August 29th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 2

Right – first the video game.  Mr Hoare had brought it over from England (tho’ it’s not readily available there – he’d acquired it from someone.)  It was not much bigger than  a credit card, and in it the player controlled a pair of ambulancemen who had to bounce men escaping from a burning building into a waiting ambulance.  Not as tricky as it sounds – there are only 3 positions for the ambulancemen to stand, and the bouncing bodies always followed the same pattern, the only difficulty coming when the game progressed, since the men would come faster, + you might have to juggle 2, 3 or 4 at a time.  Steve, his dad, and myself had been playing it a lot during the past 2 weeks (occasionally his ma, rarer Val, never Chickie) and there’d been a competition to set the highest score, which Steve had set as 280 in the slow game, 123 in the fast.  For the last few days I’d been getting really close (272 + 122 resp.) but somehow couldn’t break it – very annoying.  However, I was determined to do so, and late last night + early this morning I made it!    277 again on the first attempt (I got annoyed with Val when she interrupted me when I was on 272, and then, finally, I did it.  Really nervous at about 240, heart pounding away, and then, as soon as I crossed the magic no., I relaxed + made 351.  Far out, nein?

Anyway… on the morning of Aug 29th, Steve woke us up early, at 7, + we were up immediately + breakfasted.  We packed up, said goodbye to Mr + Mrs Hoare, and Steve drove us in, first to see Chickie + the baby.  Chickie didn’t appear too bad, especially since she’d had a pretty bad time of it yesterday, ending with a Caesarean.  And the baby looked pretty good too, tho’ you couldn’t say she looked exactly like either of them.  Big, dark + hairy pretty much sums her up.

Then Steve took us out to the ferry – we were in plenty of time, in fact, had to hang around for quite a while on the dock.  But then the time came, and we said goodbye + boarded.  The journey was fairly uneventful, tho’ we did decide to stop off at Haines, + catch the ferry coming thro’ tomorrow.  We disembarked, only to discover, once again, that the ferry terminal was well out of town – five and a half miles, in fact.  Terrific. 

We tried hitching, and had just about given up when it seemed as tho’ all the vehicles were off the ferry.  We were lucky tho’, + a last truck came out, + gave us a ride into town.  It was called the city of Haines, but it was the smallest city I’d ever seen, a real one-horse town.  It seemed to be virtually deserted, + lots of the buildings were boarded up.  We walked out to Fort Seward, an Army fort which had been sold off, and now served a variety of functions.  There was a hotel there, an Arts Centre of sorts, a few private homes, a few touristy efforts.  However, there was nothing going on while we were there, so we strolled further out of town, and, by chance, came upon a free camp.  It was small, but there were just a couple of people there, so we set to and made ourselves a tent by draping a large sheet of polythene that I had from the end of a picnic table, + weighting it down with rocks.  We ate some dinner, + washed it down with a beer.  (Someone seemed to have abandoned a 6-pack on the boat, so we grabbed ‘em.)  Then we walked into town to see where the action was – there wasn’t any.  It was still deserted, even on a Saturday night, so after ascertaining that the bars weren’t worth visiting, we walked out again.  Val went to see some Chilkoot dancing in the Arts Centre, but I didn’t think it would be worth $4, so gave it a miss, and walked back to the camp-site and lit a really good fire, drank beer, and watched the flames.  A Dutchman called Josh came by + joined me, then 2 more guys – an American + an Englishman, called Graham.  We sat + talked – oh yes, Val was back by now.  The show had been so-so, worth seeing but rather amateurish.  Then bed.

I don’t know what time it was, but a pick-up drove in later, c + w music blaring, pulled up right next to our table, + proceeded to have a party/argument at loud volume.  Eventually, I couldn’t stand it any longer, got out of bed + went round to ask them to be quiet.  They did, for a few minutes, then drove a few yards away + turned up the volume again.  They argued terribly, 2 men + a woman – appalling music, appalling language, but thankfully sleep overtook us eventually.

Have to apologise profusely for the first paragraph; why I thought the finer details of a hand-held video game would be of interest I have no idea.  I suppose it reflects my obsession at the time.  And is another one of those things which are no more to add to the list.  While at the time it seemed like the most amazing technology.

And I ought to comment on our stay with the Petershoares.  We had only been away for about three months, but already we were missing the comforts of home, so to stay with good friends, all the more so since lots of their culture was distinctly English, was a real treat.  And that they should have been prepared to put up with us at such a time was remarkable.  So thanks to them for everything.  We are still in touch, though there have been long periods when we have drifted out of contact, and met up for the first time in years just a few years ago, when we walked the Dingle Way, in the south of Ireland, together.  Thjeir daughter is, gulp, forty now, and has a younger brother, (despite Steve’s protestations at the time that he would never put Lilian through an experience like that again.)  It’s a good job that people forget, eh?

2 Responses

  1. Pamela J Blair

    I remember the first video game that I ever played, in 1978-79. It was on my calculator, and the common feature (with yours) was that it sped up and up. I used to play it when I couldn’t get back to sleep after nursing my son mid-night. Then I became addicted. I’m still a game/puzzle addict–Sudoku, online Hearts, crosswords. The first game I saw on a TV screen was pong, which was also fun. That was in ’79, I think. So long ago!

  2. Stephen Petershoare

    Great picture of the ferry TAKU
    Sad to say it no longer runs here in Alaska
    However, all those old ferries have been life savers here in S.E. Alaska and they lasted a heck of time longer than the new-fangled onces they tried. The new ones were fast, but they could not cope with the wind and the waves we get here every year.
    The ferry MATANUSKA and the ferry LeCONTE are the last of the original ferries that still run in Southeast, and even though a state ferry does not stop at Prince Rupert any more (due to COVID), the MATANUSKA is the only ferry that runs from Bellingham to Skagway each week.
    It was wonderful to read your entries for your time here, they brought great memories. We eagerly await your entries for the days, weeks, months and years ahead!!

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