Kingston Canadian Film Festival 2019

We expect a film to entertain. But what a bonus when it also provokes discussion or reflection or teaches us something.

In the past four days I have seen seven of the 17+ films presented at 2019 Kingston Canadian Film Festival. Every one of them intrigued me and taught me in some unique way.

I will give one brief comment about each. I recommend them all if you find them later in theatres, on Netflix or Crave or on iTunes. T

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes This wonderful film combined themes of wildlife conservation, resiliency, feminism, racism and reward as it celebrates an exceptional Canadian – Anne Innis Dagg. I will write more about this film soon. Stay tuned.

Who is Bruce Kaufman I have known Bruce for 20 years and watched him blossom (there must be a more accurate but less poetic term) into a leader, mentor and enabler in the Kingston writing/arts community. Very Kingston film celebrating artists who work in both visual and written genres. The black and white film images of traveling through Kingston gave me a while different view of familiar streets. So much so that I shot a little black and white Facebook post of City Hall last night. The film left its impression on me quickly.

Hugh Hefner’s After Dark : Speaking out in Americ I loved seeing clips from the 60’s with people like Joan Baez and Sammy Davis Junior and Pete Seger. We usually associate Hefner with Playboy centrefolds but this points to another side of his influence to open public discussion about climate change and politics and racism, not easy to do on TV back in the day. It made me feel somewhat sad to think that entertainers and athletes were warning about the same things back then that apply now but we seem to be, if anything, slipping backward.

Anthropocene The theme was centred on how humans are changing the earth – much of it not for better. It wasn’t preachy but presented a sometimes stunningly beautiful visual depiction of natural and geological sites where we are altering the planet in . Not much said in the film but lots to ruminate on while we watch this unfolding around the globe. This film is available on iTunes now but would be much better appreciated on a big screen. The images are incredible

1991 Thank goodness for this film to add some levity to the day I saw the previous two. I booked this film at the last minute and am so glad that I did. What fun it was to watch. It is in French, English and Italian but subtitled when necessary. It was easy to follow (the trailer is all in French and I was afraid that although I have some basic French knowledge, I would miss the subtlety and jokes but that was definitely NOT the case.) I enjoyed all the Italian settings and the interactions between friends and family and strangers.

The Grizzlies Every Canadian should see this film. Full stop. It will be in theatres in mid April and I will remind you again then (and go to see it again myself). Mulling over how much this film hit me and will likely write more about it later when I have had time to digest.

Go-Boy Kingston is a penitentiary town so this locally produced film about a bank robber, Roger Caron, who also became a notorious escapee from numerous prisons was popular. Lots of history about Kingston Penitentiary and the archival footage of this fellow talking to schools and on Front Page Challenge, showed him to have a great sense of humour and real charm despite his sketchy past. He actually won the Governor General’s literary award for non-fiction in 1978 for his book, written while he was incarcerated, also called Go-Boy.

Congratulations and thank you to Mark and Megan and all the other folks involved with organizing and implementing this very successful festival. It is absolutely wonderful to see such a robust and varied collection of Canadian films. I am looking forward to next year’s KCFF already.

Please leave a comment or “review” if you saw one of these films or any others that you enjoyed at the 2019 KCFF.

Making Rosemary Focaccia

This is a little change of pace for my blog. By now you will realize that my posts tend to be an eclectic mix.

This recipe for rosemary focaccia is just too good not to share. If you have a cast iron pan it is the perfect cooking pan. If not, you can always use a heavy cake pan.

In the youtube video below I will walk you step by step through the recipe. Easy, inexpensive and delicious.

Prego. Bellissimo.

I will walk you through this recipe which is simple and delicious. It would even be a good recipe for kids to make.

Here are the written instructions.

Rosemary Focaccia in the Cast Iron Skillet

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and put the skillet into the oven to warm.

In 3/4 cup warm water dissolve 1/2 tsp sugar.  Add 1 1/2 tsp yeast and let it work for about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup flour and 3/4 tsp salt and mix it up. I use a wooden spoon to do this.

Add 2 TBSP olive oil and fresh rosemary or dried rosemary (or any combination of that) and mix until combined. I crumble up a couple of large pinches of dried rosemary and then snip in fresh rosemary to taste.

Add another 3/4 cup flour (approximate) and stir it until the dough starts to come away from the bowl. Flour your fingers and draw it away from the bowl sides.

Take the skillet out of the oven (use oven mitts as the handle will be hot) and turn the oven OFF. Grease the skillet with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and spread the dough evenly into the pan. Cover the pan and dough with a tea towel and put the pan back into the oven for 20-30 minutes.

While the dough is rising, make the topping using 2 TBSP olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, one or two cloves of chopped garlic and some more fresh or dried rosemary. The flavours will blend while the dough is rising in the warm oven.


When the dough has had a chance to rise, remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven up to 400 degrees F.  Brush the dough with the olive oil/garlic/salt/ Rosemary mix and sprinkle with coarse sea salt .

Bake for 20 minutes in the 400 degree oven.. 

Cool on a rack.

Top with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.

Total prep time is about 10 minutes, rising time 20 minutes and cooking time 20 minutes.

Life imitating art. Or is it the other way around?

I got an unexpected and sad reply from a friend in Africa when I sent him a birthday greeting this weekend. And it all resonated particularly harshly because of the theatre piece I saw last night. 

Tobias is the Beach Management Unit Chairman at the Kamin Oningo beach on Lake Victoria, a small fishing community in Kenya where I have visited several times.Through The CanAssist African Relief Trust we have been able to build up a small school there. The school, in fact, is named after my Dad as is one of the kids in the community!

Tobias responded to my cheery birthday note with the sad news of the death of two relatively young people in the village.  

Now I will take one step back.

Last night, I attended the Theatre Kingston performance of What a Young Wife Ought to Know.   The show was really well produced and there were some very funny and intimate moments. The general theme was a tough one, however.  It centred on the desperation of young women in Canada in the early 1900’s to limit their family size .  Living in relative poverty put them at increased health risk and they were simply not able to care for either themselves or their children adequately.   Their family planning choices were limited and sometimes the only choice was abstinence, a solution that strained their marriages. Desperate attempts to terminate the pregnancy were life-threatening and distressing. The show was dramatic and intense and personal and, for us in Canada now, it was “historical”.

Well in some parts of the world it is not history. 

One of the deaths at Kamin Oningo was a 35 year old woman who already had four kids and who delivered the fifth two weeks ago.  She must have been anemic during the pregnancy or, like many there, had some post-partum bleeding that was not fully addressed.  Like many African mothers, there really was no time to recuperate and she had to take up the usual household tasks immediately.  Apparently she had been given some iron tablets for the severe anemia  but she collapsed on Saturday and died at home.  Three of the older kids go to the SP Geddes school from pre-school age to grade 2. The husband, a fisherman with a meagre and unreliable income, is left with this young family. 

So this news drove home the message of the play even more (not that it needed any more driving home).  It was not that long ago that this conundrum was being played out in Ottawa.  It still is a concern in Africa and with people I know there. And women die. Less than two years ago, another young mother that I know died with a post-partum hemorrhage.  The baby survived but without a mother. 

The other fellow who passed away in the community this week, a 32 year old fisherman with three young children, died of what sounds to me like an Upper Gi Bleed.  Here, he would likely have had access to the medical care to prevent or manage this.  In Kamin Oningo there is no medical care in close proximity and most people can not afford transport to the nearest facilities that can deal with this or the meagre fees that are charged for health services.  So they leave it too late.  

Tobias has reached out to his friends for financial help so the families can achieve  release of the bodies of these two community members from the mortuary and to help to provide a funeral and burial for them.  I struggle to imagine what it is like to lose your wife, have a newborn baby at home and four other children and not have enough money to retrieve the body from the mortuary. Of course, the families will also be distraught by the deaths and suffer even more financially.

If anyone feels they want to reach out in support, I will be pleased to receive any donations and forward them directly to Africa where they will be used in support of these two bereaved families.  Even $10 will help.   An online transfer is best (john.a.geddes@gmail.com) or give me ten bucks when you see me next.  I promise that every cent will reach this community and the grieving families.

(This is not a CanAssist request, by the way, but a personal one from me.)

I would also recommend you seeing What a Young Wife Ought to Know at the Baby Grand – playing from now until February 16. And when you see it, realize what many women/families around the world are still going through and how it is not that long ago that this was the situation here in Canada.

The Kamin Oningo fishing community is suffering this week more than usual.

Tracing my footsteps through 2018

My iPhone tells me that in 2018 I took over 4,900,000 steps with it in my pocket. We averaged 8.7 kilometers every day in 16 different countries. My phone and I also took hundreds of photos as we made that trek though the year together.

Here is just one photo from each of those countries.

Longboat Key, Florida, U.S.A.

Amalfi, Italy

Rotterdam, Holland

Copenhagen, Denmark

St Petersburg, Russia

Helsinki, Finland

Stockholm, Sweden

Brussels, Belgium

Berlin, Germany

Tallinn, Estonia

Baridi, Kona, Kenya

Maputo, Mozambique

Costa Maya, Mexico

Roatan, Honduras

Santo Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala

Magog, Quebec, Canada

Distressing news about a former student

One of the great many pleasures that I have had in the past 15 years has been my association with the Canadian Field Studies in Africa programme, run by McGill University.   Through my ten year association with this field study group in Africa I had the opportunity to meet and get to know many vibrant, bright, motivated and responsible young folks who were both curious and concerned about international needs and the environment.

Several of these students still connect with me from time to time and I have enjoyed seeing many of them when they pass through Kingston.  A large proportion of them have gone on to become involved in international work and many have taken responsible positions in the health care sector.  It was through my association with this group that I was motivated to start the CanAssist African Relief Trust in 2008.

I happened to spend several weeks in the company of the 2008 CFSIA cohort as well and that year’s cohort of students stands out in my memory as I had lots of time to get to know them.

This week I learned that one of these remarkable young folks, Niloufar Bayani, a native Iranian who was studying at McGill, had gone back to her home country, Iran, a couple of years ago.  She was working for the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, an organization that “focuses on public awareness campaigns in tandem with projects that can save endangered species and protect the fragile ecosystems” in Iran.  In January of this year, along with seven of her co-workers, she was arrested on charges of “espionage”.  She has been in an Irani jail since that time without access to legal counsel other than what the state provides.   One of the group died mysteriously in February while incarcerated.

Earlier this month the charges against this group of prisoners was shockingly augmented to “corruption on earth”, a vague and serious charge that, carries a possible death penalty or at least long prison sentences if a conviction occurs.

What exactly has transpired is not certain but most documentation from news sources suggests that the charges are improbable and incredible. Environmental groups in Iran that may be cooperating or working in tandem with agencies in the west, like the United Nations, are being accused of  being part of a Western “infiltration” network.  Even some Irani government sources indicate that there is no proof of this.  Other environmental groups in Iran are now anxious that they, too, may be targeted and accused.

One report I read suggests that the PWHF scientists were using remote cameras to film activities of rare Asiatic cheetahs  (like the cameras that BBC uses in their wildlife series).   The range for these cameras is only 50 metres.  But the claim is that the group was “seeking proximity to military sites with the cover of the environmental projects and obtaining military information from them.”   Perhaps they inadvertently were close to some secure installations.  Who knows? It is most unlikely that their activity was in any way espionage.

But what is known is that they are held in jail, accused of crimes against the state and are not getting proper legal representation to defend themselves.

Niloufar’s student colleagues are understandably distraught with what has happened to their friend.  These folks knew her as a fun-loving, active, responsible young woman in 2008 and they struggle to know how they could help their friend who languishes in a prison in a country where Human Rights are not always respected.

It is a heartbreaking Post Script for this group of 2008 CFISA students.  I hope that some civility and a reasonable outcome to this disturbing situation for Niloufar.

CFSIA beach 2008
The 2008 CFISA group on the beach in Tanzania.

I have not known what Niloufar has been doing since 2008 but, like many of her colleagues, she seems to have followed an academic pathway that involves service to humanity…not corruption.  I found this online, from a couple of years ago. Not the CV of a spy.

Bayani, Niloufar

Project Advisor on Eco-DRR, Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch


Biography

Niloufar Bayani has worked as a Project Advisor under the Disaster Risk Reduction portfolio of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), being managed by the Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch (PCDMB) based in Geneva, Switzerland. She has expertise in ecosystem-based approaches for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. For the past four years she has worked on UNEP projects in Afghanistan, DRC, Sudan and Haiti. She also has previous experience as a research fellow with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and has consulted numerous local NGOs and universities. Ms. Bayani was born and raised in Iran. She holds a BSc in Biology from McGill University in Canada and an MA in Conservation Biology from Columbia University in the USA.

CFSIA 2008

If you are curious and want to read more, press reports of these events can be found here:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/26/iran-environmentalists-face-capital-charges

http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/iransource/iran-s-environmentalists-are-caught-up-in-a-political-power-struggle

Post Script.

Friends have asked me what can be done to help.  After I have written this post, a petition has been started that now has over 100,000 signatures.  Please add yours. You can link to it here:

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-ca/626/639/055/conservationists-face-death-penalty-in-iran/?fbclid=IwAR2EkrR-cOZTncWxTrVQWgUdcjFQ72UHjEW8zrjY63_gB2OnOvYZXQU1zSg

Red Tide along the Florida Gulf Coast

Wildlife along the Florida Gulf Coast has taken a hit from something called the Red Tide.

I have been holidaying at Longboat Key for 35 years and periodically there is a surge in an algae called Karenia brevis that is in the gulf water for a few days or a couple of weeks then goes away. The alga affects fish by secreting a toxin that attacks their neurological system and gills and it kills a lot of them but the outbreaks are brief and the Gulf fauna recovers quickly.

This year, however, a bloom that started in July has continued unabated ravaging fish and wildlife along the coast from Fort Myers to north of Tampa. Fish have been washing up on the beach in large numbers and the dead sealife has also included sea turtles, dolphins and manatee. I am told that in August the problem was severe and that dead fish littered the beach and the water which turns orange with the bloom. For humans, the problem is mainly respiratory. Apparently swimming in the water contaminated by Red Tide is not a health risk other than causing skin and eye irritation for some.

The Red Tide gets its name from the color it gives to the water when it blooms.

This week we have noticed a lot of dead fish on the beach even the tide goes out, fewer schools of fish in the water, no seagulls or terns and only a couple of egrets. The birds must have moved away because there are no fish in the shallow water to hunt. An occasional pelican flies along the shore but they don’t dive to snare fish like usual. The seabirds have been replaced by flocks of turkey vultures that soar in the wind currents above the beach or pick away at the dead fish littering the shoreline.

Vultures have replaced seagulls along the shore.

There are even fewer tourists than usual and I have read that the tourist industry along the coast has been significantly affected.

Our holiday this week was not changed in any significant way by the persistent Red Tide bloom. On days when the water was stirred up by waves it took on the color of tea rather than its usual clear teal green. You could tell as you walked along the beach the places where the Red Tide was more active (areas of high concentration tend to move along the shoreline) because it would cause a runny nose and a dry tickle in the throat that turned to cough.

Fewer tourists and almost no seabirds along the coast this November.

Why is it worse this year? Apparently there was a lot of rain earlier in the season and the heavier run off into the rivers that flow into the gulf brought with it pollution and eutrophication that acted to fertilize the algae. This, combined with an unusually warm season and warmer gulf water temperatures, added a bonus for abundant algal growth. Yes, effects of climate change and human pollution combined.

It will take a while for the wildlife along the gulf to recover but recover it will. One wonders, however, if – or, more appropriately, how and when – the conditions that disrupt the environment will increase as our weather patterns change in response to climate change.

I will be back to Longboat Key at the end of December and will be anxious to see if things are resolving.

Random musings from my week in Ontario’s North

It was drizzling and muddy when I arrived at the Moosonee airport on my way to Moose Factory on Monday.  There followed a short ride in a van to the edge of the river where I boarded a motorboat taxi that wound its way to the island.

The first thing I was asked was “Did you bring rubber boots?” I had not. The roads in this district are basically all gravel/dirt roads and when it rains they become muddy swamps. Luckily I was able to borrow some rubber boots and this proved a good omen since the weather quickly dried and I didn’t need them after my first day.

Moose Factory Hospital.  Surrounded by muddy roads.

 

img_3707An evening tour of Moose Factory by a colleague who has worked there for years took me to the dump to see the bears who were fattening up in preparation for their winter sleep. There was frost overnight and no heat in my accommodation. I ended up turning on the oven for a bit and sitting by the open door of the stove to warm up. An indoor campfire.

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The next day I ferried back to Moosonee then bounced to Fort Albany to Kasheshewan to Attawapiskat on a flight that sometimes barely got off the ground until it was time to land again. In the winter these communities are linked by ice roads that traverse the many waterways and frozen tundra.  Supplies are brought in over the ice roads and people travel out of the community then by skidoo or truck. During the summer and fall the only way into them is by plane.  Food and fuel and other goods are expensive since they all have to be either flown in or brought in by barge until the ground freezes and trucks can traverse them.

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Attawapiskat is flat and looks barren without any vegetation

Attawapiskat is an indigenous community of about 2000,  mostly Cree. Some speak only the Cree language. It has had a lot of press over the years for its poverty, mental health challenges, high youth suicide rates, drug and alcohol abuse and water and sanitation problems. There have also been allegations of money mismanagement by the local leaders.   Many of the people were friendly but reserved and hesitant to engage spontaneously.  Nevertheless, it felt foreign to me in many ways.

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Attawapiskat airport waiting room

At the “Atta” airport all baggage was searched by hand and we all had a pat down looking for smuggled drugs or alcohol. Attawapiskat has been designated a “dry” community for the past few months in an effort to curb abuse.  It took about 45 minutes to get my luggage cleared. I heard that, in the past few weeks,  one health worker was arrested and sent back south for possession of marijuana that he was taking for “medical” reasons. Zero tolerance. I wonder what they though of my Cooke’s coffee beans, grinder and bodum.

 

While I was there, news broke of an arrest of three people in Kingston who were part of a drug ring smuggling narcotics and whatever else to the James Bay West communities using the hospital shuttle flights like the one that I took during the week.

Northern

“The Northern” is the main/only store in town, selling everything from bullets to overcoats to apples.  Fresh food is limited.  Lots of canned and processed food.  Good nutrition is hard to come by for these folks.   Notice everyone drives a 4-wheel drive truck as well.  Gas costs $2.99 a litre.

Lucky the weather in Atta was dry so I did not need my boots to walk around the little town. One of the Public Health nurses took me in a 4 wheel drive truck about ten kilometers out of the town to near where the river meets James Bay. The road reminded me of some of the muddy rural roads in the Massai Mara. The brush along the road was scrubby and tall grass. ( there are virtually no trees in Attawapiskat so it looks really barren.) A few times we skidded through mud, needing the 4-wheel drive to get through. An Africa flashback for me in Northern Canada! More than once, I was making mental comparisons of what I was seeing and experiencing to what I have encountered in Africa.

Once we got to the end of the road near the Bay, the vista was serene and washed in warm fall colors. In the spring, polar bears are sometimes seen here, I was told.

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Setting off on a new adventure

This morning I head off to the Ontario North to explore a new part-time “job” as a clinician in a remote indigenous community.  I am feeling both excited and apprehensive.  I suspect everyone feels that at the start of a new venture.  

I remember having the same mix of emotions when I set out for post-war Bosnia in March 1998.  I ended up there, on and off, for eleven years.  I still have a great fondness for many friends there and am planning a trip back in September 2019. 

The first time I went to Africa to tend to an itinerant gaggle of McGill students was similar.  Lots of unknowns. Was I up to the responsibility?  What will transpire while I am so far from home? What cultural differences will I encounter?

I know that the only way that I can fully understand this new challenge and know if I am suited to it is to do it.  So, I am heading off to Attawapiskat, a small James Bay community on the 53rd parallel tomorrow am and will be there for the week.

It will be an adventure and if I fit with the community and vice versa it will lead to a few days each month to provide Family Medicine clinic coverage where they are short on medical staff at the moment.

I have worked and traveled in vulnerable communities before but this is different. It is Canada.  Attawapiskat has had a lot of news coverage over the past few years because of the challenges to sanitation, housing and mental health problems for the youth in the community.  

Will I fit in? Will I be able to provide the medical care required and expected by the community?  I am eager to understand and respect the cultural differences between my upbringing (as offspring of white “settlers”) and their place as aboriginal people of the land.  

I have traveled in Africa several times when I have not seen another “white” face for a week, so I am used to being in the minority. It has always been a privileged minority, however.  I have been treated with respect and welcomed.  Will it be the same in a community that has suffered losses under the governance of my ancestors?

In respect for the people there, I will not blog about any of their personal stories without explicit permission but I plan to reflect on what I learn and experience and feel myself.

Buckle up your parka. 

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Some family history from the 1600’s.

This week I learned of a connection between my 8th great grandfather and a rock star.

John Bray II, my great, great, great, great, great, great, great great grandfather on my maternal grandfather’s side of my family ( that’s a lot of greats) was born in 1620 in Plymouth England.  This was the same year that the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth taking pilgrims to Cape Cod.  

Screenshot 2018-08-29 17.03.44In the early 1660’s John and his wife, Joan Pierce (1630), whom he married in 1653,  immigrated to North America along with their 1 year old son. They lived at Kittery Point in Maine where he worked as a shipwright. The first settlers had come to that area about 1607 so this was, indeed, the New World.

The home where the Bray family lived was a large, two and a half story frame house that faced the bay.  Although there have been lots of changes over the 350 years, the basic frame of that house still remain today, the oldest house in Maine.  

It was in Kittery that my 7th great grandmother, Joan Bray/Deering (1662-1708) was born and grew up. 

Old_Bray_House,_Kittery_Point,_ME-1The house remained much as it had been originally for many years,  with a central door, windows on either side and across the front and side dormers in the upper floor.  There was a chimney in the middle of the roof which suggests a central fireplace.  The house was large and apparently served as both a tavern and meeting place in the community in the 1670’s.  John was also a ferry operator during that time. 

There are several photos of the house on the internet, taken many years ago and it is a well documented piece of local architecture. No doubt most of the house has been renovated and materials replaced but its essence remains.

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Gradually people started to add to the house.  Little by little the house grew.  By the early 2000’s there were several oddly applied additions to the original front structure.

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Singer John Hall in the renovated Bray house at Kittery Point.

In 2007,  Daryl Hall of the rock duo Hall and Oates,  having an interest in old historic houses bought the home and property in an auction for about 1.7 million dollars.  He did further renovations and photos look like the inside was beautifully restored. He sold the property in 2012 for 1.9 million dollars.  John Bray’s will left the house to his wife and children in his will and the value of his estate when he died in 1689 was something just over 325 Pounds.  

Today the property has been encroached upon by other structures.  The original frame house forms the front part of a very large structure that clearly has had several additions to it over the years.  It is visible (and the front section identifiable like in old photos) on Google Earth.

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Vestiges of the original Bray House from the mid 1600’s remain although it has been altered and added to many times over 350 years.

I visited that district about five years ago and went to another area (Penobscot) where my fourth great grandfather, Robert Vardon, was involved with a naval battle aboard the 16-gun sloop, HMS Albany, in August/September 1779 during the American Revolution. The opposing American ground forces (led by Paul Revere) and several American ships were remarkably held at bay by three British ships. The British subsequently won the battle(s) and in the course of the fignting the Americans lost 470 men while the British lost only 13.  (  You can read more about that battle here.     http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/penobscot-expedition-americas-forgotten-military-disaster/  )

It was that Vardon grandfather that subsequently married Phebe Milliken (1767) who was the great great granddaughter of John Bray.  Robert and Phebe eventually relocated to what is now New Brunswick as United Empire Loyalists.

How amazing is it that I can trace these records back so far.  Something made possible by the internet and unimaginable only 30 years ago.  

Now for a little classic ’80’s Hall and Oates.

Remembering my summers of ’61 and ’62 with music

Tonight I came across a box of about 150 old 45 RPM records that I had not listened to for a very long time.  I ended out picking out several that were songs I listened to in my early teen years – pre-Beatles – from the summers of 1960 to 1962.

They reminded me of warm summer nights at our cottage at Bluewater Beach on the outskirts of Goderich, Ontario.   My friends and I would gather in the evening on a piece of dirt behind the Nothof family cottage and set a record player in the window so we could hear. We would dance to the same few records over and over. And over.

There was a restaurant on the highway that had a Juke Box and every month some guy would come and change the records.  We would find out when he was coming and ride our bikes out to the restaurant and he would sell us the records he was replacing for a quarter.  Treasures.

Tonight when I listened to Elvis singing I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You I could close my eyes and sway and sing the words and re-live dancing huddled over Ruth Ann Nothof.   Where is she now?

The music brought back such vivid memories. Almost sixty years ago and the recollection is as clear as a bell.  I still know all the words and even know where each little scratch is on the record.  Several of the records have little pieces of adhesive tape with my name written on them.  My writing has not changed that much in all those years.

What a treat (on the eve of my 71st birthday) to spend an hour or two with this music.  And to remember these moments from my youth.  Could be yesterday.

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Here are just a few of the songs I listened to.  Do you remember any of these?

Check them out below.

Roy Orbison – Crying – July 1961

Elvis Presley – I Can’t Help Falling In Love with You – October 1961

Freddy Cannon – Palisades Park – April 1962

Don Gibson – Sea of Heartbreak – July 1961

Beach Boys – Surfin’ Safari – October 1962

Ricky Nelson – Today’s Teardrops – March 1962

Everly Brothers – Til I Kissed You – January 1960

Del Shannon – Runaway – January 1962