Thursday, June 30, 2022

Notes from a Brat: Hockey of All Sorts

Canadian Forces Base Borden's roads are made for road hockey. They are relatively quiet. Elm Street was my hockey arena every bit as much as the base's two ice rinks, Dyte Hall and Andy Anderson Arena. On that short stretch of roadway there were "wicked" slap shots, scintillating saves, spectacular goals, balls screaming down its length, injuries, impassioned conflict, and lots and loads of fun.

Our road hockey season stretched as long as was rational, or sane. Like kids from all over, inside and outside the borders of CFB Borden, when spring came, certainly the warm weather, we traded-in the hockey sticks and pucks/balls for tennis balls and rackets, baseball bats and mitts. This transition never sat well with me, so one year I decided to resist even more than usual. The prime component of this grand resistance was to create something new: "Grass Hockey." My new found skills made my hockey-stick-armed friends take to the grass in the same way that baseball-mitted kids take to the grass.

We dragged the game of hockey out to an extreme length; one so long that we must have touched the start of the next road hockey season: September.

The houses on Elm Street are gone, having been razed a few years ago, as were their surrounding brothers and sisters on School Street and Hemlock Crescent, but the roads and grassy fields are still there:

Ghosts of all-season hockey-loving kids play to the calls of Echoplexed trumpets....

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Notes from a Brat: The Gas Mask

The family station wagon was unlocked. My friend Glen and I noticed my dad's gas mask sitting in the back. I'd never seen it before, perhaps for a good reason. It was too tempting. A beautiful summer's day demanded I take some risks.

CFB Borden, known as "Camp Boredom" to us dependents, was my home town for six years, but CFB Trenton it was not, the main hub for Transport Command. In lieu of C-130 Hercules and Boeing 707 transport aircraft, Borden offered lots of tennis courts, baseball diamonds, football pitches, two dynamic movie theatres, great "woods", and an awesome "dunes". Meaning: always something to do.

But donning a special piece of military equipment took precedence at the moment.

Suggesting that Glen dared me to try on the gas mask would be exaggerating. This sometimes mischievous kid decided to play the part.

Over my head I pulled the mask. And off it came!

Wearing it was too much to bear all at once. Hearing my own amplified breathing, and looking through thick glass lenses at my smiling friend was disorienting to this then eleven or twelve year old. This was not a normal get-up.

I find it odd that I didn't just take a deep breath and try it again.

By the way, my sister did basic training with the Canadian Armed Forces. Her gas mask story is much better than mine.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Notes from a Brat: Bunkers and the Rounds

I arrived in West Germany in October of 1966 when the war, WW2, was just two decades in the past. Because of this handy fact there were lots of 'residual matter' left lying around from that great conflict. Bunkers were common in the area I lived ― about a mile from the French border and the dividing, and all-important bulkhead, Rhine River ― for they were part of the defence of Nazi Germany. Courtesy of many years of warm and cold weather back-and-forth action, expended shell casings and unfired rounds of ammunition would constantly pop to the surface ready for us little ones to collect. These weapons of war were great and much desired collectibles. ("Hockey cards? Ha!") However, as part of our education at home and at school our superiors made it clear that we were never to touch, never mind collect, those potent pieces of history.

One could still find reminding-bits of warfare in the local bunkers, of which an example sat in a field very close to where I lived in Iffezheim. I admit that I did at least once go right up to the bunker but did not try to climb around inside as it was by then a collapsed structure. (One of my most vivid memories is of something I saw while travelling on an RCAF bus in the late 1960s; out my window, as the trees parted, was a sight to behold: a field of anti-tank traps. The scene of light-grey-toned pyramids spread orderly over the green grass was almost beautiful.)

One day on the CFB Baden-Soellingen Elementary School grounds a fellow schoolmate pulled out a large clear plastic bag to show off to our small gathered circle. In this conveniently transparent bag, one which could have been used to contain a few ounces of water and a small calibre goldfish, was a large assortment of small and medium calibre ammunition. There was a mix of fully intact rounds and empty shell casings. A veritable grab-bag of violence.

That's all....

Monday, June 27, 2022

Poem: The Cobbler's Cat

It's the Cobbler's Cat
for this the
pet's got the
nicest shoes
makin' for the
finest moves

a twist in tail
the 'tude of
a Street Dude
this furry feline
don't get no

that's what's
Cobbler's Cat


Simon St. Laurent

A Forever Question: A Tale on Me

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Why is that lipstick on my collar discoloured?

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Notes from a Brat: The Church of Me

RCAF Station Baden-Soellingen (retitled "CFB Baden-Soellingen" in 1968), in then West Germany, had two cute little churches parked side by side near the end of a street: houses of two denominations, Catholic and Protestant; directly opposite was the base's hospital; and at the end of the street, watching, stood the fire hall with its fire engines and crash-tenders.

When I was five and six years old my dad would take me to the RC place on Sunday mornings. I remember sitting enraptured by the sermons, specifically by their extraordinary length, especially to this then child, and by what I perceived to be utter emptiness. (It's possible I knew that some things in those sermons made little sense but had yet to hurl the word "emptiness" to describe them.)

One day, a moment I remember well, I said to my dad something in a way as to avoid any misinterpretation: "Dad, I don't wanna go to church anymore."

My dad's reaction: Laughter. The kind aimed towards the heavens when one realizes that his six-year-old is figuring things out fast. And setting firm his own well-considered belief system.

The base is now an airport. Baden-Airpark.

Monday, June 20, 2022

A Forever Question: Add Salt

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Have all years passed been safely archived in an underground vault?

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Father's Day 2022

H.W. St. Laurent, RCAF / CAF

Friday, June 17, 2022

Reading: The Vinyl Detective - Victory Disc (Cartmel)

I've read two books in the standout "Vinyl Detective" series ― of which there are six. Author Andrew Cartmel knows how to tell and resolve a mystery in a believable fashion, which means this reader has been pulled in and entertained each time.

As I spin book number three, Victory Disc, my affection for the series' regular characters grows. We've all known someone like Jordon Tinkler, and many of us have been guardians, or staff, to fabulous felines such as Turk and Fanny. It's this sense of the familiar that is making my journey through English charity shops and small town streets and alleyways all the more fun. (A certain beer keg waterfront roll is brilliant.)

How it all starts: After Fanny (who else?) discovers a rare "Victory Disc" in an old audio speaker cabinet, our phonograph record-preserving heroes, the Vinyl Detective and his girl Nevada, are swept into a story of big band music and a World War II-era murder mystery. (You see, cats are not useless, even if their digging might put you in some danger.)

There is that Cartmel humour, which helps keep any darkness at bay....

"But, she didn't return. Staring into her empty room the next morning Nevada said, 'You don't suppose she and Tinkler...' 

'Stranger things have happened.' "

Postscript: I've reviewed the first two books in the "Vinyl Detective" series, Written in Dead Wax and The Run-Out Groove.

Monday, June 13, 2022

A Grimm Tale: The King's Depths

Introduction: The following piece I wrote on October 6th, 2020, but after completing it, and just before pressing the "upload" button, it struck me as being in bad taste given what little we knew about U.S. President Donald Trump's overall condition at that time. By December 30th of that year, I decided it was okay to post "The King's Depths" given that he seemed to be over his malady. With Mr Trump now back in the headline news, due to the House select committee's public hearings into the January 6th, 2021, attack on the Capitol, I feel it's time to give the piece another spin....

U.S. President Donald J. Trump was admitted to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Friday, not after already being tested and confirmed as COVID-19 positive, but after feeling unwell throughout the night. He was advised to seek serious medical treatment, immediately. The president has long downplayed the severity of the virus, and has ignored the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans. Deaths but a little inconvenient: for him, and for the people who've died. Yesterday he exited Walter Reed and took a joy ride in his armoured vehicle to show his faithful, who stood outside with their banners of support and reaffirmation, that the king had beaten the unseen and not-real plague.

Later in the day Trump went home triumphantly to the White House and waved with laboured breath to the crowd. All was good again in the Great Kingdom.

If this were a Brothers Grimm story, how might it end? Most of us would not wish something like this on Mr Trump, but, given his mean nature toward his fellow man and woman, one can have fun with a fanciful tale....

"King Trump, while dining late one night on food fit for kings, felt a great disturbance in his belly and breast, a rumbling of which he recalled from days and nights before. He sweated all over, and he gasped for life. His minions rushed him to the town's physicians, who, with armour and tools, battled for him through the night, only to lose the king of kings in the darkness.

His faithful villagers did not fret for long at the sight of their immobile once-proud King. They ate him all up."

Postscript: I understand this tale is even darker in the original German.

A Forever Question: Get One?

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Where did you hide life?

Monday, June 6, 2022

Artwork: The Opposing Goal

What does a Leafs forward see?... an open net. What happens?... not much.

A Forever Question: Tool

“Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question."

Sir. Can one file taxes?

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Picturing: Ontario Votes 22 (Native Canadian Centre)

Now, how is it that I am able to vote for my favourite political party when we are living in a "dictatorship"? That's right: they; don't; know.

Poor bastards!

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Poem: Hey June, Don't Make Me Mad

June has arrived knocking at my door
before I've finished cooking....

(The year has been speeding with us stuck in traffic
gassed from fast food dripping sauce over our laps,
down our legs,
and into our dancing shoes.)

... June will eat Macaroni Cheese Dinner from a paper plate
― not formed out of fibre but pressed out of paper.

Can I drink wine from coned copier paper?

It'll have to do, for that's the kind of year it's able to.

Hey June,

You can start to make it better.


Simon St. Laurent

Book: Filmed in Supermarionation (La Rivière)

Filmed in Supermarionation
- The Story of the Pioneering Team that Launched Thunderbirds -

Stephen La Rivière

Century 22