Joycie, Rex, and Ruby – 1928
Hey, a picture is a picture, right? Ruby dug this out especially for me to post here. That’s her on the right, sitting behind her brother Rex, on their tricycle – doesn’t she look like a little devil? And I’ll bet Rex dropped Joycie on her head off that trike about 30 seconds after the shutter clicked. Not that he did drop her on her head – just that he probably did. Just sayin’.
Rex is the brother of Blackberry Summer fame. Ruby hadn’t told me much about Rex up to this point, so when she presented me with this photo, saying, “There. I wonder what that Mushy fella will say to that?”, I asked her about him.
Rex was about 18 months older than Ruby. She was about three in this photo, so he’d have been a little over…. five maybe? He had asthma and it plagued him all his life. When he was eight, it almost killed him because of a Scarlet Fever vaccination.
They didn’t have a doctor in Northland, so every year or so, one would come in by train and stay a few days, checking up on people and taking care of any emergencies that might crop up while he was there. The rest of the time, Northlanders most likely were doctored up by midwives, veterinarians, and God Himself.
On the last day of an annual visit, if there were any school kids of the right age, the doctor would innoculate them all one after another, just before he jumped back on the train out of there. The kids would all be lined up, and with the midwife assisting, the doctor would stick them all, assembly-line fashion, no questions asked, no names taken. Prick, prick, prick, prick, pack up and go home.
Rex had asthma, but the doctor didn’t know that, and he didn’t bother to ask. If he had bothered, he’d never have given him the shot. Five minutes after the doctor left for the station house (which, ironically, was where Rex’s dad was, being the section foreman, after all), Rex went into convulsions. The quick-thinking midwife scooped him up and ran for the station house, where the train was just pulling in, and Rex’s dad watched the doctor save his boy in the nick of time.
When I asked Ruby what the doctor did to save him, she said she hadn’t a clue, just that it had been close. She also laid dollars to donuts that the doctor never gave another shot without asking a kid’s history first.
Rex survived, though, and grew up to work for his dad on the railroad, which kept him employed until World War II. He tried to sign on, of course, but his asthma did that idea in. He ended up working as a time-keeper for a chain-gang of POWs for the duration of the war, at a camp further up the ACR.
The POWs he was in charge of were mostly Italians. The were a friendly bunch, and the Canadian government treated them very well. They may have been called a “chain-gang”, but not a one of them wore a chain. Where would they go if they ran? Into the Northern bush to starve or freeze to death? No, they weren’t that stupid. Better off where they were, where they were housed and fed fairly comfortably, considering, and each and every one of them worked hard, Rex said.
In the evenings, some of them built tiny little ships, with masts and sails that were squished magically through the necks of whiskey bottles and glued down. The masts, sails all furled up, would be stuck to the ship with rubber cement, and laid flat on the decks with little strings attached to the tops of them. The tiny dab of rubber cement stayed flexible long enough that when the whole works went through the bottle neck, the strings could be pulled gently and the masts would stand up straight and the sails would unfurl. Rex said it was a great thing to watch. By the end of the war, he owned three ships in bottles, and had them ’til he died.
A lot of those POWs applied to stay in Canada when the war was over. We must have been pretty decent people back then, I guess. Who would choose to stay here otherwise, and freeze for six to eight months of the year?
Random Song for the Day: “Belgium or Peru” – Cuff the Duke
For Carl, with tongue in cheek…
As of February 23, 2008…
My name is Les Becker. I’m 42 years-old, and I live in Northern Ontario, Canada with two teen-aged girls (one, I actually gave birth to!) and two cats (I didn’t give birth to either of them, though.). I don’t own a tuba. I do however, own a broken bodhran, which I proudly display on my living room wall.
I love music of every genre – so much so, that I have every song on the playlist loaded at once and set to random for the ultimate in eclectic mixes, and share what’s playing right now on every blog post (even this one). I carry my mp3 player at all times, playing – sometimes in only one ear, as I now and again have conversations with real people, on the phone, or face to face, and I consider it a little impolite to YELL at my friends and family during a conversation. Or the bank teller, or the waitress (oops. Server.), or the sales agent.
I like old people. Especially this one.
I’m a writer, an amateur photographer, and I dabble in media production. None of these things pays the rent, yet. I’m working on it… It would probably go a lot faster if I would pick one and stick to it.
Up until April 2006, I worked in sales and customer service at a store Formerly Known as Stereo Hut (name changed to protect the poor saps who are still stuck there). The nicest thing I can say about that decade is that it was a kucky job, but it could have been worse. Probably.
I have recently finished school (again), receiving certification in business, marketing, finance and web development. Strange mix. Still unemployed. Oddly, this neither surprises nor worries me. If the pantry gets low, I can always eat a cat.
Random Song for the Day: “Mystified” – Fleetwood Mac
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As of February 23, 2009…
My name is still Les Becker, but I’m a whole freaking year older. I’m minus one teenager. Come to think of it, I’m minus the broken bodhran, too. Still don’t own a tuba.
I’ve moved. I left four rooms with walls for one room and a sauna. My leftover teenager, renamed “The Idiot Child” for several good reasons, and I haven’t killed each other. So far.
She spends most of her time in the sauna, mind you.
The same song over and over again.
The lack of walls and sunlight are now too much for us, as well, so we are planning our next move. We are becoming “Cave-People” here. Singing Cave-People. Ugh.
Still love music – but don’t have the mp3 player welded to my person any longer… the Grand New J.O.B. (pumping gas at a 24-hour full service gas bar) does not condone it, so I must dance in the parking lot to whatever music happens to be playing in my head. Brrrrr! I do, however, listen to music constantly while at home, and still share what’s playing right now on every blog post (yes, including this one).
I still like old people. I lost one this past July, though. 🙁 And I don’t get to see this one as much as I’d like to… Thankfully, I still get to see this one, quite often. 😀
I still write, and am currently looking for representation. I still take a lot of photos, and I’m back into audio again.
Being a gas-jockey is a weird thing, but oddly, it’s actually a lot of fun to do. Zero stress. Crap wages. As are those I earn with Louie, having sworn never to work for him again, every time I’ve worked for him since. Ah well. I mentioned I’m still writing, right…? Ahem…*
I have yet to eat a cat.
Random Song-for-the-Day: “Little Green Bag” – George Baker Selection
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Other “About Me”s…
November 23, 2008
What to Post When You Can’t Keep a Train of Thought on Its Rails…,
October 31, 2008
I *HATE* These Things…
Ain’t I Angelic… “looking”?
Ah, yes, appearances can be deceiving, though, can’t they? The dog knows differently, you can tell by the look on her face.
This picture was taken by my father in 1971. I would have been around 5 at the time. The dog (her name was Goldie), was 4, and I think my dad might have loved her as much as, if not more than, he loved me. He never once forgot her name, whereas I still get referred to as “Vel-errr…Kar-errr… Lisa! No…. Diddly-Do-Over-There”. He does that to all his kids, mind you, so it’s not like I’m singled out. He had too many kids, and just the one dog.
Goldie is in nearly every photo taken of me by my dad from the time she was brought home to the time she was “put down” when I was about 13.
She was old and had been through some tough times – surgery for removal of an “India Rubber” ball she accidentally swallowed (my dad still has that – ask him where my first tooth is, though) … rheumatism resulting from being accidentally run over (by my dad!!!!)… poor ol’ dog.
My parents didn’t tell me they’d put Goldie down until 4 days after the deed was done, because I was in the middle of a monstrous school project. They were worried I would be so upset that I’d get a bad mark. I cried. A lot. Not because the dog was gone, so much as I felt guilty that I hadn’t wondered where she was for 4 days. Some friend I turned out to be.
ANYWAY…. that’s not what this post is about. It’s about an incident that happened around the year this picture was taken – and probably the reason I hate cooking so much…
I think we were on Cockburn Island (stop laughing, Suzi), but it could have been one of a myriad of other islands in the North Channel that we “boated” to. I know there were other families there –
1) because my dad (along with several other dads) was three sheets to the wind (ummm… for those not in-the-know, “three sheets to the wind” is Sailor-Talk for Drunk.), and it took other dads present for such a thing to happen, and
B) because My Brother the Trespasser wouldn’t play with me, and it took other kids present for such a thing to happen.
So, all the other kids, being older, were… I don’t know…. gone, and I was left all by my lonesome 5-year-oldness to amuse myself. Under the arguable watchful-eyedness of a bunch of drunks. I could hardly help but get into trouble.
We were BBQ-ing that night. Well, the other families were BBQ-ing. Ours was “Hibachi-ing”. My dad loved his little Hibachi, because it didn’t need any dismantling for storage (we lived on a boat in the summer, remember?), or have to be strapped down on the deck.
It looked exactly like this.
Yes. Very small. Very low to the ground. About up to a 5-year-old’s shins. Reachable, in other words, to both a 5-year-old girl who only looked like an angel, and a 4-year-old dog who would eat anything within reach provided my dad wasn’t yelling “UUT! Oh, NO YOU DON’T!!” at the time. As I recall, that worked on both dog and girl equally well.
But, as you will recall, my dad was three sheets to the wind. And he did a silly thing. He told me (ME!) to “keep an eye on the Hibachi and make sure Goldie doesn’t get into the hamburgers.” Imagine that! And then he went back to his lawn chair, his rum, his buddies, and Nat King Cole on the 8-track.
So, I picked up the spatula and “kept an eye on the Hibachi”. As well as any 5-year-old who’d never wielded a spatula before could….
Now, this is about the point where the way my parents tell this story and the truth part ways. Ahem…*
To my knowledge, my parents don’t read my blog… in fact, I’m pretty sure that My Brother the Trespasser is the only member of my family who ever has, and I’m not even sure of that, truthfully… but if I get in trouble for the following admission, I will be forced to inform my parents who it was that taught me how to remove a locked wine-cellar door from its hinges quickly and silently, and put it back the way I found it, equally quickly and equally silently. Not to mention the party I swore I’d keep quiet about in exchange for such a valuable education. I swear I’ll tell. Fair warning, oh Brother Mine.
My parents maintain that I was “playing house”. That I “didn’t know any better”. That I just “had quite the imagination as a child”. Ri-ight. Goldie would have ratted me out in a heartbeat if my dad had thought to offer a milk bone. As it was, I think she may have scored the whole meal.
I was trying to flip the hamburgers over. I knew it had to be done; I could smell them burning. No amount of arm-waving, or sleeve-pulling, or “excuse-me-ing” could get my dad’s attention, and truthfully, it never once occurred to me to go to my mother because this emergency pertained to The Hibachi, which was most definitely my father’s turf.
And he ignored me.
And I saw my chance to finally be The Hero, and save supper.
So, I gingerly slid the spatula under a hamburger patty, and attempted to deftly flip it over, whereupon it promptly flipped off the Hibachi. Into the sand. Of course. May I remind you at this point, that I was 5.
You may not be aware, unless you’ve dropped a hamburger patty into the sand, that sand does not scrape off a hamburger patty. Completely.
But it can be disguised.
With more sand.
On all the other hamburger patties.
You can fit about eight hamburgers on an Hibachi grill. It takes approximately ten minutes for a 5-year-old girl-that-looks-like-an-angel-but-who-has-an-imagination to drop seven hamburger patties in the sand (on purpose!), scrape as much sand off as possible, and return them to the grill, sand-side-down.
They didn’t catch on until the second bite, as I recall, but they haven’t let me forget it, since. I believe we had bologna sandwiches for supper that night. Goldie ate sandy hamburger.
Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Ramblin’ Rose” – Nat King Cole