DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

To my American friends and family, I trust you all will have a lovely Thanksgiving, shared with family and friends (and the occasional welcomed stranger) enjoying a wonderful traditional meal of a rich assortment of dishes.

I have written often of how much I enjoyed Thanksgiving during the years I lived in the United States. I was readily taken in and embraced by friends on this most American celebration. I was never disappointed with the company or the food.

One small custom I retain for myself is that each year I read of the early Pilgrim's Thanksgiving in Bradford's Journal. I think about the generosty of the native peoples who brought food and joined them on this occasion. If it had not been for Massasoit and his people, the Pilgrims may not have survived those first couple of Winters. Unfortunately, this part of the founding myth was not carried forward in the history between the European settlers and the native Americans.

To appreciate the significance of Thanksgiving in American history I recommend the work done by Mr. and Mrs. Deetz. and the Plymouth Colony Archives Project.

Click on image to enlarge

There is no lack of Thanksgiving items in American literature, not to mention the countless sermons you can find on the meaning of Thanksgiving. Here is the last half of a poem by Horatio Alger, "Grand'ther's Baldwin's Thanksgiving. If you would like to read it all go here.

. . . .

When the autumn work is over, and the harvest gathered in,
Once again the old house echoes to a long unwonted din.

Logs of hickory blaze and crackle in the fireplace huge anti high,
Curling wreaths of smoke mount upward to the gray November sky.

Ruddy lads and smiling lasses, just let loose from schooldom's cares,
Patter, patter, race and clatter, up and down the great hall stairs.

All the boys shall hold high revel; all the girls shall have their way,-
That's the law at Grand'ther Baldwin's upon each Thanksgiving Day.

From from the parlor's sacred precincts, hark! a madder uproar yet;
Roguish Charlie's playing stage-coach, and the stage-coach has upset!

Joe, black-eyed and laughter-loving, Grand'ther's specs his nose across,
Gravely winks at brother Willie, who is gayly playing horse.

Grandma's face is fairly radiant; Grand'ther knows not how to frown,
though the children, in their frolic, turn the old house upside down.

For the boys may hold high revel, and the girls must have their way;
That's the law at Grand'ther Baldwin's upon each Thanksgiving Day.

But the dinner--ah! the dinner--words are feeble to portray
What a culinary triumph is achieved Thanksgiving Day!

Fairly groans the board with dainties, but the turkey rules the roast,
Aldermanic at the outset, at the last a fleshless ghost.

Then the richness of the pudding, and the flavor of the pie,
When you've dined at Grandma Baldwin's you will know as well as I.

When, at length, the feast was ended, Grand'ther Baldwin bent his head,
And, amid the solemn silence, with a reverent voice, he said:--

"Now unto God, the Gracious One, we thanks and homage pay,
Who guardeth us, and guideth us, and loveth us always! "

He scatters blessings in our paths, He giveth us increase,
He crowns us with His kindnesses, and granteth us His peace.

"Unto himself, our wandering feet, we pray that He may draw,
And may we strive, with faithful hearts, to keep His holy law!"

His simple words in silence died: a moment's hush. And then
From all the listening hearts there rose a solemn-voiced Amen !

From Grand'ther's Baldwin's Thanksgiving, by Horatio Algier, Jr.

For me, I prefer to read ," Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving ", by Louise May Alcott.I had forgotten how much I enjoyed having "Little Women" read to me when I was young. It is a charming time of a rural life long past. When the men are obsessing over the football game, why not have someone read a little of Louise May Alcott story to the children.

I shall be thinking of you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Must Be Old

It must be a sure sign of growing old when a new adventure, appears more as a disruption in your life than an exciting possibility. It seems I have been trying to arrange to get away for a few days for a romantic weekend with a new lady friend for a week now. There is still another few days before I have to leave and with problems yet to sort out. Is it more trouble than it is worth? Slap me! so that thought will pass.

It is never easy for me to leave home for any length of time. The days of just jumping in the truck and going are over. I don't own a vehicle anymore. If I did I would not fuss over my biggest concern. I would take Heidi, with me although taking a dog as big as her to the city makes me shutter at the thought of the "poop and scoop" laws.

So my first decision is whether I will leave Heidi with June, my tenant, who doesn't really like her and has three little dogs of her own to care for, or board her with my son. For three days, I decided to leave her home with June. (An executive descision I continue to feel guilty about.)

Of course, Heidi is not the only creature I have to worry about. There are my 12 cats, 2 pigs, 4 rabbits, a flock of chickens and June. I guess June can manage the care and feeding of my beasts and I will do what I can to make things easy for June.

But first there are the things I need to do so June can get by. A trip to the feed store is required before I leave. I will have to see that she has enough fire wood, in the house, for the stove and water in the house for cooking and cleaning. I will lift in wood for her, to keep the wood stove going. The water is another matter. I have already spent two days working of getting my faulty water system going, with only partial luck so far. If I do not get it working right I will have to haul enough water for her to get by for three days. Today, with any luck the pump will catch and water will flow. If not I will be down in the river retrieving the jet and foot valve to give them a good cleaning and the last two days will all be for naught and I will be starting over.
Oh, how I miss town water sometimes!

And then there is the transportation. I have had the word out for a month that I am looking for a ride to Toronto. No luck. It seem I have no family or friends heading that way on American Thanksgiving weekend. So I am exploring my options. Hitchhiking is definitely out. My days of thumbing a ride are over. So that leaves the plane, train, airport limo or bus. The plane is too expensive and I am a "white knuckle flyer" so it was easy to scratch it off the list. It turns out the airport limosene service is more expensive than I thought. I actually thought it was cheaper that the bus but it isn't. It is fast though but I will be dropped at the airport in Toronto and have to work our the final leg of transportion from there. I like the train but it is slow, so very slow. (The state of Canada's passenger rail system is a national tragedy!) It is almost as slow as the bus if I end up taking the "milk run" which stops at every little town and hamlet between North Bay and Toronto. Fortunately, my travel day has a rare express run added so it is certainly my fastest option and cheapest. When I reach Toronto, there will still be a short subway ride to Union Station and then the GO train to Mississauga, my destination, which adds to the cost. (I must marvel I could figure all this out over the Internet and not have to make a lot of telephone calls.)

Oh, yes. I will arrange with a neighour to check in with June and make sure she is managing and hasn't burned the house down with the wood stove.

All the while I am a repeating the mantra "I will have a lovely time. I will have a lovely time".

I actually am looking forward to wonderful romantic time with my friend Lynne. She has just finished a vacation in China and I expect to hear all the wonderful details of her adventure. I hope to be a good listener. . . . I promise I will. And be cheerful as well as charming. She may be the only person I know who might actually be pleased to see me.

Oh, yes.! I think I have arranged an easy and direct ride home.

I really must get away more often.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In Memoriam

David LaChapelle 1923-2009

My friend and tenant, David, died today. His body decided it was time his Spirit join the stream of memory of the ages. He lived with several ailments but his systems just slowly shut down.

David taking a rest from helping me do the firewood in 2008

David came to live with me when he asked his new wife, my friend June, if I might consider them moving in with me. He wanted one more time to live on a farm in the country in a house. I am pleased that I managed to adjust my life enough to accomadate him and June. The only real adjustment was giving up my library for him to use; it being on the ground floor. There was an irony in this as Dave was illiterate, like so many of the rural French Canadian men of his generation. I tried to interest him in a couple of books with wonderful pictures and he showed no interest. His life had been that of a doer and not a thinker.

I think David enjoyed the few years he live with me. He shared his room with his two little dogs and always took an interest in the few livestock animals I had, particularly the pigs. He was forever watching them and expressing concern for things they may be doing.

He and June had been neighbours in a "geared to income" garden apartment. June came to look after him. He asked her to marry him. It came to be an arrangement that was beneficial to both. I had the pleasure of performing the wedding at my farm down my the cabin on the river.

David had been married to his first wife for over 60 years. They had 10 children. (not uncommon for a French Canadian country couples of his generation)

David was an oldtimer who lived around here all his life. He was born in Crystal Falls, downstream from here on the Sturgeon River. Briefly, he even lived and worked here in River Valley. He worked in the Bush, the mills, trucking, wherever the work was. He also had a farm property in Verner, Ontario, south of here, upon which he raised and fed his family.

I enjoyed David's company. He was quite quiet and seemed to like wrestling on the TV more than anything else. He was always interesting to me when he spoke of the old days and what life was like a couple of generations ago. I was an eager listener, being a bit of a local history buff.

I shall miss him. I hate to see elders like him leave us, for they always have more to teach us.

For a man, who only ever knew work taking care of his family , he is now at rest and peace.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

(Last verse of Thanatopsis, William Cullen Bryant)

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Santa Claus Parade

Today is the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto. Christmas is coming! I am not ready.

The Toronto Santa Claus Parade is the oldest and largest Christmas parade in the world. It is 105 years old this year. It is a Toronto institution. My parents watched it as children, my siblings and I have memories of standing in crowds, or sitting on the curb watching the parade and waiting for the final float with Santa himself on board; and, for the few years I lived near Toronto after returning from the US, my son got to watch the parade alongside his cousins. I hope my grandchildren have seen it in person. If not, it is not too late. I wrote a long blog entry a couple of years ago on this. You can find it here.

Santa in the 1957 Santa Claus Parade. It is from the later part of my era of me watching the parade.

For 77 years, the T. Eaton Company sponsored the parade, which they founded. It terminated at their large department store where Santa entered though a second story window to take up his place on his thone in Eaton's Toyland. How we loved our yearly visit to this wonderous place full of toys.

Eaton's was a major institution in Toronto dominating retailing there and across Canada though their mail order business. People in remote rural communities could buy almost anything through the catalogue. In Toronto, at one time, you could even order your groceries and have them delivered by Eatons. Eaton's vans were a familiar sight on the streets around Toronto as they delivered orders made over the phone. Sadly Eatons is no more. It failed to adapted and did not survive the changing retail scene. In Toronto, the Eatons Centre is a monument to what was.
The Santa Claus Parade now has many sponsors and executive of companies can even be celebrity clowns for a fee. I wonder if it is more commercial now than what I remember? I believe it is still largely a volunteer organization that puts it all together and makes it a success.

Here you can go and look through the 1909-1910 Fall and Winter Eaton's Catalogue. By clicking on the page, it turns over. You can also zoom it to enlarge the images. I have it open at the toy section. I am surprised at how many of the toys are still popular today, nearly 100 years later. The prices are also a shock. In the section of wood burning cook stove you could buy a lovely one for $35. I have been offered $3,000 for my antique stove.

The government of Ontario has an archive of the Parade covering the many year of its existence.
It is interesting to view. There are even short clips of the parades past to view.

It has been years since I was at the Santa Claus Parade. I live too far away. It is best watched with children. It would be interesting to view it now and see the crowd. Canada is now so much more ethnically and culturally diverse now compared to when I was a child and even since I moved away when my son was a child. I wonder how many of the newcomers have gotten in the spirit of the Parade and how the parade has changed due to the new demographic. The parade has always been a secular event. Religous communities do not participate, to my knowledge, ecept for the Salvation Army and the YMCA. All groups should be able to participate in the parade as well as the watching of it.
Must go. The parade is about to start of TV. I hope this is the beginning of the Christmas season for some. (Delayed for Americans because of Thanksgiving. :) )

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Postscript in Memory

This video by Donald Brittain and the National Film Board, made in 1965, is very informative and touching as it visits the sites of significant battles in which Canadians participated in WWI and WWII. Well worth the time to view it.

Remembrance Day

When I was young I was encouraged to learn and remember the sacrifices of war, through the iconic poem, In Flander's Field by Canadian John McCrae who served as a surgeon in the First World War. He was a remarkable person both as a soldier and a doctor. This poem which was required to submit to memory by students of my generation. McCrae died in the Great War trying to save the lives of fellow soldiers of all countries, allies and enemies alike.
He is buried in Europe. His poem was written after he had a close friend die in the second battle of Ypres in Belgium.

It was in the imfamous horrifying battles of Ypres, Passchendaele and the Somme, that the soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, fought and died and forged a reputation for themselves and Canada for getting the job done. In particular, The Battle of Vimy Ridge is seen as a major step on Canada eventually becoming a well respected sovereign Nation in much the same way as the Battle of Gallipoli forged a national consciousness for Australia and New Zealand. These battles, some of which were defeats, had significance well beyond a battle in a war. The sacrifices by citizen soldier help forge a Nation., our Nation, Canada.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

It was so long ago that the World suffered the Great War, the war to end all wars. While we have for generations promised not to forget, the world has gone to war time and time again, including WWII. Why can we not heed the veterans admonition , "Never Again". We have failed them and must once again redouble our efforts to make war no longer an option in settling political disputes.

The Great War was during such a different life and times. The images of it are not fresh in our minds. They are startling as to how different it was. I have spent a lot of time looking at pictures, photographs and paintings. They are quite revealing. There are many sites you can access to view them. Canada's military archives are a source of so much interesting information. There are others. I encourage you to search them out and refresh you memories. With the veterans of the first war virtually all gone, there is no one left with direct memories of those times past. We need to study so we will remember still.

I post the picture below of downtown Toronto on Armistice Day 1918. What a wonderful day it must have been. The sacrifice was great and the surviving soldiers, many of whom were just farm boys when the left, were coming home much changed by the worst war ever for the common soldier. It was a great adventure for some and a great horror for all.

Toronto, Armistice Day November 11, 1918

We need to do better. We can do better. War is never the answer. It is hard to envison another war in Europe not because of military strength but diplomatic efforts to create a community of Nations committed to prospering together through their interdependence. Such mature efforts are the way Peace will be realized and major wars will be no more.

The World has lost so much human capital in lives cut short in war. WE REMEMBER!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Walls, Walls, Walls

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down this wall, ! Tear down that wall, Mr Obama! Tear down that wall! Mr Natanyahu.

Today, they are celebrating the breeching of the wall that separated East and West Germany. Whether the wall is seen as a way of keeping the East Germans in or the West German out, (with all their dangerous capitalist ideas) depends on your point of view. We in the west have been told it was a great good. Freedom and the material bounty of the West would become available for the East Germans. In twenty years it is not as simple as that. Not all East Germans shared in the new found life. The East German sector still lags economically behind the West. And now we here there are those who think life was better for many behind the wall, under the socialist policies of the Communist governments. There was an equality, work, free education, free medical care, security. Perhaps, the baby was thrown out with the bathwater.

The lesson of today is that walls do not work in the long run. The German wall ultimately could not keep people in or ideas out. We should be questioning if the wall the US is so eager to build between to hold back the tide of Mexicans some feel are a threat to the existence of the Nation. Also, the Israeli wall, enforcing keeping out Palestinians making them prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza.

In this spirit, I share with you this poem by Canadian, Joy Kogawa

Where there's a Wall

where there's a wall

there's a way

around, over, or through

there's a gate

maybe a ladder

a door

a sentinel who

sometimes sleeps

there are secret passwords

you can overhear

there are methods of torture

for extracting clues

to maps of underground passageways

there are zepplins

helicopters, rockets, bombs

bettering rams

armies with trumpets

whose all at once blast

shatters the foundations

where there's a wall

there are words

to whisper by a loose brick

wailing prayers to utter

special codes to tap

birds to carry messages

taped to their feet

there are letters to be written

novels even

on this side of the wall

I am standing staring at the top

lost in the clouds

I hear every sound you make

but cannot see you

I incline in the wrong direction

a voice cries faint as in a dream

from the belly

of the wall

Joy Kogawa

Joy Kogawa knows about "walls". She and her family are Canadians of Japanese ancestry. They were interned during the second world war behind the wall of the the Rocky Montains. This was a mistaken attempt to make all Canadians feel more secure, unless of course you were one of the Japanese-Canadians whose life was uprooted, your property and business taken by the government. This "walling up" of our fellow citizens achieved little other than harm to members of our Society. It was a national shame for which the Canadian govenment finally apologized. Japanese Canadians, shamed us all by quietly putting their lives together after the war and continued to contribute to Canadian society as the loyal citizens they were all along.

Joy Kogama's award winning semi-autobigraphical novel, Obasan, about her families internment has been considered the most important Canadian historical work.

Walls takes many forms. They need not by physical. Dissidents among us are often walled off in various ways for the "protection" of the rest of us. One who knew the sting of this and rose above it was Paul Robeson, the remarkable, singer, actor, ethnologist, socialist, black American. He had his passport taken by the government to limit his free travel abroad. He was seem as a threat to America. He and his ideas were subversive. There were ways around this wall.

Cross that Line

Paul Robeson stood

on the northern border

of the USA

and sang into Canada

where a vast audience

sat on folding chairs

waiting to hear him.

He sang into Canada.

His voice left the USA

when his body was

not allowed to cross

that line.

Remind us again,

brave friend.

What countries may we

sing into?

What lines should we all

be crossing?

What songs travel toward us

from far away

to deepen our days?

Naomi Shihab Nye

We all need to examine the walls that surround us, physical and psycho-social. Do they serve us well and achieve what we think they do. A serious inquiry would show that they do not accomplish much worthwhile. My friend, Lynne, it today visiting the Great Wall of China, the greatest of all walls, and yet it did not keep the Mongolian Hordes out.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


I imagine every parent has some special momento from when their child was young, below is mine.

(click on image to enlarge)

"Daddy and Me"
This is a drawing my son made when he was in nursery school. I remember him bringing it home and giving it to me, obviously excited to please me. And, I was pleased.
I am the one with the beard. (He has never known me otherwise) The little one is looking up at me with pride as if to say, he's my dad. Who could not cherish this gift.
Apparently, he drew it and the teacher asked him who it was. "Daddy and me" ! The teacher then wrote that on the picture. It is in such a damaged condition because one day my son tried to ripe it up when he was mad at me one day. I was not going to part with it. I have kept it all these years (36).
They were good years, actually the best years of my life, because he and I were a small but close family. The pain of divorce has faded over the years but the delight of being the parent of a little fellow remains fresh in a special place in my memory.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I am posting this just for the fun of it. For my American friends it is sharing some of Canadians quirkness: fo Canadian family and friends who have been in the U.S. too long it is a refresher course; for Americans who are considering moving to Canada, study there will be a test at the border; and, for the rest of us. . . .Well, you must recognize yourself by this list.

1. You stand in "line-ups" at the movie, not lines.

2. You're not offended by the term, "Homo Milk"

3. You understand the phrase, "Could you please pass me a serviette,I just spilled my poutine"

4. You eat chocolate bars instead of candy bars.

5. You drink pop, not soda.

6. You know what it means to be on pogey.

7. You know that a mickey and 2-4's mean "Party at the camp, eh!!"

8. You can drink legally while still a 'teen.

9. You talk about the weather with strangers and friends alike.

10. You don't know or care about the fuss with Cuba, it's just a cheap place to travel with good cigars and no Americans.

11. When there is a social problem, you turn to your government to fix it instead of telling them to stay out of it.

12. You're not sure if the leader of your nation has EVER had sex and don't want to know if he has!

13. You get milk in bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs.

14. Pike is a type of fish, not some part of a highway.

15. You drive on a highway, not a freeway.

16. You sit on a couch not a chesterfield - that is some small town in Quebec!

17. You know what a Robertson screwdriver is.

18. You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers.

19. You know that Thrills are something to chew and "taste like soap".

20. You know that Mounties "don't always look like that"

21. You dismiss all beers under 6% as "for children and the elderly".

22. You know that the Friendly Giant isn't a vegetable product line.

23. You know that Casey and Finnegan are not a Celtic musical group.

24. You participated in "Participaction".

25. You have an Inuit carving by your bedside with the rationale, "What's good enough protection for the Prime Minister is good enough for me".

26. You wonder why there isn't a 5 dollar coin yet.

27. Unlike any international assassin/terrorist/spy in the world, you don't possess a Canadian passport.

28. You use a red pen on your non-Canadian textbooks and fill in the missing 'u's from labor, honor, and color.

29. You know the French equivalents of "free", "prize"and "no sugar added", thanks to your extensive education in bilingual cereal packaging.

30. You are excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.

31. You make a mental note to talk about it at work the next day.

32. You can do all the hand actions to Sharon, Lois and Bram's "Skin-a-ma-rinky-dinky-doo" opus.

33. You can eat more than one maple sugar candy without feeling nauseous.

34. You were mad when "The Beachcombers" were taken off the air.

35. You know what a toque is.

36. You have some memento of Doug and Bob.

37. You admit Rich Little is Canadian and you're glad Jerry Lewis is not.

38. You know Toronto is not a province.

39. You never miss "Coaches Corner".

40. Back bacon and Kraft Dinner are two of your favourite food groups.

Note: Re: #16 In our house we sat on a chesterfield. We are of British stock.

Funny list, eh!

Sorry! I forgot from where I lifted this list or I would give credit. Forgetfulness seem to be an affliction of people my age. Yes, I did remember to google the title and I still could no locate the source.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Have you ever had a word from your past pop into your head? Well I did. It was Blaauwildebeestefontein. I even managed to spell it the first time. Wouldn't it be a lovely word for a game of Trivial Pursuit that focused on literature.

Friend, Donna, you just might know it even if no one else does. It is an imaginary place in your beloved Africa, specifically South Africa.It is a word that I have remembered all these years since studying the novel, Prester John, by John Buchan, in high school.

It was our duty to study this novel because a former Governor General of Canada wrote it from 1935 t0 1940. He died while holding this post. This was back in the day when the Queen's representative was sent from the motherland, Britain. Buchan had been in the foreign service in

South Africa, which is the location of this novel. The choice of the book may not have been on the merits of it as literature but I support the choice since Buchan relished coming to Canada as a challenge to help develop " a distinct Canadian Culture". We really were a cultural wasteland as a colonial outpost of Britain. The Americans were well ahead of us in their literary tradition. I don't know if he had a cultural impact, or not, for it would be 20 years before Canada really began to assert it's own literary tradition. Before WWII it was a different time to the age of my growing up. It was still the age of the British Empire, which is reflected in this book. Well, as usual I have digressed. (One thing about teaching myself to touch type I find I write longer blog entries.) I may need an editor.

My moment of insight did not begin with this wonderful sounding word, which had also impressed the song writer Paul Anka, who at age 15 tried unsuccessfully to write a song using it. In spite of a career in the US this little musical footnote demonstates his Canadian credentiaLs. He is in deed one of us. How different the music for my generation if we had been singing about "Blaauwildebeestefontein" rather that "Diana" as his first great pop song.

Remembering this word got me to thinking (always dangerous) about the fragments of memories from our youth that pop up from time to time and remind us who we are and where we came from. I started making a list.

In high school , besides Prester John, I remember studying Barometer Rising, by Hugh MacLennan, an actual Canadian novelist. Other books I remember fondly are Beautiful Joe, by Margaret Saunders, a Canadian children's novel from the 19th Century, the Anne of Green Gables Stories , by Lucy Maud Mongomery, and of course, several Shakespeare plays. With my parents involved in amateur theatre, I was one the unusual one in my crowd of friends who actually went to the theatre, including seeing a handful of Shakespeare plays. I did have a fovourite children's book, which I gave away years ago to a special young person, and have missed it ever since. It was Gumpy, Son of Spunk, by Arthur C. Bartlett, about a boy and his building of a successful sled dog team. It only seems available now through antique book sellers.

I remember vividly only two American novel. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I came to know these because my mother liked them and read both of them to me at least twice and I read them myself. I wonder if parents still read novels to their children, one chapter, or two, every evening until the tale is told? Danial Boone and Davy Crockett I would learn about on TV. I think m y mother also read me Little Women so I was vaguely aware of the fruits of the "Flowering on New England" which I eventual came to read a lot, since my church denomination was the spiritual side of the Transcendentalism of the New England Enlightenment. (Once again, I digress)

There may be others but these seemed to be the limited literary collection that I enjoyed long ago and still recall from time to time. I was not an extensive reader back then. I learned at my mother's knee as she told me all about what she was reading. ( I was a good listener back then)

We laughed a lot in our home. We had a great collection of largely British skit humour on records that we played time and again until we know large parts of the routines by memory. It got so we could just use a phrase form a skit and we would all laugh remembering the whole thing. I still have some of these records but don't seem to be able to get anyone to sit long enough to listen to them. They include several Peter Sellars records, Beyond the Fringe, The Establishment, Fool Britannia, ( several skits spoofing the Profumo Sex Scandal in the British government.) and Harry Lauder ( the famous music hall entertainer.) My comic influence was clearly British. Knowledge of American humours was unavoidable with the advent of TV.

I recently left a reference in a comment I made on Facebook to Albert and the Lion. It just popped into my head. I can remember it well. I think my mother knew it all by heart. That and the Battle of Hastings were the two British humourous poems of that type we enjoyed repeatedly.

Also, I knew something of the words of Dickens. I am not sure if I read him or just soaked him up in the admosphere of our home. It was a tradition in our house every Christmas to read "A Christmas Carol". by Dickens. I can visualize the book now it was a song book of Carols that had Dickens; story in the back. It sat year round in the piano bench with my sister's sheet music.

Among the table games we played as a family while often listening to the radio broadcasts, we played a lot of Scrabble. My mother was good at it BUT my father was clever in his choice of places to put words. He invariable won to everyone's frustration. We had a little ritual with this game which pops out whenever I might have something in a little bag that will make a sound when shaken. We kept the pieces for Scrabble in a paper back and it was my grandmother who first shook the bag before anyone picked replacement tiles (to be fair). She would announce, "And we will shake the bag." I catch myself saying this occasionally still and smiling. . .remembering.

I grew up with little thrift aphorism that are always with me. "A stitch in time, saves nine." A penny saved is a penny earned." "Take care of your pennies and your pounds will take care of themselves." Less traditional were my mother's admonitions to alway treat girls nicely. I have mentioned these before. I don't know why they were so important to her. "You must never ever under any circumstance hit a girl for someday you will be very much stronger than her." And, "You must always treat a girl as you would your sister." ( A little confusing at dating times but I rationalized my way around that.) I grew up to have great respect and affection for women. partly because of what my mother said but more importantly, I had a wonderful mother, a great example. I wonder what was wrong with the mother's whose sons grew up to demean women or worse brualize them. (That sounds a little harsh and judgemental but it is a question that continue to bother me.)

I could go on I suppose. This is just some of the fragments of memories that pop up from time to time and remind me where I came from and who I am.

I would be remise if I did not make one more reference. As a Canadian, I participated in the National Saturday Night ritual: listening to Saturday Night Hockey. Around the radio listening to Foster Hewett dramatically describe the action and later around the TV, not many Saturday night went by without some or all of us listening to the hockey game. You would not find any Canadian of my generation and the generation before and after me who would not recognize the music that indicated it was "Hockey Night in Canada."

Well, I have you have enjoyed me fragments of life past that live with me still. What are some of similar things that have stayed with you?