Thursday, 26 April 2012


I graduated from Como Lake High School in Coquitlam, B.C. in June of 1954 and, in June or July of 2004, I received a telephone call from one of the women who graduated with me. Her message was that a reunion was being planned  for Saturday, August 14 and would I be able to attend? After conferring with Ric the answer was "Yes!"

It was arranged that we stay with my younger brother, Dan, and his wife, Karen, at their home in Coquitlam. It had been years since we had last seen each other but we were able to connect soon after I arrived. When Ric's flight from San Francisco arrived, we went on to Dan and Karen's house. Dan and Mom bought that house some thirty years before so I was familiar with it.

I was up early the next morning and sat out on the 'basket porch' drinking a coffee and being entertained by some blue jays who were rather put out that I was sitting where I was and, thus, intimidating them in their begging for handouts.

After we had eaten breakfast, Dan took Ric and I in the car for a tour of the neighborhoods on and around Dawes Hill where we had lived as children. The changes were huge - so many new houses and, yes, new streets that had not existed years before. 

Como Lake High is now a middle school  but the reunion committee had gained permission to use the cafeteria there as a cocktail room. Later we went to a banquet hall not far away for dinner. It was interesting - and great - to meet nearly 40 people a half century after many of us had seen each other. With one exception nobody seemed to be surprised that I had 'come out'. The person who was nonplussed was one of the women who had been quite involved in the church and, now, she belonged to one of the more homophobic ones. However, Ric commented that he noticed a few surprised looks when the others realized the large age difference between the two of us.

I missed a few people so I asked after them only to be told that they had passed away.

One person who was very much there was Emma Wong who had been in my homeroom each year from Grade 2 until Grade 12. We had had an easy rapport with each other while in school and that rapport was still there. Sadly, Emma passed away within a year of the reunion.

Emma is the petite woman on the extreme right of the front row. I remember when we were in Grade 11 or 12 and Emma came to school one day outfitted in a very becoming ensemble. The other girls immediately gathered around to admire it while Emma did the mandatory twirl. And then she said - emphatically -  "And this did NOT come from the Junior Shop!"

 I am the second from the right in the back row.

Mr. Green (Junior High math teacher) and Mr McBay (Grade 9 English teacher) cutting the anniversary cake. 

On the following day, Sunday, Dan drove us to the airport for our return flights - but he took a round about route to get us there so that I could show Ric a bit more of my home area.

The first stop was at the campus of Simon Fraser University on top of Burnaby Mountain.

                  Ric is standing at the west end of the plaza that is the center of the university.

West of the campus is Burnaby Mountain Park and we stopped there for a few minutes. The gardens there are lovely and the view is spectacular!

                                                           The formal gardens

A 'Sister City' to Burnaby is Kushiro , Japan and the latter gave Japanese totem poles to the former.

         The totems which are much different than those of the First Nations People of the West Coast

The plaque which came with the totems.

The drawback to the campus of Simon Fraser University is its remoteness from the rest of the city - but the asset is the incredible view! Ric and Dan are admiring that view.

Looking east to the head of Burrard Inlet and the City of Port Moody. The 'beach area' on the left side of the inlet is actually the refinery community of Ioco - which is an acronym (Imperial Oil Company). Above it is the outer Vancouver suburb of Anmore.

Burrard Inlet continues on towards the left (west) to Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge. The water extending to the north is Indian Arm, the suburb of Deep Cove is on the left side of the photo while another suburb, Belcarrra Park, is directly across the inlet from where I took the photo.  

Alda's husband, Leo, passed away just before I flew to Vancouver for the Homecoming and the memorial - which Alda organized - was held on the Saturday following. Again Ric and I flew to Vancouver only this time we went to the regional airline (Jazz) departure gates and boarded the smaller aircraft for Kamloops.

My niece, Darlene Gibson, met us at the airport and, after stopping for a meal at a Mr. Mike's Steakhouse, we  headed out on the highway for the two hour drive to 100 Miles House. Alda and Leo had purchased a new house in the town which we had to locate - in the dark! - but had little problem in finding it.

Ric and I are quite different from each other in a number of ways - and one of them is how we spend time while traveling from one place to another. While I love to be looking out of a window, enjoying views, observing towns and villages, reading signposts and the like - Ric prefers to sit in the back seat with a book. While Darlene was driving suddenly Ric looked up from his book and commented on the scent wafting in through the open window - an evergreen tree with a pungent smell. The aroma reminded Ric of a favorite bath salt that he uses so he named the tree! 

Alda's house was bedlam with her and Leo's extended families gathering. While I knew most of Leo's family, years had passed since I had last seen them so introductions had to be made to me as well as to Ric.  One of the people in the group on the front lawn when we walked up from the car was Paul Denis - my youngest sister's son-in-law. Ric had met Teri when we visited Kamloops - but not Paul. As most of the people gathering were strangers to both of them, they spent most of Saturday together at the back of the yard, smoking cigars - and bonding.

The younger people were to camp out in a tent in the back yard but Ric and I stayed with a neighbor down the street.

On Saturday still more people arrived and, among them, were Dan and Karen. This was the first time in many years that we four Lacasse siblings were all together in one place  so we were asked to pose for a photo.

                                                  Dan, Babs, Alda and yours truly

On Sunday we returned to Kamloops in Alda's car and, instead of traveling the longer 'main highway' route, she  took the regional highway 24 through Lone Butte to Little Fort and then south to Kamloops. Ric and I were dropped at the airport. We flew to Vancouver and then separated. I flew back to Toronto while Ric flew home to San Francisco.

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