A Formative Experience from My Childhood

A Formative Experience from My Childhood July 14, 2022


An evening view of downtown Calgary from Prince’s Island Park
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)


We’re just back from spending nearly six hours at the Calgary Stampede with a number of Canadian friends.  Great fun — including delicious barbecue, chuckwagon races, trick riding, First Nations bareback pony races, country singers, rope tricks, bands, dancers, fireworks, multicolored illuminated drones in spectacular formations, and good conversation.  (We never tried any of the carnival rides, though.)


Earlier in the day, we enjoyed lunch with friends from our recent Israel tour at the River Café on Prince’s Island.  The food was very good, and the location, in a wooded and grassy park surrounded by the Bow River but with a view of the gleaming heart of downtown Calgary, could scarcely have been improved upon.


On our way out of the Stampede grounds, I saw something fall from the aerial tramway overhead.  It reminded me of a salutary experience from back when I was about nine or ten years old:


The grandparents of my then best friend took the two of us to Disneyland one day.  (It wasn’t too terribly far from where I grew up in San Gabriel, California.)  They let us go on our own once we were at the park, and we eventually found our way to the Tomorrowland station for the aerial tram — the Skyway — that ran in those far-off days up to and right on through the Matterhorn.  Roughly in the middle of the ride, my friend had drained whatever soft drink he had been working on and had the brilliant idea of dumping its remaining ice from the Skyway onto the head of one of the people far below us in the crowd.  (Believe it or not, but it’s true:  Although I was a dedicated prankster at that time and well beyond it, I would never myself have dumped anything from it onto anybody’s head.  I’ve always drawn the line at acts that might hurt people or do real damage.  But he didn’t ask me.)


Anyway, he dumped the ice and then, stupidly, leaned over and grinned down at his target beneath us.  He had squarely hit an older lady in the head with his ice.  It evidently hadn’t done her any real damage, but — out of all of the thousands of people at Disneyland that day — my friend had hit his own grandmother.


His grandfather was waiting for us at the end of the line, in Fantasyland.


My wife thinks that our experience may have saved me from a life of crime.  That, I suppose, and the fact that my friend moved away several months thereafter.


Posted from Calgary, Alberta, Canada



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