by David Duchesne

I believe I was eleven when the drop off point for the Toronto Telegram moved from the corner of John and Walton up the hill to the side ofHutchings' IGA at Cavan Street. The shift was made because the carriers who met there on a daily basis were not the neatest boys and girls in town. The newspapers came bound in a single wire, for which we all had wire cutters attached to our canvas bags, and sometimes, actually often, we left remnants of these bundles. The local business people wanted us out of there so their customers wouldn't trip over the pieces of wire that we left behind. So Mr Whiteside, our district manager, made the switch to a less busy location.

The chrome green Werlich by now had become the standard for paper carriers in the town. The balloon tires were able to navigate the snow in our southern Ontario town. The comfortable saddle made it a pleasure to ride. Since bikes were no longer the major source of conversation, talk, at Cavan and Walton, turned to other things. 

After the first week of summer at our new pick-up site, we found something far more important than bicycles to explore. It turned out that there was a canning factory about a mile down Cavan Street and the only way the trucks could get there was to enter Cavan Street from Walton Street. We checked this out one Saturday by travelling the length of Cavan Street and finding that it just petered out into a dusty country road. There was no other choice. Either the trucks turned the corner where we met our newspaper delivery truck or what was on the truck didn't get delivered. We had discovered another source of enjoyment.

Farmers from all over the immediate area sold their crops of tomatoes, peas and corn to the cannery and provided a considerable boost to the local economy, and, as we were to soon discover, a boost to our fun.

Walton Street, the town's main drag, sloped up at a fairly steep angle to the west, so any vehicle coming east into the main business area had to slow down considerably. This was particularly so for the trucks full of vegetables headed for the canning factory. Not only did the trucks have to slow down because of the hill, but they had to round a very narrow corner which was often congested with cars picking up their groceries from Hutchings', or better still, the Toronto Telegram truck dropping off the ten or so bundles of dailies. 

The look out was placed just up Walton Street on the upper level of the Evening Guide building where there was a full view of the traffic descending the hill. We took turns because no matter how fast the scout up the street got back, the truck, with its load would be gone before his return.

All this elaborate planning came about when we found that when peas were being harvested from the fields and shipped to the factory for processing, we were able to do a little harvesting of our own. 

"Pea truck's coming! Pea truck's coming!" 

Those of us at the corner got ready for the yield. The truck waited to make the left turn toward us. We counted on heavy traffic on Saturday afternoon so the truck would have to navigate the corner when the oncoming traffic thinned, allowing the dump truck to proceed across to the entrance to Cavan Street. This was our opportunity to leap out, at just the right moment, and snag our fingers in the abundance of pea vines hanging down the back of the box of the truck and pull them off. On a good day we could get almost a cup of the fresh green seeds. Such a treat for kids raised with gardens! We all loved to fill up on peas, fresh from the garden, but these were extra special. We didn't have to pull the weeds out and we didn't have to hoe the rows. 

This ritual continued for the duration of the pea harvest. Every day we managed to snack quite well. I think the drivers knew what to do when they got to that corner. Even on Wednesday, when the downtown stores were closed, the truck took an inordinate amount of time to make the turn. 

The end of the pea trucks was a sad time. It marked the beginning of tomatoes, to be followed by corn, and they weren't as much fun as our elaborately-planned commando raids on the pea trucks. Worst of all, the end of pea-time marked the beginning of school-time.