Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

November 16, 2013

Meanwhile in the Similkameen Valley

A 1935 Packard that functioned as a "school bus" for ranchers' and orchardists' kids in Keremeos, BC. From left: George Hodson (the driver), Ivadelle Clifton, Art Harris, Ike Harris, Wilson Clifton, Wendell Clifton, Mrs. Harris, Shirley Harris, Mrs. Louise Clifton. Photo taken probably in 1936. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Virtual Museum of Canada)

A couple of days ago I was notified of publication of a new issue of The Goose, an online publication of The Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada. The contents promised, "Harold Rhenisch’s memoir on the Similkameen Valley," which caught my attention, because my Canadian relatives either live there or originated there, particularly in Keremeos, "the fruit stand capital of Canda." (You can download the issue as a PDF.)

Three of those scruffy kids are Dad's first cousins: I still get Christmas cards from Ivadelle, who ended up living just over the line in Washington state, while Wendell and Wilson kept the cattle business going. In fact, thanks to my great-uncle Ivan's reproductive success, the Canadian Cliftons outnumber my side of the family.

"Similkameen Peaches," Rhenisch's memoir, starts in the 1960s. It's a fine piece of impressionistic writing — family, local culture, ecology, and history all tossed together. If I were still teaching nature writing, which I'd rather call nature-and-culture writing, I would assign it.
I’m cold. Men have just walked on the Moon. Charlie still owns the jungle in Vietnam, and just a few weeks ago I watched Canadian fighter jets scramble to meet American fighter jets over the Reserve down south, on the Line, as we put it around these parts, above the dwarf shrews of Nighthawk, Washington, at any rate, above the 1858 American-Canadian border, the one put in to keep the peace, although not between any of the people here. Virtually all the people here were Indians and Americans, who all walked back and forth across the border pretty much as they pleased, and saw, really, no great use for it.
And you thought people only talked that way about la frontera? Even in the 1960s, you get the feeling that in Keremeos, "Canada" was an abstraction. Someplace else.

In fact, reading and hearing and viewing photos about the Old West era there, there is a definite sensation that southern British Columbia was more like eastern Washington or Montana than anywhere else. Ontario? Quebec? Far away and sort of foreign.

(A memory of Wendell slapping the table in a Keremeos cafe: "Ottawa wants to take away our guns!")

Maybe that "Old West" unity broke down somewhat after World War I and Prohibition emphasized the differences between the nations. But there is still a lot of similarity.

My great-uncle made no conscious decision to emigrate, as I understand; he was just a young guy moving from one railroad-telegrapher job to the next. Then he put down roots, literally — fruit trees — and later the cattle business. I remember him in his mid-nineties, tottering out to the barn to show me "my boys," the prize bulls.

May 26, 2012

Memorial Day: Ensign William Bailey

William Bailey was a Navy reservist when the United States entered World War 2. A college graduate (University of Kansas) employed by a large insurance firm, he was headed for intelligence work when he was first called up, but somehow ended up in the little-known Navy Armed Guard, commanding a detachment on the freighter SS Wichita.

I don't know if that switch was a Navy decision, or if someone told him that by changing over, he could get to the war sooner.

Since WW2 German submarines often attacked unarmed targets on the surface rather than submerged, the idea was that a four-inch deck gun on a merchant ship could hold them off. Sometimes it worked. It did not work for the SS Wichita in September 1942.  Ensign Bailey and his (probably) green crew of gunners were outmatched by Gerhard Wiebe, skipper of U-516.

The Wichita was lost with all hands.

William Bailey was my stepmom's first husband. They were married for six months. When settling her estate, I found all the papers, etc., that she had saved, including correspondence from her struggle to collect on his life insurance. Because he was lost at sea, the government would not declare him officially dead until the war ended in 1945, so she did not get the money when she really needed it.

I wrote a little piece about them for  the Armed Guard website. They had no children, but if he has any relatives surviving, I would be happy to hand over everything to them.

January 05, 2009

Frugality -- It's Dangerous!

¶ These doggone frugal people! They are not spending enough!

Rick and Noreen Capp recently reduced their credit-card debt, opened a savings account and stopped taking their two children to restaurants. Jessica and Alan Muir have started buying children's clothes at steep markdowns, splitting bulk-food purchases with other families and gathering their firewood instead of buying it for $200 a cord.

That sounds like normal life to me--especially the day after I paid for next summer's farm share.

April 09, 2007

Over-protective parents and urban foraging

I am becoming a fan of Los Angeles writer Linda J. Williamson, whose piece on Internet-hyper over-protective parents was picked up by the Denver Post:

At a PTA meeting, during a discussion of traffic problems around the school campus, I asked what we could do to encourage families to walk or bike to school. Other parents looked at me as if I’d suggested we stuff the children into barrels and roll them into the nearest active volcano. One teacher looked at me in shock. “I wouldn’t let my children walk to school alone … would you?”

“Haven’t you heard about all of the predators in this area?” asked a father.

“No, I haven’t,” I said. “I think this is a pretty safe neighborhood.”

“You’d be surprised,” he replied, lowering his eyebrows. “You should read the Megan’s Law website.” He continued: “You know how to solve the traffic problem around this school? Get rid of all the predators. Then you won’t have any more traffic.”


And here she is on urban foraging.

The harvest [scarfing free samples at Whole Foods] I reaped was bountiful, but it wasn’t the communing-with-nature, off-the-grid eating experience I was looking for. So I made for a more fertile hunting ground: the Internet. There, on the message board of FallenFruit.org—a web site devoted to mapping L.A.’s many neighborhood fruit trees—I found this shocking entry:

“Soon I will have more avocados than I know what to do with… you can use avocado for facials and hair conditioner. Just mash and apply.”