What An Incredible Weekend I Had!
By Kelly Thorson
arrived in Unity about 10:30pm Thursday Night. After introductions, Ruth
came and helped me pitch my tent. We then went back to the main tent, a
40'x 60' tent that belonged to the Unity Kinsmen club. Pat had made an
arrangement with them that we would paint the van they hauled it around
in, in exchange for the rental.
I got to meet the first attendees. Marty Happy, Bruce Ander and Del
Badry had all arrived before me. Roger MacMunn had picked up Bill Riedel
and driven out. After some chatting, and a quick tour of Masterhand
Signs, we went to the house to see what Pat hat in mind for the van.
Pat had chosen to put a cartoon on the van with a bear looking out of
the tent and the caption "Hey! Who’s Driving this Flying Umbrella?", a
play on a scene
the cartoon Robin Hood. Little did we know how eerily fitting that, and
a number of other captions were to become. I retired to my tent about
12:30 after enjoying an incredible display of Northern Lights or "Aurora
BOARealis". I was jarred awake about an hour later by the sound of
hammering striking tent pegs. Karl Reeder and Kurt Nelson had arrived,
and were busy setting up their nest, which became to be known as The
Friday morning dawned with the sound of more hammering tent pegs. The
Van Panel had arrived and was being moved into the tent. After a few
infusions of coffee, Pat put me to work pouncing out the Kinsmen logo.
Meanwhile, Kurt and Karl were working on the cartoon for the side.
Bernice Tornquist and her husband Torence had arrived. They joined the
others in prepping the van. We kept Pat hopping, asking for this and
that until we got a little more familiar with the place.
Debbie and Murray MacDonald rolled in sometime during all the confusion.
By mow my head was starting to spin trying to remember all the names and
faces. I'm not sure when Steve Chartrand showed, but I think it was at
the same time that Duncan and Mike did.
Once Mike Meyer got there, things really picked up! After some lettering
demos, and lots of laughing, Mike laid out the lettering for the van.
By this time, everyone was here with the exception of Alf Toy, a postal
carrier from Saskatoon. I have no idea when he showed up, but his
enthusiasm and fascination was a pleasure to see. I learned how Alf had
discovered the Letterville Website and wants to learn the trade for when
he retires from the postie business. Alf is a great guy and he forgave
me for my insensitivity, which I shall explain later in my Alfie Toy
I began to realize how fortunate I was to have this meet as my first!
There was a wealth of knowledge available from some very talented and
experienced Letterheads. I got the full impact of what "Letterhead"
really means! There were less than twenty of us, but over half of the
attendees were "Masters of their Craft." I had unlimited one-on-one
The rest of the day and the next was a flurry of activity and learning.
Alf decided to stay the whole weekend and I lent him a spare tent I had
brought. Because we were small in numbers, Pat got to participate in the
meet much more that most hosts I am told. He was kept pretty busy
his farm buildings from being recycled into panels by Mike. Somewhere
along the way, Helga was born. Us gals were all jealous about the amount
of attention and fondling she was getting from the guys!
We all gathered in front of the finished van for our "GROPE" photos.
Saturday evening the Kinsmen, and their wives, put on a fantastic wild
boar BBQ. They seemed to be very pleased with the Van. We worked on
various projects through the evening. Murray and Pat pulled out their
guitars and serenaded us. Which brings us to...
First I think it is pertinent to remind everyone of the theme Pat chose
for his meet, "Paint the Prairie" and the slogan for the group project,
"Hey, Who's driving this flying umbrella?"
Some people had left for the night. Things were starting to wind down a
bit when the wind picked up. There was a pretty incredible lightning
display going on and people were standing around watching it. I decided
to run down to where my car was parked to grab a couple of bottles of
paint to finish up a piece I was working on. Which brings me to the...
Alfie's Toy Story
As I mentioned earlier, Alf is a letter carrier from Saskatoon who wants
to learn the craft. He was so enthusiastic and went strong all day. Just
before the storm he decided to have a shower.
Pat and Ruth had built a
new bathroom in their basement especially for the meet. The bathroom was
accessed by an outside storm cellar door that lay horizontal on the
ground with steps going down from it. When the wind and rain picked up,
Pat closed the cellar door, not knowing he had trapped Alf in the
basement. Ruth heard a tiny knock on the door leading from the basement
to her kitchen and found a timid, embarrassed Alf standing there,
apologizing because he couldn't get out. She let him out the upstairs
door, and he headed down to his tent for the night.
While I was looking for the paints in my car, the wind started to pick
up really fast. I contemplated making a run for the big tent, but
decided to hop into the car and see what happened. All of a sudden there
was a loud cracking sound and a poplar tree broke off in the wind! The
tent that Alf had borrowed was flattened to the ground. Well almost.
There was a small bump in the middle. All of a sudden, the bump started
attacking the tent. There were nylon wrapped arms thrashing all over the
place. I called out "Alfie! Is that you?" A strangled little "Yeah!"
answered back. I made a suggestion, "Alfie, I think you'd better get in
Another strangled little "Yeah" and then a full blown assault on the
tent, as he tried to find the opening. Finally an arm, then a head, and
then a leg, appeared from the tangled shell. Then a very wet disheveled
creature scurried to my car, and clutching his bag to his chest, jumped
in the back seat.
"I had to find my keys, or I'd be stuck here forever!" he gasped.
I turned the light on and looked back to see this drenched little letter
carrier, sitting in my back seat in his boxers, hanging on to his bag
for dear life and came completely unglued.
Here is this poor fellow, frightened half to death when the tent he is
sleeping in suddenly attacks him and ties him up in knots. The car is
shaking in the wind, trees around us are being snapped, and I'm killing
myself laughing. Again Alf, my deepest apologies for my insensitivity.
I'm glad that you can join in the laughter now.
back at the tent, Del in his wit has yelled "Who's, driving this flying
umbrella, anyways?" They then proceed to take the tent on it's maiden
voyage without us newbies! Letterheads are hugging posts trying to save
the tent and it's contents. When Murray, who is a pretty big fellow, his
wife Deb, and Pat's Daughter's boyfriend Mike, are literally picked up
two feet off the ground, Captain Pat decided it was time to abandon
ship. Everyone fled to the refuge of the house.
Now back at the car, I had finally managed to stop laughing. I informed
Alf that I was going to go back to the house and suggested he get
dressed and join us. By the time I walk to the house, the whole scenario
is replaying in my head. I'm cracking up all over again! I get into the
house, and not realizing the frightening experience the rest have been
through, I manage to choke out my story. We were pretty much all
laughing hysterically by this time. Poor Alf had enough! He said his
goodbyes and made a hasty retreat back to Saskatoon.
We went back out to the tent when the wind died down a little. I walked
around and picked up a panel Del had made me, “Holden, Holdfast, Hold
one that he had made that said “Power Out!” The table of One Shot
paints had been thrown over and the grass was strewn with brilliant
patches of One Shot (“Paint the Prairie”). Sign kits were dumped out,
tent posts were laying around, and stuff was everywhere. There was a
surreal feeling to it when we realized how fortunate we were that no one
had been hurt.
The table with the portfolios on was just like it had been left. In
fact, the torn
halves of the playing cards that had been used for the door prize draws,
were still laying in pairs on the table, yet the food table beside it
and an easel had been thrown out of the tent and the upturned One Shot
paint table was a few feet to the other side. That still completely
blows my mind!
All of a sudden another gust of wind and Del gets konked on the head
with the tent. I had given Del a panel earlier in the evening that said
Ding Dong Del, with stars all over it because he kept banging his head
on the top of the storm cellar door jamb.
Pat and Ruth managed to find room in their house for everyone who had
been in tents. Bruce’s tent poles had all been snapped, Kurt and Karl’s
tent had a tree lying across it, and my tents were both completely
drenched. I’m not sure we would have felt too safe out there that night
even if the storm had quit. There was no power in the house so we went
to bed with
flashlights and candles.
The next morning was tough. Not only did we have to deal with goodbyes,
but the realization that our hosts who had been so fantastic to us now
had a weeks worth of work to do just to clean up. We picked up what we
could. A roof had been ripped off a shed and had landed within a couple
of feet of the back of the tent.
What an incredible bonding experience this all was for me. Pat & Ruth,
you have a beautiful family! What charming daughters! Your warm, genuine
hospitality is so rare to find. Thanks from the bottom of my heart!
Bill Riedell, you stole my heart. What a warm, energetic and giving
person you are. God bless! I am so glad you had the opportunity to see
the Northern Lights, and take home a little piece of our living skies in
your memories. For all you give, I'm glad you got something in return.
Murray. Thanks for your patience in the one on one lettering lesson you
gave me. You would have made a great Kindergarten teacher!
Deb. Thanks for the laughs. I hope you weren't to traumatized by our
Roger. Thank you for the carving demo and the laughs. I'm gonna keep my
eyes open for some caragana roots for you. What are you going to carve
from the fallen tree?
Del. How's the head? Great to meet you, and thanks for the window
tinting tips! The panel you made me is hanging on my wall!
Bruce. Thank you for the pinstriping demo. Your panel is on the wall
right beside Del's. May I recommend you replace that tent with a larger
Bernice and Torence - It was great to meet you two. I wish you could
have stayed for the full meet. I’m looking forward to the CD.
Duncan. Thanks for bailing me out on the van lettering. It was great
meeting you too and I’ll know who the Dawgie is now.
Karl. What incredible airbrushing talent! I was so impressed how willing
you were to spend so much of your time brushing stuff for others. You
are a sweetheart!
Kurt. Glad you made it out of the tent. I loved watching you create the
cartoons, and just when I was really impressed, you blew me away with
your serious panel!
Stevo. Another rookie, but definitely not on the talent side! I won’t be
able to look at a mosquito for a long time without thinking of that big
red one shot blob on your skeeter bat Sunday morning!
Alfred Toy. Your enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge were evident. With
that desire to learn you will be first rate. Thanks for the CD, the pics
were great, and please don’t be embarrassed by my story. I’m laughing at
the scenario, not at you!
Mike. Aha! I finally got to meet the sexiest man on the BB. You are a
sweetie. It’s amazing to watch you work. Wheel be seein ya in Febrewary
Laddie, woon't we!
Marty Happy. Simply a pleasure! I’ll be popping in to check out your
space! Did your post mean that I was good at slinging BS and brushes
when I’m frustrated?
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