Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

28 November, 2008


Jesus went about doing good,
or did he do good "in a boat"?
I included the above scan of two antique Sunday School cards in my new Perry Family web site this week. The cards, and several others, were left to me by my Great Aunt Lizzie Perry. She received the cards at Sunday School in 1858 when she was six years of age, so they are prized possessions.
A couple of years ago I used the cards as the subject of a Children's Story presentation during a church service that I was conducting. Truth be known, I have always had reservations about Children's Story time as part of an adult worship service....Nine times out of 10 the minister's best efforts go right over the children's heads, so why bore the kids any more than necessary and let them escape to their Sunday School classes where teachers have lessons and exercises prepared for them.
Anyway, I thought the first two verses of the "Mother Telling Sunday Stories" card on the right might just grab the children's attention on this particular Sunday because it speaks of a time that was so different from today.
God made the day of rest
The holy Sabbath day,
For us to think and talk of Him,
And not for work or play.
I'll put away my toys
Safely the night before,
And Sundays I'll be very still,
Till Monday comes once more...
I drew a parallel for the kids, explaining that "the Sabbath" as a day of rest was no doubt the way it was for their grandparents when they grew up but that things have changed today. Rules about our activities on Sundays have been relaxed considerably, perhaps to a point where there are no rules. I stressed, however, that one thing that has not changed is that "we come to Sunday School to learn about the Bible and how we might copy the good things that Jesus did for the world."
I left my spell-bound (?) young listeners with a little story about my four-year-old cousin Curtis and his first exposure to Sunday School. Naturally, it was a completely new world for Curtis and he tried very hard to listen to everything the teacher said.
When Sunday School was over his anxious mother Norma was waiting outside for him. "What did you learn in Sunday School? she asked. "Oh, about Jesus in a boat," was young Curt's surprise answer.
"Jesus in a boat? Are you sure? his mother questioned further. "Yeah," he said, handing his Sunday School card of the day over to his mom. "See, Jesus in a boat doing good."
Curtis couldn't read of course and it sure sounded to him like the teacher said "Jesus in a boat..." His mother waited until they got home to explain that the teacher had actually said: "Jesus went about doing good," just as it said on the card and in the Bible..
I reasoned to the sober, wide-eyed faces starring up at me that it really did not matter if Jesus "went about" or if he was "in a boat". The message was the thing..."doing good!" After all Jesus walked on water and he instructed the fishermen to re-cast their nets, so why wouldn't he minister from a boat?
In retrospect, I kind of like Curtis' interpretation better.
My concluding prayer with the children went something like this:
"Thank you Lord for loving us and giving us Jesus.
Thank you also for giving us Sunday School.
Bless our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles
who look after us and make us feel safe.
We pray in the name of Jesus who 'went in a boat doing good'. Amen."

27 November, 2008


Story of commitment, work and love

It never stops!...I have set up another blog site featuring the Perry family, the other branch in my family tree. Those who are interested may visit The Perrys: My Other Half at I think that has my family background pretty well covered now. But I`m not promising anything.

26 November, 2008


I continue to receive interesting responses from equally interesting people who feel moved to comment on our Memories of Dresden web site. It is encouraging to realize that we may have struck a chord of sorts with this reflective piece of work.

Brian Tricker of Barrie was referred to the site by his cousin who still lives in Dresden. In an email Brian expressed amazement with my reference to taking trumpet lessons from his father Gordon in 1949-50. He was ony a tyke at the time but he shared with me some memories of his own from that period. He said that his father Gordon passed away in 2005 and that his mother is currently in a nursing home in Barrie. In a reply email I mentioned his grandfather, Walter Ticker, who was the resident paint and wallpaper merchant in Dresden for years and Brian kindly forwarded a wonderful photo of his grandfather (circa 1945) standing in front of his shop. Needless to say, I have added the photo and a special reference to Walter on the Dresden site.

My close relationship to the Sharpe family of Dresden resulted in a fruitful exchange with Rev. Ryk Brown of Hamilton, himself a family historian and genealogist. Ryk, minister of the Aldershot Presbyterian Church, is married to the former Heather Sharp. He was so interested in my references to taking singing lessons from Heather's great grandmother May Sharpe and buying Orange Crush and playing the pinball machine at her great grandfather Ern Sharpe's gas station, that he has added them with credits to his data base and web site forum. He too, sent me some excellent photos of Ern and May's family from the 1920s and I was able to provide in exchange a photo of my uncle Harold Sharpe (Ern's brother) as well as a photo of Alex Cuthbert (May's brother) taken from a baseball team picture, circa 1910.

Ted Misslebrook was also referred to the Memories of Dresden site by a neighbor friend and was thoughtful enough to email some complimentary comments after spending his entire afternoon perusing the contents. Ted and his partner Gordon Claws (both now retired) started up the Dresden Leader newspaper in the 1960s and he and his wife are now in the process of establishing their own web site reflecting on the early days of establishing a small town weekly.

I am so relieved to know that I am not the only one inflicted with the nostalgia bug. It's a small, small world afterall. Kind of makes you feel good inside!

22 November, 2008


I have added another blog to this site "I Was a Figure Skating Dad..." which features a story I wrote in 1970 about my experiences as a first-year figure skating father. I ran across the clipping in my constant search for forgotten gems and it brought back many fond memories, so I thought I'd share the story once again with readers of Wrights Lane. In the accompanying photo I made adjustments to daughter Debbie's "Fairy" wings in preparation for her Figure Skating Carnival debut at the St. Thomas-Elgin Memorial Arena.
To access the NEW site, just click the following

14 November, 2008


Everything else goes on hold
When I started construction of an en suite bathroom addition to our house in August, 2007, I thought no problem...a month on footing, framing, siding and roofing and another month on inside insulation, drywall, flooring, tiling, plumbing and electrical and I will have the job finished by Thanksgiving at the outside.
Boy, was I ever wrong! I'm still at it 14 months later, with a long way to go. Now I'm thinking that Christmas 2008 would be a realistic goal for finishing the project, providing I rearrange priorities starting immediately.
Of course I have a few excuses like complications with the town planning department, a fussy building inspector and a long wait for installation of rough-in plumbing. I must confess, however, that the start up of my blog site this summer and far too much time spent at the computer keyboard in the interim, has been largely responsible for the situation that now looms large in my life.
Rosanne is getting antsy and has finally issued an edict: "Either finish the job, or hire someone to do it!" Understandably, she wants our bedroom back. For the past 10 months it has served as a workshop/warehouse (see top photo). Naturally
my pride will not allow me to hire someone so I have had to make a painful decision -- no more computer and Wrights Lane for the next week with every available minute spent working on the long overdue bathroom (see photo at right.)
I'll keep you advised of my progress and will certainly announce "the big flush" -- hopefully by Christmas.

12 November, 2008


When someone might care

Travis Tritt pretty much gets it right when he sings convincingly: "Here's a quarter, call someone who cares..."

I've been thinking a lot about the expression "who cares?" in recent days. Why do I write some of things that appear on this blog and elsewhere? Why do I assume so much? Who cares?

Why do I get so exercised at times -- angry, discouraged, inspired, excited, intense, emotional, sympathetic, nostalgic? Why do I expose myself and my vulnerabilities, often as a means to an end? Why do I search for rationale and reasoning?

I mean, really...Who cares? Why bother? After all, who am I?

I came across a poem this morning written by a 12-year-old boy by the name of Rae. My first impulse was to say, this kid was me 60 years ago, in fact he is pretty much me as I am today. Then I got to his last two lines and I realized that he had snuck one in on me. To be sure, a lesson that I was not expecting. See what you think.

Get up, get dressed
Wash your face
Think you're a disgrace
Go to school, bite your lip
Say to yourself, "I'm OK",
But you know you feel the same
Low down. Hurt. Confused.
Waiting for answers, day after day,
Not knowing what I'll say.
Am I going home or am I staying?
What are they saying?
Time's ticking, you just don't know.
Months pass, things are said
Tears are shed
But you don't give up
There still might be luck.
-- Rae, 12
Out of the mouth of a babe! "You don't give up." You keep coming back because of a natural, in-bred trust in hope. There is always the possibility of good fortune, or a blessing of some sort, just around the next corner.
Tomorrow there just might be someone who cares. Someone who can relate. And you know what? More often than not, someone does. That's why I do what I do!
Thanks for reminding me of that, Rae.

07 November, 2008


Bobby overcame odds all his life.
. .
When he was born with more than his fair share of health defects, doctors suggested to his mother that she should just put him in a home, walk away and forget about him. His mother refused to give in to the doom and gloom predictions and slowly but surely the little guy responded to her steadfast love and tender nurturing.
They said he would never walk, but he did.
They said he would never talk, but he did. Oh boy, did he talk!
He just did things a month or two later than most children.
He grew into an energetic, gregarious bundle of joy for his mother and everyone who came in contact with him. Granted, he had health problems -- mother and son beating a well-worn path to doctors and specialists at Sick Children's Hospital and Crippled Kids in Toronto -- but that did not slow him down a bit, any more than the hearing aids he was required to wear and troublesome unannounced epileptic seizures that increased in frequency as time wore on. "On our way home from hospital each time I would just hold him tight, so thankful that he was not as bad as the other kids that we had seen there," comments Rosanne in reflection.
Bob loved Superman, Spiderman, hockey, soccer and McDonalds hamburgers. His two-wheeler bike was his prized possession. One day he was gone from the apartment for an extended period and when he finally rushed through the door, his face beet red and sweat dripping from his face, his anxious mother asked, "Bob, what have you been doing?"
"I was doing wheelies (on his bike) in the parking lot, mom," was his matter of fact reply.

Living close to the Bramalea City Centre in Brampton, he frequented the mall with his friends after school. Clerks in almost every store knew him by name, likewise he was everyone's buddy in the apartment building where he and his mother lived. It was like he was his own goodwill ambassador. His mom would meet people she did not know in the elevator and in the hallways and invariably they would respond to her by saying, "Oh, you're Bobby's mother."
Always happy and with a big smile on his face, Bob never knew hate, anger or bigotry. He was unspoiled and innocent. He was his mother's son.

He was integrated into the public school system, played floor hockey, minor soccer and was a member of the Wolf Cubs...All normal and natural activities for a young pre-teen lad in the 1970s. He was the apple of his grandparents' eye and he looked forward to frequent visits with his Uncle John, Auntie Jane and their three sons, Paul, Ryan and Sean.
As a single mother, Rosanne made sacrifices almost daily in order to provide the necessities of life for a growing son. When there was not enough food in the home, she did not eat so that Bob could, peanut butter sandwiches being a staple. She slept lightly at night so she could respond quickly should he cry out. Bob always came first. She never tired. In truth, they needed each other. Two peas in a pod.
Sadly, health complications mounted for Bob in his early teens and out of necessity he spent the balance of his life in an extended care environment, removed for the most part from the mother who refused to give up on him at birth and with whom he had an everlasting bond. For those who loved him, the past 20 years are a blur -- private and not to dwell on.
Bob passed away recently, 14 days shy of his 40th birthday. If there is a deck of cards in Heaven, he is sure to be playing a hand at this very moment with his beloved Gzi Gzi (Ukrainian for grandfather) while a dauting Baba (grandmother) sits nearby offering encouragement, as she always did.
Rosanne meantime, smiles through tears as she repeatedly replays the precious first 14 years of her Bobby's life. He brought joy then, and he brings joy now.
Rest well young man. Rest well!

04 November, 2008


It is with sadness that I ask readers of Wrights Lane to offer a prayer for Rosanne as she mourns the recent death of her son Robert John Webb, 39, at the Dufferin Oaks Nursing Home in Orangeville.
It is not supposed to happen this way.

Out of respect, The "Word" According to Rosanne has been suspended from this site. It won't be fun any more!


01 November, 2008


She's skating with the best in women's hockey
Congratulations to "almost kissing cousin" Mallory Johnston who is skating with the world's best in the elite Canadian Women's Hockey League this year. The seven-team CWHL is stocked with players from the Canadian Olympic and National teams and cream-of-the-crop graduates from American university hockey. The CWHL is the female equivalent of the National Hockey League and is the only professionally-run women's hockey league in the world.

Teams in the premier womens league consist of Mallory's Burlington Barracudas, Brampton Canadette Thunder, Ottawa Senators, Mississauga Chiefs, Vaughn Flames, Quebec Phoenix and Montreal Stars.

One of Mallory's teammates on the Barracudas' defensive corps is Becky Keller, a 33-year-old mother of two who is a senior stalwart with the Canadian womens national hockey team. Mal says that after a couple of games she is finding the CWHL "competitive but a little more relaxed" than playing in the Eastern College Athletic Conference in the U.S.A. where she was a star performer with Colgate University Raiders for three seasons.
At Colgate she quickly became a steady contributor to the Raiders blueline and was assistant captain of the team in her last two seasons. Possessor of a hard, accurate shot, she was particularly adept on the powerplay and scored a number of game-winning goals. Upon graduation this past spring, she was awarded the Marian LeFevre Memorial Coach's Award which was indicative of the coaching staff's appreciation for her performance and overall contribution to the team.
Mallory will go down in Raiders' records as having scored one of the fastest goals in Colgate's Division 1 history, against nationally ranked Mercyhurst, just 30 seconds into the second period.
Before collecting her athletic scholarship to Colgate, Mallory played for the Bluewater Junior Hawks team which won the Intermediate AA Provincial Championship in 2003-04. Previously she played for the London Junior Stangs and the Chatham Bantam Outlaws.
She is currently living in Hamilton and hoping to find employment that will allow her to remain active in hockey with the Barracudas. Her major at Colgate was biology but she is prepared to be flexible in exploring options. Her proud parents, Dr. Curtis and Jennifer Johnston of Chatham, meantime, fully expect to see a lot of their daughter during the hockey season, what with normal magnets such as laundry facilities and a full refrigerator to pull a 22-year-old athlete home between games when the need calls for it.
Mallory comes by her athletic ability naturally. Her dad Curt was a pretty fair Junior goaltender in his hometown of Dresden and he still swings a mean golf club on courses in the Chatham area. Her late grandmother Norma Johnston, a Dresden Sports Hall of Fame inductee, was a well-rounded high school athlete and standout softball player and oraganizer/coach of minor girls softball for a number of years.

Though Hell should bar the way, I have vowed to get to at least one of Mallory's games this season. I have yet to see her play.

31 October, 2008


Can anyone identify these two before-and-after Halloween "trick or treaters" in 1968?
Clue #1: They're sisters.
Clue #2: I'm their dad.

28 October, 2008


Capital for a lifetime...and beyond

CHARACTER, as defined in Webster's New World Dictionary: "a distinctive trait, quality or attribute; an individual's pattern of behavior or personality; moral constitution; moral strength; self-discipline, fortitude; reputation."

If I were asked today what is the most important investment that a young person can make as they enter adulthood and venture into the real world of making a living, I would have to say that character is capital that should be established early and invested in often. Character, regarded as capital, brings a much surer yield of returns than any other form of investment in life. It is unaffected by panics and failures, fruitful when all other investments lie dormant and has as much promise in the present life as in that which is to come.

Benjamin Franklin attributed his success in the public eye, not to his talents or his communications skills, but to his known integrity of character. "Hence, it was," he said, "that I had so much weight with my fellow citizens. I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my point." There is no disputing that character creates confidence in every station of life and Franklin was a good example of that.

The higher walks of life are treacherous and dangerous; the lower ever full of obstacles and impediments. We can only be secure in either, by maintaining those principles which are just, praiseworthy and pure, and which inspire bravery in ourselves and confidence in others. When Stephen of Coloma fell into the hands of his base assailants, and they asked him, in derision, "Where is now your Fortress?" He boldly replied "here", placing his hand over his heart.

Strength of character, then, consists of two things -- power of will and power of self-restraint requiring for existence strong feelings and a strong command over them. Someone once said that deportment, honesty and a desire to do right carried out in practice, are to human character what truth, reverence and love are to religion, and I believe that to be true.

Oh sure, there are bound to be detractors and those who scoff at one's high standards of character, but it is not as much in their affected revulsion as it is in their wish to reduce them to the standards of their own degraded natures and vitiated passions.
That character is power is true in a much higher sense than the contention that knowledge is power. Mind without heart, intelligence without conduct, cleverness without goodness, are powers in one sense, but they are detrimental powers that lead without exception to failure and undoing.

Yes indeed, young people, investing early and often in your character as defined in the dictionary, is not only wise but essential. It is capital that costs nothing to accumulate. It pays huge dividends throughout your life...And you can take it with you when you go.

Hold fast to your capital -- your investments in character and principles. The biggest mistake anyone could make would be to compromise their capital by cashing in even a small portion of it. The long-term cost implications are just too great.
After completing the above post, I stumbled across some famous quotations on the importance of "character" that pretty much substantiate my thesis. Horace Greeley, a 19th century newspaper editor, once wrote: "Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, and only character endures." Then in about the same time period Thomas Babington MacCaulay came up with this gem: "The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out."
And back even further in ancient times the Greek philosophers were waxing eloquent on the merits of character. Heraclitus said: "A man's character is his fate" and ever the dramatist, Euripides proclaimed: "Character is a stamp of good repute on a person." But it was good old Aristotle who best summed it all up with: "Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a person chooses and avoids. A good character carries with it the highest power of causing a thing to be believed."

Our latest in The "Word" According to Rosanne...

Lifting her empty wine class she announced: "My drink has evacuated (evaporated)!"
Trying to be helpful in proof reading what I have written: "Dick, you are disposing (transposing) your letters."

26 October, 2008


...We're not guaranteed the future and the past is gone forever. Now is the only moment that exists, so make the most of it!
Latest Rosanneisms:
-- "I'm having revelations (reservations) about going."
-- "This problem is exastrabating (exasperating) me."
...Had a nice note this past week from another old Dresden acquaintance who had learned about my "The Dresden I Remember" site. Dargan Burns is a lifetime resident of Dresden and pretty much has his finger on the pulse of the community. Darg recalls working for the Dresden Times in the 1950s when my mother would come in on Wednesdays to help assemble and fold the paper for distribution. He spent the first half of his career in newspaper production but when he finally realized he could not continue to make a living in the business he wisely went back to school (Teachers College) and became a teacher. He has been retired for quite a few years and built a new home for he and Theresa in 2005. He's pretty handy with a hammer and saw.

25 October, 2008


I sometimes get caught up in mind games that are a complete waste of time. Take the last 40 minutes for instance. I've been running nicknames through my mind, prompted I guess by a recent obsession with my hometown of Dresden, the nickname capital of the world, where virtually everyone has a moniker of some sort. The more I thought about these stupid nicknames, the more I realized that many of them can be linked in an odd sort of way.

For instance, for every Bull there is a Moose, every Lefty has a Righty, every Skunk is Stinky and Nip and Tuck are tailored for each other. See what I mean. Kind of catching isn't it?

Sparky and Flash just seem to go together naturally and Peewee and Tiny are virtual twins while on the other hand Skinny and Fatty are opposites. For a while I was really fixed on Hammer and Tools but Gunner and Shooter gave me the aim to pick up Sandy and Rocky in my sites and a Cutter being used to Hack a tree that was too Woody. My appetite for the exercise began to improve with Spud and Tater, then I had to go and spoil it all with Poop and Scoop.

I was really on a role with Wheels and Spinner and Boots and Kicker seemed to go together, especially if you're playing soccer. You simply can't have a King without a Queen nor Hands without Fingers. If you're Sleepy you're bound to be a little Dopey and every Digger needs a Spade. Baldy and Curly are at the opposite ends of the follicular spectrum but there's little difference between Smasher and Basher. I couldn't bite into Gummer until I found myself chewing with Toother.

I tried especially hard to keep it all in the family (Rodent, that is) with Mouse and Squirrel and I always kind of felt sorry for Wart and Hog. It is a Bummer when someone shoots the Bull but Grinny and Smiley always put me in a good mood and I would be remiss if I were to Skip old Hoppy.

Beans and Toots gave me just enough gas for a couple more but I had to Stretch to come up with Tippy and Toes, probably because I was about to bog down after Mud and Dirt. So, in conclusion, I pose this nagging question: "Is it true that every Buck is Horny?"

As silly as it is, these are all legitimate nicknames to which I can attach proper names and real faces. Now let's get on with more serious thinking -- like the state of the economy...On second thought, I'd rather stay with nicknames.

P.S.: This item is dedicated to two good friends, Brownie and Blackie.

21 October, 2008


Had a good chat with Jarvis Cook in Dresden about his 18-year-old identical twin nephews who are showing amazing promise in baseball. The boys were featured in my last post, see item below. Not wanting to jinx young Matt and Justin we, nevertheless, could not help but wonder just how many twins have actually made it all the way to the major leagues.
At the time of our conversation, neither Jarv nor I could come up with any names -- it seems that we both have failing memories (memory being the second thing to go when you get to be our age).
A follow up search of The Baseball Encyclopedia and the unique Twinstuff web site revealed that there have actually been nine sets of twins that have advanced to "The Big Time" of baseball. The first set was Bill and George Hunter who played from 1909 to 1912. George played two years for Brooklyn in 1909 and 1910 while Bill only played one season, in 1912 with Cleveland. The next three played roughly at the same time, in what might be termed "The Golden Era of Twins Baseball". They were Joe and Red Shannon, Bubber and Claude Jonnard and Ray and Roy Grimes.
The Shannons were the first set of twins to play for the same team -- the Boston Braves in 1915. Joe only played that single season for Boston, but Red had a longer and more successful career playing an additional six seasons for four more teams. The Shannons were a position player/pitcher combination. Bubber, a catcher, made it to the bigs first, playing for Chicago Sox in 1820 and four teams total in a six-year career. Claude, the pitcher, was one of the more successful twins ever to play major league baseball and specialized as a relief pitcher in a six-year career that began with the New York Giants in 1921.

The Grimes both began their careers in 1920. Roy played one season for the Giants, but Ray fared a little better, playing a total of six seasons as a power-hitting first baseman. Coincidentally, Ray was a teammate of Bubber Jonnard with the Philadelphia Phillies, marking the only time in MLB history that two different sets of twins played together on the same team.
Thirty years later, we see perhaps the most famous set of baseball-playing twins, Eddie and Johnny O'Brien. The O'Briens are well known because they played most of their careers together in Pittsburgh and also because of their versatility as utility players. Both began their careers in 1953 and played through to 1959.
Skipping ahead yet another generation, there are two more sets of twins who had brief careers in the 1980s, Marshall and Mike Edwards and Stan and Stew Cliburn. Mike had a couple of successful seasons with Oakland, but made it to the big leagues first with Pittsburg in 1977, moving over to the As the next season. Marshall, like his brother, was more of a speedster, playing three mostly unspectacular seasons with Milwaukee from 1981 to 1983. They also had a younger brother, Dave, who played five seasons in the majors. The Cliburns played for the California Angels, Stan as a first baseman for one season in 1980 and Stew as a pitcher for three seasons.
The next twin pairing was the controversial super star Jose Canseco and his lesser-known brother Ozzie. Jose played 17 well-pubicized seasons in the majors for seven different teams, all in the American Leauge. He retired following the 2001 season with 462 career home runs, 22nd on the all-time list of home run hitters. Ozzie made it to the big leauges for three brief periods -- in 1990 with Oakland As where he played with his bother, and in '92 and '93 with St. Louis Cardinals. There might have been an excuse for the others, but how could we possibly forget the Cansecos?
The newest set of twins on the list are Damon and Ryan Minor. The Minors were mirror-image twins, both standing 6'7", and were outstanding basketball prospects as well as baseball players. Damon, a first baseman, played for the San Francisco Giants, 2000-2004, and Ryan played for Baltimore Orioles, 1998-2000, before ending his career with Montreal Expos in 2001. Ryan will be forever known as the man who replaced Cal Ripken in the lineup at 3rd base for the Orioles when Ripken's consecutive game streak of 2,632 ended during the 1999 season.

How's that for a bit of baseball trivia?

18 October, 2008


It's in the genes for gifted Dresden twins
Matt Cook (left) and Justin Cook (right), 18, are stars of the Windsor Midget Selects, provincial and state baseball champions. They are the sons of Robin and Lori Cook of Dresden and grandsons of the late Gerald "Elmer" Cook, a one time Dresden baseball standout. In a new insert to my "The Dresden I Remember" site I mention Elmer (also known affectionately as Cookie) and two other senior players who paid special attention to me when I was an admiring kid hanging around the baseball diamond in Dresden. Matt and Justin's uncle Jarvis Cook, himself a pretty fair baseball player in his day, is also a life-long friend of mine. Us Dresden guys have to stick together, especially when we have something like the talent of Justin and Matt to celebrate.
The six-foot-two, 200 lb. twins attend my old Alma mater, Lambton Kent District High School in Dresden, and are literally head and shoulders above most fellow students, including in their athletic and academic standing as well. It is on the baseball field, however, that they have earned rave reviews this past summer, leading the Windsor Midget Selects to an amazing 53-10-1 record in national and international competition.
Justin and Matt, not too surprisingly like their grandfather, are pitchers, each recording 11 wins this season and posting earned run averages well below 2.00. They also carry potent bats and lofty batting averages. In 162 at bats, Justin finished with a .370 batting average while Matt hit the ball at a respectable .304 clip in 168 at bats.
When it was not their turn in the pitching rotation, manager Richard Soloman had a ready spot for the boys in his regular lineup -- Justin at third base and Matt at first base. Matt pitched a five-hitter in the Selects' 5-1 victory over Toronto Mets in the final game of the Ontario Baseball Association "AAA" Midget Championship tournament and Justin emerged as the top hitter in the six-game series with a .471 average at the plate.
Adding further laurels to their outstanding season, the Selects went undefeated (5-0) in the highly touted State Championships at Eastern Michigan University, crushing Michigan Renegades 9-4 in the final game.
The Selects organization, in drawing top midget age players from Windsor, Tecumseh, Chatham and Dresden, provides a wonderful opportunity for elite 18-and-under athletes in the area to try out for a program that provides professional quality training, coaching and competition that is not available in smaller communities.
As if the baseball honors were not enough, the talented twins also laid claim to just about every high school award worth claiming during the last school term, topped off by the LKDHS Most Outstanding Male Athlete '08 award for Justin who was also MVP captain of the senior boys basketball and volleyball teams, and the Coach's Choice Award '08 for Matt. Both honor role students, Matt was a Silver Award winner and recipient of the Allsion DeBruyne Memorial Award while Justin received a Bronze Medal.
Wisely, the boys are back at high school this Fall picking up a few extra credits. They intend to put priority on their educations and will wait to see what options develop for them in the next few years.
Meantime, this is an amazing story and it stands to get even more amazing as the boys develop and follow their destinies.
Somehow or other, I have a feeling that we'll be hearing a lot more about the Cook twins of Dresden in the not too distant future. The Major Leagues beckon...Can you imagine the media in the states jumping all over this one? You read it here first, however!
Grandpa Gerald would be proud. I know uncle Jarv sure as heck is.

14 October, 2008


Equals a world in total chaos

I want to play devil's advocate on the subject of everlasting spirit for just a moment.

If we truly perish with the body and there is no such thing as immortality, then our whole system of laws, manners and usages on which society is founded, is nothing more than an impostor. The maxims of charity, patience, justice, honor, gratitude and friendship, which sages have taught over the centuries and which we ourselves practice, would be nothing but empty words possessing no real and binding efficacy. Why then would we heed them?

And if we were to dismiss the notion of eternal life, what would become of tender family ties -- wife, husband, parent, sister, brother or friend? How absurd it would be to honor that which has no existence. How frivolous it would be to concern ourselves for those whose end, like our own, must soon be annihilation.

In truth, however, if we were to accept the sway of reason eternally espoused by nonbelievers the whole world, as we know it, would fall back into a frightful chaos:

  • all the relations of life would be confounded;
  • all the ideas of vice and virtue would reverse;
  • the most inviolable laws of society would vanish;
  • all moral discipline would perish;
  • the government of nations would no longer have the cement to hold them together;
  • harmony of the body politic would become discord;
  • the human race would be no more than an assemblage of barbarians.

Such would be the world if belief in God and immortality were to die out of the human heart.

The external life of mankind is the creature of time and circumstance, and passes away, but the internal abides and continues to exist. Spirit triumphs over form. That is the basis of everything we hold sacred and everything that makes the world what it is today.

Just a few passing thoughts...Need I write more?

10 October, 2008


Site brings back memories and friends

As I pause to consider the things that I am thankful for this weekend I will be adding a new item to the list -- you, the reader of Wrights Lane and its associated sites.

In the three short months that I have been producing this blog there have been more than 400 views, or hits, on my profile alone. Profile views are generally of a one-time nature. Repeat viewers generally bypass the profile because if you've seen it once there is no need to see it again. So you can multiply those 400-plus profile views at least four or five times to get a feeling for current overall viewership, far beyond my fondest expectations.

Particularly gratifying has been reconnecting with old friends in my hometown of Dresden through the Father and Son Turn Back the Clock and Championship Baseball sites. Linda Weese helped get the ball rolling by linking me with her site. Since then I have had direct contact with Donna and Terry Martin, Donna and Keith Babcock, Jarvis Cook and Betty Smith, all of Dresden. Ida Strong of St. Thomas, a former Dresden resident, was one of the first to respond and eventually contributed photographs of her great grandfather's blacksmith shop for Dresden reflections. Bob Peters, way out in British Columbia, is a regular viewer and has passed the site on to other former Dresdenites in B.C. -- Jim Bresett and Homer Smith. Bob's mother in Chatham, hale and hearty at 97-years-of-age, amazingly keeps up to date with us via her computer.

I reconnected recently with old school chum Jim Ruttle of Lambeth and his wife Isabel over lunch in Goderich and have ongoing contact Bruce Huff in London (he of the Sports Hall of Fame) and Danny Burns of Mississauga, a recent contributor to Wrights Lane.
So it is for the aforementioned folks, other friends and site followers, and members of my family that I will be giving special thanks.

Thanksgiving traditions sadly missed
On the subject of Thanksgiving, I feel that it is a shame that this occasion originally intended to give special recognition of all we receive, has been diminished by the changing social fabric in Canada. Traditional Thanksgiving observances and prayers have been rendered almost irrelevant for many families. We've let it happen. There is no one else to blame. We should not lose tradition this easily. Let's try to revive some of it.
Allow me to take liberties with the words of Edgar A. Guest in recalling the way it used to be, and still should be for us today.
It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell
Upon the days of bygone years, the days I loved so well;
But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know
A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago,
When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,
The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,
With mother running in and out and laughing all the while.
It may be I'm old-fashioned, but it seems to me today
We're too much bent on having fun to take the time to pray;
Each little family grows up with fashions of its own;
It lives within a world itself and wants to be alone.
It has its special pleasures, its circle, too, of friends;
There are no get-together days; each one his journey wends,
Pursuing what he likes the best in his particular way,
Letting others do the same upon Thanksgiving Day.
I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad
To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;
The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin,
And whether living far or near they all came trooping in.
Gathering round the fireside, how fast the hours would fly--
Seemed before we'd settled down 'twas time to say good-bye.
Those were glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew
When relatives could still be friends and all our hearts were true.
May you share some of that with your loved ones this weekend.

08 October, 2008


...She's in an league by herself

A couple of items ago I introduced a new "feature" for this site -- The Word According to Rosanne. I referred to my wife Rosanne as being a serious female Norm Crosby, the King of Malaprop.

Norm, of course, is famous for the use of twisted phrases in his comedy act. His version of "He had panache", for instance, came out as "He had pistachio." He often talked about drinking "decapitated" coffee. Now compare that to the Rosanneisms listed two items down and you will see what I mean. Before giving you the benefit of a few more of Rosanne's latest classic utterances, I think it behooves me to explain a little about the unfamiliar term "malapropism".

A malapropism (from French mal propos) is an incorrect usage of a word, usually with comic effect. The word comes from the name Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy, The Rivals (1775), whose name was in turn derived from the existing English word malapropos which means

"inappropriately". Here are some examples from Mrs. Malaprop's dialogue:

-- "He's as headstrong as an allegory (alligator) on the banks of the Nile.
-- "He is the very pineapple (pinnacle) of politeness."
-- "If I reprehend (apprehend) anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular (vernacular) tongue, and a nice derangement (arrangement) of epitaphs (epithets).

Several prominent knowledge bases. however, suggest that it might be more appropriate to call such confusions "Dogberryisms" after Sergeant Dogberry in William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, who was making them almost two centuries earlier, for example:

-- "Companions are odorous (odious)."
-- "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended (apprehended) two auspicious (suspicious) persons."

Now back to our favorite Rosanneisms.

-- The other day she she referred to a situation as being "disconcerning". She meant disconcerting -- of course.
-- "I can't stand concentration." In this instance she was responding to something that had upset her and it was "consternation" that she was experiencing.
-- "The layout of that house is kind of foreboding." I thought "here comes another good one" and asked "what do you mean by foreboding?" "I don't know," she said. "It's like, eerie and claustrophobic." Pretty close on that one sweetheart. However, it may not qualify as a true Rosanneism.

-- On the need to purchase Kleenex. "We've exhorted (exhausted) our supply."
-- "Are you going to have your soul food (seafood) tonight?" quickly recognizing her malapropism by asking: "What's it called?"
-- "The only player that I know on the Maple Leafs this year is Joseph Curtis." Meaning veteran goaltender Curtis Joseph.

I'll let you saviour those few for now. Lots more to follow.

I don't know, but I'll stack Rosanne up against Norm Crosby, Mrs. Malaprop and Sergeant Dogberry any day of the week. Ya gotta love her!

06 October, 2008


Trifles worthy of a little study

I have always been fascinated by the value of small or little things in life and hold to the conviction that "small things mean a lot". It is interesting how small things can have huge impacts. Also, can you truthfully think of anything that is not made up of small parts?

Think of the "parts" in our bodies for instance, and coral rock that is the work of tiny insects; the number of peas in a peck; the number of pennies in a dollar; stars in the universe; rain drops in a storm; grains of sand on a beach; blades of grass in a lawn; notes in a song; words in a book; people in a crowd -- we could go on forever. If you really want to blow your mind, just start thinking in terms of molecules and atoms.

Little things, too, can affect us physically like the tiny nerve of a tooth that can sometimes drive us to distraction or any one of thousands of microscopic germs that can make us deathly ill. Think of the poor elephant that is driven absolutely mad by a tiny speck of a mosquito.

Moments are the golden sands of time. Every day is a little life and our whole life is but a day repeated. A word, a look, a frown are all little things, but they can have powerful impact for good and evil.

There is no denying that little acts are the elements of true greatness. They raise life's value, like little figures over the larger ones in arithmetic, to its higher power. Small things in youth accumulate into character in age and destiny in eternity. A novelist who writes a book must do it sentence by sentence. A student of science must master it fact by fact and principle by principle.

Happiness in life is made up of little courtesies, little kindnesses, pleasant words, genial smiles, self-assuring touches, hugs, good wishes and good deeds, acts of charity. It is by studying small things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible in journying through life.

It is the little things that, in aggregate, make up the whole of whatever is great. That is what fascinates me so much because little things are all I have to offer the world, and maybe that is not so bad after all.

03 October, 2008


"Remembering" a special someone

Some time ago I invited readers of Wrights Lane to pass along items of interest or messages that had particular meaning for them. An old friend, Danny Burns of Mississauga, recently did just that. Danny's forward was in the form of a brief "thought piece" sent to him by another friend who had been so moved as to give it further circulation. The touching message was obviously written by a hospital emergency ward nurse with the caveat: "Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain." Her story follows.

"It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 o'clock.

"I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before a doctor would be able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, his thumb was well healed, so I talked to one of the duty doctors, got the needed supplies to remove the sutures and redress the wound.

"As I was taking care of him, I asked if he had another doctor's appointment that morning, as he was obviously in a hurry. He told me "no", but that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health.

"He told me that she had been in the nursing home for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease. As we talked further, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late and he replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in the past five years.

"I was surprised and asked "...And you still go every morning even though she doesn't know who you are?" He smiled and as he patted my hand he replied: "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is."

"I had to hold back tears as he left. I had goose bumps on my arm and thought 'That is the kind of love I want in my life.'

"True love is neither physical nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be."

25 September, 2008


Ordering: A trilogy sandwich
I am introducing a new periodic feature for this site today: The "Word" According to Rosanne. I may end up paying a heavy price, but I simply cannot resist sharing with readers what I have come to call "Rosanneisms".

My wife Rosanne is a female Bill Crosby (King of comedic malaprop), only she does not intentionally try to be funny with her word twists. She is extremely self expressive, spontaneous and serious about what she says. It's just that the words do not always come out right and even she is at a loss sometimes to know why, i.e. she loves "custody" (custard) tarts.

She keeps me in stitches and I tread a very fine line in offering corrections because she is priceless and I do not want to make her self-conscious, and in the process spoil her.
I should have had the foresight to make a list of some of the hilarious things she has said over the years and it was only yesterday that I finally started to document some of them. Here are a few Rosanneisms in the last 24 hours.

"We never open our moon roof." A reference to the fact that we never open the sun roof on our car. In correcting her I pointed out that "it's a sun roof and that's as different as night and day." Sometimes my responses are pretty good too.

"He's an excellent sneaker." Commenting on a baseball player who is a good base stealer.

"I'd like a mad cow." A request for her favorite drink -- a mudslide.

"I've got a perpendicular problem." A self diagnosis of some stomach discomfort she was experiencing.

"OK, I want the whole trilogy." Her enthusiastic response to my suggestion that I might make her a club sandwich for lunch. "Whole trilogy," I asked? "Yes, you know -- bacon, turkey and cheddar cheese" was the matter-of-fact explanation. It took a moment, but that one actually made sense.

Come to think about it, with trilogy sandwiches, custody tarts and mad cows, it is no wonder that she has a perpendicular problem.

Anyway, stay tuned. There'll be lots more.

23 September, 2008


Mothers, daughters carried the tradition for 100 years

The Catherine McVean Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire has played a prominent role in the life of my hometown, Dresden, for the past 100 years. In the photo to the left, IODE members are front and centre for the Remembrance Day service, November 11, 1956. My mother Grace can be seen standing to the left of the kilted honor guard in the centre of the photo. The pin in the photo below belonged to my grandmother Harriet Perry who was a member of the organization from 1914 to 1940. At right, Catherine McVean Chapter President Sandra Thompson signs a Certificate of Appreciation in Recognition of Outstanding Support which was presented to my mother, January 28, 1993, along with a special pin signifying her 60 years of membership. My cousin Norma Johnston served as Municipal Regent of the IODE in the 1970s and her mother Harriet Sharp (my Aunt) was also a lifetime member.


A new entry to my Dresden: Father and Son Turn Back the Clock site references the IODE placing crosses at the entrance to the Dresden Cemetery in 1925 and again in 1946 in memory of local boys who paid the supreme sacrifice in two world wars. The feature includes photos, one of which shows a neighbor lad, Roy Dusten, holding me as an infant a year or two before he was killed over Germany as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

I mention "war" a lot in my reflections because it was the era in which I grew up and, regardless of our generation, we should not "forget" the reason we enjoy freedom in our society today.

But, back to the IODE which was founded in 1900 by a Margaret Polson Murray of Montreal, who envisioned an organization of women devoted to encouraging imperialism. Beginning with an educational mandate promoting Britain and British institutions through schools, it became actively involved in both world wars by supporting Canada's effort on behalf of Britain and its allies. IODE chapters are now made up of women from many walks of life with a common interest in volunteering their time to improve the quality of life for children, youth and those in need, through educational, social service and citizenship programs.

Although membership has declined, IODE still has 8,000 members in 400 chapters, raising $2 million in 2007 for equipment, furnishings, hospitals, nursing homes, crisis centres, women's shelters and homes for youth. Close to another $million went to scholarships and bursaries across Canada last year.

Long live members of the IODE and the wonderful work that they do. I am honored to have had firsthand exposure to these benevolent, strong women of action.

20 September, 2008


...Don't get me started on the subject!

Some wise guy once said: "You're only as old as you feel". I mean, duuuuuuh. Thanks a lot!
For some unknown reason Leonard Cohen's "My friends are gone my hair is grey, I ache in places where I used to play..." resonates deep within me as I start this piece. It is no doubt one of my mood flavors of the day. Hopefully, this too shall pass, but let's have some fun with it while it lasts.
--I was recently reminded of a girl, one year older than me, on whom I had a major crush when I was about 15 or 16. Of course when you are a teenager, one year can make a big difference. Conventional wisdom told me that she was "too old" to be interested in me. Funny thing, now I would be "too old" for her, if you know what I mean. The reality of that cruel life reversal bugs the heck out of me.

--They say that, like old wine, you only improve with age. Tell that to my wife.

--I feel pretty much as good as I used to...It only hurts when I attempt to do something.

--Why is it that I can remember things that happened 60 years ago but I can't remember things that happened six minutes ago?

--I used to get by on two or three hours of sleep a night, now that's a nap.

--"What, me go there and have some old fogey come up and ask me to dance?" A terse comment by my then 85-year-old mother when encouraged to attend some social dances put on by the local Senior Citizens Club. I should have bottled some of that Dresden water she was drinking back then. I could sure use some about now.

--Why is it that I can't stop thinking about old friends as they used to be, rather than the way they are now?

--Why is it that most of my friends are looking old when I have hardly changed a bit?
--Why is it that when I think of my parents they are always about 30 years younger than my current age?

--Why is it that my arms seem to be getting shorter.

--Why is it that I'll walk a mile to avoid going up stairs.

--Why is it they don't make men's sizes in belts and trousers any more.

--Why is it that everybody on the road seems to be driving faster than me, yet a certain passenger seat driver constantly reminds me to "slow down"?

--Why is it that in the world of antiques, things that are worn, tattered and faded are sought out and coveted yet in the world of human beings, nursing homes have so few visitors?

--I used to pride myself in being the second coming of Sir Walter Raleigh. Why is it that young women now insist on opening doors for me and carrying my parcels? Why is it that I gladly let them do it?

--I empathize with the television commercial for a well-known bank that features two old codgers sitting on a downtown bench. Looking at people coming in and out of a bank branch, one complains to the other: "What's wrong with the way it used to be? You'd get to the bank -- and it was closed!"

You're only as old as you feel? Give me a break. Why try to kid anyone? I'll settle for feeling as old as I am. When I woke up this morning I was still breathing. I was surrounded by love. My dog gave me a lick and then rolled over for her customary belly rub. The sun was shining. I had several exciting projects to complete, one of them was called "life".

My cup runneth over. Any more and it would be a waste. I enjoy what I have (left).

Anyway, gotta go now. Geritol and a nap await, which ever comes first.