There is nothing like a Dame

RCAF vet Charley Fox leaning on one of his beloved Spitfires; but a day in 2006 nearly topped that.

A student pilot nearly killed him in a training accident in November 1942. While still an instructor in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, during the Second World War here in Canada, he’d survived a head-on collision with another aircraft near Bagotville, Quebec. And overseas during combat operations flying Spitfires, RCAF airman Charley Fox also survived 234 combat sorties as a fighter pilot. And yet, it was a June evening in 2006, that Charley told me just about topped them all.

“Meeting Dame Vera Lynn,” Fox said, “was a highlight in my life.”

The royal image

Queen Elizabeth II in open car during 1959 Royal Tour (notice kids with cameras).

Buried away in a dusty, old photo album somewhere, a photograph I took with my Kodak Brownie “Holiday Flash” camera sits mounted in those black, triangular photo corners. There might actually be two or three photos in that series. But the best of them – if you look very closely at the snapshot – shows a long limousine carrying an apparently important person who is waving in the middle of the picture. The only sound I remember – above the nearly deafening cheering around me as I framed the shot – was my mother entreating me.

“Take it now, Ted,” she said. “There she is!”