Notes from a Dependent Brat: Hockey of All Sorts
Canadian Forces Base Borden's roads are made for road hockey. They are relatively quiet. Elm Street was my hockey arena every bit as much as the base's two ice rinks, Dyte Hall and Andy Anderson. On that short stretch of roadway there were "wicked" slap shots, scintillating saves, spectacular goals, balls screaming down its length, injuries, impassioned conflict, and loads of fun.
Our road hockey season stretched as long as was rational, or sane. Like kids from all over, inside and outside the borders of CFB Borden, when spring came, certainly the warm weather, we traded-in the hockey sticks and pucks/balls for tennis balls and rackets, baseball bats and mitts. This transition never sat well with me, so one year I decided to resist even more than usual. The prime component of this grand resistance was to create something new: "Grass Hockey." My new found skills made my hockey-stick-armed friends take to the grass in the same way that baseball-mitted kids take to the grass.
We dragged the game of hockey out to an extreme length; one so long that we must have touched the start of the next road hockey season: September.
The houses on Elm Street are gone, having been razed a few years ago, as were their surrounding brothers and sisters on School Street and Hemlock Crescent, but the roads and grassy fields are still there:
Ghosts of all-season hockey-loving kids play to the calls of Echoplexed trumpets....
From March 24, 2017:
From a Dependent Brat: Of Bunkers and the Rounds
One could still find reminding-bits of warfare in the local bunkers, of which an example sat in a field very close to where I lived in Iffezheim. I admit that I did at least once go right up to the bunker but did not try to climb around inside as it was by then a collapsed structure. (One of my most vivid memories is of something I saw while travelling on an RCAF bus in the late 1960s; out my window, as the trees parted, was a sight to behold: a field of anti-tank traps. The scene of light-grey-toned pyramids spread orderly over the green grass was almost beautiful.)
One day on the CFB Baden-Soellingen Elementary School grounds a fellow schoolmate pulled out a large clear plastic bag to show off to our small gathered circle. In this conveniently transparent bag, one which could have been used to contain a few ounces of water and a small calibre goldfish, was a large assortment of small and medium calibre ammunition. There was a mix of fully intact rounds and empty shell casings. A veritable grab-bag of violence.
From April 22, 2017:
From a Dependent Brat: The Church of Me
From a Dependent Brat: The Church of Me
When I was five and six years old my dad would take me to the RC place on Sunday mornings. I remember sitting enraptured by the sermons, specifically by their extraordinary length, especially to this then child, and by what I perceived to be utter emptiness. (It's possible I knew that some things in those sermons made little sense but had yet to hurl the word "emptiness" to describe them.)
One day, a moment I remember well, I said to my dad something in a way as to avoid any misinterpretation: "Dad, I don't wanna go to church anymore."
My dad's reaction: Laughter. The kind aimed towards the heavens when one realizes that his six-year-old is figuring things out fast. And setting firm his own well-considered belief system.
The base is now an airport. Baden-Airpark.
From May 22, 2017
Notes from a Dependent Brat: Fireworks
CFB Baden-Soellingen, West Germany, late 1960s or early 1970s: The family and I gathered, along with many other military families, on the base's airfield to partake one evening in a display of fireworks. The actual igniting part fell to the men and women of Canada's finest service -- they know about explosives for some reason. (My dad knew a lot about explosives; a future posting.)
The image I remember most from the spectacular aerial powder display is of one lonely expired charge that fell just metres from us as we sat prone on the grass. The guys sitting on top of the parked crash-tender near us did not seem to react; I took that to be a sort of clean bill of health.
The red still-burning charge fizzled and my attention went back to the heavens....
From July 1, 2017:
From a Dependent Brat: Canada Day
The good news was that we would be surrounded by water -- "surrounded" in a Canadian sense.
What I remember most about the planned return to Canada, was this plan of mine: When I stepped onto the tarmac after exiting the Canadian Armed Forces Boeing 707 I would kiss the ground. (I was Drama even at nine years of age.)
I loved West Germany, but this kid was excited about returning to this country -- and the Montreal Canadiens.
I didn't kiss the ground after touching Canadian soil (or concrete) for the first time in four years, but I made my point.