Friday, January 13, 2012

My Life on the Richelieu River
I call the Richelieu River as my River. I feel like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer here .

Although I never saw any paddle steam ships like they had along the Mississippi River, I did see huge ships go by our country house and then for some reason they stopped. With the aid of a few canals they connected the Champlain with the Hudson and you could go by boat all the way to New York and going the other way up the Richelieu you'd get into the St Lawrence and out into the ocean through the Lachine Rapid Canals.

I spent an awful lot of time growing up there, exploring, diving, fishing .
From the bottom shot of Fort Montgomery, (You see it on a little peninsula looking arm sticking out, on the left hand side,) you could see how wide the river was. It was here the river opened up into Lake Champlain.

We lived on the right hand side. I am sure if you look close enough you will be able to see a tall white silo belonging to Mr McCallum. His is a heritage farm over 100 years old and we lived a bit further up that road.
I used to ride my bike every day to the border and back and then tie my Dad's boat to myself and swim across that river with my dog. We'd only go to the left hand shore and then ride back in the boat. lol. My dog was extremely powerful and lived a great life. One day we came in to the wharf and my Dad was standing there waiting to go out fishing.
I gave him the boat and he got in, started it but the boat wouldn't go. He asked me what I did with the boat and I said nothing. You saw me coming in. He lifted the motor and there was no propeller.
The shear pin broke. I gathered once I stopped the motor and the boat just kept coasting to the wharf, the propeller dropped off.
My Dad told me I better find that propeller cause its expensive to buy so I had to go fishing for it.
I followed the route the boat came in and sure enough there it was.
I was very happy I found it and so was my Dad. He got a new shear pin and we were fine. Good thing it didn't happen in the middle of the river cause that would then be hard to find it.

My Dad being a machinist, made himself another propeller. Gosh he was good at what he did.

Surrounded by farmers fields, it was not surprising they would be full of deer and other rodents and lots of birds. So my parents had a great time in winter entertaining and being entertained by wild life.
Ducks would fly by heading south for winter and the river would be packed with duck hunters.
This was a dangerous time cause sometimes they shot at ducks and bullets would come in through your window. lol
The river was stocked with so much fish that you never had to wait even a minute to catch one or two. Sunfish, pike,perch,rockfish,eel, heck sometimes you'd go to the rail road track bridge and look down at the huge white fish that would lie sleeping there.

Even if you put a hook in front of their mouths they wouldn't bite. It didn't bother us. We'd go there to jump off the bridge lol

Life was good back then for kids. We were free to do all kinds of things.
Campers of course would come and do crazy things once in a while. One person had their head chopped off from what I heard by a propeller. Kids were chasing each other around in two boats and the boat behind couldn't stop in time when one kid fell in. But those of us living there knew the river and were river smart enough to know not to do things like this.

The river was so beautiful to swim in, clean, warm. Life was everywhere from tad poles to schools of tiny fry swimming around in between the tall grasses.
The sun would set through these grasses and rays of sunshine would sneak through them and you'd be down there sitting at the bottom wishing you never had to come up for air and live like a mermaid absorbing all this life energy around you. Sometimes you'd go down 30 feet and this was when I really wanted to scuba dive. In actuality, you never have to go deeper than this cause everything turns gray in color.
People could drink this water and did at least until companies polluted it and now no one eats or drinks anything even though they cleaned it up.
In the winter the river would be full of fishermen cutting holes in the ice. People would ride their ski doos on the frozen ice, I could skate.
Some people put up sails or flew kites on their sleds and let the wind pull them across the shore line. Of course you had to be river smart or end up breaking through the ice into the water. Trick was to stay close to the shore line where it wasn't deep.
Sometimes I would put on my skiis and do cross country through the farmers field where I would come to a quarry. The snow would be bright, the sun hot and the water so tempting.
I'd take my skiis and jacket off and sit there just soaking it all in and then walk back.
The day before I had my first baby we walked through this field to the quarry with my big belly, with my husband and Dad. My Dad was afraid I'd have it in the field. lol
We went home and decided to go for pizza and after the pizza I had to go to the hospital.
My Dad called cause he knew to keep tabs on me at this time and found out where I was. He got my husbands Dad and they both sat at the hospital waiting for the baby to be born. My husband walked in and said you will never believe who is out there. The pressure was on lol

At Christmas and New Years the towns' hotel bars were open for business.
They hired bands and every one would show up to dance. No one cared if they knew you or not.
This was country. We didn't have to drive our car and just walked home in fresh icy air, gazing at a sky full of stars and my river.

The old timers were the greatest people,always smiling, always cheerful.
They had stories to tell like the one about the white fish which had pearls in their brains.
People would catch and kill them for these pearls and throw the bodies away. Now they had hardly any of these fish left they told us. They said at least if they ate them, it would have been a better story. Farming people hated waste.

When my Dad had to drill for water he called an old dowser who always knew where the best water was with his apple stick and he got us two great places to dig and we got great water in both places as opposed to my neighbor who hit sulfur water.

You could always feel there was something special about this place. It had history written all over it and I lived through history like I lived with Swan Lake dreaming about the Iroquois The French and The English fighting big battles. I looked at my place and wondered who walked there before and who died. Who touched this tree? You had plenty of food to let your imagination run wild . lol
Further up the street, close to Fort Lennox, was Charlie's place where he had a monument on his shore line depicting a famous battle that took place. and on the border side, half a mile up our road,was a small house with a big monument as well. We were only allowed to go up to this monument because on the other side you'd be in the USA.

Fort Montgomery

It was here one day that my cousin showed up with his two sisters and a friend.
He asked my Dad to use the boat. My Dad told me to take them out and I said no. lol
I didn't want to get into trouble.
But instead of saying no to my cousin, he forced me to go out in the boat.
So I went and we went to Fort Montgomery since it was closer. I was going to show them the Fort and come home but everyone wanted to stop so we did.
The guys jumped over board to swim. They came up and told us they saw eels and just at that moment came a border patrol boat.
They saw us kids there and asked what we were doing there.
I told him I lived just on the other side and come here all the time but my
cousin automatically said: this isn't my boat and I don't know nothing, I'm from New York.
Both of us were pointing in different directions. lol

My mouth fell open. I could lose a boat and get into huge trouble here.
The border patrol guy looked at my face and understood what was going on.
He had to check because of all the drugs being smuggled in but we were just a bunch of kids with a baby sister cause now my aunt had another baby.
She offered him a "she shell" lol
Well the border guy laid into my cousin and told him if he is from the states he must know the laws better.
He explained we were on the US side and should not come here any more. So I lost my rights now to go to Fort Montgomery, a place I went to for a long long time without any trouble.
I was not happy
Thankfully we had enough life preservers but we didn't have a whistle.
My Dad sold the other boat we had and got a small aluminum Princecraft.
I got no fine and we went home.
But I told my cousin that was a nice class act he did after forcing me to take the boat out trying to make himself sound so innocent like nothing was his fault.
He pretended he knew what he was doing but I was not impressed with his answer.
And he was allowed to go there cause he was American and no I couldn't.
Later I told my Father he was never to make me do things I didn't want again.
He should have taken my cousin out.
I would have just told the patrol man we came to see the fort cause I had visitors and lived across the river and he would have let us go without much discussion. We fished there all the time.
Living between two Forts like this was great!
Now from the net it seems they are selling lots there.

Have a good one. :)


George said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful memories, although I was sorry to learn about your run-in with the Border Patrol! I, too, grew up in the country (unfortunately with no river nearby) and I still consider that a great life.

A Lady's Life said...

george we were checked before but they never said anything. This is neutral land between Canada and the US.They come look and go. They know we will be there every day living on the other shore line.
We had one house just exactly on the border. Half was in the US and half in Canada. lol What was this guy supposed to do with his visitors lol
But the history is fascinating from the web sites, all the battles that took place in this area.

Mama Zen said...

I can't believe you were able to find that propeller!

A Lady's Life said...

Mama Zen I was a fish and this was my river lol

A Free Spirit Butterfly said...

This read so beautifully, it sounded like a movie. Kids today don't do any fun kids stuff. They ar either holding an electronic gadget or hanging at the mall blocking the path of people who actually came to purchase something.

When I grew up, everyone's door was open on our Street and parents of our friends could discipline us. Needless to say, we got in very little trouble.

Today, kids get arrested and it's the norm.

Love ya,
Make it a great Saturday!

A Lady's Life said...

Butterfly Yes technology is not such a good thing. It took away a lot of jobs and taking still more away.

Life was much nicer in our time.

Gattina said...

I was never alone on a boat, we lived far away from water, except the river rhine, but this was nothing for little boats.

A Lady's Life said...

Gattina I am not sure I understand.
The River Rhine was my Moms favorite place to go.

Diane said...

I envy your time on your river. My river was fun, too, but we couldn't boat there. Or catch fish. Sigh.

A Lady's Life said...

I loved my river Diane.Sometimes I feel sad my kids couldn't enjoy it the same way. Now they have more laws, police and too many people.