Highlight of my day is a walk around the block with my wife, making sure we keep two meters away from anyone we encounter. Sometimes our daughter joins and fills us in on how our two grandsons are doing, again keeping two meters away.
There have been a lot of Covid 19, Corona Virus jokes going around some of them quite funny. However, the humour wears a bit thin when someone you know is stricken. My 54 year nephew from Toronto contracted the bug in early April and it affected his lungs. He was the last person I would expect to come down with it. He was in good health, didn’t smoke, drank very little and was serious about keeping in shape. My 65, year cousin in Maine, another very fit, health conscious individual, also had it and was extremely ill for two weeks. Just goes to show that everyone is at risk so be careful.
It boggles the mind how many people in the US want to prematurely open up the country and resume “normal” activities, despite the warnings and risks. I suppose those states that due open early will serve as a case study for the rest of the country and Canada as well. What is the trade-off between lives and dollars?
On a more positive note, I did get my old KOBO e-reader working and have so far bought and downloaded 4 books. A lot more expensive than going to the library so I’m searching for bargains all the time, although I did spring for John Grisham’s new release. I’m also rereading some of the old stuff I have on hand. Sometimes you get a much different perspective the second time around.
Our weekly “Dirty Dozen” lunch date at Scotyz pub has been replaced by a Thursday noon conference call. We shoot the breeze, marvel at the latest Trump gaffs and speculate about what comes next. Not the same as enjoying a few pints in person, but we can pretend and at least stay in touch. The call gets a little unwieldy when 10 people dial in and I’d like to try it with Zoom but, we have too many technically challenged participants to make that work.
Yes, I managed to finish my batch of beer and had the first tasting April 15 – it turned out fine and should hold me until the craft store reopens. If I run out I’ll get my daughter to pick up some of the microbrewery products from the grocery store. There are a lot of really great beers available but they are somewhat expensive. I’ve sort of given up on the offerings from Molson and Labatt - they are just too pedestrian.
Word from the golf course is that a small crew has been authorized to work on the grounds but no opening date has been set. The Province and City of St. Lambert will make that call. It looks like even when they do open, the club house, restaurant and pro shop will remain closed and we will be wearing masks and social distancing while on the course. I also heard a rumour that only those under 70 would initially be allowed to play, meaning the course would effectively be empty given the make-up of our membership. I betting on mid-June or early July before we actually get out there. When it gets a little warmer I’ll drag my clubs out to the back yard and hit some plastic practice balls. I don’t think I can hit them far enough to make the neighbor’s yard - unless I really shank one.
I guess you would call it serendipity but, it happened this month. Margaret Hume (Class of 1960) sent me a bunch of pictures of her late father, Ian, chronicling some of his exploits over the years. A week later, Ferg Groundwater (Class of 1956) sent me an article about the time in 1954 when Roger Banister visited St. Lambert and ran a mile on the l’Esperance track. I’m sure all of you remember Ferg as Chairman of the 1995 Reunion, the mother of all reunions and probably never to be seen again.
Ferg’s story and Margaret’s pictures seemed like a perfect fit so they are being run this month. I have also featured Peter Storen’s riveting story about his experience with the devastating bush fires in Australia – something none of us want to go through. Bruce Clark’s has also contributed some insights about Mabel Bennet, after reading Rod Brown’s December article.
I have pushed back Peter’s fascinating travelogue until next month - it is nice to have something in the bank.
Please keep your stories and pictures coming, let me how you kept from going stir crazy these last two months. And most of all stay safe, too many of us (including myself) are in the high risk category.
Welcome New and Renewing Alumni Association Members
New Life Member
Barbara Handrahan (Shotton)
Class of 1964 from Toronto, ON
Evelyn Boult (Kay)
Class of 1965 from Sarnia, ON
Gus Jones, Class of 1964
From Hermitage, NF
Don Brown, Class of 1968
From Greenfield Park, QC
Doug Smith, Class of 1965
From Longueuil, QC
Flo Hinks (Trudeau), Class of 1960
From Prince George, BC
Peter Johnston, Class of 1970
Tom McNeilly, Class of 1960
Please renew now.
Jill Bench (Allen)
Bruce D. Clark
Life Member Class of 1966
More on Mabel Bennett
By Bruce D. Clark - Life Member Class of 1966
In response to Rod Brown's article from December 2019.
I read with great interest Rod Brown’s article in the December 2019 newsletter: ‘Rod Remembers Mabel Bennett’. Might you publish the following as a response to it?
I was in Rod’s graduating class of 1966. Mabel Bennett taught me Chemistry in grade 10. Ten years later, I married her sister, Helena. We met in St. Lambert while Helena was teaching at CCHS. So Mrs. Bennett, my former teacher, became Mabel my sister-in-law. (This is a whole other story, trust me!)
Accordingly, I am able to fill in some, if not all, of the gaps for Rod about Mabel’s life post our graduation in 1966.
Mabel’s short story: Mabel and her husband, Charlie, also a teacher, decided to move to Toronto in 1968 to teach in the York School District where the salaries were the highest in Canada. She taught grade 6 for the balance of her teaching career. They first lived in Etobicoke, then moved to an acreage outside of Bolton, Ontario in 1973. During this time, Mabel taught at Woodbridge Elementary School. Mabel had two children, Shelley and Lance. Shelley is a teacher and Lance is a financial planner with RBC Dominion Securities. Mabel retired after teaching for 35 years. They fulfilled their dream of wintering in Florida with their purchase of a unit in a Fort Lauderdale retirement community. That same year, Mabel was diagnosed with breast cancer and after extensive treatment died the following year in 1999.
Rod’s story about Mabel and his interactions before and after the IQ Test are typical “Mrs. Bennett”, in my opinion. I am feeling confident she saw in Rod a capacity to achieve much higher than his marks indicated. One simple solution to improve his grades would be for Rod to slow down and check his answers. She seemed to have an innate sense regarding students’ potential, probably one reason she was given the part-time counselling position at CCHS.
Interestingly, Mabel’s older brother’s name was Rodney. He went by the nickname ‘Rod’. Only when a family member was annoyed with him was he called “Rodney”. Rod, did not apply himself in school so did poorly despite being capable. Might Mabel have seen similarities between her brother Rod and Rod Brown? (An interesting hypothesis!) Back in 1966, Rodney was working as a chemist at Dupont Chemicals so he proved he could accomplish when he decided to do so.
Rod mentioned that he wrote Mabel a letter decades after graduation and failed to receive a reply. Unfortunate. I can assure Rod if Mabel would have received his letter, she would have been ‘overwhelmed’ by it, definitely would have remembered him and would have replied.
I am wondering whether Rod attended the first CCHS reunion in 1995. Mabel and her husband, Charlie, attended the reunion with Helena and me. That reunion weekend would have been a great opportunity to reconnect. We reconnected with so many former teachers and classmates. It was a memorable reunion.
I hope Rod Brown finds these words helpful and encouraging.
Wishing all continued good health and safety.
Bruce D. Clark
Life Member Class of 1960
by Peter Storen – Life Member Class of 1960
The 2020 New Year was getting off to a very smokey start in the state of New South Wales.
Bushfires had started burning large tracts of forest in the northeastern part of the state around Tenterfield in November, and even earlier in Queensland, which surprised many observers. In the past, the “ fire season “ didn’t usually start until January or February after the heat of dry summers left the country bone-dry.
Even more amazing was the way the fires spread. The ultra-low levels of humidity caused the fires to create their own weather systems which made them unpredictable and defiant of traditional fire-fighting methods. Observers were astounded as fires could spread in the opposite direction to the prevailing winds generate their own dry-lightning strikes and hurl flaming embers as far as 30 km ahead of the fire-front when fanned by gale-force winds . As the fires spread eastward towards the coast, areas of sub-tropical rainforest, once considered safe from the scourge, also began to burn and proved to be impossible to extinguish or even contain because of the inaccessibility and mountainous terrain of the Great Dividing Range. The range extends from Far North Queensland southward to Victoria typically follows the eastern coastal outline and lies at distances varying from a few kilometres to a few hundred inland from the coast.
My partner Penny and I began to smell the bushfire smoke around the second week of December at our home near Tarago, NSW , which sits at an elevation of 650 m above sea level on the Southern Tablelands region of the state . By road we are ca. 75 km from Canberra, 200 km from the SW outskirts of Sydney and 80 km ‘as the crow flies’ from the NSW south coast town of Nowra . The fires were spreading all the way down the coast and I reluctantly implemented my “bushfire survival plan“ (bsp) as we were constantly advised to do by the ABC , the highly-esteemed national broadcaster which issues advisory and emergency warnings on both local radio stations and the national TV news channel .The bsp is implemented to enable clear thinking and decision-making to avoid panic as a fire approaches . It basically instructs you to decide whether to stay and fight the fire to protect your property (assuming you have plenty of water and the necessary fire-fighting equipment ) or to leave , and if the latter ,when to leave and where to go .Many poor souls have perished from smoke inhalation because they had no clear exit strategy; others exited too late and became trapped in their cars by fallen trees which blocked the road ; many others crashed and burned because of zero visibility in the thick smoke.
I found the hardest aspect of implementing a bushfire survival plan was having to decide what to pack and what to leave behind. If I was preparing to possibly flee my home and seek shelter in a community centre or town hall , for example , taking a change of clothes ,toiletries, flashlight, first-aid kit , bottled water ,important documents and irreplaceable family photos are obvious necessities . But then, the decision-making process has to enter the equation, what about all those precious little items I’d collected over the years such as gifts from the children, their art and hand-made objects; which photos to take and which to leave? I couldn’t take them all. Such an impost and damned inconvenience, thought I.
This was no time for sentimentality or feeling ‘hard-done-by’ as the smoke-concentration got stronger day-by-day,. Huge fires to our SE (Tallaganda National Park) and SW (Currawon ) sandwiched the historic town of Braidwood and closed the highway to the coast , and to our NE , the Tianjara fire , fanned by strong westerly winds , joined with the Currawon fire and created a monstrous conflagration which headed inexorably towards Nowra . As we entered the second and third weeks of December, the smoke seemed to get thicker and more acrid by the day. Penny had to wear a gas mask when outside feeding her horses and chickens On the odd morning as we neared our longest day , the sky would be clear for an hour or so after sunrise until wind from the SE would inflict strong smoke-torture upon us or a nor- easterly would drown us in smoke from the Currowan-Tianjara mega-blaze. Although the fires never got closer to us than 30 km , that margin of safety means little if the flames are being fanned by gale-force winds which did blow from the W for several days in a row . Miraculously, no fires originated to our west which was a blessing as it was the only direction which offered a possible escape route.
On Dec 30 , we cracked under the strain , decided that ‘enough-was-enough’ , packed our cars with the essentials including a recently-purchased air purifier , and headed off to the South Goulburn Caravan Park where we rented a tiny , airtight cabin which boasted a quiet , super- efficient air-conditioner . As we had done religiously every morning , our laptops monitored the ongoing devastation via the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) website whose map at the worst stages showed 180 blackened areas in the state with few of the fires under control. It was looking quite likely that our place would be consumed.
We got a real fright the next day at 4 PM. We found out later that a wheel had come off a small trailer being towed on the nearby freeway. Flying sparks set fire to the roadside grass and thick, black smoke soon enveloped the park and to exacerbate the situation, the power went off , plunging the park into complete darkness . Penny , who was outside with me seeking solace with other residents as fire engine sirens blared, headed back towards the cabin , and I , equipped with my portable oxygen concentrator which will work off a car’s 12V electrical system ( I have a great case of self-inflicted emphysema ), fumbled my way along the car’s body to get inside , start the engine and turn on the air conditioner. Amazingly enough though, power was restored at that instant and I groped my way through the gloom and back to the cabin door.
After ten days of living in relative safety at the park, we decided to return home as the daily to-and-from commute to feed the animals was very tiring for Penny and the fires closest to our home were being contained. Then, the long-overdue monsoon effect miraculously commenced delivering substantial downpours in the tropical regions of the Northern Territory and Queensland and eventually drenching rains put out the fires across the state.
The overall cost was staggering, and the effects will probably take two or three generations to be overcome completely. Thirty-three people died, including six dedicated volunteers in the RFS and three Americans who perished when their water-bombing cargo plane’s wing clipped a tree and crashed S of Canberra. The visiting Canadian, American and New Guinean firefighters provided invaluable support and relief for the exhausted RFS personnel who, unbelievably, are nearly ALL volunteers. An estimated ONE BILLION native animals’ lives were lost. Thousands of homes, businesses, and vehicles were destroyed, hundreds of which were not insured. Many people who were insured will find their payouts inadequate to rebuild as local councils now demand more fire-resistant materials and construction techniques be incorporated into new structures .
Despite receiving warnings from a group of veteran firefighters given as early as March 2019 that a potentially disastrous fire season lay ahead, the Prime Minister arrogantly ignored their advice and refused to meet with them. Written submissions languished on the desk of the Emergency Services Minister and went unacknowledged. Sound advice about the necessity of increasing funding for more fire-fighting equipment, trucks, and water bombers was brushed aside as the federal government considered this to be the responsibility of the Australian state governments. Although advised to call on Defense Forces and Reservists to assist, no action was taken until much later. This was such a flagrant denial of common sense, I was tempted to believe it was a conspiracy to stimulate the building industry. An aspect of Roman history was sadly re-enacted as the PM continued to holiday in Hawaii despite apparently being advised to return home and show some leadership.
Literally hundreds of millions of charitably- donated dollars languish in ‘trust funds’ while people who have lost everything struggle to survive. Admittedly, no one is starving as Aussies are very caring for each other, especially if the victims happen to be fair-skinned. Imagine a person who has lost his home, business, equipment and even a loved-one having to submit a 17 page application form for government assistance and then, for the application to be processed, get several quotes from contractors, all of whom are too busy to scratch themselves. The recent “sports-rort” scandal here proved that the feds can hand out big lumps of cash very quickly when they’re trying to influence voting patterns in marginal electorates or rewarding the party faithful with a ten million dollar grant, ostensibly intended for a regional facility, to upgrade a North Sydney swimming pool which happens to lie within an electorate whose MP is a member of the ‘ruling party’.
Sadly, perhaps it has ever been thus, and there does not seem to be any way of ensuring that the most intelligent, honest and empathetic people enter the political arena, and therein lies the problem. The multi-party political framework merely serves to divide people further. The Westminster Parliamentary System is too adversarial in the way it is executed, and we’re stuck with the “show business for ugly people” (J. Leno) syndrome, Instead of a collection of the brightest minds working for the common good and planning for an ultra-challenging future , we are too commonly afflicted with arrogant pseudo-comedians ,intellectually-challenged racists , and ‘wonder-how-he-got-it’ Rhodes Scholars.
At least seventy per cent of Aussies are completely disgusted with the political system and many of its elected representatives. The lies, buck-passing, promise-breaking, and most infuriatingly, the unwillingness to provide straight answers to simple questions are techniques which people in power are known to practice, (AKA ‘bullshit baffles brains’ as Aussies like to say.) I look forward to the day when the whole show is run by women because , on the whole , I have found them to be much nicer human beings , better communicators , far less aggressive ( unless taunted ) , and most importantly, more practical.
Bring on the Matriarchy!
Life member Class of 1956
Roger Bannister Visits St. Lambert
by Ferg Groundwater - Life member Class of 1956
n the early '50 St Lambert was a great center of track and field activity. Spike Hume was a driving force in T&F in those days (and long after)
The St Lambert branch of the Canadian Legion, which had built the Pit, also built a state of the art quarter mile running track around the football field at L'Esperance. I remember that they dug a fairly deep oval into which they put several inches of wood shavings and covered it all up with cinders. This made the track springy as you ran on it, which I did many times.
I think it was early summer of 1954, prior to the Empire Games (as they were then called) in Vancouver, and we heard that a very famous runner would be visiting St L and he would run some practice runs at our track. It wasn't widely known, but those of us who were involved in T&F got to know about it. Your colleague Warren Mackenzie was a top T&F performer in those days.
The runner was none other than Roger Bannister who had just weeks before run the first sub-four minute mile, then the goal of all distance runners.
The day arrived for his run and about a hundred St Lambertans, gathered in the stands to watch. Would we see a world record made that day we all wondered and hoped?
Bannister arrived with two other runners in tow, and we learned that they were "pacers" whose purpose was to run under one minute quarters and push Bannister to a record. I only remember the name of one of the pacers, Chris Chataway, and shortly you will understand why.
The runners stripped down to their Oxford (I think) track uniforms and went through about 15 minute warm up, then to the start line
After a routine start, we watched the three run close packed the first quarter, and it was under a minute, at the end of the second quarter also under a minute, the first pacer dropped back, but not out. At the end of the third quarter, the second pacer dropped back as well and as well, not out, leaving Bannister pretty much on his own to power through the last quarter.
We were sure we would see a new mile record...
With about 220 yards to go Bannister slowed down and the pacers caught up, so that they all crossed the finish line together abreast, a with a time of about 4:05.
We should have been disappointed, but as we all got the chance to talk to these elite athletes, that swept any disappointment aside.
After about 15 minutes of chit chat, Chris Chataway pulled out a cigar about 6 inches long, and proceeded to fire up. Training methods were different then!!!
Subsequently Bannister went to Vancouver and beat John Landy of Australia in an exciting mile contest, both under 4 minutes, and we all realized he had saved his best for the world stage. But we in St Lambert could say we knew Roger Bannister.
Life Member Class of 1960
More on Ian Hume
by Margaret Hume – Life Member Class of 1960
I am sending this to you as I find myself locked out of the newsletter (as I am not logged in) and yours is the only address I could find!
Am sending a selection of photos that follow Ian Hume's jumping career which continued to age 85.
These may be some of the students who were watching Ian Hume high jumping and pole vaulting at the old St. Lambert High School in the last newsletter.
Unbeknownst to them probably, he was at that time, (during the summer) working for and competing for, the Montreal Police Athletics team from 1939-50. They held large meets (10,000 spectators) at Molson Stadium, and in Toronto, Hamilton & Detroit (30, 000 spectators) at their Police Games. Ian Hume was the top aggregate point winner in the meets for 13 years in a row as he competed (& usually won) in pole vault, high jump, long jump, and triple jump.
In 1954 he was the Canadian representative in high jump and javelin at the British Empire Games (now commonwealth Games) at the age of 42.
After he retired from teaching he started training and competing in the World Masters Competitions from 60-85 years of age, competing in Canada, U. S.A., Italy, Australia, & New Zealand and attained world records in many age categories.
I have been compiling binders (15 now) of his lifetime achievements (newspaper clippings, photos, awards etc) as a student, teacher, community , sports , and school coach and volunteer, as well as member of Quebec, Canadian and International Sports Federations and coach, manager and referee of a number of Olympic, Commonwealth, and Pan Am Games.
If any former athletes of CCHS , St. lambert CSA, or St. Lambert Track team are looking for newspaper clipping or photos of them competing, you can contact me as it is likely I have a copy here.....he kept everything!!! (even play by play descriptions of some baseball and football & basketball & golf games he listened to on the radio , played, or attended! ) If you played sports he remembered you all!!! .....with pride..... & would often recount to us children over the dinner table your plays in the basketball game or your performance on the track or in the field.
You are all well known by the entire Hume family!!!
Margaret Hume Swift
(still in the Hume home one block from CCHS. )
Would you like to see your Old House?
Does anyone remember who lived here? Let me know at email@example.com.
The exterior has changed quite a bit but some of you should get it. I’ll give you the answer next month.
Class Contacts Needed
If you are interested in representing your class year as Class Contact. Please contact Harvey Carter. We need to get in touch with as many people as possible to make the 2020 Reunion a success. Please step up and contribute if at all possible.
Class of 1962
May 11, 1943 - April 3, 2020
Predeceased by his daughter Judith (Marc Drummond), he leaves to mourn his beloved wife Carolyn (Lawlor), his daughter Kathleen (Edward Barr), his brother Ivan (Odette Bouclin), Carolyn's brothers Jack (Judy Selinger) and Patrick (Irene Ross), and his son-in-law Marc (Rhoda Redding). Also mourning his loss are his adored grandchildren, James, Matthew, Katie, and Amanda, numerous nieces and nephews as well as a large extended family.
A memorial celebration of life will be held at a later date. Donations in Howard's memory can be made to the Charles Lemoyne Hospital Foundation, 3120 Boul. Taschereau, Greenfield Park, QC, J4V2H1, or to a charity of your choice. "Gone but never to be forgotten."
Class of 1963
Dec 4 1945 - Mar 7 2020
Please note: Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the celebration of life, originally scheduled for April 25 has been postponed and will now take place on August 30, 2020 at the Royal Ashburn Golf Course.
Please see our April Newsletter for full obituary.
Pick on the Irish Again
Six retired Irishmen were playing poker in O'Leary's apartment when Paddy Murphy loses $500 on a single hand, clutches his chest, and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen brother, the other five continue playing standing up. Michael O'Connor looks around and asks, 'Oh, me boys, someone got's to tell Paddy's wife. Who will it be?'
They draw straws. Paul Gallagher picks the short one. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, don't make a bad situation any worse.
'Discreet??? I'm the most discreet Irishmen you'll ever meet. Discretion is me middle name. Leave it to me.'
Gallagher goes over to Murphy's house and knocks on the door. Mrs. Murphy answers, and asks what he wants.
Gallagher declares, 'Your husband just lost $500, and is afraid to come home.'
'Tell him to drop dead!', says Murphy's wife..
I'll go tell him.' says Gallagher.
An old man meets a young man who asks, “Do you remember me?”
And the old man says no.
Then the young man tells him he was his student, and the teacher asks, “What do you do, what do you do in life?”
The young man answers, “Well, I became a teacher.”
“Ah, how good, like me?” Asks the old man.
“Well, yes. In fact, I became a teacher because you inspired me to be like you.”
The old man, curious, asks the young man at what time he decided to become a teacher. And the young man tells him the following story:
“One day, a friend of mine, also a student, came in with a nice new watch, and I decided I wanted it and I stole it, I took it out of his pocket.
Shortly after, my friend noticed the flight and immediately complained to our teacher, who was you. Then you went to the class:
‘This student's watch was stolen during classes today. Whoever stole it, please return it.’
I didn't give it back because I didn't want to. Then you closed the door and told us all to get up and you were going to search our pockets one by one until the watch was found. But you told us to close our eyes, because you would only look for his watch if we all had our eyes closed.
So we did, and you went from pocket to pocket, and when you went through my pocket, you found the watch and took it. You kept searching everyone's pockets, and when you were done you said ‘open your eyes. We have the watch.’
You didn't tell me and you never mentioned the episode. You never said who stole the watch either. That day you saved my dignity forever. It was the most shameful day of my life.
But this is also the day my dignity was saved and I decided not to become a thief, a bad person, etc. You never said anything, nor even scold me or took me aside to give me a moral lesson, I received your message clearly.
And thanks to you, I understood what a real educator needs to do.
Do you remember this episode, professor?
And the professor answers: ‘I remember the situation, the stolen watch, which I was looking for in everyone’s pocket, but I didn't remember you, because I also closed my eyes while looking.’
This is the essence of teaching: If to correct you must humiliate; you don't know how to teach."