Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dad - 2

Mom had the most beautiful auburn hair that cascaded to her shoulders.  She is standing beside dad in the photo taken on their wedding day.  It's a black and white picture with the Dad and his best man in their air force blues, and Mom and her bridesmaid in suits. I'm sure there's a picture somewhere of her in a wedding dress but it's that one of the young women and young men smiling in black and white that comes to mind..  The blue of Dad's uniform and the red of Mom's hair is  not captured in the black and white picture that despite that was so colourful with promise of future.
Mom and Dad met at a serviceman's dance in Toronto.  Mom was Baptist, with two sisters, Sarah and Hannah.  She was closest to Sarah aka  Sally. Aunt Sally would be very much an integral part of our family's life as the years rolled on.  Sarah was working as the executive assistant to the Canadian Ambassador in Washington DC while Mom was a secretary in Toronto.
There's a joke that goes, "Why don't Baptists make love standing up?  Because they're afraid it might lead to dancing."  Despite or because of the taboo,  Mom and Dad fell in love on the dance floor and never stopped dancing or going to church.  Even in their 80's they would cut a fine figure on the dance floor, waltzing and fox trotting to the big band and country music of their era.
My Aunt Sally told me later that Dad and Mom were head over heals in love from the moment they met.  Dad was a fine country gentleman and Mom,  a true city lady.  When they married, they moved in with Mom's parents, to save money for a house.
Years later Dad would tell me, "Those were tough times, son.  All the men were mustering out of the forces and there just weren't enough jobs.  The men who hadn't gone into the service had the plum jobs and those of us who came out after the war had to take whatever we could find. Alot of good men were out of work and not too happy with the government either."
Dad did whatever he could for work until he got his position with Morris Crane Company. Somewhere along the line he'd got his  millwright papers,  along with some other 'tickets', always studying, and always excelling.   He'd complete his Engineering Diploma he'd started in the Air Force at night school in the early fifties.   My brother Ron, 4 years older than me came along not that long after the marriage.  I believe he was born when they were still living with mom's folks.  By the time they had me they had their own house,  though they kept a boarder upstairs to help pay for it.  Hannah married a dentist and had my cousin Ruth Anne.   Aunt Sally married a painter but never had children. The painter turned out to be a drunk and Aunt Sally separating to the horror of the church and community.  With the church and their friends, the girls had, their parents and the children, Dad had steady work  and fishing buddieshe liked.  Those early years were golden years to them both.
Dad spoke with pride of his work with the big cranes in those years.  Once when we were at Niagara Falls when he was in his 70's he'd tell me, "Morris Crane was hired to put a structure up over the falls one year.  I was asked if it could be done. I said it could even though I didn't know how at the time. That was quite a job, working over those falls with the big crane."   That's how we'd learn of things he'd done.  A nugget of his life would just drop like that when he was older.
When Mom died  and Dad was in his late 80's he shared with my brother and I that he'd been hang gliding with his cousin a few years before.  "Why didn't you ever tell us," we asked.  "I was afraid you tell your mother," he said and went on to tell about his motorcycle adventures in his late 70's and early 80's with the same cousin. Both the wives had thought the men were just getting together for coffee.
Mom and Dad were mostly modest people. They didn't think that anything they were doing was important or out of the ordinary. Big things were being done all over the country but the men who'd served for many years in the war were all just glad to be working together building a future.  Dad never saw his part as anything special.  Soon Mom would give up work and look after her babies.  That was all she'd wanted to do in those early years.  Canada was a country then where family really was important. Dad was proud when he said, "I made sure your mother didn't have to work unless she wanted to."  Mom never worked full time again but in later years worked part time as a journalist, glad she didn't have to leave her home to do her work.
As long back as I can remember Dad loved to fish.  In Ontario my earliest memories are Dad teaching me to catch sun fish off the dock.  The first dog  I remember was Sunny, an English Springer who'd be at Dad's side for all of my childhood.
I always thought my brother was my father's favourite because he was first and he was more useful. He was  able to keep up with Dad better and do things better. I remember clinging more to my Mom's skirts in those earliest years.  But then the memories shift to Mom staying in the house, tent or trailer and my brother, me and the dog ranging after dad on adventures and expeditions.  Fishing wasn't just casting a line off a shore. It was boats and motors and even with them it might involve further hikes and expeditions to higher more secluded lakes after motoring up rivers or crossing lakes.  In those summer fishing and hiking days with his sons,  Dad would have shorts and a white under shirt.  Maybe because of my height or the fact that it's no longer the fashion, I remember he wore garters that held up his socks.  When we got back home to Mom he'd always have something, a fish or two, wild berries, bull rushes or something. As kids we'd have our pocketsful of shells and shiny pebbles to show her too.  Sometimes we all brought flowers.  Mom and Dad would  hug and kiss.  Always Mom would l say something about 'as long as the boys are safe." Which made all the bear stories of those camping years even more poignant considering Dad's promises that everything would be okay. Then some big black bear with cubs would wander by and Dad would try as much to save face as to protect his family.
The family album shows pictures of a really happy family then. It's all I remember too. Those camping summers were the best starting as early as I can remember and going all the way into the early teen years.
When we were still in Toronto Dad moved from Morris Crane to Mathew Conveyor Company.  He said later it was because there was more room for advancement, higher pay, more opportunity.
Mathew Conveyors gave Dad work out west.  Winnipeg.  Dad had come from Manitoba and now when I was 5 years old we'd be moving back there as a family.  For Mom, being an  Eastern Canadian big city girl of Toronto, the news of going to hick town Winnipeg, leaving her mother and sisters, would be the same as being posted to the moon.  It would take her years to adapt to the change.  To here she'd left civilization.  In those days, Toronto was called, Toronto the good and Winnipeg, a western fronteir town was anything but good.  The fact remains that Winnipeg was and is the centre of Canada, a hub for communication and transportation, no longer just for the prairie "breadbasket of the world" but increasingly a cosmopolitan world of it's own.
We moved to Fort Rouge.  Mom joined Trinity Baptist Church like this was a life ring thrown to her by God.  Trinity Baptist Church for years to come would protect her from heathens, Indians,  westerners, Anglicans and Catholics. To my family Jews were fine, blacks were fine,  it was the papists who were most suspect.  I'm glad to say it didn't take many years before Mom's views mellowed with age. In their middle years Mom and Dad had friends of every walk of life, a judge for a friend and a collection of Asians whose food they both grew to love.  
In Fort Rouge, we had the whole second floor of a great old house which Mom hardly left those first months except to go to church down the street. Ron and I were enrolled in school on Osborne street, The school is no longer there but Osborne Village has become the funky centre of the city.  I remember school well because there was a huge shute we'd practice sliding down for fire drills. All us kids thought that was so cool we hoped for a fire just to be able to take that huge slide for real.
Mathew Conveyor Company had the contract for putting in all the conveyor belts that would move the mail about Winnipeg's new post office. I guess the job lasted a couple of years at least.  Later Dad would install the conveyor system for the new International Airport as well, Mathew Conveyors moving all the luggage to and from the jets.  I learned Dad was in charge of 150 men at a time in those days.  At home we'd hear how stupid the designers and architects were back east.  Dad was forever spreading out blue prints and cursing because machines were too big for the spaces alotted for them despite what the blue prints said.  He'd have to knock out walls or get new steel parts manufacturered locally to make up for the smozzle of the fanciful plans.  When he'd curse,  Mom would alwyas say, "Not in front of the kids."  This was when 'Darn' was the worst curse I heard Dad saying.  Ron and I were always hanging around Dad when ever we could, pretty much like a couple of puppies, getting in the way, or just watching in awe.  Dad was where the action was and we were always hoping to join in. As kids we really did appreciate what a great father we had, other kids not having Dad's that took them camping, fishing, or having homes where their parents were really there for them.
Years later as a teen ager, I'd get my millwright helpers papers so I could work one summer with Dad.  I'd work then with some of the men who'd worked on different projects with him over the previous decade.  It was something special for me, a teen ager, who was having his own troubles with his strict air force father, to learn, "Your Dad's the best man I've ever worked for."  "No boss like your Dad, kid".  "Alot of other guys in his position wear a suit and don't get their hands dirty but whenever there's something difficult needing being done, your Dad's right there first in his coveralls."  "Just don't swear around your old man. He doesn't go for that. Your Dad's a genius with machines.'
I was a thoroughly self centred little know-it- all teen ager so it was something else to work along side my father with dozens of men who looked up to and admired him.  I remember my brother telling me years later.  "The only time I remember Dad in suits was with mom at church.   I found out later that all the men with his seniority never wore coveralls whereas Dad pretty well lived in them."
One summer when he was doing a job in Saskatoon and I was 12, Mom sent me out to join him for a week or two.  That's when I saw a whole other side of him. The men he worked with would go riding after work so Dad took me along. Here he was with a bunch of cowboys and even some cowgirls all in their western element. We'd gallop all over that summer racing each other on horses. It's hard to imagine how I didn't know this but Dad could be a real wild cowboy with the best of them.  Here I was watching Bonanza and reading novels about cowboys and somehow I'd forgotten that here was Dad raised on horses and thoroughly at home in the saddle, all of us together forming a regular possee as we rode across the Saskatchewan farmlands.
We were only a couple of years in Winnipeg before it became pretty clear we were going to stay. Mathew's had put Dad in charge of their Western installations so over the next years he'd be doing major construction projects in Winnipeg, all over Manitoba, Saskatchewan and then as far west as Calgary.  Mom didn't like that he'd be away for weeks at a time then but when we moved to Fort Garry she settled into finally being a transplanted Eastern girl living in the wild west.  She loved her home and garden there with all her community club and school friends.  Reporting for the Fort Garry Lance newspaper she was into every aspect of the community, always up on anything that was happening till she was thoroughly and irrevocably immersed in Fort Garry affairs.  Once we were in school there I don't think she thought twice about Toronto. The first year or two there'd been doubt and indecision for her but then Winnipeg became her home. Dad loved his work and home there too.
I remember the day Dad bought 793 North Drive, Fort Garry. It was a red brick bungalo which had been owned by an elderly women with a couple of little British bulldogs.    It was a city block from Viscount Alexander Elementary and Junior High School, and maybe 4 blocks from Vincent Massey High school.  There was a community centre with outdoor hockey rink between us and the high school and the Red River, golf course and badminton club a block in the other direction.  A couple of blocks away was Pembina Highway, the main artery of the south side of the Winnipeg then, leading right out to the University where my brother would get his undergraduate degree. Dad was really proud of Ron getting that University Degree but he was happiest of all when Dad's son Graeme got his Engineering Degree decades later.
It was because the schools were the best closest to the university that Dad and Mom picked Fort Gary.   Dad put alot of emphasis on education.  My brother and I would end up doing a whole lot of university so I'd tell people I was a slow learning and had to have a whole lot of remedial education at University. Still, all I can remember Dad and Mom expecting of us was that we'd finish high school.  "I moved here so you boys would have the opportunity to go to good schools and I expect you to complete high school if you don't do anything else." Report cards and passing grades were really important in our family.  Ron usually got A's so he was a hard act to follow.  I don't know if my brother who was always the better student remember that message as strongly as I do but it was one of those things that probably helped me alot to get high school behind me despite being expelled and having to make up a course before I could go onto college. .
The big garden the house had was all for Mom.  Dad and Mom talked alot about growing things and us kids were incorporated into her plans each year for different crops but the garden was Mom's. There were three great spruce trees and a big back yard that Dad would build a massive two car garage on. He'd have a place for his truck and car.  As long as I could remember we always had an old pickup and a new car.  The car was mostly for taking Mom to church while the truck was for everything else.
The only thing the neighbourhood didn't have was a 'good' church .  Until I finished high school, Dad would drive Mom to the Trinity Baptist Church in Fort Rouge because Mom was Baptist No other Christian denomination would do. There was an Anglican, Catholic and Fort Garry United Church all a block from our house but Mom wouldn't have anything to do with them.    When as a young adult I returned to church at Fort Garry United where I taught Sunday School, Mom finally figured the United Church might have something if it could have influence on her heathen son.  Both Dad and Mom became members of Fort Garry United Church after that and for years enjoyed membership in that congregation.
Dad always went to church with Mom when we were young. The minister at Trinity Baptist was the haranguing sort, running on all about hell and damnation.  More often than not Dad would be nodding off. I remember squirming alot as a little boy. The best memories were when Aunt Sally joined us and the two sisters would  literally sing their lungs out.  Spring hats and gloves were a thing back then . But Sunday School was better as a kid..  Trinity Baptist had big suppers in the basement and fun picnics. Dad was really fond of the suppers and a whole lot of fun at a picnic.  He'd always participate and Mom who was shy could often been seen being tugged along by him to join in some game the minister and his wife proposed for the adults and children to play.  Murray Wade became Dad's good friend there.  Murray took  on the job of being in charge of the cubs and  boy scouts 'only if John's going to be there to help me with the outdoor stuff". Everyone knew Dad, with his northern origins, hunting and fishing, and time in the service was the 'outdoors man', who could be trusted.  So I've got memories of Boy Scout Snow Train and Boy Scout Camp with my Dad and Murray Wade, my brother and a whole lot of other boys whose fathers were mostly not involved as much in their lives as a few of the fathers, including Dad, were involved in ours.
Dad wasn't that much for sport except hockey.  He used to mock us kids for needing pads declaring "all we had when I was growing up was rolled up newspaper to protect our knees and shins." The best skating was the winter the Red River froze and we all skated forever. When I heard Sarah McLaughlin singing, Joni Mitchell's song, I wish I had a river, so I could skate away" I figured she must have been on the Red River when it froze solid and the wind blew the snow away for miles.  Dad took us toboganning on the banks of the river and even made me a wood bobsled that almost got my brother and I killed it went so fast.
Hockey Night in Canada on TV was as important to our house as anything I can remember.  We'd dress up in our hockey sweaters and the whole family would cheer for our respective teams. Mom would make pop corn. I remember Ed Sullivan too, as a favourite show of Dad's.
Dad  always watched the news on tv.  He  read the Winnipeg Free Press religiously, while Mom and Dad listened to CJOB every morning. They especially enjoyed "Beefs and Bouguets' when people would phone in and share what they liked or didn't like about Winnipeg  that day.
I remember Dad saying that "church people are good people but alot of them don't know how to do anything.  I had to fix the roof at Trinity Baptist and alot of the time they're good for a lot of talk but not for much else." In later years when I joined the Anglican church Mom and Dad did too simply because a local priest took an interest in them as old people, coming around to where they were staying and saving them the effort of getting out.
Church was important to Mom when we were young but became more important to Dad when he got older.  Gord Laidlaw and he would wax poetic in the back lane about all things philosophical and religious. The Anglican church manse was the house next door and Dad befriended the minister though Mom being "staunch" Baptist then shied from too close contact with his wife.
When we were older Dad told me he'd made friends with a catholic priest in the country too and they had lots of conversations together. Those were the years when Dad and I began duck hunting together. Lots of time driving around together in the truck with me a young man asking my father about all things.  Given how estranged we'd been when I was a teen ager I'd never have believed those fall conversations could have occurred. As many a young man has said, "My father grew up a whole lot when I got into my twenties.
When Dad was younger and anyone asked him about church or religion, he 'd always say, "I belong to the round church. That's so the devil can't catch me in the corners."
When we were young Dad joined the Fort Garry Game and Fish Association. That's where my brother and I got our first marksmanship awards with 22 long rifles. We also ate a whole lot of wild game there. Dad was also fond of the Fowl suppers the communities around Winnipeg would put on to celebrate harvest season in the falls. We'd climb in the car on a Saturday evening end up in some community hall or church out of town where there'd be wall to wall food prepared by the farmer's wives from their own farms. As boys we'd eat turkey and pumpkin pie till we could hardly walk while Mom and Dad enjoyed talking with all the folk about matters of farming and industry.
Hunting trips were Dad were a fine time for us boys and later I'd share more times hunting with Dad when I took up hunting again as a young man. I remember my friend Kirk sharing with friends years later how he'd go over to our house and a deer would be hanging from the rafters in the basement.  The year Dad shot a moose I remember eating so much moose meat I was trying to trade it for a peanut butter sandwich one lunch hour at school, something I'd never do today.  Dad shot that moose in winter, quartered it in the freezing cold and hauled it out for miles on a toboggan.  That and many hunting stories were told around our home.  Ron eventually went big game hunting with Dad but Mom only let me join my father and brother for the prairie chicken and duck hunting because she was fearful about her little boy getting shot during deer hunting season.  
Mom had her garden where she grew vegetables and gladiolas that won awards in the local horticultural show.  Ron really picked up her green thumb. I eventually got into raises cactus with some success. Dad built his garage and most of my childhood I remember handing sprockets and wrenches to my brother who either used them or handed them on to Dad who would be lying on his back  either under the truck or under the car.  It was never any surprise to me that when I finally got into Surgery all the surgeons sought me as an assistant. I'd been so well trained by my other brother and father from the age of 5 to 10 that I was a natch as a surgical assistant.
Dad fixed everything. If he couldn't fix a thing he'd build himself a new one. Where I'd in later years would read novels Dad's book shelves were full of 'how to" books.   And  long as I can remember every man in our neighbourhood all along the back lanes where the men congregated would come round to ask Dad for advice on their various home work projects. Our throw away generation hadn't come into being as yet.  Everyone was still making do and most spring, summer and fall weekends most of  the men would be working on their houses or or building something in their yards.  Dad put a space heater in the garage so he could work in there when it was downright cold. This was Winnipeg where a space heater didn't do much for getting rid of the chill but that didn't stop Dad from fixing changing the oil in his truck in the middle of winter if he had a mind to do that.
One summer he'd make a 16 foot boat from plywood and hard wood.  It sure was a sturdy thing.  "I didn't know it would be so heavy," he said when it was finished and my brother and I were helping him get it on a trailer for the first time.  When Dad made something it wad indestructible.  "Made to last" was a favourite saying in those days. Cementing the deck, the stairs and walk ways was another of Dad's bigger projects.
There were always projects going on around the house. He built an extra room in the front basement.  That was a heck of a big job especially trying to get around all the regulations that were coming in to employ people who couldn't do anything themselves but criticize other people's endeavours.  Dad couldn't put a door on the room he built or they'd raise his taxes so there was this room that passed as a 'bomb shelter' , served more for storage of mom's preserves than anything else, but had a curtain on because a door would have increased the tax. He couldn't put a window in it either or that would have affected some other regulation.  When such issues came up it was usually associated with my mom saying something like "Don't curse around your children".  Cursing for Dad was always something tame like "Dogoneit, Jean or 'heck' but that was always enough to bring on my mother's approbation.
Grandmother came to live with us in her old age. She had a bed in the sun room of the house. It was called the 'sun room' because there were windows all around the front and the sun shone in brightest there especially in winter months.  That's where Mom always had her typewriter and  Christmas cactus too.  When I got fish tanks for my siamese fighting fish thats' where they went too.     But first grand ma lived and died there, Dad taking care of her after her husband died in Toronto. She came out to live out her last years gnarled with arthritis cared for by Mom and Dad with her grandson's around to fetch things.  She died in the sun room passingly peacefully with her family around.  I was more curious than anything else with the old people. Mom's mom and Dad's dad were the oldest people I knew when we were little.
Dad's dad would come down most years late fall after the summer's ranch and farm harvest was done.  I remember he always drove one of those huge boats of a car which old men favoured. Alot of steel and guaranteed to survive any crash though the same couldn't be said for anything he would hit.  Usually one or two of Dad's brothers would come along with grandad and the whole lot would be put up in the house.  Sometimes cousins came as well.  These were serious family events with lots of food and adults talking and kids hanging back listening.  Grand dad would be there to see Dad.  He was glad to see his grandsons but mostly he wanted to talk to Dad.  They'd talk about cattle,  lumber prices and that sort of thing. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker figured into a lot of the conversations the men would have back then.  Diefenbacker being a western man, there was hope on the prairies that politically the country might get beyond Montreal and Toronto where all the money and politics in Canada seemed to get caught. Not much love for Quebec out west though Dad loved to join in the winter festivities of St. Boniface.
When my dad's favourite uncle arrived and played guitar singing like Johnny Cash those were good times too.   When Aunt Sally came it was mostly to see us boys and those were fun times indeed.  We didn't have family around in the city but several times a year someone would be visitting and staying over , the couch in the living room a roll away that converted to a bed.  After Grandma died her bed in the sun room would be another place for more to stay. And sometimes there would be sleeping bags on the floor. All the space of the house would be used up for sleeping room. Then card tables and folding chairs would be brought out to make up extra tables for meals.
Dad had made Mom a glass faced cabinet painted white that ran either side of the mantel piece over the electric fire place in the living room.  Mom had her fine china in that and maybe 2 or three times a year it would come out. Mostly when Aunt Sally or someone else in the family visitted.  On the mantel piece there was the wooden chiming clock which might get round up when guests came over.  A picture of Mom and dad when they were married, Dad in uniform, mom with that great head of hair and serenely happy face The  frame was one that dad had made. It was a little house shaped frame that hung between two 50 caliber shells he'd taken from a Spitfire that had crashed.
The heavy walnut gun cabinet that stood in the sun room was another cabinet Dad had built himself, with slots for several rifles to stand, a  glass door  and a drawer at the bottom to hold ammunition.  When the Kennedy Missile Crisis was on and we all figured the Russians were going to invade I'd have nightmares of soldiers on the lawn. That gun case comforted  me then because I always figured Dad with his 30 30 lever action and my older brother Ron with the bolt action 22 would be able to protect our home, my mom, the dog and me from the Russians if they ever invaded.
Those years of nuclear threat and fire drills in the schools with all us kids on our hands and knees ready to 'kiss our asses' good bye were terrible years.  But they were years of UFO's too. I remember a night all the men were on the back lane with binoculars looking at this cigar shaped light in the air that gave off spinning flying saucers that came down in the atmosphere and then returned to the mother ship all in the space of an hour.  Gord Laidlaw, Kirk's father, the University Alumni Chemist was there, with my Dad and Ed Yuzak, both Air Force, and then us kids. They were all convinced it was aliens because no one had seen anything like that.  "The Military doesn't have anything that moves like that." Ed said.  The saucers kind of flitted and when they rejoined the cigar shaped light that thing disappeared in a streak. "Nothing we know can go that fast." said Gord.
The next day similiar sightings had been made all over Winnipeg but the government was saying it was a freak weather phenomena. Being in the Air Force Dad took a keen interest in NASA. We all watched when there were rocket launches. No one was happy that the Russians had got into space first but we were sure glad when the US caught up.
When I was still a boy and Ron was not yet a teen Dad took Aunt Sally Mom and the two of us driving across the country.  He'd get two weeks vacation and it wasn't anything for him to drive to Vancouver or Toronto. We had a Morris Mini in the early years and later he'd have the American Motors Cars. He stayed with them because he had the tools for fixing them. He cursed when my brother brought home a European car to get help fixing it because it needed its own set of  metric tools.
It was Rambler with the fold down seat  that became a bed, that I remember most, followed by the Ambassador he was proudest of.  After he had the Ambassador car he bought Mom a mink coat and the two of them would drive about in that car like they'd finally arrived.  Ron and I were on our way out of the home by then, the child rearing part of Dad's life coming to a close. Not that it ever really ended  I certainly never stopped coming back and badgering the two of them for more parenting asking all manner of questions and getting my full share of answers to a host of adult questions.
Ron and Dad would do a lot over the years together just like Ron would do with his sons when they grew up.  I'd not say we were 'pals' when we were older but Dad and I certainly became friends.  He was of an era when men didn't open up much. So I think Mom was the only one who really got to know him really well.  She and his Canadian Veteran friends were the ones he was closest to. As we matured he began to realize with quite a struggle that we had become men and a whole new relationship developed among us.  For me it was with hunting and fishing, boating and travelling whereas with Ron it was around his family and houses.
When we were young Dad took us fishing and camping and that what we did as a family most every weekend. There was the centre poled pointy topped four man brown canvas tent when we were small. Two adults, 2 kids and a dog fit in that. Then there was the blue rectangular tent we grew into followed by the real cadillac of tents that mom liked, one with a mosquito net front room where she could put her folding picnic table. I remember her happy as a clam in that tent reading magazines in a folding camp chair safe from the mosquitoes while Dad and us boys took off in the motor boat to catch pickeral and pike or just explore the environs of Blue Lake or one of the other great outdoor spots of Manitoba.
When we asked Dad about having a cottage he'd say, "why have a cottage, you have a house, with a tent you can go anywhere."  And we did.
There was a short time that they had a tent trailer but then when we moved out of the house  they graduated into their first RV. Mom was really in heaven then and Dad could go anywhere. They joined Good Sam Club.  The RV was a Queen and they began touring all overCanada and  the northern and southern states spending summers travelling from campground to campground. In the winter every couple of years Dad would take mom on a cruise somewhere around the world.
"Your mother would love her cruises," he'd tell us in later years. "I'd just say, Jean, don't you think it's time for another cruise and she'd have all the brochures and atlases out and be planning weeks and months in advance."
Mom and Dad were never 'rich' and we always lived 'frugal'.  I had my brother's hand me down clothes and we lived by the sayings 'waste not want not' and 'save the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves."  But they invested shrewdly and Dad bought an Apartment Building he did all the maintenance on. After he retired from Mathew Conveyors he continued to work with his own building supply company that allowed him to travel to small towns all over Manitoba enjoying the socializing with country folk as much as anything else, working right up to his eighties when he wasn't off galavanting with mom or fishing from the canoe he got in later years with a 2 hp motor.
When I once as a teen ager, not my better years in retrospect, I compared our old Rambler with a neighbours flash new car, he said, "Bill, everything we have I own. Most of the neighbours here don't own anything. The bank owns it. I don't believe in buying things on credit unless I have to. So we're not going to get a new car just because you want one that's flashy."
There in lay a lot of the difference between my parents and me as a teen ager.  Mom would say,"We don't have to keep up with the Jones"  We never knew any Jones but as a teen ager I was mostly concerned with my image.  I got a job at a restaurant starting work as a bus boy at the Pancake House mostly so I could get the latest fashion in clothes. I got a portable phonograph too.  Dad liked to play country music. With my own phonograph I could play the Beatles and that 'goddawful Bob Dylan' I liked as a kid.  Dad thought Gordon Lightfoot was pretty good music but couldn't stand the rest of the 'junk' I listened too.  Fortunately for me my brother's taste in music, Elvis Presley, wasn't much better to my Dad's ears.  He liked Gene Autry and Johnnie Cash and my mom liked Gospel.  I regret today that my Dad after long days of work would come home to hear my music playing loudly and the fights of the teen years would be on.
When we were growing up the boys all had short hair and a trip to the barber was a regular bonding event that carried on till the Beattles and long hair came along.  Being a military man Dad never did get over my 'girlish' hair or all the girls I went out with.  Mom was equally dismayed by my penchant for girlfriends but as long as I kept up my grades they put up with me. My Aunt Sally was more more direct. She just said to my face one year. "You used to be such a nice boy and now you're impossible ".  I'd left the church where as my brother stayed.  Dad didn't know what to make of me.
To his credit Dad was there when I came home, welcoming me back after the months I'd been away, having 'moved out' in one of our fights. Home again 'as long as I acknolwedged it was his house and his rules."  That last year I lived at home after high school when I got my first regular job, I was home before midnight and there was no loud music to bother anyone else in the house after 12 pm.  For a year I'd thought my dad so unreasonable but when it came to being hungry and not having a place to stay I found his rules more than reasonable.
A few years later I'd begin to be his friend again.  Teen years can be a trial.  I'm ashamed to think of myself smoking in my dad's house with a whiskey drink from my pocket flask, one elbow on his mantel telling mom and dad about life like only the way a pretentious kid can.  My father deserves a medal in retrospect for not killing me then and there.  Mom and Dad didn't smoke and didn't drink and I didn't know everything there was about life when I was 18 years old either. I just thought I did.
Dad's 94 now and if you asked him, he'd probably say he's still learning. He was always that kind of man. Humble. Wise and Good to the core.  What his cowboy friends would call a 'straight shooter'.  He sure did love my Mom , his family, and his work.

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