Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas when I was Little

I was just looking at some pictures that my wife put up on her blog and it took me back to when I was little.  I've dredged up a few pictures from the past.  I'm a little unsure of the timing, but from what I'm wearing and from Margaret's size and age, I'm pretty sure that this is mostly 1965.  This picture is not Christmas, but it's a clue. Note that Margaret is having her 3rd birthday (November of 1965), I'm 6 years old in this picture.

Here are a series of pictures of us around our Christmas tree, in the dining room of our house on Imperial Street in Burnaby.

One of the highlights of the year was visiting a friend, we called "Miss Lydia".  This was probably after Christmas, and I'd had a haircut.

I got the honoured spot on her lap.  I got this army helmet (with a first aid symbol on it, indicating I was a medic). I loved this helmet and for years, I'd wear it, riding my bike around with my toy guns, playing war with my friends.

I used to add my toy plastic animals to the manger scene.  My mother never minded, in fact it might have been her idea.  She caught me playing with them, here. 

Playing with open toys under the tree.

I remember all these toys.  I loved the monkey, the train and the tractor with the trailer that it would pull.  I recall that the steering wheel actually turned the front wheels.

This wasn't actually Christmas, I think it was the following January, but you can see that we had some serious snow.  I've got my little-red-barn lunch-box with Dick and Jane sitting on the fence and Spot running. I did a little hunt on the internet and couldn't find it anywhere. I'd love to find a good picture of one.

Update: I found a good picture of one:

Finally, for fun, I threw in a much later picture, from 1969, when I would have been 10.  I believe this was another visit to "Miss Lydia's" place, as I don't recognize the furniture.

So that's my little trip down memory lane.  I hope that this stirred up a few of your own memories!

Hope you're having a Merry Christmas and that you have a Blessed New Year in 2012!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

1960s Summer Fun

When I was a little boy growing up in Burnaby, there were a lot of fun thing that we did in the summer.  Summer was this glorious, long time when we all played together, went to fun places and did fun things.
Often we just did things as a family. The picture below shows my dad playing with two of my sisters and myself.  It always seemed that the summers were longer and hotter when I was little.

Here's a picture from when I was really little (2nd from left) in a park.  We probably had a picnic lunch. We were always doing this.

Stanley park was a great favourite. Here we are at lost lagoon feeding the ducks. (me on the left).

Then there was Lynn Canyon.  We loved to hike in it, pretending we were soldiers, or explorers.  Note that pine cones were always grenades. (me front row, right.)

But there was no treat like swimming in the summer. I think some summers I practically lived in my swim shorts. We'd go to McPherson pool for 15 cents admission, because it was close, or once I was 9 years old, we would sometimes go to Central Park pool, which was only 10 cents.

Sometimes we'd lay on the cement deck after swimming, and feel the hot, rough concrete under our soft tummies, baking them dry as the sun cooked our backs.

When I was really little, we'd go to Lobbly Park. It was just east of Nelson street, and one block in from Kingsway.  The park is still there, and I recall Antoon (my oldest brother) was the playground attendent when he was 16 and 17, (I was 9 and 10).  I remember climbing over the fence with a friend to explore an abandoned house in the next lane.  We had to climb on a garbage can to get onto the high fence, we'd lay across it, the hot rough wood on our bare tummy, then slide down the other side.

One of our favourite swimming holes was Stanley Park's 2nd beach.  Here's a picture of me with my friend Shawn goofing around near the playground.  If you look close you can see the sand caked on our bare feet.  Now this was living! (me on the left).

I'm sure that summer is just as fun for children today, as it was for me way back in the 1960s.  But I suspect that we had a bit more freedom to roam, a few more places to roam without adults interfering, and it just seemed a bit safer to be a child then.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Accidental High School Bomb

When I was in grade 8, we had a science class in a portable. I remember the first class, the teacher gave us 4 chemicals and told us we had to figure out how to make Oxygen and Hydrogen with them. You would know that you had it when you held a glowing flint stick (piece of smoldering wood, actually, no flint) over the test tube. If you had hydrogen you would get a pop. If you had oxygen, it would turn into a blaze.

Before we started he threw in one more comment. "There is no way you can make a bomb with this, so don't even try!"

So we went to work. I was working with my friend Richard, and nothing was working. So, we tried putting all 4 chemicals into the test-tube. As near as I can tell, thinking back on it, we must have got one layer producing hydrogen, and another producing oxygen.

My friend was holding the test tube and he lifted it off the bunsen burner, as I held the flint stick over our test tube for probably the 10th time, but this time there was a difference!

There was a loud bang, and a flash of flame that shot about a foot out the top of the test tube! The bottom of the test tube was gone (we never found any glass, either) and my friend and I both jumped. I think a couple of girls shrieked (might have been a couple of boys, too!)

The moral of the story? Don't tell 13 year olds that something can't be done unless you're really sure it can't!

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but I did learn something. Hydrogen and oxygen are a dangerous mixture!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Anne Murray at the Canadian Jamboree in 1977 (PEI)

I was looking at this old clip earlier today, then I happened to turn on CBC and caught the tail end of Anne Murray’s “Anne Murray and Friends” show about making her CD.

The clip talks about the scouts following her down to the beach for a show she put on. I was there, as leader for a patrol from Mission (I was only 18). We watched Anne work her magic, and I even recall the Israeli scouts (including girl scouts) getting up on the stage and playing “the good, the bad and the ugly” theme song with their hands, like flutes.

I’ve always loved Anne’s music. It was some of the first songs I learned on guitar and I still sometimes play songs like snowbird and I’m on the top of the world.

Thank you, Anne for so many years of music, that somehow connects with great joy and times of fun in my life!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grown up Shoes for Little Feet

Today (Good Friday) I sat on the front porch and cleaned two pairs of shoes.

My hiking boots had been caked with mud, but it all nicely dusted off today. I'd taken them on a geocaching expedition with the 4SW Burnaby Cub Pack several weeks ago for spring camp 1, and we encountered some serious mud on the way (but had a great time!) I didn't have time to clean them until today.

Yesterday, I took my Willingdon small (Bible study) group in the small bus down to La Conner, WA to see the tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. We wandered through a tulip field staring at the amazing blooms! What a picture they paint! Unfortunately, the fields had a lot of mud, much like river silt, the kind that gets into everything, so I had to dust and polish these shoes today, as well.

While I was polishing them, I recalled vividly, what it was like when I was little, to get ready for church on a Sunday morning. One of the things we'd do (I can't remember if we did it the night before, or just before heading out) was to polish our shoes. I had black shoes, that required regular polishing, that I'd wear for almost everything.

On Wed of this week, we took the Cubs karting at Ron McLean park. Down a ways from where we were karting, there is a ravine, which is part of the park. I remember playing in that ravine when I was about the same age as the cubs (8-10 years old). I clearly recall trying not to get my black shoes too dirty (or soak them in the creek). I also recall getting my bare legs (I was wearing shorts) into some stinging nettles.

We wore those shoes everywhere, with just a few exceptions. Of course, in the summer when it was warm I didn't wear any shoes or socks at all, and at school, you had to have gym shoes. You could only wear them for gym, so you wore your other shoes at other times. And of course, in really heavy rain, you wore your gumboots, and took them off and walked about in socks in school. I can recall having got a bit of water into my boots, so one of my socks was half soaked, and felt a bit cold as I padded about in the classroom.

The shoes we had were really the same shoes as grownups wore to an office, but in a smaller size. We were expected to dress like miniature grownups.

Funny how times change! Now, the kids have shoes that are specially designed for kids, with lights that flash, and velcro instead of laces, and super heros emblazoned on them!

And, no! I'm not going to say that it was better "way back when". Some things were, some things weren't. In this case, I like it that kids have something specially made for them. And no need to polish, just throw them in the clothes washer!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

My birthday was on Monday of this week (April 4th), so I thought I'd post some old family photos on my blog. The next three pictures are of my 3rd birthday party:

I have no idea who the little boy in the background is. Obviously he was a friend of mine, but I can't place him.

I actually remember the cake and the party and getting the covered wagon. I really liked that toy!

The picture below is from the yard of the house we were in. This house was actually the old Jubilee Interurban Station, which we were renting from BC Electric. I blog about living here in another post.

Here are my older brothers and sisters, on the porch of the Jubilee Station house. Antoon is holding me (probably so I don't escape!) This is quite a bit before my 3rd birthday.

This next picture is a family portrait that hung on the wall. It was taken probably closer to my 4th birthday, as Margaret (my little sister) is already born.

And here I am, at a very early age. Already into the communications technology. I think you can see that it was inevitable!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kids and Kub Kars and Cub Camps

My family had a long history of scouting. My father was a scout in the Netherlands just before World War II and had to hide his uniform and badges until the war was over. Here is a picture of him during the Nazi occupation. He wanted a picture with his uniform on, I guess while he could still fit in it, so he had the picture taken by one of his brothers.

The next one is a matching pose of my brother, 7 years older than me, in his uniform, in Burnaby.

This one is me (playing guitar, front, with the campfire blanket on) at Cultus Lake, when I lived in Mission. I still have the campfire blanket.

By the time I was old enough to join cubs (they didn't have the Beaver program here at that time) I had older brothers (one especially) that had been involved and had lots of fun experiences.

So I was ready to join, by the time I was 9. I started in the middle of what should have been my second year in the program. And just as I joined, we were getting a new Akela (the leader of the pack). Our Akela was a woman, but I didn't care! She was a good Akela and we had lots of fun!

Here's a picture of my second cub camp, at Garibaldi Provincial Park. The southern part is now called Golden Ears Provincial Park. The tall teenager standing beside us is my Brother Antoon. I'm climbing the flag pole!

This picture doesn't have me in it, but it does have my mom in a checkered poncho, my brother and my Akela, Beth Reynolds, behind her son, Greg, in a checkered vest.

I remember seeing and holding a large toad that one of my friends found. I'd never seen one so big; it took two hands to hold him!

In my last year, I got to make a Kub Kar (I joined too late the previous year). My dad helped me design it and build it. I had to do some tweaks to make it meet requirements, and my dad had me do most of the work.

On Feb 3rd, 1970, 41 years ago, it raced for the first time. The video below shows it racing the other day at our 4SW pack rally (where I'm a leader). I follow up the tail end of the video with some closeups of the car and the prizes I got when I was just 10 years old.

My YouTube channel has other clips of the car, and of other fun things that 4SW does. See the other clip of the pack rally to get a sense of how much fun it is for the kids! I still remember racing my car!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Climate Change...

From a purely local point of view, our local climate began to change somewhere around the end of the 1920s, becoming very much milder, both in terms of summer and winter weather. We’ve had some weather “anomalies” in recent years, that to someone born in the last 50 years feel extreme, but when viewed from the perspective of the last 100 years, is still not a return to pre 1930s patterns. I have less knowledge of history outside of the Pacific Northwest of North America, but the little I know about the American midwest tells me that they have a similar experience.

Here are two short bits that are from a book written in 1983, by some elementary students who, with the help of their teacher, interviewed some old timers and got or found pictures to go with it, about the Cedar Cottage area of Vancouver, BC, Canada. The book deals with a period from 1911 to 1963, and is representative of things I used to read in the 1970s about the Fraser Valley, when I was still a boy. Stories like this abound if you read historical books about our area!

First excerpt – note that Trout Lake is in the middle of Vancouver, BC:

“… We used to figure we could swim in Trout Lake March 21st. That was our first day of swimming. It was hotter then than it is now…” Quote from a George Forbes from the Cedar Cottage area of Vancouver.

Swimming in March these days would be terribly uncomfortable. Warm weather prior to May is a real abnormal treat! We often have our last snow fall in April!

This next quote by a Velma McKinnon is also about Trout Lake: “We’d have at least a month of skating down here. The entrepreneurs would put up tents around here and put little stoves in them, and you could rent skates from these tents…”

Trout Lake has never frozen over, in my entire life, with enough ice to hold a person safely, and it has only completely frozen over, always with what was called unsafe levels of ice, about 2 or 3 times, in my 51 years of living.

I know a local historian who tells that the year his mother immigrated here in 1929 was the last time that the Fraser River froze over completely. I know of old timers who used to tell me that EVERY YEAR it would freeze over and farmers would drive their carts over! It has never frozen over enough to let a human cross since I’ve been around (51 years now), let alone with enough ice for a horse and cart to cross!

I’m curious how these types of stories play out in other parts of the world. I’m in the North American north-west region. Ignoring this year’s anomalies, which may feel like they are of “biblical proportions”, when you read historical accounts about your area, do they indicate significant changes in general weather patterns prior to current times?

For instance, did weather in your region seem to change significantly between say 1910 and 1960? Or between 1930 and 2000? Did it get warmer in your summers, colder in your winters, both, or perhaps, as in our case, milder in both cases? Wetter or drier? Does the current shift feel like a partial correction back to previous patterns? Or perhaps an over correction?

I’m curious how this plays out where you live. I'm looking for anecdotal historical accounts, as I trust these the best.

Post your reply as a comment! Remember to indicate what location your response refers to.

[addendum] Please don't give me the usual "average temps rose 0.n degrees" stuff, as it is actually not very informative. The two simultaneous changes the above anecdotes indicate would have had a cancelling affect, and the averages would not have indicated as much as the anecdotes.