Text and ZoomThere should be a border image running down both sides of the text and images in the center. Pink girls on the left and blue boys on the right. If it is completely or partially missing and you would like to see the page as it was intended you will have to adjust your browser. First set your text to the "medium" setting. If that doesn't fix the problem then adjust your view by zooming "in" or "out". The page was designed in IE8 on a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 with zoom at 100% and text at "medium". All this should be solved when I recode to the newest html. I apologize for any inconvenience.
Also accept my apologies for any spelling errors. They say that there should never be any spelling errors in this day and age with the powerful computers we use but I strongly disagree with them. Just because a word is spelled right does not mean that it is spelled rite; write?

This is me in Gr. 9 baby.

This is me in grade 9 baby

Thought it would be nice to revisit a few good high school memories and "Initiation Day" is right at the very start. I usually skipped all of these "Special" days and went touring instead but I decided what the hell, it might be fun. I don't know if the kids these days even knows what "touring" meant in our time but in case they don't, it's loading your car up with friends and booze and going driving through the back country but then that was where a lot of us lived. I know that sounds really bad and it is today but back then you have to remember that there was next to no traffic. The back country then would be similar to going for a rip on the trail from Barryvale to Flower Station or from Black Donald to Matawatchan following the high tension lines today. It is frightening to think that by the time my grandchildren are my age those far away, little travelled lands that I spent much of my life hiding from civilization in may be as well travelled and as populated as my little road is today. My dirt road alone isn't what one would call secluded today and I wouldn't even let my kids anywhere near the road but in my youth I actually tobogganed on the road. Hell it was the only place we could play because everywhere else was under five feet of snow for half the year. I doubt that there is a kid today who even knows what "riding the wings" meant. In my time it was a big deal when a car drove by. It must have been a sight for those "city slickers" to see everyone runnin' to stare at them goin' by. But I think my point is made as to how many people were on the back roads we toured on. Now I get to sigh and say "those were the good ole days" and actually know what that means. Everyone's youth was a simpler or more innocent time than the next generations'. I can still vividly recall the first drive that I took to town on my own after getting my licence at 15. Despite the fact that I started learning to drive on weekends when I was about five on my brother's lap while he was sucking face with his girlfriend somewhere between home and hotel in Portage, to driving while they enjoyed the back seat when I was around ten or twelve doing it completely on my own was a big deal. OK, hell we're way off course. Old days, back roads, ah yes touring, no one more, "Initiation Day". I don't believe they have that nowadays, hell it was even banned in the army. Why? Because its true name was "hazing". If psychologists ever wanted a shocking peak into the teenage brain of a fun deprived girl with some of her friends all he needed to do was give them a poor, frightened grade nine boy, to do whatever they wanted with and there would be enough material for a book. I won't tell you what my owners were like when they finally found me in late afternoon. I was having fun with a few of my own grade nine slaves who believed I was a senior. You see, the fact that that word was what the day was centred around makes it a wonder it survived as long as it did. But semantics shows us that we all see words in a different light and no insult was intended. No it is not a bug the climbs up your urethra and makes its way to your testicles to engorge itself on your fluids. Damn that spell check, pick up a dictionary once in awhile instead of that damned controller. Kids. But we're at the finish and we never even started yet! It was an hour long bus ride into town and a little walk from the drop off to school. The liquor store was on the way so I stopped in for something to make sure that the day was fun. I had been buying my own booze for several years now and was just routine for me and so never caught my blunder until I was at the register. The man smiled at me as I gave him my order ticket with a friendly salutation in return and went back to rooting in my wallet for the cash. I immediately noticed the silence and glanced up to see two men smiling at me. The second one had my bottle in hand. It still hadn't quite dawned on me until their eyes shifted down to the cardboard plaque on my chest where I just vividly remembered writing "Grade 9" across it the night before. What the hell! How was I going to get out of this one? I knew I had to keep the pace up because any pause and it would be Bang, just like a deer in the headlights. I had to fall back to that old reliable question so easily recognizable as WWJD? I handed one the cash and in my gruffest voice and most devious smile I said, "The little bastards will never see me coming, it's like camo for miner niners." They both immediately started laughing. Phew that was close, I continued, "Thank you gentlemen," and took my bottle as he handed it to me, "don't want to be late for class, keep the change," and quickly walked out the door. I said a small prayer of thanks to "Jack Daniels" for telling me what he would do. I was fortunate that way. I always believed it was because we started drinking so early in life, and at least on my part, respectfully with my parents, that we never acted inappropriately (well at least the better part of the time) even after imbibing. I know I always had respect for those who could drink and refrain from acting like a complete idiot. But anyway I had been right, the day had been a bit of fun. There weren't many of us on the "UCLA" team and there were a lot of "Werfners", and they all new each other so it was a good day making new friends. It was the start of what I believe was a pretty exceptional time in my life. Up until now most of my off school time was spent either hunting or camping in the deep woods or fishing at the lake with a very dear childhood friend and distant cousin, God rest his soul, or I was in the hospital for a month or six, so this was really where I got to try out my new wings. And without revealing too much, they were pretty tattered by the time graduation day came.

The 1981 AshCalaFrew Crew
1981 AshCalaFrew Crew

This is a shot of Spirit Day in grade 13. We had plenty of spirit back then, at least a bottle each that day. I've blacked out my posse because I do not have their permission to show their images but if they send me permission I will be happy to bring them into the light. Sadly, one has already gone into the light. He was my dearest friend and companion from grade one right through and past grade thirteen. We shared many adventures together and never once did he betray my trust or fail to have my back. A friend like that comes along but once in a lifetime, if you're lucky. We slowly drifted apart as we grew older but it was not from lack of fondness or respect. He remained always close in my thoughts. To those who knew him it will come to no surprise that I can count on the fingers of one hand, those I've met who could out drink him, and in any category of drink. I would have been a "lightweight" compared to him at that time but he never left me behind. I watched in amazement one night, trying to down a pint, as he packed away the other eleven in under an hour and could have passed a sobriety test to boot. I'm not sure when he started to drink but I remember in grade six sneaking off down the old Kick N' Push train track trail with him to have a few sips from a mickie of rye I had brought for lunch. When I heard of his passing I cried like a baby. I couldn't even pay my respects. One memory kept running through my mind. It was on a sunny day in the latter years of elementary school and he had just returned from a doctor's appointment. For some reason I can't remember it must have been important because I immediately asked him how it went.

He laughed and said, "The doctor said that if I didn't quit drinking I will never see thirty". Then he slapped me on the shoulder and added, "We'll see about that, eh?"

I had completely forgotten that memory until that point. I spent days trying to figure out how old he had been. Twenty-six. It wasn't until decades later that I finally found a drink that I could swill into happy oblivion instead of feeling like someone had ripped my insides out and stuck a hot poker into the base of my skull. It all made sense then. And with every drink after I never forgot to salute my old school time friend and drinking buddy. And it wasn't hard to remember because he was always right there beside me winking, with that silly grin on his face.

"I miss you buddy, but I'll be seeing you soon. On that point; how do I get a bottle past that guy at the gate, or do I still just mention your name?"

I've not revealed his image out of respect for his mother who lives nearby. A grand woman with the heart of a lion and someone I've always respected. A leader in her community. A community very protective of itself which can be quite difficult for outsiders of which I've always felt I was but to this day I'm not sure why. I was always shown nothing but kindness and acceptance whenever there and both sides of my family grew up there. My father always talked about all the good times he had growing up there and knew everyone by their nickname, a sure sign you were a member of the community. I wish I had had the foresight to record all those stories of the adventures he had working on the railroad and partying with all of his friends in Calabogie. They were the progenitors of our own present day UCLA drinking team. And then he quit drinking completely when he started seeing my mom. Then it was tales of how he managed to get out to see her from here. It wasn't a quick car ride like it is today. I remember all the stories of catching the train out to Calabogie. And even strapping on skates and skating the Halliday Creek out as well. Stories of breaking through the ice and the only thing that prevented hyperthermia on that long run home was that it was so cold it instantly froze all their clothes which then acted like a windbreak. It was the stuff of romantic novels but to them it was refusing to let poverty interfere with the simple joys of life. And now that I think about it, my family lived less than a stone's throw from many of my future schoolmates but moved to the country when I was a baby. So I think, despite going to school there, I was never a part of the after school and weekend scene and so never privy to all the social goings on. Add that to the fact that my buddy knew every single person in the whole area including their history and it left me feeling a long way on the other side of the fence so to speak. But that's not their fault and there's no place I'd rather be than right where it all began.

The rest of these guys I only knew from grade nine on or later, but I still have some good adventure stories with a few of them.

~Giving a hurried lesson on high speed passing, into oncoming traffic, in winter, while barely conscious in the middle of the front seat after a day of drinking on the slopes in Calabogie. That'll make one squirm. Actually it wasn't a lesson it was more like "do exactly what I say when I say it," but we lived and more importantly there wasn't a mark on his daddy's car to suggest any Tom Foolery, so he did good.
"You are ready to leave Grasshopper", "Ooooo there's your daddy, everybody look casual. Just smile and wave."

~And this guy, I've got more than a few of him.
"I'm sorry, did my switch blade catch your nose?"
~"Oh pardon me, I didn't mean to turn your cigarette around and between your fingers and hold it there tightly. Hah, two for flinching."

~Oh and two car loads will remember, House Rules!
"Can you leave pervert row for just a second, we're about to brawl here and we're six men short?"

~"Come along on a magical carpet ride to the country and my field of dreams." "Hello! I said come along... ah he's toast, just leave him here."

~And who could forget, "I'm not a good little girl. Why does everyone keep calling me that?" Well that wasn't really any of these guys, thank God, but one of them will certainly remember the moment. One gets caught in so many arguments when you're the one that always seems to have a car.

~"And you. My apologies but I can only tell this one when you're not around. And you always seem to be around, don't you?"

You know, I should have a series of contests. "Who said this?" and "Who did that?"

Well I think I royally screwed things up. No one will ever want to be revealed now. I can relate, there's more than a few embarrassing stories out there about me as well. But hey, that's life. Dance like no one is watching. Oh, I have a juicy one about that but sadly, she's not from our school. Despite the fact that these stories might lead someone to believe that these guys may have an axe to grind with me, I can assure you that, as far as I know, they don't. And the one that would be most likely to be seen with one in each hand, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, is still a friend, or at least seemed friendly when last we spoke. Dam, maybe he had just forgotten. Oh well, there goes the cat.

Anyway, don't worry, I will not tell anyone who belongs to whichever scenario, so don't ask! Your secret is safe with me.

I have another Spirit Day photo from grade 11 I think but have not yet located it. I'm not sure if this photo was one of my own or from someone else's camera who in turn so graciously had a copy made for me. Cheryl Harper is the name that keeps coming to mind but I am not sure if she's in there for the photo or for something else;)

My sincere thanks to everyone who had the good sense to capture our glory years on film and the generosity to share them with us.

If you have anything you'd like to add just send it to me. And remember, I'm still looking for R.C.I. high school yearbooks for any year. A lot of family and friends went there both before, during and after my years in high school. I would also like any class photos from St. Joseph's. Calabogie Elementary School 1968 to 1976 and the same from the Public School in Calabogie for any years before that. I can scan them on site if you are uncomfortable with them leaving your possession.

And I would like to make perfectly clear here that none of the images will ever be used to post on my website, or any other sites, without written consent from their owners. As well, to those of the school boards that refused me access because they were worried that they might be held accountable for unlawful use of images I received from their books, it's embarrassing that I should have to tell those in their profession that I would be responsible for any laws and/or etiquette I broke, not them.

I also have all the letters that my classmates in Calabogie Elementary sent to me when I was in the hospital on two separate occasions. Once in 1974 and again in 1975. If you would like a copy just send me a note.

I was just doing a quick check on my pages to make sure I hadn't missed anything and it turned out I had. Thus the reason for checking. I made a reference, in my mother's section, to a certain event that went on in one of our high school classes and for more the reader was told to come here for the rest. Jeez I hope not too many did. There will be a few scratching their heads over that. Well that's generous. I'd be so lucky to have a few readers. But anyway to bring you up to speed I was talking about big dictionaries and remembered an event we had started that our teacher had to complete in order to prove that she was intelligent enough to be teaching us. As if there were any who would question that. She only needed to speak a few words to humble you into your position of intelligence far beneath her. But she loved a good show and knew better than most that any show was better with her in it and so she feigned an embarrassed and humble nature before grabbing the reigns and beating whatever it was in front of her into submission, but with a finesse all her own. I have so many fond memories of this woman that I could just jumble them all down here, now, but it wouldn't be right. But just so you know why, and maybe as important, when, I first met
"Sister Claire Gallagher," we'll start at the first time I saw her. Before one takes off the training wheels and rides their bike up to those grand doors of high school, they must first come to see what each school has to offer. So at some point near the end of our eighth year we were invited into town for a show put on by each high school in turn. I could go on to tell you about the night I went to the Renfrew Collegiate Institute's show but I honestly do not remember a thing. As odd as that may sound it is doubly so for me because I truly cannot even remember going, so have to wonder if I even did. But why can't I remember not going? Maybe it was the effects of Sister Claire Gallagher. I remember sitting in the auditorium after a brief tour and completely unimpressed by anything that I saw. The buildings were old and I had not yet acquired my taste for such things. Everything seemed like it was bought from a swap meet or hand-me-downs from some big new school. Again something I would but not yet had acquired the taste for. So as I sat watching teachers take their turn either saying or doing something and sometimes both my eyes caught this one woman waiting in the wings for her turn. My God she can't be a teacher I thought. The whispering of my classmates told me that they must have seen her as well. From this distance I couldn't be sure but she looked far past her years for retirement. Despite the number of years she appeared she stood poker straight and walked with a confident and strong stride usually lost to someone of her years, if we can trust the years she appeared. And the dress she was wearing would have been perfect for hunting season. If that outfit was any reference to her nature then she was most certainly bright and full of colour. I wish that I could remember the exact colour but the years that came after have blurred my mind to neon colours, but I'll take a stab at it to say it was either Lime Green or a Mellow Orange, you know, like an orange. I had no idea how right I was. I sat on the edge of my seat, literally, as she was announced. Suddenly she seemed all a jitter and nervous. Unbelievably poised and calm before hand and now she was falling apart. She finally made it to the microphone and what came out was quite shocking. If you closed your eyes you would hear the voice of a young student attempting her first try at public speaking. Oh how I wish I had a copy of that performance. And after she was finished the students already a part of the student body made it very clear that they thought she was someone special as well. It wasn't the coolest thing for a boy entering high school to show any interest in some old nun but thankfully I wasn't big on rules or peer pressure. If you had a problem with me acting like a sissy girl I was always ready to discuss it after the show behind the school, if I felt like it. So when she was announced a second time I clapped as hard as everyone else. I sat in amazement when this fragile little old lady came to the front of the stage again carrying something that looked like two bowling pins. I hadn't known at the time that these were used in dance, and I never again saw them used that way. I did, however, manage to snag two at an auction sale and every time they catch my eye I remember the amazing woman that was Sister Claire Gallagher. And so she went on to show us just how they were supposed to be used. Oh I wish I had a video of that. It seemed odd for me liking this nun for I was taught by a nun in every grade except one and I hadn't grown any type of fondness for them despite never really having any conflicts with them either. I think that the overall knowledge of them and their position within the Catholic system didn't help them any plus I had seen some of them get pretty mean from time to time. In fact, the only time I was ever sent to the principal's office I was witness to a much more disturbing and violent form of "Two for Flinching". I can't remember who it was, sorry guys, but they were told to put out their hand palm up in order to receive their allotted number of whacks from a big old strap like the barbers used to strop their shaving razors on. I began to wonder if there were an of those in a desk drawer somewhere. And so the nun raised the strap and brought it down fast and hard and nearly somersaulted right over the guy when there was nothing there to stop the momentum of that swing. And she didn't like that. The shakings he got looked worse than the strapping. He eventually let her swing away and his slow collapse into full belly laughs didn't help the situation. I think she would have went on a lot longer that his allotted count but her arm gave out. You know I am starting to get a picture of who that was in my mind but still not clear. Something tells me he was a short little hellion back then and not one prone to getting the strap. Anyway not many fond memories of them so this fascination with a nun seemed out of place. But I was always one who believed that you couldn't paint everyone with the same brush and so there had to be good nuns just like there had to be good priests. Maybe I had found my first of one of these groups. And so, against my better judgement to never prostrate myself again under the almighty hand of the Catholic church, I signed up. And that is why I went to St. Joseph's Catholic High School. So now I will tell you a second story of a famous nun known as Sister Claire Gallagher.

Best bud Louis Charbonneau and I enjoyed few classes together so when we did we made the best of them. We were always coming up with unique ideas to get out of the usual boring proceedings and this was a favourite. Collectively the students, and Louie and I as their self appointed proxies, demanded that on this day and hour, each and every week, for as long as this class lasted, there would be a challenge laid in front of our proclaimed leader of academic knowledge. She, our teacher, Sister Claire Gallagher, a sister of St. Joseph, would be expected to give an accurate meaning to a word that we, Louie and I, as leaders of the oppressed students, picked from two pages of a grand and monstrous dictionary opened at a random point. Class would begin upon successfully completing the test. We, as High Clerics, solemnly carried the ancient tome of knowledge to the altar at the front of the room. There was a hush among those here to gain some small amount of her knowledge. They watched as the procession went by, aroused yet afraid of the knowledge it contained. Or it could have been just us. You know how girls are. We sat the old tome down on a special altar and each of us taking turns, with deep thought and meditation, we slid our fingers down the dry and weathered parchment to stop at one point. Here was knowledge to surely try a master. And so with much effort we opened the tome to the page. A huge cloud of dust bellowed forth as we blew away the ages. Eyes closed a finger was slowly run down the columns to stop at the one channelled to us in meditation. The master stood at the head of the assembled, calm, still, hands neatly clasped in front of her, her demeanour gave away nothing of the seriousness of this ritual. The word was loudly and clearly spoken to the master and for all to hear. There was total silence as the collective breath of the assembly was held awaiting the response. And shock went through them as the answer was returned quickly and precisely. There were hushed murmurs as all waited for the verdict that they already knew was coming for the master had answered with not just the meaning of the word, but its language of origin and its past, present and future tense. CORRECT, shouted the high clerics. And with the same solemn procession the tome was returned to it's resting place to await another day for "The Master's Test of the Tome of Knowledge". Upon their return to their seats the assembly would then proceed with the day's lesson. But wait, was she ever wrong you ask? Sadly yes, for she was as human as you or I, but wrong only in the sense that knowledge had been irretrievable at that moment in time. Knowledge is far more than correctly answering this question or that. I think that I am safe in saying that she has forgotten more than most will ever have the opportunity to learn. Where we might forget the meaning of a word of the five hundred words we think we know, she occasionally forgets the meaning of one of the five thousand she does know. The numbers are arbitrary and used only to show the vast difference in the size of the body of knowledge she was skilled in as opposed to ours. But what happens when she does fail? Does she have to answer another? Well remember that this was designed primarily to get us out of work but we also used it to see the scope of our teacher's abilities. We already knew her ability to see a waste of time and to nip it in the bud so as long as we kept it fresh and always of a benefit to all who witnessed it she'd let it slide. And don't think for an instant that her age or her vocation suggested a limited knowledge in certain areas. I recall coming to class late one day and she run, yes she could run, and a hell of a lot better than I and under most conditions, but that will have to wait for another time. She caught me before I entered the class and requested the reason for my absence. As I began my sad tale of woe she stood poised and balanced while adding the compassionate "Mmmm" here and an "U-hum" there and always managed to find a place for "yes" every now and again, and if she was feeling especially sarcastic that day she would throw in the occasional "tsk." When finished, if she allowed you to finish, and there was a definite time period only she knew that was ticking down in some part of her brain, she would be looking down at you despite her far shorter height, with those piercing eyes, not trying to decide whether or not you were telling the truth, she already knew that, she was determining how you were treating the situation and whether or not it required further inspection. I was definitely not ready for, "So you got stuck behind the 8 ball." How in the hell did she know I was playing pool let alone what that phrase meant? I knew better than to try to deny what she knew as fact for I would only end up looking more the fool with each sarcastic remark I forced her to use on me. And with every one of those my respect for her grew. Which just reminded me of something I had totally forgot. She seemed to have had some respect for me as well of which I had never been aware of. But why wouldn't she be as observant in judging someone's view of herself if she was so good at everything else? It was in the same class that Louie and I performed the dictionary ritual, that one particular day we were playing bumper cars with our desks. They were just the right height to lift the front of them up with our knees and walk them. This day we started walking them towards the front. I was in the first seat by the windows, another great story, and Louie was in the row next. As she wrote on the board sister would be talking but as soon as she heard the scraping of our desks she'd spring around to try and catch who was doing this. We would all be sitting there like angels. Then she'd turn back to the board and we were off again. At one point she had stopped turning around and we weren't sure if she was refusing to play or waiting like a cheetah to pounce on us when we least expected it. Either way Louie and I decided to make a run for it and we both headed straight for her as quietly and as quickly as we could. Louie managed to pull up right behind her and when she had finished she ended up sitting on his desk when she tried to turn around. He had to have been mere inches behind her. Well the look was enough to turn you to stone but she decided that a verbal reprimand was in order as well and she started in on him. Louie was coming up with all of these ridiculous excuses until he turned and pointing at me said it was my idea. Well that did it right there. She went on to tell him that all of his contrived excuses were fine by her but when he started trying to bring down one of her best students that was where she drew the line. I must have been looking at Louie with the same dumb expression as he was looking at me with as it was all we could do to control our laughter. And she still went on about sullying a good student's reputation with such lies. I can't remember but I think she may have even made him apologize to me. I couldn't help but feel bad. Which brings back another tale for another time. So what happened when she was incorrect? Well then it was our turn to think of something she had to do. We knew she had a set time for us wasting her time and she would not break it so it had to be a good idea not requiring too much time. Sometimes it was to recite a poem or sing a song but the one I remember most fondly was when we challenged her to dance for us. As soon as she agreed we added, on the desk. She stood for another little while trying to gauge us. We surprised her a bit but she never backed away from a fight but that's another story. We surprised her when Louie and I got up and he moved a good sturdy chair right up to the desk and I stood with my hand extended for her take for balance. Well she could not refuse courtesy of this calibre and so I took her books she had been holding and helped her step up onto the desk where she did a little impromptu dance. As unconcerned about what she was doing or who saw. My God, I thought on countless occasions, what would a stranger think if they looked in on us right at that moment? It didn't seem to worry her any. And with her dance finished and helped down from her stage she basked in the applause from an impressed and satisfied audience and then class began. And that just by accident knowledge that I learned about being one of her top students, I put to good use. As I walked in to an almost empty school this poor little adorable young girl was being interrogated by this mean, strict sounding and unforgiving nun infamously known as Sister Claire Gallagher. Not everyone knew the nature of the beast. Or the natural inner beauty of the best. This soft tender young thing was trembling when I put my hands on her soft shoulders. Her huge eyes looking up at me like some romantic scene right out of porno flick. Hey, gimme a break, I was still in high school after all. Sister told me what her crime was and I told Sister that I knew this girl well and find it hard to believe that she was capable of such a thing, and further more, if my judgement be marred and she still feels that punishment is warranted that I be allowed to suffer it for her. We had to wait as I was under severe scrutiny now but eventually, and grudgingly, she said that she would forget the whole matter, this time. If it should happen again then the consequences would be worse. I assured her that there would be no next time as I would see to her teaching personally. We were allowed to walk away but those eyes could be felt the entire time until we could cut out of sight. My maiden in distress was very grateful and much impressed with my heroic saving of her but I do not remember getting a night's, excuse me, a knight's reward. That could be a bothersome issue should I ever find her in distress again. For as much as doing good deeds by relieving damsels in distress delights me, I much prefer doing delightful deeds to good damsels relieving their stress.

In time there are a few more things I would like to add here as well as anything anyone else might like to contribute so check back every six months or so.

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