Saturday, 29 March 2014

Family Visits

I understand that - when Dad left the East - his family had no idea where he went nor what happened to him. He traveled west looking for work and even 'rode the rails' which became a common practice during the Great Depression. Dad did give us an outline of that period in his life - but not the details. We know that he found himself in Matsqui (across the Fraser River from the town of Mission) and worked in the harvesting of peas for a farmer in that area.

Also we know that he lived for a while with a trapper who had a shack on the bank of the Fraser River at Mission (that was when Dad learned how to make pancakes, donuts and bread - years later it was always Dad who made pancakes when they were on the menu for Sunday breakfast - on other Sunday mornings Mom prepared the usual eggs, bacon and toast).

Dad was quite a raconteur but could be sparse with the details at times. Eventually Mom persuaded him to provide her with the addresses of his family and it was she who informed them as to Dad's whereabouts and his well-being. Thanks to that connection we were visited by two cousins who had enlisted and who then passed through B.C. while on their way to military service in and across the Pacific.

The first to drop by was Gerrard (Gerry) Brule who was the oldest son of Dad's half-sister, Berenice and her husband  Edgar. He was in the Army Signal Corps and was being sent to Australia to serve with the Australian army.

After Gerry left we had a second visitor - Raymond Cadieux - who was the oldest son of Dad's half-brother Georges Cadieux. I do not recall which branch of the military Raymond belonged to nor where he was going.

Years later - after we had moved to the 'Finnegan house' Raymond reappeared and he was accompanied by Violette. Dad knew that Violette was NOT his wife so he expressed to Raymond his discomfort at having someone living in our home who was not legally married to his companion. Raymond's response was that Dad couldn't talk as - since he and Mom had been married by a United Church of Canada minister instead of a priest - he wasn't "legally married" either! Naturally, this conversation was conducted out of earshot of we kids so I do not know what Dad said next - but Raymond and Violette did stay with us - and in the room that was behind the kitchen stove.

One thing that Raymond and Violette had in common with Mom and Dad was a love of card games so  many an evening (as well as weekend afternoons) were spent in playing those games.

If you have read the blog that precedes this one, you are aware of the neighbors - the Ricord family. They also loved card games so they would come over and join in.

In that family there were two boys who were entering their teenage years and who were becoming very aware of the attractiveness of females.

Violette was a large buxom woman who was fond of colorful clothing. She was very well endowed in the area of her bosom and she wore tight fitting dresses with the neckline quite low.  Archie and Donald would come over to watch the games being played and would stand behind Violette's chair so they could 'see down in the valley' - especially when Violette had to reach for another card from the deck which was in the middle of the table. 

While I was in Ottawa I was able to visit with the Brule family a number of times. By then Gerrard (Gerry) was married and living in the Toronto area suburb of Pickering with his wife and two daughters. When Mom visited me in Ottawa in the summer of 1975 we visited that family.

In the meantime Raymond and Violette moved to a house in the community of Ladner which is situated on the south bank of the Fraser River and near where it flows into the Strait of Georgia. Violette had cancer and passed away. It was only after that sad event that I saw Raymond again - when I became the Pastor of MCCVancouver he heard of that somehow and began attending our Sunday evening service.

After I moved to Victoria I never saw - nor heard of - him again.   

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Party Time!

One of the titles drawn from the coffee can at the 'Memoir Writing Group' yesterday afternoon was 'A Party' which gave me ideas for this blog.

I have never liked parties very much although - when invited - I usually attend.

In 1951 or '52 Dad was able to rent - and then purchase - the Finnegan House which was at the corner of Kaptey Avenue and  Finnegan Street back up on Dawes Hill.

At that time our maternal grandparents were still living in the house near the Ruskin Dam which Granddad had built after his previous home had been destroyed by a fire. When Granddad passed away a bungalow a block away from our house - at the corner of Montgomery and Kaptey Avenues - came on the market and Grandma used the equity from the former house in order to purchase it.

Our new house was a lot more commodious than any of the houses in which we had lived. There were 8 rooms (living, dining and kitchen - as well as  the 'spare room' which was off of the kitchen - and four bedrooms on the upper floor). A few years after we moved into there Dad decided upon some renovations. The 'spare bedroom' on the main floor was awkward - actually, it was right behind the stove so, if there was a fire, there would be little chance for any occupants to escape from it. In consultation with a contractor it was decided to close the wall behind the stove and then to remove the west wall of that room which made what was a small living room into a larger 'L-shaped' room. The TV was placed in front of the refurbished east wall and then to move the piano from the southeast corner to where it backed onto the stairwell which led up to the bedrooms.

In the meantime Grandma made new friends - mainly from the Women's Auxiliary at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch in New Westminster. Soon she asked Mom and Dad if she could host a party for her Legion buddies in the increased space of our reconfigured living room.

These new friends were widows of World War I veterans. Most of these women were British - Grandma did not like to associate with any people who were NOT British! - and two of them were originally from Scotland. How these 'Old Girls' loved to party!

We had a telephone but the next door neighbors did not so members of that family were often over at our house so they could make telephone calls (or we would run next door for one of them to answer an incoming call). They were a musical family so they fit right in with our family and Grandma's guests.

I was in my late teens by this time and Alda was already dating 'Happy' Crandell so the three of us were there as well.  'Happy' was his nickname and it suited his personality very well. At the party he was wearing a shirt that glittered in the lamplight - also, he was wearing a pair of 'leopard' briefs under his slacks which one of these old gals spotted - and then the chase was on.

More than one of the older ladies wanted to wear the shirt and to have a good look at those briefs so he ran with them chasing him (he was afraid of what could happen if one of these 'Old Girls' actually caught him!). It was hilarious. The only neighbors who would have been disturbed by the raucous laughter were the Ricords and most of them were already with us.

I know that there were other social gatherings which were held at our house but this party - and one or two others which followed - are the only ones which I remember.

I don't believe that I have a photograph of that living room but - if I find one - I will scan it and place it here.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Out Late

I attended a small film showing on this past Friday (it was a 'mini Film Festival') and the title which I have given this blog was the title of one of the films which was screened. 'Out Late' refers to older LGBT people who did not 'come out' until later in life.

As two gay men - friends of mine - are one of the featured couples, they invited me to attend. They knew that the screening would be followed by a 'Question and Answer' period with the questions coming from the audience. As they were not sure as to the reception the film - and its content - would have, they wanted some folk present who had seen the film previously and were supportive. I have seen the film about their relationship a few times already but another showing proved interesting - and 'No!' there were not any negative comments.

As I was present already I sat and watched a second film in which an acquaintance from Jamaica is featured quite prominently.

I have heard of the vicious homophobic reactions laid upon LGBT people in the Caribbean nations and this film - 'An Abominable Crime' - overtly shows this (the same type of reaction is being encountered in African nations like Uganda and Nigeria). In the United States of America and in Canada we are very aware of negative feelings expressed by fellow citizens who do not understand who and why we exist. Fortunately, the laws in Canada and the US do not tolerate negative - and dangerous - reaction so - while we may encounter incidents of homophobia - we do not seem to be in the same danger as that expressed towards  LGBT people in the Caribbean and in Africa. However, the film has made me more aware of potential danger and - therefore - the need to be more alert.

Yes, I have met 'homophobes' here but we have not witnessed the atrocities committed in the Caribbean and in Africa. The question that I have been silently asking myself is "Why not?". The film gave me the answer.

While I am aware of TV evangelists and their hateful dogma I have never felt threatened by it. In Jamaica and in Africa the threat is very real!

This pains me no end.

I refuse to watch these TV evangelists and - if I encounter one while walking down the street - I am prepared to answer their slurs and their misinformation.

The narrator in the film "An Abominable Crime" quite clearly states the source of the problem in Jamaica and in the other Caribbean and African countries - it is due to the hateful bile of these preachers from afar.

Today is Sunday and I was in my church this  morning and listened to a sermon that was positive and uplifting - not one that was full of hate.

I believe that this is what the God of us all intends - not the negativity which tries to deny the natural lives of others who live differently because that is who they/we are!