We Went Everywhere

My father, Belfry Hamilton, would have turned 100 today. He passed away in 1998 in his 81st year. I’d say that he had about 79 very good years, one so-so year, and one that wasn’t what he wanted. All things considered, it was a full and good life.

After he got out of the Army he briefly worked with a cousin selling and servicing tabletop jukeboxes that were installed in restaurants. I think that job lasted a few months before he and another cousin went into the auto parts business in a rented store on the Main Street of our home town. After a few years he bought out his cousin and the business was booming. He soon built a large store on the edge of town and later a car wash and rad repair business. Somewhere in there he built a home on a leafy street for his growing family. There were three teens in the family – Wayne, Karen and Eric – by the time I came along in 1962.  

When my dad turned 50 in Canada’s Centennial year we flew to Montreal to visit Expo ’67. I think that sparked something in him. He wasn’t keen on flying but he liked to travel. Within a year he had sold the business, bought a brand new Buick Electra 225, and got one of those new-fangled Chargex cards.


I remember a conversation over breakfast one morning when I was in Grade 1. “Helen, better see if Mike’s teacher will give him some homework?” “Why, Belfry? He’s doing well.” “Because I’d like to go to California for a few weeks. Maybe Arizona, too.” “And when do you want to go?” “Probably best to leave right after lunch so we can get through Detroit before dark.”  

And by “after lunch” he meant that day, as in three hours notice. That was my dad. He wasn’t big on making reservations or consulting maps but we drove almost everywhere. He and my mom did fly to Spain to visit my brother Wayne in 1971 and we once flew to Edmonton to visit my sister Karen in 1977, but for the most part we went on road trips. Long road trips.  I guess this is where I got my love of spontaneous travel. 

Through the late 1960s and early 70s we made separate trips to Los Angeles, New Orleans, Quebec City, Vancouver, Amish Country in Pennsylvania, New England, Edmonton, and almost annual trips to Florida. 

Around 1972 dad purchased a standardbred broodmare and she soon had a foal. In 1974 he bought a $1000 claimer named Ouch. She was well named, not only because of her general level of soundness but because she would kick and bite and my dad spent more time nursing wounds than travelling. There weren’t a lot of people interested in looking after a mean, cantankerous mare named Ouch while we criss-crossed the continent. 

So with big road trips out of the question, we started going to a few more local events. A little earlier, in the summer of 1970 we saw Johnny Cash, June Carter, The Statler Brothers, The Tennessee Three and Carl Perkins at the C.N.E. That was one show, one night. I didn’t actually remember who was on the bill with The Man in Black but I was able to look it up at http://www.world-theatres.com/CNE.html. What I do remember is being amazed that Johnny Cash could remember the lyrics to a song called “I’ve Been Everywhere.” 
 
The song was originally written with lyrics about Australia. RCA Victor had the writer do a version listing North American towns and cities and Canadian singer Hank Snow had a number-one hit with it in 1962 – the year I was born. Johnny Cash recorded his version in 1966, and much later Stompin’ Tom Connors did a version that included a mention of my hometown, Stouffville. 

Needless to say, it’s been a favourite since I first heard it that night at the C.N.E. grandstand at the age eight. I’ve often wondered how long it would take to visit each town mentioned in the song. Someday I might get around to that!  

In the meantime, I’ve penned a version of the song that lists some of the many places that my parents and I traveled to between about 1966 and 1976 (when I was 14 and staying home was more fun than traveling with my parents). I doubt that many singers could memorize my version and it would be of little interest to people other than me (and perhaps those like me who have a slight fixation with list making) but here goes. I call it “We Went Everywhere.”

————

(Introduction)

Long before I started school at the age of five,

Mom delivered for my dad, and with her I would ride.

I know now we didn’t stray too far from home,

But to a pre-school kid it was pretty far to roam.

And if you asked me at the age of 10 where I had been,

I’d say, Listen bud, there isn’t a town I haven’t seen.

————

(Chorus)

We went everywhere, man

We went everywhere, man

Crossed the deserts bare, man

I’ve breathed the mountain air, man

Of travel I’ve had my share, man

We went everywhere.

————

We went to Heidelberg, Pittsburgh, Chambersburg, Ballinafad,

Hamburg, Harrisburg, Morrisburg, A-1 Rad,

Revelstoke, Okotoks, Sherman Oaks, Knot’s Berry Farm,

Tonawanda, Lackawanna, Batchawana, Samarillo’s Farm,

Centreville, Campvellville, Queensville, Roger’s Pass,

Bowmanville, Thamesville, Louisville, We burned some gas.

————

We went to Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach, Wasaga Beach, Joliette,

Ottawa, Nottawa, Chappaqua, Lafayette,

Barry’s Bay, Thunder Bay, Mildmay, The Big Nickle,

Tampa Bay, North Bay, English Bay, Kennedy’s Chicken, 

Waterdown, Wallacetown, Gowanstown, Bay City,

Lagoon City, Kansas City, Garden City, what a pity.

————

We went to Priceville, Pottageville, Temperanceville, Bala,

Belleville, Shannonville, Brockville, Ocala, 

Bond Head, Nags Head, Indian Head, Innisfil,

Purple Hill, Bunker Hill, Dickson’s Hill, The Old Mill,

Tillsonburg, Gravelbourg, Gettysburg, Bangor,

Baltimore, Creemore, Canmore, Putt’s store.

————

We went to Richmond Hill, Brown Hill, Gainsville, Feaversham,

Beamsville, Beachville, Bruce’s Mill, Hoover Dam,

Barrie, Napanee, Kissimmee, Keeneland,

Hornby, Gorrie, Okeechobee, Marine Land,

Ashville, Nashville, Knoxville, Seagrave,

Palgrave, Hidden Caves, Mammoth Cave, Kennedy’s Grave.

————

We went to Burlington, Hamilton, Washington, Santa Fa,

Pefferlaw, Shefferville, Kemptville, Monterey,

Markdale, Parkdale, Leaskdale, Owen Sound,

Hinsdale, Kinsale, Old Glory Sale, Pilot Mound,

Cache Creek, Duffin’s Creek, Pyke’s Peak, Quad City,

Panama City, Quebec City, Salt Lake City, Mississippi.

————

We went to Thistledown, Tinseltown, Wheeling Downs, Winnipeg,

Lansdown, Bogartown, Cookstown, The Vegerville Egg,

Newtonville, Orangeville, Point au Baril, Hazel Park, 

Huntsville, Unionville, Hal’s Grill, Inn On The Park,

Whitewood, Maywood, Greenwood, Kakabeka Falls,

Burk’s Falls, Bridal Falls, Niagara Falls, Lots of Malls.

————

We went to Bradford, Allenford, Campbellford, Gull Lake,

Sandford, Stratford, Oxford, Finger Lakes,

Western Fair, Markham Fair, Carstairs, Pompano,

Playfair, Au Clair, Montclair, Anywhere the OSS would go,

Busch Gardens, Sunken Gardens, Ballard’s Gardens, LA,

Apalachee Bay, Shanty Bay, Callaway, we’re halfway!

————

We went to Inglewood, Hollywood, Collingwood, Consecon,

Rockwood, Goodwood, Norwood, Thessalon,

Almahurst, Pinehurst, Midhurst, Piapot,

Agawa, Batawa, Mattawa, Rockytop,

The Peace Bridge, Bracebridge, Uxbridge, Broadview,

Ravenshoe, Glenview, Waterloo, Kalamazoo.

————

We went to Palm Beach, Thorah Beach, Gilford Beach, Duntroon,

Miami Beach, Myrtle Beach, Mollie’s Reach, The Surf Room,

Pasadena, Pascagoula, Ponchatoula, Baton Rouge,

Collins Bay, Vermillion Bay, Mildmay, Pontypool,

Moosomin, Brooklin, Day’s Inn, Chalk River,

Red River, Green River, Blind River, Man, could that Buick give’r.

————

We went to Nestleton, Lexington, Harriston, Aiken,

Sunderland, Courtland, Groveland, Macon,

Pensacola, Catchacoma, Apalachicola, Nipigon,

Espanola, Mineola, Osceola, Marathon,

Cannington, Flesherton, Beaverton, Desoronto,

Flamboro, Pimlico, Foxboro, Scarborough.

————

We went to Woodbine, Brandywine, Caesaria, Cedarena,

Asselstine, Alpine, Porcupine, The 9th Line,

Listowel, Maxwell, Cardwell, Matachewan,

Lemonville, Stittsville, Evelyn’s Grill, Saskatchewan,

Sintaluta, Saratoga, Sarasota, Corning,

Dorking, Nipissing, Minesing, Lunch at Bing’s.

————

We went to Agincourt, Pain Court, Caronport, Belmont,

Rockport, Lockport, Gulfport, Elmont,

Corbyville, Cooksville, Baysville, Regina,

Steubenville, Rexdale, Markville, South Carolina,

Grand Bend, Hoop and Holler Bend, Tullamore,

Ennismore, Castlemore, Commodore, The Becker’s Store.

————

We went to Blackstock, Woodstock, White Rock, Spuzzum,

Havelock, Tavistock, Kittyhawk, Vulcan,

Jackson’s Point, McCormick’s Point, Baby’s Point, Airdrie,

Sibbald Point, Turkey Point, Roche’s Point, Calgary,

Blue Bonnets, Richelieu, Rideau, Neustadt, 

Carlsbad, Atokad, The Apollo Pad, We there yet dad?

————

We went to Cranbrook, Sherbrooke, Binbrook, Atherley,

Siloam, Sandy Hook, Shady Nook, Cedar Valley,

Cedarbrae, Klondike Days, Dr. Gray’s, Honest Ed’s,

Ballantrae, Longueuil, Gananoque, Uncle Fred’s,

Tennessee, Woodslee, Dixie Lee’s, The CN Tower,

Broward, Gower, Aunt Louise & Uncle Howard’s.

————

We went to Tallahassee, Loxahatchee, Sudbury, Alvinston,

Hershey, New Jersey, Hawksbury, Galveston,

Hagersville, Buttonville, Locust Hill, Timonium,

Churchill, Janetville, Jerseyville, Beach’s Dump,

Chilliwack, Fon-du-Lac, Frontenac, Penetanguishene,

Bowling Green, Waubashene, Saugeen, See what I mean?

————

We went everywhere, man

We went everywhere, man

Crossed the deserts bare, man

I’ve breathed the mountain air, man

Of travel I’ve had my share, man

We went everywhere.

 

6 Responses to “We Went Everywhere”

  1. Karen lonson

    That was fantastic ! Great writing. I did remember today was his birthday but you said it much better than I could have.

    Reply

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