Introducing: Napanee Writers’ Forum Series

Hi, my name is Rick Revelle. On January 2020 I started a writers’ forum here in Napanee. We suffered through COVID and stayed together.

There are now 10 of us. Myself and nine very talented ladies. We have a yearly writers festival that raises money for the Napanee division of the Kingston Literacy and Skills office.

I have written five books that are used for Native Studies in certain schools across Canada. I am also a Knowledge Keeper for the Limestone and Upper Canada School boards.

Starting this week and then every two weeks after that, the other nine members of the group will have an article published in the Beaver. They will be writing for the next year and maybe longer. With thanks to Adam Prudhomme.

For the first time through for each of the nine ladies I will give you a short Bio of that writer. I hope will enjoy what they write. They are at times funny, serious, and talented.

The leadoff writer for our group is Nancy Simard. A retired graphic artist from Toronto who now lives in Bayridge. Nancy is the conscious of our group at times.

Remembering Pepsi Cola Pete an Icon in Napanee

By Nancy Simard

Locals called him Pepsi Cola Pete or Pepsi Pete. Why? A Pepsi was always in his hand, with a toothless smile, and sparkling eyes looking to hitch a ride. Harold Flanagan, his given name, is an icon of the area. Harold’s memory continues by sharing our stories of him. His ancestors were part of the fabric of growing this community. The road leading to their farmhouse was named after them long before the first sign for Highway 41 was erected in 1935. This road took my nan, Joy Lloyd, to a derelict 250-acre farmhouse she purchased. My uncle Doug found the property listed by a Church in Erinsville in the Toronto Star before my grandfather died.

The farmhouse was uninhabitable for all except the animals that took refuge there for decades until the cleaning commenced. I remember my uncle and I were horrified when our parents said we had to sleep inside. We chose to sleep in nan’s Datsun, waking to the early sun forcing us to rise.

As the cleanup intensified, my family came to visit from Toronto frequently. On one of these journeys, we met Pepsi Pete. A tall man slightly hunched over wearing a cap walking along Hwy 41. My father pulled over to ask if he needed a lift. You may wonder why city-slickers would drive him to Flannagan’s Road. Well, Harold reminded us of my uncle Larry who hitchhiked everywhere too. Larry had Hydrocephalus. I’m not sure what disability Harold had. It didn’t matter to me.

As a young adult with a car full of friends I’d always pull over to give Harold a lift regardless of how full the car was. If a fuss ensued, I would say, “Start walking. Pepsi Pete is my neighbour.”

Harold never let us drive him home. We knew where he lived. Possibly, a rule his mother made if he was going to continue hitchhiking. I will never know.

One day on a walk my sister, Barbara, and I came across two farmhouses: McGraw’s and the Flanagan’s. That’s when we discovered Harold was nan’s neighbour. He lived with his mother and his brother, Clifford.

We occasionally visited the Flanagan’s when we were at the farm. Sometimes we would help Clifford bale hay. Often Mrs. Flanagan made us lunch and dessert, always home-made. How delightful! We all enjoyed these moments together.

I will always remember Pepsi Pete fondly…Will you?

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