Andy Blair and Relatives

Leaf in LiverpoolYou may have noticed I am not camping in New York or attending Bread Day at the state fair. Colds have struck. So I am rummaging.

The gent to the left is Andy Blair who in June ’29 was enjoying his first summer as a NHL player after finishing his rookie year with the Leafs. My grannie-in-law, then Evelyn Whillans, his 1st cousin, took the photo as a 13 year old spending some of her teen years in Liverpool. I wonder what the building behind him is. Later Blair would provide the Whillans Saturday night tickets including the opening of Maple Leaf Gardens as well as the longest NHL game in history. Her father, a minister, kept getting up to go saying that it was crazy, that he had a sermon to give in a few hours, only to sit back down at the roar for another close play.

Another five cousins, all Drydens of some relation, made the NHL including Murray Murdoch (Rangers left wing: ’26-’37, then coach at Yale for about 30 years) who I spoke with on the phone about a year before he passed away as the then oldest NHL alumnist, a very sharp mind in its late 90’s. Murdoch grew up in Winnipeg and said he was the best player in the City until Blair, two years younger, showed up during the depression. Both played for the University of Manitoba in the early 20’s.

Four years to Mr. Hitler's gamesGrannie-in-law also relates being at the front of Maple Leafs Gardens with another cousin, Syl Apps (the kinda gawky 17 year old in the white pants to your right, my left) and Blair the day Apps signed for the Leafs. Blair, an All-Star for the Leafs in ’34, was telling him to sign anywhere but Toronto as they treated players badly. Apps started his Leafs rookie year in 1936 after representing Canada at the Berlin Olympics. Blair was traded for cash to the Blackhawks on 7 May 1936. I wonder if the windows were open a few floors up.

In the 1936-’37 season, three cousins played on three teams: Leafs, Hawks and Rangers (two All-Stars, three Cup winners, one Calder and Bing and another the first Lester Patrick winner). In the early 70’s three (two being brothers) played again for three teams – the Sabres, Habs and Penguins: Dryden, Dryden, Apps (all All-Stars but not in together in one year…and one also earned some hardware).

Playing Games

Mike is at it again. Posting about things I wished I had thought of. His post about playground games reminds me of stickball.

This was played in one field in Kingston, Nova Scotia in the early-70’s behind Jeff Bond’s and Tony Smith’s houses. We were taught the rules by older kids who drifted out of the game when they were about 12. You were brought in the game when you hit around 9. The game was a variation of baseball with lots of cricket influence. You played with a broom handle and an india rubber ball. The ball was thrown at the batter who could hit it 360 degrees. Like cricket, there was no foul. The ball also had to bounce like cricket before the batter hit it. There were four bases around which you ran like in baseball. No one wore baseball gloves. At any time you could pick off a player by drilling the ball at them if they were not touching a base. If they were hit, they were out. I think there were three outs like baseball.

Anyone else have a local game?  I can think of “Red Rover” and “Redlight, Green Light” in the Queenston Drive Elementary schoolground at Erindale Woodlands of Mississauga in the late 60’s before we moved to NS when I was 7.  Also, king of games, “500 Up”which I played before I was ten until after I was 20.   The elemental “Tag” and “Hide and Seek” with its variant “Kick the Can” were also big in Kingston, N.S. during elementary school.

Mars! Bringer of Prudent Warning

So, did everyone see Mars? We were out to Charleston Lake Provincial Park last evening visiting Wally and Laura who have been there all week and on the drive home there is was…[turn on your copy of Holst’s The Planets…!]…Mars! I suppose in the days before flashing antenna tower lights what went on in the sky was more a impressive thing. One web writer notes of Holst’s tone poem on Mars:

The full horror of mechanised warfare confronts us face to face in this bleakest of all tone poems. Its face is unrepentent, unrelenting and merciless and it offers us no hope of redemption. Thousands of pairs of jackbooted feet parade across the landscape, scurrying to their graves. Tanks pound cities into rubble. Bullets fly and bombs fall. Airplanes swoop low overhead. How surprising it is, then, to learn that Holst completed this piece long before the opening of the First World War, before the invention of the tank, before any plane had ever been fitted out to carry bombs, before the slaughter in the trenches, before the use of poison gas.

For me Mars, his war god, stood out in the sky more closely resembling a big automated safety indicator than it has for 60,000 years. The coolest sky phenomena – among those not able to sweep away trailer parks – was the night in January 2001 when the moon was closer than ever. I read a book on the front lawn of our house in the country by moonlight [cue the theremin]…by the light…of the moon.

I hate Jiffy PopWhile at the park, I had occassion for the first time in at least five years to make Jiffy Pop. This guy has it right. It is not jiffy and rarely pops. In the making you have to stay stooped over a campfire with your face in the heat. You also usually have to maintain a posture which wreaks havoc on the back. Wally and I figured 35 years ago our fathers swore under their breath in the same positions. Most jiffy pop moment? Taking off the cardboard cover and holding up a small part of the cardboard to read, squinting by the campfire light, “do not remove this cardboard tab”. Do they think people make this stuff in full daylight or read instructions before setting out? The children fell upon the jiffified stuff as if a truck from the Mint had driven through a casino parking lot, its loads pouring out from open back doors.

Time to Pay the Rent

We are here, we are here, we are here!!! You’d think the Crown would get this sooner or later.

As my old law prof, Bruce Wildsmith, has pointed out one more time, we recognized the rights of First Nations in 1761, did deals with them (especially in the Maritimes) as we dealt with other nations, we continued the recognition in theory until the time of the Charter, we locked them in section 35 of the Constitution in 1981 and now we have to recognize them as having practical and – hey – even commercial value.

Bring it on. Earning your living from your own assets. Imagine.

Laura Carr

It’s a sad day when you realize both your cars suck. The VW has been in the family for ten and a half years. Friends point out that no one I know has owned the same new car for over a decade. From the lot to the wrecker. The van, also a 93, makes new expensive noises every month. Both are to go.

Laura Carr is what “little red car” sounds like when you are half asleep. A city car. 2003 Ford Focus SE wagon. Motor like a hairdryer but space to throw a dish washer in back. BBC’s car show Top Gear gave it a very high rating for safety showing very graphically the results of various small cars in crashed. The doors of the Focus opened despite the front end imploding.

Horror stories? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Good Old Socialism

While I can’t spell worth a damn, I am fond of keeping useful simple words around. Mike Campbell made the following statement on his well written – if somewhat politically divergent from this local norm – blog which I cannot let pass:

While Coady may have used the word ‘socialist’ to describe his activities, he was not a socialist. A ‘populist’, yes. His classic book on the Antigonish Movement is “Masters of their own destiny”. The title says it all. He wasn’t looking for a central body/agency to take care of everything, but rather for the people to do it for themselves. To put in their own money and labour into the enterprise, and to reap the rewards, as well.

This is exactly what socialism is. Collective control of the means of production. Socialism plus a military or bureaucratic tyranny is another matter just as capitalism so encumbered is. Nobody wants any of that – except those made rich off these dictatorships whether as seen in your 1978 Chiles or your 1958 Bulgarias.  Populism better describes social credit or reform party voodoo economics.  My other grannie was a municipal politician, slightly left of Stalin and Dad would say, and some of here best work in industrial Scotland in the mid-30’s to mid-50’s was fighting in the interests of private capital to ensure collective capital could do its good work – clearing out slums despite lobbying of shop keepers unhappy with seeing the population move to better housing, supporting adult education through the trade union movement, even arranging access to cheap camping in the countryside for the urban poor.

In a world which the language of politics is more and more defined by the influence in by the right, let’s use words like liberal, socialism, capitalism, tyrant and citizen in their plain, historic and real sense.   Use a park, a library or a non-toll highway and you are reaping the rewards of our perhaps less radical but still socialist forefathers.

Last of August

The air took a change today which, if we were still in the Maritimes, would have come after the first hurricane of the season had passed through, up from the Caribbean. Cool and dry. The downtown Kingston market is full of tomato and basil.  Found a locally grown watermelon to eat.  The corn is the best I have ever tasted this year so packed and juicy the cobs are bendy. Only one seller tried to pass cow corn off as sweet.  

Everyone is going on end of summer weekends or a week off camping to get one last kick at the can before the fall comes. Even though we are a month from autumn and maybe months from the first frost, having your oldest kid going into kindergarten puts you back into the cycle of holidays when the schools tell you you will have holidays. Pencil cases. Corduroys.

Keith Haring

I was looking at a blog I had not read before this morning and came across reference to Keith Haring, a NYC subway artist from 1980 to 1985, who died of AIDS 13 years ago. His images are very familiar. I was especially interested as I spent an afternoon in 1986 walking through an exhibit of his at a museum in Amsterdam, at the time when I was working in the Netherlands at the big cut flower auctions of Aalsmeer. I now see it is referred to as his 1986 solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. One web bio for Haring states:

Haring’s earliest critical acclaim and museum exhibitions took place in Europe, in 1985 at the Musee d’ Art Contemporain in Bordeaux and in 1985-86 at one of Europe’s most prestigious contemporary art venues, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

The display was immense. Room after room of floor-to-ceiling canvasses with bright-coloured cartoony stick people, some with extraordinary privates. I remember not having enough change for both a T-shirt and a bus ride home. I figured the 15 km or so hike was not worth it. [Dumb kid. Same dumb kid who didn’t spend the 25 bucks a few weeks earlier in Paris to drink a botle of wine from the year he was born 23 years before.] I left the museum without catching the artists name, most of all from being overwhelmed with the art. I think I came upon the exhibition after looking and asking directions to the Van Gogh museum. People only kindly but inexplicably told me how to find the “Vin (hork)-aw-(hork)” musuem…so I never found the place.

Wayne’s World

Being booted off another blog for rue-ning threads, I have made a home for the mystery man on Moncton where he can spout off about anything. I will take him on but this is a dirty fight so you can all jump in too.

Later: Feel free to add your own rants here too for general kicking around…

Much Later: Wayne is now on probation if he cares to come around.