Remember Their Service Always

November 11, 2014
KEN_JAP

Uncle Ken with my grandmother. Although the youngest he was the tallest at well over 6 feet.

November 11, 2014 another Remembrance Day.

I always think of the young men and women who have given so that we can live in freedom and happiness today.

As a history buff and genealogist I’ve discovered so much to appreciate about these people, especially those who were my relatives.

World War I (The Great War)

Grandfather Bert Sendell

My grandfather on my mother’s side served in World War I. He was in the Canadian Army Service Corps (CASC) from 1915 until 1919. He drove ammunition trucks loaded with shells and ammo for the troops from behind the lines to forward positions. Most times he was under shell fire from the enemy who were attempting to stop supplies from reaching the troops in the trenches. He told me one time that many of his friends were killed when the trucks were hit. Although he didn’t talk about the war much but occasionally he would. One of my heroes for sure.

World War II

My Father – Mike (Lloyd) Davis

MikeDavis with RCAF in Eng 1945

My father with the RCAF in England.

Dad served in the RCAF. He was posted overseas to London, England for several years from 1944 until 1946. Dad told me he served in military intelligence. His group set up phoney airfields around England to fool the Germans. While in London he was subjected to the V-bombs that fell almost daily near the end of the war. He was a newly-wed when he shipped overseas.

My Mother – Helen Davis

Mom served in the RCAF in head office in Ottawa. It was while there she met my Dad and eventually they were married. Because she wasn’t allowed to fraternize with officers she had to resign to marry my father. Ironically after her resignation they hired her back in the exact same position as a civilian.

Uncle Glen Davis

Glen served in the RCAF mainly on the west coast of Canada keeping watch for enemy subs and such. He survived the war and lived a good and long life.

Uncle Ken Davis

My father’s youngest brother Ken served in the RCAF and trained in the British Commonwealth Air Training Program. The day before he was to get his wings as a pilot he was killed in a training accident along with his best friend. He was 20 years of age.

Modern Era

Cousin – Robert (Rob) Davis

Rob served in the Canadian Forces. He was on the frigate HMCS Calgary and based on the west coast of Canada.

Thank you all veterans for your service to my country Canada.

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Blow the stink off.

July 14, 2013
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Grandfather Davis possible originator of the saying.

When I was a kid my Dad would always be telling us to, “Go outside and blow the stink off”.

Every family has it sayings I guess. That was one of my father’s favorites. I tried for years to find out what the hell it meant, and second where in God’s name he ever came up with it.

He’d always say it to us kids. I think he’d use it whenever he got tired of us being in the house. It didn’t matter that there was a monsoon rain or the blizzard of the century happening outside, Dad’d direct that at us and then he’d get up and walk away. He never said it to our Mom, or anyone else only us kids.

As kids we actually got the part about going outside, but the “blow the stink off” part? Well I knew I didn’t smell because I showered that morning. I also knew I hadn’t farted, at least most of the time that wasn’t my transgression. Hell if it was the farts he did more of that than we did. Why didn’t he go outside and blow the stink off?

Now after many years I find myself using on my kids. I still don’t know what it means. I did find out where he picked it up. Turns out his father used it on him and his four brothers. Guess what? None of them ever knew exactly what it meant either.

The best interpretation I’ve ever have been able to come up with is this. Go outside meant to leave the house and go play outside where you wouldn’t be bothering him.

My interpretation of the “blow the stink off” is to get some fresh air. It’s a hell of a weird way to say it, but that’s the only way I can put a meaning to that phrase.

Where it came from originally I’m afraid is lost in the mists of time and family roots.

 


Remembrance Day 2009

November 9, 2009

ca-cem-normandyThe Canadian Cemetery near the villages of Beny-sur-Mer and Reviers, next to where the 3rd Canadian Division landed at D-Day. Over 2000 Canadian, British and French soldiers are buried here, they paid with their lives in the fight for liberty.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurenc Binyon

KEN_JAP My Uncle Ken Davis at age 20 shortly before he was killed in a flying accident during training for the war. He was only 20 years old and the youngest of five brothers.

In the photo he is with his mother Janet (my grandmother). Photo was taken late 1943 or early 1944.

Ken was 6’5″ tall and an outstanding athlete during his years in high school. He always wanted to fly. At age 19 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was granted his wish of being assigned to pilot training.

One of the many who didn’t have the privilege of growing old.


1968: It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Best of Times

April 1, 2008

April 4, 2008 is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. He was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. As this sad commemoration approaches I was thinking back on how in retrospect I now viewed this pivotal year.

Here are some of the key events that depressed me,
– The Vietnam War intensified, both the war and the protests
– Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated
– Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated
– Hubert Humphry got the Democratic presidential nomination without even entering a primary
– Richard Nixon got the Republican presidential nomination
– Richard Nixon won the presidential election
– Pierre Elliot Trudeau became prime minister of Canada

Ironically in the mountain town of Golden, British Columbia on a November day, the future love-of-my life arrived to brighten up the world. Fate or luck brought her to me in the future, so the year in fact turned out to be the best for me. It eclipses all other events for me. Life is so strange sometimes.
 


Adventures in Twin-Land

March 4, 2008

claire_fpower4.jpgLast week my twin daughters, Claire and Olivia, turned 4 years of age. So far I have not only survived, but become a better person. They were born and grew into amazing little people right before my eyes. Each has developed a distinct personality. Claire (Left) is the rough and tumble one, and is a total Barney freak. Olivia on the other hand, loves Dora and anything to do with princesses.

Courtesy of my sister-in-law, who was babysitting them at the time, here’s a funny story about the twins. I had been reading them the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf for several nights before this occurred.

Olivia was outside the front screen door trying to get back inside. Claire was holding the door shut. Olivia was shouting, “Claire Claire let me in”. Claire replied, “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”. Talk about taking a story to heart.

olivia4.jpgOlivia (Right) is mom’s girl, except when she isn’t around. Claire on the other hand had been dad’s girl from the start. It just worked out that way.

When they arrive home in the evening off the bus from preschool, the first thing Claire has to do is change into a T-shirt and pajama bottoms, preferably ones with a Barney theme. Olivia strips off all her clothes, except for her panties and then she is comfortable. Finally, they demand to be served chocolate milk. They then hit the couch for some TV. Relaxation techiniques – they have that down pat.

damian.jpgBig brother, Damian, who is now 6 years old, is the boss of the house for now, but momentum is swinging. He’s been able to control things so far, but now the sisters are almost as tall as he, and are starting to push back. Damian will be in for a shock in another year. Two against one won’t be something he’ll enjoy. I chuckle thinking about it, because, really, he has no concept of what awaits him.

Photos: Cindy Davis (Mom)


Crosswords – My Wonderful Addiction

September 6, 2007

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Time for me to lighten up a little and talk about some fun things.

The crossword puzzle – I just can’t stop doing them.  Everyday they are published in newspapers and even on-line now.  Temptation is everywhere it seems.

I started thinking who invented the crossword puzzle so after some quick research here are some facts:

– The first crossword was published on December 21, 1913 in the New York World newspaper. They became a regular feature of the paper.

– Arthur Wynne, a Liverpool journalist, was the inventor.

– At first it was called a “word-cross” puzzle. Later the name was changed.

– The first book of crosswords was published in 1924 by Simon & Shuster. 

– Crosswords became the craze of 1924.

– The word “crossword” was first in a dictionary in 1930.

– New York Times crosswords are the most prestigious and known to be the most difficult to solve.  Take it from me they are very tough.

– In Britain the Sunday Express newspaper was first to publish a crossword November 2, 1924.

– During World War II British Intelligence recruited several crossword experts to work on code-breaking.

In 1944, prior to D-Day, the Allies were stunned by the appearance of crosswords in The Daily Express Telegraph that were using top secret code names related to the “hush-hush” planned Normandy landings. “Overlord” in particular was of great concern because it was the code name for the entire operation and known to only a few people.  The author of the puzzles was arrested and interrogated.  After an extensive investigation it was found that the use of these words was only coincidence.  Believe it or not I guess!

I remember as a child in elementary school racing to get the morning paper before my Dad so I could attack the crossword.  It is one of my favorite memories of him.  He too was a compulsive crossworder.


Summer Memories

June 26, 2007

iroquoislocks.jpg

In 1955 my family moved to Iroquois, Ontario. This small town of roughly 1,500 persons is located on the St. Lawrence River between Kingston, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. I was only six then, but still have some very pleasant memories of that time. We lived there from 1955 to the summer of 1962.My father worked for the Royal Bank of Canada and was receiving a promotion with this move. Previously he had been the Accountant at the branch in Woodstock, New Brunswick. That was where I was born in 1949 along with brother Jim and sister Judi. Dad was going to be the Manager of the Iroquois branch of the bank. When we moved into town the St. Lawrence Seaway project had just begun. This was a major international project involving dredging new channels, building new dams and canals all along the river. This was to allow ocean-going ships to sail all the way to the Lakehead (Fort William and Port Arthur) at the head of Lake Superior. Up to this time these larger ships had to offload cargo at Montreal. There it was transferred to the shallower draft “lakers”. These were smaller ships designed specifically for the narrower, shallower channels and canals of the existing Seaway. This was very expensive and time consuming to say the least. The United States and Canada wanted to open up the interiors of their countries to trade. Ports such as Chicago, Detroit and the Lakehead would be accessible to these larger ships. Anyway I got to see it all first hand.

Our first home was on King Street which was the old Highway 2 that ran through southern Ontario. There was no Highway 401 expressway back then. This was a two lane highway that wound through every little town and carried all traffic. This road was right next to the river in Iroquois. The river was relatively wide at this point, about half a mile. We could see easily see New York State on the other side. The nearest large American town was Ogdensburg, New York. Access was via a ferry at Prescott. I remember riding the ferry was always real neat for us kids, especially in winter when the river was covered with ice. Sometimes the ferries had to shut down, but usually the icebreakers keep the river lanes open.

The house we lived in was very old. I remember it had a coal burning furnace. Dad used to go down to the basement before bed in the winter and stoke the furnace with extra coal to make the heat last the night. One time we had a rat living down there and Dad had to set a trap to catch it. When he brought the dead rat up hanging from the trap I remember thinking how big it was, but then I was only little myself so it was likely not as big as I remember. Heck I thought it was as big as a large cat.

Now the other neat thing about the old town at Iroquois was the old schoolhouse I attended. It had a fire escape from the upper floors consisting of a metal chute, like a large slide, several feet in diameter. Now of course kids being kids, we loved to sneak up to the second floor and when the teachers were occupied with other things, we would joyously slide down into the playground.

I started my school career there in grade one. There was no kindergarten or preschool available to me at that time. So off I went at six years of age to school for the first time. This was for all day, although I did get to walk home for lunch. I was so confused and scared the first day I wet my pants because I didn’t know how to ask to use the washroom. Teacher told me emphatically that if I needed to go in the future, I was to please, just put up my hand and leave the room.

It was decided by the Seaway Authority that the town of Iroquois would be completely relocated because of a control dam that was to be built on the river. Some towns along the river were partially relocated and others just razed, never to be rebuilt. A new town site was chosen and an architectural competition held to design a new town plan. Included in this plan was a unique thing. The downtown business area would be replaced with a mall. At the time this was a major innovation. The mall in new Iroquois was one of the few in existence once completed.

Our family got its very first house to call our own in the new town. I was told many years later that it cost $13,000 dollars. It was three bedroom bungalow with a full basement and garage. When I lived there my parents only allowed us to go around the block on the sidewalks. We made it a big adventure riding our bikes and wagons as if we were a wagon train heading west. On the way around this route one house had a pair of huge weeping willow trees that we loved to play all kinds of adventures on. Summers were hot and long. Those were the days of no cares in the world, other than where the next Kool-Aid or Freshie came from.

Later when I got older, around ten or eleven, I was allowed to bike to the mall or all around town. Some of us kids went all over town in the summer to collect bottles, cash them in at the depot, then head to the mall. There we would buy a comic book, a pop, and a couple of popsicles all for about twenty-five cents. Then we happily retreated to the cool shade of a large tree and savored the day reading Batman, Superman or some other superhero’s adventures.

Those were the days!


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