Memories of Lloyd Kelly with Belinda Wilson and Judi Adamson
April 28, 2022
Belinda Wilson and Judi Adamson with a photograph of Lloyd Kelly
Lloyd Kelly was an unforgettable Fenelon Falls personality who befriended practically everyone in town. He loved to take part in everything that was going on in the community, and no one has ever done as much to keep the streets clean as Lloyd.
Lloyd made his living by collecting pop bottles and doing odd jobs around town. For many years he showed remarkable coordination as he carried as many paper shopping bags filled with pop bottles as was humanly possible. Then one day John Sobko, owner of the village IGA, gave him a shopping cart, which allowed him to collect so much more. He took great interest in the things that he could find around town.
Judi Adamson, with her husband Bob, purchased Reid’s Variety in 1972, renaming it J’n B’s. “We saw him every day.” When he came into the store, he really liked to talk about the pop bottles and beer bottles he was collecting: “He would want to know if anyone was going for a drive, and if he could get a ride to go pick up pop bottles. If you took him somewhere he would look down the ditch. Then when you got to your destination, he would ask if you could stop on the way back.” He would remember where every pop bottle and beer bottle in the ditch was, “and you would end up making 50 stops on the way back.”
Belinda, who worked at J’n B’s, remembered “He was everybody’s buddy. He loved kids and he would hug all of them.” And when he gave a hug he would lift the kid right off the ground. “Everyone in town just knew that that’s what Lloydie did.”
A hug from Lloyd Kelly was a memorable experience. Though he wasn’t tall, he was certainly muscular from the work he did day after day. “He never walked, he ran on his tippy toes all the time,” Belinda recounts. From all the running he did, he had remarkably large calves.
He worked from the time he got up into the morning, until his mother would call J’n B’s and ask if they could tell Lloyd to come home for supper. “The odd time at a quarter to six,” recalls Belinda, “he would stop by the store and say ‘I’ve got to get home before mother calls.’ That didn’t happen very often and I think he was proud of himself when he did remember.”
Lloyd did odd jobs for people around town, working on farms if he could get a ride, cleaning up brush and he also helped return the shopping carts for the IGA. Brian Jackett worked the grocery store, and remembered that kids would let the shopping carts run down the hill by Siders (Stokes on Trent, now the Lil’ Wee Quilt Shoppe) to watch them run out on the ice. Lloyd had remarkable devotion to his job—as he inched out toward the open water, sliding across the surface on his belly to retrieve the stray cart. At length one of his co-workers from IGA persuaded him to come back off the ice and leave it.
When he came into J’n B’s, if he had the money, he would buy a large glass bottle of Coca-Cola, and chug it right there in the store. “It was always his birthday, because he figured if he told you it was his birthday he would get a free pop, which sometimes worked and sometimes it didn’t,” says Belinda. “When he came into the store when it actually was his birthday, he would come in that door and it was like, I’ve got ammunition today, because he wasn’t telling a fib when he was saying it was his birthday.” Dr. Paul Dickson and Larry Skitch had birthdays the same day. “Lloydie always thought it was pretty cool that his birthday was the same day as a doctor and a teacher, and they were like a club… Paul would come into the store and pay for a bag of chips or a pop and we would say happy birthday from Dr. Paul.”
Lloyd was a huge part of many Fenelon Falls special events. The village hosted a winter carnival, initially behind Heritage House (RWH Construction… now the Sobeys Parking Lot), which soon moved to the beach park. The Rotary Club parked an old junker car out on the ice, and a contest was held to see who could guess when it would plunge through. The end of the night was the annual Christmas Tree burning.
The village would arrange to have their waste collection crew pick up the Christmas trees and bring them to the park. Belinda remembers, “for him it was a challenge to see if he could get more trees down to the park than the garbage guys could do.… I will never forget him running, dragging two Christmas tree by the butt-ends, behind him…. It was non-stop from the time he got up in the morning until his mom called for him to come home for dinner.”
When the Winter Carnival introduced broomball, “Cannonball Kelly” quickly became the star goaltender. He had one team, and someone else could put together the other. The organizers would get an appliance box, and made “a hockey stick for Lloyd that was as big as the entrance to the net, so there was no way they could ever score on him, so Lloyd won every game he ever played,” says Belinda. He loved to wear the blue and yellow toque complete with pompom from the event.
His favourite TV show was ALF and he loved to talk about it. One year, J’n B’s gave him a talking ALF doll for Christmas. “You would think he got a pot full of gold,” Judi remembers, “he just lit up when he saw it.” He carried it all around town and always had it turned on.
Lloyd enjoyed collecting stuffies. “When you drove down Bond Street, he lived in a house with the typical glassed-in porch, and there were all kinds of stuffed animals looking out the windows,” says Judi. He also liked to collect records, and would go around town asking people if they had any old ones. Many people obliged and in time he had a great collection of vinyl albums.
In recognition of how much Lloyd Kelly did to keep the community clean, the Village of Fenelon Falls named the north shore park overlooking the gorge in his honour. He was Fenelon Falls’ happy soul. The community loved him. And he loved everyone back.