Bretheren, I say to you!
Regarding the photo on the right, Graeme Decarie wrote on December 28, 2014:
I’ve been going through the MCHS yearbook once a day to dredge up memories that connect names to faces. With some, like Peter McAllister and Gordon Flowers and Dianne Fagg and you, I made the connection immediately. And each time I look through I connect another name or two.
On p. 54, there’s a photo that, I think, is of me on the stage. It’s hard to see because I’m pretty small in a big photo. It’s called “Brethren, I say to you!” I have a suspicion it was the day George Allan and I debated a ban on nuclear weapons. (I was very involved in the nuclear disarmament movement at the time.)
The subtitle of the photo is a sort of forecast of what would have to be later. I had stopped attending church years before. But when I retired, I went back to teach a class, and was often asked to lead the service. However, that ended six or seven years ago when I got disgusted with the timidity of all the churches on social issues.
Anyway, prayers won’t fix this computer problem. And I’ve tried swearing. But it just sneers at me.
[End of text from Graeme Decarie]
On April 4, 2015 Graeme Decarie wrote:
I last saw Jim McGowan a year or so before he died. He had been teaching for years in Japan, returning in summer to his farm near Cowansville. In his early sixties, he was still much the same Jim I had known when we were in our twenties.
I had expected to see him the next summer. But he died in his sleep on the night he returned. It was a heart attack. I believe his wife, Anne, died not long ago.”
[End of text]
Graeme’s Newfoundland story
I may have already shared this Feb. 18, 2015 story from Graeme Decarie:
I’ve been to Newfoundland only once – and then to the area immediately around St. John’s. it has, I suppose, a postcard charm. But you don’t have to look at a postcard all day every day. In grade 8, I was taught by Art Scammell, a famous man in his time as the composer of “The Squid Jiggin’ Ground”, almost an anthem for Newfoundland in his lifeftime. He retired there.
About 20 years ago, he sent me a note about an article I’d had published, and he sent me a list of his short stories. They were really very good, and some written when he was fourteen and younger. He grew up as a real, hardscrabble, fishing village kid who would often be out on those waters, fishing fishing for cod, in cold weather and storms. It’s hard work. I’ve done it in northumberland strait for the lobster fishery. In bad weather, I’ve seen rollers crashing over the dock, and wondered if some of the boats wouldn’t come back.
On one day when we were putting lobster traps out, I looked up to see whirling columns of water hundreds of metres high, just a few miles off, and marching along the surface of the water like soldiers. they were waterspouts (tornadoes, sucking up the water). It didn’t seem to bother Henry, the fisherman I was working with. But it sure held my attention.
Henry and his brother were once out in a hurricane. This was a day in which the rollers were crashing over the wharf. The brother’s wife was terrified. She asked me to drive her to the wharf. So I did. And we edged out on it to get a good view (and a good wetting.)
At last, we saw something white on top of a wave which disappeared as quickly as it had risen. it came closer, cautiously. It was the boat, labouring terribly. As it rounded the wharf, he tossed me a line to tie up, then looked at his wife, and said, “Get y’ home, woman.”
I later learned Henry had steered for a time, then had taken his break to go below and sleep while his brother worked the boat. Henry woke up when his brother shouted down that is was a hurricane, and he couldn’t control the boat.
“Well,” said Henry, “You’re the captain.” And he went back to sleep.
An hour or so after they got back, the whole world went still, dead still. The strait flattened. The air sank on us, and was still. It was an eerie moment with the whole world frozen in time. We were in the eye of the hurricane.
[End of text from Graeme Decarie]
Graeme shares reflections about PEI
Feb. 18, 2015 comments from Graeme Decarie:
Something to watch for in PEI is that the soil is a red clay. – which is fine on land, but can be unpleasant in the water. I’ve occasionally had a foot go down in that clay, and had one hell of a time getting it back. you need to be sure your beach area has lots of sand. From the pictures, I would guess it’s okay in that respect.
My daughters have cottages on the New Brunswick shore at a place called Murray Corner, about ten K to the west of he causeway.
(Rural PEI is usually a tidier and less shabby place than rural New Brunswick.)
I lived in PEI for three years. Hated it as a home base. But a cottage for the summer is very pleasant. That’s especially true on the south shore where the water is warmer.
[End of text]
I like the sense of engagement that Graeme Decarie and Jim McGowan brought to the task at hand, whatever the task might be. Jim McGowan looks so young in the photo. I like the sense of engagement that students tended to bring to the task at hand. So much energy! I also like Graeme’s impressive and engaging way with words.