Story first written by Alex Raeburn
Story submitted to CHF by Fay McCrea
This is a story that Alex told many times. Alex started to write a column for the Caledon Citizen in 1972, when he retired, and this is one of his columns. It is a story that Jack Lundy told to the late Alex Raeburn when they were sitting in the parkette (now Raeburn’s Comer) and they would read the newspaper headlines together every morning, watching the gravel trucks turning in all directions. I told this story at the Celebration of Life for Alex and it received quite a chuckle so wondered, although long, if this would be a “quote” for the CHF website.
Preamble: Jack Lundy’s family once farmed Lot 11, on the east side of Centre Road (now Hwy. 10) when it was a rough, gravelled road. The mountain then was two separate hills starting with ‘Garrity’s Grade” and then a level stretch, then the mountain proper. Just north of 10 Sideroad (Escarpment) the road swung sharply to the west, almost at right angles, then followed a semi-circular route to straighten out again at the summit.
Quote from Jack in 1972. “One morning, Dad and I were working around the barn with the team and wagon when Dad said “Listen, what’s that noise? It must be one of those automobiles! Come on son, we’ll walk to the road. We waited and finally saw the dust down the road. She wasn’t travelling very fast, but made it all right to the level stretch and then raced for the mountain. At the first turn, the gravel flew, she turned a bit sideways, straightened out again, but you could see she was licked. She stopped right in front of us, steaming and smoking, and then she started to roll backwards. The driver quickly turned her for the bank and there she stayed. I stepped a bit closer but Dad hollered “Stand back, son, she’s liable to explode at anytime”. The driver didn’t seem frightened at all. He asked where he could get some water to cool her down. I ran to the pump and fetched 2 pails. After a bit, he filled her with water, grabbed the great brass crank handle at the front and turned and turned, but nothing happened. I could have turned it better myself; he was frail and ‘citified looking’ but Dad wouldn’t let me. It finally gave a couple of puffs, smoked a little, but wouldn’t start. He finally asked my father for help. Dad sent me back to get the team and the longest chain. We pulled him out of the ditch, on around the hill and up to the summit. “She’ll start now” my Dad said “the gas tank was too low back there”. He turned the big crank again and away she went. He offered Dad money, but he wouldn't‘t take any. Away he went in the dust. Dad shook his head “They’;; never last” he said. If he could only see the traffic on Hwy. 10 today. And that, Jack concluded, was the first car that ever came up the Caledon mountain."