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

28 September, 2012


I was doing some work on a special project recently and was reminded of an era in Canadian history that is all but gone and forgotten.

The 1920s and 1930s were unquestionably the leanest and most difficult period of the 20th Century.  The country was still in the throes of getting back on its feet after World War 1 when it was plunged into more than a decade of The Great Depression.  No one escaped the devastating effects of the depressed "Dirty Thirties".  Unemployment was at an all time high and there was a general tightening of the belt at all levels of society.  People out of necessity learned to make do with very little, relying on thrift and resourcefulness for survival.
Many who lost their jobs in the 1930s, women included, were forced to leave their homes in search of a better life.  In most of the cases they felt like a burden to their families or felt ashamed because they had no jobs and no money.  As they drifted across the country, they relied heavily on the generosity of others for subsistence.  It became the era of the "hobo" (not to be confused with tramps, bums or yeggs).  Hobos were simply people who were down on their luck through no particular fault of their own.

As a youngster growing up in Southwestern Ontario in the late 1930s and early 40s, it was not unusual to see at least one or two hobos passing through my hometown of Dresden every day, carrying their worldly possessions in a sack flung over their shoulder.  Most of them "rode the rails" and would come into town on Pere Marquette freight cars, a dangerous mode of travel to say the least.

The Canadian Division of Pere Marquette included lines in Windsor and Sarnia via Dresden and Blenheim through to St. Thomas and (via trackage rights) east to Buffalo, so our hobo friends came from a wide area of the country and from both sides of the border.

One hot summer evening around supper time, we had a knock at our front door.  I saw the unfamiliar, dishevelled figure of a middle aged man on the other side of the screened door. "How can I help you?" ask my mother.  "I was wondering, lady, if you could spare a sandwich...I haven't had anything to eat since yesterday," came the reply.

My mother invited him to have a seat on our front porch, brought him a large glass of ice water and proceeded to fill a plate with hot roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy and vegetables -- exactly what we ourselves were going to have for supper that evening.  She finished off the handout with two pieces of bread and butter and a generous slice of lemon meuringe pie (there'd be no seconds for my dad that night).

In no time at all, our guest(?) was knocking on the door again with empty plates in hand.  "Thanks very much lady," he said.  "I feel just as good now as if I'd had a full course meal."

My mother was speechless, hardly knowing how to take the comment.  We sat silent as the man made his way down the sidewalk.  When he was out of hearing distance, we broke out in uncontrolable laughter over what was truly a lefthanded compliment.

From that day on, I never finished one of my mother's meals without saying, "Thank you very much lady...I feel just as good now as if I'd had a full course meal."  It became a family saying that did not go away with the passage of time.

I'd give anything today to be able to repeat that hobo's words just one more time.

24 September, 2012


I cannot believe that feminism continues to be a contentious issue a dozen years into the 21st century.

With all the talk of a “war on women” during this explosive election year south of the border, the notion of feminism is once again in the news – and open to debate, especially among women.  Nothing illustrates that better than the rash of commentary following the recent death of sexual-revolution era author Helen Gurley Brown, says Heather Huffman (, a 35-year-old author whose newest book, “Devil in Disguise,” continues her tradition of upbeat romances featuring strong female protagonists.

“Some writers took her to task for advocating sexual freedom for women,” Huffman says about Gurley Brown. “They say she wasn’t a ‘feminist’ because she was all for promiscuity, not women’s rights, and her actions led to an explosion of single moms and STDs. “Others viewed her as the ultimate ‘feminist,’ a heroine who chopped through a cultural thicket to break down repressive social mores.”  The truth is, Huffman contends, that Gurley Brown did important work on behalf of women.

“While I don’t advocate promiscuity, I do acknowledge that Gurley Brown’s boundary-pushing stance brought the topic of women’s rights to the forefront, paving the way for change,” she says. The problem is, she sugessts, that when people hear the word “feminist,” they picture a woman from another time, like Helen Gurley Brown. They don’t see themselves at all.

“I hear some women say, ‘I’m not a feminist!’ They think a feminist is a strident, angry man-hater who gets up in arms over any perceived slight,” Huffman adds. “That’s too bad, because the world needs feminists as much as it needs any group that advocates for human rights.”

Feminism changes with the times, she says. So what is a 21st century feminist? Huffman offers her observations:
She (or he) supports a woman’s right to be a mom – or not. When women won acceptance and equal rights in the workplace, they were released from one box and plopped right into another one. “We went from raising children to raising children and working. Too often, that’s the expectation now,” Huffman says. Feminists support a woman’s right to choose her life’s direction, whether that’s staying at home and being mothers, choosing never to become mothers, or some hybrid of work and motherhood. “Having equal rights is having the freedom to choose our life’s direction without being subjected to discrimination because of what other people expect our role to be,” Huffman says.
 Supports removing double standards. “You still see, in the workplace and at home, the tough guy gets praised, and the tough woman, well, she’s a ‘witch’ or worse,” Huffman says. More smart, savvy women have earned respect professionally and that’s progress, but we still have work to do. “Professional women still get criticized about their hair style, their fashion choices. Rarely are professional men snubbed for these things.”
Understands what rights are being legislated and by whom. We all know the hot-button “values” issues that polarize voters. “The reality is a politician’s party affiliation doesn’t paint an accurate picture of who they are or what they stand for. Voting records, corporate associations, and actions are much more telling. As citizens, as women with a voice, we must do our homework to ensure our values are being reflected. And, in truth, feminism is more than a political movement – it’s the empowerment of women to live the life they were created for.”
Heather Huffman is a women’s advocate, writer, former human relations specialist and mother of three. She and her family are currently homesteading 10 acres in the American Ozarks. She is the author of seven novels, including “Throwaway” and its prequel, “Tumbleweed.” A portion of proceeds from sales of her books benefit groups fighting human trafficking.

19 September, 2012


I have the distinct honor and pleasure of being asked to conduct a Memorial Service in Chatham on Saturday, Sept. 22, for the late Dorothy Jeanne (Elgie) Ellis, a native of Dresden, ON.

Mrs. Ellis passed away in her 97th year at Windsor Regional Hospital on Sunday, October 16, of last year.  She was the daughter of the late James and Mary Jane Elgie of Dresden.  She was the beloved wife of the late Clarence Alvin Ellis (1966) and mother of Roy and his wife Katherine of Kearny, Missouri; Lynda Ellis, Susan Ellis and husband Jim Pugsley, all of Windsor, and mother-in-law of Judith Ellis also of Windsor.  She was predeceased by a son Douglas, sister Charlotte Sanders and brothers Charles, Alfred and Allan Elgie.  Lovingly remembered by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The focus of the Memorial will be Mrs. Elgie's lifelong fondness for her formative years growing up in Dresden, 1915 to 1935.  By invitation only.

14 September, 2012


This is a story you won't read in your daily newspaper or see on television.  It deserves wider coverage.  The Canadian public needs to be aware.
For some First Nations people, memories bring back the reality of life...A life that was taken away from them in order to impose a new way of living.

Last weekend, Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) held two days of Truth and Reconciliation ... "Minjimendaamin" or "We Will Remember". The weekend was part of a national healing to recognize the sad legacy of residential schools throughout Canada.

Every red ribbon seen here represents a
residential school child of Saugeen and
Cape Crocker First Nations.

In the 1800s, the Canadian government thought it best that the country's aboriginal peoples be educated and assimilated into the European way of life and established schools that would do that by completely abolishing everything "native" in the children.  An aggressive assimilation program saw government agents remove children, aged four to 16, from their homes and taken to the new boarding schools.

Although federally operated by the Department of Indian Affairs, the schools were given over to churches for supervision. All native children were forced to attend.  They were given no choice.   In the beginning, approximately 1,100 students attended 69 schools but, by 1931, there were 80 schools in Canada and then, finally there were approximately 130.

Almost 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and M├ętis children were eventually taken from their homes.  Many experienced severe physical and sexual abuse. They were also forced to speak either English or French and, if caught speaking their first language they would be severely punished.  The children of residential schools lived away from home for 10 months of the year in below standard living conditions and, once they returned home, they no longer spoke their native language or understood family ways.

Siblings from the same family would be separated from each other by gender and students often became ashamed of their native heritage. Saugeen First Nations had 90 children removed by the government and taken to schools on the north shore of Lake Huron and to Manitoba. Some returned home, some did not -- they died at school. On Saturday, red ribbons for those children removed from Saugeen and Cape Croker homes were tied on cedar trees that will be planted in their memory.

The government has, over the years, worked with the Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches to design a plan to compensate the former students with a formal $1.9 billion compensation package being established.  As of April of this year, there were 75,800 cases with $1.55 billion paid out.

Acceptance of the CEP payment automatically releases the government and churches from any future liability relating to the residential schools, except in cases of severe sexual or physical abuse.  The two-day SON event featured many moving moments, including "honour drumming" and survivor stories by those brave enough to recount them.

Unfortunately, many survivors of residential schools still cannot talk about their experiences, let alone come out publicly to make an application for compensation.  In the end, what would the money buy them anyway and how long would it last?  Regretfully, no amount of money can ever buy back 
what was taken away.

Sad but true, I am convinced that the ill-advised government of the day actually thought that it was doing the right thing and what was in the best interests of the native children.  Lessons were learned the costly way. 

Talk about man's inhumanity to man...There has been far too much of it in the history of our country.  We certainly have nothing to be smug about as we continue to live and learn.
With thanks to the Saugeen Times

09 September, 2012


Ever since I passed myself off as a newspaper ad salesman in 1975 in order to attend a motivational seminar conducted by Zig Ziglar, I have been a fan of his.

"Zig" Hilary Hinton Ziglar is an amazing man. The 10th of 12 children, he was just six years old when his father died suddenly of a stroke. He began his career working as a salesman and transformed that career into a motivational speaking career with emphasis on Christian values.
Highly entertaining and with uplifting energy he remains a master story teller. He is now 86 years of age and still going strong.  His southern charm, common sense and sharp wit always come through in his stories that each offer great insights for a better life.

I recently picked up on a tape from one of his latest talks in which he used a hand water pump to illustrate what he termed "the story of life, the story of success."  Pumping vigorously on the pump, he empasized the need to prime it with a cup of water before ever expecting to get anything out of it.

"Just like in life, you've got to put something into it before you can get anything out of it," he added.  "If you pump long enough, hard enough and enthusiastically enough, eventually the reward will follow the effort and you will have more water than you can ever use.  Once that water starts to flow, all you have to do is keep a slow steady pumping action going in order to keep the water coming." he said. "The deeper the well, the sweeter, cooler and purer the water."

"We'll never know how many kids missed out on a scholarship because they did not study just 10 minutes more a day.  We'll never know how close we came to a promotion because we quit too soon.  We'll never know how much success we could have had if only we had pumped a little more."

He said there is a prevailing "reward me now and I'll produce later" line of thinking in society today.  "It just does not work that way.  You've got to put something in to get something out."

"Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly...until you can learn to do it well."

You have to think about that last line a bit but, as with everthing that comes out of Zig's mouth, it does make a lot of sense.

06 September, 2012


Peter Petrik lives just a few blocks from us on Grey Street South in Southampton.  In the summer months he is a regular on downtown streets with his pride and joy "Brindle", a Boston Bull Terrier.  Brindle, with her favorite red and white kerchief around her neck, rides majestically in the carrier of Peter's three-wheeled bike.  I simply could not resist sharing this photo.  I never get enough of watching Brindle.  She always makes my heart smile!  Thanks to the Saugeen Times.

03 September, 2012

Don't make this your "LAST" long weekend

It's Labor Day Weekend. The last long weekend of Summer.  Let's not make it the last long weekend, period.  Please be alert on the highways and biways, dear friends.

Labor Day weekend is one of the deadliest for drivers.

Since 60 per cent of people admit to driving while drowsy.  This is a major cause of accidents, so stay safe by having a good night's sleep before heading out on the road.  And of course, skip the booze, before you get behind the wheel.

This from Arrive Alive Canada:  "Writing to wish everyone a great safe, most awesome, last long weekend of summer. In the last long weekend of 2011 there were several serious, even fatal, crashes. This, despite the fact that everyone knows not to drink and drive! And we have been raising awareness to fight this cause since the late 1980’s.

"So...this long weekend, we are hoping for an empty-stretcher weekend with no injuries and no fatalities.  You are already helping us – but in case you need more ammunition to help us achieve our goal – here is some information to engage your followers and motivate them to plan ahead for a safe ride home and maybe stop a friend from driving impaired as well..."

One “over .08” drink drive charge and conviction (WITHOUT A CRASH) carries the following MINIMUM consequences:

Minimum (immediate) consequences for drivers when CHARGED with operating a vehicle with a BAC over .08, or refusing to provide a breath sample are: Immediate 90-day licence suspension. Immediate seven-day vehicle impoundment.

Minimum consequences for drivers upon CONVICTION of impaired driving; operating a vehicle with over .08 BAC; or refusing to provide a breath sample are:
  • Criminal Record
  • Minimum fine paid as part of federal consequences ($1,000)
  • One-year driver licence suspension (reducible to three months under certain circumstances)
  • One-year ignition interlock condition on reinstatement (“offender pay” about $1,350)
  • Back on Track program (alcohol assessment and education) (“offender pay” about $578)
  • Licence reinstatement fee ($150)
  • Increased insurance premiums ($5,000 annually x minimum three years = $15,000)
  • Legal costs (if retained; paid to your own legal counsel) ($2,000 - $10,000)
Repeat offenders face greater consequences and longer licence suspensions.  Impaired boaters face the same consequences as impaired drivers.

Note also that since May 1, 2009, Ontario toughened the consequences for driver with a BAC from .05 to .08. New consequences are licence suspensions from 3-30 days – the escalating sanctions include education and treatment and the six0-month ignition interlock condition (the occurrence is noted on your driving abstract).

Thankfully, most of us drive sober.  Certainly none of the above applies to any of my readers(?).  I'm just saying...