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Storytime--WARNING-No Machining Content

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  • Storytime--WARNING-No Machining Content

    The Rubber Tree
    Once, a long time ago, during my “Living with the Hippies” year, I had the biggest rubber tree in the world!!!
    When I first went to Kilaloe to live, I tried the old Kilaloe Hotel, but it had seen its good days about 100 years before I ever got to it, and the bedrooms were right above the bar. This made falling asleep an impossibility, which was very tough considering I had to be to work at Hokums Sawmill at 7:00 A.M. each morning.
    I then moved in with an older lady, a kind, loving soul, who took it upon herself to provide a half-way house for all of the stoned out hippies who had fallen on hard times and had been evicted from their own lodgings. This was fine, but after waking up a number of mornings to find that I was sharing my bed with someone who looked and smelled rather like a Sasquatch, I decided it was perhaps time to find “A place of my own”.
    It so happened that the old Cybulski house was for rent, and had recently been “done over” with new paint and flooring and was quite a handsome small, two story house right in the village of Kilaloe. I spoke to one of the younger surviving Cybulski’s and in short order a deal was struck and I had a nice little house to myself.
    All of the hippies had a house warming party for me, and I received various cast off pieces of furniture, a tray of absolutely excellent hash brownies, and a rubber tree in an enormous pot that weighed about 300 pounds. The rubber tree was only about 18” tall, but it was as thick as my wrist, with maybe half a dozen leaves on it.
    As fall came on, it became apparent that the “updates” to the old Cybulski house had been only cosmetic, and there was no insulation whatsoever in the walls. It was so damned hard to heat that I closed off the upstairs, and put my bed in what at one time may have been the “Parlour” on the main floor. I then strung a wire across the archway into the parlour and hung a big old war surplus blanket on the wire, thus giving my “bedroom” a modicum of privacy, and making it somewhat easier to heat. The upgrades to the house had included a new gas furnace in the crawl space, and to keep from spending every nickel I earned on heating bills, I closed off all the heating ducts to the rest of the house except for my “parlour turned bedroom” and the bathroom (which was thankfully on the main floor of the house).
    I moved the rubber tree into the parlour with my bed so it would have at least some heat. This arrangement worked reasonably well, as I was out enjoying the “single man” life every night, and got up each morning and hustled my frozen arse down to the local diner for coffee and breakfast, so I was never home that much. (I must clarify something here---The “Single man” life in Kilaloe consisted of setting in the bar of the previously mentioned hundred year old hotel and drinking beer with the hippies and burned out lumberjacks.)—The burned out lumberjacks actually drank. The hippies would buy one beer, set it in front of them to scare off the bartender, and then surreptitiously (or so they thought) smoke MaryJane, holding it under the table out of sight for the rest of the evening.
    It was after one of these late night events at the bar that I arrived home and stumbled over my poor rubber plant. I damned near broke my neck, but the rubber plant had got my attention, and I went to bed wondering why the damned thing never seemed to grow any—after all, I watered it whenever I thought of it!!!
    The next morning happened to be a Saturday, so I took one of the hippie girls with me and drove into Barrys Bay, the nearest town, and went to the “plant store”. The proprietor happened to have just what my rubber tree needed. It was a box of some kind of “Miracle Grow” sticks that were to be inserted, one each month, into the soil in the rubber tree pot. I bought 3 boxes.
    This seemed to be far too difficult to remember each month, so, since it had such a gigantic pot, I stuck every one of the grow sticks into the soil in the pot. Jeez—there musta been about 75 of the damned things.
    A week went by, and suddenly the rubber tree began to grow. I’d be willing to bet that the damned thing grew 3” taller every day. When I lay in bed at night trying to go to sleep, why Hell, you could HEAR that rubber tree growing!!! All of the hippies were absolutely amazed. I was absolutely amazed!!! It grew right up to the ceiling, and then proceeded to grow ALONG the ceiling horizontally. People came from miles around just to see my amazing rubber tree. I was thinking of calling the Guinness book of records people!!!
    And then---IT happened!!! By now we were well down into February, 3 foot of snow and colder than a witches tit. I was concerned about getting a ticket for drinking and driving, and since the old Cybulski house was just up the hill and around the corner of from the bar, I would drive home from work, park my truck, slip and slide down the treacherous sidewalks to the bar and drink my supper. And then drink my desert---and then drink just to avoid going home to my frosty empty house with no one there to greet me but a freakoid rubber plant. Then claw, dig, and slalom my way up to my house and sleep the sleep of the –“would “dead drunk” be too strong a term???
    One night, I groped my way home in a blinding snowstorm, fell through the door, pulled back my army blanket, and collapsed on my bed with all my clothes on---and passed out!!—I awoke the next morning, colder than I had ever been in my life, with bright daylight streaming in through the outside door which hadn’t latched behind me when I staggered home and was standing wide open, and seen my army blanket/privacy curtain wadded up in a ball at the end of the bed where it had fallen when I had lurched onto the bed the night before.
    But, Aw Jaysus—There was my poor rubber tree—black as your boot, leafless, frozen to death just like the poor unfortunate fellow in “The Cremation of Sam McGhee”
    There is no moral to this story. It’s just one more of the events that happened during my “Year with the Hippies”. I lived to survive it, but I’ve never had a rubber tree since!!!---
    Brian Rupnow---Sept.-2013
    Brian Rupnow

  • #2
    Lol, Lol, great story Brian!! Was hoping you'd write up another one soon, great reading. Didn't know you worked at Hokum's sawmill, they're still logging today!! Often see Hokums trucks hauling.
    P. S. your'e reference to smelling like a sasquatch,,,, touched home!! Lol

    (Wondering did that lady by chance have a used book store?)


    • #3

      Thanks for the great story.

      I was teaching Drafting at a college when the "Hippie" years were rampant. Some of my students would come in each day smelling like Creosote as well as whatever the "Hippie Perfume" was. They called the perfume White Rabbit for whatever reason.

      It turns out the Creosote had to do with stealing brand new ties from the railroad. The ties were used to build a very stout "Log Cabin" up in the hills outside of town. All went quite well until the first Ffrost of Winter. Being cold out they lit the first and only fire in their wood burning heater. When the creosote warmed up it fumed so bad they had to sleep outside under a tarp. The cabin was replaced by a non-running old school bus for the duration. The people involved still came to class stoned out of their mind but they smelled like Mildew, White Rabbit and a tinge of Mary Jane.
      It has been 40 some years but I bet the "Log Cabin" is still standing and pretty much rot free.


      • #4
        Glad you like the story guys. Sasquatch--I was hoping you wouldn't be offended. When I worked for Benny Hokum I was doing sawmill research and development engineering. I worked with old Herman the German that used to own the ski lift at Alice. Him and I were the only two engineers there.
        Brian Rupnow


        • #5
          I well remember the hippie years and the summer of free love.

          Only problem was I got a summer cold that year and missed it. Finished up getting a dose of alice, instead.

          Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


          • #6
            Strangely enough, the story didn't take place in the sixties. This is almost like one of Diana Gabledons "time warp" stories, as it happened in the mid nineteen eighties. Its a long story---Back at the turn of the century, when the Canadian government was trying to encourage settlement in mid to northern Ontario, they were giving 50 acre land grants to anyone who would come from Europe, sail up the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario, to Belleville, Ontario, and then up the "Settlement road" that is now highway 62 north into the Ottawa valley. All you had to do was clear 5 acres per year and build a permanent dwelling. Many people came from Poland, as the old still existing villages of Wilno and Kazuby will attest to. The Polish built beautiful stone houses, cleared the land, got their deeds from the government, and then found out gradually that its just too damned cold and with too short a growing season to farm there successfully. As the young polish descendants moved away to the cities to find work, and the original settlers died out, all of these beautiful old farms were abandoned. Then comes the Vietnam war, and a whole flock of draft dodgers coming to Canada to avoid the American draft in the seventies. The first thing they discovered was that you could "squat" in these abandoned buildings, and by paying some ridiculously low fee (something like 3 years back taxes) you could take over ownership of the land and buildings. The second thing they found out was that a marijuana plant has exactly the same infra red heat signature as a blackberry bush. All of that area had been logged extensively, and been burned over by the forest fires that always follow after heavy logging. The first thing to grow up along all the old stone fences were blackberry bushes.--So---they sewed their crops along all of the old fence lines, and a new industry was born, and as far as I know, still flourishes today. The hippies coexist peacefully with the other inhabitants of the area, and have kept the 1960's version of Peace, Love, and good dope alive. I was there during the mid 1980's (between wives) and had a very memorable year. Once they figured out that I wasn't some kind of narcotics agent, and wasn't going to question their lifestyle, they made me welcome in their homes and welcomed me into their "society". It was probably one of the most interesting years of my life. I met a lot of good people and the footstones for a hundred good stories were laid in that year.
            Last edited by brian Rupnow; 09-21-2013, 08:35 AM.
            Brian Rupnow


            • #7
              Great read. The "Hemp" fields are still in production up in that area, as is this cool house/recording studio.
              Killaloe Music studio: www.asoma music .com


              • #8
                If you liked the story from my "Living with the hippies year", here's another.

                Dead Man Saves Three
                Funny title for a story, isn’t it. This is a story out of my “Living with the hippies” year, in the Ottawa Valley.
                In the old town of Barrys Bay, about 200 kilometers north of Belleville, Ontario, there is (and may still be) a bar. Not a nice modern bar, but a rather run down, scruffy survivor of the past. The recent past, when white pine was the king of the forest, and logs were still driven down the Madawaska and a thousand more rivers like it, to sawmills to feed the ever increasing demand for lumber in the cities of southern Ontario.
                I drank in that bar, in the early 1980’s, along with some of my strange and wonderful friends that I made that year.---And on the wall in that smoky, noisy old bar hung a strange and wonderful painting. It was obviously a painting by a local talent----not something that would grace the halls of an art exhibit in the big city of Toronto.
                The subject of the painting?----A dark and threatening sky, and a lake tossed with violent waves. And a wooden coffin, with three men clinging to it---and a cryptic title “Dead Man Saves Three”!!!
                The picture had hung in that bar for as long as anyone could remember, and no one had any idea of who had painted it, nor what it meant. That bothered me.
                I asked everyone I knew if they had any idea, and no, they didn’t. The people who owned the bar had only been there for twenty or thirty years, and they told me that the painting was on the wall when they had purchased the bar in the late 1950’s.
                Then, one afternoon (which was a rather unusual time for me to be in a bar, even then) I met an old, old man, setting nursing a beer. I introduced myself, and asked if I could buy him a drink and talk about the “Old Days” with him. He allowed as that would be allright, and we whiled the afternoon away talking about the Glory days of logging in the early 1920’s. He had been a logger all his life, and had grown up in the area.
                I asked him about the painting, and yes, he knew the story behind it, and even the name of the person who had painted it.
                Barrys Bay is located at the north end of a long, beautiful body of water, called Kaminiskeg Lake. It has a Roman Catholic church, and a cemetery in the village. It seems that back in the “Early Days”, and we’re talking early 1900’s here, there was a logging settlement at the south end of Kaminiskeg, which was only accessible by water. There were no roads in or out of the settlement. A ferry steamboat made a trip from Barrys Bay down
                to the settlement every week to take in supplies and carry passengers down the lake or bring them up to Barrys Bay.
                In early September of 1908 or thereabouts, a logger was killed in an accident in the south settlement, and being a staunch Roman Catholic, it was his wife’s desire to see him buried in the cemetery in Barrys Bay. His body was put into a wooden coffin, and as fortunately the ferry was scheduled to arrive in the south settlement the next day, the funeral party would travel back up the lake with the coffin to Barrys Bay for a proper burial.
                However, as the ferry was returning to the north end of the lake, a terrible storm burst out of the northeast, and the ferry boat capsized!!! Everyone on board was lost, with the exception of three men in the funeral party, who were able to cling to the wooden coffin (which of course floated---body and all) and eventually make their way to shore.
                And therein lays the story behind the painting of “Dead Man Saves Three”. It was one of the three survivors who had painted the picture. His name is lost forever now, as I have forgotten it, and the old man has been dust for the past twenty years.
                But---What an incredible story!! If you ever go up to the Ottawa valley, and pass through Barrys Bay, ask around for the saddest old bar in town, and when you get there, have a look. I hope the picture is still hanging there.
                Brian Rupnow
                Brian Rupnow


                • #9
                  Good thing you killed it before it killed you (Little Shop of Horrors, eh?)...FEED ME!


                  • #10
                    Enjoyable story Brian, much appreciated ! There is some beautiful country back in the Barry's Bay/Wilno area. Always wanted to drive the back roads through there, checking out the old homesteads back in the boonies.
                    Very obvious why the draft dodgers chose these areas, to sort of hide out.


                    • #11
                      Sasquatch--Just be VERY careful which sideroads and which old homesteads you visit around Barrys Bay------

                      The Baby in the Well

                      Back about 1983 or so, I was between marriages, and ended up living for a year in the old Ottawa valley town of Kilalloe.
                      This was the time that I deem my “Living with the Hippies” year (Which is a whole separate story in itself.)
                      Now Kilalloe was an old, old place, which had thrived at the turn of the century as a rail station and a town of Polish farmers and roistering lumberjacks, but by the 1980’s it was, to put it mildly, getting pretty seedy.
                      During the winter there, I became acquainted with a fellow about my age, named “Budsy” and his giant Bouvier’ dog.
                      Budsy lived in a small apartment in town, and I visited him there fairly often. He would always talk about “The Farm” that he owned up behind Barrys Bay, up in the high country, and promise me how in the spring, when the snow melted he would take me up to visit there. I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to this, as Budsy, like many of the other hippie folk around town was inclined to exagerate a bit about where they came from, and what they owned.
                      Fast foreword to May, and one day Budsy showed up at my place (the old Cybulski house which I was renting) with an ancient 4 wheel drive jeep, and told me that we were “Going up to his farm.”
                      We drove to Barrys Bay, and from there we followed what seemed like about 10 miles of very rutted abandoned road up into the heavily forested high country north of town.----And to my absolute surprise, emerged into a beautiful upland meadow, complete with log barn and rustic log farmhouse, with a well in the front yard. Not a pump, mind you, but a dug well, with a little roof over it and a simple winch to lift a pail of water up to the top.
                      Budsy unlocked the door, and we stepped across the threshold into an earlier time. I don’t think that anything had been changed inside that house in a hundred years. The walls were covered in a patterned wallpaper, there was a braided rug on the floor, and an oak table and chairs that had been lovingly crafted by someone not long after the house was built. A gas lantern hung from a hook in the ceiling, and kerosene lamps sat on a sideboard. It was absolutely wonderful inside!!! Steps lead up from the parlour to two bedrooms upstairs.
                      I was astounded, to say the least. I couldn’t understand why Budsy chose to live in a mean little apartment in town, when he owned this beautiful farmhouse. I asked him about this, and he answered “I didn’t know you well enough before now to explain this to you, and I had to bring you up to see this place, before I could tell you the story.”
                      “I can live up here through the summer, no problem, but I have to move back into town before the cold weather starts in late fall. I can’t stay here in the winter, because of the baby!”
                      Now this was a rather strange statement to say the least, so of course I asked him for an explanation, and so he began:
                      “Back in the middle 1800’s, a young man from Poland wanted to marry a girl from a neighbouring village. The girls family did not come from the same station in life as this young man, so his family forbade him to marry “beneath his station” as the saying goes. Since he dearly loved the young woman, he married her against his family’s wishes, and they promptly secured passage on a ship to “The New Word” in Canada.
                      They came up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario, and debarked in Belleville, Ontario. The young man availed himself of a crown land grant in Belleville, whereby all he had to do was travel north up the Hastings settlement road to Barrys Bay (about 200 km., clear 5 acres of land, and build a permanent dwelling, to become proud owner of a piece of property in Canada.
                      This he successfully accomplished, and after he had built the log house and barn, and dug the well by hand (a succession of tasks which must have taken at least 5 years) they decided to start a family.
                      A healthy baby boy was born, and raised by his loving parents untill he was 4 years old.
                      At 4 years of age, the inquisitive youngster climbed up onto the well combing, and fell into the well and drowned. The mother was beside herself with grief, and within a years time passed into a state of madness from which there was no return.
                      The father, seeing that all he had lived for was lost, then hung himself in the log barn.
                      The homestead set abandoned for many years, then passed rapidly though a succession of owners, untill 1981 when Budsy purchased it for what seemed to be a surprisingly little sum of money.
                      He bought the property in the early summer, and promptly set to work cutting firewood for the coming winter, and planting crops in the fallow fields. He had work on a road construction crew on highway #62 for “cash money”, and by autumn things were looking pretty good.
                      The log house was snug and warm, and Budsy was settling in for a comfortable winter.
                      And then----Ah, yes, there is always an “And then” to stories like this---the first real cold snap of winter came.
                      As Budsy lay in an upstairs bedroom around eleven at night, the fire in the woodstove downstairs had died down---the old house was beginning to snap and creak as the cold settled into the old timbers---that’s when the baby began to cry---
                      It was very faint at first—just on the edge of his hearing. And as the winters night grew deeper, and the frost began to really settle in, the crying got louder----
                      At first it seemed to be coming from the old log barn, and Budsy, by this time wide awake, got dressed, lit the lantern and went to the barn to see what on earth was going on. When he got to the barn, he went inside, and as he opened the barn door---the crying stopped. He searched all through the old log barn, and finding nothing, decided that it must have been a trick of the wind, and made his way back to bed.
                      The crying started again, and this time, it seemed to be coming from the well. Again he got dressed, lit the lantern, and went out to the well—and as he approached the well, the crying stopped.
                      A third time he went into the house, went back to bed---and this time the shrieking and wailing of a terrified child burst forth from the downstairs of the old farmhouse itself!!!
                      Budsy leapt out of bed, pulled on his clothes, ran out to his old Jeep, and headed for town.
                      And that, he explained, is why I live in town during the winter months.

                      Brian Rupnow
                      Brian Rupnow


                      • #12
                        Somehow this sounds like a ghost story, i don't believe in ghosts at all, and always said it was just coincidence.
                        At times though i have wonderded if there was something "To them".

                        Brian do you write these stories for any publication, or? You are a good writer, i bet someone would print these if they already haven't.


                        • #13
                          Sasquatch---All of my life, I have been a storyteller. Many have said a great storyteller. And about 20 years ago, people began to urge me to write them down, and someday publish a book of short stories. I have written down hundreds of stories like the ones you have read here, about a thousand funny/tragic/suspenseful/crazy things that have happened in my life. I am blessed. I have lived a long and very eventful life, and most of it has been fun. Most of these stories should be told over a couple of bottles of red wine, or around a campfire, or just before bed in the camp, after a long day of "working in the bush". Most of the stories are true. I don't say ALL of the stories are true, because some are stories about the way things "Should have turned out."--I'm glad you liked them.---Brian
                          Brian Rupnow


                          • #14
                            Wilno Tavern/ Horse Poop Story

                            Another of my “Year with the hippies” stories. Funny story---I worked for a year up in the Ottawa valley, one year when I was "between wives". There is an old hotel/bar in Wilno, that thought it would be great/nostalgic to put up a hitching rail out front, like one that had been there 75 years earlier as seen in old pictures. I took one of the local gals out one Saturday night, and drove to the Wilno Tavern so we could listen to the band and have a few drinks. When we arrived , she exclaimed "I can't go in there!!" When I asked "Why not?" a funny story unfolded. This girl had a horse that she rode for pleasure. One day she rode it over to the Wilno tavern and tied it to the hitching rail and went in for a few drinks. While she was in there, the horse ****, (as horses always do). The tavern proprietors told her that she had to clean it up. She held that since the tavern had put up the hitching rail expressly for the use of having horses tied to it, cleaning up the horse **** was the taverns responsibility. The upshot of this argument was that she never cleaned up the horse****, but the tavern owners banned her from ever coming in there again. True story, so help me God. This was back about 1983 or 1984, and as far as I know, she hasn't been back to that tavern since.---Brian
                            Brian Rupnow


                            • #15
                              And so help me God, Sasquatch, I've been meaning for the last 30 years to write my take on the "Wilno Vampire", but I haven't got to it yet.--There is a lot of interesting stuff already written about that one.---Just "Google" it.
                              Brian Rupnow