father who hadn’t a prejudiced bone in his body, ran the perp off and decided it was time.
We moved over to the next town which at that time was sharply divided. On the Oakland side there were black people. Across the street were whites. The blacks called it the Mason Dixon line.
Today the formally white European idyllic city of Oakland, California is predominantly black and ranked as the third most violent city in the world, ahead of Detroit and Chicago.
B from CA, no surprise there! Stay in shape, get some training and stay aware!
I know that guy! We grew up at BH.
Hard times are coming, that’s for sure. I think a point that can be taken here is that one can mentally prepare oneself for the grim realities of an uncertain future if there is firm ground to stand on in the first place. In this case, the author shared idyllic memories of a simple cabin in the woods along with those of family and friends. Every soldier I ever knew had somewhere, someone, or something gentle and kind to retreat to behind his weapon and equipment. I’ll bet that under the bad-ass exterior of everyone on this site that there is something near and dear that will make the struggle worthwhile. There’s not much point in fighting if there is nothing to fight for. Survival, in that case, would be just a dog-eat-dog world with nothing to look back on or nothing to look forward to. Nice article.
People who waste most of their time living in their own past are usually the ones who can’t deal with reality today. And will be the ones praying on the side of the road as they are mowed down by a gang of thugs in SHTF.
Its like the people who think their highschool years, were the best years of their life, How pathetic, and can’t wait to go to their highschool reunions. Pretty sad really.
Don’t get me wrong History is my favorite subject, but not this personal story telling BS of your youth, and the writing how it is explained to us like we are 10 years olds. I don’t think anybody who follows this site needs to be told or explained by a 16 YO on how the Boiling Frog concept works.. When you write an article, First identify your audience and readers, and then write and gear your presentation to that audience to keep their interest and attention. Then we wont have to critique it like this.
Ha, ha! TharSheBlows thinks she’s online critic! A self-appointed legend in her own mind. Sad. Shakin’ my head right now with mirth in my eyes.
Just put your mouth to use and follow your user name.
7.1 earthquake in Peru. Very deep. This is the second major earthquake in the last week at these kind of depths. Never noticed the beginning of a deep quake pattern. Hmmm. Mother Earth getting ready to enter a cycle of big earthquakes? Kaktovic Alaska has been shaking for two weeks now. Every day all day. They had a 6.2 earthquake, then non stop aftershocks. All real shallow. So they even feel the small quakes.
Thank you Mac for publishing this piece. Memories shared are a wonderful treasure. I remember 50 cent gasoline that I sold in one of my stations many, many years ago……
Still think this article is right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. “Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end.”
Awesome story. It really does seem like the world is small at times.
I guess we forget? TB, Small pox and the pox marked survivors, Yellow fever, malaria , a severe toothache, a root canal, they had cocaine and opium and laudanum. But detergent ,insecticide, the Miskitos, good shoes, repeating rifles, water filters, electricity, no 70 mph. Highways, no refrigerators, radios. , dam they must have been tough.
Hey you American you very smart to be prepped by buying gold. You see China is about to unload all your treasures bond in next 10 years. The dollar will crash and yuan will skyrocket. We buying lots of gold in China with our US dollars. Win win.
During the coming Bad Times, when we are living in Sporty Times, being able to tell a good story will be an asset, and sought after skill. Without the electric, without the ready communications, without the modern distractions, without the comforts. It was that way for my great grandfathers and their friends and neighbors. It was that way in the middle ages of Europe, with troubadours, jugglers, and pilgrims who had returned from the Holy Land, as well as Crusaders. We’ll learn to talk and listen to each other, as in days gone by. It will be a brief respite from life’s hard realities. Without our electric and technology, we are those people of by gone days.
B CA, did it ever occur to you that maybe just maybe tptb uses divide and conquer for millenia and could be the ROOT cause? I see your right where they want you blinded from the truth ensnared by the symptoms of their cunning schemes. But I guess racism is the easy scapegoat eh partner? Bless you