Before long, we moved into a place of our very own.
It was a mobile home located smack in the middle of 77 acres of brush and pasture. The property was owned by some doctors, and served as the transmitter site for the radio station where Dad was now working as the Chief Engineer.
The “trailer” as we called it was different from anything my sister and I had lived in before and was kind of fascinating in its own way. Looking back, it’s ironic that a house on wheels would prove to be our most permanent home to date.
The new place wasn’t anywhere near as stylish as Poppy’s house, but it was modern and clean, and provided a lot more room than I was used to. Kim and I each had our own little bedrooms – a great improvement over the cramped sleeping arrangements in Victoria. The interior was lined almost entirely in dark faux wood paneling, pea soup green vinyl flooring, and gold carpet and drapes. Welcome to the height of ’70s interior design. Yoiks! But it was home…
The property itself was a rather strange combination of green grassy pastures, sand, clay and low scrub brush, located in what seemed to be a small valley. The properties that fronted along 248th Avenue (the road that passed by the entrance to the property) each had one or two acre pastured lots that ended at the access road to the trailer. There were two or three “backyards” like this that we lived behind, so we could wander past their back fences anytime we wanted to visit all the cows and horses. Real horses and cows! (After getting my finger crunched by a donkey, I was more careful when feeding them carrots over the fence.)
Pushing up from the property were six tall red and white high voltage radio antennas that probably stretched 80 to 100 feet into the sky. To warn aircraft, they were lit with blinking red lights that could be seen from miles away. I would always looks for the blinking antenna lights when we were driving along the highway. They were our beacons to home.
Having only found spotty work in Victoria, I think Dad was happy to have a good job where he could use his skills and have responsibility for his own staff. It can be difficult for an intelligent and motivated person to be without an opportunity to challenge themselves. My Dad was a very intelligent man, and had been well educated in radio electronics during his service in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Dad never got past Grade 10 in high school, and he was always proud of getting a college education later on in the RCAF. He had told me that he studied calculus, trigonometry, electronics, and radar and communications, so to me he seemed like just about the smartest guy around.
Dad’s new job was Chief Engineer at CJJC 850 AM, a popular country radio station in the Fraser Valley. Back in the 1950s Dad had been a Technician at CHEK TV in Victoria (where he met my Mother), and in the ’60s he was the Chief Engineer at CFQC TV in Saskatoon, just around the time that colour TV was being introduced in Canada. With all his experience, I think that CJJC was probably a pretty familiar environment for him. He was in his element.
About a quarter mile across from the access road, near to the entrance to the property, stood the radio station’s transmitter shack. Dad called this building simply “the shack”. It was a purely functional cinder block structure that contained RF transmitters and various tools and supplies used by Dad and the other technicians. Most of the time Dad worked at the station’s offices in Langley, but sometimes he worked near home at “The Shack”. On these occasions, Kim and I would run like crazy from the mobile home to meet him and find out what he was doing.
Dad needed us in his way like he needed a hole in the head, and occasionally we were a bit of a distraction. One time at the shack, he took some copper wire and fastened it to lengths of thin wood trim. Attaching a bent nail at the end of each wire, he presented each of us with improvised “fishing poles”. We sat over a big frothy mud puddle for more than 15 minutes trying to catch god-knows-what, but we thought it was great fun.
Generally though, the shack wasn’t a place for kids to play. On another visit, I persisted in playing with the clasp on the red fire extinguisher until it fell off the wall right onto my toe. I screamed blue murder! Luckily nothing was broken, but Dad was pretty pissed off as he drove me home to put ice on it. I think I cried most of the way home.
One time, Kim and I were exploring around the creek area, and I happened to get a big orange and black spider attached to the hair on my forehead, such that it dangled right in front of my eyes. I never liked spiders that much, and I panicked and started yelling at Kim to get it off me. Never one to under-compensate, Kim wasted no time grabbing a big stick, and hauling off and clobbering Mr. Spider not to mention her dear unsuspecting brother. I had forgotten all about the spider by then as I clutched at my right eye.