My dad is selling the house he, and his kids, lived in for about 25 years. It’s the house he moved into a little after my parents divorced, where most of my siblings spent the rest of their teenage years, and where Phil and I came on weekly.
I have a lot of memories from being there. And while it’s the people that are the most important, and they’re all still around, I find I easily get nostalgic for places too. Also, I feel if no one remembers something, and there’s no evidence of it happening, it seems like it may as well have not happened at all. So I find myself wanting to hold onto all those memories, even the ones others consider inane. To me they’re important- they’re life.
So here’s my unapologetically long list of absolutely everything I can remember that happened at 1686 Cresswell Drive. Hopefully in chronological order.
Earliest Memories There
- My dad had this really scary vampire mask he wore for home-made movies and I think for Halloween (he opened the door to trick-or-treaters wearing it. I don’t think they ever came back)
- Coloured picture at a party of “Saint George and the Dragon”. It was probably 3 feet by 2 feet, so it was pretty big. Dad treated it like a masterpiece. He had it framed, and told how he sought to emulate Saint George’s courage. What a confidence booster!
- For some reason we never ever brought pyjamas. We’d always borrow one of my dad’s shirts to bed.
- Phil and I usually slept in Dad’s bed. At one point, we got a bunch of glow-in-the-dark star stickers that we littered on the ceiling. I hope they’re not there anymore, it would kill me to take them off (both because it would be painstaking, and emotionally painful.)
- Dad told the absolute best night-time stories. I doubt anyone got stories as good as my Dad’s. “Johnny and the Rocket Spaceship”. It really deserves its own series. It was wonderfully formulaic: Johnny had had a hard day, his mom sent him to bed without any dinner. He nearly cried himself to sleep. Then he saw a light under his cupboard, and the sound of trucks and men running around. He walked over and saw some bread. It said “Bois moi”, so he drank it and got smaller and smaller, until he could fit underneath the cupboard door. Inside he saw all his crew running around, saying “Hi Johnny! So glad you could make it!” All preparing the rocket. They’d launch off, open an envelope of “Sealed orders”. Meet aliens who appeared to be bad but were misunderstood. Make friends. Come back happily. On the other side of the door, find a piece of bread that said ‘Mange moi”, then he’d return to normal size, and go back to bed. He’d wonder if it was all a dream, but find some evidence of it the next day. Perfect childhood escapism.
- Originally, it was a very large forest at the back of the house (meaning you could walk through it for 10 minutes before you’d hit a road, it’s now got a row of houses). Phil, Dad, and I went back there to build a fort out of branches. I intended to sleep in my masterful fort (it was a bit like a tipi, a bunch of long sticks leaning against a tree, with branches with leaves and needles overtop of them). We never got around to sleeping out there, which was probably fine considering we would have been crawling with bugs. I was a bit disappointed when, within a few weeks, the branches of green needles used to cover the fort turned orange.
- Dad planted a row of evergreen trees at the very back of the house property. Most never got enough sunlight to really grow. I’m not sure if any are left now (2018).
- Dad made some wooden swords for Phil and I out of extra wood. Phil had a really sleek light-coloured one made out of fresh one. I had a bigger one made out of previously-used wood. I don’t think we really fought with them much, mostly we fought imaginary fiends. But I bet we had a few tears over hitting each other, too.
- Dad also bought me some Num-Chucks, and Phil a padded karate-style sword. They were played with frequently, although it was an awkard matchup.
- My chores at the house mostly consisted of: sweeping the driveway (it came out later that this was mostly busy-work), vacuuming (using the central vacuum which was deafeningly loud in the garage), and I think periodically cleaning the toilets and sinks.
- My older siblings played “Lemings”, the computer game, when we have the computer in the dining room. I think Phil and I attempted playing it, but it was too difficult. (I also remember Ben playing some maybe post-apocalyptic video game with a overhead view, where he used some kind of mind-control over townfolks)
Sunday Afternoon Activities
- Making family movies. By that, I don’t mean just my dad would record us going on a holiday or something. (He did a bit of that too, especially recording Paul and Ben’s rugby matches, but that’s not what I’m referring to here). We’d use dad’s old camcorder and try to tell a story. Usually we did these Sunday afternoons when the family rule was we couldn’t play video games and we avoided sports… but we weren’t quite the type to actually sit down and read the Scriptures or go to visit the elderly etc. Anyways, the earliest such movie I recall making was a basketball one, directed by Paul. I only vaguely remember the premise, but it was a total 90s underdog sports story: a young kid joins a group of cocky basketball players, who get totally shown up by his skills. Most significantly, it involved some trick photography where Ben lifted me up in his arms to make it look like I dunked the ball into the net for the game-winning point. At the time I thought these films were really good, somehow the last time I watched them they weren’t as jaw-dropping.
- The other home movie of note was a similarly-themed boxing match. Paul had a bunch of boxing equipment downstairs, which Phil and I would obviously get into and start playing with and with which we’d pretend to fight. Naturally we made a film out of it. Very Rocky-esque. There were interviews with the fighters before and after. Epic knock-out punches. But mostly it was actually improvized fighting between me and Phil, each actually wanting to win but only wanting to appear to punch the other… they were mostly pretty boring. Paul had one character who was obviously inspired by Sylvester Stalone’s “Over the Top” film, who would flip his basketball cap backwards when it was fight time to get into the zone (although unlike “Over the Top”, he had to take his cap off during the match, so it was a little more hokey.)
- Watching even older family videos was also common. They were mostly from before I was born, or a few from when I was under two. Highlights included: Myriam, Odile, and Paul, all under 5, saying “Welcome to Laguna Beach” on a family vacation, Dad harassing teenage kids who protested “Daaad! Stop filming!”, and Phil and I tearing around the driveway on scooters, getting kicked by goats while Dad recorded. The films were shown on a projector which was especially novel.
- Another Sunday afternoon time-filler was reading. Not reading “out of the best books” by any means though. Calvin & Hobbs, X-Men comics, The Far Side Gallery, Garfield comics. I think we got a few for birthdays etc once Phil and I showed some interest in them. Another book that stuck with me was “Our Universe”, a Reader’s Digest book with lots of big impressive pictures of planets etc. The part that impacted me the most was the section on hypothetical life on each planet, along with really fun illustrations. Venus had fire-breathing jumping dog balls, Saturn had blimp-heads and Pterodactyles, and Pluto had ice crystal balls with feet.
- Board games were also popular Sunday afternoons. “Risk” became popular with us, but it was referred to “The Game of War” not only because it was about war, but because we’d often get angry at each other while playing it. I was a terrible loser. I’d cry if I started losing a little bit. I think Phil and Ben were much better, but there were lots of accusations of “You’re being cheap!” or “You need to roll the dice properly!” So you really couldn’t attack any one player enough to totally wipe them out. So the game went on forever, or it would at least fill the time available.
- In my highschool years, Paul bought Phil and I the game “Settlers of Catan”. He had heard good things about it. But we didn’t try it for a year, because the rules sounded too complicated. But when he finally read them through and played it with us, we were hooked. We played Settlers of Catan nearly every Sunday for about a decade.
- FIMO was a favourite activity of Dad and I’s. I don’t think we ever got too good at building things with it- it was, afterall, so impossibly hard to manipulate. But we made a nativity scene out of it, which was brought out for years, even after it began to fall apart.
- Playdough was also fun. I’d stick some of it onto my G.I. Joe toys to make armour. Some of the armour was so cool I refused to change it for years.
- Badminton in the backyard (next to the big tree, where Dad later put in a big garden). Usually the players were Dad, Ben or Paul, Phil and I. We were playing on a slope, and the team with the upper ground usually had the advantage… although they did have to watch out for what I now call “drop shots”, where the birdee would barely go over the net, and because of the slope, fall directly beneath the neat.
- Paul and Myriam were frequently cooking ethnically interesting foods that I would have no part in (today I’d be right into them!) I was known for being really picky. Dad always had fish and chips on-hand, and that was usually what I’d eat.
- For decades, Dad always kept a bag of nuts or trail mix in the corner cupboard between the fridge and stove.
- My older brother Paul asked me what food I’d like for my birthday. I couldn’t decide between Mexican and Lasagna. He made me a Mexican Lasagna. I think it was one of my favourite meals for a long time.
- Dad was no chef. But he made an Irish stew he brag about, but in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. He also made pies out of some fruit, which would end up being terribly runny and soggy. But he preferred that to too dry.
- When no Sunday dessert was readily at-hand, Dad would make us a “Nicker-bocker-glory”. It was icecream, chocolate sauce, maybe some frozen blackberries, nuts, and really whatever you found in the cupboards.
- Dad also grew zuchinnis which he’d let become so large they were quite inedible, but made him feel like a masterful gardener.
- In my college or mission years, Dad designed an “ingenious” drip system to water his garden. He’d fill up a trashcan with water, poked holes in the bottom, attached hoses to them, and let the water flow downhill to water the plant. He was hoping to employ it in Africa to help them grow crops.
- The Nintendo (NES) was downstairs, whereas most of us slept upstairs. But on Saturday mornings, I’d usually be the first to wake up, and I’d sneak downstairs to play blessed video games. Favourites included: Dick Tracy, Golgo 13, Rygar, Faxandu, Megaman 2 (later ones just got ridiculously hard), Defender of the Crown, Dodge Ball, Super Spike V-Ball, Track & Field, Guerrilla War, Contra II, Mario 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3. Most of the games were acquired by Ben. I think I bought a handful off Patrick Leblanc when he sold them in order to save money for his Nintendo 64.Video game nights with Paul (I’m pretty sure Phil wasn’t there because he was on his mission in France, so it must have been around 2003-2004). We’d rent an X-box from the McTavish Rd Store, rent an unusually violent and propaganda-y game called “Conflict Desert Storm”, but which I think we both really enjoyed. Yes you were soldiers with guns shooting Arabs without stopping to wonder “Um, maybe we’re the bad guys? Or maybe something motivates them besides the fact they’re wrong and evil?”. But in addition to that, we really enjoyed the teamwork aspect. Each of us controlled just two soldiers each with their own skills (a sniper, a demolitions expert, a machine gunner, and a close-range shooter-guy). Anyways, the two or three times we did it, we stayed up until about 3 or 4 am (whereas normally we’d be in bed by 11pm).
- We rented a Sega Genesis once or twice. Played Mortal Kombat on it. It was good to try but really we were a Nintendo family.
- I still remember the day Phil told me about this game called “WarCraft 2”. He said it was like the turn-based NES game “Defender of the Crown”, but instead in real-time and you controlled each individual soldier. I couldn’t conceive of such a thing. Then I finally saw him playing it against his friend Brian Garduno over the modem. I was entranced.
- For one birthday or something, I got a “potato gun”. I think it was a very, very conservative weapon. You’d drive the muzzle into a raw potato, take out a chunk, and pull the trigger to pop the chunk off. Underwhelming. (Nothing like the “Potato gun” my college roomies constructed that shot an entire potato for a few hundred yards)
- The Snowfall of 96. I woke up one morning, looked out on the deck, and saw an absurd amount of snow on top of the deck’s fence. Overnight there was 4 feet of snow, which amount was unheard of (and I think we have yet to beat it). Phil and I were tasked with finding the garden shovel in the backyard, but it was a truly fruitless effort, it was impossible to find under so much snow. What’s more, just moving was really hard for me, I remember I got stuck in the snow. We tried making a snow cave. I thought we’d sleep in it, but somehow we forgot. It was good we didn’t, it caved in overnight.
- “The Burning Bush” was a family legend. The prominent bush at the front-yard was the only thing to get decorated at Christmas time. We’d throw a string of lights around it, and then talk about how it was the envy of the street. It didn’t look so pathetic from the house. It was nice nobody ever fell from a ladder trying to put it up or anything. But from certain angles on the road, some years, you could literally only see one light on it.
- A few years we’d get a live tree, but it would leave a ton of needles throughout the house, so eventually we bought an artifical one. That was probably a good investment. For a few years, we’d get a new ornament to hang on it, preferably a moving one. It became a bit eclectic. At the top Dad would put an angel. One Christmas Eve, when it was getting pretty late but we were up anyways looking at the tree, he told me about how, if you stay up late enough, you’ll see the angel come down. I half believed it and was waiting just in case he was right.
- Some year for Christmas, Phil and I got Laser Tag (guns that made shooting sounds, and vests that would light up when “hit”, and would make a “game over” type sound when you got hit 10 times). For my middle school years, my birthday parties would consist of a handful of friends (I think Patrick Leblanc, Devon Farmer, Harry Fowler, Brent Dallimore, and Sandy Groulx, mostly) and we’d play laser tag downstairs. Originally, there was a doorway between the excercise room and the TV room, which, combined with some couches and tables, made for an excellent battleground (the passageway was removed in 2010s to make the excercise room a nursery for Nunu and Loic, I think). We’d also usually watch Weird Al’s “UHF”. (The parties continued throughout our growth-spurt stages. Patrick Leblanc was bounding down the stairs one year, but grew a few inches since the previous year, and hit his head on the ceiling going down. It was loud, and he probably got a bruise, but mostly hilarious.)
- Phil also had some friends over once to play laser tag. I don’t remember all his friends who were over, but one of them was Carson Farmer. While he was running and shooting, he walked backwards and tripped over a two-by-four in the garden. (The wood was dileneating the garden from the grass, and was lying on its edge, with two or three inches above ground). His wrist hit the wood at just the right ankle that he managed to break it. It was pretty startling for us. The ambulance came not too shortly thereafter (maybe we should have gone to the hospital directly looking back at it, he was in pain but not peril). Anyways, later when his younger brother Devon was playing with me, Carson told him “When you’re playing that, watch where you’re going when you’re backing up.”
- Besides eating a big meal, and hunting for chocolate eggs in the backyard, the main Easter traidition was egg rolling. It was a tradition handed down to Dad from his childhood. It consisted of: you’d hard boil some eggs, colour them with food dye, walk to the top of a hill (usually just up the road worked fine, but also tried going up Horth Hill) then you’d roll the eggs down until they cracked, and then you’d eat the eggs. Except us Canadians were far too picky to eat the cracked eggs (I didn’t like boiled eggs, too) so mostly just Dad would eat the eggs.
- Paul and Ben’s friend Rob Logan lived downstairs for a few years, no idea why. I liked him though, he was almost another sibling. (on one occasion he babysat me and Phil with his girlfriend in Sidney). One day though, he broke up with his girlfriend. He was devastated, lying on the couch in the living room commiserating. “I thought I could get through anything, but not this”, he said. Wanting to help him, and being a conosseur of the “Much Dance: Dance Mix” series of CDs, I put on a favourite: “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. He wasn’t amused by it.
- Rob Logan also recounted scary alien-themed stories to our family. He said that sometimes he could hear shuffling around him when he was asleep, and waking up but being paralyzed. That sure didn’t get my imagination going, of course.
- Dad had a BB gun. It just shot one BB, and for a few years we’d take into the backyard to shoot pop-cans. I don’t think anyone ever got hurt.
- Ping Pong. I think about weekly my dad would have friends from church over to play ping pong. Mostly Dave Hepburn, David Aspinall, and Dan Evans. David Aspinall was probably the best, but the oldest. Dan Evans was the most cunning. My dad was good and cunning, but would sometimes be too eager in smashing the ball and injured himself a few times. I played with Dad often nights when Phil was gone, and never got to be fantastic, but I got pretty good at catching out-of-bounds ping-pong balls (and have noticeably good reflexes for catching small things, although I’m otherwise pretty clumsy.)
- Budgies. I’m not sure when or why, but Dad took Phil and I to the pet store to pick up some birds. There was a small room filled with budgies flapping around. We picked Rocky as it was one of the bigger ones and I liked his green and yellow plumage, I think. Clearly, he was named after Rocky Balboa. A while later, we decided he needed a friend and so picked up “Peck”, so named for pecking us. She was white with a little blue. I think Peck died after we had a fairly big party at our house, she was probably alarmed at all the noise (even though we put them downstairs while the party was upstairs). Next we got Adrian. So named because she was going to be Rocky’s friend, she was also green and yellow. We decided somehow we needed more squawking in the house, and picked up Philly next. He was named after Phil, because he was always talking. Usually the birds all stayed in their cage (we went through 3 cages, each bigger than the last), which Dad always felt guilty about. So sometimes we’d let them fly around the house. Rocky did become quite obese and eventually couldn’t fly very well (despite his best efforts to flap, he fell a bit like a kite without enough wind.) The others were good flyers, especially Philly. One day, I heard Phil calling “Mike! Come, I need your help!” from his room. I went in and he had a clothes cabinet tilted halfway over. “Is there a budgie under there?” I thought that was the most ridiculous sounding-thing. I looked, but it was hard to see around the cabinet. I certainly didn’t hear any budgie down there. I said I didn’t think so. Phil went to put the cabinet back down when a flurry of flapping emerged. I’m not sure how the budgie (probably Philly) ever got under the cabinet. I think Rocky and Adrian eventually died apparently from old age. I’m afraid I also don’t remember what happened to Philly (I think he may have gone while I was on my mission?)
- Biking to Work. After I graduated and did a year of UVic, I went to work and saved up for my mission. I worked at Victorian Epicure, a “spice factory” in Deep Cove. It was only a 15 minute bike ride from Dad’s house (down the fire lane behind his house, past the airport, along West Saanich until almost at Deep Cove school), at least outgoing. Coming home, the hill towards Dean Park was brutal. Once I somewhat foolishly decided I would fast for something or other during the week… during the bike ride I started, my nose started to bleed, and I felt like maybe I was pushing myself a little too hard by both doing strenuous activity (including a day on the production line) while not eating.
Any siblings or frineds else remember anythign else from from the Cresswell drive home?
4 thoughts on “Cresswell Drive Home Memory Dump”
I remember that walk in the snow. I took you and Phil on it. You were complaining the whole way about how cold you were, as you repeatedly kept falling down with great drama into the snow. We only made it to the parking lot of Dunsmuir Lodge as you were starting to get quite wet!
Lol, it sounds like I might have gotten a reputation for complaining like that…
I am surprised that you never commented on the budgies! Phil was the only one they would let handle them – everyone else they would chide and run away from. But, some how Phil was able to make them land on his finger. I can’t remember how we acquired them.
Oh ya! Great point. Several stories come to mind with them…