Return to Civilian Life
I arranged an interview with the local education officer, as a result of which I got a job teaching at Worksop Central School. Now I had to find somewhere to live for us all, that is Jean, and the baby, and myself. Jean was living at home since Gillian was born in December, 1945. She had lots of support at Brocco Bank from her mother and Auntie Edith, and she had needed it. The baby had cried a lot, very upsetting for a young mother. It took some time for the doctor to discover the reason for the crying, the child had an abscessed breast.
Housing was a real problem; there was a national shortage. Much damage had been done by enemy action, and, in any case, house building had been suspended during the war. So we had to manage as best we could. Jean continued to live at Brocco Bank, and I lodged with my parents. They were very busy with the shop, but all were welcome. Nora was still going to school at Retford High. Joan had married Pat Lee during the war, and was living on a small farm in a village outside Retford. Frank was in the R.A.F. He had qualified as a pilot in Canada, and had been an instructor on Tiger Moths. He came home occasionally.
On one occasion, I remember he flew a Tiger Moth to Firbeck, and left it on the airfield there. He asked me if I would like to take a flight. I agreed; so off we went to Firbeck. Once in the air, he circled over Langold, performing all sorts of aerobatics – loop the loops, barrel rolls, stalling out, steep dives, while my mother watched us. Her heart must have been in her mouth to see her only two sons in a plane doing these crazy manoevres.
On another occasion, he came home with a dose of flu, which rapidly worsened, until he became delirious. He was confined to bed and given a walking-stick with which to knock on the bedroom floor if he needed help. An unfortunate idea. He banged on the floor incessantly, causing chaos and disrupting the busy routine. He had other foibles. He bought a motorbike, and decided to dismantle it. This he did in the kitchen, managing to get in everybody’s way.
I took the bus to school each day, and soon fell into a routine. It was not a particularly happy school. Mr. Smith (Bill) the headmaster had, over the years, worked to earn the school a good reputation; he was now nearing the end of his career. His interest had changed from the school to the part-ownership in a hotel in Scarborough. He was given to leaving early on Fridays to visit it. He was playing out his time. I was trying to make the transition from naval officer to teacher, and from virtual single man to married man. I went to Sheffield at weekends, but both of us were impatient to live together in a home of our own.
That happened fairly soon. With the help of a loan from my parents, we bought a little place in Oldcoates, a village about a mile north of Langold on the Doncaster Road. It was a small place, half of a bungalow, which we shared with the Smiths next door. It was tiny but it was our own, and we used our money to buy a few items of furniture, and make a home of the place – Thornlea somebody had named it.
The setting was ideal. The bungalow was set back a good way from Blyth Road to give a lot of garden. At the front was a small paddock on which grazed a cow, and in the middle of which was an ancient mulberry tree. The village was small, just a sprinkling of houses, a large pub on the crossroads of the Doncaster and Maltby roads, a small general store nearby, a small farm run by Mr. and Mrs. Dobbs, and the large Manor Farm, a Roman Catholic church, and next to it a large house, a post office which had the only telephone in the village, a one-room school, a blacksmith smithy, a butcher’s shop which never seemed to do any business, and a row of houses lining the bank of the river Ryton. A peaceful place, where nothing much happened.
It was shortly after moving in that I experienced a strange change in my health. I became extremely tired. I could barely put one step after another. A strange, and disquieting feeling. I went to see Dr. Ryan. He gave me a thorough inspection, and found nothing wrong physically. He asked me whether I was worried about anything. I had to answer no. He recommended a rest and a change.
My mother had a friend from back when they were young nurses. This friend had a sister-in-law who occasionally took in paying guests, and so it was arranged that I would spend a couple of weeks with her and her husband on Llandindrod Wells, a small resort town on the Welsh border. I remember travelling there by train; by this time I was beginning to develop facial tics. The lady of the house was very kind. I was allowed to sleep as long as I wanted. She cooked wonderful meals. Llandindrod was a quiet, prosperous-looking place. It was noted for its parks and bowling greens. Prosperous Welsh people came here for long periods to relax and to bowl.
All I did during my stay there was to eat, sleep, and walk to the bowling greens and sit there by the hour watching the bowlers, and listening to the experts on the bank giving their advice in resonant Welsh voices. It was so restful, just sitting, and watching, and listening, time of no importance, enjoying the sun and the magnificence of the mountains in the far distance. At the end of my stay in Llandrindod Wells, I felt much better. I have wondered why I should have become so run down. I think this and the dyspepsia episode were probably reactions to the stress of wartime experiences.
Anyway, I began to feel better and, as time went on, recovered entirely. Poor Jean. She must have wondered what was going to happen to her, tied to an ailing husband, and living in a new place. She had lived her whole life in Brocco Bank. But we became attuned to village life. We became gardeners, and had some remarkable successes. I grew sweet peas of outstanding quality by deep-trenching, and removing early flower buds. We grew a lot of our vegetables – spring onions, lettuce, radishes, runner beans, peas, cabbage, cauliflower. I built a greenhouse in which we raised a bumper crop of tomatoes and cucumbers. We supplied the whole village with tomatoes, and at a good price. There was a poor lawn in front of the house. I dug it up, manured it generously and planted ten-week stock, with phenomenal results.
In a way, it was an idyllic life. Home from school, I would take the milk can and walk down to the Dobb’s farm for fresh milk. Very unhygienic by modern standards, I’m sure, but we suffered no ill-effects. In the evenings, we would take a walk round the village, down to the Post Office, and then between the church and the big stone house, through a wicket gate to a path that took us along the wall enclosing the church’s orchard into a large meadow, and so to the gate-house and, across the road to Manor Farm. Quite often we caught a glimpse of a fox. Our newspaper lady was the spinster sister of the blacksmith. She kept hens and supplied us with eggs. I forget her name. Occasionally we would have a visit from a religious fanatic. He was a younger son of the Riddells, the local squires, who lived at Hermeston Hall just outside the village. The Riddells were Roman Catholics, and it was they who had built the church, and the big stone house next to it which was occupied by a member of the family. This Riddell sometimes came to the door to talk religion; at first, he was intimidating but an acquaintance, he turned out to be harmless. We got on well with the neighbours, the Smiths, mum and dad, and their son and daughter-in-law. Old Mrs. Smith took great pleasure in his shallots. Next to them lived Mr. & Mrs. Betts. George Betts worked in Langold as a house repair man for the colliery company. He was a wonderful gardener, everything in order, in his garden and greenhouse. I envied the tools he had, and the beautiful condition he kept them in. On the other side, with an extensive garden, lived old Mr. Snell, the butcher, and his son and daughter-in-law and two children. Bert Snell worked as a mechanic at the garage in Langold. Kathleen was a housewife, with whom we became friends later.
We lived at Thornlea from 1946 until the end of 1949. Gillian lived with her grandparents at Brocco Bank. Grandma Bool was a very good housekeeper; an excellent cook, she put on as good a table as could be expected in those days.
Lean and energetic, always on the go, she was helped by her sister, Auntie Edith. There was a good deal of tension between the women. Grandma Bool, at one point was convinced that Edith and her husband were having an affair. It seemed very doubtful to me. Douglas did not look like a lady-killer. As chief engineer at Firth-Brown’s Steel plant, he had a very responsible position. His habit on returning home at the end of the day was to retire to the drawing room, put on his slippers, usually delivered by the little Scottie, Glen, pour himself a scotch, put on some classical music, and relax. Everybody knew not to intrude upon this time. He was a dour man, having little to say, and not easy to get to know. He had a soft side that rarely showed. I recall one incident that showed this. Grandma Bool was not well, and collapsed on the stairs. He bent down, cradled her head in his arms, and talked softly to her. He was most upset, frightened, I think, and seemed to be crying. He showed his emotions more with children; he made a great fuss of Gillian.
There was mystery about Auntie Edith. Why was she living there? Why was her daughter called Jean Pratt? Who was her father? And so on. I think that Edith had a liaison with a farm labourer on the family far[m] at Dalton Magna, and that he was Jean’s father. Anyway, she seemed to be ensconced as a part of the family. She worked around the house and seldom went out. My Jean did not like her, and she liked her daughter even less. I think she resented their presence in the house, Edith as a possible threat to their family, and Jean as a cuckoo in her next. The atmosphere was very fraught at times.
The rest of the Naylor family – Naylor was grandma’s maiden name – seemed to me to be a strange lot. Auntie Kit was dark as a gypsy. She was married to Uncle Tom, a small, unobtrusive man. They lived in the area. Then there was Mary. She seemed to me to be airy-fairy. A spinster, she taught school in Manchester. I think, that like many women of that era, she had lost her fiancÈ in the Great War, and had resigned herself to a single life. Another sister was Alice. She and her husband, Herbert, lived in the tiny community of Rowslea, just outside Baslow. He worked at the big country store in Baslow opposite the church. They had two daughters, both of them pretty wild, I think the elder one was married to the heir to the most prosperous drapery store in Buxton. Howard was a Buddhist, and regarded by us all as somebody very exotic indeed. The younger one was married early, and, when I met her, was entering a new relationship.
Grandpa Bool’s family were of a different cut. He had one brother, Frank, who, like himself was an engineer. Jean and I saw them on only a few occasions, but heard of their daughter who had some executive job in Paris. They seemed to be more down-to-earth people than the Naylors.
Jean was the youngest of three children. Bob was older than her, by about two years, and Leslie was the eldest. I first met Leslie when he was working on his car in the garage at No. 1 Brocco Bank. It was a Lanchester, I remember. I found him easy company, and I liked him. Unlike Bob, who was more like his father in build, Leslie was slight, did not look strong. Later, when I visited during the war, I found that he had married. He was now working at the steel works. I remember on one occasion, he came home from work the worse for drink; I think he had had a few too many drinks with the lads. Anyway, here he is at Brocco Bank, and Edna is in hysterics, threatening to throw herself and the baby into the canal. Everyone upset, of course. That was the only occasion of that sort. They went to live in a house on the outskirts of Sheffield, and stayed there until his death from emphysema many years later. He would spend hours fiddling with gadgets, a cigarette dangling from his lips, the smoke curling up into his eyes; as a cigarette was finished, it was used to light the next, and so on. That must have contributed to his emphysema; also the fact that he worked with sand in the moulding shed at the works. I liked Leslie. There was something sad about him. One had the feeling that, in some way, his life was unfulfilled, that he could have been and done much better than he did. His end was sad. Jean and I went over with Gillian. We stayed with them a few days. He was delighted to see his sister. He lay in bed, emaciated, fighting for breath. A few days after we left, and had returned to Crowborough, we received a message that he had passed away. We had expected it, but it was a shock anyway. Jean elected not to go back for the funeral.
I Go into Business
I don’t recall how it came to my notice that Miss Limb’s as it was generally known might be in play. After Miss Limb’s death, her shop on White Avenue had been taken over by a relative, and allowed to run down for some time. Subsequently it came to be owned by Harold Dean. Harold lived in the village, and was married to Eva Thorndike, daughter of Harold Thorndike who drove for the Home Coal Delivery Service. Harold Dean was a check weighman at the pit, a good, steady, well-paid job. A check-weighman was the men’s representative who counted the amount of coal sent to the surface by the miners at the coal face. He and the weighman, who represented the colliery company, had to agree on the amount. It seemed unlikely that he would give up this job in order to work in the shop. I knew that the shop could be profitable. It was in a prime position at the top of the village. So I entered into negotiations with Mr. Dean, and we made a deal. He got our house, Thornlea, in Oldcoates, and I got the shop.
There was a lot of work to do. The business had been allowed to run down after Miss Limb’s death because nobody had a real stake in it. It was still profitable because of it’s premier position, but there was a great deal of potential that could be realized with some thought and effort. It was a matter of the new broom. First I took on new staff. Marina Cash was a bright, dependable girl; she became a great strength when I needed more help. I went up to the school and got the advice of the headmaster who helped me find another dependable assistant. Kathleen Snell, our neighbour at Oldcoates, came in to help with the housework. We got rid of old stock that was taking up valuable space; brought in more suppliers and offered a greater variety of goods. I went to a war surplus place in Doncaster and bought a large shed that I put up at the bank, and which provided much needed storage space. I bought a car, a big Morris with a 6-cylinder engine. This enabled me to buy fruit and vegetables directly from the Wheatsheaf Market in Sheffield. I would get up early, drove the 20 miles into Sheffield, make my purchases, and be back in time for breakfast.
Very quickly the business took on new life. Variety and price attracted custom; the takings grew at a very encouraging rate. It was not all easy going. The work was hard; the day was long. One or two of the customers presented problems. Mrs. Wilson was the most difficult. She was a regular customer; that is, she bought everything from us; but somehow she had managed to get more than her fair share of cigarettes. Regular customers expected some cigarettes in their order, and we had to make do with the ration that we got from the wholesaler; so it seemed wrong, not to mention bad business for Mrs. Wilson to be getting 240 Woodbines a week when other regulars were getting 60. So I did what had to be done; I cut down her order. She didn’t like it, but she did put up with it. In the main, our customer relations were excellent.
The shop was the meeting place for White Avenue and School Road, a kind of community centre where people met and talked. Next door to us was the fish and chip shop. The Swifts who ran it came just after we did. There were Grandmother and Grandfather, their daughter and her two children, and Edwin, their son. They were good, sound, honest people, and, I felt, a tragic family. Old Mr. Swift was epileptic. He might be putting potatoes into the rumbler, preparing them to be chipped, or he might be in conversation with you and talking quite normally, when suddenly his eyes would glaze over, and he would stand and stare, motionless. After a few minutes he would come out of it. He scared me the first time it happened. I was talking to him in the shed where we kept our potatoes when he froze. I didn’t know what to expect. We were in a confined space, and he was a big man. Eventually we became used to it. Mrs. Currie, was a robust-looking cheerful woman. She had two girls, Anne and Jean but there was no husband. She seemed to do most of the housework. Edwin was an invalid, something to do with his lungs, I think.
They worked hard for their money. There were long periods when customers were few and far between – they opened every night; and then there were times, at the weekends, of frenetic activity, the place packed, waiting behind the high counter for their orders to be filled. Fish and chip shops were the fast food places of those days, and very economical. A fish-and-a pennorth was a piece of fried cod and a service of chips. That cost threepence and was a full meal. So they had to sell a lot of fish and a pennorth to make a living.
Next to them lived Mrs. Riley. Small, dark, with a yellowish skin, she came in each morning in her slippers for her cigarettes, 10 Park Drives. Our neighbour on the other side was Mrs. Wilson Jur, married to Joe Wilson. She was Liverpudlian, a slovenly young woman, with a couple of kids at her skirts, always looking grubby, but with a good generous heart. Next to her lived Clara Woods and her husband. Clara was a great friend of Ivy Brightmore who lived across the street. These two made sport of their husbands. “Mine’s got “ig on”, Clara often said. “Well”, says Ivy, “he’ll have to get it off, won’t he?” It was usual for them to come looking “for something tasty for tea”. One of our best customers lived right across the street from the shop. Mrs. Haywood bought everything from us, and paid her weekly bill regular as clockwork. She always struck me as being a country person, perhaps because her accent had a west-country sound. The Haywoods had a daughter Bessie, a clever girl who won a scholarship to Retford Girls’ High School. Up the road to our right a few houses was the redoubtable Mrs. Mould, loud of mouth and mother to Franny, a source of trouble.
Next door to them lived Mavis Grainger and her boy, Tony. Mavis worked as the doctors’ secretary. When you went to see Dr. Ryan or Dr. Potts, Mavis was the one who got out your records. On the other side, to the left and towards School Road, lived Mrs. Cash and her girls, and the Hills. Mrs. Hill was a Pickersgill, and mother to Christine, who was in the same class as Gillian in the Infants’ School, run by the headmistress, Miss Greatorex. As we were near the schools, we would regularly see the school bobby on his bike. He would be on the lookout for children on the street who should be in school. Frequently, if mothers were ill, they would keep a child at home, to help or to run some errands. Of course, children occasionally played truant. Another job of the school bobby was to provide shoes or clothing where the family could not afford them so that a child was able to attend school.
We would also regularly see Nurse Walton on her bicycle with her little black bag. She was the village midwife. She had been delivering children for years, and was accorded great respect.
Our day began early; we opened at 8:00 o’clock and closed at 6. There was no break for lunch. The girls would go home for lunch, and I would take over until they returned. Our busiest day was Friday, payday at the pit. The customers who were on the book would drop their books off the day before, so that we could have a total ready for Friday. Otherwise, we would have had too many waiting, and the shop was so small that it could hold only a few. Most customers cleared their book regularly. We did have a few who could not meet her liabilities, wives who were bad managers, or whose husbands kept too much for themselves for drink or a flutter at the bookie’s. These were gently but firmly put on notice that they would have to do better, or they would be cut off.
So, the shop was busy, turnover was increasing, we were making money, and that was exhilarating. We did manage to get some breaks even when things became busier with the arrival in 1951 of Geraldine and John. Sheila had been born in Oldcoates in 1949. The twins were a complete surprise. When the time came, I was downstairs keeping myself busy – this would be about 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning – when May McKenna, a girl who was helping the nurse came downstairs with the good news. “Mr. Walsh”, she said, “it’s another girl”. A minute or two later, and she was down again. “Mr. Walsh,” she said, “there’s another.
We had good help. For the first few days, Nurse Walton came to help bathe and dress the babies. A home help, Mrs. Simons, was invaluable. Feeding and changing two babies is no easy task, but it was done, and then they were put outside in a big pram. Jean never complained at the demands that this life made on her. She was very strong. Her mother, who visited from time to time, was worried for her daughter, and the demands that life was putting on her.
There was not much opportunity to get away for a break. My mother had a caravan at Mablethorpe; we rented a cottage there. It was a miserable place, jerry-built, but we did enjoy the sands. My mother was there, and Auntie Alice, her sister, who just loved children. The car allowed us to take day trips – to Cleethorpes, and, nearer home, to Sherwood Forest, and Clumber Park. We had good service from the girls in the shop, and Kathleen Snell, who would turn her hand to anything. She gave Jean a break sometimes by taking the children home with her for the weekend. With the arrival of the twins, we thought it would be best all round if Gillian and Sheila were to go and stay with Grandma and Grandpa Bool at Brocco Bank. It would ease the pressure at White Avenue, allowing more time for the twins. There was lots of room at Brocco Bank, and they were all too ready to have them. So that was decided on. Arrived there, they were registered at Clarkehouse Preparatory School; which was quite near, and so became part of the household.
We Come to Canada
By 1954, I was beginning to think about Canada. Things in Britain did not look good. Almost ten years after the end of the war in Europe, there was a general sense of malaise. The war had left the country virtually bankrupt, goods were scarce, there was still rationing for some things, housing was scarce, industrial strikes were common, and recovery was extremely slow. Canada, on the other hand, like the United States, had benefitted greatly from the war, which had dragged the country out of the recession, and had stimulated the economy. The country now had one of the highest standards of living in the world, and a wonderful future ahead. Quite a contrast to conditions at home.
Why did I think of Canada? Lots of people were emigrating to Australia. I suppose it was because I had met Canadians when we were stationed in Ostend. As I said, I had a Canadian navigation officer, and it was through him that we met some Canadians. There was a Canadian forces hospital in Bruges, and we made friends with a doctor and two nurses from the hospital. They came to our base and we showed them around our boat. In return we visited them in Bruges. This brief friendship stirred an interest in their country.
I read what literature I could find on Canada; I wrote to a friend from Crewe Hall days, who was in Canada doing an important job as Surveyor-General, overseeing the production of a new map. James Wreford Watson replied giving us some ideas. He did warn me of tough conditions in Northern Ontario. For some reason, I favoured British Columbia, perhaps because I had read about the Pacific coast and its great forests and rivers.
At this time, there was a great shortage of teachers in Canada. There were recruitment advertisements in the newspapers from several provinces. It must have been early in 1954 that I spotted one for B.C., and I drove to Birmingham where I met with Mr. Grey, a retired superintendent of schools from North Vancouver. He offered me a choice of jobs; one was in Slocan, the other in Prince George. The job in Slocan was in a Grade 1 to Grade 12 school. I asked him about Slocan. He told me it was a small community in the southern interior. Price George, he said, was bigger, and the job was in the senior high school. Making a decision was a stab in the dark, but I did it on the limited information he gave me. So the decision to emigrate was made. Prince George it was.
I had discussed the idea with Jean. She raised no objection; in fact I think she really liked the idea of a change, although she had not gone into it as I had. But it was definitely my idea. We had done well in the shop, but it became clear that the possibilities were limited. There was not the space to expand the business further. Furthermore the living conditions were not ideal. The kitchen was a thoroughfare from the shop to the shed where the potatoes were kept. In winter it was a chilly, draughty place. That left the living room as the only comfortable place. When one of us, I cannot remember now who it was, caught a cold, and the doctor was called in, he pointed out the dangers of living in these conditions. The only alternative was to buy a house in which to live, but at that time, that did not seem feasible.
Once the decision to emigrate was made, plans were set afoot to prepare for emigration. We had to have a physical examination but a physician representing the Canadian government. All of us. So, having made an appointment, we all piled into the car, and drove to Liverpool, where we presented ourselves for examination. We all were given a clean bill of health. We did have an adventure on the way home. At one point, the car lost traction. The engine worked, but the car would not move. Fortunately I was near a garage. The mechanic soon found the source of the trouble – a broken half-shaft, that is, the shaft from the differential to the wheel. Fortunately he was able to get a replacement quickly, and we were on our way with a minimum of delay.
There was no problem in selling the shop. I knew that there never would be, but we had a buyer right at hand, or, more correctly, buyers. Bert and Kathleen Snell were interested. At first, I thought they might have been interested if they had the money, but they did not. After all, Bert could not be earning much as a mechanic at the garage, and Kathleen didn’t earn a great deal from the work she did for us. But they had a backer. He was a farmer, an old man, whose place was near Oldcoates. I knew little about his relationship to the Snells, but I suspected that he may have been Bert’s father. It seemed unlikely that Mr. Snell, the butcher, was his real father. He seemed too old. Anyway, I provided information about the business for the sponsor, negotiations proceeded smoothly and terms were agreed.
I raised a little extra money by doing some teaching for Mr. Randall at the Junior School during the time remaining. We packed things we wanted to take. They all went into a large wooden box. We bought the tickets for the steamship that would take us from Southampton to Quebec. We would sail in August, 1955. And the days quickly went by when we said our goodbyes to relatives and friends. My mother and the Bools were sad to see us go, perhaps never to see them again, for, in those days, the distance we travelled was a world away. That proved to be the case for Grandma and Grandpa Bool.
The time came for us to go. I still had the car, so I drove to Southampton. Frank and Avis came to see us off on the ship, a Cunard liner, the Scythia. I enjoyed the voyage for four or five days, we were pampered. It was very pleasant to sit out on deck in a large deckchair with a blanket to keep out the cold, and enjoy the air and the sea, and of course, the delicious beef tea. Meals were delicious, served in the ornate dining-room by efficient stewards. Not all was sere, however. The children were seasick, Gillian fell out of her bunk, they didn’t sleep well, and when we arrived in Quebec, they were worn out, and not well prepared for the rest of the journey. Our passport, we were all on the one, shows that we arrived in Quebec City on the 20th of August, 1955, and that we arrived with 300 pounds, issued by the Midland Bank in Worksop on the 4th of August. The amount of money one could take out of the country at that time was very limited. Interestingly, under National Status is the entry; British Subject, Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies.
The next stage of our journey was to take us to Montreal, so we had to go from sea level to the upper town. We had a little time to look around, before boarding the train for Montreal, where we changed trains to the C.N. transcontinental to Prince George. It was night when we arrived in Montreal, the temperature so hot and muggy that it felt as if one was stepping into an oven. We found our train and got aboard, thankful for not having to make another shift for some time. Before boarding I looked around the station expecting to see Jack Gibbs, my cousin who had lived for years in Montreal, but with no luck. They were both very good to Frank and Avis who followed us in 1958.
We now began the long trip across the country. It turned out to be a trying experience. The coach in which we were travelling had a defective air-conditioning system. At various stops the coaches were charged with blocks of ice. Ours got ice just like the rest, but as the temperatures outside rose so did ours inside. The children where already exhausted by their experiences aboard ship. This was the last straw. The only way to get relief was to leave our coach and spend time in the day coach – which was a pleasant temperature in the mid-70’s.
Meals were a hit-and-miss affair. There was no dining-room service. A bar provided drinks and snacks, not really an adequate diet.
Four days after leaving Montreal, we arrive in Jasper. Through the grim Canadian Shield country of Northern Ontario, all lakes and Christmas trees as someone once aptly said, and then the relief of seeing land with rich soil and farms at the lakehead and the approaches to Winnipeg. Then across the seemingly endless prairie, dotted with small lakes, in turn dotted with water birds. For me, the most exciting part of the journey was the approaches to the Rockies, clear air and higher and higher mountains, clothed with alpine fir.
We arrived early in Jasper. It looked beautiful. Opposite the station, the government office, a pretty little stone building, set off by an expanse of lawn and bright borders of flowers, lots of young people dressed for walking. The occasional car came by, mud-encrusted, showing the effects of the long, gravel road it had travelled, overloaded with camping gear, the odd one bearing the brave sign, “Jasper or Bust”.
We had our picture taken in front of the totem pole outside the station, with a Mountie in dress uniform. The pole is still there. So is the station, but it is greatly changed. Then it had a restaurant, where we had a wonderful meal. I specially remember the large oval dinner plates, the biggest I had ever seen.
The train for Prince George left in the evening. We met a couple with a little boy, and they asked us if it would be all right for him to have the upper berth. We agreed. We got talking, and I told them my story. It turned out that the couple were Mr. and Mrs. Holger Enemark of Prince George. I suppose you could call him a bush-whacker, that is he owned his own small forestry operation. We travelled overnight, arriving at Prince George about noon. I had arranged everything with the Secretary-Treasurer of the school board, Bob Gracey, or so I thought. He was to find accommodation for us, and would meet us at the station. But when we arrived, he was not there. The Enemarks waited, and invited us to go to their home where we could phone the school board office to get some information. Eventually he turned up. He had been taking supplies to some one-room school out of town, and had forgotten we were to arrive this day. That was bad enough; but then it turned out that we had no housing. He had us down as man and wife only. This was a big problem. At that time, Prince George was growing apace, housing was at a premium. For the present, he lodged us at the Fraser Hotel. There were two hotels in town; this one was the less objectionable.
The solution to the housing problem was a pretty desperate one. Next to the old hospital was the old nurses’ home, now closed down. He arranged with the city to open it up for us. That was something. But the place had been vandalized. Nothing for it but to get some paint and wallpaper and cleaning materials and get busy. We weren’t helped by the fact that we had no car. We had to walk to do our shopping. There was no blacktop except for 3rd Avenue. Passing cars raised clouds of mustard-coloured fine Fraser River dust. And this in the heat of August made walking unpleasant to say the least. But we did get the place in shape, and spent some of our precious dollars to furnish it. All this had to be done in the few days before the beginning of the school term. I had to spend some time at school, to meet the principal and members of staff. Also to familiarize myself with the school and my work load. It turned out that I was to be teaching senior social studies classes in the senior high school. Before school began, all the staff went for a picnic at Bednesti Lake. We roasted wieners, and drank beer, and chatted. I remember the wieners well, because it was only after I had eaten several that I realized that you had to take the plastic off before you ate the wiener.
It was a tough winter. We had a lot of snow. On 3rd Avenue, the main shopping drag, by the end of winter, the snow was piled so high along both sides of the street, one could not see across the street except where channels were cut in it. At home, we had troubles. Clear the driveway, and no sooner was that done that a snowplough would come along and dump a new barrier along the entrance.
Also, it was very cold. We had a prolonged period when then the temperature did not get above 20 below. We had temperatures down to 50 below. Then the air was still and full of tiny floating crystals. One opened one’s door, and a cloud would form. If there was any wind, walking became hard. One would have to turn one’s back to the wind. I had an early experience of the cold. It was a Saturday morning. I had to go downtown on some business early. I set off, not very well dressed for the weather. Ordinary shoes, ordinary gloves, ordinary coat. It was outside the school that a pickup truck pulled up behind me. “Hey Mack”, the driver said, “Do you know where such-and-such a place is?” I had to tell him I didn’t. “Thanks, Mac.” He said, and then added. “By the way your nose is frozen”; I felt panic. I had heard ghastly stories of frostbite. Fortunately, we all had a key to the school, so I rushed to the door and let myself in, looked at a mirror. My nose had an unhealthy grey tinge. I gently warmed it. No harm done. I walked the remainder of the distance, with my scarf covering the nose, held up by my right hand, which became fixed in a bent position.
This was a very hard time for Jean. She was virtually locked into the house with two small children. The twins were four. They needed to be out. Actually, after a particularly cold spell, twenty below looked warm from inside, the sun showing pretty patterns on the snow. If she let them out to play for a while, she soon had to bring them in, crying from frozen hands. Gillian and Sheila walked to school. Sometimes all the schools were closed, and parents were warned over the local radio. Everybody listened to the community messages on the local radio. Gillian and Sheila went to school. They had quite a long walk. In order to make their walk to school safer, we arranged with the Weickers that they could always check in with Olive if they needed to. Doug Weicker was the councillor in our school. Later he would be the School Superintendent of New Westminster. Before the snow came and after it left, Jean had the children pick wild flowers at the roadside, and these she painted in watercolors. I have them still.
The house was large and, I think, not insulated. When the cold came, one could feel the cold coming through the wall. It took a lot of heating and used a lot of fuel. Over the winter we used a load of planer ends, several cords of logs, and twenty-two tons of coal. In the basement was a huge furnace out of which issued a number of great big pipes, like some giant octopus. This monster had to be fed twenty-four hours a day. If, during the night, it burned low, one could feel the drop in temperature in bed, and had to run to the basement posthaste to stoke up. Later in the year, as temperatures began to warm up, and the snow melt began, the basement started to flood. Everything that could float did so, and one had to wait until the water gradually subsided. But, prior to that, we ran into water troubles. At those winter temperatures the earth freezes to a considerable depth, and with it the water pipes. We were advised to leave a tap running to prevent the pipes from freezing. We did this, and all was well until the temperature rose, when we made the mistake of shutting off the water flow. That was when the tap froze up. The city was informed, we were put on a list of unfortunates suffering from the same problem, and eventually aid arrived in the form of a crew armed with a generator, and jackhammer. They drilled down to the pipe, put on a heating coil, and the water began to flow.
Jean did get some company. The Morrisons who had been living in the old teacherage, and had been given notice to leave, were looking for somewhere to go. There were five of them. Don Morrison, his wife, his wife’s mother Mrs. D’Rozerio, and their two girls. Don taught English in the high school. He had served in the Pakistani Army before emigrating to Canada. His mother-in-law was part Portuguese and part Pakistini judging by her name and her appearance. Mrs. Morrison was a contrast to her husband. Where Don was quiet, she was loud, where he was restrained, she was very positive. She loved singing, and sang very well. When they moved in, they brought a piano which was left downstairs, and the Morrisons would come down and we would gather round the piano for a sing-song.
They lived upstairs, and we all got along well together, and Jean had some company. We made quite a few friends. Kay Morrison was friendly with the Weickers, and the Horrockses, Bernie and Bonnie Horrocks. Bernie Horrocks was the music teacher. We also became friendly with Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey, an English couple. He was an engineer working on the Yellowhead Highway near Mount Robson. Phyllis Babb was a friend from school, where she taught biology. Also from school were a Scottish couple. David and Mary MacAree. Poor Mary had a rough time with her classes, unable to provide the discipline needed.
Education was not a high priority in the Prince George of that day. Coming from a British background, most students seemed ill-educated and not very interested in improving. The forest industry was thriving, and one could earn good money. I was told that an 18-year old could get a job as a faller at eighty dollars a day. That was more than a teacher could earn. Teachers were not well paid. I started in 1955 at $4100.00 a year. That seemed to be a lot of money when thought of in pounds sterling, but it was not a lot in Prince George.
Because living conditions were not very pleasant, and other opportunities were plentiful, there was a huge turnover of staff. Not a good thing for the morale of the school. Of course, for anyone waiting promotion, there were opportunities if one stayed on. The school was really run by the vice-principal, Tony Embleton and Doug Weicker. The Principal, Jack Birch, was in the background. Tony was a big, sensible, down-to-earth type. If there was any kind of crisis, he would be there, a calm influence, taking charge, and putting things right.
Before we settled in, we had a rough period. We had packed our possessions in a large wooden crate, expecting that it would arrive in Vancouver at the same time we did. So we sat expectantly day after day. Still it did not arrive. We had to have somewhere to sleep. Beds and cupboards were moved in from the dormitory. The beds were iron beds on two tiers. They were lavishly decorated on the underside with blobs of chewing gum. But I suppose they were better than nothing. Before our crate arrived, Jean fell sick, flu I think, and very likely because of all the stress so Dr. McKenzie was called in. He prescribed bed rest until she recovered. Somehow we managed. Dr. McKenzie never sent a bill for his service.
Prince George was a wild partying town. I imagine it still is. Teachers were no exception. There were lots of get togethers at weekends, parties going on late into the night, and then people driving out some place for Chinese or whatever. I remember in particular a lot of people crowded into Warren Holley and his wife’s place into the early hours. Warren ran an Esso station, while his wife looked after the children, of which there were several. I remember her with a houseful of people, and she joining in the fun, and cooking a panful of bacon for all the crowd. And she is expecting their next child, and taking all this in her stride. The pan was the biggest I ever saw. It must have been eighteen inches in diameter.
Spring seemed to take forever. Snow would melt and then partly freeze again the next night. But it did come, and we were ready to leave Prince George. David MacAree helped us to pack our stuff ready for Williams’ Bros. to take it to Vancouver. We booked our fares on the train, and were ready to go. The first night we slept. The next morning we woke in the dry belt near Lillooet. We sat on an open platform as we passed through Anderson-Seton lakes, beautiful, pale-green in the sunshine, and the coast mountains. We arrived at Squamish; that is as far as the railway went, and went on to the next stage of our trip. Taxis took us down the narrow, rocky, winding road to Britannia Beach where we sat on a small pier waiting for the steamer that came from Woodfibre to take us to Horseshoe Bay. As we approached Horseshoe Bay we experienced a magnificent sunset, which seemed to promise better things than Prince George. It was getting late in the day by the time we boarded the bus to Capilano Road in North Vancouver, the children worn out after the long day. We booked into a motel at the corner of Marine Drive and Capilano Drive, and all tumbled into bed, wondering what the next day would provide.
This is where Mr. Walker came into our lives, he and his green convertible. How we came across him I do not know. I thought that he worked for Al Hoover who had an office on Marine Drive in West Vancouver, but perhaps he obtained listings from him. Anyway the first thing he did was to fix us up with somewhere to live while we looked for a place to buy. That was in West Vancouver on 20th Street. We stayed there for two or three weeks. The search for a house to buy took us into North Vancouver. I remember being driven in the convertible, together with the whole family along Edgemont Boulevard, and thinking what a lovely neighbourhood it was. We looked at a new house down near Marine Drive; I think the price was $12,900. dollars, but we did not satisfy the financial requirements of the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation. The search took us into West Vancouver. Jean liked West Van right away, a pleasant small community with a seaside resort feeling about it.
We found the house we could afford on Inglewood Avenue. Actually, it was more expensive than others we had seen at $14,250. but we did not have to meet the stringent conditions of C.H.M.C. We bought it from the Sprunkens – Dr. Sprunken, his wife, and three daughters. After our down payment, we had two loans we had to pay on, one for 65 dollars, and the other for 35 dollars per month. We weren’t exactly flush with money; the down payment on the house took most of our funds. We had no money coming in. My last salary had come in June, and the next would not come until the end of September. I had enough to buy a used car, an old Dodge, and that gave the mobility I needed to go looking for work. I found a job as night watchman at the Burrard Dry Dock in North Van. The pay was not very good, but it came in very handy in tiding us over the summer. I would go to work about 11 p.m. and start my duties at midnight. Every hour I had to walk a prescribed route round the buildings of the dockyard. At certain points there was a lock into which one inserted a key, and turned it. These locks, fixed on the walls, had to be visited in the correct order. If one was skipped, the key would not work. These points took one right round the place. You did this every hour, starting on the hour, and it usually took about 35 minutes. If you fell asleep, and missed a round, there would be a telephone call from someone monitoring from the Marine Building in Vancouver. The job was not exciting, but it was creepy, walking through offices, drafting sheds, the hulls of boats. My last round was at seven in the morning. Once home, I had some breakfast and then retired to bed to rest before going on shift the following night. I feel asleep in the shadow of big trees, something I had never experienced before. The children tell me that they were shushed in their play so that they didn’t wake me.
It was a wonderful neighbourhood for children. There were lots of them, and they played together in their gardens. Our garden attracted children. A stream ran through it, and it had two small fish ponds. Children introduce you to your neighbours. We first met the Wooldridges. They lived across the lane from us. Gerard and Mary and their two children, Sharon and Mark. They were from Liverpool. He was a house painter working for small building contractors, on-and-off work. They didn’t have much money. Mary and Jean became fast friends, and stayed so until Jean’s death. The Quelches lived next door to us on Inglewood. David was a drug manufacturer’s representative. Vivian, his wife, was a housewife, and a most meticulous one. They had two girls, Barbara and Jane. Barbara had an acute sense of humour. I would tell her ridiculous stories about tins of pineapples growing on trees, and any such nonsense that came into my head. She would laugh so hard, she could not move. Jane was more reserved. She was fair-haired, and had piercing blue eyes. She was to be killed flying back from Victoria on a holiday weekend. Next to the Quelches was Mrs. Smith, a not very nice lady, and her daughter, Patricia.
Across the lane from the Quelch’s were the Griffiths – Mr. and Mrs. and their two boys, a couple of wild ones. Griff was a motor mechanic, his wife worked in an insurance office. Next to them was Ted Minkley and his wife, an older couple, from Nottingham. He made a living as a bricklayer. Next to us on the right were the Cowleys with their two older boys, Peter and Brent, and opposite them across the lane, the Hurrells with their daughter Lee. At the end of the lane to the west lived a lady whose name escapes me and her son. She was a teacher; he was handicapped, but she had managed to get him a job as a postman. At the other end of the lane lived Joan Foreman, with a younger brother, and her parents. Gillian became friendly with Joan, and later, we took her with us on a camping trip to California. Sheila was very friendly with two girls who lived near 14th street. Their parents, very interesting people, George and Marjorie Powell. Compared with today, it was a wonderful time for children. They were allowed a lot of freedom. They did not have to report to mother all the time, and they were out playing a lot, unsupervised by grown-ups. There was not the fear that exists today that results in the children’s freedom being severely limited in the interests of their own safety.
In the summer of 1956, I made a short trip to the Okanagan. I didn’t have a tent. I slept in the car. It was rough but enjoyable, a journey of exploration. I stayed overnight in the newly-completed Okanagan Lake campsite, and in the lakeside park in Kelowna. This was the time when the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors were blowing things up and the police were on the alert. I went to sleep in the park to the gentle rustle of the cottonwoods. The car door was open to allow to me to stretch a bit. In the early hours I was awakened by policemen who checked me out to satisfy themselves that I was not a terrorist. To save money I lived on bread, tomatoes and peaches. This trip satisfied my curiosity and laid the groundwork for the many camping holidays we were to take.
Money was still scarce. At Christmas, 1956, I went with Harry Cullis, another recent immigrant from England, who was teaching in West Van, to the post office, and got a job delivering parcels. We loaded our cars with parcels, and delivered them for, I think, 10 cents each. Gradually, Jean started to do drafting work. For a time, she worked in McElhaney’s office on Pender Street in Vancouver but eventually she worked at home, taking work from a number of local surveyors. As we were able to set the money aside, we made improvements to the house. We improved the insulation, refurbished the kitchen, laid new carpet in the living room and new tiles in the kitchen. Then we made made a major change. Ed. Sampson gave us an estimate to push out a deck from the living room, and build a room underneath. We accepted. The changes made a big improvement. It was nice to be able to step out on to the deck. The room underneath made a spacious, airy office for Jean, with lots of space for her drafting table and a lovely view of the garden.
The children were growing up in a pleasant and stable environment. Although we were both working, Jean and I tried to provide a good home. I think I was a little heavy on the discipline. But there was always a parent available, and a regular domestic routine, particularly in the matter of meals. We ate much better than we had in Prince George where Jean had cooked hamburger in every way known to man. Since she was downstairs, there was a lot of slow-cooked meals – some meat slowly cooked, and lots of rice puddings. I arranged a good supply of meat. I got to know the meat manager at Safeway. I would ask him to select a hind-quarter of beef, cut it and wrap it. To counterbalance these expensive cuts, I would buy beef brisket. It was cheap at 17 cents a pound, but cooked slowly was delicious and produced lots of dripping. I also bought New Zealand lamb. You could buy one, cut and wrapped for 12 dollars, the whole lamb, that is. To store this meat, we bough a large freezer, which we kept in the basement.
Meals were at regular times. We all sat down together; correct table manners a requirement.
We had good summer holidays. I graduated from the Dodge to a Chrysler New Yorker, a big car with a very powerful motor. The children liked to swim, and there were a lot of bathing spots within easy distance – John Lawson Park just down the street, Third Beach in Stanley Park, Eagle Harbour, and Horseshoe Bay. I would take them out in the afternoon, and be back for supper. They all learned to swim. John took the longest. He would get into the water, and then hold on to a log, but, for the longest time, it seemed he would never swim. But, eventually he did.
We did lots of camping. We bought a tent - not a very good one – a Coleman stove, a canvas water bag that we draped over the front of the car, and various utensils including the “mucky bucket”, so called because it was blackened by being sat on many fires to boil the water we needed, to wash, to clean dishes, to cook the corn, to make cocoa, and finally to brush our teeth. It served us well, but, also, we took it on a trip from the Cariboo to the Okanagan. At that time, camping was an inexpensive holiday. Government campsites were free and gasoline was 35 cents a gallon. We camped on Vancouver Island, in the Victoria area at Goldstream Park, and further north at Elk Falls, Miracle Beach, and Englishman River parks. I have a vivid recollection of setting out from Horseshoe Bay on one of these trips, all of us standing together on the dock, with Gillian holding a puppy called Barney. We camped in the Shuswap. I remember coming into the campsite on a wet day, and being attacked by large and very hungry mosquitoes. And I remember the supper that day – sausage and beans all cooked on a large metal tray on the Coleman stove. But the favourite area was the Okanagan, from Osoyoos, to Okanagan Falls to Penticton to Peachland; and of these the favourite was Penticton.
I would park the car under the shade trees, and relax, while the children would play in the water by the hour. How they never suffered from sunburn or sunstroke I will never know. Then, before returning to the campsite, we would return to the park on the lakefront, and make supper. It was often the same – fried spam, Hunt’s tomatoes, followed by ice cream.
Later we went further afield. We went with the Wooldridges to Beverly Beach on the Oregon Coast. The campsite was luxurious compared to ours at home. It had paved roads, hot water, a laundry, and such other decadent facilities. Then we did a trip to northern California, camping along the Eel River under the towering redwoods. We got as far south as San Francisco. We went there to have some repairs done to the car. While there we camped on Mount Tamalpais. Gillian and Joan decided to sleep under the stars on this trip. They woke up absolutely drenched from the heavy dew. On one of these trips, we visited Crater Lake. We drove the twenty-odd miles round the perimeter of the lake, taking in the beautiful colors of the waters, and then went looking for a campsite. The camp was beautiful, a national parks camp. We pulled in, spotted a place, and proposed to unload our gear. A family nearby was in the midst of preparing supper. An old man in a V.W. camper next door informed us that there was a bear in the vicinity and that it had come up the steep bank nearby. He indicated that bears didn’t bother him. Evidently the bear had gone into a tent the previous night smelling biscuits that a girl had taken in with her. Her mother woke up, and, seeing the bear, slapped it in the face, whereupon it slapped her back. We were starting to unload the car when a large black bear hove into sight. The old man promptly disappeared into his van and shut the door. The family started clashing pots and pans. We all jumped into the car. Except for Jean. She was putting stuff back in the trunk. She then tried to close it. It did not close easily. She persisted. The bear approached. She made for the door opposite the bear. A bad moment. Geraldine had locked the door by the time she was in the car; the bear’s face was inches away from mine, fortunately, with the car window between. Gillian and Joan spent the night in a station wagon in reasonable comfort. We were grateful to it’s generous owner. The rest of us slept in the car. Early next morning, we were off down the road. We pulled into a roadside spot near Bend, and made egg and bacon sandwiches, some of the best sandwiches ever made.
Frank and Avis came to Canada in 1958. He had completed his short-service commission in the R.A.F. and was hoping to get employment flying aircraft taking people and material to the Distant Early Warning Line in the Canadian arctic. This was an American effort, a line of installations designed to give warning of the approach of Soviet aircraft. It had provided much employment to fliers. Unfortunately, Frank came too late. The work was mostly done. There was not the demand for aircrew any more. They stayed with Jack Gibbs and his wife, who were very good to them. Avis got secretarial work, Frank tried real estate but he could not make a go of it, and he could not wait indefinitely. In order to keep his flying license up-to-date, he had to put in flying hours. In the event, they had to return to England, where he flew planes for charter companies both there and in Ireland – Avis hated her time in Ireland with a passion – and later he got a well paying job in Kuwait.
Then Nora came and Ted. They came to stay with us. That was in 1957. I think we were now eight. Nora soon got herself a position as a P.E. teacher in a Vancouver high school, and quickly fitted in. Ted was another matter. In the first place, although he had some handyman skills, he did not have a job. And, secondly he was of an independent, not to say contrarian, cast of mind. From the beginning, they seemed to me to be an il-assorted pair. He seemed to be the common man type, a bit rough around the edges. Not the kind of man that I thought Nora would choose. His mind was set upon becoming a boat builder, and he seemed to think that he had come to a part of the world where nobody knew anything about boats. A look around the Vancouver area should have shown him different. He did build a boat. It took him a year. It was a sturdy craft, built of oak, and heavy in the water. So what Nora was earning, or a decent part of it, went into Ted’s endeavour. If it was intended to be sold, that did not happen. Boats did not flow off that assembly line. Just the one.
We got on well together. It was just a bit of extra cooking for us. Ted had a very hearty appetite. I have never seen anybody eat as many potatoes at a meal. The kids took to him. They were fascinated by his driving. Even they could see that it was dangerous. He had bought a little Morris car in order to get around, British, of course. It was better, and good at cornering, none of which was meaningful here; important perhaps in England. Actually, Ted had been involved in a serious traffic accident. He had been driving at night, and, whether he had fallen asleep or not seen the truck parked on the road, he drove into it, and sustained severe injuries. He was many months in recovery, and his thin face bore the scars.
I don’t know when Nora came into his life, but I’m wondering how they came together, and what attracted her to him. I thought that perhaps the reason was that she was drawn to him through a motherly feeling. First they spent time on Paisley Island as caretakers. After about two years, they struck out on their own. They bought a piece of land on Bowen Island, opposite West Vancouver. She gave up her teaching job, and they moved to Bowen to build a home there. Now they had no money coming in every month. He might do the odd job for cash, but the work involved in building the house, did not allow much time for that. Besides, money had to be laid out for tools, and for the upkeep of the car. The foundation for the house required the leveling of solid rock. Hard, unforgiving work. They both worked hard. Housekeeping chores were not easy in the early stages of the work. They ate an awful lot of beans.
Just when Ian came along, I cannot recall. I rather think he was born on Bowen Island. We visited them occasionally. We had our own busy lives. But the children used to go, and they remember those visits with great pleasure. They recall much about Nora and Ted’s place, and how Nora entertained them, and how Ted gave them lots of thrills by his crazy driving on the winding roads of the island.
Things between them deteriorated when Nora went back to teaching. She had to go. They needed the money. It was hard work for her, living on with us during the week, and commuting to Bowen on the weekend. That left Ted on his own. Perhaps he felt lonely, perhaps he felt neglected. Whatever the reason, he started messing about with a woman who lived up the road a way. And that is when the balloon went up. One morning, without warning, he drove her up to our front entrance, and unloaded her. He did not stop but drove off. So here is Nora, very pregnant with Alan and Ian trailing behind. Ted kept in touch with Jean and me from New Zealand. I think he may have corresponded with Nora. We did not keep up a correspondence with him. We did not feel close to him.
Nora stayed with us until she went into hospital for the birth and then afterwards until she bought a little place in Norgate. Those were tough days for her and they were just the beginning of a long period when she had to make her own way, look after her boys, and work hard at her career.
By this time I had become involved in studies at U.B.C. In order to be qualified for a permanent teaching certificate, teachers from abroad had to complete two courses of study. I took these courses at summer school in 1967. Having completed these courses satisfactorily, I went on to complete a master’s degree. I taught at Hamilton Junior Secondary School in North Vancouver until 1963. Then with the help of a couple of scholarships, I applied for admission to the newly established doctoral programme in education and was accepted. I was assigned an adviser, my research topic was approved after numerous meetings with interested faculty members, so I resigned from my post at Hamilton. I spent most of my time at campus, doing research, and attending classes. In the summer I earned money by teaching summer school classes. In 1966, I graduated with a doctorate in education, the first ever such in the university. Geraldine and I both received our degrees at the same congregation. Shortly afterwards, I was offered and did accept an appointment to the U.B.C. Faculty of Education as an Assistant Professor in the Social Studies Department.
Meanwhile, the children were growing up. Gillian was anxious to get out into the world, to get a job, meet a challenge. She moved out and got a job, and lodged with a family in Burnaby. I seem to remember going to a house on Sperling Avenue where she was staying. Then later she moved to the Okanagan, where she got a job in the Knox Clinic in Kelowna, working in the office. She was making her own way in the world. There she met Terry. I remember when Jean and I first met him, at that time food prices were rising quite sharply, and I remember talking to him as if he were responsible. He must have wondered what kind of weirdo he was meeting. Their courtship developed, and she came home to be married in the summer of 1957. It was a modest affair. Harold and Arlene brought her mother down, and my mother came. We managed to put everybody up in our house. The wedding took place in St. Christopher’s Anglican Church, just up the street on Inglewood. Jean had engaged the services of a lady who did catering. She put on a nice array of refreshments. Everything was informal, and soon Gillian and Terry were off in their convertible.
My mother stayed with us for a while before moving to Vernon. We had rented a home near Okanagan Lake, a spacious place, with lots of shade trees and a big garden. Avis and the boys came over. They were in their element, long sunny days, complete freedom, the lake quite near. My mother, too, enjoyed it there. She spent hours in the garden, picking fruits and vegetables, relaxing in the warm summer afternoons. Gillian and Terry were very good to her. Almost every evening, they rolled round in the convertible, picked her up and toured around, always stopping at the Dairy Queen. Those trips were the highlight of her stay. Jean was glad to see her in Vernon, and to see Avis with her. She was never too comfortable with mother. Not many were. Poor Avis inevitably fell foul of mother, and things got pretty fraught but Gillian and Terry could do no wrong.
Two other regular visitors at this time were Phyllis Babb and Jack McMillan. Both had been on the staff of Prince George Senior High, she a science teacher, and he industrial arts. Phyllis was now working with the Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission as a research scientist, and living on the top floor of a 12-story building at 12th and Granville. She frequently came over at the weekend, seemed to enjoy being in the company of the children. Later, she would return to England, but we never lost touch, and I stayed with her for a few days during my last visit. Jack was an Irishman, a bachelor, who seemed to be at a bit of a loose end. When we were in Prince George, he rented a Buick, and drove to San Francisco and back during a school break. He stayed at our place for some time, and then left, and we never kept in touch.
Later, we were to get more visitors from England. Bert and Margaret Snell came; a big adventure for them. By that time, I had bought the camper, so we were able to really show them the province, first the interior and the Rockies, and then the Island. We visited Tofino, camping on the sands at Schooner Cove, in various camp sites and visiting Victoria. They were enthralled. John Radcliffe and his university friend, John Bean, stayed with us at Panorama Place. They had been picking peaches in the Okanagan, and, with a bit of money in their pockets, were ready to explore the Washington and Oregon Coast. Soon afterwards John came with his fiancé Pat for a visit, the girl who became his wife and mother to his two daughters. Dora and Arthur followed in rather unusual circumstances. They had informed us that they would be arriving on a certain date. Then they gave back word. Their travel company had gone bust, so they would not be coming. Accordingly, Jean and I decided to take a short trip. When we returned home, we began to see that things were not as we had left them. The mystery was soon solved when they returned from a walk. They had made the trip, found us away, and fortunately been able to convince the manager to let them in. We took them to the Island. I have a picture of them in Cathedral Grove, tiny figures among the massive trees. At Tofino, we went down to the fishing boats. There we fell into conversation with the owners of a small boat. They generously gave her a coho. She insisted on giving them something in payment. They would take only a couple of dollars. She was ecstatic. Later that day, we pulled into a campsite in Campbell River, and had the salmon for supper. Dora always remembers that salmon.
The camper raised the comfort level of camping. One was more insulated from the weather, and it was more convenient. In 1968 Jean, Geraldine and I went on a trip across the country that took us to all the provinces except Newfoundland. We had a rough start to the trip; rain and high winds dogged us through B.C. and the prairies. In Manitoba, we had to look for campsites which had trees for shelter from high winds. We avoided the Canadian Shield country by turning south at Winnipeg, and driving through the States to re-enter Canada at Windsor, Ontario. Before we visited the Expo site in Montreal we spent time at Upper Canada village, a living museum, consisting of buildings and artifacts that had been saved when the St. Lawrence Seaway was being built. We visited Quebec City, and from there, followed the south shore of the St. Lawrence to Edmunston, New Brunswick. Moncton was very ugly and St. John little better. We visited quaint fishing villages in Nova Scotia, crossed the Strait of Canso to Cape Breton, and then by ferry across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island. We camped at Rustico, a fishing village, visited Anne of Green Gable house at Cavendish Beach, with it’s beautiful red sands. On the return journey, we took the route north of Lake Superior through the Canadian Shield, miles and miles of lakes and trees. It was a long trip, exacting at times, but we completed it with no mishaps. We were glad to be home in B.C. It seemed to be, with southern Ontario and Alberta, the part of the country that was forging ahead. The maritime provinces seemed to be fifty years behind, and the prairies in decline. Ironically, when we arrived safely home, we were greeted with a mini-crisis. It seemed that John had found the key to the car, and had been taking it out for little runs. Unfortunately, the day we returned, he put his foot on the gas when he should have put it on the brake, and the car plunged forward and dropped into the stream.
In 1970, I took an extensive trip to Europe. I had been working hard for a long time, and did want to visit England. Jean did not want to go. She never did really want to go back, and it was not until much later that she, Gillian and I did go; and then, I think she went only because she knew that Leslie was dying, and didn’t have much time left.
I flew to London, a long trip. We had to put down in Keflavik, Iceland to refuel. In those days, aircraft could not make it without refueling. I stayed with Frank and Avis. They had recently returned from a spell in Ireland, which she hated with a passion, the isolation from friends, the incessant rain, and the long time spent on her own, as Frank was flying charter flights. He was now flying charters for a company flying out of Gatwick. They were living in Crowborough, a small town close to his work. I enjoyed being back, the first time since emigrating, some fifteen years ago, the neat countryside, the smallness of things, the pubs, the quiet tempo of life in this area of West Sussex, old stones. I wanted to travel. Frank found a place where I could buy a car cheap. Buxted Chicken was a large local company, which was selling off representatives’ cars. We went to their place to look over what they were selling. Some cars were too small for me, but I did manage to find a Fort Cortina. It had a lot of miles on it, but seemed to be in good shape, and I bought it.
I headed East across the top of Scotland, past Thurso to Tongue, on a road that shrank into a one-way with passing places for the tiny amount of traffic. From Tongue, which was just a sprinkling of houses, I followed the road south through a desolated landscape, moorland mostly, dotted with plantations of pines, until to my relief, because darkness was encroaching, I came across a hostelry, the Hotel at Altnaharra, where I stayed the night. The next day took me through the Valley of Glencoe to Fort William, little changed from when I had been stationed there, and so to the harbour of Stranraer. As luck would have it, I got aboard the next sailing and in two or three hours, was disembarking at Larnein Northern Ireland. There were some interesting passengers on that vessel, quite a few young women, who worked in London, mostly secretarial work. They would work there a few months, then they came home, usually to a small, quiet place, for an extended stay in order, they said, to regain their sanity, far away from the city’s rush. They struck me as sophisticated persons. They seemed to have friends and relations all over the English-speaking world. I found this to be quite common in Ireland. For example, people in a small place like Kiltimagh knew the going rates for workers in Boston, or New York, or Toronto.
From Larne, I drove to Castlebar, Co. Mayo, which is just a few miles from Kiltimagh, where my father was born and grew up. I was accompanied by a young fellow from Winnipeg, and that evening we went into Kiltimagh and spent the time drinking Guinness and listened to the conversation in the bar. It occurred to us rather late, long after closing time, that we needed somewhere to sleep. No problem. Somebody would take us to a place. I could hardly believe that anybody would be willing to get up in the small hours to find room for a couple of drunks, but somebody did – the owners of a small café had room, and were only too ready to share it.
The following day I went into Kiltimagh to make some enquiries about my father’s family. I noticed that there were businesses on the one main street under the name of Walsh. The garage was Walsh’s. Then there was the Walsh Gaelic Shop, and, most interesting to me, Gerry Walsh’s Bar and Raftery Room. There was a Gerry Walsh, and I spoke to him. I asked him if he knew of Patrick Walsh. He asked me in which part of Kiltimagh he lived. I did not know. He then said that there was a lady, a retired teacher, who lived across the street, and she was the most likely person to be able to help me. So we walked over and knocked on her door. The door opened and there stood a distinguished looking lady, tall white-haired. Gerry introduced me as this young fellow from Canada looking for information about his ancestors. She invited me into her house, sat me down, provided me with a glass of beer, and I proceeded to tell her what little I knew. My father’s father was Peter Walsh, who had married Winifred Lavan, and that they had three sons, John, James and my father Patrick, and two daughters, Mary Ann and Anna Kate; that the older boys had gone to work in England, while my father stayed with an aunt and worked on her land before going to England at the age of seventeen. She remembered Anna Kate, and said that I favoured her. We had quite a long conversation at the end of which she said that should would talk to people and send me a letter when she had some information.
She was as good as her word, for on my return home, I did receive a letter from her with a lot of information.
This is her letter:
22nd September, 1970
Dear Mr. Walsh,
Since you called on me I have done considerable work in determining your family background. I was right in the first instance to associate your family’s connection with Ballyglass. The one-storey slated house on the left-hand side – the house nearest the Kilkinure Cemetery was built by Mrs. Maria Moran (nee Walsh) in 1910. Maria was your father’s aunt and also aunt of Anna Kate Walsh who attended school in Kiltimagh, and lived with Brian and Maria Moran for some year
Your grandfather, Peter Walsh (two persons tell me he was Pat Walsh) - owned a farm of six acres – most farms in Ballyglass were only four acres. His thatched house was at the far end of the farm that is at the farthest point from the main road where the slated house now stands. The ruins are traceable still. Probably in the early 1800’s – I cannot give the exact year because I have not access to the Parish records – he married Winnie Lavan. I shall deal with her family later in this letter. Times were very hard in Ireland, famines and losses and, like many others; they fell into arrears with rents etc. The family would have been dispossessed by eviction and a stranger would redeem the place, but Maria, Peter’s sister, who was in Philadelphia at the time, came home, and with the help of the Parish Priest, Father Denis O’Hara, a member of the Congested Districts Board, - later replaced by the Irish Land Commission, succeeded in being accepted tenant and owner on payment of debt. Therefore, your grandfather and family no longer owned the place, and they emigrated to England. This happened in the early years of this century. Your father, Patrick, I understand, did not go with the rest of the family at once, but remained in Ballyglass with Brian and Maria Moran who were childless.
Maria carried on a small-scale business in her road-side house, selling flour, sugar, tea, sweets, tobacco but it was too near the town to do a worth-while trade. A.K. returned from England to her aunt and attended school in town for a number of years. She was anxious to become a teacher but her aunt discouraged her saying that the life was too hard. Frustrated, Anna Kate decided to emigrate so she went to her sister, Mary Anne, in Chicago, who had previously advised her not to come. There, she could get only menial work. Determined to improve her lot, she came to her aunt, Anne (nee Lavan) Durean. She went to school there and succeeded in getting herself a satisfying, worth-while job.
Now, back in Ballyglass, Maria was alone. Brian Moran was then dead. She took a girl out of the home, a Mary Finn, who was company for her. In 1925, she sold her house and land to the Greally family – still living there – and Maria and the girl came into a small rented house in town. Maria took ill, willed 100 pounds to Mary Finn – I do not know what she did with the rest of her assets – and she died in 1928. Annie Kate came home that year – 1928 – spent the whole summer in Kiltimagh, staying mostly in Ballinamore in the house of her first cousin, Alice Brennan whose mother was Brigid Lavan. A.K. was determined to contest her Aunt Maria’s will, but was persuaded not to do so by her uncle, John Lavan.
Now, I shall deal with the Lavan side of the family. The Lavan homestead is in Carrowreagh (Greyfield) about half a mile from the original Walsh home in Ballyglass. The father of Winifred, your grandmother, was Jimmie Lavan and her mother was Nancy Higgins. John Lavan, Winifred’s brother settled on the Greyfield farms and build a substantial two-storey house near the road-side on the left on the Balla road a few hundred yards to the south of Oxford cross-roads and on the opposite side of the road from the Protestant Church now in ruins. John Lavan had one brother, Pat, who went to America and was lost in a boating tragedy. In addition to Winifred, John had four other sisters, Mrs. Nora Lavan O’Neill, Ballyglass, Mrs. Brigid Lavan Brennan, Ballinamore, Mrs. Mary Ann Solan, Killedan, and Mrs. Anne Laval Durean of Brooklyn. Martin Lavan, son of John, and Martin’s wife Sara reside in the home farm. Tom O’Neill, son of Nora, and his wife live in Ballyglass. Alice Brennan, daughter of Brigid Lavan was an only child herself. She married a neighbour, Corcoran. Alice died about fifteen years ago. She had no family and her husband, Mr. Corcoran, sold out in Ballinamore, lodged in Kiltimagh town and died there a few years ago. The Solan farm was taken over by a grandson (McNicholas) of Mary Anne Lavan Solan and lives in Shanaghy.
This tailpiece may seem irrelevant but it brings us up to recent times. Anthony Burke, born in the next house, kept contact with one of Peter’s sons who worked in the mine’s in Ashton-In-Makerfield. They resided quite near one another in this area of England, and visited one another frequently. Anthony is head just a few years.
A daughter of this Walsh, a Mrs. Hogg, a psychiatric nurse who would be a first cousin of yours visited the Kiltimagh district three years ago. She contacted a Walsh family related to the Gene Tunney family in the hope of establishing a relationship with this family but hers was a false trail. Gene Tunney’s (former boxer) mother was Lydon and Mrs. Walsh who she called on was Lydon too. Her husband was not related to your family. She would not be so anxious to claim relationship now since Gene’s daughter has been convicted of murdering her husband in England.
I hope my research will interest you and clear up any gaps in your genealogy. I have done my best.
I am sure you enjoyed your visit to Ireland and have brought back pleasant memories of our green, misty island.
With every wish for your health and happiness, I am, dear Mr. Walsh.
Margaret Anne Carroll.
I replied to Miss Caroll thanking her for her work and for the invaluable information her letter contained. It was all new to me, the only exception being that I remember my Aunt Anna Kate when she visited us in Langold in 1928. She was a very elegant, well-dressed and, to my mind, very beautiful lady. I remember she brought my mother an electric iron, a rarity in Langold then, and for me, a pair of water wings. I recall hearing some talk about her aunt’s estate having been taken by the church in Kiltimagh. I never saw her again. After her visit she returned to Ireland for an extended visit before she returned to New York where she worked for Western Union. I don’t think she every married.
From Kiltimagh I continued my exploration of Ireland. To Galway and Shannon, where I kissed the Blarney Stone, and then south down the Atlantic coast to Tralee, and Dingle. In Dingle, I went to the tourist office, who were very helpful. They referred me to a B & B at Mrs. Houlihan’s. When I arrived there, I found that Mr. Houlihan was a veterinarian. Rather different, I thought. But Mrs. Houlihan was very welcoming, and I stayed a comfortable night there. While there, I visited St. Gallus Oratory, a little beehive chapel, stone-built with no mortar, that had stood on a broad expanse of grass facing the ocean for hundreds of years. From there I headed to the Ring of Kerry. At the approach I came across a little village called Killorglin. From the number of cars, I judged that something must be going on. I parked the car and walked into the village. On either side of the one road, in front of the bars, shops and houses were cattle, and men buying and selling, spitting on their hands and hitting hands in the customary style. It was raining, and the street was a couple of inches thick in a pulverized mixture of water and cattle droppings. In the tiny square, in the middle of stalls selling pottery, was a tall wooden structure at the top of which was a billy-goat crowned in ivy. All the bars were busy and people sloshing in and out in the mess from the road. I had never seen the like of it. Moreover, as Killorglin was the entry point for the ring of Kerry, the confusion was compounded by cars trying to get through.
As I went further south, the “troubles”, the violence in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants seemed to be further away, much further than it had seemed back at home in Vancouver. There was a sense of calm, of detachment from the hurly-burly of the world. Here was a largely pre-industrial society. There were few cars on the roads. Driving along you passed little donkey carts carrying a man and a churn of milk. Should you be on foot, the man would be glad to stop and talk. In the small fields, the haymaking – “saving the hay” they called it – was done by hand, raking the grass into tuffets that dotted the fields, just as it had been done for ages past.
Entertainment was similarly traditional. The venue was the bar, the equivalent of the English pub, the entertainers were usually a small group of instrumentalists – one on the fiddle, one on the drums, another on the tin whistle, and a fourth on the guitar or the Irish pipes. The room was small, the atmosphere intimate. They got the audience heel-tapping and clapping with reels, and got them to join in the singing. Their songs were on their own, that is not the commercial tunes we hear, but traditional songs of love, and home, and, always, about the revolution in which the country won it’s independence from the English, and about the bad old days when they were oppressed by absentee landlords.
Next to Kenmare, and Skibbereen, and so to the city of Cork, with its magnificent cathedral. And then to Youghal where, in a bed and breakfast, I was told that this area, like Kiltimagh, was home to a lot of Walsh’s. From here to Dublin where I toured the Guinness brewery, visited Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, and toured the prison, now a national monument where the leaders of the Easter 1916 revolution were executed. I stayed with a family in the port city of Dun Laoghaire, a few miles outside Dublin. That is where, walking the sea coast one day, I saw a notice: “Danger 40’ men only!”
From Dun Laoghaire I went south to Rosslare, stayed the night there, and next morning boarded the ship to Milford Haven, then over the River Severn, stayed the night in a pub in Chippenham, at the invitation of a couple who ran it, whom I had met at Clifden on the west coast of Ireland. And so home to Crowborough.
I stayed in Crowborough for a while, enjoying the East Sussex and Kentish countryside – I reveled in the small old villages. Frank was flying charters out of Gatwick. When he was at home, we would go out on brief trips. There was so much to see in such a small space. He had a little boat, and would take the children to Pevensey where they could play in it. Pevensey was where William the Bastard of Normandy and his army landed in 1066 to challenge Harold Godwinson for the English crown. Above it was Senlac Hill where the battle was fought in which Harold was killed, and William and his Normans took control of the country. We visited Battle Abbey there, built to commemorate this historic event. Once, he took us to London for the day. I remember crossing Tower Bridge where we passed the last of the runners in the London Marathon.
He was often away, of course, flying groups to far away places such as Hong Kong, or carrying Arabs to Mecca for their holy days. I would explore the area, or, sometimes, Avis and the children and I would go out, perhaps for lunch in an old pub. One of our favourites was The Five Bells at Chailey, a very old hostelry in a tiny village, we visited the Pantiles where, in the 18th century the gentry gathered to take the waters, to see and be seen, and, no doubt to flirt and play similar games. In Tunbridge Wells, I got an international driver’s license, and booked passage on the Dover to Calais ferry, in preparation for my trip to Europe. On my own I visited the south of England agricultural show at Ardingly, a very big affair, and honoured by the Queen Mother who was driven around in an open car, waving to an enthusiastic crowd. It was there that I bought the print of Sir Edward de Vere and his wives and family of ten sons and ten daughters.
The days skipped by. It was a glorious summer, and I was ready for new adventures. My first day took me to Chartres. Boarding the Calais ferry was an interesting experience. You drove on and then, under the direction of a deck hand, reversed into position. On arriving at Calais, I had no clear idea of where I was going. By the end of the day I was in Chartres. Things seemed to be busy; lots of people out, French bands sounding off in their usual undisciplined manner. It wasn’t until I was booked into a campground that I realized that the reason for all the activity was that it was Bastille Day, le Quatorze Juillet, the 14th day of July, when the French celebrate the storming of the Bastille in 1789, and the beginning of the French Revolution.
The cathedral was a revelation to me. I have seen many cathedrals in England, and while they were magnificent, they had been robbed of their statues by Henry VIII when he broke with the church of Rome. The monasteries had been completed despoiled and destroyed, but the churches were allowed to stand but with the rows of statues decorating the front of the buildings defaced or removed.
All, that is, with the lone exception of Wells Cathedral. But there had been no such destruction in France, and Chartres’ great doorways and front remained intact from the 12th century. The interior was equally impressive, a huge space, illuminated by the great windows of coloured glass. What a testimony the building was, I thought, to the Christian beliefs of the people who contributed to its building, and to the skill of the unknown architect who designed it, and the masons and carvers who, with simple tools, built it. I found it overwhelming, and I thought that the faith that inspired it no longer existed.
From Chartres I drove to some ancient towns, visiting old churches in Autun, Auxerre, and Vezelay, and from there into the rich countryside of Burgundy. It was here that I had my first, and only, mishap of the trip. I was headed for Geneva, cruising down a long stretch of straight road near Dole when I noticed steam coming from under the bonnet. I quickly pulled a stop. The problem was soon apparent. A water hose connected to the radiator was touching the engine block, and the heat had melted a hole in it. Help was not long in coming. A fellow traveler stopped, saw my problem and promised to alert the garage in the next village, and in no time, a fellow arrived in a 2-CV. It didn’t take him long to replace the hose – fortunately I had stopped before the engine seized – and after thanking him and paying him the few francs he asked for his service I was on my way again, none the worse for the experience.
I arrived in Switzerland near Lac Leman and was entranced by the place – the clear air, the beautiful meadows which were now being harvested for the hay, the fat cattle, the clean, neat villages and small towns, the lovely chalets built of wood and stone, and decorated with a profusion of flowers, the quiet hillsides where one could pull off the road, and make a lunch of bread and cheese and meats from the charcuteries and a glass of wine. It was lovely, everything so clean and well-ordered. The old joke about Switzerland is that, after seven hundred years of independence, the only thing it has to show is the cuckoo clock. Well, maybe, but I liked it. Everything looked healthy and prosperous, and if there were poor people, I did not see them. I stayed in zimmer frei, which were clean and inexpensive and, this is where my little pup tent came in useful, in campsites. My supplies of bread, meats, and wine I purchased at Migros, a store that seemed to sell everything. It had a good cafeteria in each branch where one could get good meals. Most of my time was spent in the Bernese Oberland, a beautiful part of the country, in the shadow of the Jungfrau, visiting popular places such as Interlaken and Grindelwald, and lesser-known small communities such as Brig and Thun. Basle was the last place I visited. There I bought a birthstone ring for Jean, rose quartz.
The road to Italy took me over the Simplon Pass – today there is a tunnel – and down via Domodossola to Genoa. It was a hot day, the road was narrow and full of turns, so that traffic accumulated behind slower-moving trucks, and impatient drivers in little Fiat cars leaned on their horns and occasionally took hair-raising risks in overtaking. It was a long day until we passed the naval base at Spezia, Genoa, the great Marble quarries at Carrara, to Viareggio, and so to Pisa, where I pitched my tent at a make-shift campsite quite near to the leaning tower and the cathedral.
I stayed there for a couple of days then made my way to Florence. A few days there and then to Urbino and so to Rome. It was very hot. I found a campsite on the outskirts of the city. Each day I took a V.W. van to the city’s bus terminus, and boarded a bus for the centre. It was standlng-room only, but inexpensive, and I didn’t have to worry about driving in the city. Rome is compact, so it is possible to do a lot of sight-seeing on foot. I did the usual tourist things – the Spanish steps, the Coliseum, the ruins of the ancient city, the Piazza Navona, St. Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s Pieta, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. It was exciting but very tiring.
Rome was as far south as I went. Now I turned north towards Venice, visiting Assisi on the way. There are no campsites in Venice itself. I stayed in one across the lagoon, from which one drove to a ferry. The campsite was a splendid affair with a number of restaurants and stores. Venice was very busy. A lot of the tourists seemed to be Germans. Venice is a jewel. There is nothing like it in the world; unfortunately, it is fighting a losing battle with time and the sea. The central piazza is now regularly under water, the cathedral as well. I enjoyed walking about. It is impossible to get lost in Venice; there are signs everywhere. I took a lot of photographs. Venice is very photogenic – the Piazza San Marco with the tower and the cathedral, the Doge’s Palace, the waterfront with the vaporetti and gondolas, and the Rialto.
Leaving Venice, I headed into Austria, planning to stay in Innsbruck. I found the weather miserable, wet cold and overcast, quite a change from Italy. Camping was out of the question; I looked for lodging in a hostelry. It was full, but the host went out of his way to help. His sister who was married to a policeman occasionally took in paying guests. He got in his car, told me to follow him, and we soon arrived at her house. I spent a comfortable night there, everything very neat and clean, and next morning breakfasted on fresh rolls and coffee.
My next stop was at Bad Honningenn, one of the many small villages along the Rhein where the passenger steamers pull in. I set up my tent, causing some amusement amongst passers-by – the large car contrasting to the tiny tent – and strolled into the village, which seemed to consist mainly of hotels and restaurants. The place was very lively with people enjoying themselves. All sorts of bands were playing, people singing and dancing, and lots of drinking, people seated at long tables with arms interlinked, singing and swinging from side to side, the table filled with wine bottles.
I managed to find a quiet place to eat, and ordered. Shortly, two men arrived and sat close by. They were well away, and engaged me in conversation. When they found that I spoke English, they insisted that I should drink with them, and when I demurred, they made it clear that they would take it as an affront to friendliness, if I were to refuse. In the event, all passed well. The reason that the place was so crowded was that a lot of bowlers from Aachen, further down the Rhine, were here for a weekend of celebration.
I was now beginning to think of home, to the end of the trip, and next morning I was off early, along the Rhine, then across Belgium to Ostend, where, in the very same place where I had moored my boat in late 1944, I boarded the ferry for Dover, arriving in Crowborough late at night. During the summer I had driven some 8,500 miles, visited umpteen countries and a variety of places from John o’Groats to Rome, and I was ready for a rest.
I stayed in Crowborough for a few days before returning to Canada, and it was during this time that a most peculiar event occurred. One morning I awoke to find that my car had disappeared from the driveway. Shortly afterwards we discovered that Patrick had gone, too. It was a complete surprise. Patrick had shown no signs of rebellion or discontent, although Frank and Avis were putting a good deal of pressure on him to do better at school. We did not know what to think. Avis thought that he may have gone to a Woodstock-style concert that was taking place in the West Country. Anyway, the car was reported as stolen, and the police became involved. Two or three days passed, and still no news of Patrick or the car. And then somebody came across him in the car parked in Ashdown Forest only a few miles from Crowborough. That is as far as he had gone, and that is where he had spent the time. We now had to engage the services of a solicitor to sort things out. I had to make a declaration, as the owner of the car, that I did not wish to press charges, and that was the end of the matter. I wondered whether, given that he could do something like that, with no signs to indicate he was going to do it, he could do something much more serious. As far as I know, he has never done any such thing.
Farewell to 1344 Inglewood
The old house had served us well. The children had grown up in it. Now they were ready to leave. They were spreading their wings. Gillian and Terry had married, lived in the Okanagan for a while before moving to Prince Rupert. Terry had to follow his job. Gillian was looking after the house and the new baby. This was a time of isolation for her, and not an easy time so far away from family and friends. Then they moved down to the lower mainland and bought a tiny house in Steveston, very small but their very own. From there they moved to a bigger place in Surrey on the hillside overlooking the Fraser. Soon they would be the owners of a small brokerage in Production Way, and start on a new, challenging part of their life. It was a small business but it had promise, given infusions of capital and a lot of hard work. Over the years, they built it up into a substantial business, a tribute to hard work, sacrifice, and business acumen.
Sheila tried U.B.C., didn’t like it, and went looking for a job. For some time, she worked as assistant to the hard-driving Vancouver city engineer. That must have been quite a test. She left that job to go to B.C. Gas. Interested in politics, she took on the job of secretary of the O.T.E.U., and was involved in their pay and conditions of work negotiations. She worked as a grievance counsellor with considerable success. Later she developed back problems, which became so acute that she was unable to work, and forced her retirement, something she took a long time to accept.
John finished school, and no doubt wanting a change and a degree of freedom, took a year out. He bought a V.W. Beetle and was off, and that was the last we saw or heard of him for a year. He returned with a kitten that he had named Schreiber, after the place in northern Ontario, where he had acquired it. We now had our quota of pets. Major, a black Labrador, sort of, that we had picked up at a roadside-stand near Oliver, at the beseeching of the children, once it became clear that he was ownerless. He was probably abandoned because, although gentle enough with humans, he was a menace to other dogs. He would fight anything. Then there was Sammy, a ginger cat, and a very affectionate one. He had the disconcerting habit of jumping on to one’s shoulders when one was at the kitchen sink, and then draping himself around one’s neck. Now we had Schreiber as well.
On his return, John got a job with a small firm of surveyors. It was rough and sometimes dangerous work, fur surveying often took them deep into the bush, where John would hold a pole while the surveyor took readings on it. Not only was it hard sometimes to get into the required position, but there was a good chance of encountering bears, which he did on a few occasions. He did this work for quite a time, and might have done it a good deal longer, but for a chance event. One of the men who brought their work for Jean to trace was Bob Boland. He worked for Marathon Realty, and was leaving for another post. He mentioned this to Jean, and asked her whether John might be interested in applying for the job. She said that she did not know, but would ask him. So that is how John got his start with Marathon, which was to take him for years to Toronto, which was a pretty tough time for Teresa and him, a long way from family, and on a very tight budget. But he proved a good learner and a hard worker, rose steadily in the company, established his reputation and eventually became V.P. for C.P. Rail’s real estate division.
Geraldine was the last to leave home. She got a job with a small company that specialized in packaging nuts and sweets. Then she started to work with small children at a place in West Vancouver. There she gained knowledge and experience, which served her well when she enrolled in the Faculty of Education at U.B.C. After graduation she got a job in Grand Forks, where she had done her practicum work under the supervision of a Mrs. Tallarico. After several years in Grand Forks, she took up a position in Mission. She worked part-time while the children were growing up, staying at Cherry Hill School, where she still teaches today.
I put the house up for sale. Asking price $46,000. The agent I chose was a woman who got her share of the commission when the house was sold, although she did not make the sale. A man came by who, it turned out, was a professional assessor. We talked, and he bought the place. Soon after, having disposed of a lot of property we moved into a one-bedroom apartment on the 25th floor, Panorama Place at 2055 Pendrell Street, right on English Bay and abutting to Stanley Park. We had a magnificent view right across the Bay and the city, and all the attractions of the park right at our doorstep. Of course, our lifestyle changed enormously. Jean had given up her job, so was free to do other things. For me, the journey to work was shortened, and I not longer had to cross the Lion’s Gate Bridge, which was becoming increasingly busy.
It became our custom to stroll in the park, especially in the evenings and particularly in the summer to enjoy the air and the scenery. This took us past the bowling greens where we would sit and watch play, and so we became interested in the game. That is how we became members of the Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club, in 1976, I think it was. Both of us took lessons and qualified for membership. Jean was a natural. She had a perfect delivery and an excellent temperament for the game. We learned quickly, and in 1979, we were both in B.C. championship teams, she as vice in the ladies’ triples and I as lead in the men’s fours. That took us to the national championships in Montreal.
I got involved in other aspects of the game. The greens keeper, Johnny Sinker, was getting very old and it was obvious that he was getting past it, so I became the greens keeper, a job I did for the next few years. I also became interested in officiating, qualified first as a provincial umpire, and then, in 1981 as a national umpire. The man who came to test me for the national badge was from Edmonton, Berwin Griffith. He was to be the chief umpire for the national championships that year in Vancouver, but he was taken ill suddenly and was unable to do the job, so I was asked to fill in. Despite my lack of experience at this level, things went very well, and I remained chief umpire for the next twelve years, which took me to every province except Newfoundland, where there was no bowling.
Jean did some coaching. Actually, she developed a coaching system, which was well received by beginners and experienced skips alike. She also helped me with the work on the greens. In fact, we were presented by the club with some Inuit soapstone carvings in appreciation of our work. She also put her gardening skills to use. At the side of the clubhouse, and facing the West green, was a piece of grass backed by a privet hedge. In front of the privet she built a herbaceous border for which she received lots of complimentary comments from club members and visitors alike.
But her main focus was on playing the game, so she was kept pretty busy in the season bowling in competitions. She teamed up with Dolly Stirling, and together they did very well in the top level competitions. Their most spectacular success was winning the Silver Medallion A section in successive years, 1980 and 1981. But it was shortly thereafter that Jean made her indelible mark on the lower mainland bowling scene, moving in the 20th century.
It all began at the Indoor Bowling Club. I became a member and would like to play in the evenings, a time that was reserved for men. Jean would accompany me just to watch the bowling. Occasionally she was asked to fill in when they were a man short, and she would agree. On this particular occasion, she was asked and agreed to play. However, a man arrived late, and was told that her services were no longer needed. She was, naturally, very angry at such an obvious rebuff. She had not asked to play; she had been asked, and as a favour, had agreed. She was not accustomed to such cavalier treatment, and was not the compliant sort, who would swallow the insult and let things be. She took the fight to the Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club, as well as to the Indoor Club. Actually, these were two clubs within the S.P.L.B.C. There was the S.P.L.B.C. and there was the Stanley Park Ladies Lawn Bowling Club. It determined how the fees should be spent, and the greens should be allocated, and how the games should be organized. The A.G.M. of the club was restricted to men, and that is where all the decisions concerning the club were made. The women were essentially barred from any decision-making. They paid a fee smaller than that paid by the men, and for many, the lack of any voice in the running of the club. But there were many others who felt that they were demeaned by this set up. Jean organized these and together they started a campaign of education among the woman, and a call for change among the whole membership. They also took their case to the Parks Board, who elected to begin an inquiry into the way the bowling clubs in the city were organized.
The call for change and fairness met a frosty reception from some of the older members, especially the men, but also some of the woman who went along with what their husband’s wanted. Typical of the response of the men was old Jimmie Jarvis, a crusty Scotsman of the old school, who was fond of saying, “Gie a woman an ell and she’ll take a yard?” They saw nothing wrong in the inequity; in fact, they justified it with an array of weak arguments, the inevitable, ‘it’s always been like this, and it has worked’, the men did the work, such as cutting the green, the men paid more in fees, so should have more say; if the women wanted more, why didn’t they just come to the men and ask? And so on and so forth. There was also a lot of bitter personal stuff; references to ’trouble-makers’, “s—t stirrers”, etc. And as the controversy grew it spread to other clubs, all of which were organized on the same regressive principles as Stanley Park.
Positions hardened. Change-resisters could see nothing wrong with us having in our club, male members from Richmond, North and West Vancouver who had full membership, while women members who lived and paid taxes in Vancouver did not enjoy full membership, or that the greens committee, composed wholly of men, determined that there should be few mixed tournaments, or that on holidays, the mornings should be devoted to men’s pairs. Campaigners for change intensified their efforts, speaking up in meetings of the Ladies’ Club, canvassing bowlers, both men and women, and keeping the cause on the agenda of the Parks Board, for, if the club would not change voluntarily, change would have to be brought about by the Parks Board itself.
And that is what finally happened. I became a part of the pro-change movement. I argued for change at the men’s A.G.M. and introduced a special resolution, but was narrowly defeated. I arranged to speak at a meeting of the Parks Board. I was preceded by Bert Walker of Vancouver South, whose only argument was if I and others like members didn’t like the way things were done, we should find another game; in other words, get lost. I argued against the unfairness of present arrangements and asked the Parks Board to take action to compel the clubs to abide by the B.C. Human Rights Code which required that there be no discrimination on account of race, sex, etc. All this was taking place when, at the very apex of the sport, the men’s and women’s organizations were being merged into one organization, Lawn Bowls Canada.
The next step was taken by the Parks Board. It sent a letter to the club, requiring it to make changes in it’s constitution to bring it into line with the provincial Human Rights Code, and to report back on actions taken to bring into compliance. This to be done within a certain time. The Board was now fully on board, since it had discovered that in order to retain it’s status as a tenant on the land of the city at a peppercorn rent of one dollar a year, the club’s representatives had signed a renewal that it was in compliance with the code, an outright lie.
The last stand of the club was to take no action on the order of the Parks Board, virtually to ignore it. When it became obvious to the Board that the club was not going to come into compliance, it issued another letter, which said that unless the club took the necessary action at once, the Parks Board would cancel it’s lease to the club. That settled it. Not without some muttering from the more reactionary members, the club admitted woman as equal members.
The Parks Board had learned, during this battle, that all the bowling clubs in Vancouver were run on similar discriminatory lines as Stanley Park, and letters were sent out to all of them with the same terms as had been sent to Stanley Park. Thus a new era was born in which men and women would have equality of status and full membership in their club. Sometimes, small incidents led to big results, and it was so in this case. Nowadays, women enjoy equality without even thinking about it, which is as it should be, and all the dreadful things, which were predicted for the future of the game, have gone unfulfilled. A tip of the hat to your mother.
We move to White Rock
In 1987, after a decade of living in the West End, we started to think of moving to somewhere that would be quieter. The conflict at the bowling club had been unsettling, the traffic in our neighbourhood was getting busier so that at weekends in the summer and on holidays and special events, the streets were choked and movement was very difficult, and, not least, Jean found the laundry facilities unsatisfactory. These were located in the basement, and a suite was allocated a certainly amount of time on a certain day for washing and drying, an arrangement that didn’t’ work very well, principally because some owners did not operate according to the schedule for one reason or another.
So it was then started to look around. Why we came to White Rock I don’t know. There was no special reason that I can recall. Our search, if one can call it that, was completely unsystematic – a perusal of the ads in the Vancouver Sun, and a couple of visits, and that was it. We looked at some apartments on the front at the West end. They were roomy, but we decided against them. At that time, White Rock front was notorious for rowdiness, kids cruising along Marine Drive, beer drinking on the beach, and general mayhem. We looked at the big Bosa development going up on the hillside on the West side, but did not like the idea of being in a wooden complete. And then, purely by accident, we came across this concrete high-rise at the hill-crest, and near the uptown area. Our interest was piqued by a for-sale sign, and, the office being closed, we returned the next day to find out more. The building, it turned out, had been recently completed, and was now on the market. Our tour of the building was a revelation after our 740 sq. ft. apartment in Panorama Place, at twice the size and a huge balcony to boot; and, a big point with Jean, a large laundry room with washer, driver, and room for a large freezer and a pantry cupboard. We were sold there and then. Suite 315, at the South end of the building and with a panoramic view of Semiahmoo Bay was available at $175,000. Prompted by the sales lady from Sussex Realty, which had the commission to sell the building; we put in a bid of $167,500. Bid accepted, and we were now the owners of a large, new, well-appointed suite in a handsome building right in the centre of the town. Our Vancouver apartment was quickly sold, and in a few days, we moved into White Rock Square Two. Immediately, we had the balcony enclosed and the floor carpeted with a good quality wool berber. Jean ordered curtains and blinds for the enclosure. So, all told, we paid about $175,000. And were satisfied that we had made a good purchase. We didn’t have much money left in the kitty, some $60,000. And, not knowing what to do with it, we invested it in sound stocks at Scotia McLeod, the beginning of an interest in the stock market and investing that, unknown before, was to grow with time.
In this new environment, our lifestyles changed significantly. Jean still bowled a lot, mostly in competition, but not as much as hitherto, because it meant making the long journey into Vancouver. I was content to do my bowling at the club in White Rock. The biggest change was in the amount of walking that we did. With lots to explore in the area, we were out most days, in all seasons. The Little Campbell River Park was a favourite, at both the 16th and 8th Avenue ends, and at the equestrian centre at 210th Avenue, where we found meadow mushrooms. So were the Serpentine Fen, Blackie Spit at Crescent Beach, the Stewart Farm House in Surrey, and the dyke on Mud Bay at 72nd Avenue off the Ladner Trunk Road.
We became bird watchers, especially of ducks and geese, and learned to identify many species. We soon learned the difference between a long billed dowitcher and a great yellow legs, a ruddy duck and a common merganser, a mallard from an American widgeon, a green-winged teal from a bufflehead, and so on. We learned where we could nearly always find bald eagles. Occasionally, we ventured further afield to Westham Island and the Reifel Bird Sanctuary to see the thousands of snow geese alighting and taking off from the fields, and on occasion to look at the tundra swans foraging in the winter fields. Later, on our frequent trips to Washington and Oregon, we found numerous opportunities to enjoy this hobby.
It was during this period that Jean started to collect the odd items during a walk, some small thing, a wild flower, a spray of blossom, a sprig off a bush, a bunch of ripening blackberries, or some such little thing and bring it home and put it in a glass of water to keep it fresh. The following day would find her at the table in the balcony area, surrounded by pencils, brushes and paints, totally engrossed in creating a likeness, most often a miniature thing. She had a gift of drawing these miniatures so well that they have a remarkable beauty. I’m sure that she derived a great pleasure, and much satisfaction from these small masterpieces.
We often took short trips, to the Oregon Coast, where we enjoyed the Pacific, with its beautiful sands, towering sea stacks, and white-foamed rollers, as well as the abundant sea bird life, and to the B.C. interior. One would not think of Merritt as a holiday destination, but Jean loved it, especially in the fall, when the area was golden with autumn aspen leaves. A favourite drive was along the Kane Valley road where stretched a chain of shallow lakes, a pretty, peaceful, solitary place where only occasionally did one encounter another visitor or family, camping in the rough.
Longer trips took us to the Rockies where we stayed in Banff, Jasper, Canmore, and Radium Hot Springs, never failing to be impressed by the magnificence of the mountains, and the freshness of the streams and valleys. In the winters, we headed South for extended stays in Southern California, a couple of months in the San Diego area or in the small community of Laguna Beach. We visited Billy Gibbs, my cousin, and his wife, Ailsa in Hemet, where they lived in a compound of manufactured homes. They were originally from Ontario, where he had worked at what is now Lester Pearson Airport. There he somehow came into contact with the Howard Hughes Company. After World War II, he went to California to work in the film branch of that organization. We visited them twice, the second time when they lived in Oceanside, California. Much later, I learned that he had developed Alzheimer’s, and had passed away.
One trip took us to the Grand Canyon, via Phoenix and Flagstaff, and from there through the Navajo country to the North, and into Utah returning through the monotonous grass lands of Wyoming to the beautiful Jackson Hole area. In the wilds of Wyoming, miles from anywhere, we came across a place offering food and shelter, aptly named Hell’s Half Acre. It turned out that the owner was the brother of Angus Gunn, a colleague of mine at U.B.C. He and his wife, probably hungry for company, entertained us royally, and we spent a long evening exchanging stories and anecdotes.
Gradually, I became more involved in the technical aspects of bowling, namely greens keeping and officiating. I took over the greens at Stanley Park, and so came to the notice of Lawn Bowls Canada. An urgent need was the improvement of the quality of greens across the country. Most were slow and heavy, and not conducive to good bowling. Accordingly, it was decided to strike a National greens committee to work on the problem. I was asked to be the first chairman of a committee of four – Lloyd Woods, of Ontario, who knew much more about greens than I did, Beth, his wife, who acted as secretary and George_____, greenskeeper of the Commonwealth Greens in Edmonton.
We decided that a practical handbook containing specific information on the basics of greenskeeping would be a useful tool, and set to work with a will. We divided the work, and within a year had produced a first copy, which we submitted to specialists in the field, for correction, amendment, and suggestions. Lawn Bowls Canada had this booklet produced, and it was made available to clubs at a nominal cost. Members of the committee took them to meetings, in the various provinces to introduce them. Lloyd did most of the work in Ontario and Quebec, and I went to the meetings in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
We sold a lot of books, but whether they did any good is hard to tell. Generally speaking, greenskeepers are a stubborn lot, and most operate with a set of ideas that one might describe as folk wisdom, which generally meant too much water, not enough vertical mowing, and a nice green green – not necessarily the firm surface that gives pace to the green.
Shortly after starting to bowl, I became interested in umpiring. First, I took the provincial umpire’s exam, and then in 1981, the national exam. Berwyn Griffith came from Edmonton to administer the practical test, and passed me. The national championships were coming to Vancouver this year, and he was to be Chief Umpire. As it turned out, he was taken ill, and the job was given to me, sporting a shiny new badge, and with no experience at this level. The main job was to put together a roster of officials for all the games, two to each game, taking care to have, in each case, an experienced with a less experienced official. Fortunately for me, the officiating went smoothly, and I learned a great deal of who was who in the officiating world. I must have been seen to have done a reasonable job, for this was the first of a dozen years as Chief Umpire. In this capacity I went to every province except Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland, where there was no bowling.
I came to know many officials, to know their strengths and weaknesses, and to build a strong team, which would serve well when Canada had the privilege of hosting the Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994. I was asked to act as Chief Umpire, and was pleased to accept. It turned out to be a very successful event from an officiating point of view. We had only one doubtful action by an official that could have caused trouble, we trained a team to act as officials for the blind bowlers, who took part in the games for the first time, and who were complimented by the blind bowls’ representatives for their skill, and we had a team of some thirty officials from countries all over the globe, working in complete harmony. It was a demanding experience, dealing with players who were under great pressure, meeting the requests of the B.B.C. and other broadcasters for changes in rinks of play; and it was hard work; I was up at 5:30 out at the Juan de Fuca club by 7:30. The scorers gave me the score cards. I gave the cards to the umpires on each green; the umpires then gave them to the players. At the end of the game the players signed the cards as correct, returned them to the umpires, and they returned them to me, and I then returned them to the scorers. This elaborate ritual was designed to ensure that no score card was ever lost, and it worked, but it meant that my day did not end until every last card was in and sometimes, the longest game did not end until after 11 p.m., which cut into my sleeping time.
By the end of the week, I was exhausted, but I derived a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that the Games had gone as well, and our efforts had been appreciated so much.
We had visitors, too, to stay. Before leaving Vancouver, we entertained Dora and Arthur, then John Radcliffe and John Bean, a university friend, later John and his fiancée and future wife. In White Rock, we were visited by Edna, still recovering after Leslie’s death. We took her on a tour of the Rockies, which she greatly enjoyed. Then came John Radcliffe and Carol, Christopher Radcliffe and family, Jim Fairhurst, and Pat and David. Actually Pat came first on her own to surprise us on the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary, a very pleasant surprise, indeed – they came together a year or so later for an extended stay.
So, in one way and another, we were enjoying our retirement years. We didn’t have a lot of money, but neither were we poor. We were busy doing the things we liked to do. We had a nice home in a pleasant community by the sea. We had family growing up around us. And we had our health – or so we thought. We were to get a rude awakening, but it would come gradually over a long period of time.
Looking back, we should have seen signs of change in Jean’s behaviour that should have alerted us to the fact that something important was taking place, but it is a truism that you see only what you are looking for. The symptoms were there to see, but we really did not see them, or at least did not catch their meaning. Most obvious was her memory loss. Sheila spotted it early, and mentioned it to her mother. “Mum”, she said, on one occasion, “your memory’s getting bad.” This was answered with an indignant denial. :Well”, she said, “your father forgets things, too.”, as if this somehow scotched the notion that her memory was fading. The evidence that she was in fact doing so, was all around. Then she took to disappearing on long shopping trips. She was going to Laura’s, she would say, to buy some material. She would leave mid-morning, say ten o’clock, not return until two or three in the afternoon, on an errand that should take perhaps half an hour. Where she went on these expeditions I do not know, but from time to time, I would get an indication that she had been to places besides or other than Laura’s; a book, for example, that [we] had not seen before, usually a cookery book; or a telephone call from the optician’s indicating that she was ordering spectacles, trifocals, that could be dangerous; or an accumulation of socks. Here was a secretiveness that I had not know before.
Related to this was withdrawal into a world of her own. She seemed to want only minimal participation in the world around her. I did the shopping and cooking; she was responsible for the cleaning; but this was neglected. I did a bit now and then, but not enough and the place began to be dirty and untidy. Gillian thought that Jean was suffering from depression, and, on her own initiative, went to see her doctor, Dr. Park, something I learned only later. Jean became angry over small things, and nursed the anger. I remember the occasion of Harold and Arlene’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. It was a big “do” in Kelowna, and, of course, we were invited. However when the time came, Jean developed a cold, and was confined to her bed. I decided to go, and Geraldine came over to stay with Jean. I drove to Kelowna on the day of the event, and returned the next morning. Jean was very angry with me for going, despite the fact that Geraldine stayed with her while I was away. I had deserted her in her hour of need, she repeated all too often.
Another example of this bitterness occurred when Pat, her niece visited. We were sitting outside on the balcony of Gillian and Terry’s house on Panorama Ridge on a beautiful summer’s evening. Pat, Jean, Gillian and myself. Pat brought some little things from Brocco Bank, as presents to her auntie. The response was frosty. Instead of thanks, Pat received a stony silence. The hostility was palpable. We all sat there silent. You could have cut the air with a knife. I was mortified, and I’m sure Pat was, too. What was offered in a spirit of affection and generosity was received with a cold anger, and all because of a couple of items that were offered came from Brocco Bank, Jean’s family home in Sheffield.
The atmosphere between us was changing, and not for the better, as is reflected in an entry from my diary at this time.
"Jean and I had a disagreement when she found out that I had been tidying up her dressing table which was covered with all sorts of material, much of it printed stuff of no importance – ancient receipts and adverts, etc. She continues to accumulate material of all sorts, and is very defensive about tidying things up. Meanwhile, parts of the suite look like the aftermath of a jumble sale. A few words were exchanged and the atmosphere was fraught!!"
Goodness knows what was going through her mind as these momentous changes were taking place. What she felt as she saw and felt her world changing must have been agonizing. What suffering! I felt that I could have been more helpful, had I known what the changes portended, that she was entering into the world of Alzheimer’s, that the powers of living a normal life were fading.
"So we come to the end of Dad's actual writings of his story.
However, we will begin a new chapter which will come from entries in Dad's journals.
Dad asked me how he could put the Alzheimer's journey emotions into a few sentences and I suggested he couldn't possibly and that we could write his journal entries as each day unfolded. He agreed to this so that is how I will continue his story. It was an important time in his life, my mother's life and of course affected all of us....."