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

19 May, 2009


I am taking liberties by re-working slightly a poem forwarded to me by Dargan and Theresa Burns. The author of the original piece is uknown, but I would like to leave my version of it with readers of Wrights Lane as I take temporary leave to concentrate on several books that I need to get off to a publisher in the next couple of weeks.

I will still make periodic posts to this site, but not with the regularity of the past year for a while. More about "the books" at a later date. Meantime, continue dropping in to Wrights Lane when you have a spare moment. It's good to have you!

I have a circle of Internet friends
Who mean the world to me;
Some days I send and post to them,
At other times I let them be.
When in return I see a name download
And view the message they've sent,
I know they've thought of me that day
And good wishes were their intent.
I am so blessed to have these friends
With whom I've grown so close;
So this little poem I dedicate to them
Because to me they mean the most.
God bless!
Picked up in passing: "To all, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love."

13 May, 2009


We all know that kids will be kids. They always have been and they always will be. We all were kids at one time. Some of us still are kids to varying degrees and there is nothing wrong with that. As we mature, it is healthy for us to remain young at heart for as long as possible. In adulthood, we simply and wisely learn to temper our childish spontaneity and compulsive behavior.
As a kid, I had more than my share of spontaneity and compulsiveness and it often got me in trouble. In fact I did some things in my growing up years that leave me somewhat ashamed to this day.
My childhood misdeeds were by no means premeditated, rather they were generally the result of exuberance gone wrong or misdirected. An early example was an occurrence in the cloakroom of our Grade 4 class as students were returning from a visit to the school nurse who was giving needles for small pox on this particular day. Vera Bresett complained that her arm was sore, prompting me to say something to the effect that "it wasn't all that bad." If only I had left it at that, but to emphasize my point I had to give her a poke in the arm at exactly the spot where she had just been injected.
The poke was a little harder and more accurate than I intended, causing poor Vera to break out in tears. The teacher, of course, saw her crying and asked what was wrong. Long story short, the teacher gave me a strapping for unthinkingly inflicting unnecessary pain on Vera -- six whacks on each hand. I carry the shame of that incident to this day and still wonder whatever possessed me.
I didn't set out to victimize kids by the name of Bresett, but the next unfortunate victim of my impulsive behavior just happened to be Jim Bresett, Vera's cousin I believe. We were kibitzing around in the classroom and for some reason I happened to have a sharp object in my hand (can't for the life of me remember if it was a pin or a pen). As Jim walked away from me, I jokingly gave him a sudden jab in the bum with the (you guessed it) business end of the pointed weapon. Once again, I did not realize the force of my ill-advised prankish action. The resultant puncture wound was a source of discomfort for Jim for quite some time, particularly when he sat down, and I really do not think that he has ever forgiven me. Can't say as though I blame him.
Another time we had been dismissed early in the afternoon to take part in our public school's annual field day -- one of my favorite extra curricular activities. Buoyed by enthusiasm and lacking patience with the slow-moving line of kids on the school steps, I gave the girl in front of me a slight push. The unexpected forward progress caused her to miss a step and we both went tumbling forward.
Once again, a teacher appeared out of nowhere asking what had happened. The finger of course was pointed at me. Guilty as charged, I in turn accused my innocent friend Jim Ruttle of pushing me from behind. Without giving Jim a chance to defend himself, the teacher promptly ordered the two of us back to the classroom, saying "There'll be no field day for you boys today!"
From the confines of a stuffy classroom the shrieks of laughter and cheering in the school yard for the next three hours was almost too much to endure. I can only imagine what a falsely-accused Jim was thinking. Much to his credit, however, he did not seem to hold a grudge against me in later life.
There were other incidents back then when my exuberance backfired on me in one way or another. All I can say now to anyone who may have suffered from my youthful indiscretion, is: "I am truly sorry...Please forgive me!"
Golly, thinking back on it now, Grace Wright really did raise a rotten kid. Thank goodness George Rupert didn't get wind of any of it.
Oh well, there goes another pure image in exchange for the lifting of a 60-year weight.

10 May, 2009


It is incredible how the more I talk to people from my home town of Dresden who respond to Wrights Lane, the more names from the distant past tend to surface and memories of funny little personal stories come flooding back.

I wrote not long ago about Gary Fraser who now resides in sunny California. Gary got a kick out of my Memories of Dresden story about Dave McCracken, a town character back in the 1940s and 50s. It seems that when Gary's family moved to Dresden, they purchased a home that was previously owned by the McCrackens who had moved just across the street. Dave sometimes helped Gary's father, Harry, with chores around a horse barn on the property.

As Gary tells it, Dave was invited in to the Fraser home one day to see some of the renovations that had been made to his old family home. Once inside, Dave took a look around and exclaimed, "Yep, still looks pretty much the same!" Then pointing up the freshly painted staircase, he added: "The chickens used to roost up there."

Gary said he thought his mother was going to have a fit.

More recently a long-forgotten name came up in conversation with another resident of Dresden and it reminded me of a couple of incidents that impacted my young life at the time. George Rupert was a couple of years older than me and it seemed as though his mission in life was to be brutally frank with me.

With a very serious face and eyes that penetrated right through me, George would make great pronouncements. One day a bunch of us had gathered in a lot beside my friend Joe Carr's home. The conversation turned to baseball and George took it upon himself to tell me in no uncertain terms that Hubert McCorckle was a better pitcher than me. He added insult to injury by stating further that the only reason I made the town's bantam baseball team that summer was because my dad was the coach.

Sometimes comments like that can have a motivational influence. I don't know, but I've never forgotten the incident. The tone of George's voice and the earnest expression on his face, are as fresh in my mind as yesterday. Who knows, maybe George's evaluation was right! I honestly do not think that he was intentionally trying to be hurtful, he was simply giving me the benefit of his honest opinion.

Another time, shortly after my barber father had passed away, I had my hair cut for the first time by his barbering associate, Jim Ford. Poor old Jim was so upset and nervous when I climbed into his barber's chair that he gave me the worst hair cut of my life. In fact, he literally scalped me.

The next evening as I was riding my bike to a softball game at Jackson's Park, there was George again approaching me with that look in his eye. "Sally Wilmott used to like you, but now with your hair all cut off she says she likes Curly Clark better!" he announced, almost without breaking stride and leaving me speechless with a churning stomach.

I wore a cap for a few days after that. It took the better part of a month for my hair to grow back and for Sally to "like me" again. But I didn't hear anything more about it from George. I guess he wasn't in the good news business as far as I was concerned.

08 May, 2009


The author of the following poem is unknown but I publish it here because it has special significance for me, and others in my life, at this time.

True love is a sacred flame
That burns eternally,
And none can dim its special glow
Or change its destiny.
True love speaks in tender tones
And hears with gentle ear,
True love gives with open heart
And true love conquers fear.
True love makes no harsh demands
It neither rules or binds,
And true love holds with gentle hands
The heart that it entwines.
To which I add:
Sometimes true love takes work
And is worth fighting for,
But once you have it
You could ask for nothing more.
Cherish it always!

06 May, 2009


Canadian military historian once a soap box derby kid.
I am deeply indebted to Wanda Pellerin (Gray) of Dresden for sending me the above photograph of entrants in the Dresden Optimists Club Soap Box Derby of either 1948 or '49. Identified in the Windsor Star photo are (l to r) Peter Manderson, Larry Gray (Wanda's brother), Bill Foster, Jim Tricker and Bob Drlicka. The photograph will have a permanent home in my Memories of Dresden web site.
This also gives me an excellent opportunity to continue featuring on Wrights Lane, Dresden kids that I grew up with and who have gone on to interesting and successful careers. Larry Gray (second from left in soap box photo and above right as he is today) entered himself in the senior category of the Second Annual Dresden Soap Box Derby and his "Super Mouse" creation performed quite well, if memory serves me correctly. He worked very hard to make his soap box machine as sleek and aerodynamic as possible so that it would cut through the Dresden air with the least possible resistance as it sped down the Optimists Club's makeshift derby ramp.
Larry was a motivated sort of young lad growing up in a small community where everyone seemed like family. He is the son of the late Clark and Neva Gray. The family lived on Centre Street. A good student, he was particularly active in Boy Scouts and you just knew that some day he would take a leading role in his chosen vocation. That vocation just happened to be a lifetime commitment to the Canadian military.
Move the calendar ahead 60 years and Capt. Larry Francis Gray is a distinguished retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces. He served as a radio officer, air navigation and information officer before becoming the managing editor for the newspaper of the Canadian Army in Europe, known as The Beaver. He has also been a United Nations military observer and served as part of the Commonwealth Election Team in Zimbabwe in 1980.
After he retired from the RCAF with 24 years of service under his belt, he worked with the Royal Canadian Legion, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, and the Office of the National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman. Emblematic of his contribution to Canadian military affairs he received the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation, the Queen's Jubilee Medal, the United Nations Peacekeeping Medal and the Canadian Forces Decoration.
As an author Larry has published a number of articles on World War One in Esprit de Corps magazine and, with the encouragement of his school teacher wife, has written two books on the war dead from his current home in Carleton Place. His first literary effort in a "Faces and Names" project was entitled We Are the Dead followed by Fathers, Brothers and Sons that gave life to the young men who followed their Great War veteran family members into World War Two.
It is Larry's wish that his published work will interest young Canadians in their long-neglected military history and with any luck contribute to renewed national pride. He became interested in battlefields and war cemeteries during a posting to Germany and in 1986 he developed and led a Legion tour of young people to military sites and cemeteries for the dead of both world wars.
He continues to live in Carleton Place and Stanley Bridge, PEI, with his wife of 50 years, Gloria. His interest in the personal, human aspect of soldiers stories has not waned.
You did extremely well for yourself Larry. Scouter George Brooker and Capt. Frank Brown would be proud of you...So would your mom, Neva.

05 May, 2009


The manager of the Walker House in Southampton has a weird sense of humor. By offering "free beer during all Maple Leafs playoff games", he really knows how to rub it in to die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fans. Considering the Leafs did not make the NHL playoffs again this year, all I can say is "Thanks for nothing, Mr. Smart Alec!" Just wait until next year though!

04 May, 2009


Rosanne has taken her malaprops to a new level. She has entered the realm of sayings and expressions in recent days.

Commenting on a professional athlete who is engaged in a long-standing common-law relationship, she stated: "He's not going to open the barn door when the cow is free!" I think you can figure out the two or three expressions that she was confusing.

The other day our dog Lucy was giving me extra licks for no apparent reason. "You certainly know what side your bacon is rubbed on, Lucy!" Rosanne said with a knowing laugh. Come to think about it, what do dogs know about buttered bread anyway? They're all about bacon treats and belly rubs. Makes perfect sense to me.

Presto! Just like that, two new expressions are born. Rest assured I'll find ways to keep them alive.