Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 5, 2004
The Sauble Beach Pavilion
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 5, 2004 – Sauble Beach on Lake Huron – what great memories! I had many wonderful week-ends there, but my most memorable summer was the year I was sixteen.
My parents, along with those of three of my friends, allowed the four of us to rent a cottage on the main street and work at the beach for the summer. Donna and I were sixteen, Leanne was seventeen and Marilyn was eighteen. In retrospect, I’d say “What on earth were they thinking?” I’m astonished that we were able to talk them into such an escapade.
They obviously trusted us completely. We were essentially good kids, not above some teenage pranks, but good kids nonetheless! I can’t remember how much rent we paid, but we split it four ways and shared the cost of groceries. I worked at the local five and dime – Stedman’s Department Store, and Donna, Leanne and Marilyn worked at Bert & Mike’s hamburger stand on the main street. We were just down the road from the big wooden archway that was the official entranceway to the beach road. We earned sixty cents an hour!
When we weren’t working, we hung out on the beach, went roller skating or bombed around with Linda Martin and Andrea Boley in Linda’s big red convertible. Linda and I both had the same nickname – Thumper, Donna was Twitch, Andrea was Bo, and Leanne was Farm. I don’t recall if Marilyn Lorenz had a nickname, and if she did, it has long since escaped me. We felt so grown up. We stayed up all night, we fell in and out of love, we lusted after the beach hunks who worked at the go-cart track and at Gerry Wunderlich’s ‘Beachcomber’ rental cabins.
We had a portable record player we used to set up on our front porch, and then blast out tunes from Lightfoot, Gene Pitney, The Righteous Brothers, The Beach Boys, Percy Sledge and countless other singers. We had a pile of 45 records a foot high and by summer’s end they were covered with scratches and beach sand. We didn’t care. We lived that summer with exuberant abandon and utter joy. We were young, carefree, strong-willed, expectant, boisterous, mischievous and full of energy. Our cottage was like grand central station.
We knew everyone on the beach and everyone knew us! We were friends with all the young O.P.P. constables who had the plum summer assignment of “duty” at Sauble Beach. Our arch enemy was the Sauble Beach police officer – Eddie Schnurr. Eddie’s police station was right across the street from our cottage, and we taunted him mercilessly.
He knew we were stealing cottage signs – 42 in all that summer, but he never caught us. We had a tip from one of our O.P.P. buddies right near the end of the summer that Eddie had a search warrant, and the night before his raid we spirited all our contraband out the back door of the cottage and into Thumper Martin’s car. Eddie’s’ raid was a total bust and we nailed his search warrant up on our cottage door to remind him of his failure.
We never wanted that summer to end, everything about it was magical. We were absolutely enthralled with the night time dances at the Sauble Beach Pavilion. It was a typical beach dance hall with an enormous central dance floor surrounded by a railing and an outer walkway so you could saunter around the perimeter and watch the dancers in the inner square. When the weather was really hot in the summer the huge shutters that covered the windows were raised on the outside to allow the breeze to blow in from the lake.
On the side farthest away from the main entrance, the wall collapsed back in a series of folding doors to reveal the outside dance floor. It was surrounded by a second floor balcony where you could sit under the stars and look down on the outer dance floor, listen to the band and feel incredibly cool and grown up.
Dances were held on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, and of course on the long week-ends there was a Sunday midnight dance. We always finished work, went roller skating before the dances, then headed down to the pavilion after ten o’clock, just in time for the band to start their sets. We sang along to Bobby Curtola and Grant Smith And The Power and countless other live bands. What a time! We were in and out of love a dozen times that summer. I abandoned Paul MacCartney, in favour of flesh and blood boys from Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto.
We played and dreamed and danced that wonderful, long summer away. We walked along the beach with our current beaus and kissed and petted and experimented with our budding sexuality. We shared secrets, made plans, gossiped and plotted. We were young and utterly fearless. I remember the camaraderie, the love, the music, waiting for the long hours at work to be over so we could play again, the delicious anticipation of the week-ends when all the guys came back to the beach.
I remember the sand between my toes, the endless summer sun, the broken hearts, the tears, the waves along the shore, eating pizza and hamburgers and fries, the mischief, smoking cigarettes and drinking too much rum and coke, yearning to be grown up, the innocence and the loss of it, the practical jokes and the never-ending laughter. Sweet Sixteen at Sauble Beach – what a revelation – what a memory – what a summer!