Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blue Monday

My dad used to have a huge collection of albums when he was on the ship. Lot's of Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, Buddy Holly you name it. All the people on the ship loved it because anytime they threw a party my dad would bring his albums.

So to get your week off to a good start, start thinking about Saturday. Thanks Fats.

Blue Monday how I hate Blue Monday
Got to work like a slave all day
Here come Tuesday, oh hard Tuesday
I'm so tired got no time to play
Here come Wednesday, I'm beat to my socks
My gal calls, got to tell her that I'm out
'Cause Thursday is a hard workin' day
And Friday I get my pay
Saturday mornin', oh Saturday mornin'
All my tiredness has gone away
Got my money and my honey
And I'm out on the stand to play

Sunday mornin' I'm feelin' bad
But it's worth it for the time that I had
But I've got to get my rest
'Cause Monday is a mess

Sunday Drives

This is the bridge between Prescott, Ontario and Ogdensburg New York. It was a bridge I knew very well since, one of the things we did almost every Sunday was to go out for drives all around eastern Ontario and northern New York State.

When I was young almost everything was closed on Sundays. You were lucky if you even found a gas station open. Even television seemed to take a break. It was a time where people, just, STOPPED. A time to spend with family, to relax, rejuvenate, to reflect on the week past and to dream about the week ahead.

It was on these Sundays that we went for drives around town, the little townships in the area, had picnics and went to the U.S. My dad always liked going to towns along the St. Lawrence seaway. It gave him the chance to watch the ships go by and reminisce about days gone by.

We had so much fun as a family going to these places and taking the day off. Even though we don't have a designated "day off" anymore, I really do believe individuals and families should try and create this oasis from the day to day chaos of life. Bring back some peace. I've found my world perspective becomes a bit brighter when I do.

Thanks for the memories dad.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hot Wheels

After leaving the shipping industry, my dad decided to return to school. He studied in Hamburg, Germany which was about an hour and a half from our home town of Travemunde. Because of the travel time he would study there during the week to devote his time to his studies and then come back home during the weekends. This left me, a rambunctious 1 year old, alone with my mom.

When he would return home for the weekend my mom and I would always meet him at the train station. On his return he would always bring a hot wheels car. I ended up amassing quite a collection and I had a great carrying case for all the cars. As you can guess, these went with me wherever I went.

This included our flight to Canada. I don't know if I would have been allowed to bring a case full of metal onto the plane with all the security restrictions these days. I would like to think so but I give people the benefit of the doubt.

I don't have these cars anymore but the memories are still there. Besides, there's always ebay :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Church Bells

This was the church in my home town of Travemunde in northern Germany. A small resort town of 20000 that balloons up to 80000-100000 during the summer months.

Even when my dad was growing up he was a bit of a trouble maker. Ok, let's be honest... He was a S**T disturber. When he was young he made the life of the Lutheran minister quite difficult. One of the things he loved doing was to sneak into the church and go to the church bell tower. He would proceed to ring the bells. Aside from the great noise it would make it had another benefit. You could ride the ropes up and down as the church bell was ringing. He could probably get a good 5 or 6 feet in the air doing this.

This only went on for so long before the minister would hear what was happening and try to chase him down. When my dad saw him coming he would dash down to church basement where there were tunnels that ran to the neighbouring school (which was another source of mischief for him).

He was only caught a couple of times but the punishments never really deterred him.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Zebra

My father left home to work on cargo ships when he was 16 years old. I can honestly say that, even though my dad passed away at the age of 65, he had an incredibly full life. How many people can say that they got to travel around the world and get paid really well to do so at the age of 16.

Now you can imagine, that, getting a bunch of sailors together can create some interesting circumstances and situations. My father has shared some of these with me, mostly the G rated ones, but I'm sure it was just the tip of the iceberg, especially the not so G rated ones.

When you're out on a ship for one or two months at a time you get a little restless. So when you finally drop anchor you have to release some of this energy.

Well... They found themselves in Mexico after a long journey and they all decided to spend some time out at the beach. You'd think they would want to be out of the sun after a month at sea close to the equator. So after a few hours on the beach and not so few "beverages" they noticed that there were horses being riden by the tourists in the area. Somebody then got a bright idea. They went over to the owner giving out rides and asked to take a beautiful white one out for a ride. Seeing nothing wrong with this proposition the horse owner gladly agreed.

While one of them was out for a ride with this white horse, my dad had someone get paint from a nearby store. They ended up painting the horse with black stripes to make it look like a zebra. Would you expect anything less from a bunch of drunk sailors? Let's just say the owner of the horse wasn't too pleased. Luckily, when you work on a ship, you don't really have many opportunities to spend money at sea. So they had enough cash to compensate him accordingly and not bring in the police.

Back in the 60's I'm sure this was a fairly original idea. It looks like it's been done a few times recently too as you can see by the picture at the beginning of the story. The picture is from Moscow where they were trying to bring attention to using the crosswalks.

 I think I have a picture or video of this that I'll try to convert and upload eventually.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kenny Rogers

I think I only saw my dad without facial hair once in the 34 years that I knew him. When we emmigrated to Canada in 1976 my dad had a full beard which later became a goatee.

We never thought he resembled Kenny Rogers all that much. However, from time to time during the late 70's and early 80's when Kenny came to play concerts in Ottawa, my dad would have women running up to him screaming and asking for his autograph. Pretty surreal, but I`m sure he loved every second of it.

Now, my dad was a good looking guy and all, but I doubt he would have had a reaction like that if he didn't look a little bit like him. I guess he resembled Kenny more than we thought.

This might be why I have a strange fascination with Kenny Rogers songs and his movies. I'm sure it didn't help that my parents would play his albums all the time and, even though I haven't listened to one of his songs in years, I could probably recite several of his songs by heart. Lucille, The Gambler, You Decorated My Life. Classic Kenny. 

I also loved the movie Six Pack. Still do, and I'll play the movie for my kids when they`re older. Kenny was a race car driver who ended up taking care of 6 orphaned kids who worked as his pit crew. Kind of like Talladega nights without the Will Ferrell zaniness. It was a really fun movie and probably one of Anthony Michael Hall's first films.

On a side note: In his later years, my Dad`s physical appearance and Kenny`s deviated quite substantially. Probably due to the fact that my dad never had plastic surgery. It`s nice to see what Kenny would have looked like if he never had the plastic surgery.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The bicycle

When I was 7, we lived on the ground floor of an 8 storey building called Knollwood Terrace. In my life, I've lived in more than 15 places and this was by far my favorite home. It was a great apartment condo that had all units facing the Ottawa parkway. Along the parkway there was an orchard of trees that would explode with beautiful pink blossoms during the spring. It had a bikepath that followed alongside the parkway that meandered along the Ottawa River. It truely was a cyclists dream. Till this day they shut down the parkway on Sundays during the summer months so that cyclists and walkers can take over the road and enjoy the scenery.

 It's one of the things I miss most about Ottawa.

One of my favorite memories of my dad was when we lived here. I had just come back from riding my bike along the bikepaths and had left my bike, like all 7 year olds, lying flat on the ground at the front of the screen door to our living room. I closed the screen door and proceeded to watch TV and play with my toy cars on the floor of the living room. Multi-tasking at it's best.

Seeing as I was so engrossed with my cars I didn't know how much time had gone by since I left my bike out there. All I remember was that all of a sudden I saw a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye followed by a loud crash.

What was that???

I looked up to see the warped screen door lying on the ground outside. I peeked outside and saw my dad escorting a guy, maybe 14, by his upper arm back from the end of our building's driveway. He was on his tip toes so you could tell he wasn't going to go anywhere. My dad brought him to our front lobby and the three of us waited while my mom made a call. I can still remember the look of dispair on the teen's face as he sat in the lobby chair that my father had "placed" him in. I didn't understand why he looked so sad. We waited for quite some time and then the police came. They placed him in the cruiser and drove slowly away.

Several days later we found out that this teen had stolen multiple bikes in the area and he had taken an interest in my bike. It wasn't anything special. A used 5 speed, that's right, 5 speed, "supercycle" that I bought for $60. My parents had made a deal with me when I was 5. Save up enough for half the bike and we'll pay for the other half. In any case, leaving my bike at the door was the opportunity he was looking for... He jumped on, and off he rode.

What he wasn't counting on was my dad seeing him taking my bike from inside the apartment, then blasting through the screen door and running him down on foot.

From that day on, in my eyes, my dad was Superman.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How this became to be

This blog will be primarily about my father. The stories he told me about his days working on ships, his youth and memories about world war II. I will also be posting my memories of him and the wonderful times we spent together.

From time to time I'm sure I'll deviate to other topics of interest but this is really to help me organize my thoughts and all the fantastic adventures that he had that formed his life.

For those that stumble across this blog, I hope you enjoy the stories I'm relaying here and that you share your stories too.