STAR, The Wildness of a Pet Stallion. An After noon happening
6181 Grieve Road, Duncan, BC Canada This was a very lovely house, full f lots of childhood memories.
Here lived the Greens, my cousin Edna, her husband Claude and their children Rodney and Sylvia. I was often a weekend guest and learned a lot including how Cousin Edna made and served the world’s largest pancakes (in my experience)
Here it was that I also learned a bit about chemistry as we kids experimented widely. How powdered cinnabar could be changed into quicksilver and passed from hand to hand and, even once, held in someone’s mouth (Sylvia’s) and then spat out again in the same form it went in. It was about this time I first began to understand the words “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” God does protect the children, Sometimes!
One time we made hydrogen with acid and zinc chips and then proposed to light the gas as it came out of the flask. Rodney hid behind the door repeating “NO” “NO” “NO” till I proved that it only popped a little bit, like the book said.
Other first time events for me were riding in an E and N steam engine locomotive cab with Rodney from the Duncan roundhouse to the mainline switch. He wasn’t quick enough admonishing me to not look too closely into the fire box when the wheels first started to turn as the hot puff did lick across my face. Another short excursion was taking bicycles up the switchback roads on the face of Mt Provost. We climbed to a wondrous view of the valley below and once on resting we were surprised to see stone with seashells embedded. It was fortunate that the bicycles of the time were so heavy because we didn’t climb so high that we in much danger of losing life or limb during the trip down.
At the north end of Grieve road lived the Heppells. I remember that Mr. Heppell was an interesting fellow who was able to talk about all sorts of things and had a real interest in how we kids were getting along. He even cared what your own interests were. He joked like other grownups didn’t tend to do.
On the Heppell’s farm was a mare, Nellie, which Mr. Heppell used for occasional plowing and maybe brush pulling. Along about 1944 it was decided to breed the mare and the two Green and one Heppell kids became very interested in the pending foal. When a colt arrived they were all over-the-moon as this was so much better that a new brother or sister! In the middle of his forehead was a star- shaped blaze. Thus, the name for the new pet was Star, a combination of the first letter of the names of Sylvia, Terry (Heppell), Alan (Yarr), Rosemary (Yarr) and Rodney, the five children who lived at the end of Grieve Road, so was the name given to the new arrival.
Nellie and Star C. Mr. Heppell, Nellie and Star visit kids at Duncan School Fair Day.
My part in this whole story took place in 1945 when on one of my visits, I was taken by the Green kids down to the Heppell’s farm to see the new arrival and, then, sometime later. It was during this time that I was attending Duncan Grammar School for Boys. Regular Old English ‘John Brown’s School Days’ kind of place, and all that treacle.
The day that this story takes place was perhaps a years or so after Star’s birth during an overnight visit I made to my cousins. Rodney and I decided to take a hike down the hill which lay to the north of the Green House. It was a real brush walk among big trees and of some distance and time. I don’t remember if Sylvia or Alan Yarr was with us for the whole hike, but she certainly was when we were returning and came to the high fence which lay to the north of the Heppell farm.
I remember there was discussion about climbing over the fence and walking across the pasture where Star was enclosed, as opposed to going around the outside of the fence through blackberries and some dense brush. Apparently Mr. Heppell stressed very importantly that Star was over enthusiastic when people other than Hr. Heppell went into the enclosure. He was a bit randy and undisciplined.
After taking what we thought was a careful look around we decided to climb the fence and sneak across the field, avoiding the brush outside the fence. Star was nowhere in sight. As we ‘quietly’ made our southbound way up the hill to about the midpoint suddenly we saw Star’s head rise up. The yell went up, “IT’S STAR”, and then the screaming started! We scattered! I ran for the east fence and rolled under it into the brambles and stickers. By the time I had made it back onto my feet and looked over the fence, I saw Rodney and, I believe, Sylvia, but maybe it was Alan, up on the roof of the stable. Star had reared up, his front hooves were on the roof, and the cousins were yelling and screaming their heads off. I bet there were echo’s coming off Mt Provost.
From the safe but uncomfortable opposite side of the fence I watched with awe as this wild pet stud tried to reach the marooned kids. They would keep dodging from one side to the other as Star raced back and forth to find an advantage. Then Mr. Chappell showed up with a length of chain and proceeded to beat Star back until he was able to cage him in the stable or behind another gate. The cousins were ushered out of the pasture while I made my way around the outside of the fence with an unforgettable, YouTube-like memory etched in my brain. Also memorable was the lecture we all got from Mr. Heppell. And taking his advice, none of us ever again got anywhere near to a randy, stud horse that lacks serious training.
Old Roy, still on occasions wondering how I am still alive.