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- Scapegoat, 100th Anniversary Edition

- Scapegoat, 100th Anniversary Edition

the extraordinary legal proceedings following the 1917 Halifax Explosion
edited by Joel Zemel
managing editor Francis Mitchell
consultant editor Jeanne Howell
designed by SVP productions
edition:Book
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- Scapegoat

- Scapegoat

the extraordinary legal proceedings following the 1917 Halifax Explosion
edited by Joel Zemel
managing editor Francis Mitchell
consultant editor Jeanne Howell
designed by SVP productions
edition:Book
More Info
- Huskies, In Pursuit of Excellence

- Huskies, In Pursuit of Excellence

A Celebration of Saint Mary's University Varsity Athletic programs: 1951-2012
assisted by Walt Tanner
cover design or artwork by Virginia Houston
photographs by Francis Mitchell; Joe Chrvala & Mona Ghiz
from an idea by Paul Puma
drawings by Barbara Dorey
by Frank Mitchell
edition:Book
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Excerpt

THE STUDENT_ATHLETE Moulding the Student-Athlete: A Personal Memoir of Four Decades at Saint Mary’s by Colin Howell

Forty years ago, in the fall of 1970, I arrived at Saint Mary’s to take up a teaching position in the Department of History. Just twenty-six years old, still wet-behind-the-years and thinking I knew far more than I did, I shared the optimism of those children of the sixties who trusted no-one over thirty and were determined to remake the world. A graduate of Dalhousie, where I had once captained what Bob Hayes enjoyed calling the “soot and yellow” rugby team, I left Halifax in 1967 to do doctoral work at the University of Cincinnati. To say that this was a tumultuous time in the United States would be an understatement. Campuses resonated with the language of civil rights, protests against the war in Vietnam, the tragic assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the shooting of students at Kent State. In this environment, the place of sport on campus was controversial. Wasn’t sport with its emphasis on competition rather than cooperation simply a tool of the establishment? Wasn’t too much money spent on sport rather than on the university’s educational priorities? Wasn’t frisbee in the park more democratic, participatory and healthy than having a handful of football players perform for 30,000 passive spectators? And wasn’t it true, as feminists suggested, that sport was a male-dominated activity which reinforced masculine power in the society at large? If universities were to fulfill a socially transformative mission, some asked, didn’t sport just get in the way?

In those days prospects for change seemed to be everywhere: Dylan crooned that the answers to many of these questions were simply “blowing in the wind”. In 1970 the winds of change also blew briskly down Robie Street. Three years earlier when I left for the States, Saint Mary’s was an all-male university, still controlled by the Jesuits, with a little more than 600 students. When I returned to teach there it was operating under a new University Act, becoming increasingly co-educational, and enrollment had grown to over 2,000 students. At the same time the University began out of necessity to increase its faculty complement. Given that tenure-track academic jobs were in short supply across the continent, Saint Mary’s was able to recruit an especially talented group of young academics who brought with them a vision of a university that would compete nationally for research dollars and scholarly recognition. In working toward that end, however, conflicts over funding were inevitable. It is hardly surprising that the faculty was one of the first in Canada to unionize. Nor is it surprising that in the struggle for scarce resources many of the same questions being raised in the United States about the place of sport in the university would also emerge here. I remember at the time not always being sure where I stood on the issue. I had grown up in a family that loved sport, spent my summers as a teenager playing baseball in Kentville from sunup till sundown, attended every game the Halifax Junior Canadians played at the old Forum, played rugby for the Halifax Rugby Club and Dalhousie and, as my daughter grew up, coached her soccer club for a dozen years. I loved watching the Huskies whether on the football field, the basketball court or at the drafty old rink and undersized ice surface that even then needed to be replaced. Yet I could appreciate the arguments of those who worried about the negative effects that sport could exert in a university setting, and heard the arguments from aggrieved students that athletes had a kind of “special status” on campus. Whether these concerns were legitimate or exaggerated, one image remains in my mind to this day. I used to teach American history to a class of over 100 students in old Theatre B in the Burke Building. One day as I looked up through the elevated rows of seats, a football player named Mike Riley (who later went on to play for a few years in the CFL) was occupying the entire center section of the theatre, legs over the seats in front of him and arms spread across the adjacent ones. No one else was within fifteen feet of him as he spread himself over about eight seats at once. Since then social theorists have often written about the male sense of entitlement to space and the way in which women occupy as little space as they can, knees demurely locked together and giving appropriate attention to good posture. Given that women’s athletics at Saint Mary’s had yet to develop its own space - as was true everywhere before Title IX in the United States altered the university sporting landscape - and given that debates continued about how resources should be distributed in the university as a whole, young Riley had made the point with dramatic effect. I don’t think I ever mentioned it to him, but wish I had been able to take a picture of him that day.

Teaching both American and Canadian history at a time when a course in history was required for graduation, my classes were filled with athletes. I enjoyed the feelings of camaraderie with football recruits from Bishop Kendrick High School in Philadelphia like Ralph Panzullo, with high-profile athletes like Mickey Fox, Bob Warner, Lee Thomas, Kenny Clark, Angelo Santucci, Mike Curry, Chuck LeCain, Keith Hotchkiss, Brian O’Byrne, Dennis Reardon, Rick Plato and Hec Pothier. When they went on to win national championships, signed on to play at the professional level, or eventually fashioned successful careers in the community, I was gratified by their success and proud to have helped contribute to their education. Some of them such as Rick Plato, who went on to a successful career as a teacher and basketball coach, epitomized the ideal of the “scholar athlete”, and clearly demonstrated that the divide between sport and academic excellence was far from unbridgeable. So too with Chuck LeCain, Dennis Reardon, Bryan O’Byrne, Hec Pothier, Syd Moore and a number of other student-athletes such as Academic All-Canadian volleyball player Christena MacRae, whom I have come into contact with over the years. At the 2009 Saint Mary’s Sports Hall of Fame induction of the 1978-9 men’s basketball team, I had a chance to talk to Donald “Taps” Gallagher who came here from south of the border to play varsity basketball. After a year playing with the Huskies, the CIAU placed a limit of three Americans on university rosters, “Taps” found himself relegated to spectator status. Rather than challenging the ruling, or leaving the University, he dedicated himself to making the best of his degree. He worked on his courses with the same discipline that he had taken to the basketball court, never missed a class, and went on to a successful career as a lawyer in Chicago. By that time the University had gone through a period of maturation and it had become clear to me that the athletic and academic missions of the school were more complementary than divisive. Building on the vision of the legendary Bob Hayes, and the coaching excellence of Al Keith, Brian Heaney, Larry Uteck and Bob Boucher, as well as the leadership of Kathy Mullane in women’s athletics, Saint Mary’s built a tradition of sporting excellence uncommon in a school that had no supporting kinesiology or physical education department. Elizabeth Chard, who chaired the History Department when I first came to Saint Mary’s and later took over as Registrar, was a powerful voice for the importance of both the academic and athletic enterprise, and another influential figure in the development of the University as an institution of national prominence. Elizabeth was a tour de force, flinty, tough and dedicated to the University, and in becoming the first female president of the CIAU, demonstrated a willingness to take on the male-dominated bureaucracy of university sport. What all those coaches and builders shared - as did the father figure of Saint Mary’s sport, Father John J. Hennessey - was a passion for the University. This enthusiasm carried over to the student-athletes. I still recall the day when a young soccer player, Rocco Cianfaglione, stood up in a crowded Theatre B to lecture Premier Gerald Regan on the necessity for more funding for its academic programs so that the University could realize its goals of both athletic and academic excellence. Later I was invited to Rocco’s wedding, a gala event notable for its celebration of both his own family and the family of Santamarians that were there as well. Rather than focusing on the old mind/body divide – the idea that because sports were of the body and academics of the mind that somehow they were in conflict -- I came to think of them more holistically. As our world changes through the development of modern industrial, scientific and medical technologies, personal computers, and the internet, sport remains a profound social technology, an implement for social change and improvement. Saint Mary’s in fact exemplifies the blending of three grand social technologies, (sport, education and religion), that are dedicated to improving lives and building stronger communities. None of these operate without imperfections, but in touching the lives of so many students, alumni, faculty, administrators and others at the university, they have given Saint Mary’s its unique character. For me personally, a love of education, of history and of sport and a realization of how they contribute to social responsibility, has shaped my academic career and brought me deep personal satisfaction and affection for the University. I hear this from others all the time, often from student-athletes who came to Saint Mary’s through athletics and got an education that allowed them to live successful lives and contribute to the community at large. It is a story often told at the induction ceremonies by our best athletes, our Paul Pumas, Chuck Goddards, Bob Ruotolos and countless others.

The more I thought of sport as a technology, the more I wanted to bring this into my own teaching and writing about Canadian history. For many years the traditional narrative of Canada was written into often dry textbooks that told the story of politics, war, and diplomacy, and focused on the accomplishments of great men. While this was an important story to tell, it left so much out, silencing the voices of women, saying little about the history of the Maritimes, and rendering sport to the realm of the merely frivolous. Through the 1970s and into the 80s I had concentrated on writing the neglected history of Atlantic Canada into the national narrative, and just as the energy and camaraderie generated by Huskie teams, there was a great team of scholars throughout the region that took this on as their mission. At Saint Mary’s a group of faculty members that included Ken MacKinnon, Cyril Byrne, Don Higgins, John Reid, Gene Barrett, Martha Macdonald, Anders Sandberg, Madine VanderPlaat and others were part of a team that helped develop the Atlantic Canada Studies program and the Gorsebrook Research Institute. Just like national champions in sport, this team fought for the region and a recognition of its importance to the nation. By the mid-80s, moreover, the turning away from the exclusive preoccupation with past politics and military history, and the new emphasis on social history, provided me with the opportunity to remake myself as a sport historian.

As I focused my research increasingly on sport, began attending conferences on sport studies and wrote books and articles on the subject, I was able to develop courses in sport history and supervise graduate students who were excited to write about sport. I point this out because while when we think of sport at Saint Mary’s we often only focus on formal sport activity, and remain largely unaware that there is an academic tradition of research and writing about sport that is being built here as well. This extends beyond the research being done by the Saint Mary’s Sport Hall of Fame and heritage center, by people such as Heather Harris, who along with Brian O’Byrne and Dennis Reardon were graduate students in history during my first year of teaching at Saint Mary’s. Other grad students, including Jim Myers, Mac Ross, Daryl Leeworthy, Dan Macdonald, Beverly Williams, Michael Smith, and Cindy Kiley, have written wonderful theses on baseball and rugby in Cape Breton, sport in industrial communities and in rural areas, boxing in the Maritimes, women’s sport, and leisure time in Halifax. Then there are the graduates of Saint Mary’s who took their interest in sport (whether it be athletic or academic) to other universities. In addition to Rhodes Scholars such as former Huskie quarterback David Sykes, other Saint Mary’s grads are continuing their studies elsewhere. Erik Lyman, who played on the national champion football Huskies, is presently completing a doctoral program at the University of Edinburgh working on sport in the Scottish military; former history honours student Leah Grandy has recently completed a doctorate at the University of New Brunswick with a study of harness racing in the Maritimes and New England; Daryl Leeworthy is working on sporting space in working class districts of Wales at the University of Swansea; and Mac Ross is doing a doctorate at the University of Western Ontario looking at the history of hockey in Nova Scotia.

Given the absence of a kinesiology or physical education program which would provide a formal linkage between the athletic and academic programs at Saint Mary’s, I took the initiative a few years ago to establish the Center for the Study of Sport and Health (CSSH) which has now moved into the new Homburg Center for Health and Wellness, which was opened in April, 2012. The Center is committed to bringing world class researchers in sports studies to the campus, developing curriculum in the area of sports studies, and establishing a solid academic counterpart to Saint Mary’s tradition of sporting excellence. It also will build upon its experience in hosting important sporting conferences. As part of the run up to the 2001 World Junior Hockey Championships and 2004 Women’s Worlds in Halifax, for example, we hosted two major international Putting it on Ice conferences that are generally acknowledged to have begun a renaissance of hockey scholarship in Canada. Putting it on Ice III took place in July, 2012, just prior to the publication of this book. In the first two conferences our organizing committees included Elizabeth Chard, Nick Murray, Bobby Warner, Bob Boucher, Trevor Stienberg, Paul Boutilier and Bryan O”Byrne and were supported by the staff at the Gorsebrook Research Institute. Here was a textbook example of the academic and athletic side of the University working closely together. Jean Beliveau, Ken Dryden, Danielle Sauvigeau, John Paris Jr., Stacey Wilson served as conference co-captains. At a special convocation which bestowed an honorary degree upon him, Dr. Dryden emphasized how sport and university learning worked together to provide a culture of civility and responsibility. “There is an important connection between sports and learning and educational institutions,” he emphasized, “one increasingly forgotten, one that needs to be reinforced.”

Over the years the University has taken great pride in preparing its students for the challenges of the future. Sport, religion and education have been at the heart of that mission, providing Saint Mary’s students with a well-rounded preparation for living lives of purpose and social responsibility. Sport and education at Saint Mary’s work hand in hand. As we celebrate the accomplishments of Saint Mary’s athletics in this volume, therefore, we should not forget the tradition of academic excellence that we struggle to build. Nor should academics in their pursuit of that end dismiss the important role that sport, both at the varsity and the intra-mural level, has played in the educational process. Often the priorities of the university are evident in the buildings we construct to house them. Around us the new Atrium facility and improvements to the McNally building are a testament to the academic environment we offer our students, and the new Homburg Center for Health and Wellness recognizes the connections between individual and social health and well-being.

Now if only we had that new rink!

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- Three Centuries of Public ART

- Three Centuries of Public ART

Historic Halifax Regional Municiplity
photographs by Barbara DeLory; Gary Castle & Andrea Johnson
edited by Francis Mitchell
illustrated by Janet Soley
guest editor Virginia Houston
foreword by Sandra Alfoldy
edition:Book
tagged : canadian
More Info
Excerpt

Three Centuries of Public ART Then look across the square to St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the oldest public building in Halifax (andoldest Protestant church in Canada), founded in 1750, although the steeple was added in 1812 and the side wings in 1868; the Fallen Peace Officer’s Memorial, dedicated in 2010 and described in greater detail inthis essay; the massive flagpole standing in front of City Hall for over 60 years. It was a gift of the CPR to his worship, Mayor ‘Gee’ Ahern, in September, 1947; it is used on many ceremonial occasions, but always flies the red maple leaf of Canada; and finally the ‘electrical box’ paintings, two of which are found here (The Poetry Box and Downtown Dusk Walk ) and described near the end of this chapter on Halifax Centre.It also contains many benches on which to sit or picnic in this serene setting just beyond the bustle of Barrington Street at noon.

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African Chronicles - a memoir
Excerpt

40. Pax Mugabe: The Gukurahundi Campaign

Hitler the brain-mole looks out of my eyes. Leonard Cohen 70

O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! Shakespeare, Macbeth71

Mugabe had come to power on a wave of great expectations at home and abroad. During his first decade in office the country realized a number of significant social and economic achievements. Agricultural production expanded; school enrollment for African children increased substantially; infant mortality and child malnutrition decreased by about 40 percent and life expectancy increased from 56 to 64 years. For this progress, how much do we credit Mugabe; how much do we credit the fundamentally sound economy that he had inherited?

But from the beginning of Mugabe’s ascension to power, there was something raw and malignant, like an open wound, festering in his imagination. How else can you describe his gratuitous cruelty in those early days of power except as a sickness of the mind? In the 1980 election, although he had the support of nearly two-thirds of the African electorate across the whole country, the residents of Matabeleland – especially the Ndebele tribe – had rebuffed him en masse and voted along tribal lines for the “home boy” Joshua Nkomo. But Matabeleland held only 20 percent of the black electorate. This voting bloc was not a threat to Mugabe’s hold on power, so long as he maintained the support of the majority Shona tribe – which he had no reason for doubting. Yet it seemed to rankle him deeply that there was any opposition from a segment of the black population, or that he might be called to account by a rival African party in the Parliament. The need to explain his policies and be accountable to any segment of the black population was not for him. Nor was the give and take of parliamentary democracy.He set out to crush all opposition – for all time. The first to feel his wrath were Nkomo’s people in Matabeleland - most of them peasant farmers, primarily livestock herders.

Within six months of taking power, Mugabe signed a deal with President Kim Il-sung to have more than 100 North Korean military officers train a special force of 5,000 Zimbabwean troops, to be known as 5 Brigade. “It seems quite possible,” wrote Judith Todd, “that 5 Brigade was planned even before independence.”72 This unit would report personally to Mugabe himself, not to the official line commanders of the Zimbabwean armed forces (who commanded the other four brigades) and certainly not to Parliament. They were called an elite force, but “elite” suggests a standard of professionalism that they never exhibited. Call them instead “privileged” and “licensed”. Privileged, as in better paid, better armed and better uniformed than their peers; pampered and protected from on high; accountable to no one but Mugabe himself. Licensed, as in licensed to kill.

In 1983 Mugabe began deploying 5 Brigade with murderous effect in Matabeleland.

Mugabe’s Matabeleland campaign was a brutal occupation of a part of Zimbabwe that did not support his goal of establishing a one party state – perhaps the only feature of communism that Comrade Mugabe seriously tried to implement. The campaign had the code name Gukurahundi, a Shona agricultural term that in this context meant “washing away the garbage.” The people of Matabeleland, by and large, were not armed. The few armed “dissidents” among them were mainly a rag-tag lot of former ZAPU fighters, war veterans, numbering perhaps two or three hundred, who had retained their weapons for self-defense – or, as many of them had little education and few employable skills, for conducting armed robberies in their own region. They were no threat to the central government, but their existence provided Mugabe with whatever excuse he needed to have his way with Matabeleland. And so he did.

Estimates vary widely from 7,000 to 20,000, depending on the source, but the consensus is that 5 Brigade murdered thousands of Africans in Matabeleland during the 1980s. Tens of thousands of other residents of the region suffered from hunger and unknown numbers died of starvation as a consequence of the government’s systematic use of food as an instrument of repression during these years. Maize was the staple diet of almost all black Zimbabweans, especially in rural areas, but maize and other food crops did not grow well in the dry infertile soil of Matabeleland. The region was better suited for raising livestock. When Mugabe imposed an embargo on the export of food into Matabeleland (as if it were a foreign country), hunger spread quickly. According to published reports of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, “The embargo on food was total: stores were closed, drought relief food deliveries were stopped, houses were searched and any food found was destroyed. The missions kept records of this deplorable situation and tried to feed people when they could, but this was difficult for them”73 – and dangerous, lethally dangerous.

41. Tegwani Mission: “Purgation” and Heartbreak

We cannot blame colonialism and imperialism for this tragedy. We who fought against these things now practice them. Why? Why? Why? Joshua Nkomo74

It was the Big Man’s way. He chose his time. V. S. Naipaul75

Once again, ever so briefly, Tegwani Mission was in the world news. The Times of London reported that on November 25, 1985 at about 9:00 PM a band of armed men “believed to be guerrillas” descended upon Tegwani Secondary School from the surrounding bush and shot dead “at point blank range” the headmaster and his wife. The Chicago Tribune referred to the killers in a tiny article as “unidentified gunmen”. A police spokesman in Plumtree identified the invaders only as “armed men”, but implied that they may have come across the border from Botswana. A staff member at the school referred to them as “trigger happy bandits”, but it wasn’t clear that they had stolen anything – except human lives. Whoever they were, the Plumtree police detachment was not keen to confront them. They found reasons to hang around the station for several hours before finally driving to the school to investigate.

Amnesty International, which conducted its own investigation, eventually reported that the killers wore the uniform of the Zimbabwean army. This led initially to speculation in some quarters that the gunmen were subversives sent by South Africa’s apartheid regime and disguised as Zimbabwean soldiers as part of an ongoing strategy to discredit the Mugabe government and destabilize the country – for, it was argued (naively) that, if Mugabe wanted someone killed, he would not have had it done by uniformed men of the national military.

In fact, the killers were members of 5 Brigade. They did not walk out of the bush and then disappear into it afterwards. They arrived at the school and left – after forty-five minutes of terror – in the easily recognized Chinese-made military vehicles that had been assigned to them alone. They wore their uniforms, including their red berets, to the slaughter; they shot their guns in the air and screamed with terrifying impact, as they had been trained to do by their North Korean mentors. They wanted everyone to know that they had come to wash away the garbage, that the Gukurahundi campaign was now purging Tegwani Secondary School. Staff and students of Tegwani and (from a safe distance) the Plumtree policemen recognized immediately the perpetrators of this night of terror. No one dared say it publicly at the time. For 5 Brigade were experts in shock and awe; they operated with impunity; they had license to kill; and they could return anytime.

The invaders were about twenty-five in number. They spread across the whole campus, incessantly screaming and firing their weapons in the air. An 18 year-old Irish volunteer teacher, Joss Douthwaite, was supervising lights-out in the boys’ dormitory when the gunmen burst in. He was hit with a round of fire, stumbled outside and fell to the ground, where he was shot twice more and left for dead. He had bullet wounds to the chest and legs. The students were too terrified to venture out to assist him. Douthwaite dragged himself to the school chaplain’s home where colleagues managed to staunch the bleeding. His colleagues waited until well after the invaders had departed and drove him to the small hospital in Plumtree, where medical staff confirmed that his vital organs had not been hit.

The primary targets of the assassins’ dreadful mission were not so fortunate.

Luke Khumalo’s commitment to humanist values – and to his job and his students – overpowered discretion and personal safety at several critical moments in his life. As the headmaster of a large secondary school in a remote and vulnerable corner of the Rhodesian landscape during the protracted civil war, his courage had been read around the world more than once in the 1970s, as was his death that November evening in 1985, by which he paid the ultimate price for all that he stood for – dragged from his house and executed on the spot by uniformed assassins on the grounds of the school to which he had dedicated his life.

Why Luke? Why Tegwani? Surely these questions were on everyone’s lips. Almost everyone’s. Not everyone needed to ask. If we look for motives, any combination of the following would have been sufficient for Mugabe’s 5 Brigade: Luke was Ndebele; he refused to allow ZANU, or indeed any other party, to hold political rallies on school grounds; he was well known in the region as a man of courage and integrity, and thus to destroy him was to frighten many; he was known or thought to be a supporter of ZAPU; and, as Shakespeare’s Macbeth said of Banquo, he was “assailable”.

The most credible motive for this atrocity was that Luke was maintaining a supply of food in the school. Of course, it was a boarding school and as headmaster he had to provide for the students’ daily meals, but despite the prohibition and despite the risk, it was in Luke’s character to assist, as best he could, hungry families from the nearby communities.

Luke did not die alone. His wife Jean was at his side. Surely this gave him no comfort, for the men in uniform shot her dead too. She died quickly. He remained conscious for some time. The assassins left Luke groaning in pain and bleeding to death, while they forced some residents who came upon the scene to step over the Khumalos’ bodies and into a storage room, which they shut and locked.

Luke was 58; Jean was 54. They were buried side-by-side on the school compound. Marking the site are two identical tombstones with the inscription – “always remembered [by their] heartbroken son David.”

Methodist mission headquarters in Zimbabwe instructed Tegwani’s remaining expatriate teachers and their families, all Britons, to return to Bulawayo for repatriation. “The government made it crystal clear that they were glad to see us go,” wrote one of those deported. The indigenous staff members, frightened, traumatized and demoralized, were somehow able to keep the school going. It continues to this day, but it has never been the same.

Perhaps an institution too can have its heart broken.

???

Many years later I made contact with a former teacher who had helped save the life of Joss Douthwaite that terrible night. He wrote that the year he and his wife and their three children spent at Tegwani was “firmly imprinted” on their minds:

With hindsight it seems remarkable that [Luke and Jean] were not killed earlier. It was the year after the first election after independence, and we were made constantly aware of the presence of the 5th Brigade stationed at Nata . . . We believe that Luke and Jean should be celebrated as martyrs who died because of their insistence on the principles of Christian education and charity. This was their faith expressed in real life. Without parading themselves or speaking much about it, it was abundantly clear that they stood firm against all political intimidation, and that they would not stand back from doing the right thing for the education of the children and young people in their care, and for the local community. They would have no truck with the emerging politics of institutional terror, and Mugabe’s political elite simply could not tolerate having people of such standing holding their heads high in Matabeleland, let alone educating young people.76

???

As with virtually all of the killings in Matabeleland during the Mugabe era, the national media in Zimbabwe were not allowed to investigate or report properly on the Tegwani incident and the international media were not really interested. Even Judy Todd, who kept herself well informed on events within the country, knew little of the Tegwani killings. In her memoir of the Mugabe years, aptly entitled Through the Darkness, she observed that the official government announcement stated that the Khumalos had been “killed by dissidents”. There was no follow up on this story in any media. It was a 24-hour sensation. Had one of the Tegwani victims not been a British woman, the attack might not have made the news anywhere. Even the British government showed little interest in taking up the murder of one of its own citizens and the near murder of a second.

Until Mugabe’s war veterans began invading white-owned farms several years later, foreign governments and the international media had little interest in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe, however horrendous.

42. How Mugabe Came to Be

In moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure. Naomi Klein, 200777

In retrospect, one can see that Mugabe’s personal leadership qualities were minimal, and his qualifications for heading a government and managing an economy were almost non-existent. As a secondary school student he had been a loner, had few friends and spent most of his time in the school library. He did not participate in sports, never learned teamwork, nor experienced the give and take of discussion and debate with his peers in which ideas are challenged and either proven or revised. Throughout his school years, he was mentored and financially sponsored by one man about whom we know little – a Jesuit priest who was the school principal.

Mugabe accumulated seven university degrees, six of them through correspondence courses during his eleven years in prison. These studies in prison did not relieve, but rather accentuated his isolation and left his reputed intellectualism untested.

Apart from being secretary and eventually leader of ZANU, Mugabe’s only paid employment had been as a teacher. He taught in Ghana, where he met his first wife Sally, a Ghanaian – and at two schools in Rhodesia, the Empandeni Mission School near Plumtree and Garfield Todd’s Dadaya Mission School in Shabani. There is no evidence that he was a popular or respected teacher with a good rapport with his students. Unlike other revolutionary African leaders, like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Kwame Nkumah of Ghana, who had also been teachers, when he came to power he showed no enthusiasm or skill for educating his people about governance and development. He displayed a penchant for repetitive rhetoric and bravado, delivering words and phrases like hammer-blows. He cultivated his own reputation as a charismatic leader. Yet his credentials as a revolutionary wartime leader (a bush warrior) are unproven. He never risked his life in battle, like the genuinely charismatic Fidel Castro or Che Guevara, or like other magnetic African leaders of independence movements, such as Samora Machel, Augustino Neto or Amil Cabral.

With few leadership qualities and being almost completely lacking in ordinary “people skills,” how then did Robert Mugabe rise to power in Zimbabwe? And where had the brutality come from – the need within for wanton violence when he already had the country in his hands, when his power had no credible challengers? “Let me be a Hitler tenfold,” he once boasted in the parliament – incredible words to come from the mouth of an intelligent, articulate, educated man, a student of history and philosophy, whose life in so many fundamental ways parallels that of the great South African statesman Nelson Mandela. This story has not been told. So we are left to speculate. One wonders whether the roots of his perversity, which have grown monstrous, not mellow, with age, are to be found in the hidden recesses of his lonely, fatherless – vulnerable – childhood.

Whatever the case, it seems that in the 1970s Mugabe found a route to the top that did not require great leadership ability or physical courage, but writing – and rhetorical – skills and the pretense of loyalty to whoever was his current leader, first to Joshua Nkomo of ZAPU, then to Reverend Sithole of ZANU. At opportune moments, he betrayed each of them. He quit ZAPU and Nkomo to join ZANU and Sithole; then he blind-sided Sithole and took control of ZANU. In the eventual showdown for national leadership, Mugabe, a Shona, played the tribal card ruthlessly against his erstwhile colleague and leader Joshua Nkomo, an Ndebele. The Shona outnumbered the Ndebele by four to one. It was almost too easy.

???

Some sectors of the white population, as well as Africans living in eastern and central Zimbabwe, could afford to retain a positive opinion of Robert Mugabe because the repression of human rights and the murder of thousands of Africans in Matabeleland throughout the 1980s did not directly impact on them. They did not feel the force of Mugabe’s wrath and tyranny until a decade later. Some lines of Martin Niemoller’s famous poem about the Nazi era come to mind: They came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. . . .78

Even as late as 1992 the writer Doris Lessing – a former Rhodesian and an acute observer of human behaviour – recorded that many whites were holding to a romanticized view of Robert Mugabe, blaming the problems of the economy and years of civil strife and bloodshed, not on Mugabe himself, but on outside interference (e.g. South African sabotage) or on bad advisors and corrupt underlings: “Mugabe, they say, will resign . . . ‘Poor Robert’s heart has been broken. . .’”79

On one occasion in 1992, while “playing a game of Epitaphs” with some well-to-do white farmers, Lessing noted their consensus that Robert Mugabe’s epitaph should read: “A good man fallen among thieves.” Among the other epitaphs they considered were: “God will reward him for trying” and “Here lies a tragic hero . . .”80

However, by 1990 the country was troubled with increasing unemployment, rising inflation and a balance of payments crisis. Men in suits duly arrived from the World Bank and persuaded Mugabe to initiate a dreaded structural adjustment program involving cuts to government spending on education, health care, infrastructure and the civil service – with devastating results on the quality of life of ordinary people. Mugabe, his cabinet ministers and top party officials continued their high-spending lifestyles, but most Zimbabweans became poorer as unemployment worsened and education and health care diminished.

Looking for a scapegoat or a political distraction, Mugabe pounced on the white farmers – the backbone of the country’s mainly agricultural economy – and announced an ill-considered and confusing land reform scheme by which white-owned farmland would be confiscated without compensation and given to needy black farmers. The program was rampant with violence, corruption and scandal: cabinet ministers and top party officials suddenly qualified as needy black farmers and grabbed most of the best land for themselves. Middle and low level party hacks seized much of the rest, often killing or driving off resistant white farmers. Together the World Bank’s failed structural adjustment strategy and Mugabe’s chaotic land reform program destroyed the country’s increasingly fragile economy. Farm production plummeted, the country became a net importer of food, and hunger became a way of life in the countryside – and, when it seemed that things could not get worse, the HIV/AIDS pandemic began its macabre sweep across all of southern Africa, including Zimbabwe. All of the remarkable gains of the 1980s were lost within a few years, and the whole economy went into a downward spiral that continued unabated – or with acceleration – almost to the present day. By 2008 life expectancy in Zimbabwe had decreased to 37 years for men and 34 for women; morbidity, as well as hunger, had become a way of life; inflation had risen to 100,000 percent by April of that year, and to a percentage so high by December as to be incomprehensible.

And still Mugabe could not be dislodged, supported as he was by brutal national security forces that he had personally developed and corrupted.

 

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Reluctant Target

Reluctant Target

avoiding motor vehicle accidents and other survicval tips
by James Mitchell
retold by Francis Mitchell
associate editor Virginia Houston
foreword by Bob Rivers
edition:Paperback
tagged :
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SPEED TOO FAST FOR ROAD CONDITIONS As an accident reconstructionist, I’ve heard more wailing about this type of collision and more lame duck excuses than I care to remember. We are living in Canada; it rains and snows here. Roads get slippery when it rains or snows. The aim of the game is avoiding collisions with all kinds of things like poles, traffic signs, telephone and cable boxes, ditches, to name but a few, and last but not least, other motor vehicles. To do this you must understand your enemy, the slippery road. Just how do we know when a road is slippery? One habit initiated many years ago that has helped me avoid a stupid collision is testing the road shortly after I leave from the house. On your more than likely rather quiet residential road run the car up to 30 km/h and then brake rather hard. You will notice immediately if the road is slippery or not. Anything from heavy dew or a light mist to pouring rain or a blizzard is going to make the road slippery. Some of the more common extremely slippery situations are as follows:• Rain: It has just begun to rain. It hasn’t rained for several days. The rain begins to mix with the fuels/oils that have been deposited on the road surface. The closer one gets to an intersection the more prominent the oil/water mixture becomes. It is at this place that the vehicles have stopped for traffic lights or stop signs and have time to dump their waste products on the road. The available friction required to slow and stop your vehicle has now been cut in some cases in half. That 10 metres you need to stop suddenly becomes 20 and you don’t have that much anymore. Now imagine this situation on a down-slope and your troubles have just begun. Within an hour of the commencement of the rain this situation should all but disappear; the slipperiest times during a rainfall will be just after the rain has commenced•”Black Ice”: Temperatures that hover just above the freezing point cause a special problem that is known as “Black Ice”. Black Ice is also known as “glare ice” or “clear ice”. This refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a roadway surface. It is transparent, which allows the usually-black asphalt roadway to be seen through it, hence the name. It is unusually slick compared to other forms of roadway ice, and as it contains very few bubbles, black ice is very difficult to see. In addition, it often is confused with a wet road, which is identical in appearance. Bridges and overpasses can be especially dangerous. Black ice forms first on bridges and overpasses because air can circulate both above and below the surface of the elevated roadway, causing the pavement temperature to drop more rapidly. Black ice can form when the temperature of the road surface is at or below the freezing point whereas the air is normally just above the freezing point. This occurs during dawn periods, or under bridges, near bordering tall trees or anywhere where the shadow of an object blocks the warming of the road surface. Add any amount of water to this surface and voila, instant ice! There is a notorious location (see Figure Three below) in my city where a combination of several traffic lights, a down-slope and the shadow of the provincial highway overpass create a devil’s mix of black ice covered with oily water especially when the air temperature is just above freezing. For strangers to that location, it’s an instant invitation to disaster. You only have to listen to their descriptions of total loss of control to understand their frustration. • Bridge May Be Slippery: Warning signs are erected for a purpose. Be aware of the potential danger, both under and on bridge decks or overpasses. (Fig. Four) Black ice may form even when the ambient temperature is several degrees above the freezing point of water (0° C) if the air warms suddenly after a prolonged cold spell that leaves the surface of the roadway well below the freezing point temperature.• Snow:-- Snow at intersections presents another problem. If the temperatures are not extremely cold the constant braking of vehicles especially near stop signs will cause the snow to begin to pack. The more cars that stop there the more slippery it will become as the tires scuffing on the snow produce enough heat to cause some of the snow to melt and then re-freeze almost immediately. Thus the snow begins to turn to ice. With sufficient vehicles stopping there, an ice skid pad is created. Then you, the unsuspecting driver, arrives upon the scene assuming you can stop, as at the last stop sign. Well if someone is still at the stop sign, we have a rear end collision; or if no vehicle is there you go sailing through the intersection into an angled collision with another vehicle, which could even be worse.• Another common “driving too fast” collision occurs when one inadvertently demonstrates Newton’s First Law of Motion. Sir Isaac determined that if you put something in motion at a constant speed (such as a car) in a straight line then it would keep following that straight line unless acted upon by an external force. Such an external force is found when a car’s tires act upon a roadway. People continue to drive through curves on the road with wet or icy surfaces and expect that their vehicle will go around it as any other time. Well it will not! If you are entering a left hand curve at a too high rate of speed then you should expect to leave the road on the right side and pray you don’t hit anything such as a light standard or telephone pole. The photo below illustrates what can happen if you hit a pole at high speed.Far too many people assume that hitting a snow bank won’t hurt their car; however snow will push against the side of your vehicle when it comes up against it and the soft parts such as the door shells and fenders will buckle. The door frames will not. This can cause thousands of dollars in damage. I’ve actually seen vehicles hit a snow bank that looked as if they were extruded from a lasagne noodle machine.• If you lose it on a right hand curve you can expect to cross into any on-coming traffic. In both instances because the vehicle did not have enough traction (external force) it kept going straight. Now before someone starts complaining that their car did not go in a straight line but rather was spinning around let me explain further. It is the centre of mass of your vehicle that will keep going straight and it is that centre of mass that your vehicle was spinning about as it left the road. Just a word to the wise here, do not argue with those who have studied physics that a car rounding a left turn will run off the road on the left side because of the “yawing” action (that’s what the above rotation is called). That is not going to happen in this universe; it will leave the roadway on the right.Another issue that makes investigators cringe is when people tell them about their vehicle beginning to yaw as they enter the curve and that they applied their vehicle brakes to attempt to correct it. Well, that is the worst possible thing anyone could do. Any chance you had of correcting your skid flies out the window when one applies the brakes. The car’s tires only have so much traction. When you attempt to steer hard to avoid crossing the centre-line or leaving the road and then apply your brakes you simply defeat the purpose. In those situations, steer without braking! A few words about those forces that I indicated were necessary to allow you to turn corners, to brake to a stop and to accelerate. Understanding this can keep you out of many a traffic mishap.Every physical system has a limit. Vehicle tires have a limit as to how much traction they can provide for cornering, braking or accelerating. If one causes a vehicle to exceed the traction limit of the tires there will be a loss of control.

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The Boys of '62: transcending the racial divide (Limited Second Edition)

The Boys of '62: transcending the racial divide (Limited Second Edition)

Vaughan Furriers Maritime Junior Baseball Champions
by Frank Mitchell
associate editor Virginia Houston
designed by Francis Mitchell
consultant editor Lynn Moulton
edition:Paperback
tagged : sports
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Excerpt

Prologue

The period from the early fifties to the mid-sixties was the time frame for the first edition of this book, which coincided with the period of civil rights protests in the USA and similar, but perhaps less confrontational changes in Canada. It follows the team until late in 2007. [The Limited Second Edition updates the exploits of this team and its members to 2009.] The early 60s was the time of Rosa Parks and the bus company of Montgomery, Alabama; the march, confrontation and bloodshed at Selma; the confrontation between Gov. George Wallace and John F. Kennedy, where the president used federal legislation and the National Guard to permit blacks to enroll in white universities; as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Washington and his famous “I have a dream! “speech.

Much of the impetus for desegregation and hence integration was based on the Brown vs the Board of Education (1954) argued by Thurgood Marshall, where the unanimous landmark decision by the Justice Earl Warren-led U.S. Supreme Court, ruled that separate education was inherently unequal treatment and inferior education under the equal treatment clause of the 14th Amendment. This was also time of the official separation of races in many southern states. However the ruling on Brown opened the way for the integration and civil rights movements. It did not, however, remove violence as the Klu Klux Klan was still operating, and there were the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King and the crippling of Gov. George Wallace.

In Nova Scotia there were segregated seating areas in many theatres, no service in certain restaurants, while some barber shops would not cut the hair of blacks. Other discrimination in housing, education and employment was more subtle, but no less damaging to the aspirations of the African-Canadian population, or as they were then known as, the coloureds. It was also a cyclical and perpetuating discrimination where blacks were denied employment based on their training or education, but then received a poorer quality education or lowered expectations within school systems. One landmark case in Canada, albeit a few years earlier (1948) than the U. S. decision but rather closer to home, involved Viola Desmond1 who was refused a ticket for a ‘whites only’ section in a New Glasgow, N.S. theatre. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia rulesd against her on a technicality, but it would subsequently bring about landmark changes in this country for equal access for blacks to public facilities and services. In 2012 the government of Nova Scotia officially pardoned and apologized to Ms Desmond in a special ceremony.

But as a reader you might ask: ”What has this to do with sport, baseball or this book?” Well the short answer is that segregation in sport existed as well, although the barriers eventually broke down faster in sport than in the society as whole - and the Vaughan Furriers were an important part of those changes. Black players were not permitted on white teams, so consequently the Coloured League (hockey) was formed in Nova Scotia, producing some great teams and many exceptional players. In fact the Coloured League existed nine years before Lord Stanley put his famous cup up for competition in 1893 - for whites only - whereas the Coloured League in Nova Scotia had begun in 1885. The same was true for professional baseball with the existence of the Negro Leagues south of the border. In Nova Scotia the Black Leagues or individual all-black teams in both sports continued right up to the mid-to later fifties, with several of the Furrier’s 1962 team members being connected with such teams earlier in their own lives; a few of the Furriers players even played or had close relatives on these famous early teams.

Quality black players in both baseball and hockey such as New Brunswick’s Willie O’Ree (who eventually broke the NHL’s colour bar with the Boston Bruins) and Manny MacIntyre, who along with Herb and Ossie Carnegie played on a single line with the Quebec Aces during Jean Belliveau’s time. They were dubbed the ‘Black Aces’2 and although they were great players, discrimination held them back, limited their possibilities in professional sports. Many readers are cetainly well aware of O’Ree’s and MacIntyre’s abilities in hockey, few likely knew they were very good in baseball as well.3 But major league baseball’s training camps were all in the deep south, as were some of their ballparks. The mid-fifties was still a time of official segregation in the south, so hockey wound up as the sport of choice for them as the north (including Canada) was somewhat less discriminatory than the southern U.S.A.

In Halifax, in the late fifties-early sixties, opportunities for blacks in employment, access to higher education, as well as many walks of life were limited, but the players on the Rangers-Vaughan Furriers were perhaps unaware of it. They had grown up with blacks and whites in the same neighbourhoods who played together, attended school together, spent time in each other’s homes. So when the Vaughan Furriers went to recruit additional players to build a championship team, they asked other white players to join them. It seemed natural to them, but in doing so they transcended the social and racial divide, performing a kind of reverse integration 4 that at the time seemed impossible in many segments of the larger society. As Jason Bruce wrote in 2007: “Although they wouldn’t realize it for decades, the Vaughan Furriers were trailblazers in 1962.” 5

1, 3. Northern Sandlots, A Social History of Maritime Baseball by Colin D. Howell. Ph.D. © 1995, University of Toronto Press, pp. 182-3 2. www.blackhistorysociety.ca/Black Aces Hockey 4. Colour Blind, CTV news documentary (March,2007) www.youtube.com 5. Jason Bruce: See the initial paragraph on the back cover jacket of this book.

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R.E.A.L., from the Edge of the Rock

R.E.A.L., from the Edge of the Rock

... a Newfoundland Memoir (2nd Printing)
by Rita Mary Stamp
cover design or artwork by Virginia Houston
foreword by Lisa Catherine Cohen
editor-in-chief Francis Mitchell
edition:Paperback
tagged : historical
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Excerpt

My First Breath It was late in the fall. The heat of summer was gone and the air had taken on a cool. Dawn was at least an hour or two before breaking. Like every other good day in St. Vincent’s, the sun would peek over the horizon at the Big Head, a landmark of densely populated trees on the other side of Holyrood Pond. The Stamp family’s little two-storey wooden-framed home sat near the edge of a cliff overlooking the magnificent Atlantic Ocean and Holyrood Pond. A long, narrow beach separated the two.From their bedroom, Nellie and Val Stamp couldn’t help but hear the tumultuous roar of the waves as they splashed day and night up on the shore, but on this very early morning, louder - and a lot closer than the waves - were the excruciating screams of Nellie, between calling out to her husband, and second-time-father-to-be, Val, and Jesus, Mary and - ahhh, ohhh - St. Joseph! “Get up and get yourself ready, Val, while I look after ‘meself’. I need to get ready to go to the hospital. I just know it. It’s time we better start ‘movin’ quick!” Val sprung out of bed and jumped into his trousers in one heck of a hurry. It was usually a very peaceful and quiet time of the day, but not at this wee hour of the morning. Val felt around on the night table with his big weather-wrinkled hands until he finally found the oil lamp. “Now where are those god-darn Eddy matches to light it with?” Val scowled. Nellie, did you move my matches? Where are they? I gotta find them!” “Shhh....! Be quiet,” Nellie demanded, “Don’t talk so loud. You’re going to wake up the youngster. She’s still fast asleep.”“Well, I gotta get some light to find my way downstairs.”Maybe they - aghhh - fell down on the floor by the night table,” Nellie strained to say, “Look on the floor, will you? And don’t knock over the pail!” (Neither the Stamp family, nor most of the families in this outport Newfoundland community, had running water then - no sinks or bathtubs with faucets; having an indoor, modern flush toilet was a remote fantasy). The “pail” was the repository for the unfortunate side effect of humanness - human waste. Yes, it had a lid on it, although not as tight fitting as one might have wished, especially when you knocked it over, or worse, missed, in the dark of night.Val scuffled his feet around in the pitch dark and finally heard the scrape of the matches moving and the thin crack-crack of them spilling onto the linoleum floor. He stooped down and scooped up one of them, and with it, lit the oil lamp. A trail of sooty smoke followed him as he carried the lamp across the landing and headed for the stairs. He began to count each step…one…two…three… stepping down each one cautiously in the pale, fluttery lamp light in the still-pitch dark…twelve, thirteen…all the way down until he reached the fourteenth step. Val knew then he had made it to the bottom. He couldn’t afford to trip and fall - not at this stage of things - perhaps hurt himself, or even set the house on fire! What, with Nellie about to pop! When he reached the kitchen, he lit the Aladdin, (Fig. 1) the kitchen lamp that illumined the room with a lot more light. There, that makes more sense, he thought, pleased with his accomplishment and, like most men, unable to fully grasp the vastness of the task his wife is about to take on. Val then carried the oil lamp back upstairs for Nellie, who needed the light to get herself ready, and then holding onto him, her tiny, weighted-down body would lumber her way down all fourteen stairs. When Val reached the top step, he saw that by now, Nellie was deep into labour. This is no false alarm, she was thinking. And so was he. Nellie gasped and cried, squeezing her eyes in pain, and managed to tell him that the contractions were becoming more unbearable with each passing minute. She couldn’t deny it any longer; it was her time all right! She was too deep in pain to be able to time her contractions. Val filled the old Waterloo stove (See Fig. 2: Waterloo stove) with an armful of splits - dried wood, shaved with curls for easy igniting - to light the fire, so he could at least warm the house up before Nellie came downstairs. Again Val misplaced his Eddys (matches). Where did they go this time? he wondered. I could have sworn I put them on the kitchen table, or on top of the Waterloo. Val looked in the most likely places, but still couldn’t find them, excusing his foggy-brain with his wife’s labour. Finally, he glanced toward the windowsill…and there they were, sitting innocently the whole time. “Ah, St. Anthony musta bin ’round here again! He always seems to hear our prayers when somethin’ goes missin’. “Val lit the splits and got the old Waterloo firing hot. He half filled the old, cast-iron kettle and began to make a pot of hot Red Rose, Orange Pekoe tea - always the loose tea, never the bags - for himself and Nellie; likely in that order. Ah, he thought, maybe she might like a mug-up (that’s Newfie for having a cup of tea with a piece of toast and a dab of bake-apple jam, or just plain old bread and butter, or a tea biscuit). Mug-up time is any time of the day or night. The hallway door opened and in waddled little Nellie huffing and moaning. By gosh, perfect timing! she thought, smiling bravely through the next stabbing pain.“The kettle is ready now,” Val announced. He poured her a cup of hot tea and placed the chipped, lilac-patterned cup on the saucer. It wobbled into place. “There you are! That should fix you up. Maybe the pains will go away, at least for a while. I bet it’ll do wonders for you.” Nellie took a few slurps of the tea and had just begun eating her piece of toast, when she let out another awful scream, “Jeeeezus, Mary and St. Joseph!” Val, startled, spilled his own tea and winced from the burn of the liquid on his leg. “Oh, Sacred Heart of Jesus, help me! God forgive me for saying so! I think I am going to have this baby right now, right here.” Nellie did not swear; no, she never used a single profanity in her entire life! However, calling out for this or that saint - often as the need arose - took its place. She was totally incapable of uttering the curse words that other people say aloud all the time without a shred of guilt. God, she knew for certain, would never forgive her - or anyone else, for that matter - for using His name in vain. “Of course, you know perfectly well, Val, that good Catholics - ow-w-w-w-w - don’t swear!” Nellie declared to Val, “Please go find out and see if the taxi driver has left yet for St. John’s! And ple-e-e-ease hurry!”In St. Vincent’s, telephones had not yet been introduced in people’s homes; only the post office had one that the residents could use, but only in emergencies. And this was an emergency! And it is where Val (and Nell - the mare) would momentarily gallop off, to use the phone and call Stefan to come and fetch Nellie because she was about to have her baby. Stefan, the only taxi driver in the village, lived about ten miles away. It could take him quite a while to get to the Stamp home. Maybe too long a while… Nellie was taking tiny sips of her tea, between gasping for breath. Val was, however, being his slow-moving, charming self. “Hurry up, Val,” she heaved “I’ve got to get out of here real soon. You’d better make it fast! Also, Val, call Bridget, because I think I will need her to come with me, just in case”.Bridget Hayward was the only midwife in the community. She was 80 years or maybe older; she didn’t know herself. There had been others who were either dead or too old to practice anymore. Bridget was also the community healer. She must have delivered hundreds of babies in her time. Bridget, like the midwives before her, had no medical training, yet never encountered a single problem with any delivery that she couldn’t remedy in her own, natural way. Her deliveries were all success stories. Her house was only about a fifteen-minute walk from Nellie and Val’s. Bridget was always dramatically draped in a long, loose-fitting, black dress with a white pinafore over it. She always wore old-fashioned, high-cut, laced-up black boots. Her long, pure white hair was always braided and pinned up in a bun on the top of her head. A gentle, wise old crone, she was always calm and relaxed, a necessary component of being able to soothe people in such stressful situations as baby birthing. Of course, someone had to be in control, and Bridget definitely was. “Stefan can pick her up along the way,” Nellie added, but Val felt chided, because he already knew that.I hope Nellie doesn’t have this youngster here, Val privately pleaded with God. Either way, I’ll be all alone with the youngster we’ve got. Another blood-curdling scream… I surely wouldn’t make a good doctor. Ginny is still sleeping; thank God for that! Val grumbled to himself as he threw on his bare-at-the-seams windbreaker. The other youngster he was referring to was Virginia (Ginny) who was just a year old. Before he could finish buttoning his coat, and raise its collar against the chilly fall wind, and before he could hurry, as ordered, out the front door, Nellie kept adding instructions, and Val valiantly tried to remember them all. “I’d better tell you what you should know so you can look after Ginny properly when you come back.” Nellie laid herself down on the stool - the long, narrow, wooden bench in the kitchen. It was used solely by the head of the household for resting at the end of the day. Nellie’s stretching out on it was a brazen, and rather brave act that under the circumstances Val did not disallow. She sat down in that awkward, arms first pregnant way, then swung her feet up, grunting as she sat, secretly keeping her fingers crossed the whole time. The storm door slammed a couple of times. “Got to fix that hinge,” Val muttered aloud to no one in particular…. With not another moment to spare, he ran up to the stable to saddle the family transportation - the old mare, whose name was also Nell, and Val had to be careful not to call his wife the horse’s name, or vice versa, the first being most important. Val tackled Nell, put the collar on and harnessed her. “Ready, Nell? Let’s go, ol’ pal.” He mounted her gently, held those reins tightly and grabbed the whip. He whacked old Nell on the arse a few times to get her to top speed. “Giddy-up! Go Nell, as fast as you can. Don’t let me down this time. I know you can do it. You’ll get lots of hay, oats, and a good drink when we get back here, I promise!” The sun was well above the horizon by now, but hiding behind the usual thick curtain of fog and haze, like an actress with stage fright, afraid to come out and shine on this nerve-wracking drama. Val rode Nell down the road spurring her to yet greater speed and holding on for dear life to get to the post office to use the old-fashioned telephone in which you hold the handset to the ear and speak into the base. He prayed he’d be able to catch Stefan before he left for St. John’s, because he usually had a carload of passengers every morning, all in their own rush to do some kind of business, or buy something in the city. Val hoped against hope that Stefan didn’t have any customers this morning. Val dismounted Nell, and tied her to the wooden fence outside the post office, huffing and sweating from the ride. “What in tarnation is going on with you?” demanded Viola, the hefty and jovial postmistress.“I need to use - puff, huff - the phone, Viola; Nellie’s in labour!” Without another word, Viola dialed to connect to the operator and handed Val the phone. In an audible and single breath, while trying with great effort to compose himself, he whispered, “Stefan, I need you to come down quick and pick up the wife and take her to the hospital in St. John’s. This is an emergency situation, you see. The wife is going to have a youngster and she just woke me up with one hell of a scream. She’s in labour. Did I already say that? Yes, I did, that’s true!” “Are you sure, Val?” Stefan replied, ever the realist. There were hollers of “Yes! Yes! Ye….ssss!” coming from Val. “And you need to pick up Bridget after Nellie, okay?”“By God, you’re not kidding! I’ll be there right a…” Stefan promised. His last word was cut off as Val banged the phone down. Val untied Nell, mounted her and galloped, as if the lumbering run of Nell could be called galloping. We, I mean, we’re not finished yet, Val whispered to the mare. We have to go up to the Point to wake Bridget and tell her to get ready to go to the hospital with Nell…the wife I mean. Another few minutes on Nell’s back, Val arrived at the midwife, Bridget’s house. Fighting a losing battle with time, he knocked less than politely on Bridget’s unlocked storm door and to his relief, found she was up and dressed already. She was happy to hear the good news, and assured Val she would be ready when Stefan and Nellie would be coming by. Once more, Val and old Nell galloped back to the house. Out of breath, Val stood in the porch, bent over, hands on his knees, breathing even harder than Nellie. Between grunts of pain, as if no time had passed, except now, still on the stool, and hunched over her pregnant belly, Nellie began explaining to Val all the things he needed to do while she was gone to have the baby. Pointing to a pile, she began her litany: “Those diapers over there are all wash-and-wear.” Nellie was always prepared for any turn of events. She had sewn a new batch of flannelette diapers in preparation for the new baby. She knew she could never have too many of these things around. “Val, listen. You have to be very careful putting these diapers on because you’re not very experienced. Those danged safety pins; they’re enough to really get your goat! When you’re changing her diaper, make sure you put your finger on the inside first, and be very careful not to let the pin stick her. You hear me?” Men don’t always listen to their wives, and Nellie knew it, so she reiterated, louder this time, allowing the volume of the words here and there to replace the screams “Watch out for those safety pins!” That bout of labour pains subsided long enough to continue instructing at a normal volume. “Now, after the diaper is changed, be sure to soak it, ‘poop and all’ in the pail reserved for this purpose only. Remember, the pail is out there in the porch behind you.” Val recovered from his ride enough to hop out of the pail’s way. The porch was enclosed and there the wood was stored, as well as other nasty items, like pails of poopy diapers and, although not a great conjoining, some food was kept directly above the pail on the shelves. “That’s where I always keep it”, Nellie resumed, “so I will know where to find it. So, that’s it! That’s all you need to know for now. Oh, don’t forget to feed Ginny, too.” “Feed her what?” asked the clueless Val.“Well-cooked porridge, scrambled eggs, if the chickens lay any (they haven’t lately) a bottle of warmed milk - not hot, warmed - and for the love of St. Joseph, don’t ya be choking the youngster while I’m gone! Give her tiny pieces of food, okay!”Distracted, Val heard the sound of an approaching car and looked out the window, hazy from the dampness outside, and saw Stefan speeding up the hill on the dirt road, with a flounce of dust in his wake. Stefan had wasted no time and arrived within the half hour. He stopped the mud-caked black, late ’40s Dodge cab in front of the house. As he helped Nellie to the cab, Val grabbed a few rag-stuffed pillows from their bed and placed them on the back seat before the grunting, bent-over Nellie manoeuvred her expectant body into a partially lying-down, partially seated position as comfortably as possible. As they prepared to pull away from the house, Val leaned in to Stefan, now back in the driver’s seat, and forgetting his Christian manners in the kerfuffle, almost ordered Stefan to “Don’t forget to stop along the way to pick up Bridget and take her with you. I rode by after I called you; she said she’d be ready. If you don’t get to St. John’s in time, you know, Nellie will need her. You never know what could happen along the way. It’s a heck of a long way from here and certainly no place to have a baby! So long! Good luck, Nell…Nellie I mean.” As Val waved good-bye from inside a new dust ball, Stefan drove away, but once out of sight, he sped up to the Point to get Bridget. She was wearing one of her black dresses, but hadn’t bothered with the pinafore. A swipe of her toothbrush and a quick twist of the long, white braid into the usual bun, Bridget pranced down her stairs with just enough time to peel an orange and pop three sections at a time into her mouth, dashed outside and was ready and waiting on the second step. In this Catholic community, Bridget was well used to being called at ungodly hours. So, almost before Stefan’s taxi had come to a full stop, she was scurrying around to the front passenger seat. She opened the door, not without some effort, and Stefan, to aid her, reached across to pull the door handle up from the inside. Bridget, spry for her age and weight, jumped in. She twisted around to face the perspiring and pain-etched Nellie, and reached over the seat to gently brush the hair from the forehead of her pregnant patient and whisper soothing words of comfort. She had a way, all right; it mattered not what she said but the way she said it, and Nellie felt immediately soothed. Now, no matter what happened, Nellie knew she was in good, veteran hands.If you were to look through Val’s kitchen window, you could easily see a horse, car or a buggy go around the Point - a landmark, blind hill and sharp curve in the road near where the first church was built - and where Bridget lived. After the old Dodge left in a balloon of dust, with Stefan and Nellie in it, Val wasted no time getting back into the kitchen to gobble a fast breakfast before baby Ginny awoke and another busy day began. With his tea and a plate, Val sat down at the dining room table to nibble from the loaf of bread Nellie had baked yesterday. Fresh bread always sat on that painted-green, wooden table in that darkened room where no one ever ate, and where most of the food was stored in cardboard boxes, stacked on the floor. With the knife that always rested beside the loaf, he sliced off another piece of bread and carrying it in his mouth, tip-toed back into the kitchen, trying to keep quiet so the baby remained asleep for as long as possible. Then Val began the process of cooking the porridge in the old, burn-stained saucepan with the bent handle. He lifted up the damper (the round lid that goes over the opening where the wood or coal gets thrown). He placed the slice of Nellie’s bread across the opening to make toast, ready to take it with a poker, fast! Val slathered it with some jam and swallowed it in seconds.Shortly thereafter, Val heard little cries coming from upstairs. He dropped the damper into its place and ran up to retrieve his daughter. By the time he reached the bedroom, her chubby arms were outstretched; her cries were so loud, his first instinct was to cover both of his ears. Overly gentle, he picked her up out of her crib he’d fashioned out of junk wood, and carried the still-wailing baby Ginny down the stairs and into the kitchen. The porridge was bubbling in the pot and smelled ready, though it looked a little soupy. He tried valiantly to remember all the instructions Nellie had given him, and luckily did recall the part about making sure that whatever he feeds the baby, it’s well cooled off first. Testing some on his wrist the way he’d seen his wife do it all year, Val managed to feed Ginny the porridge without burning her! Then, turning his face away from the amazingly unpleasant odour of his tiny child’s poopie, he dutifully washed and changed the wiggling, fidgeting, crying baby, and realized in these few hours since Nellie left what a tough stroke of bad luck it is to be born female. It must be really difficult being a woman, wife, and mother, all at the same time! Oh, I’m so glad I’m a man. Women have so much to do! He thought to himself. Val was tasting motherhood, an unfamiliar and most undesirable role he’d be happy to give back the minute Nellie returned with another youngster in her arms. As Val fed little spoonfuls of porridge to the hungry child, he was muttering to himself and pacing, something expectant fathers universally do; I don’t know why. “They’ve been gone well over an hour. They must be halfway to the hospital by now,” said Val unabashedly aloud to no one, “surely to God.” The reality had finally hit him, and he suddenly realized that this was no toothache Nellie was having. “What am I going to do with this youngster? I gotta get outa here and do some work - something to keep my mind busy.” The truth is, Val was wrestling with a premonition that this was destined to be to be a rough time for all.It didn’t take long for the word to spread through the community that Nellie was in labour and on her way to the hospital in St. John’s. Nellie and Val’s neighbour and close friend was Maude, a bosomy, salt-of-the-earth kind of woman who had four children, three daughters and one son (Dorothy, Hilda, Dermot, and Theresa, her youngest, who was six years old). Maude and Theresa came in, so close in proximity and friendship that they could just walk in - to check on things; Maude knew Val was going to need some help with baby Ginny. She could see that Val was bungling his way through all Nellie’s chores so she just took over the reins of taking care of Ginny, and did some cooking for Val, too. Her neighbourly, maternal, take-over way gave Val some free time to do his own chores outside. Val had been working as a carpenter in St. John’s at Newfoundland Hotel when Nellie’s birth date was nigh, and decided to stay at home with his frail, but heavy-with-child wife and baby Ginny until the new youngster was born. Then he planned to go back to work.It had turned cold in early November and winter was just around the corner. The sun had decided to smile through the morning fog and began to burn it off. “It’s not so dense for a change,” said Val, “but you know, Maude, I went outside last night just before I went to bed, and saw a big circle around the moon. Yes, like you never saw before. You know what that means! There’s a storm brewing somewhere. Not too far away, either… I’m worried….” “Now don’t you worry your head ‘bout nuthin’, Val; everything’s gonna be jus’ fine; you wait an’ see!” smiled Maude in her usual, calming voice.“Okay, what if they hit a big bump or wash-out in the road, what with Stefan’s speeding, especially with Nellie screaming at him to hurry up? What if she pops that youngster out on the back seat, Dear God?” Val kept imagining aloud all the catastrophes that might happen if Nellie didn’t make it to the hospital in time. The hospital in St. John’s is approximately ninety miles from the little settlement of St. Vincent’s. It usually takes around two to three hours to get there, because the roads are always in terrible condition. There was only one road from St. Vincent’s to the intersection on the Salmonier Line - a section of the main road leading out to the main roadway straight into the city. In certain areas, the turns are angled at almost ninety degrees, and bumpy to boot. Those damn potholes are everywhere. Parts of the roads get completely washed out after every winter, and to make matters even worse, some parts were so narrow only one car at a time could traverse them. If a car came up too fast, a crash was hard to avoid. “Dear God, let them all make it in one piece; no, three; no, four, with Bridget….” Val prayed aloud in answer to his tortuous musings. Stefan was relieved to turn off his one working windshield wiper as actual sunlight made its appearance through the wet, drizzly fog. He was speeding as fast as he could, within the bounds of safety, of course, up hills and down hills, around corners and over bumps. The trees seemed to fly by in a blur as his wheels were almost hydroplaning around those nasty, sharp turns; the road was still wet from yesterday’s rainfall. Bridget’s calming voice helped Nellie to keep her focus off her pain. There wasn’t much else left to do other than pray, along the way. Nellie always said that God would be there to help you, if you ask for His help sincerely enough. Well, she was asking sincerely enough now! She prayed for Him, with all her might to guide Stefan, herself and Bridget. Besides everything else Stefan had to watch out for, he also had to be on the alert for the possibility of a ‘big mudder f……er’ of a moose running across the road in front of them. Not an unusual sighting almost anywhere in Newfoundland. Under the circumstances, a moose would have looked the size of an elephant. Any animal darting out of the woods onto the road could spell disaster. But no moose put itself in harm’s way that morning. There was enough to deal with!It was still fairly early in the morning and, fog lifting or not, cars still had their headlights on. The law was years off that would require every driver in Canada to keep them turned on all day long, but people have a sense of what’s prudent, with or without laws. Most people, anyway…. Once they had driven through all the little settlements, there was nothing to be seen except thick brush and evergreens towering above the road and partially hiding oncoming sections of it. Some of the time, the clear blue sky was completely out of Stefan’s view. Bridget’s attention was focused on Nellie, and neither of them was concerned with the scenery nor the hide-and-go-seek blue sky. Stefan’s was on the road ahead. He could only manage a glimpse of that blue sky, when he mounted the crest of some of the hills, and there were many of them to mount. Even if there weren’t a baby inside her wanting out, Nellie, or even any non-pregnant passenger would have felt car sick in the back of this taxi speeding over bumpy hills and screeching around bobby-pin turns! Stefan himself wasn’t sure whether he was driving or flying. Undoubtedly, this was a roller coaster ride all the way. (I must have loved the ride, kicking up a storm in my placenta sea and staying cooperatively inside my mother, at least so far!) Some say a trip along those roads is an experience no one will ever forget, even driving at the posted speed! It was a darn good thing for mom and me that there were so few cars travelling in either direction that morning. Being a taxi driver and quite familiar with the roads, Stefan knew when he could step on the gas of his old Dodge on a straight stretch of road, because, most often, the Mounties (the RCMP) wouldn’t be patrolling. Certainly not in the early morning. No, not a chance in hell of seeing a Mountie. Most often, people drove in the middle of the road and quickly moved over to the far right side as soon as opposing traffic was approaching. It was somewhat easier at night due to the headlights coming at a driver from the distance; he or she would have more warning to move over. Every few minutes, Stefan would ask Nellie whether she was doing okay. If “okay” meant the baby was still inside her, then the answer was a pain-fractured yes. But despite Bridget’s soothing voice, Nellie really wasn’t okay. Disregarding her weak pleas for help, they continued on. A moment later, he drove over a huge pothole, practically ejecting them all from their seats, and again he asked Nellie how she was doing and declared his genuine concern for everyone, in particular, Nellie and her unborn child. This time she only gave a sigh and kept praying out loud to God and every accessible saint to help them get to St. John’s alive! Nellie’s labour pains soon became so intense and so regular, the baby was so ready to arrive on Earth that all Nellie wanted to do was prepare to meet her Saviour. We’re not going to make it there, she thought, and decided she’d best keep that thought to herself and pushed it away as she tried not to push her unborn child out onto the cold, faded black leather back seat of Stefan’s taxi cab. Stefan’s thought to himself was: beJesus, if she hasn’t had the baby yet, she’s not going to have one. I’ve got news for her if she thinks she is going to make it to St. John’s! Not a chance that we’ll make it there if this continues. The shocks on the car are in shitty condition, because this old Dodge rides the same deplorable road Monday through Friday, but so far, without a hitch. What car could possibly stand up to this kind of abuse every day for all the years I’ve owned this old baby? Oh, Dodgie, oh Nellie’s saints, don’t give up on us now!Despite all Nellie’s prayers, as well as Stefan’s and Bridget’s too, the taxi driver had only gone as far as St. Joseph’s on the Salmonier Line when one long, terrifying scream made him realize he had best pull in to the nearest house, hoping the willing residents would welcome them in and help them create a make-shift hospital, where Nellie might take refuge, be more comfortable and a heck of a lot safer, and where she could give birth to her child.As they neared the attractive, recently painted, homey-looking house with a lawn and a few decayed chrysanthemums planted along its edges, Bridget and Stefan’s tension eased somewhat. Bridget knocked on the bright red door and a tall, thin housewife answered the knock with a cheery “Hello, may I help you?” Then she saw Nellie, as Stefan attempted to extract her from his back seat, buckling under her weight, almost falling out of his arms onto the ground, and trying unsuccessfully to muffle her cries of pain. Mrs. Ryan hurriedly introduced herself and whinnied, “Oh dear me, I guess we had better!” Mrs. Ryan called her neighbour to help carry Nellie inside and gave this haggard bunch a warm welcome. Then she jumped into action.People were so much less cautious fifty years ago, and in the outports of Newfoundland, they are probably still to this day just as welcoming as Mrs. Ryan was on that fateful morning of my first day on Earth. People in big cities today might even doubt the veracity of a pregnant woman in labour knocking on their door, thinking it to be a ruse to gain entry to commit all manner of terrifying crimes. Not so then, thank God! The Ryan’s were happy to assist and do the best they could for this lady in waiting. Everyone bustled, and Bridget commandeered Stefan and Mrs. Ryan’s neighbour to carry Nellie to the couch. Mrs. Ryan offered them all a cup of tea from the pot of Lipton’s she had steeping on the kitchen stove, almost as if she knew this odd crew would be arriving. Nellie didn’t even get a chance to taste the tea. The labour pains were too intense to even think about tea. “Stefan,” Nellie managed to say, “we’ll be staying here for a while.” Before Stefan, the next door neighbour, and Bridget half-carried, half-walked Nellie to the sofa, Mrs. Ryan, according to Bridget’s sweet-voiced orders, hastily threw some sheets from the laundry pile onto the sofa beneath Nellie as the two gently laid her down on it. As towels were being warmed by the stove to catch me when I was born, Bridget took over, gently but forcefully instructing Nellie to breathe, push, breathe deeper, push, harder, breathe, as she kept apart Nellie’s legs and Mrs. Ryan was alternating dry washcloths to Nellie’s wet forehead…. My head made its entry into this world, while Bridget eased and cajoled the rest of me out. “Congratulations, Mrs. Stamp, you have a...a bouncing baby girr…lll!” cried Bridget, triumphantly. This long ordeal was finally over for my mom and me. I had arrived. A new life had begun.Mrs. Ryan, being the very fine lady she was, asked Nellie, my mother, to stay with them for a couple of days until she felt strong enough to go home. My mother and I gratefully accepted the invitation. Stefan drank a cup of tea and left by himself to pick up passengers in St. John’s, where he promised to call the post office in St. Vincent’s and ask Viola to send a messenger out to tell Val the good news. Bridget stayed on too, until later that evening when Stefan picked her up on his way back from St. John’s, and dropped her off at her house. When Val heard the news that his wife Nellie and new baby girl were doing fine and would be home in a day or so, his reaction was: “What? Another girl?”I was and am still so fortunate to have an older sister. She would be my role model, someone who would play with me, someone to confide in, and be my best friend. Within seven months, my mother was pregnant again. This time, she stayed at home for the birth. Bridget was there for the delivery, and Mom didn’t have to take one step out of her own bedroom. Well, that was the end of the run on girls. My father was especially pleased the new baby was a boy! My brother, named in proper Catholic Newfoundland tradition, was christened with the name of his father, Valentine. It was not an easy moniker to grow up with. A year later Mom gave birth to yet another chubby baby boy. My brother, Cecil became a companion for his older brother. It was several years later before my youngest brother, Thomas, was born. That made five of us. We were the Stamp family. Mom and Father ran a tight and very restrictive ship. By the time Thomas came, the rest of us were already in school. This was Chapter 1 of 18 in this memoir !

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