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30 Seconds On The Great Escape
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
Most of the 2011 recipients are veterans. Ted Barris, a civilian, also received the commendation.
About Ted Barris
On Saturdays, 35 years ago, Brendan Shanahan the former NHL star forward, travelled to minor hockey games in west-end Toronto with his father. On those mornings at the arena, Donal Shanahan carried a newspaper under his arm; before each game “Father Don,” as he was known, would tap Brendan’s boyhood teammates on the head for […]
About two-thirds the way through the screening of “The Great Escape” movie last weekend at the Roxy Theatre in Uxbridge, there was a scene in which the American POWs break out a batch of potato-based hooch. They’re celebrating July 4, 1943, even though they’re prisoners in the famous Stalag Luft III POW camp. In […]
Not so long ago, the talk in our oldtimers’ hockey dressing room turned to the usual grousing. The Leafs likely won’t make the playoffs, one guy moaned. Somebody else complained that township roads weren’t being ploughed quickly or thoroughly enough this winter. Then, Pearson airport became the target. In the recent ice storm, weren’t the delays horrendous? Wasn’t it criminal that travellers were forced to remain on the tarmac for hours? And, just for good measure, aren’t those sunshine destination airfares outrageous? And I thought about something one of our daughters had said, when I complained about a similar problem, delay or cost. “It’s a First World problem, Dad,” she pointed out quietly.
When my veteran friend Stephen Bell came home from war in 1945, he only weighed 97 pounds (when he enlisted in 1940 he’d weighed 180). In ’45, military doctors conducted a short debriefing. They didn’t ask him about his eardrums, broken during the battle at Dieppe where he was captured in August 1942. He still had shrapnel in his back and because the Nazis had shackled him while he was a POW, his wrists were arthritic. “I was eventually placed on 100 per cent pension,” Bell told me back in the 1990s. Stephen Bell, who died at age 85 in 2009, didn’t have much good to say about his military experience. On Aug. 19, 1942, he’d been part of the disastrous raid on Dieppe, France, where more than 3,500 Canadians became casualties. After his capture there he spent the rest of the war in POW camps in sub-human conditions.
During the time it took for her nephew to grow from a child of three to an adult – some 35 years – Gerry Oldham has taken the younger members of her family to the parkette on King Street in the town where I live. As parks go, it’s always been a pretty modest space. But in its lifetime, the parkette’s simple playground swings, teeter-totter and slide have always provided enough green space for Gerry, her kids and now her grandchildren. This week, at Township Council, she showed councillors a framed photo of her family and passed along their fears.
“Don’t let them sell Grandma’s park,” she repeated to the chamber.