EPISODE 337: RESPONSES TO THE PICTURE OF THE 16 ROW SEED DRILL

EPISODE 337   RESPONSES TO THE 16 ROW SEED DRILL (HOOKED TO GPS)

alan skeoch
May 2021


cid:E927E754-3B73-4C43-99A5-41E34BAEBADA

I got some interesting comments on this 12 row seed drill.  Some small farms have survived but the big farms
are still getting bigger.

Our farm?   Very small.  25 acres of the poorest land in Wellington County.  Best crop is rock.  The rocks just keep popping
up no matter how many times we pick them.  Yet my grandparents, Ted and Louisa Freeman managed to eke out a living
from 1908 to 1958…with a lot of help from my mom and her brother Frank.  The secret was a big garden and jobs off the
farm in two World Wars.  The seed drill pictured above could not turn around on our farm…we would have to carve a highway
through the forest, over the swamps from the Fifth line to the Fourth Line. Then the drill could turn.

(If bored…take a look at the guy with big ears in the cloud above he tractor…right beside the guy with
no brain, just a hole in his head…Reading clouds is a pastime…see the snake with its mouth open?)

alan



Comments from friends

Well, Alan
…never saw a seed drill anything like this…points out how a young prospective farmer can no longer learn from his parent, nor manage anything like him. The future lies in specialized university education and revolutionizing everything that existed beforehand.
   (Russ Vanstone)

Hi Alan

Our farm friend in Illinois calls us every Saturday.  She just told us that she rode along on Friday while her renter planted corn.  He has a new 24 row planter.  

First, they drive the perimeter of the field so the GPS learns the dimensions of the field.  That takes the time as they needed to skirt buildings.  They planted 259 acres in 5 hours!  They were also fertilizing from two tanks at the same time.  The types of fertilizers are determined from soil analyses done earlier.  The planter computer gives feedback about coverage of the planting.  At one point they were getting a 96% reading and he stopped to adjust and then they were back up to 99 or 100%.

Amazing productivity and science.  Her renter and his son farm about 5000 acres and grow both corn and soy beans in her area of Illinois.

Monica

Good morning Alan,

There are some 100 acre farms still surviving … My friends’ organic farm (100 acres) was purchased 40 years ago from a Mennonite family. It borders the Thames River just outside of St. Mary’s and has a gorgeous old farmhouse (2 storey brick, reminiscent of yours.)  My sister and brother-in-law’s farm is just south of Owen South and part of it is included in the Niagara Escarpment trail.  And our daughter Martha is married to Remi, who has always been a full-time farmer in Norfolk county. His land is spotted with gorgeous woods and ravines and ponds, all spring fed creeks which flow into Lake Erie, 15 miles south. He started with 100 acres, but now farms closer to 500 acres. He farms the land and rents out the farmhouses for another source of income. You’d enjoy meeting him.  Very self-sufficient guy. Martha has 4 chickens that scratch around the house and 3 bunnies, plus a huge vegetable garden. They hope to get 2 goats this year and have a goat house and fenced yard ready for them.  

Patricia


EPISODE 336: PLANTING TIME, MAY 8, 2021

EPISODE 336  PLANTING TIME,  MAY 8, 2021


alan skeoch
May 8, 2021


“Alan, do not pass that machine…it takes nearly both lanes.”
“Quick , slide over my camera.”
“Alan, our lives are at stake…do not pass …”
“I have no intention of passing…I just want to record
what  an incredible machine we have before our eyes.”














“It is folded up right now.  Count the seeders.  Six on each side.

When it is unfolded it would cover both lanes of the highway

…even more.”
“Would you like one of those?”
“I would like to spend a day doing the seeding…probably
seed a whole hundred acre farm in a single day  Even just watching the 
planting would be wonderful….on a 100 acre farm..”
“Alan, there are no 100 acre farms any more.”

alan skeoch
May 8, 2021


EPISODE 335: BILL Z…. A Canadian-Slovak response to Al’s 1993 nostalgic trip to Bratislava (Thom N.)

EPISODE 335:   A FASCINATNG RESPONSE TO THE SLOVAKIA STORIES  by Bill Z——, artist, Canadian, ex-Slovak


alan skeoch
May 2021

Artwork by Bill Z done during a 1979 visit to his Slovak relatives


Thom N—-, friend from the deep past, sent MY Slovak Episodes to his close friend Bill Z—– who responded with some

interesting comments and a series of his artistic interpretation of Slovak life about the same time

as we visited Slovakia.    Most of the readers of my episodes are not Slovaks.  But I bet dollars to do-nuts
everyone has seen Fiddler on the Roof !  Similar set designs.   Bill Z and Thom N are real persons but I have not included
their full names.
By the way, Thom, I had a nice long discussion with Bill…complimented him on his art…perhaps you can
forward this note to Bill.

 
Al,
Bill Z, a best buddy is an incredible artist and was the Media Consultant for the Etobicoke Board of Education.
He was a docent at  the Dali Art museum in Sarasota for over a decade when wintering at his condo in St. Petersburg.
He continues to study art around the world. I sent Bill your last missive about Slovakia and his response deserved forwarding to you and your son .His sketches tell a story themselves.
Enjoy the memories.
Stay safe,
Thom
Sent from Mail for Windows 10
 
From: Bill Z
Sent: May 5, 2021 5:52 PM
To: Thomas N
Subject: Re: follow up / My response to Al’s 1993 nostalgic trip to Bratislava
 
Thom, Feel free to forward to Al and his son.  Be forewarned, the photos may scramble from the original aligned format.  – Bill
 
Dobrý deň Tomas,
 
Thank you for forwarding yesterday the fascinating accounts and nostalgic photos of your friend Al Skeoch’s 1993 trip to Bratislava to visit his son teaching English there! … I happen to have been a student there in Grade 9 for the beginning of the 1953-4 school year before switching to Vaughan Road C.I when our family ‘moved on up’ to the suburbs. 
 
Considering my background, Al’s vivid emailed accounts easily teleported me to Bratislava and the rural countryside of my thirty two plus relatives of all stripes in central Slovakia. Most were labourers, farmers, field hands, homemakers, a couple of doctors, educators and politicians, each hard-working. All those memories of the year I lived and studied making connections there with relatives and fellow classmates in 1974 came rushing back to mind as if yesterday.
 
I also went back a couple of times, once in 1979 to participate in the international Detva Folkloric Festival with a contingent of Slovak dancers from a Toronto cultural club representing Canada. A real blast!  Another time, after the fall of Communism, to include more time with my academically educated cousins, those professionals who prospered regionally and beyond, now living in the cities of Bratislava, Prague and Vienna. Some also visited me in Toronto. A true pleasure! I regularly exchange emails with my closest cousin Marta, who studied the Queen’s English for two years in London. Speaks fluently, and with a cultured British accent to boot. 
 
The history of Czechoslovakia’s breakup as referenced is a most interesting one. Particularly the ’stolen’ flag shenanigan by the Czech Republic (which I subsequently googled out of curiosity). And I easily related to, or experienced, many of his same personal eye-opening real life adventures. The episode of the secretive party in a wine cellar of a distant darkened village. The ruins, dilapidated shacks, abandoned farmers’  homes unlit at night, and dirt roads along the way as the country transitions from one generation to another. The outdoor markets selling handmade wooden crafts, corn husk dolls, embroidered items. The refreshing panoramic views from the peaks of the scenic Tatra Mountains, the lively music, the local food, delicious dumplings smothered in gravy, and home-made wine or slivovice, and as you and Cathy regretfully experienced in a Prague tram, the scourge of Roma pickpockets, once surprisingly denounced on Canadian T.V. by an international Czechoslovak beauty contestant. The initial cultural shock and language divide. Curious stares of locals turning into smiles and then as strangers turning into friends. It sure helped that I understood and spoke the dialect, admittedly with a lot of hand gestures. Unlike Al, I did get a personal tour of a large scale, well run collective farm while I was there that year. Super clean. Healthy animals. Very impressive!
 
Not sure if you have seen these quick, plein-air sketches of things large and small created in ’74 while hanging out that year most weekends in my home village of Dojç located an hour or so north of Bratislava.       I had great fun in attempting to capture images of authentic Slovakia at the time, and to this day they bring back some of my life’s most precious memories!
 
Again, thank you and Al for sharing.
 
Be well.       – Bill
 
 
  
     The village church:  functioning communal well in the centre of Dojç:  inside my uncle’s barn with wheelbarrow and wagon wheels:  my aunt’s cooking utensils, pots, pans, pails and lids in her kitchen.
                     
 
 
       Stripping feather for down for comforters: detail of my uncle Villo’s workshop: a wedding parade marching down the street: my uncles, aunt and a cousin making sausage after having slaughtered a pig they raised.

           
 
 
    My niece Pavlinka watches uncles Villo and Stefan washing and butchering the pig: choice cuts hanging on the ladder ready to be smoked for winter: Aunt Paula washing the natural casings for sausage-making.

                              
 
 
  The last sketch was done in December in the village cemetery. The stone marker has a portrait of my long-deceased grandmother, her name Vincentia Zilinkova can be seen carved in the gray granite below. 

                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
      “Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world. “     – Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
 
 
     
 
.    


Fwd: EPISODE 134: THE LITTLE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR … LIVED FOR ONE GLORIOUS YEAR…1920 (includes letter from Geoff Allison, Dalbeattie Scotlanf)


EPISODE 334    THE LITTLE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR RUNS AGAIN — 100 YEARS AFTER  THE FACTORY BURNED TO THE GROUND IN 1921

alan skeoch
May 4, 2021



Tom Parker, Dalbeattie Men’s Shedders Club, diving the Little Skeoch (vintage 1921)


“Alan, there’s a package in the post box from Scotland.  Who do we know in Scotland?”
“Certainly no relatives because most of them left for Canada and the Virgin Islands
in 1846.”
“Open it.”
“A car magazine!”
“Not just any car magazine, Alan, look closely at the cover.”
“THE LITTLE SKEOCH… Must be from Geoff Allison…maybe some word about the Little Skeoch.
“A slip of paper just fell out…note from Geoff…

And sure enough.   There it was…the Little Skeoch…en route to the paint shop.
Moving with its own motor.  Boldly doing so.  Bold Print.  “SKEOCH: THE SCOTTISH
CAR STORY 100 YEARS IN THE MAKING”  Driven by arch mechanic Tom Parker
…triumphant despite Parkinson’s disease.  “Helping with the car has made such a 
difference to my life. I can work with my hands…really was therapeutic for me and I am
so proud…”

As you read this story the Little Skeoch is in a paint shop in Dalbeatie, Scotland.
Perhaps the paint job is already finished.  Burgundy.  The same colour as the original
Skeoch motor car in 1921 which was launched at the Scottish Show in Glasgow’s 
Kelvin Hall.  Selling  For 180 pounds, the Little Skeoch was expected to make motor 
cars within the financial reach of ordinary people.  Unfortunately bad luck dashed
the dreams of designer and founder, James Baird Skeoch and his son Ronald Anderson
Skeoch when a fire “ripped through” the Burnside Motor works in Dec. 1921. Only 12
Little Skeoch’s were built none of which survived.   Ronald Skeoch planned to
rebuild the car and spent much of his life gathering parts and plans. Sadly he died
before a dream could become a reality.  All seemed lost until his daughter Betty and
granddaughter Fiona discovered the motor parts and plans while clearing the estate.
Fiona wanted to do something meaningful with the pieces which included a picture
of the Little Skeoch in 1921.

ENTER THE DALBEATTIE MEN’S SHED



Note to Alan Skeoch from Geoff Allison, secretary, the Dalbeattie
Men’s Shed.



At the same time a group of retired men in Dalbeattie were looking for something
meaningful to do.  Why not try and rebuild the Little Skeoch?   Robin Gilchrist, chairman,
and Geoff Allison, secretary, and the ‘Shedders’ decided in 2018 to build the car and 
maybe…just maybe…have it ready for June 2021 Scottish Motor Show.  One hundred years
after the dream that became an incinerated nightmare, the Little Skeoch would
rise like the legendary Phoenix from the ashes.   

“We knew that we could do it…And we damn well did!” if i might borrow and change the words from My Fair Lady.

Geoff gives the credit for the rebirth of the Skeoch motor Car to their team of Shedders…
local volunteers and the businesses in Dalbeattie. James Baird Skeoch, a local man, 
‘designed it…the likes of which have never been built again until now”

“So, Alan, do you think James Skeoch was a long lost relative?”
“Wouldn’t it be nice to think so.  But really I have no idea.  We share the
same last name which is a bit unusual.  And the name James has been handed
down through the family for more than a century.”
“Do you think you could built a car?”
“Nope.  I can barely lift the hood of our car to change the washer fluid.”
 
BELOW IS EPISODE 134:  THE LITTLE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR…LIVED ONE GLOIOUS YEAR








EPISODE 134:  ONCE UPON A  TIME THERE WAS  A MOTOR CAR CALLED  THE LITTLE SKEOCH

(also called  The Skeoch Motorcycle  Car)

alan  skeoch
Nov. 27. 2018

     REVISED OCT. 2020 (slightly)

It has  now been  two years since I touched base with the men rebuilding The Litle Skeoch Motor Car

in Scotland.  It is a daunting task.  We had planned on a  visit to their workshop but sad events
got in the way…and  Covid 19 makes such visits difficult today.  How the world has changed.
Maybe I can get a progress report from Scotland.  Meanwhile I feel this story should be part
of the Episodes (#134) just in case it gets lost.

alan


Maybe we should bring back the LITTLE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR.   It was small,, cheap and  simple…sort of  a  4 wheel bicycle  seating two people with a chain drive and  small

motorcycle  engine.  So small that only two very slim people could  ride in it since the

car was  only 31 inches  wide and a  little over 8 feet long.  

Some of  you may think this  is some kind  of joke.  Wrong.  In 1920, James Skeoch built his first Little Skeoch, then entered it in a Scottish auto show and sold it
in ten minutes.   All  told less than a dozen Little Skeoch’s  were built in his small factory.  Ten  were quickly purchased at that auto show. Price?  180 pounds…which was the cheapest car in the show.  None have survived.   Sadly in 1921 a fire  consumed  his little factory and as  a  result the Burnside Motor Company in Dalbeattie,  Scotland, ceased to exist.




Skeoch utility car




The original Skeoch Utility Car.


Skeoch Utility car advertisement






Burnside Motorworks

Pictures of the Skeoch production line were retrieved from Skeoch  family albums.   Not exactly an automated  factory.
But the LITTLE SKEOCHS were real mini cars and seemed about to make a big splash in the booming car market of the 1920’s
until  fire ended  the enterprise.  Everything became a  blackened  pile  of scrap  iron.

James Skeoch moved on.   His skills were valued.  He had a  long successful career and  died  in 1954.
Not many people, by 1954, were even  aware that there was  such a  car as the SKEOCH.   Memories are short especially since 
none of the Little Skeochs  survived.   Gone  Gone Gone.    

Well, not quite.

POSSIBLE REBIRTH OF THE LITTLE SKEOCH

HUMPTY DUMPTY SAT ON THE WALL

HUMPTY DUMPTY HAD  A GREAT FALL
ALL THE KING’S HORSES
AND ALL THE KING’S MEN
COULDN’T PUT HUMPTY TOGETHER AGAIN.

…Then  along came GEORGE ALLISON and his men from Dalbeattie, Scotland…who
plan to put Humpty togehter again.



Geoff


On Tue, 6 Oct 2020 at 22:55, ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com> wrote:

HI GEOFF,



HOPE YOU AND THE BOYS ARE WELL…VERY FRIGHTENING TIMES FOR ALL OF US…I EXPECT YOUR
SHOP IS CLOSED.  OUR PLAN TO VISIT LAST YEAR DID NOT HAPPEND DUE  TO SAD DEATH OF OUR
DAUGHTER IN LAW.

I MAY SEND SOME STORIES…NOW AT 135 OF THEM MEANT TO HELP THOSE IN ISOLATION…TRAPPED
IN THEIR ROOMS BUT SOME MIGHT INTEREST YOU AND THE BOYS

ALAN



Good morning Alan,



The pandemic closed our Shed in March, and the lockdown rules in Scotland, being the most stringent in the UK, mean that we are unlikely to re-open before April 2021. We are trying to keep our previously active members in touch with each other via email, telephone and video conferencing. We have also managed to move some of the Shed activities to individual’s homes so they can progress their projects within isolation/distancing rules. More than half our members have managed to keep projects such as 3D printing face masks, engraving, bicycle and engine refurbishment alive – and the biggest of these re-locations was the Skeoch. I recommend our Skeoch webpage https://dalbeattiemensshed.co.uk/skeoch to you for a brief history of how the project has progressed. We moved the car and workshop equipment out in June, primarily to improve the health and wellbeing of one of our members with advanced Parkinson’s. Since that time the project has accelerated almost to completion.  Apart from some minor adjustments the vehicle [less hood(canopy) and radiator badge] is finished awaiting space in a paint shop for finish painting – see the September update on our website. I am re-scheming the unveiling of the finished car as our original intentions have been crushed by the pandemic. We were hoping to display the car at the 2021 Scottish Motor Show, 100 years after it’s first exhibition there in February 1921 – but the Show will not run in 2021. Our reserve intention was to display the car in the Glasgow Transport Museum  thus keeping the launch near to where James Skeoch’s daughter resides, and close to an airport for people wishing to fly in – the museums are closed for the foreseeable future too. At present it’s looking like a triple launch: we will display the car in the picture window of Paterson ATV [ https://www.patersonatv.co.uk/] for a couple of weeks after completion for Dalbeattie townsfolk; I am working with the Chief Executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association [SMTA own the Scottish Motor Show], to put together a multipage article for their trade magazine [https://content.yudu.com/web/fiqy/0A4403c/autoretailerissue02/html/index.html] aiming for the February 2021 edition; and finally I am working with the organisers of the RHS,  Royal Highland Show, [https://www.whatsoninedinburgh.co.uk/event/084117-royal-highland-show-2021/to see if we can display the Skeoch on the Dumfries & Galloway stand in June 2021. The RHS is held adjacent to Edinburgh airport so is close to Glasgow and James Skeoch’s daughter as well as being convenient for anyone flying in.

Picking up on a couple of items in your 132-4 newsletters 
You were chasing Skeoch heritage in Bute. Before our Shed closed for the pandemic we had a visit from a relative of one of our members who has gaelic as is his first language, and the Skeoch name was discussed. The visitor reminded us that in Scots gaelic the root ‘ach’ means from, and Skeoch is probably a corruption of Sgitheanach meaning from Skye! Just a thought.
I liked your pictures in 132 – I toured NE USA and SE Canada with my daughter in August 2019 and spent some time in Toronto, we enjoyed the scenery but it was not as colorful as your photos. My daughter returned to Toronto with 2 of her colleagues in October 2019 too. My annual break with my daughter this year was Nashville, Memphis, Natchez and New Orleans in September but that was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Good to hear from you again, stay well


P.S.   BELOW IS AN ARICLE  ON THE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR WRITTEN
FOR BBC  SCOTLAND NEWS ,  Feb. 27, 2018

Drive to rebuild ‘forgotten’ early car

By Nichola Rutherford
BBC Scotland News

Published
27 February 2018

IMAGE COPYRIGHTDALBEATTIE MUSEUM
image captionThe Skeoch Utility Car was built using parts normally used to manufacture motorcycles
When James Skeoch designed and built one of Scotland’s firstaffordable cars, he must have dreamed of huge success. 
With a price-tag of just £180, the first Skeoch Utility Car was the cheapest on display at the Scottish Motor Show in 1921. 
It sold within 10 minutes and a further nine were quickly snapped up by customers keen to join the automobile revolution. 
But within months Skeoch’s business was in ruins. His uninsured workshop in Dalbeattie, Dumfries and Galloway, burned to the ground. 
Since then the Skeoch Utility Car has been largely forgotten by all but keen historians of Scotland’s motor industry. 
Now, almost 100 years later, plans are are being drawn up to recreate the so-called “cycle car” in the town where it was manufactured. 

IMAGE COPYRIGHTDALBEATTIE MUSEUM
image captionThe Skeoch car was the cheapest on show at the Scottish Motor Show in 1921 and apparently sold within 10 minutes
The ambitious project has been taken on by a group of mainly retired local men, known as Dalbeattie Men’s Shed. 
Using some of the original parts and working from the original drawings, they hope to build a working Skeoch car in time to mark its centenary. 
Motoring enthusiast Martin Shelley approached the Men’s Shed with the idea for the project after reading about the group on the BBC Scotland website last year. 

IMAGE COPYRIGHTDALBEATTIE MUSEUM
image captionBurnside Motor Works in Dalbeattie, where the Skeoch was manufactured, was devastated by fire in December 1921
The group, which meets in a workshop in Dalbeattie twice a week, was named Shed of the Year for its efforts to “help as many local people as possible”.
“Using the Dalbeattie Men’s Shed’s energy, enthusiasm and skills to recreate the car seemed like a match made in heaven,” Mr Shelley said.
He said “cycle cars” were first invented in the early 1900s and they got their name after using motorcycle engines and wheels. 
They became increasingly popular after World War One, when soldiers returned home from the front line, having become used to driving. 
Skeoch radiator badgeichef.bbci.co.uk/news/320/cpsprodpb/4D35/production/_100156791_skeochbadge.jpg 320w, ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/480/cpsprodpb/4D35/production/_100156791_skeochbadge.jpg 480w, ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/4D35/production/_100156791_skeochbadge.jpg 624w, ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/800/cpsprodpb/4D35/production/_100156791_skeochbadge.jpg 800w” src=”https://c.files.bbci.co.uk/4D35/production/_100156791_skeochbadge.jpg” width=”976″ height=”549″ loading=”lazy” class=”css-evoj7m-Image ee0ct7c0″ style=”margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant-caps: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; display: flex; width: 800px; height: 450px; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; -webkit-box-pack: center; justify-content: center; -webkit-box-align: center; align-items: center; object-fit: cover;”>
image captionThe Skeoch radiator badge was among the original parts found in the home of Mr Skeoch’s son following his death last year

image captionDalbeattie Men’s Shed have also been given an original engine and gearbox with which to build a Skeoch car
Mr Shelley said: “After World War One, the ordinary working man was much more used to the idea of riding a motorcycle or driving a car so they knew about the technology and now they wanted to try and build their own cars. 
“In the early 20s, there was a huge flowering of people making these cars. As it turned out, Skeoch in Dalbeattie were the only people in Scotland to ever attempt to make these things commercially.”
The original drawings and parts – including the radiator badge – were found in the Wishaw home of Ron Skeoch, James Skeoch’s son, after he died last year. 
Mr Shelley said he hoped they could be used to capture the “spirit” of the 1920s vehicle. 
“You could make a replica of the car which would pass muster, using a modern engine and a modern gear box and using modern parts. But the spirit of the car is very much based on the parts that were available in 1920,” he said. 
“This project will be very like the original car and that to me is what the joy of the whole thing is.”

image captionFiona Sinclair hopes to be able to sit in one of her grandfather’s cars

image caption“It’s going to be something for posterity,” said Geoff Allison of Dalbeattie Men’s Shed
The granddaughter of James Skeoch, Fiona Sinclair, is also involved in the project. 
She never knew her grandfather – he died in 1954 – but she hopes that her mother – Skeoch’s daughter – will get the chance to ride in one his cars.
“I think it’s going to mean a lot to my family,” she said. “It’s tragic that the fire put an end to his ambition. 
“I’m actually rather hoping I can physically get to sit in the car, I’m not quite sure I could be trusted with driving it. 
“It’s only got two gears apparently but I think it would be rather wonderful. What I really hope is that my mother gets the opportunity to actually sit in the car as well.” 
The project is “immensely exciting”, said Geoff Allison, the secretary of the Dalbeattie Men’s Shed, which has members with engineering and mechanical skills. 
“It’s engineering-rich, it’s Dalbeattie-rich, it’s community-rich, it fills so many of our requirements,” he added. 
“It’s big, it’s going to be eye-catching, it’s going to be something for posterity. It’s got a lot to recommend it.”







Fwd: EPISODE 329 CELEBRATION IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Hi John…I am  not sure if episode 329 got to you ….here it is… a cheerful one


alan


Begin forwarded message:


From: ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Subject: EPISODE 329 CELEBRATION IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Date: May 1, 2021 at 8:14:41 PM EDT
To: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>


EPISODE 329   CELEBRATION IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC


alan skeoch
May 1, 2021

Our visit to the czech and Slovak republics,  March 1993

PRAGUE,  CZECH REPUBLIC

At least one group of citizens seemed very happy.  We visited Prague on some kind of special
day.  FolK dances and folk costumes galore.  

The Macdonald’s restaurant chain was a going concern.  Very successful. Partly because of
the public washroom.   Long lineup.







Everything we did turned  out to be a new Adventure…as  you will see in the next Episode 330

alan skeoch
May 1, 2021


EPISODE 333: IMAGINATIVE CREATION OF SIX ENGINED MULTI-GUNNED PIECE OF WW 2 FOLK ART (Provenance -British Commonwealth Air Training Plan)



EPISODE 333;    IMAGINATIVE CREATION OF SIX ENGINED MULTI-GUNNED PIECE OF WW 2 FOLK ART (Provenance -British
Commonwealth Air Training Plan)

alan skeoch
May 2021


ALAN SKEOCH:  DONOR

Where did I ever purchase this huge piece of aviation folk art?  The answer is lost in the
foggy part of my brain.  It is  one big piece of folk art which I was told, at the time of 
purchase, was built by a pilot or pilots being trained between 1940 and 1945 under the 
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.  

I have sent some neurons scurrying around my brain to find where I bought the plane.
We will see how successful they are in time.

A few years  ago I did a CBC radio story on a Halifax bomber (HX 313, 424 Tiger Squadron, #6 Bomber
Group. based at Slo[tpm pff Sea;e. Yorkshire).   In the process I visited he Canadian warplane museum
at Downsview but did not donate the folk art immediately.  For a couple of years it hung in our barn…high
up, out of danger.  Then for some reason I figured the model was too important to hang there.

ENTER GORDON JOYCE

“Gord, would you have time to restore this model…some propellers are broken and gun barrels gone….
needs to be repainted exactly as it was…what do you think?”
“Give me a week or so…love to do it.”

And a week later Gord had it ready.  Ready for what?

“Alan, what are you going to do with it?”
“Donate it to the Canadian Airplane Museum up at Downsview.”
“When?”
“Tomorrow.”

I am not sure if Gord came with me that day.  I do remember the place was in chaos.  The building
was beng renovated for some other purpose and the museum had to move to Hamilton…fast move
done by volunteers.  Booted out in other words.

A VISIT TO DOWNSVIEW: CHAOS

“What do you have there?” asked the man in charge
“A folk art model of a six engined bomber made somewhere near Oshawa between
1940 and 1945.  pilot or pilots being trained under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan..etc.etc.
 I would like to donate it now that it is restored.
“Put it over there.”
(Not sure my name was even taken…I felt sorry for those volunteers)

This was not quite the reception I expected.  But the chaos of moving made me forgive 
them.  I had hoped the model would be a delight for children visiting the museum with
parents or grandparents.    The aircraft is pure imagination.   There is joy in imagination.

That happened several years ago.  The museum has been successfully moved to
Mount Hope near Hamilton.

I wonder what happened to my model?

alan skeoch




EPISODE 332: wooden picture of first library in Port Credit Done by Alan Skeoch

EPISODE 332   WOODEN QUILT OF FIRST LIBRARY IN PORT CREDIT  by Alan Skeoch

alan skeoch
May  2021

In 1980, Aileen Wortley asked me to make a Wooden Quilt of the first library in
Port Credit. Below is the end result which hung in the Port Credit library for years.
Then remodelling happened  and the picture disappeared.

Perhaps activists Dennis or Elizabeth  you can trace it down.

alan




EPISODE 331 TOURING The SLOVAK REPUBLIC

EPISODE  441     TOURING THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC IN 1993


alan skeoch
may 2, 2021

Find Gorbachov and Yeltsin…wooden dolls writing dolls in a market.

Kevin rented a Skoda for our tour of the Slovakian Hinterland. A local car would
keep us anonymous he felt.   So we would not be seen as tourists.

 I really wanted
to see a collective farms.   We failed to do that.

There is nothing worse than a tourist who thinks he or she
understands a foreign country after a visit that lasted only a few days.  That was us.
We made generalizations faster than a cat could catch a mouse.   The  pictures in
this Episode are just the result of a fast visit to the Slovak Republic in March 1993 
when there was still snow on the ground.   Pictures a little too much
on the sensational scale.  Just enjoy them.  Do not think they express the 
reality of life in Slovakia.  They are the result of a week end drive to the
High Tatra mountains,


Not everyone loved us…read  the Graffiti…”English Rounders” is not a compliment


Here is Slovak dog we met.  Not too friendly with a muzzle made of steel.


A rural farm…family owned I assume…not a collective farm in other words.  I believed
incorrectly that we would see many large collective farms.  We did not.  The whole
issue of land ownership has no simple answer.   I loved these old rural buildings
but they were not the norm.


Charming rural scene…but not usual.   Must avoid generalizing.  Busy streets with
cars, trucks, busses were the norm just like any other country.


As we began to enter the mountain country…heading for the High Tatras Mountains




Yes, that is a New Hampshire hen I think



“Kevin, stop the car…that looks like a collective farm barn..huge…must be
used by many families.”
“Dad, look at the roof…the barn is a wreck just like some in Ontario. This is not
a farm.”

“Kevin, pull over here. This looks like it might be a collective farm”
“We are not stopping…there are people watching us from the far wall…must
be a little careful.”
(Sure enough there were people…men…maybe a problem, maybe not…we continued)

the house is newish…but the storage buildings are ancient…potatoes, apples, whatever.




Pictures often distorted reality.

Charming village street.  But not the norm.  Most Slovaks live in tall Soviet built
apartment buildings.   I should have taken a picture of them but did not

March 1993 was not the tourist season…apparent here





The sale of Soviet era officers hats at a market.











Dolls made from fine woodwork and corn husks…very fine work.











There seemed to be lots of castles…some in ruins, others seemed inhabited


Here we are on top of the Tatra mountains.  Many Slovaks go up here just to go
hiking along the peaks.   



Kevin and Marjorie going up or down.  I was going the opposite way.  We took a bottle
of wine with us for our top of the mountain lunch.  We were not supposed to do that
we discovered.









Second last picture…end of our Slovak adventure.   Too bad Kevin’s eyes are closed but
I was not looking at him. My eyes  were on the woman in pink


I think this is the best picture to use as a conclusion.  Generalization from this boys’
face would be accurate.  We had a good time.

alan skeoch

EPISODE 330 TENSION AT A SLOVAK DINNER PARTY…WHO WILL PAY THE BILL?

EPISODE 330    TENSION AT A SLOVAK DINNER PART


MAY 1, 2021

THE SLOVAK DINNER PARTY



“Dad, we have arranged a special dinner party tonight…for you…”
“For Marjorie and me?”
“Well maybe a few others…like all my fellow American School visiting teachers.”
“How many?”
“Probably 20…”
“Where is the party?”
“Sort of a secret, really. even I do not know where we are going… we will all take taxis to a village not far from Bratislava…a real
Slovak village… with music and dancing and food and wine…the whole ten yards…All arranged by the gym teacher at the school.”
“Big restaurant?”
“No.  it will be held in a  wine cellar.  A place with no sign…a strange place, Dad…as you will see.

(A year or so later the gym teacher came to visit us in Canada.  He and his wife loved swimming
in our farm pond in spite of the leaches.)
Slovakian signage was limited.  NO great neon signs.  These signs
were found on top of the High Tatra Mountains .. for hikers.  We would
go there for a couple of days.  But the big day …today … was
the wine party …in a village in the dark.


So we all piled in several taxis  and travelled  into the darkness of a Slovak night.  Not many street lights
and soon there were none.  We passed through several villages…all shuttered up and dark.  No one on
the streets … the village houses tended to have no front yards.  Direct street access.  Set back
somewhat though…cobbled.  A few pin pricks of light escaped some houses but most were dark as
a dungeon.




When we reached our party centre, we were really non plussed.  No signage.  Just darkness and
ancient buildings.   Kevin led the way with  a Slovak host.  Really secretive.  As if we would be
arrested for some communist reason.  Like lack of respect.   Or flaunting wealth.
Kev and our guide from the school hammered on a big round topped door…big enough for a cart
to enter.  We walked through a couple of stone arches and then descended into
a big room with a curved stone ceiling.  And lots of barrels.



Perhaps you have not noticed that there are no signs…not a sign.

“This is a winery Dad.  Slovak wines are special.”
“Why so secretive?”
“I don’t really know.  Seems to have something to do  with the socialist government.  Capitalist businesses were suspect of Western
way of life.  So better to not flaunt the success of this winery.  But really, Dad, I do not know
why having a dinner party seems to be kept  a secret.”






There were  a whole bunch of people serving us.  We had one long table piled with food…Slovak specialities that I have since
forgotten.  And wine.  Loads of wine in dark green bottles…corks  removed.   No labels on the bottles
made me  feel this was out of the ordinary.   Wine was soon splashed around.    And a musical group arrived in folk costume
to entertain us with dance and Slovak music.  It was a grand time.  The kids like Kevin seemed to need a
chance like this to relax. Lots of noise and lots of laughter.  Great hurrahs  for the music makers.  



The average age of the revellers  was 21 or 22…or even younger.  Marjorie and  i were the old folk and were treated
 nicely by both Kevin’s fellow teachers and to Slovak hosts.  It was a great party.

Then it ended.  Abruptly.  The music stopped.  The hosts gathered in a little coterie with suspicious glances
at our group.  Something was wrong.  Really wrong.

“What is happening, Kevin?”
“I don’t know…let me ask our guide.  He set the whole thing up.”
(whispered  conversation then Kevin reported)
“They are wondering how a bunch of kids like us are able to pay for the dinner and the music.”
“They know teachers do not get much money.” (wage for these young teachers was $125 per month)

I thought about the situation.  Marjorie and I seemed  to have special status.  Maybe we could get the 
situation under control.  I took a quick look in my wallet.  Perhaps  $300 or $400 in U.S. currency.
This party for 20 people would certainly cost that much.  I got worried but decided to be the big spender…the big shot.

“Tell them that we will pay the whole bill, Kevin.”

(Aside to Kevin: “Do  you have any cash ?”   “A little”  “Back me up then just in  case…”)

What a change.  The music started with special  soloist in Slovak language.  Broad smiles
all around.  Lots of looks our way …  smiling.   These Slovak villagers were not wealthy but they
had put on a grand dinner party for the young American teachers all of whom were working for little
pay and living wherever cheap housing could be found.  Neither the kids nor the hosts were
in it for the money.  

 (Amusing thing happened with one  teacher who was staying with a Slovak
family.  She got fatter and fatter because the family ate a lot of lard. Lots  of lard slathered on toast
for breakfast.  She did not object.  She was a guest.)

But my thoughts were centred on the bill.  Could I pay the bill?

Yet!  Maybe!  I had no idea of the total cost of this extravaganza and only hoped I had enough
cash to cover a dinner for 20 young people with wine and music.  What if I did not have
the cash?   

Surprise!  When the evening was over and it was time to settle up I got a bill for somewhere
around $120 or $130!  That was all.  Included money for the musicians. Amounted to $6 or $7 each.
And to top it off we were all given a corked bottle of wine.  No label wine.  No name on the winery…so
I could never thank the hosts properly.

Then in the darkness of a March night somewhere in rural Slovakia our taxis arrived and
we drove back to Bratislava.  Village after village dark.  I don’t remember street lights
until we arrived in the city.

An unforgettable evening.  Wonderful.


alan skeoch
May 1, 2021
(remembering a March evening in 1993 in 
the new republic of Slovaks)


EPISODE 329 CELEBRATION IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

EPISODE 329   CELEBRATION IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC


alan skeoch
May 1, 2021

Our visit to the czech and Slovak republics,  March 1993

PRAGUE,  CZECH REPUBLIC

At least one group of citizens seemed very happy.  We visited Prague on some kind of special
day.  FolK dances and folk costumes galore.  

The Macdonald’s restaurant chain was a going concern.  Very successful. Partly because of
the public washroom.   Long lineup.







Everything we did turned  out to be a new Adventure…as  you will see in the next Episode 330

alan skeoch
May 1, 2021