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Archive for November, 2010

Firsts

I have been going through a lot of old photos as of late – and there are a lot to go through! And it struck me that the blog would be neat to share some of the firsts in my life. This is a slightly different way of giving my kids a glimpse into my past. So, without further adieu …

First Camera

 

Kodak Hawkeye Flashfun

Kodak Hawkeye Flashfun c. 1961-1969

How could you not enjoy a camera called a Flashfun? I think this was a gift for my 11th birthday. The camera is very simple. It took 127 roll film and produced a square negative. The standard prints were about 4 inches square and most of mine were black and white because colour was just too expensive. The camera was not adjustable and so it was comparable I suppose to today’s ‘point and shoots’. And it used AG-1 flash bulbs. Using flash bulbs made you think about your shots because bulbs too were expensive and unlike an electronic flash they were one use only.

It was not very sophisticated but it was a camera and it was mine.

My first venture in photojournalism

Our house backed onto a power line corridor. The photo above was taken in the field at a community meeting in 1963. The meeting was held to discuss a neighbourhood response to a drainage problem and most of the people who lived on the street were there. Dad led the meeting and it was newsworthy enough to attract a Toronto Star reporter! For some reason, I decided to document the event. Unfortunately I know there are other photos but I can’t seem to track them down.

I actually quite like the photo above. The fellow second from the right is Dave McKane, the father of one of my childhood friends, Luke. I can’t remember any of the other people in the picture. I find the body language in the photo quite interesting. I am a lot more self-conscious of taking pictures of people now but at that time, I was the press photographer.

I used the camera for about another three to four years and then moved up in the world with my first adjustable camera – which will be the subject of another post.

 

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A friend once mentioned that he knew the greatest gift you could give to your children. I tried to guess – suggesting things like values, morals, lots of money, etc.

No, he replied. The greatest gift you can give your children is to write on the back of all your old pictures where and when they were taken and who is in the photo.

This is me and my father somewhere on the north shore of Lake Superior. The painted line on the rock indicates the boundary past which you will plummet to your demise. And here I am guessing, but I think this is around 1957.

And I am certain that if you went back there today, there would be a huge fence surrounding the open area as well as a sign relinquishing the township, province and country from all liabilities if you were stupid enough to fall over the edge – or the place would be completely blocked off so no one could enjoy the view.

Dad and I - Lookout on the north shore of Lake Superior

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There is a new leader in the “suck up to Dad” contest in our house.


My oldest son works on the local afternoon show for CBC radio. Last week, they interviewed Gary Brooker from Procol Harum and Bill Eddins, conductor of the Edmonton Symphony. My son offered to let me sit in and watch the interview but work intervened and I wasn’t able to attend. Little did I know that my son took my copy of Procol Harum’s Salty Dog and had Gary autograph it for me. I’m thrilled and it was a very kind gesture. Makes attending the concert even more special. Thanks Dave.

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My Dad was born in 1925. In 1941, at the age of 16, he enlisted in the Canadian Army. Just before his 19th birthday, he took part in the D-Day landings in Normandy. He was in the Royal Canadian Engineers and fought across France, Belgium and Holland. When the war in Europe ended, Dad volunteered to fight in the Pacific. He told me he was on the train going to Vancouver when the war in the Pacific ended.

He was keenly interested in the war. There were always books around the house on the conflict. I remember he brought back a pair of German binoculars. When my sister and I were arguing about who was going to use the pair – in a lesson worthy of Solomon – he broke them in half and presented each of us with one lens. Probably not the best way to solve the issue, but that was his solution.

I do remember he rarely talked about his experiences overseas. I heard from other friends, whose fathers had served, that this was common. When he was older, he would drop little tidbits of information, especially if we watching a program about the war on the television. But he never really opened up about his time in Europe.

In 1968, when I was 16, quite a few of my friends joined the militia (now called the reserves) for a summer job. It was one of the few times in my life that Dad said no. He said that joining the militia meant that I would have BMT – Basic Military Training – and if ever there was a need, I would be the first to be called up. At that time he told me he didn’t want me to ever have to go through what he had experienced.

To this day, I still can’t fathom what it must have been like to be a teenager in that situation. What he must of seen and experienced. And how it would have shaped you for the rest of your life. I think back what I was like at that age and how my boys were as they grew. I have no frame of reference for his experience. November 11 always makes me pause and reflect on how many people of his generation cut their youth short to “do the right thing”.

Dad and his sister Jean - Toronto 1941

 

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Procol Harum

Growing older can be very overt or quite subtle. The obvious signals are aches and pains such as realizing you are not going to be able to hop on one foot for 20 m during the branch ‘fun’ day.

The subtle signs are sometimes more shocking. Such as (note I did not use the word ‘like’) shopping in Save-On Foods and recognizing the background music is one of the songs you idolized in your youth – in this case The Byrd’s Turn, Turn, Turn. The music that meant so much to me as I was growing up has been relegated to providing an atmosphere in which to buy peas.

As a side note, I detested supermarket music when I was growing up. It was faceless, harmless and usually featured a lot of clarinets trying to mimic the adult hits of the previous generation.

So when the opportunity arose to go to see another seminal group from my youth – Procol Harum – I was initially somewhat hesitant. You really want your memories to be intact and how would they sound after all these years?

I saw the band twice in Toronto – once in 1969 (with Vanilla Fudge as the opening act) and again in 1971 (with King Crimson). In 1992, after moving to Edmonton in 1975, we saw the band as they returned for a reunion concert with the Edmonton Symphony. We managed to get main floor seats for the concert in the Jubilee Auditorium and enjoyed an incredible experience. So, 17 years later they were coming back to Edmonton to work with the symphony again.

And they didn’t disappoint. The music of my youth as I remembered it. There is only one original member left in the band; Gary Brooker. Gary is now 65 – if I am going that strong in seven years, I will be very happy.

I could go on about the musicianship, the complexity, the depth and intelligence behind their music. And I could do the old person thing and bemoan the lack of substance in today’s pop music, but I won’t. I am just going to smile and enjoy the memories of an evening with the music I grew up with. Thank you Gary.

Here is a link to the interview that Gary Brooker and Bill Eddins (music director of the Edmonton Symphony) recorded with the local CBC afternoon show – Radioactive with Mark Schultz.

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that you are a Geographer? Growing up in Toronto, geography was always my best subject. In Grade 7, I was banned from the school library because I complained I had already read all the ‘interesting’ (read, geography) books and no, I wasn’t going to read classics.

But I never realized how much of a geographer I am until a couple of weeks ago. Because of an illness a couple of years back, I require a weekly injection. My regular doctor was away and a replacement was going to administer the shot.

The replacement doctor: “Where do you get your shot?”

Me: “Right here in the clinic”

The replacement doctor (after a slight pause): “No, where do you get your shot?”

Me: “Pardon me?”

The replacement doctor: “What part of your body do you get your shot?”

Ohhhhhh …

The word “where” conveys space and the geographic coordinates of where I get my shot are the Capilano Medical Clinic. It never even occurred to me whether “where” meant if it was the arm or the butt.

I had to smile at that one.

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Banner

A friend asked about the banner at the top of the blog. The image is one of mine. This was taken along the Forestry Trunk Road south of Kananaskis in June 2010. I had to crop it to make it fit the banner specs.

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