The good news is this has been a perfect summer for those who love sunshine and heat. The bad news is our Nova Scotia well, along with those of many others, is dry. I don’t want to put out a suitcase full of money to drill a well yet. I am hoping it is just a blip and not a trend and we will have lots of water next summer.
I have enjoyed numerous Nova Scotia summers in my 58 years, but one in particular stands out. It was July 1990 and my daughter, Allison, was going to kids’ camp for the first time.
Mom, Allison and I set out in the morning in my brother’s car. About ten miles down the road we filled up the gas and had the oil checked. Every thing was going tickety boo. Little did we know, we would never ever forget this day, even if we lived to be a hundred and ten.The drive was uneventful, just the way I wanted. I got Allison settled into her cabin, gave her a hug and promised to return one week later.
More than halfway home, we encountered an unwanted surprise. I could feel the car losing power under my foot. I veered onto the shoulder as fast as possible. The dash lit up like a Christmas tree but the car seemed as dead as a door nail. Nothing happened when I turned the key. I begged, bargained, implored and prayed for a miracle, but the car refused to start.
Mom and I sat there in silence. I knew I had to do something, but what? No cell phone or CAA membership. It was just Mom and me in the great big world. I got out of the car shaking in my boots and put the hood up as a plea for help. Then I stood on the shoulder beside the car. Would anybody stop? The cars continued to whiz by as people headed home from work in Halifax. Nobody stopped to rescue two damsels in distress. I don’t think a single person made eye contact with me. Feelings of panic enveloped me.
At long last, a man in a red pickup truck drove by heading in the opposite direction. We watched with fingers crossed as he pulled over on the shoulder, made a U-turn and came back. His first words were, “I always hoped that if my wife was stranded on the highway, someone would stop and help her. What seems to be the problem?”
It appeared to be as a simple as a broken fan belt. Yes, the fan belt had broken, but there was more to it. An unknown fabric was wound up in the motor. Where did that come from?
At that point, Mom, who had been dead quiet staring over the treetops, came to life. Out of the blue she exclaimed, “I should have worn pantyhose! I saw something on TV where, in an emergency, you could use pantyhose for a makeshift fan belt!”
Our knight in shining armour concluded that he couldn’t help us but he would drive us to a garage in Blockhouse. Yes, we got in with a total stranger. He could have been an escaped convict, axe murderer or predator, but he wasn’t. He was a gift from heaven. Was he a real angel? In any event, he was a perfect gentleman who was concerned about our predicament. Our optimism was short-lived. It turned out to be a convenience store with gas pumps but no mechanic.
There only seemed one thing left to do ― call dear old Dad. He was always cool under pressure. Dad arranged for a tow truck from Lockeport to drive all the way to Blockhouse and either fix the problem or tow us home.
What were we going to do with all the time on our hands? It would be hours before the tow truck arrived. We didn’t know a single person in Blockhouse. Much to our dismay, the convenience store/garage closed at 5:30 p.m. We needed a really bright idea. Well, we got an idea, but it was far from bright. Mom and I got the notion to walk to Mahone Bay IN HIGH HEELS. After all, how far could it be? We walked for a long time, but Mahone Bay was nowhere in sight. Our feet were blistered and bleeding, so we turned around and limped back to Blockhouse.
Mom and I sat on large concrete blocks outside the store but super close to the road. Blockhouse is a small community where everybody knows everybody. People driving past gave us some pretty weird looks. I have a feeling that when they got home they told their families that they had seen the strangest sight at the intersection. They saw two hookers in Blockhouse in broad daylight. You’re never safe from surprises until your dead.
Hours later we heard the rumbling of tow truck approaching. It was music to our ears. We had been rescued. Mack, the mechanic, worked under the hood until it was almost dark.We were a grateful lot when we found out he had fixed the problem. Sighs of relief went heavenward.
We jumped in and off we went. The tow truck followed us ―just in case. Everything was fine until we got a few miles down the 103. Once again, I felt the car slowing down. I pulled over immediately. Mack stopped, put up the hood, worked his magic and got us on the road within minutes. The car purred along until we reached Exit 20 at Port Mouton.
The third time was the kiss of death. Mack prepared to tow the car to Lockeport and Mom and I, in our high heels, climbed into the cab of the tow truck. Would this day ever end? Were we in Purgatory? Did someone need to light some candles to get us out?
We didn’t feel we should ask Mack to take us all the way to West Head because it would be too difficult to turn the tow truck around. Instead, we got out at another brother’s house. Everyone in the house was peering out the window wondering what the flashing lights and all the commotion was about. Someone yelled, “You won’t believe it, but it’s Nan and Aunt Melda!”
We traipsed into the house, giddy with nerves, running on our last drop of adrenaline and blurted out the whole story. My brother drove us home. Dad was watching out the window waiting for us. He grinned at us and said, “Well, well, well.”
By that time, nearly twelve hours since leaving in the morning, my sense of humour had pooped out and I started to cry.
Then I had to confess to my youngest brother what had happened. I almost fell over dead as he said, “That’s a funny thing. I meant to tell you that I changed the oil last week so there was no need to check it.”
A week later, we headed back to Camp Evangeline to pick up Allison. I can’t remember which brave relative dared to loan me a car. The return trip was uneventful…just the way it should.
My daughter is now 32. Even in 2016, I shudder every time I pass Exit 11 for Blockhouse on my way to Lockeport. At least I don’t cry any more. Instead a smile breaks across my face as I picture Mom and me waiting outside the garage waiting for a man to come along. Just any man? No. A man with a truck? Not quite. A man with a tow truck? YES!