By Angus MacLeod
If you travel to the end of Highway 37 South you will arrive at the small industrial town of Kitimat.
And if you continue further along the road to the lower reaches of the town of Kitimat you will have entered into the Kildala neighbourhood, which was the site of the Great Skeena Street Scoop-off and BBQ of 1985.
Spare me a few minutes of your time and I will tell you the truth of this great event, except maybe for the occasional embellishment or two.
On a Sunday morning in early February of 1985, I awoke to one of those legendary Kitimat snowfalls that everyone hears about but few have actually experienced.
Fortified with a second cup of coffee and a firm shove from my wife, I grabbed my snow scoop and cleared my driveway of snow.
Just as I was finishing, I glanced across the street to see Steve Powers looking at his driveway like it was some monster about to grab him and eat him.
Now what you have to realize is that Steve grew up in Vancouver where a light dusting of snow is a major occurrence of catastrophic proportions.
Being a newlywed and recent arrival to Kitimat, Steve had never seen snow like this, never mind imagined it.
He was convinced that this constituted a provincial disaster at the very least.
Waving across to him, I said,”Hey neighbour need a hand?” To which he replied, “what are we gonna do?” I grabbed my scoop and headed over to him saying, “First thing we gotta do is wax your scoop”.
The two of us made short work of Steve’s driveway, at the end of which he offered me a beer, which I gratefully accepted. Upon finishing our beers we happened to notice that my next-door neighbour hadn’t come home from nightshift yet.
So we took our scoops in hand and set about on one of those random acts of kindness.
Just as we were finishing my neighbour Jim came home from work and he was so grateful to us, he would not allow us to refuse a beer.
While the three of us were enjoying our libations, we noticed a thin trickle of blue smoke rising from just around the bend and out of our sight, upon further investigation, we discovered another Skeena Street resident in the person of Helmut Shmengel, he was cursing and swearing and kicking his snow blower.
Upon seeing the three of us, he said “yah iss kaput!” And so we set once again to work, three men with snow scoops and Helmut with an aluminum grain shovel. Upon completion of our task, Helmut’s wife Greta came out smiling and carrying four big frothy steins of beer to which Helmut laughed and said, “Yah, homemade!”
While we were enjoying our frothy steins, Helmut was telling us about how Charley Wilkerson, who lived just three houses down from him, hit a moose with his truck a couple of days ago and now had his leg in a cast. While we all agreed stuff happens, we took up our weapons and preceded over three houses and cleared another driveway.
I noticed as we were doing Charley’s driveway, old Mrs. Creeley, a widow who lived across from Charley, kept peeking out through the curtains of her kitchen window.
Without a spoken word from any of us, we took care of Mrs. Creeley’s driveway as well as the walkway to her door.
Part 2 next week!