Friday 9 February 2024

My Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Blown

    After a year of teaching in the two-room school in Avola, BC, a job and place I hated, I resigned, without a job or a place to live, to go to.  When the school year ended in Avola, and we had to move out of the teacherage, fortunately, the McRae’s, a retired couple, and our only close friends in Avola, invited us to live with them while we figured our future out.

        We had a lot of money saved from four years of teaching, so while we stayed with the McRaes, we started looking around for a place to buy in the still rather pristine and spectacular mountainous Robson Valley.  We needed to put down some roots.  

        While at McRaes, we were shown a copy of Harrowsmith magazine.  It was a newly minted Canadian publication featuring articles and ads for people living rural lifestyles.  It was exactly the kind of information I was interested in.  While browsing through it, I noted that they were promoting their first photo contest with the top prize being a 35mm Nikon camera.

        That peaked my attention, since I had always been an avid photographer.  As I scanned through the list of categories of the photo contest, I thought about some of my photos that might fit.  One of the categories was “Friends and Foes of the Garden”.  I had a really crisp closeup of a toad that I photographed on a beach on Vancouver Island (but figured Harrowsmith wouldn’t know it wasn’t taken in a garden).   I wrapped the slide up for protection, mailed it off as an entry in the contest, and pretty much forgot all about it, as we busily searched for a property in McBride

        Eventually we found a place we wanted just outside of McBride, and bought the five acre “Hobby Farm” and moved in.  We were kept busy making the place our own, meeting people in the community, and exploring the area.  When Christmas arrived, we decided to drive down to Indiana to see our families.

         We were of course somewhat worried about leaving our mainly wood stove-heated house in the dead of winter, depending only on a few electric space heaters to keep it warm, during our absence, but I hoped for the best.

After our Christmas trip, we returned to our house and discovered that “hoping for the best” didn't really work very well—our house had frozen-up during our absence.  I had left a trickle of water running in the bathtub, thinking that the flow would keep our water from freezing, but the drain under the house must have frozen, because the bathtub was filled to the very top with a solid block of ice.  The toilet tank had also frozen cracking its ceramic tank.  We had no water.

Depressed, we trudged through the snow over to our neighbor place.  We discovered that Kjell too had frozen up and had no water.  While we had been away, Kjell had been collecting our mail, so while everyone was commiserating about frozen water, I sorted through our mail and amongst our letters, was one from Harrowsmith Magazine. 

        It contained some much needed good news—it congratulated me for being chosen the Grand Prize winner in their first photo contest with my close-up photo of a toad.  I had won myself the Nikon camera!

I was, of course, very excited about winning the Nikon Camera in the Harrowsmith Photo Contest, and amongst my other mail was a postcard from Canada Post, telling me that a package was being held for me at the McBride Post Office.  Because New Year's Day had fallen during the weekend, Monday was the Federal holiday, and so it wasn't until Tuesday, Jan. 3rd, that we could to go to the post office to pick up the package. 

The package not only included my new camera, but also contained three copies of the glossy Harrowsmith Magazine, in which my award winning photo was published.  I was anxious to leaf through the magazine to search for my photo.

Once back into the car after leaving the post office, I quickly scanned through the magazine, suddenly there it was—a centerfold of my toad close-up.  Filled with pride, my eyes scanned down to the caption below the photo, “Grand Prize winning photo by Bob Marchant.”  

“What???  Bob???”  My name is David.

I was immediately deflated.  Here was my only chance at national fame, and the magazine had gotten my name wrong—isn't that always the way things go, my “fifteen minutes of fame” spoiled.

“Oh well,” I rationalized, “I did at least got a brand new Nikon camera out of the deal.”

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