Short Stories - non fiction

Summer in Jasper


The summer in Jasper was one to remember. I did end up working at The Candy Bear for the summer. This was a pretty good job for an 18 year old. I served up candy to the tourists who came and went. I also met some friends who would drop in to get their fix of jelly beans or Smarties from time to time.

My mode of transportation was my bike. My folks had managed to ship it out to me. I appreciated that very much, as without it I would have been left to my feet only. Plus my bike gave me the opportunity to take some day trips into the amazing Rockie mountains.

The world is a small place, and as luck would have it I bumped into someone who went to Acadia, so we palled around a bit. We went on a bike ride one day and came across some Elk on a back road. Elk are huge. I was amazed at their beauty, but also very concerned about trying to drive my bike passed them. In any event, I eventually got up the courage to continue on the bike ride, and lived to talk about it.

My friend from Acadia had a cousin in town named Cathy. We ended up being buddies. Cathy had a full time job and drove a nice car. She was a pretty and funny girl, and was a hoot to hang with.

We often went to the bar that my sister and I had tried to get into on my first night in town. The bar was called “The Cabaret”. Lots of things would happen at “The Cabaret”. It was usually never dull.

For example, one night there was a Rugby team from the UK in the bar. I am not making this up, in fact I couldn’t make this up if I tried. They all started singing some song, and eventually one of the guys got up onto thee table mooned all of us at the bar, meanwhile his team-mates rolled something like a newspaper into a cone shape, stuffed it between his butt cheeks, and lit it on fire. I have no idea why. But it was definitely memorable.

Another night, we ended up sitting with a couple of dudes. They seemed okay. However, at the end of the night, when the lights came on, we realized that the two of them were wearing purple platform shoes. Ya….no.

One night though, we did meet a couple of great guys at the Cabaret. Both were handsome, fun, and we had a great time hanging out with them. 

In 1980, if you wanted to keep in touch with someone, you either had to phone them and speak live, drop in somewhere to see them or send a letter via Canada Post. Since I lived in a basement rooming house, there was no phone, plus I was never there except to sleep, so anyone who wanted to reach me had to pop into The Candy Bear. I would often get these cryptic messages from my boss that “some guy” stopped in to see you. I truly had no idea who it was as the description was always pretty much the same, and seldom was a name ever left. It added to the mystery.

Cathy, however, did have a phone. Somehow she rigged up a plan to meet up with the two young guys. It turned out that they were both working in Calgary for the summer, and they were staying at the University of Calgary. Cathy orchestrated a road trip to Calgary.

After a night out on the town, we needed a place to sleep. Now as it turned out, one of the guys (and honestly I forget their names) had a younger brother visiting him, so we needed an alternate place to crash.

I will say one thing about our new friends, they were creative. The lodging that they arranged was for the four of us to sleep in a pup tent on the U of C property. This seemed like a pretty good idea at mid-night when we were all feeling pretty good after our night of partying. However, the campus safety officer that woke us up at 6am made the camp out a much less fun. With that, Cathy and I hit the road and headed back to Jasper, slightly worse for the wear.  On our way home we spotted a bear cub on the side of the road, another unforgettable memory!

Somewhat surprisingly, after returning back to Acadia, I did correspond with one of the young gents by mail. Eventually though we completely lost touch. All that’s left was the memory the four of us shared of a crazy campus campout.

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