Saturday Morning Heroes and Villians

Lots of weekends were filled with the excitement and relief of Saturday morning cartoons and some of my most beloved kid’s live-action fantasy programs, like “Ark II” or “Shazam!”.

Cold cereal slurped hastily from plastic bowls, while ads for toys and bubblegum weasel themselves seemlessly into your memory. Even if the carpet is a bit cold and dusty and the small gas furnace that’s supposed to heat the whole room doesn’t, Saturday mornings have that wonderful almost lighthearted, holiday feeling – a feeling that’s only topped by Christmas. Saturday mornings are the best mornings of all when you’re ten.

For fun, and because we were bored and looking for something to do, me, my sister, big Roxanne, and another kid all decided to go walking in Central Park. Burnaby’s Central Park was just a couple of blocks down the street from our home, and promised all kinds of adventures among the pine trees.

It had been raining for much of the previous day and the morning, and we discovered that all the walking paths were muddy and covered in deep puddles. The ground was gooshy and gave way underfoot like a soaked sponge.

Being young, adventurous, (and rather stupid), we decided to take a small path away from the main path we’d been on – one that headed deeper into the bushes into the centre of the park. It started raining again as we blindly stumbled along on the increasingly narrow and bushy trail.

We found ourselves in a small clearing about 20 feet across with two strange guys sitting in the middle. One of the guys acted quite startled by us, and started to laugh.

“Whoa! I thought you were an electronic bulldozer man!”

I didn’t know what the guy was talking about, but in retrospect he was probably high on acid or something if he could mistake soaked and bedraggled kids for an electronic bulldozer.

I wondered what the guys were doing in there, but nobody wanted to stay and find out. We all turned and bolted east, towards the railway tracks, under what is today the SkyTrain line. A little while later, a grey-haired man in a blue track suit called to us, approached, and said he’d give us money if he could feel up the girls.  We ran like hell, scared, but also adrenalized and excited by the danger of our encounters. I don’t know if the encounter with the tracksuit creep scared my sister or not. Looking back, it seemed like our whole neighbourhood was full of damned perverts.

During our hasty retreat out of the park, I must have run through every mud puddle that I’d so carefully avoided on the way in. By the time we got back to the Mountain View a few blocks later, my sneakers were soaked through and squished loudly, oozing water as I walked up the driveway towards our unit.

The next day, my feet were so sore and achey that I could barely walk at all, but I never told Dad where we’d been or what had happened to us. He would have probably skinned me.


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The memoir and family history of E. John Love