Friday, October 11, 2013

Uncle Harold and Algonquin Tales

Tim writes in an email today:

“Rosemary and I stopped in to see Uncle Harold last weekend.  He was in great spirits and seemed to enjoy telling stories about the old days.  He definitely has not lost any mental capacity or memory. We only stayed for about twenty minutes but we got a lot of good stories, and laughs, out of him.  He still remembers many of his old funny sayings and then snickers quietly under his breath after he says them.  In many ways he is still the old Uncle Harold.”

So, as I pondered Uncle Harold stories and how he always greets me as ‘Patrick’, I thought I would pull up one of the oldies but goodies about him. This story was written by Uncle Jack five years ago for the cousins blog:

An Algonquin Tale

Uncle Harold

 We made an annual visit to Algonquin Park for a couple of decades. During those years, we had some good times, we had some bad times. Let me tell you about one of the bad times, at least from Uncle Harold’s point of view.

One constant of our trips was our “Paddle Pain Reliever” which accompanied us on every voyage. This was our code word for the booze each of us packed which was unpacked and drunk after every long canoe journey.  Each of us had our favorite variety of Paddle Pain Reliever. Mine was Jamison’s Irish Whiskey, Dick Lochner’s was Southern Comfort, and Harold Taylor’s was Rum. All of us knew this was Harold’s favorite so on our trip to the park in 1983, Jim Kinsella decided he would play a trick on his Uncle. He took Aunt Barb into his confidence and this is what they did. We could not take glass bottles into the park so we had to pour our booze into a plastic bottle instead. So as Uncle Harold was getting prepared for the big trip, Aunt Barb volunteered to help and she poured tea into the plastic bottle instead of Harold’s favorite rum. To make it a bit more realistic, Jim added a shot of rum to the mixture.  

Uncle Jack Kinsella, Uncle Dick Lochner, Uncle Harold Taylor, Tim Kinsella, Uncle Ken Smith (Back Row)
Chris Kinsella, Sue Kinsella, Jim Kinsella ( Front Row)

Off we went and I must admit the canoe trip from the jump off point to the St. Andrew’s campsite was a very difficult one—lots of low water which meant dragging the canoes, lots of beaver dams which meant lifting the canoes over the damn things, and in one case a moose ran in front of Harold’s canoe and almost stepped in the middle of it.  Needless to say, when we finally arrived at our campsite, we were very tired and very thankful to be there. After setting up our tents, the number one thought on everyone’s mind was, “I need a good big shot of Paddle Pain Reliever.”

So we all retrieved our favorite plastic bottle, filled our cups with some ice cubes and poured ourselves a generous quantity of liquid.  As Harold took a humongous sip of his “rum” all eyes were on him to see what his reaction would be. He got a happy look on his face and announced, “Man, that’s good!” We all looked at each other and had the same horrible thought, “Did Aunt Barb double cross us? Did she really put rum in the bottle instead of tea as she had told us?” 

Paddle Pain Reliever

On his next drink, Harold said, “This is good but I’m not getting the buzz I usually do.” At this point, Jim felt sorry for his uncle, brought out the real bottle of rum and told him the whole story. Harold sat there and let it sink in and said, “Not to worry,” and then proceeded to have a few samples of the “real” stuff. We didn’t keep track of how many “samples” we each had but Harold had enough that he again recounted the story of Adin’s pigs that left the Solid Shaft in the haystack. Later on, he announced, “OK, you Yahoos got me that time, but beware, that’s not the end of it!”

Later, while Jim, Tim and Chris were out canoeing, Harold sneaked over to their tent and put large sticks under the floor of the tent where they would be sleeping. As it turned out, these were discovered shortly after they turned in and were quickly removed. All agreed their motto against Harold was, “We don’t get mad, we get even.”

At most Algonquin campsites, the John was a covered structure. At this one, it was just an open one—you just sat on a board with a hole in it, open to the world!. Not really a problem because it was in an area with lots of trees and brush so it wasn’t like going to the John in the middle of the four corners of Waterloo.  The boys decided this was the place where they would get even.

In order to allow time to set up the trick, I suggested we walk over to a nearby waterfall where we could slide down on boat cushions. Everyone thought that was a great idea so off we went, except for Tim and Jim who were finishing up washing dishes. In reality they remained behind so they could set up a trick for Harold which consisted of a bucket of water suspended from a long rope directly over the toilet.

Harold Shoots the Chute

After everyone returned from an entertaining time at the falls, all of us knowing about the bucket of water, couldn’t wait for the next day when we expected Harold to perform his morning constitution. The odd thing was, he didn’t do it early in the morning as was his custom. In fact the spirit didn’t move him that entire morning. We began to suspect that he had seen the rope holding the bucket (which was quite easy to spot). But no, as it turned out, Harold ( as we later found out) was suffering from a touch of constipation.

Finally, that afternoon he announced the time had arrived and he had to pay a visit to the John. We all watched as he walked past the rope holding the bucket and never glanced at it. Tim waited until he felt the moment was right, crept to the rope and gave it a great yank as he loudly shouted “We don’t get mad, we get even!!”

The plan was to have just water pour down on Harold’s head but the knot wasn’t tied too securely so not only did the water fall down but the bucket did also. It couldn’t have been better planned. The entire amount of water fell directly on Harold’s head and the bucket landed next to him with a loud bang.

If he had had a problem going, the water and bang did the job for him. After he realized what had happened, he gave out a loud laugh and said, “Well, I got soaked, but the good part of it was the roll of toilet paper next to me didn’t get a drop of water on it.”  He then announced, “Remember boys, I will get even— if I live long enough!”
Tim Kinsella—I Don’t Get Mad!

When this story first appeared five years ago, Tim commented after the story was posted:

“By the way, there was another version of the famous saying "I don't get mad, I get even" that was heard during this trip. After Harold tried various tricks to get back at us boys, all to no avail, we told him his version of the saying must be: "I don't get even, I get mad" - that of course made him laugh harder and try harder but he never matched our coup with the water bucket.”

And, Uncle Harold commented:

“OK, after reading the tales about that famous canoe trip I have to agree they were mostly true. But it gave short shrift to the story of the moose that almost stepped into our canoe. Ken Smith and I were in the lead canoe, Ken in the front, me in the rear. We were going up a very windy river that wound its way across a large marshy area. Suddenly I spied a large moose who I could see had every intention of crossing the river in front of us. Ken apparently didn't see it. I thought it would be great to be near the moose when he crossed in front of us so I started paddling as fast as I could. Finally, Ken saw the moose and he calculated the path he was on would take him across the center of our canoe so he started paddling backwards as fast as he could. The net result was we were both paddling as fast as we could and the canoe was standing still. Anyways, the moose crossed just in front of us and continued on to the other side of the marsh.


Uncle Harold--Thinking of you,




Judy said...

That is so entertaining to read and knowing all the participants, makes me laugh and smile greatly. Love you all!!

Sue Kinsella said...

Loved this story all over again!

Dad (Jack) said...

Pat, what a gift to be able to live those great daya all over again.
Thank you,

Nancy Wright said...

Our Family has some of the funniest stories to tell -- we sure all have a good time!
Thank you!

CB said...

Sue, Jack and I copied this off and took it to Harold's when Sue was here for a visit! He smiled whewn he saw it and then started telling stories of those days again!! Ev ery time they get BIGGER!!! He is hanging in!