WE TRIED TO TOUR EUROPE ON FIVE DOLLARS A DAY IN 1965. IT DID NOT WORK WELL.

EPISODE  58:  EUROPE ON FIVE DOLLARS A  DAY…




EPISODE 58    EUROPE ON FIVE DOLLARS A DAY…WE TRIED IT N 1965

alan skeoch
June 2020


I think…no,  I know…the author of EUROPE ON FIVE DOLLARS A DAY…expected us to live like the monks of Ireland once
lived in these stone houses on the West Coast of Ireland, called  the Dingle.  At times our trip to Europe came close to
this kind of existence.


alan skeoch
June 2020

We  were new teachers.  Eric and I taught at
Parkdale C.I.,  while Marjorie taught at Emery Junior
High.  Salary around $6,000 per year.   

There was a book written around 1960 titled “Europe
on $5 a day.”.  In  1965,  Marjorie, my brother Eric and I
decided to give it  a try.  Well, we did it…a whole series
of adventures that might interest readers.  I know it is
ego driven but some of the adventures were universal
like the chilling visit to Dachau and the rescue of a rabbit afflicted
with the poison Mixamatosis and the discovery we could
live on Bulmer’s apple cider and cheese and bread.

Marjorie was a great sport about the whole thing.
She could take the privations and enjoy the adventures.
My brother, Eric, refused to go 50/50 on the expenses which
meant I had to pay 2/3 which I now know was reasonable.
Marjorie was a little disturbed on one day when we did  not
eat at all while crammed into a sleeping car in bunks
that were stacked so  tight that there was little room to breath.


A few choice adventures selected below.    Just keep in mind
that we were all in our 20’s.  I was 27…Marjorie and Eric were 25.
I hope readers can remember those years.  Otherwise you might be
offended.  We were young and foolish and enjoyed life to the fullest.
 Ireland first and last.  We landed at Shannon, west coast of Ireland and headed
south to Bunmahon, the mining village in which I worked five years earlier.
This was our world tour.  Some readers might think the memory would
record great events.  My memory only records small events.

1) CRAWLING THROUGH AN ANCIENT MINE…KNOCKMAHON



“There are ancient adits on the cliff face…we can crawl through them.”
“What’s an adit?”
“A hole punched through to help ventilate the mine.”
“How big a hole?”
“Big enough for us to walk stooped over but in some places
we will have to crawl on our stomachs.”
“Dangerous?”
“Suppose so.  Air is the big danger…running out of air I mean.  When  Barney and
I crawled through these adits we took a candle.   If he candle would not light,
we got the hell out.”
‘What about collapse?”
“Unlikely.  Weak spots would  have collapsed  by now…last used as  a  
mine 100 year ago.”
“Why are we doing this?”
“Just for fun…we will only crawl in a  short way…to the big shaft which
has filled with water from the ocean.  The miners tunnelled out a fair 
distane under the ocean.   They had pumps  to remove the seepage.:
“Alan, this is stupid… I want out.”
“Eric and  I will just crawl a little further…meet out the seashore in 
half hour or less.”
“Stupid thing to do.”
“must admit you are right.”

“Here we are out, Marjorie.  What is that god  awful stink?”
“What  stink?””
“Marjorie  one of those huge rocks where you are waiting is not
a rock…it’s a dead pig that floated in or fell off the cliff.  Bloated.”
“Let’s get out of here”

(And so we did.  Since then the Knockmahon mine has become a tourist spot 
on the Irish South coast called the Copper Trail.  Tours of the inside of the mine
can be arranged using the old  shaft entranceways rather than the adits. I imagine
what we did, is  now forbidden.)


2) CLIMBING AN IRISH MOUNTAIN

“Park the car…we can climb this mountain.”
“Hardly a mountain…full of sheep.”
“But it’s high and rocky and wild.”
“See who can get to the top fastest.”
“Where is Marjorie?”
“About fifty feet below us.”
“See ig  she can play ‘Dodge Ball’”
“Dodge Ball?”
“We can fire sheep dung down there from here.”
“Good idea.”

“Stop…Stop”

“She is good at the game.”
“No contact yet.”



3)  DUBLIN


“Dublin?  What is  there to see?”
“;Loads…Book of Kells, pock marked walls from the Time of the Trouble, O’Connell Street,  Pubs…”
“Let’s do  the Guiness Brewery.”
“Samples are terrific at end  of the tour”
“Look, they use horses  to haul the beer about the City of Dublin.”
“I don’t like beer.”
“Terrific,  Eric and I do.”
“Is this holiday for me as  well as you.”
“Wait until you get on the ferry to cross the Irish Sea.”
“I get sea sick.”   (She did)

(Marjorie enjoyed our tour of the Jameson Distillery much better than the Guinness
Brewery.  Samples.  We were  the only tourists so we got three sample bottles of whiskey each….saved 
them for years.   I think Marjorie enjoyed the barrel making as well.  the barrel maker took a shine to her.
Imagine, we were the
only tourists that day. )

4) LOWER WOOTON FARM  (Remember Eywood?)\


The small white pony  thought it was a human being.  



“Here we are…Lower Wooten Farm, Herefordshire”
“It’s absolutely beautiful…”
“16th century…black and white…protected national treasure.”
“There’s Cyril Griffiths beside the barn.”
“Looks troubled.”

“Alan, good  to see you…and you will be Marjorie and Eric.”
“How are you Cyril.”
“Not good…need both of you in the barn
we have a breached birth.”
“Breached?”
“Calf stuck in the womb.”
“Tell us what to do.”
“We have to pull it out…got rope around the feet…Pull when I say pull.”
“When?”
“When she goes into another contraction…Now…Pull…Pull”
“Jesus, it’s coming but hard.”
“Coming now…Now..”
(And the calf flew through the air…missed me but landed on top of Eric)
“Is it alive?”
“Yes,.”
“”well it landed right on top of me…after brith and all.”
“And this is  my only suit….”

(That happened  just as we got out of the car
at Lower Wooten Farm.  
Rather messy.}

Marjorie and  Nancy Griffiths getting a chicken ready … he hard way…pulling feathers.





5)  EYWOOD

“Granddad must have planted those nectarines trees still flourishing in
one of this intact greenhouse…look at the wooden marker…his name.”
“Percy, do you remember grandad?”
“Yes, I worked for him when I was a young gaffer…my job was to
step and  fetch things…shears, hoes, water.”
“Now you own the place.”
“Yes, and I  want to give you something to remember me by.  Like 
this large terrace cotta flower pot bound together with wire.  the
kind we had back before the Great War.”
“Can we pick it up later…love to have it.”

(I don’t know how we did it but we got the huge clay flower pot on board
our flight home…as big as a bushel basket)



6) THE CHARMING LAKE DISTRICT…STINKS

“Crammed with Tourists…but beautiful.”
“No cheap place to stay.”
“Let’s just buy a couple of post cards and clear out…find a pasture”

“Here, Al, you pay for the post cards, Marjorie and I will wait outside.”
(God awful stink…like sewage…worse.)
“Oh, dear, SOMEONE HAS PASSED BY’” (comment by lady behind me in line to pay).
“Damn them” (whispered to myself)
“Oh, dear, dear, dear.”  (smell was revolting)

(Outside the tourist store Marjorie and Eric were laughing so hard  tears
ran down their faces.  Eric had farted.  I mean a  really ripe fart brought
on by apple cider and cheese, maybe a beer as well.  That fart was  so  bad
that I still remember it 60 years  later.   And what is worse, I was blamed
for the fart by the ladies behind me in the line whose comment was also
memorable.)

“Someone has passed by”


7)  SEA SICK ON A SHIP  THAT HAS NOT MOVED


“I get sea sick, you know.:
“But the ship has not even moved.”
“No matter, I am sea sick.
(and Marjorie was sea sick.  Shows the power of the human mind..

“Dry land at last…”



8)  IRISH HAY STACK…IDEAL 


“Stop the car…back up.”
“Why?”
“Perfect spot for lunch…hay  stack in field with no one around.”
“Unscrew the Bulmer’s, rip up the bread,  cut the cheese.”
(Cut the cheese was a nasty expression in those days)

9) PARIS   

PARIS…”LOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF MY BED”


“Hey, come and look at my bed.”

(We found two inexpensive rooms across  the road from the magnificent
Pantheon where Rouseau and Voltair are buried.  The rooms  were
not as  grand as the Pantheon.
“What?”
“At the bottom of the bed.”
“Nothing there.”
“That’s not possible.”
“What are we supposed to see?”
“Cockraches…I spent the night killing them…put a
whole pile  of them on  the floor at the bottom of
my bed.”
“Nothing there now.”
“You know what that means?”
“Yes…the live cockroaches took the  dead cockroaches away.”
“Why?”
“Certainly not for a funeral.”
“Then why?”
“For a dinner.”

10) PARIS   NASTY ADVENTURE FOR MARJORIE

(Eric and I had ordered a beer in a restaurant beside the Pantheon.
The beer came in  a glass about he size of an egg cup at about the
price of a pint in Ireland.  Nice glass though.  Marjorie had gone
for a haircut on the Parisian Metro.  Turned out not to be a good
idea. We kept the beer glass.)

“There you are.”

(Marjorie came running to our table…breathless…troubled.)

“What’s wrong.”
“I ran all the way here from a distant Metro station..”
“Why?”
“Calm down.”
“ I cannot calm down.”
“What happened?”
“The subway was jammed with people…could hardly move when
it happened.”
“What happened?”
“Bodies pressed tight together.  Man behind me…pressng very close…way too
close.  Bulge.  Pushing against me.  He  was looking the other way but pressing
his thing into my backside.  I was terrified.  Got off the Metro as soon as I could
and  ran  all the way back here.”

(Sounded sort of funny at first.  But we  decided it was not that funny so we
left Paris by train the next day.  Eric decided to venture off to Spain on his
own for a couple of days.  We would meet in Munich.)

  11) “BLONDIE…BLONDIE…COME OVER HERE”

“How was the train ride to Spain, Eric.”
“Not so good.”
“Why?”
“Spanish girls kept harassing me…called me 
Blondie…Blondie.”
“What ere their intentions?”
“Sex, I assumed.”
“And what did  you do?”
“Stopped in Barcelona and took train back
to meet you in Munich.”
“Running away?”
“Feared rape.”


12)  DRIFTING DOWN THE RHINE…ROMANCE


“Coblenz was  bombed  to smithereens in the war.  That’s why
it looks so modern today.  None of the old town survived.”
“So let’s take a river cruise up the Rhine and find a place to stay
in the countryside.   Use the local ferry boat that stops here
and there.”
“Right here.  Mosel region.  We should splurge and buy
a bottle of wine, Marjorie.  Just the two of un now that Eric
has buggered off to Spain.”
“Rent a nice room with one of those big German Eider downs.”
“Romance thrives.”


13) MUNICH BEER HALL…HOFBRAU HOUSE

“These guys must have been soldiers in the War.”
“Sure are professional  drinkers.”
“How can the barmaids carry so many beer steins”
“Strong women.”
“Oh…look…there was a man under the table…coming up for air now.”
“Alan, look at that other poor man…passed out with his cigarette
still burning between his fingers.”
“Sad.”
“I am going to put out the cigarette before he gets burned.”
“Maybe better  to mind your own business.”
“No. …There, it’s out.”
“The men at the table want to buy us beer as a result.”
“Three new steins full…lots of beer.”
“Toasting you Marjorie.”


14)   A PARK IN CENTRAL MUNICH

“We had too much beer, Alan.”
“I know.”
“I am  sleepy.”
“Only early afternoon….no B and B.”
“Let’s just flop down in the park.”

(And we did.  All Three of us.  out cold. With souvenir 
beer steins we bought from the Hofbrau house and
still have to this day.}

“Wake up…wake up…no sleeping allowed in this park.” (said in German)
(Park attendant was  amused, spoke in German of course, but
he was gentle.  Awakened us…gathered our steins and gently
suggested we move along.)

15)   DACHAU… CHILLING REMINDER OF POWER OF HATRED

“Where is Dachau?”

(We planned  to visit the Dachau extermination camp but had 
difficult getting locals to tell us how to get there.  Eventually
we found the horrific place which was part of an American military
base in 1965 and therefore preserved.  There was nothing nice
about this visit.)

“Alan, I hate this place.  I will not go any further inside the camp.
Just let me sit here.  Makes  me feel faint.”  (Marjorie)

15)   TOUGH MUNICH STREETCAR CONDUCTRESS…REALLY TOUGH.

“How do we get to downtown Muinich?”
“Get in…GET IN NOW. “ (in German)
(Big woman, Driving street car…no smile…gave orders in broken English)
“Sit at BACK…{And she pointed to back of street car….very insistent…no smile.}

“Where are we going?”
“No idea…just obeying orders.”
“COMEN SIE…COME HERE.”  
“Does she mean us?”
“Apparently…everyone is  looking our way.”
(We followed orders.)
“How much  do  we owe you?”
“Nothing…a gift…You are now in town centre. Welcome.”
(And she waved  us off.  Never smiling.  But a nice woman.)


16)  TRAIN …GERMANY TO ENGLAND…JAMMED LIKE CATTLE CAR


“OK, we are running out of money. Need  a cheap way to get back to England.”
“Train will do it. Each compartment folds into beds for six people.”
“So we avoid another B and B cost.  Sleep on the train.”
“Does not seem like much room here.”
“The other three have taken their beds.”
“Leaves you with the top bunk,Al.”
“Why me?”
“Because you are too damn slow.”
“Hard to breathe up here.”
“Marjorie and I do not give a sweet goddamn, Al.”

17) LATER…SAME TRAIN HEADING FOR THE COAST

“When are we going to eat, Alan?”
“When we get to London.”
“But that’s a full day away.”
“Save money.”
“Do you mean no food at all.”

18) THE TWO DERBY HATS


‘”Let’s look at the antique…junk…Portabelo Road market”  (in London).
“Not much money left.”

(just as we started to walk the roadway of dealers there was a board 
fence…One board moved.)

“You lads need Derby Hats.”
What?”
“I have two Derby Hats  for sale…cheap…just the thing for you boys…give
you a little class.”
“How much?”
“Five pounds each…take them both for eight pounds.”
“Why are you selling from behind the board fence?”
“Take them or leave them, boys…”




(So we bought our Derby Hats


19) TREASURES…WOULD YOU RENT US A  ROOM…THREE OF US, ONE  ROOM, PLUS BAGGAGE

“Marjorie, take a picture…all our worldly possessions.”
“I see the Hofbrau house beer stein, the quart of apple cider, the cheese, copies of Beatrix Potter…and
you with the Derby and that brass bound barrel we bought.
“Anything else?”
“Oh, yes, the BOOT.”
(needs a separae entry below…but first…look at Eric’s boot on the fireplace mantel.  Why is there
only one boot there?”


20) THE BOOT

“Eric, is sleeping.”
“Took a while for us to come agreement…”
“Cheaper for FOUR of us to sleep in one room.  Eric  Agreed.”
“But he did not agree to a 50 / fo split.”
“No, he figured on a 1/3 and 2/3 deal…

(You are wondering about the FOUR in bold letters.  Well, we were driving along an English backroad
and Marjoire spotted a baby rabbit in distress.  “Stop, Save the Bunny!”  So that became the fourth
member of our tour in England.  The poison Mixamatosis was being spread  around  to control rabbits.
Marjorie’s bunny had a small dose.  It survived with her care.)

“What does that have to do with the Boot above the fireplace in the previous  picture, you ask.”
“Well for some reason the rabbit liked to sleep in Eric’s boot.””
“And that meant rabbit marbles  in his boots in he morning.”
“Why is there one one boot above he fireplace>”
“You know the answer better than me.  Eric put both boots
up there.  You took one down when he fell asleep so the rabbit
had a bed.”

“What will we do with the rabbit?”
(We let it go in a nice green field in Scotland…hoping we were to far north for the poisoners.)
“Then we we’re back to three to a room.  Eric got the children’s cot.”

21) FLYING HOME FROM DUBLIN…NOT OUR BEST FOOT FORWARD




“Will you join us while we wait for the flight?”
“Will you have a pint of  Guinness?”
“I will but my father here is  Pioneer.”
“Pioneer?”
“he does not drink…thinks drink has damaged  image of the Irish and  others.”
“Will he join us though?”
“Sure…we have two hours  before the flight.”

(This turned out to be a bad idea.  We were excited to be flying home to Toronto
…exhausted.  Glad  to join a Roman Catholic  priest and his  father …most of
us  sharing a pint or two of Guinness.  Even Marjorie had  a glass.   When we boarded
the plane we were not too bad. But when we got up to 20,000 or 20,000 feet things
went awry.  We were laughing a lot.  Really enjoying each  others company. Silly.
Of course we were wearing our derby hats as well.  Caused quite a ruckus on
the plane, especially when Eric  felt a little sickly and called the stewardess.)

“Would you take this away.  I’ve been a  little sick…altitude sickness.”
(and he handed her his pillow having put the sick bag behind his head.
The stewardess  laughed but a few moments later the pilot came
back to visit us.  I now realize this visit was not social.  He scouted  us
out and decided we were not a big problem.  He even tried on one
our Derby Hats.  By that time I was cold sober trying to subdue Marjorie
who insisted on  painting my face with the whipped cream  flight dessert.)

“We will be landing in  Iceland for refuelling.  Short time but we will
deplane all the same.  Back in the air in about two hours.”

22)   MR. SKEOCH…YOU WERE MY STUDENT TEACHER LAST YEAR.

(This was routine.  But the events were not routine. Eric  was
still woozy.  Throwing up a bit.  The dry heaves as they say
Everyone sat in a large waiting room.   I was on one side
of Eric and a young girl was on the other side.  The funniest thing
happened then.   The young girl tapped Eric  on the arm…

“You are Mr. Skeoch,  my student teacher at Humberside a couple
of years  ago.  I remember you. So much fun.”

(Eric continued holding the bag tightly to his chest.  Marjorie was better 
bu then.   We looked at each other … then at Eric…then at the young
student.   This probably seems  awful to some readers but it was really
quite funny…quite harmless.   it was a time in our lives that could never
be repeated.)

alan skeoch
June 2020

p.s.  Picture below of the Royal George pub in Lyons Hall, Herefordshire.
Before it became a pub it was the birthplace  of  our Grandfather Edward
Freeman…the gardener at Windsor Castle and the Eywood.  


EUROPE ON $5 A DAY…WE TRIED IT IN 1965…TOUGH SLEDDING BUT ADVENTURES.

I will be late today as we must finish planting

at farm.

We  were new teachers.  Eric and I taught at
Parkdale C.I.,  while Marjorie taught at Emery Junior
High.  Salary around $6,000 per year.   

There was a book written around 1960 titled “Europe
on $5 a day.”.  In  1965,  Marjorie, my brother Eric and I
decided to give it  a try.  Well, we did it…a whole series
of adventures that might interest readers.  I know it is
ego driven but some of the adventures were universal
like the chilling visit to Dachau and the rescue of a rabbit afflicted
with the poison Mixamatosis and the discovery we cold
live on Bulmer’s apple cider and cheese and bread.

Marjorie was a great sport about the whole thing.
She could take the privations and enjoy the adventures.
My brother, Eric, refused to go 50/50 on the expenses which
meant I had to pay 2/3 which I now know was reasonable.
Marjorie was a little disturbed on one day when we did  not
eat at all while crammed into a sleeping car in bunks
that were stacked so  tight that there was little room to breath.

One anecdote with picture.  

In London we visited an antique market where
a British crook offered us  derby hats recently’stolen
no doubt.  Mine had Harold McMillans initials.

We became Toffs (I think that is the word).


This story will be done in a point by point form…just to remove chance of
boredom.

But it may not come today. So use this as an introduction.

alan

Fwd: EPISODE 57 EYWOOD REVISITED 1960…SAD SIGHT TO SEE



Begin forwarded message:


From: ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Subject: EPISODE 57 EYWOOD REVISITED 1960…SAD SIGHT TO SEE
Date: June 2, 2020 at 11:04:00 AM EDT


EPISODE 57   EYWOOD REVISITED 1960…SAD  SIGHT TO SEE

alan skeoch
June 2020

“Well, Alan,  I expect you would like to see Eywood?”
“Any time you are ready.”
“Few chores to do first.”
“No problem.  Do you miss he Eywood Estate farm of Oatcroft?”

(Cyril did not answer…just looked at me….perhaps pain in his
way of looking.  Oatcroft was  500 cree in size.  Lower Wooten farm
was about 40 acres.  I should not have asked that question.)



“Let’s round up the sheep  before we go, Alan.”
“Sure thing.”
 (And strangely, this photograph of Cyril , his rented farm, his sheep, has a deep
impact.  Hopeful, purposeful, human.  I was quite willing to delay the visit to
Eywood even though my time in England was very limited.  Actually I feared the 
visit.

Demolitions were happening all over England…big houses  becoming piles of rubble.


Was the demolition of Eywood in1954 startling to the British people?   Was there a feeling that
a national treasure was  about to disappear?  Not in the least.  A country house
was being demolished every five days by 1955.  Some of them far more impressive
than Eywood.  What made matters worse is  that no one seemed  concerned.
The social life of the country houses was dead.   In many cases, like Eywood,
the building faced succession dues as high as 65% of value.  This cost plus
the fact that many of the aristocratic owners  had  been killed in the two World
Wars of the 20th century meant that country houses were doomed.  The large 
number of servants and workers that once depended upon the largesse of
the wealthy class had found better pay and real independence elsewhere.
The result was  that the owners of hundreds of country houses  could not
afford the maintenance of  these once  semi-palatial homes.  Demolition 
was the answer.

In England  alone 1,998 of these large beautiful country houses have
been demolished.  The records are there.  The weeping was not
there.  In the 1950’s England was trying to survive after the devastation
of World War II.   Sympathy for the problems of the wealthy class that
owned these large country houses was lacking.



The strange thing to me was the fact I had a feeling of loss.  Why?
I did  not know Eywood at all.  Where did this feeling of loss come from
then?   It came from those hand carved picture frames hanging in the one
warm room in Grandma and Grandpa Freeman’s farm house.  And
had I looked closely I should have noticed the feeling for Eywood
was really a feeling of fellowship for those who made Eywood function
…the people that worked there.  In each of those picture frames
was a picture of a person.  Not one picture  frame included a
picture of the stately estate country house called  Eywood.

Listed below are the country houses demolished  in Herefordshire alone.
The contents  kept  several auction houses in business.   





Herefordshire
Allensmore Court Allensmore Herefordshire 1958
Aramstone House King’s Caple Herefordshire 1959 N Image(s) [Link to an external site]
Bromtrees Hall Bishop’s Frome Herefordshire c.1945 De, N
Broxwood Court Broxwood Herefordshire 1955 N Image(s)
Cheyney Court Bishop’s Frome Herefordshire 1888 B
Cowarne Court Much Cowarne Herefordshire 1960s Image(s)
Croft Castle Croft Herefordshire 1937 P
Eardisley Park Eardisley Herefordshire 1999 B, N Image(s) [Link to an external site]
Eywood Titley Herefordshire 1954 Su Info + Image(s)
Foxley Yazor Herefordshire 1948 Dw Image(s)
Freens Court Sutton Herefordshire 1953 De
Garnons Mansell Gamage Herefordshire 1957 P Image(s)
Garnstone Castle Weobley Herefordshire 1959 Image(s)
Gayton Hall Upton Bishop Herefordshire 1955
Goodrich Court Goodrich Herefordshire 1950 Image(s)
Harewood Park Harewood Herefordshire 1959 Dw, Su, N Info + Image(s)
Hatfield Court Hatfield Herefordshire P
Hope End House Ledbury Herefordshire 1873 N
Huntingdon Park Huntingdon Herefordshire 1966 De
Knill Court Knill Herefordshire 1943 B, N Info + Image(s)
Letton Court [I] Letton Herefordshire 1863 N
Letton Court [II] Letton Herefordshire 1925 B, N
Moor Court Pembridge Herefordshire 1950s
Moor [The] Clifford Herefordshire 1952
Moreton Court Moreton-on-Lugg Herefordshire 1950s Info + Image(s) [Link to an external site]
Perrystone Court Foy Herefordshire 1959 B, N
Rotherwas Dinedor Herefordshire 1925
Saltmarshe Castle Bromyard Herefordshire 1955 Image(s)
Sarnesfield Court Sarnesfield Herefordshire 1955 Image(s)
Shobdon Court Shobdon Herefordshire 1933 Su Image(s)
Staunton Park Staunton-on-Arrow Herefordshire 1921 N Image(s)
Stoke Edith Tarrington Herefordshire 1927 B Image(s)
Thinghill Withington Herefordshire c.1929/30
Tyberton Court Tyberton Herefordshire 1952 Image(s)
Urishay Castle Peterchurch Herefordshire 1921 S
Whitfield Wormbridge Herefordshire c.1949-53 P Image(s)
Whittern [The] Lyonshall Herefordshire 1930s N
Wistaston Court Herefordshire c.1910 B
Wormbridge House Wormbridge Herefordshire 1798
Hertfordshire
So Cyril Griffiths was going to take me to Eywood.   He seemed in no rush to do so.
His  family were really happy that I  had come.  A descendent of the Eywood family.
Not the blood family.  But the working family.

What would I find when we got to the estate?

I expected ruin.  Expected piles of bricks and broken mortar.
That is not what i found.   What I found was, and remains, quite remarkable.

COMING NEXT.

EPISODE 58:  FINALLY, A VISIT TO EYWOOD…A GRAND SURPRISE…COMING NEXT EPISODE




EPISODE 56 EYWOOD …PART THREE

EPISODE 56    EYWOOD  PART THREE   … SURPRISE VISIT 1960

alan skeoch
May  2020

THE IRISH JOB COMES FIRST:

IRELAND IN SEPTEMBER 1960…KNOCKMAHON MINE.  COULD IT BE REOPENED?   

RUINS OF THE MINE REMAIN TO THIS  DAY (2020) AS TOURIST DESTINATION  .  IN 1960 THAT WAS NOT THE CASE…IT WAS
A RUIN.

DR. JOHN STAM AND JOHN HOGAN…ON WAY TO MINE SITE
IRELAND  WAS CHARMING IN 1960…MUCH AS PICTURED IN THE FILM THE QUIET MAN.



What is that expression about ebb tide?  Shakespeare’s  Julius Caeser where  Brutus  says….

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

I know this  may sound silly but I have often thought of those words
when faced with an opportunity.  Either I grab the opportunity or I let 
it slip away.    In the summer of 1960 I had been trusted  to operate 
a Turam electromagnetic survey on an ancient mine site on the south
coast of Ireland.  A  place called  Bunmahon where copper had been 
mined in the19th century and there was just a chance the old mine could
be brought back to life. 

 I was  in the right place at the right time.

The previous summer four of us…called  ‘instrument men’ …who operated
a Turam job in south west Alaska near the Aleutian Chain.   One man,  Bill Morrson,
 knew how to set up
the generator, base line,  read the console, etc.  I was  assigned to be his helper.  Bill taught me all the
ins  and  outs of prospecting with the Turam.  The other two fellows,
Don Van Every and  Ian Rutherford also were instructed. That was
1959.  

[
POLICE KEPT WATCH  ON OUR WORK

The following year much to my surprise i was the only person still around who had
operated the machine.   The other three guys had gone God knows where.
I was on the ebb tide…riding high.  Entrusted  by Dr. Norman Paterson to
sleuth out the old  mine in Knockmahon,  County Waterford, Eire.  Dr. John
Stam,  a professional geophysicist would interpret the Turam Readings. 
John Hogan wold do the geology.  It
was  up to me to get the magnetic data…to make sure the Turam worked.

Ireland in 1960 was exactly as tourist  photos described.

Local newspaper arrived occasionally … as did police …even the village priest…all kept close eye on us.


“ALAN,  DO YOUR REALLY NEED ALL THOSE EMPLOYEES?”  Question raised by Canadian office.

MY BOSS IN CANADA, DR. NORMAN PATERSON WONDERED WHY SO  MANY MEN WERE HIRED.  THERE WERE GOOD
REASONS.  THIS IS  PAYDAY … PAID MEN WEEKLY AND GAVE BONUS OF CIGARETTES AND CHOCOLATE BARS.   YES,
I WAS CRITICISED FOR THIS LARGESSE.


MUCH MONEY WAS  SPENT IN KIRWIN’S PUB.  MOST OF  THESE MEN WERE EMPLOYED BY US.  TERRIBLE NEED
FOR JOBS.


I RENTED THIS OLD TRUCK A COUPLE OF TIMES.  NEEDED CRANK.  FLOORBOARDS HAD GAPS.


THIS IS THE TURAM…E.M. UNIT AT WORK IN AN IRISH WHEAT FIELD.



IF WE HIT HIGH READINGS  WE OCCASIONALLY HAD MEN DIG PITS DOWN TO BED ROCK.
LOTS OF MYSTERY AS A REJULT OF SOME OF THESE EXCAVATIONS SUCH AS  THE 
DEAD COW CAPER …LED TO DISCOVERY OF OLD MINE ADIT FROM 1850’S.

June, July and August…I did  my job.  Tried not to let anyone  down.
This  was  a big responsibility which  I took very seriously.  There was a
social side of the job as well like A pint   of
Gjuinnes  each night with Dr. Stam and John Hogan in Kirwin’s [ub
helped  all of us relax.  We hired the whole village. I will explain 
that in future episodes.  Perchance a  few readers of these episodes
saw the John Wayne, Maureen Ohara,  Barrie Fitzgerald  movie titled
‘The Quiet Man”…an  imaginary story about Ireland that was  damn
near true.  Surprised.  Joyful. 

When the job ended.  The Ebb tide came once more  I made a fast
decision without prompting.  After crating up the mining equipment
and  shipping it ask to Canada.  I set sail  on the EBB tide for
England.  This was my chance to see if EYWOOD  REALLY EXISTED.
Truth be told I had no idea where I was going.  Eywood was in Herefordshire
England.  First I had to get there.  If I failed I would  still fly home.  Just a few
days later than Dr. Paterson expected.  My job was over anyway.  Fast 
decision to catch that Ebb Tide to Eywood.

Perhaps my journal entries are the best way to describe this
adventure.  Remember I was going almost blind but not totally.
I had a name…Cyril Griffiths whose mother Polly had been in
constant letter writing contact with my grandmother from 1905 until
her death in 1954.  And I had  a name…Lower Wooten Farm somewhere
in Herefordshire, perhaps close to Eywood.  Eywood itself was
blank.   The Estate, to my knowledge, had been put up for auction
and then demolished.  

 Why go there at all?  There was a sense of
mystery about the estate and just a chance that the estate gardens…
where Granddad was head gardener for a decade…just a chance 
that huge brick walled garden was intact.

JOURNAL

Sunday September 4, 1960
Bunmahon,
County Waterford,
Southern Ireland

Packing up the job.   Has been an exciting time.  Mr. and Mrs. Daye presented  me with two
figurines.  Mrs. Kennedy,  the village leader, gave me a fine tablecloth.  Tommy gave Me a nice
bottle of Guiness Stout.   


CRATED EQIPMENT … BIG RESPONSIBILITY FOR ME…FLATTERED TO BE TRUSTED.

In the afternoon I hired Barney Dwan to help crate up our equipment.  Very sad to leave.
Barney has been my right hand man.  Later Dr. John Stam and I drove to Tramore for a
fast game of mini golf and a meal of fish and chips topped off with a bottle of Bass Ale.

I am going to miss all in the village.  Managed to hire quite a few of them so became a
major employer paying them one pound  a day plus free packs of Wild Woodbine cigarettes
and chocolate bars.   Back in Canada, Dr. Norman Paterson wondered why I needed so many
employees. 




THE SOUTH COAST OF IRELAND IS DOTTED WITH HISTORIC RUINS

HERE ARE THREE OF THE BOYS TAKING A REST.  THE CATTLE HAD TO BE PREVENTED FROM EATING OUR GROUNDED
CABLE…BUT COULD NOT BE STOPPED.  LITTLE BALLS OF COPPER WIRE WERE VOMITTED…OR PASSED.  

THIS YOUNG BOY WAS HIRED TO GUARD OUR GROUNDING RODS AND GENERATOR FROM
CATTLE AND SEMI WILD PIGS.   HE TOOK THE JOB VERY SERIOUSLY. CAMPED THERE.

 “Cost of labour here is so cheap…. ten men amounts to less than cost of 
one man in Canada.   And I need ten men to protect our base line for the cattle keep eating
chunks of the cable then regurgitating balls of yellow sheathed copper wire.  Try to stop
this from happening.   Also need a man to lift me over the stone and brier fences.  Sounds
stupid, I know but these fences are a nightmare.  Danger that a bull would charge and I cannot
get away with console, battery pack, copper coil, record book, etc.  Need another two men
to protect our grounding points and tend the motor generator.  Then need two linecutting
crews…etc. etc.  Want more Dr. Patterson”  

 Barney Dwan told me a story about a nun crossing
an open field.  All they found of her were her shoes with her feet in them.  Semi wild hogs
got her.   Not sure I believe this  story.

I will miss all these men.  Just  getting to know all their names and meeting
their families and now we are packing up the gear.   I will also miss Kirwin’s pub in the
evenings.  Quite a  social hub.  It does not take long to develop at taste for Guiness.

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 5, 1960

We finished  crating all  the equipment  and made arrangements with Frank Kirwin to 
transport the crates to Waterford. Seemed  like all was ready.  Not so.  I could
not find my return tickets home…flight.  Panic.  Mrs. Kennedy helped…no luck
so she called a great group of the villagers to her home.  Why?  Seemed  strange
to me as well.  “Master Skeoch has lost his tickets home.  He needs our help.
There were about  a dozen people gathered in the sitting room. Some got down 
on their knees and prayed.  Others held hands in a circle.  Then Mrs. Kennedy did
the strangest thing. She reached in the pile of records, papers, graphs,
waste paper and pulled out my tickets…one reach only.  I know this sounds far
fetched  but it was real.  After that I took a family photo of the Kennedys.   Bridey, my
maid (yes, I had a maid) presented  me with an Irish handkerchief.  You remember
Bridey…she was the person who yanked the covers off me while inked and
announced “Time for Mass, Master Skeoch” and made certain I attended even if
I was a Presbyterian.  Because of her we did not work on Sundays as we did
on bush jobs in Canada.

THIS IS THE KENNEDY FAMILY.  MRS. KENNEDY RAN THE VILLAGE REALLY.  SHE HAD THE ONLY STORE IN TOWN.  HER SON
GERALD WAS  HANDICAPPED AS  YOU MIGHT NOTICE.  HE FOLLOWED ME AROUND AND WAS A JOY.  THEIR LABRADOR DOG
WAS TRAINED TO KEEP GERALD FROM WANDERING INTO THE SEA.  MR. KENNEDY WAS A  FARMER.

The boys all  came to see me off.  Very sad farewell, This  has been a big
adventure for everyone including me.  Would it mean the rebirth of the village?
That would remain to be seen.  (It did  not happen)

Tommy, Frank and  I drove to Waterford in the old truck.   Met John Stam
and John Hogan.  Picked up newspaper that had featured our crew and
the attempt to reopen the old  Knockmahon mine.  Then I  caught the
train to Dublin and road in the first class compartment…like John Wayne
did in the The Quiet Man movie. Seemed I had been reliving that movie.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 1960

Woke early and  enjoyed the full tourist breakfast…several eggs, sausages, rasher of bacon,
fried tomato, marmalade and triangles of toast…then coffee.   Viisited Arbuckle, Smith
and Company to finalize arrangements  with KLM airline for my flight home.
Then went shopping in the rain.  Portable clock,27 shillings, sixpence;
Sweater for Marjorie, 3 pounds, 10 shillings; three fake shillalahs , 40 shillings;
2 pints of  Guiness, 2 shillings;  gifts for Kevin Behan and family, 10  shillings.
Rented a slide projector and showed slides of Bunmahon job to the Behan
family who had hosted me so well in Dublin.  Kevin became name of our first son
in distant future … named after Kevin Behan.
  Back to hotel late…deep sleep…too deep as it happened.

WEDNESDAY , SEPTEMBER 7, 1960

Late awakening.  Alarm clock did not work.  Had a hell of a rush to make the
ferry boat to England.  Miss that boat and  all my plans to visit Eywood Estate
would  be ruined.  “Can you get me to the docks fast?”, I asked the taxi and
we speeded through the streets of Dublin.  Made it by skin of my teeth.
Boat trip was  uneventful but nice.

Where was I going?  I really did  not know.  Caught a train out to Herefored which
seemed a good place to start since Eywood was in Herefordshire.  What to do
in Hereford? I looked  up the name of Cyril Griffiths in the telephone book.  Felt
lost really.  The train platform emptied.  I was almost alone.  Almost.
“Can I help you son?”, asked a well dressed older man.  

STRANGE EVENT HAPPENED:  “Yes, you can help maybe.  I am looking for
Cyril Griffiths who lives  at Lower Wooten Farm somewhere in Herefordshire.
Just saying that made me realize this venture was really stupid. 

“I know Cyril
Griffiths and know Lower Wooten Farm,  perhaps  I can give you a  lift there…near
the village of Almely…some distance from here.  I am the local bank  manager
for Cyril.

CYRIL AND NANCY GRIFFITHS.  NEAR RELATIVES.  THEY OPERATED OATCROFT FARM ON THE EYWOOD ESTATE UNTIL THE
ESTATE  WAS BROKEN UP.  THEN THEY OPERATED  LOWER WOOTEN FARM PICTURED BELOW.  WONDERFUL PEOPLE.

What a surprise.  The whole Grifiths family were expecting me.  Mom had sent them
a letter that maybe I would arrive in early September.  Shy greetings.  Cyril and
Nancy Griffiths, aunt Polly, and their son David who was about 14 years old.

HERE THE WHOLE GRIFFITHS FAMILY IS OUT FOR A FORMAL PICTURE.  OUR PATHS  WOULD CROSS MANY TIMES
FROM 1960 TO THE PRESENT.
THIS PICTURE IS BACKWARDS  BUT GIVES GOOD VIEW OF LOWER WOOTEN FARM.  PICTURE WAS TAKEN ON A SUBSEQUENT
VISIT.  MARJORIE IN DOORWAY.  ON THAT TRIP WE CAUGHT A HEDGEHOG ONE EVENING…IT CURLED UP LIKE A BOWLING BALL
SO WE BOWLED WITH IT A FEW TIMES THEN IT TRUNDLED AWAY TO THE FENCEROW.

Lower Wooten Farm was  a storybook farm.  Built in the 16th century and designated an 
historic building that could not be  changed.   The Farm was wonderful.  A bed was ready.
The floors were uneven.  The ceiling was held up by oak  beams.  The roof was ancient
slate.  (SEE PICTURE)

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 1960

Beautiful day in a wonderful  setting. Young  David took me around the farm where we
helped Cyril debeak turkeys so they would not cannibalize each other I assumed.
Then Cyril drove us into Eardislely, a quaint black  and white 16 th century village.
In the afternoon we  drove to a farm auction near Leominster.

VISIT TO EYWOOD …

EYWOOD AS IT REMAINS TO THIS  DAY…A RUIN.

“Alan, I expect you will want to see Eywood.  Not much to see anymore.  The great
house has been demolished…just a few brick walls  and the stone entranceway remain.
but your grandfathers place is intact…the gardens were bought by Henry Mills.
I know him well.  He will be glad to see you.

END  PART THREE

PART FOUR 

EPISODE 57:  COMING  NEXT:     EYWOOD … WHAT REMAINS OF A GREAT ESTATE
































Fwd: EPISODE 56 EYWOOD PARST TWO: THE IMMIGRANT YEARS OF FREEMAN FAMILY 1905 TO 1914



Begin forwarded message:


From: ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Subject: EPISODE 56 EYWOOD PARST TWO: THE IMMIGRANT YEARS OF FREEMAN FAMILY 1905 TO 1914
Date: May 30, 2020 at 11:42:02 PM EDT
To: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>



EPISODE  56    EYWOOD, PART TWO


Louisa (Bufton) Freeman with daughter Elsie on her one and son Frank by her side.
Photo may have been taken in the Head Gardener’s house at Eywood Estate.



In 1972, I asked mom to explain life as immigrants in Canada from 1905 to 1914


This is  Granddad and is gardeners…ten men and boys and two horses

alan skeoch
May  2020

There was always something strange about the Freeman farm house.  Something different
from other houses as I remember.  And the difference, I now realize, was the picture frames
and the photos fitted therein.  The frames  were hand carved by Granddad out of slabs of 
hardwood.  Then intricately carved.   As below.
 
“How long did it  take you to carve these, Grandpa?”
“Did one ever winter for a few years?”
“Who is in the frame?”
“That’s  to cook from Eywood…your mother’s godmother?”
“I thought you hated Eywood?”
“Too strong a word, Alan.”
“but you said you hated tipping your hat to Mr. Gwyer, the owner of Eywood.”
“Hate is  too strong a word…let’s say disliked.”
“If you disliked Eywood, then why spend your winter’s  doing something
that reminds you  of Eywood.”
“Alan, there is the world of difference between a system I might dislike
and the people working within the system.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Some of those people in service at Eywood became as  close to 
your grandmother and me as our family.   They became family really.”



Winer’s work beside the wood stove in Erin Township,  Wellington County 1930’s.



Elsie Freeman…hand made frame by Edward Freeman

The old Freeman farm house had reminders of Eywood on each  wall of the only room
in the house that was permanently lived in.  The room with the big wood stove. The rest
of the house in winter time was so cold that icicles formed in the rooms.   Just to got
to bed upstairs we had to take a hot brick wrapped in paper.  The brick was heated in
the wood stove oven.  

This was not the home of rich persons.  Yet the walls  were reminders that there was
a place somewhere in England where rich people lived and  were served by servants.
It was all  very confusing.

I thought Grandma and Grandpa came to a better place..Canada.  But the reminders
on the walls told a different story.

Always in the back of my mind were these reminders  of Eywood.  A mystical place
that I thought I would never see.  Time and  circumstances changed things for me.
Remember this point.  I was born in 1938. I was  a teen ager in the 1950’s.  I was
an adult in the 1960’s.  I was to become part of the luckiest generation of humans
this world has ever seen.   I did not know it though.   Nor did  I know that in a few years
I would find myself on the Eywood estate.  Not once, but several times.  I would
arrive there just six years after the grand house was demolished by impoverished
Brits.   I would  arrive just six years after the grand estate home was blown to
kingdom come.  



What of  granddad?

“Will you ever go back to Eywood “
“No.  We will never return…burned  our bridges.”

They left Eywood in 1905.  Sailed  to St. John, New Brunswick. Then train to Toronto.
where  Granddad expected  his wife Louisa to stay  for a few weeks while he checked  out farming
in Manitoba.  That was a non starter.

“You expect us to take Frank and Elsie to a remote wilderness  where there are no schools nearby?”
“For a while that will be so.”
“And no hospitals.”
“Not close.”
“Well…that is  not going to happen…we are not going to Manitoba.”

So grandpa bought a small garden farm in Etobicoke (exactly where Highway 427 sweeps  north
today and crosses Burnhamthorpe  Road.).  He tried to grow vegetable then haul them to Toronto
for sale.  Tough.  Poverty was getting close.

“We will sell the garden farm, Lou.”
“And  do  what?”
“I have a  job as carpenter with the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway.  Big things
happening in Northern Ontario.   We will have a  cabin in Krugerdorf…a village near Englehart.
Start all  over again.”


Around 1985 we drove north to find krugerdorf.  We found it.  All that is left of the
railway village is this  sign.  As  I looked  at the sign, a black bear crossed the railway track
some distant away.


This is the log cabin of Harry Horsman, a friend of the family in Krugerdorf.  His cabin is primitive as was
the cabin belonging to Ted and Lou Freeman.  Theirs caught fire an burned to the ground in 1913 or 1914.  Fires
raged all across Northern Ontario in those years.


Contrast the log cabin above with the majesty of Eywood Estate main  house.


The cabin turned out to be a rudimentary log cabin.  In the summers massive wildfires swept across
Northern Ontario.  Granddad had to ride through at least one such massive blaze sitting on a flat car
with forests burning on each side.   It was tough.  Then their own log cabin caught fire and burned
to rubble.  They managed to save their one t treasure…a small pump organ.  Music was a big 
part of their social life.  But they were burned  out.  So they moved…fled… south.
Grandma wanted something stable.  Not flashy.  For their money was  limited, very limited.

In 1914 Edward and Louisa  Freeman bought a small farm in southern Ontario.  Very small indeed.
The 25 acre farm on the Fifth line of Erin Township, Wellington County, Ontario could hardly
be considered a farm.  Jus to 20% of the land was swamp.  And the fields were oct strewn.
rocks left behind  when the glacial ice retreated thousands  of years ago.  Rocks on the surface.
Rocks below the surface.  But there was a brick house.  Well  really a brick faced house…one brick  
thick.   Really the house was  built like a barn.  Timbers rescued here and there from other buildings
some of them scorched by fire.  No running water.  No indoor toilet than thunder jugs beneath the beds.

There was  a barn.  The builders must have thought  the site for a barn was ideal.  Between two
swamps with ager inning through the stable.  No need to haul water.  Of course the idea was faulty.
In  winter the water froze.  When water freezes it expands with force enough to crack and push cement
foundations out of place.  The barn would not last the century but it would last the remaining lifespans
of Ted and Louisa Freeman.  Room enough for a chicken coop and stabling for a few cows and a horse
to two.  Small.   Self sufficient.  Survivable.

The Freemans set down roots.  Roots that took some time to get established because
the Freemans were Welsh-English.  And Erin Township’s Fifth Line was  overwhelmingly Scottish.
There was no love lost between the English and the Scots.  Tensions dating back and beyond
Robert the True and William Wallace were very real in this small  backwater piece of  rural Ontario.



Photo of the Freeman farm in  the 1930’s as seen from the air.


“We were not liked  at first.”

(Most locals could  not understand  why anyone would try to eke out a living on 2r acres.  An
English family forced by  poverty to buy the small rock/swamp parcel.)
“They won’t stay long..”
“What is  worst is  that they are English.  Odd  they did not get better land.”
“Must be a reason.”
“Wait and see what happens.”

Across the dirt road was the farm of Jean Macdonald, nest to her farm on south side
were Jean and Janet McLean…south of the Freeman farm were the Macecherns, then
the Kerrs.  To the north was a  great wedge of forested swamp that had once been part of
the new Freeman farm.  The land had been sold  to raise enough money to build the 
brick house.  Once the new Freeman house had been built the former owners found
they no longer had a farm.  All of this  did  not bode well.

Did the Freeman’s feel they had made a massive mistake leaving a reasonable comfortable
life in the Gardeners House on the Eywood Estate for the near poverty of life in Canada?
They must have but I never heard a word  of complaint as a boy spending many  free hours
with my grandparents.

“It did not take lone for us to fit in.  A little tension at first.”
“But everyone was poor.  We made our own entertainment
using the one room school for musical evenings.”
“I played the violin along with Frank.”
“Your grandmother played  the pump organ and she
had a lovely singing voice.”
“In not time at all, we were part of the community.  Did not matter that
we were English.”

The Great War began in the same year the Freeman’s bought the farm.  To pay
for it, Edward  Freeman  took a job making eplosives in Toronto.  Elsie, Frank
and his wife Louisa were left to do the farming.  With the money earned the
mortgage was  soon paid in full.  I am guessing when I say the farm cost $6,000
perhaps less than that.

From 1906 until their deaths in the 1950’s,  Grandma and Granddad kept in close touch
with the resident of Eywood.  No complaints.  Granddad even successfully encouraged 
two of his brothers and his sister to come to Canada.  They did not feel poor although they
were poor.   But there was a  richness of  spirit in them.  A great joy of living on their own land.
Security of tenure.

All the same it was wonderful to hear about the happenings on the Eywood Estate. The gossip
of those still ‘in service’.   The letters from the Griffiths were a  kind of  touchstone.

Mercifujlly, both Grandma and Grandpa died  before the terrible news reached us.
The Eywood Estate was gone…the great house had sold everything right down to’
the floor boards and doors and windows.  All gone.  And the final catastrophe was
the demolition…with the help of explosives I was told…the final demolition of the 
great estate house.


IN 1955, this wasalll that remained of Eywood mansion  house.


Odd fact though.  The rest of the estate…the barns, the servants quarters, the dovecote,
the park, the lake, the walled  gardens…and the head gardeners red brick house…all of these
remain.  Mom..Elsie Freeman…was born in that red brick house in 1901.

NEXT STORY:  PART THREE OF THE EYWOOD STORHY


BACK  THEN…THE 1940’S

(MY BROTHER ERIC AND  I DRESSED  AS WE DID BACK THEN…ON THE FREEMAN FARM)


TODAY…YEAR 2020

So here we are in the year 2020…and the 25  acre Freeman farm has survived while thousands of
other family farms have been gobbled up into larger and larger farms with fewer and fewer farmers.
The average size of a farm today is over 500 acres.

We call our farm a farm but is  really not a farm.   Our income from the farm is
miniscule.  So  small that we do not pay farm taxes.  We pay the much larger
property tax of non farming rural residents.  No matter.  The farm has survived.


A wooden horse like this would likely have been present in Eywood.



NEXT STORY…PART THREE OF EYWOOD. …AS FOUND IN 1960

alan skeoch
may 2020


EPISODE 56 EYWOOD PARST TWO: THE IMMIGRANT YEARS OF FREEMAN FAMILY 1905 TO 1914


EPISODE  56    EYWOOD, PART TWO


Louisa (Bufton) Freeman with daughter Elsie on her one and son Frank by her side.
Photo may have been taken in the Head Gardener’s house at Eywood Estate.



In 1972, I asked mom to explain life as immigrants in Canada from 1905 to 1914


This is  Granddad and is gardeners…ten men and boys and two horses

alan skeoch
May  2020

There was always something strange about the Freeman farm house.  Something different
from other houses as I remember.  And the difference, I now realize, was the picture frames
and the photos fitted therein.  The frames  were hand carved by Granddad out of slabs of 
hardwood.  Then intricately carved.   As below.
 
“How long did it  take you to carve these, Grandpa?”
“Did one ever winter for a few years?”
“Who is in the frame?”
“That’s  to cook from Eywood…your mother’s godmother?”
“I thought you hated Eywood?”
“Too strong a word, Alan.”
“but you said you hated tipping your hat to Mr. Gwyer, the owner of Eywood.”
“Hate is  too strong a word…let’s say disliked.”
“If you disliked Eywood, then why spend your winter’s  doing something
that reminds you  of Eywood.”
“Alan, there is the world of difference between a system I might dislike
and the people working within the system.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Some of those people in service at Eywood became as  close to 
your grandmother and me as our family.   They became family really.”



Winer’s work beside the wood stove in Erin Township,  Wellington County 1930’s.



Elsie Freeman…hand made frame by Edward Freeman

The old Freeman farm house had reminders of Eywood on each  wall of the only room
in the house that was permanently lived in.  The room with the big wood stove. The rest
of the house in winter time was so cold that icicles formed in the rooms.   Just to got
to bed upstairs we had to take a hot brick wrapped in paper.  The brick was heated in
the wood stove oven.  

This was not the home of rich persons.  Yet the walls  were reminders that there was
a place somewhere in England where rich people lived and  were served by servants.
It was all  very confusing.

I thought Grandma and Grandpa came to a better place..Canada.  But the reminders
on the walls told a different story.

Always in the back of my mind were these reminders  of Eywood.  A mystical place
that I thought I would never see.  Time and  circumstances changed things for me.
Remember this point.  I was born in 1938. I was  a teen ager in the 1950’s.  I was
an adult in the 1960’s.  I was to become part of the luckiest generation of humans
this world has ever seen.   I did not know it though.   Nor did  I know that in a few years
I would find myself on the Eywood estate.  Not once, but several times.  I would
arrive there just six years after the grand house was demolished by impoverished
Brits.   I would  arrive just six years after the grand estate home was blown to
kingdom come.  



What of  granddad?

“Will you ever go back to Eywood “
“No.  We will never return…burned  our bridges.”

They left Eywood in 1905.  Sailed  to St. John, New Brunswick. Then train to Toronto.
where  Granddad expected  his wife Louisa to stay  for a few weeks while he checked  out farming
in Manitoba.  That was a non starter.

“You expect us to take Frank and Elsie to a remote wilderness  where there are no schools nearby?”
“For a while that will be so.”
“And no hospitals.”
“Not close.”
“Well…that is  not going to happen…we are not going to Manitoba.”

So grandpa bought a small garden farm in Etobicoke (exactly where Highway 427 sweeps  north
today and crosses Burnhamthorpe  Road.).  He tried to grow vegetable then haul them to Toronto
for sale.  Tough.  Poverty was getting close.

“We will sell the garden farm, Lou.”
“And  do  what?”
“I have a  job as carpenter with the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway.  Big things
happening in Northern Ontario.   We will have a  cabin in Krugerdorf…a village near Englehart.
Start all  over again.”


Around 1985 we drove north to find krugerdorf.  We found it.  All that is left of the
railway village is this  sign.  As  I looked  at the sign, a black bear crossed the railway track
some distant away.


This is the log cabin of Harry Horsman, a friend of the family in Krugerdorf.  His cabin is primitive as was
the cabin belonging to Ted and Lou Freeman.  Theirs caught fire an burned to the ground in 1913 or 1914.  Fires
raged all across Northern Ontario in those years.


Contrast the log cabin above with the majesty of Eywood Estate main  house.


The cabin turned out to be a rudimentary log cabin.  In the summers massive wildfires swept across
Northern Ontario.  Granddad had to ride through at least one such massive blaze sitting on a flat car
with forests burning on each side.   It was tough.  Then their own log cabin caught fire and burned
to rubble.  They managed to save their one t treasure…a small pump organ.  Music was a big 
part of their social life.  But they were burned  out.  So they moved…fled… south.
Grandma wanted something stable.  Not flashy.  For their money was  limited, very limited.

In 1914 Edward and Louisa  Freeman bought a small farm in southern Ontario.  Very small indeed.
The 25 acre farm on the Fifth line of Erin Township, Wellington County, Ontario could hardly
be considered a farm.  Jus to 20% of the land was swamp.  And the fields were oct strewn.
rocks left behind  when the glacial ice retreated thousands  of years ago.  Rocks on the surface.
Rocks below the surface.  But there was a brick house.  Well  really a brick faced house…one brick  
thick.   Really the house was  built like a barn.  Timbers rescued here and there from other buildings
some of them scorched by fire.  No running water.  No indoor toilet than thunder jugs beneath the beds.

There was  a barn.  The builders must have thought  the site for a barn was ideal.  Between two
swamps with ager inning through the stable.  No need to haul water.  Of course the idea was faulty.
In  winter the water froze.  When water freezes it expands with force enough to crack and push cement
foundations out of place.  The barn would not last the century but it would last the remaining lifespans
of Ted and Louisa Freeman.  Room enough for a chicken coop and stabling for a few cows and a horse
to two.  Small.   Self sufficient.  Survivable.

The Freemans set down roots.  Roots that took some time to get established because
the Freemans were Welsh-English.  And Erin Township’s Fifth Line was  overwhelmingly Scottish.
There was no love lost between the English and the Scots.  Tensions dating back and beyond
Robert the True and William Wallace were very real in this small  backwater piece of  rural Ontario.



Photo of the Freeman farm in  the 1930’s as seen from the air.


“We were not liked  at first.”

(Most locals could  not understand  why anyone would try to eke out a living on 2r acres.  An
English family forced by  poverty to buy the small rock/swamp parcel.)
“They won’t stay long..”
“What is  worst is  that they are English.  Odd  they did not get better land.”
“Must be a reason.”
“Wait and see what happens.”

Across the dirt road was the farm of Jean Macdonald, nest to her farm on south side
were Jean and Janet McLean…south of the Freeman farm were the Macecherns, then
the Kerrs.  To the north was a  great wedge of forested swamp that had once been part of
the new Freeman farm.  The land had been sold  to raise enough money to build the 
brick house.  Once the new Freeman house had been built the former owners found
they no longer had a farm.  All of this  did  not bode well.

Did the Freeman’s feel they had made a massive mistake leaving a reasonable comfortable
life in the Gardeners House on the Eywood Estate for the near poverty of life in Canada?
They must have but I never heard a word  of complaint as a boy spending many  free hours
with my grandparents.

“It did not take lone for us to fit in.  A little tension at first.”
“But everyone was poor.  We made our own entertainment
using the one room school for musical evenings.”
“I played the violin along with Frank.”
“Your grandmother played  the pump organ and she
had a lovely singing voice.”
“In not time at all, we were part of the community.  Did not matter that
we were English.”

The Great War began in the same year the Freeman’s bought the farm.  To pay
for it, Edward  Freeman  took a job making eplosives in Toronto.  Elsie, Frank
and his wife Louisa were left to do the farming.  With the money earned the
mortgage was  soon paid in full.  I am guessing when I say the farm cost $6,000
perhaps less than that.

From 1906 until their deaths in the 1950’s,  Grandma and Granddad kept in close touch
with the resident of Eywood.  No complaints.  Granddad even successfully encouraged 
two of his brothers and his sister to come to Canada.  They did not feel poor although they
were poor.   But there was a  richness of  spirit in them.  A great joy of living on their own land.
Security of tenure.

All the same it was wonderful to hear about the happenings on the Eywood Estate. The gossip
of those still ‘in service’.   The letters from the Griffiths were a  kind of  touchstone.

Mercifujlly, both Grandma and Grandpa died  before the terrible news reached us.
The Eywood Estate was gone…the great house had sold everything right down to’
the floor boards and doors and windows.  All gone.  And the final catastrophe was
the demolition…with the help of explosives I was told…the final demolition of the 
great estate house.


IN 1955, this wasalll that remained of Eywood mansion  house.


Odd fact though.  The rest of the estate…the barns, the servants quarters, the dovecote,
the park, the lake, the walled  gardens…and the head gardeners red brick house…all of these
remain.  Mom..Elsie Freeman…was born in that red brick house in 1901.

NEXT STORY:  PART THREE OF THE EYWOOD STORHY


BACK  THEN…THE 1940’S

(MY BROTHER ERIC AND  I DRESSED  AS WE DID BACK THEN…ON THE FREEMAN FARM)


TODAY…YEAR 2020

So here we are in the year 2020…and the 25  acre Freeman farm has survived while thousands of
other family farms have been gobbled up into larger and larger farms with fewer and fewer farmers.
The average size of a farm today is over 500 acres.

We call our farm a farm but is  really not a farm.   Our income from the farm is
miniscule.  So  small that we do not pay farm taxes.  We pay the much larger
property tax of non farming rural residents.  No matter.  The farm has survived.


A wooden horse like this would likely have been present in Eywood.



NEXT STORY…PART THREE OF EYWOOD. …AS FOUND IN 1960

alan skeoch
may 2020

EPISODE 55 THE BLACK BEAR THAT GOT TOO FRIENDLY


EPISODE 55     THE BLACK BEAR THAT JUST GOT TOO FRIENDLY:  MARATHON 1963

alan skeoch
May 2020

We  set up our  base camp southeast of the paper mill at Marathon on the north shore  of Lake Superior.  Five  of us doing a
geophysical survey searching for magnetic anomalies  that just might be turned  into a mine some day.  Summer of  1963.
John Lloyd, Roger Nichols, David Murphy, Bill Gilbey and myself.  By 1963 I had done  this  kind of work for several  yuears
so our boss, Dr. Norman Paterson gave me the
responsibility for the camp.  

And  that became a problem.

No sooner did  we get the  tents up and the food supply in place than we discovered there was a black bear who seemed
to want to join our crew.   This began as  a  novelty for the bear was more interested in stealing our food than  gnawing at
our bodies.    

This was dangerous business however.   One night I got up to take a leak at our latrine only to return and  find  John Lloyd 
standing with axe upraised  thinking I was the bear entering our tent.   John Lloyd was a Welsh geophyicist with no bear
experience.    On another occasion the bear got one of our salamis hanging  from a  hook in our cook tent.   I think the bear
took a  mouthful of tent canvas with it.  Otherwise the bear just walked…waddled…into the cook tent and  made a 
selection.  

The bear was getting too friendly.  Dangerously so.  Action had to be taken … desperate  action.  But first we tried
another ploy.  Let’s call it the  ‘Garbage Can Lid and Nielsen’s Jesey Milk chlorate bar caper.”

“Hey Al, why don’t we try to shock the bear.”
“How?””
“We could wire up the garbage can lid?”
(We  had buried a  big galvanized garbage can deep in the ground to act as  a refrigerator and also
a protection of our food from red squirrels>)
“Suppose we hook the lid to our motor generator…wait for the bear to lie the lid…and then WHAM…give
him or her a shot of electricity.”
“And the bait?”
“Let’s use the chocolate bars…Jersey Milk.  The bear has already got some so we know it likes Jersey Milk  Bars.
(So  , like a bunch of kids, we set our trap.}
“Drive the truck so it faces the garbage can…start the generator…and then we will wait.”
(All five of us crammed into the company truck..and waited…I don’t remember who held
the on / off switch.   Might have been me.  Might have been Gilbey as I think the plan was his  
idea.)
“Getting dark.”
“Here comes the bear.  Get ready.”
“Has  the bear got the lid?”
“Yes…NOW!  NOW!  Throw the switch.”
“Too late … that is  one fast bear.”
“He got the whole box of Jersey Milk bars faster that we could throw the switch.”

“Did  he or she know we were in the truck?”
“Probably…seemed to consider us  food suppliers…as  if  we were grocery employees.”


We failed.  Now for the sad part.
We could  not leave the bear free to wander in and out of the tents.  Someone could  get mauled for sure.

Sp we called in the Lands  and Forest Ranger.  He came with a long gun.   Guns were never allowed in
our bush  camps.  That principle was established  long ago.  “If  we had guns in camp, we would likely shoot each other,”
Floyd Faulkner told me way back in 1957 when I first got into the business.  He was  like correct.  When people live
in close proximity to each other sometimes tension develop.  so …No  Guns.   That was one of the differences between
Canadian and American bush crews. A good difference.

“We  have a bear in camp.” I told the Ranger.
“How often?”
“Every day…scared  it might come into a tent at night.”
“Sounds  like a  Garbage Bear.”
“Garbage Bear?”
“People make garbage too available…bears find  steady meals…and problems happen like you face.”
“What can  be done?”
“Could a  big bear trap be brought in?”
“No!  This bear is just too tame….It will be a problem wherever it goes.”

“Does it have to be shot?”
“Yes, we’ll do it now.  You say the bear is  nearby?”
“Yes, broad  daylight it wanders in around us.  Never attacks though.”
“We’ll just wait then…Keep behind me.”
“Then the bear appeared…see the photograph.” (PHOTOGRAPH)
“Wait until I get a  clear  shot…one bullet.”
“There, the bear is smelling the air…got clear shot.”
“BAM!!”

ONE of the saddest things in my life.  The poor bear was shot…dying.  And it cried  like
a baby.  We all cried.   I do  not remember if we buried it…think we did.  Then again the Ranger
may have taken it away.   We were all very quiet that night.  No joy!

Just so I do not end this story on such a sad note, let me  tell an anecdote about Bill Gilbey.  He was
a Brit sent over to get experience in the wilderness.  His family owned the Gilbey’s Gin company in
England.   They were part of the minor nobility.  His father or grandfather had been nighted for some
achievement in business…probably gin making.   Bill was a great guy.  Tough, funny, enthusiastic.

He came to camp with a big copy of Eaton’s Catalogue and each night he would
peruse the Women’s underwear  section and draw various items to our attention.
“Sad  state of affairs, lads,”…”When we have to rely on this catalogue for our pornography.”
And then he would point to some young lady modelling skimpy underclothes.

I felt readers might need this comment so they would  stop crying about the bear.

Bush work involved both bears and Mail Order Catalogues.

alan skeoch
May 2020


DAY 14 COVID 19 PANDEMIC MARCH 26, 2020

DAY 14 COVID 19 PANDEMIC   MARCH 26, 2020  


ALAN SKEOCH


I think it is time for a little background information.  Self-centred I admit.
 NO one has asked me to continue the Niagara Falls

caper which is  just as well since the other two incidents make me look stupid but not as stupid
as the Navy Island breakfast incident.  Instead I thought a little background
might be useful.  Those of you offended by the F word should take note and
press delete.




1)  My NICKNAME WAS ONCE ‘FUCKING AL’…A COMPLIMENT I THINK


 WELL the 13th day of isolation has ended and 14th begins.  Today I did not get up at 8 but just read a book
for a bit.  Then dressed…same stuff as yesterday…had a coffee…picked up the Star delivered
to our front door and looked first for the political cartoon.  A good one with that lump Trump surrounded
by COVID 19 PURPLE PRICKLY BALLS with the heading ‘Virus Spreader In Chief’. Then I began typing
my Niagara Caper that sure got a reaction from one reader who called an ‘f——g idiot’…I assume
in jest.  Our near death over Niagara Falls seems to have amused many of you which casts me
as an entertainer.   Got me a bit worried because my former boss on that job, Dr. Norman Paterson,
gets this journal.   He did not know about that Sunday morning use of his little rented motor boat.  
“Marjorie, if Norm calls tell him you had a good time that day.”  Funny thing, I did not edit the story
because I  pushed the wrong bloody button and whoosh away went the story with at least one
amusing error when I commented on Marjorie’s seductive brown ‘sleepless’ blouse.  I meant to say ‘sleeveless’
but the word sleepless shows my evil intent.  Is that a Freudian slip?

Writing this journal takes most hours of the day.  Self-centred article here but what the hell.
So I hope it has some value.  One person said
she doesn’t read my scribbling so I said ‘No problem, I’ll delete you.’ to which she responded ‘Oh, don’t do that’.
Maybe the occasional use of SOB and other expletives was offensive.  If truth be told, my mining
days featured the F word more often.  One of my most amusing associates  could put the F word
ahead of every word in a sentence.  He called me ‘Fucking Al’ and meant it as a compliment. Floyd F.
was the hardest working man I have ever met. A diamond.  At my age he had been a cage man
in a Kirkland Lake mine.  Quit when the cage failed…dropped free down the shaft…turned his
friend the other cage man into a pile of jelly with bones sticking out.  Floyd Decided to work on the surface.
 We  lived together for three months in
the most god forsaken spot on the Groundhog River. Flown in and forgotten.  Wormy meat was 
a treasure.  Raw oatmeal a standard.  A chocolate bar was something to dream about.

various jobs in various places around he world.  Mayo Landing, Yukon, Chibougamau Quebec, Southern Ireland

My good friends Jim Romaniuk and Russ Vanstone signed me up to an American lonely hearts club.
A huge bundle of lavender smelling letters arrived at our first food drop by a Beaver float plane flying out of
South Porcupine.  “Hey, Fucking Al, who sent you all those fucking letters?”  “I have no fucking idea.”
(I picked up the use of the word from Floyd that summer.)  “They stink…perfume’  And so we suddenly
had entertainment.  Girls offering to come and live with us if we sent $100.  Some wanting marriage. Others
just wanting to talk to a man.  Sad letters.  But fun.  “Marjorie asked me what happened to the letters?”
“As soon as the Air Canada plane set down in Toronto, Jim Romaniuk and Russ Vanstone were there
to greet me.   “Did you bring the letters, Al,” said Jim and we never saw the letters again.  Not sure
if he shared them with Russ.  Jim has passed on but Russ reads this journal. 



For those of you who find this note a little too salty let me offer an excuse.  Sort of excuse.
That lonely hearts summer I was in Grade 12 at Humberside Collegiate.  Just a normal 17 year
old kid.  I did not smoke…thought that was stupid and lost two good friends over the issue. Tell you how.
We smoked on the way to school.  I swiped (stole) three Craven A cancer sticks from Fran’s
package on the pharmacy counter at Hertell’s Drug Story where I was a 35 cent an hour delivery boy 
and later a naive store clerk.  Naive?  You bet.  I remember a man sliding up to the counter
and whispering. “Do you have any ——mumble—mumble?”  “Sorry, did not hear you.??”
“Do you have any — mumble —mumble”?  “Could you speak a little louder?”  “Do you have
any vaginal jelly?”  I had never heard of the stuff so yelled to Fran.  “Fran, this man wants
vaginal jelly, do we have any?”  At this point the man slid lower down the counter and almost hid.
Fran got the jelly and said “Alan, do not do that again.”  I did not understand why.  What the 
hell is  vaginal jelly anyway?  Back to the story. So I swiped three cigarettes from Fran. Figured I would start smoking
with Bill R. and Bob T. like other smart ass teen agers.  I lit the Craven A…looked around…and
said to myself, ‘Why the hell am I doing this?”  Gave the other two stolen weeds to Bill and
Bob.  Lost them as friends.  They actually got to hate me for some reason.  Broke into my
locker and wrote Fuck You over my school books  Scared me really.  “Found a note one day
that said “Grant D. whats to fight you over at Western Tech.  Be there after school.”
They must have thought I was fucking insane.  Why would I go over there to get the shit knocked
out of me? 

 Never smoked again except for the odd White Owl Cigar to prove
my manhood.  Dad smoked White Owl Invincibles but had to do so with his head out the kitchen 
window and keep his stash in a little pouch on the clothes line.  Not worth the effort I figured.
Mom was quite tolerant except for ‘those dirty old cigars’.  She was a better mentor I figured.
If Dad had known about the fight threat he would have met the boys at Western Tech
and knocked the shit out of all of them.  He was tough, a tire builder at Dunlop’s.  I never
told him.

Dad with his White Owl Invincible — he taught our children how to smoke them when they 7 and 9.  Family picture…we
were a very happy family. Never realized we were poor.

Mom wanted to join the parents group at our high school.  We did not want her there. I mean why
would anyone want their mom or dad sucking around the teachers.  As a student I preferred
as much anonymity as possible.  We got mom out of the school when Eric had Mr. Tancock
as a home form teacher to which mom was assigned on parents night.  We knew that would
lead to trouble when mom asked “How do you pronounce his name boys?”  We gave
her a variety of variations.   She used one of the variations when she met poor Mr Tancock.
That got her out of the school.   I Tried to keep in the middle of the pack.  In the long run I
failed in that task for the school gave me the Head boy award in Grade 13.  I figured I got it
because I joined every club…science, photography, drama, etc….and every sports team…football,
basketball, tennis, swimming, track and field.   That did not mean I was any good.  My tennis 
career was one game.  What a stupid  sport  that is.  Love this and love that…stupid.  Track and field team
was another failure.  Dunc Green the coach put me in the hop, step and jump…another
stupid sport.   Swim team?  Fred Burford finally made me the manager because i never
learned to breathe doing the crawl.  I could do fairly well for one length but then I was done, near dead.
Football?  Fred Burford was a great coach. Showed me how to knock people down.  I got
really good at it and eventually made both city All Star teams.  His training did it.  I only played
sports to attract the girls.  Later in life I realized the girls did not give a sweet goddamn about
football.  They never saw that great shoestring tackle I made on an enemy halfback while playing 
with my broken hand in a cast that had become all mud.  I had my finger wired up…had to because
a son of a bitch on the other team drove his spiked shoes in my hand as I was throwing a great
cross body block.  Or maybe it was our own halfback who buggered up my hand as he swept by.
My brother got it worse.  Banana Nose from Riverdale spiked his leg in a mud game.  Drove
spikes in deep.  filled with mud.  Continued to play.  I remember looking at his leg and felt weak.
That night Dr. Greenaway said to me.  “Take this needle and if your brother starts to foam at the mouth
(take a fit) ram this into his leg and push the plunger.   Thankfully Eric recovered.  Football was
a real man’s game.  I wish the girls knew that.

Yukon job.  When I got home Marjorie and mom pinned me down beside the pump at the farm
and cut off my reddish beard.  


Just a little background for you to understand why Floyd Faulkner called me Fucking Al and why
Dr. Paterson hired me for 8 summers of bush life.  Why did he hire me?  Because I would do
just about anything.  I loved life. Revelled in experiences.  Was I a F———g idiot?  Of course.
So were all my friends.  That summer on the Groundhog River made me into a man.  We sliced
a piece of the sowbelly every morning to get the blow fly grubs out, then cooked the bacon.  We
ate wieners  that were beaded in some god forsaken chemical that oozed out.  I remember we could
pick up a wiener with one finger.  The ooze was like glue.  I remember throwing a temper tantrum
when I discovered my boy scout belt had pulled the compass needle and buggered up our day’s
work trying to reach a forgotten lake using an aerial photograph as a guide.  We had packed
everything on our backs…loads so heavy that the pack frames bent into hoops.  In my temper 
tantrum I hit my blazing axe against every tree I could reach.  And Floyd laughed until tears ran
 down his fucking face.  Every 17 year old high school boy should spend a summer in the bush
with a guy like Floyd Faulkner.  Once I asked Floyd 

“Why doesn’t Dr. Paterson give us a gun
in the bush…bears around all the time.? 
 “He has a good reason.” 
 “What is it?” 
“If we had a gun,
we would shoot each other…right?” 
“Fucking right.”

alan skeoch
March 26, 2020


2)  A NOTE FROM THE OWNER OF STONEHOOKER BREWERY IN PORT CREDIT
(Give the beer a try…now selling at drive through at the brewery)

Jeez Al, you’re my kinda guy.
 
This sounds like one of my stories, but I have to admit yours is better.
 
OK – here’s mine. Brave & Dumb. Like the time I forgot to completely tighten the bolts on an outboard motor in an 11ft boat, and of course didn’t attach the safety chain or cable either. After all, we were only going for a wee spin on a flat lake in March, and there was still ice on the lake. We had just been idling, taking a look at a cottage (my girl & I), then I thought it best to clear out the motor before we headed for the dock, so I took it up on plane and we crossed our own wake, then PROBLEM! The motor jump off the transom and I found myself on-handing a 15hp motor full out as it skipped from side to side ready to jump into the boat with petrified girlfriend. Ahhh!
I managed to throttle back the motor before it bounced into the boat and cut us to ribbons, and it stalled as it sank into the lake suspended now only by… the gas line. My hand was off the throttle by now (out of self-preservation). Out of desperation now considering that the motor was sinking fast, I pulled it up by the gas line and (with strength I didn’t know I had) somehow lifted the outboard back into the boat without tipping us over…. Saved the motor but it was drowned indeed. No falls to be swept over, but we still had to figure out how to get back to the dock (no paddles on board, of course)
Exciting stuff.
 
Fun fact: When you had your incident Al & Marjorie on the Niagara River, it was the same year I was born, 1961. I guess I would have been a few months old at best. 
Now we’re too old guys.
I’ll be 59 on Tuesday. Not sure how that happened. Means I’ve been 19 for forty years.
Looking forward to the sequel, and hoping Stonehooker doesn’t go over the falls. We’re circling around Navy Island, hoping we don’t caught in the weeds….
Drink beer. It’s safer than water.
 
Ross
 
Ross Noel
Stonehooker Brewing Co.
ross@stonehooker.com
416-669-7975
 
2)  INVENTIVE USE OF TAPE

COURTESY OF SAM M.

Day 8 COVID 19 PANDEMIC MARCH 20, 202


DAY 8,  COVID 19 PANDEMIC   MARCH 20, 2020

alan skeoch

(running journal…running until I run out of steam)

UNITED STATES DAY 7     13,000 CASES  193 DEATHS
ITALY                                  41,000 CASES   3,405 DEATHS
CANADA                                 873 CASES       12 DEATHS
(80% OF DEATHS ARE TRAVEL RELATED)



CODIV 19…CORUNAVIRUS…Artists depictions makes them look life floating explosives in World War II.  Good idea, but remember they are so small only an electron microscope
can set them.  

1) Gabriela (daughter in law living in London, England)  sent email saying she has  placed a food delivery order with Longo’s for April 1, delivery to our house between 9 and11. 
“slot was open so I grabbed it and sent a list of food”.   Nice of her.   Makes us more aware of  the crisis and to begin thinking of
non perishable food….milk powder, evaporated  milk, dried fruit, any fresh vegetables available, etc.
“What do we need, Alan?”  I said potato chips and chocolate bars and raisins.   Marjorie was not amused.

2) Julie (daughter in law living in Port Credit, Ontario) sent email saying she will get us what we need in terms of short term food.   “Stores in Port Credit appear to have light traffic” (9 a.m.)
Needs?  fresh milk, etc.   We are being cared for…at a distance and close up…but no one invading our personal space.  Sounds like science  fiction novel, does it not?
 
“ALAN,  what food do we need? Julie will get it.”
“potato chips,  raisins,  Coffee Crisp chocolate bars”
“Stupid..be serious.”
“I am serious…suddenly I miss those tihings.”
“Well,  Julie will not be getting them. We still have peanut butter cups from Halloween.”
“God…where are they?”
“Under the tea towels.”
“No wonder I couldn’t find them.”
“Be serious…what do we need?”
“chocolate pudding mix, Jello and both powdered and  evaporated milk”
“Slightly better….”
“How about pork and beans, oat meal and Kraft dinner?”
“I thought you told me that when you were a prospectior you had to order supplies  for 3 weeks and a month even.”
“True, I did…  sowbelly, salami and canned  spam.” (we called it Clap)
“Hardly a balanced menu…how did that affect you?”
“Well, I was thinner then.  Forgot to mention t he prunes…ordered lots of  dried prunes.”
“Why?”
“You figure it out…put prunes on the list…canned and dried…kept us regular after we built the latrine (which was just 
a log nailed between  two poplars)

(Tomorrow I will give you two lists…Marjorie’s and Gabriela’s…today Julie got us a whole 
truckload of  stuff for  $70 … including a sleeve of Oh Henry nut bars. (pssst. This  time
Marjorie put them under her sewing basket…saw her do it.)

ONE COMMENT THAT SCARED ME

“Lots of people out and about today, Alan. “
Now that observation made me very nervous. I hope we will
not be as dumb as the beach babes and  bucks down in Daytona.
This is a serious comment…brings on the War Measures Act maybe.


3)  DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, by JOHN WYNDHAM

As soon as i heard about this  CODIV 19 VIRUS, I immediately thought of John Wyndham.  If you read this story
you will want to read the book.  Providing you are not too terrified.  



I remember Day of  the Triffids by John Wyndham so graphically.  Burned into my brain long ago when I taught both English and History.  The book is considered  one of the great books of our time…even today.
The story line is very simple but frightening in the extreme.   A plant, a triffid, begins to take over the earth. at least as I remember.  Not inconceivable.  The wisteria on our front porch
is capable of slowly crushing things…of winding its way to the sky and crowding out other living things…slow  but sure.

SOME QUOTES…THAT FROM JOHN WYNDHAM…AMAZNG HOW THEY FIT OUR SITUATION TODAY

“When a day the you happen to know is  Wednesday starts off by sounding
like Sunday, There is something wrong somewhere.”

“It must be, I thought, one of the race’s most persistent and comforting
hallucinations to trust that it cannot happen here’ — that one’s  own 
time is beyond cataclysm.”

“And we danced , on the brink of an unknown future, to an echo
from a vanished past.”’

“unit then I thought of loneliness as something negative—an absence of company
and, of course, something temporary….That day  I  had learned it was much  more
It was something that could press and oppress, could distort the ordinary and
play tricks with the mind.”

“Anybody who has always had a great treasure has always led a precarious existence.”

“It’s humiliating to be dependent.”

“To deprive a  gregarious creature of companionship is to maim it, “

“The clock is the most acred thing in a  hospital.”

                                         John Wyndam, The Day of The Triffids

So here we are, over half a century later, and John Wyndham’s frightful tale has come true.  GRANTED  his Triffids were huge plants with killing tendrils…big
things, horrible things, crushing things, feeding things.   Our Triffids today are so tiny that we need an electron microscope to see them.  But when found
the Coronavirus — CODIV 19 — is even more frightening.  It moves silently but with bewildering speed.  Jumps from an accidental cough to another
person and does this unseen and  unknown until a few days later.  To expedite its movement it uses the human lung.  Your lung, my lung.  Can a  virus
think?  If it does, its thoughts are different as were the Triffids. Hundreds of people have died.  CODIV  19 did  not want them to die.  It needed their lungs
but did not need all the lungs it has infected.  A few LUNGS gone has not inhibited  the movement of the virus.  CODIV 19 can replicate itself with ease a thousand
fold.  Viruses are common.  Perhaps the commonest piece of  living matter.  But it is a crippled  piece of living matter that needs to worm its way
into living cells to stay alive.   Very scary.  I must stop.

Why do I remember Day of the Triffids so graphically?  Because  I was a young teacher of English at Parkdale Collegiate back in 1963 when Wyndham’s
book was assigned or maybe I just imposed it on the kids as a  good example of science fiction.  “Did you know that a good science fiction writer
always uses real life situations as a starting point then lets his or her imagination roll?”  I would have said  something like that.  Gets student attention.
I was only a day ahead  of the kids I taught.  Meaning I was just reading page 2  while they were discussing page  1.  With Wyndham however I was
riveted. Could hardly wait to read Page 3…then 4…then the whole book…before school, lunch hour, park  bench  on Roncesvales Avenue on the way
our apartment, during supper. A good book does that.

“Alan, I see Day of The Triffids is playing at the Doric on Roncesvales.”
(In those years, the 1960’s, movie theatres with single  screens still existed but just a few hanging on.)
“You must be kidding.”
“Why don’t we slip over…you can take at least one night off from preparing lessons.”
(Teaching to me was a sacred trust…I felt duty bound to know a little about what I taught…a little.)
“Sure.”
“Rather run down in here…stuffing coming out of he seats.”
“Smells seamy…body doors…”
“Odd crowd … drifter types …mostly men.”
“Did you hear bottles clinking?”
“Comes with the territory.”
THEN CAME THE PLAYING OF GOD SAME THE QUEEN
(no kidding…in 1963 the Doric still played  God  Save the Queen)
“Alan, stand  up…show  some respect.”
“No-one else is standing.”
“We are.”

“And, Alan, get the rest of those lazy people to stand up.”
(This I could  not do…no guts….I slipped a notch in Marjorie’s perception
of me as a leader that night.)

What followed was Wyndham’s story about the breakdown and  collapse of human
civilization when something from outer space takes  hold.  The movie was frightening
made moreso by the thoughtless…unthinking…crowd in the Doric theatre.  A
crowd that would not stand up for God Save the Queen. Imagine that.
 We got what we deserved
that night for we  were nearly devoured by Triffids.  Felt that way, anyway.


alan skeoch

3)  Did you know that twice as many men  die from COVID 19 than women.


4) Last night CNN announced that whole state of California….40 million people…have been ordered to stay home.  Fear the virus will infect half the population…high death toll.
Order to be enforced (somehow…national guard?).    This action caused  me to rethink plan to go out… even though there would be no human
contact.  I am 82…healthy as Granddad’s old horse, Dick…but both Marjorie and  I belong to the most vulnerable group.   This has been reinforced by some
nice caring phone  calls from friends both close and distant.  Very touching.  “How are you getting along?” “Need anything?”

5) Something is really wrong below the border.  Governors of California and New  York State (Gov Cuomo) have declared states of
Emergency themselves.   Where is the leadership of all of the United States?   Dithering…mumbling…using words like “tremendous”
and rendering those words meaningless.   IF only Governor Cuomo was President of the United States.  A man who speaks with concern
and  humanity and a determination to do what can be done and admit what cannot be done.

6)  What is happening in Russia?  Strangely quiet.  the Chinese / Russian border was closed weeks ago.  Little seems to be leaking out.

7)  Africa could become a meltdown.  Hope not.   



8)  LOST IN PARADISE…THE  SAGA OF PATRICIA AND  DAVE…CAN THEY GET BACK HOME?



SUNRISE IN SOUTH FLORIDA – AT MDINIGHT PATRICIA AND DAVE  DECIDED
“TIME  FOR US TO TRY TO GET HOME”…YES, MIDNIGHT.  AT THE SAME
TIME I SENT THEM MY FEELINGS THAT THEY SHOULD MAKE A RUN FOR
THE CANADIAN BORDER.



On Mar 20, 2020, at 12:08 AM, ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com> wrote:

A)   Hi

I think you should try to get home soon…you
will face quarantine of course but being in Canada
feels so much better than being in the US.
Our leaders know how to lead.

Note that your other air carrier promises to help
get Canadians home.  so maybe your tickets are
still good.

We can have fun with the ‘Lost in Paradise’ story
but there is an urgent side to it as you know.

alan




 B)   Funny you should be thinking that. Our thoughts exactly yesterday as we watched the situation explode down here. 

Paradise Lost. 

We are flying out Sunday the 22nd. 

We booked the air tickets and headed to the boat at midnight. Luck was with us. It hadn’t been pulled.  Still tied up at a dock. The marina is ridiculously busy because all the Floridians off work are boating. Left a note on the steering wheel “Do not pull.”  Up at this ungodly hour (still dark) to go back and add stabilizer to the gas and run it through the motor.

More later. 



   C)   Poor Dave aka “motorman” didn’t stand a chance last night on a conference call with our two daughters. It was like 
She said …
A second She said …
And a third She said …
Until he reluctantly agreed to try for earlier flights.  

One daughter, a former flight attendant, SUGGESTED which flights would actually go and, by 10:30 last night, we were booked on a Sunday flight out of Sarasota. 

Motorman thought we would have a better chance with a smaller airport and resulting smaller crowds.

He’s probably right.

So here we are up bright and early ready to get to the boat before 8 o’clock this morning when the Marina opens. Motorman has the stabilizer packed. We will be back from our ride by mid-morning and will request that the boat be put on its trailer before noon.  

Then we load it with our gear, tarp it to withstand a hurricane and get on with the rest of the chores to be done before flight time. 

View over the pond from our rental condo balcony.  Sunrise March 20, almost the first day of Spring!

LOST IN PARADISE STORY IS NOT COMPLETE YET.  HOLD YOUR BREATH.  

Day 7 COVID 19 PANDEMIC MARCH 19, 2020

Day 7   COVID 19  PANDEMIC    MARCH 19, 2020


alan skeoch

1 ) Borders closing all around he world.  American government said “Stay home” .  If you decide
to travel after today then you cannot expect help to get back. Same message applies to us I imagine.

2) Italian deaths from COVID 19 now higher than deaths in  China.   Iran also in terrible shape asking
UN for help.  

3) Some Cruise ships still cannot find  ports to disembark passengers.  Reminds me of descriptions
of Europe during the Balck Death Plague long ago.

4)  Please take a close look at Trump.  I feel he has  lost control.  Seems stunned.
Comments are hard  to understand.  Turns to VP Pence often  (and VP Pence blathered in a cover up manner today).
This is hard for me to say BUT WHO IS IN CONTROL?   I hope I am wrong. 

5)  Also The blame game has started…
China and USA…lies and  counter lies.  Obvious the virus
came from that wild foods market in Hunan…but whisper campaign
blames the US Army…imagine that…lies and counter lies. A terrible situation.
I only became aware of the virus when the Chinese gov’t began construction of those instant hospitals.  Someone
must have known a disaster was unfolding.

6)  THERE are only 2.8 hospital beds  for every thousand people in the United States. Not nearly enough.
One solution that makes sense is the conversion of big hotels into temporary hospitals…that
idea may sound obvious but no doubt there are big problems.  Then the big cruise ship owners offered
their ships as hospitals.  Not a bad idea, providing there is a port city.


8) Did I really correctly read that Trump is placing responsibilities for recovery from COVID 19 on the American States?  i.e. “I am not a clerk”

9) Apparently the federal government knew the USA could not handle a pandemic in a report received more
than a year ago.  Did Trump eviscerate America?

10)   Now,what you have been waiting for…
LOST in Paradise…Patricia and Dave
(for new recipients of this journal, Patricia and Dave are two Canadians currently stranded on tip of Florida…i.e.Lost in Paradise)

“Look at that Dave.”
“Yep, birds have wings but we do not.”
“Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.”
“That comment is pushing it a bit.”


(Patricia and Dave hope to catch the last flight to Canada at the end of March.  Their backup plan
is to buy a wreck and drive it to Canada….a flight like was done in Grapes of Wrath.
(This is the new owner of their boat which will be left behind)

FLASHBACK:  OTHER DARK TIMES

7)  THE closest similar event that Marjorie and I faced was years ago
when the Soviet Union collapsed and our son Kevin was teaching in Slovakia at a teachers wage
of $125 per month and initially lodged in a jail cell in  Bratislava.  The Slovaks had been hit hard
with a double whammy…the fall of  the Soviet Union…and the split of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Slovakia was in a state of near economic collapse which became apparent when Marjorie and I
paid a visit on our March break in Canada.  Perhaps best described in first person.



Now Imagine it is  dark,  mid-March …no leaves, no grass…bleak….with an unmarked winery beyond the church…cobbled street…suspicious faces.

“Dad, we  have arranged a party in a Slovak winery outside of town.”
“Who is ‘we’?”
“All of the American School volunteers.”
(Actually all were getting $125 per month to cover living expenses but nothing else…and even
that amount was tough on the Slovaks.)
“We have hired drivers to get us there.”
“No street signs…no bill boards…no street lights…night time…not many people
around.  These villages seem deserted.  Ancient villages with front doors right
at the roadways.  Everything is rather gloomy, Marjorie.  Dark”
“Here  we are dad.”
“Nothing here…just a couple of barns and some houses.”
“The barn is the winery…you’ll see.”
“Pssst. Alan, this does not look good.”
“Why?”
“No sign…no light…a bit run down…scary.”
“Mom,  I know what you are thinking, don’t worry,  Slovakia has adjusted to communism. Their ways.”
( And we descended into a vaulted cellar lined with wine casks and people)
“Welcome, welcome,  your dinner is ready…bottles of wine at each table…more if you want.”
“Dad, in your honour, they have brought in musicians in traditional  dress.”
(Our group of about 12 or 13 young people and Marjorie and me were fed  traditional food…meat, 
potatoes, beets, bread…while the music  played.)
THEN THE MUSIC  STOPPED…THE WAITERS FACES HAD TURNED TO STONE…SOMETHING WAS WRONG.
“Kevin,Why suddenly so quiet…why are they so subdued suddenly?
“They do not think we can pay for all this…they think they have made a big mistake.”
“Kevin, tell the boss man that I will pay for it all…food, wine, music…everything.”
(that decision, I feared would wipe out all our cash…but I had  to do it .. no alternative_
“How much, Kevin?”
“They want $140.”
“Is that all?  Give them this…$150”  (I had figured three or four times that price)
“And Kevin, pay them quietly…no big presentation…slip the money to the boss guy…now.”
THEN THINGS CHANGED AND THE BAND PLAYED ON
(The little band started to play with gusto and more wine was put on each table.  Wine bottles
with no labels I noted, and desserts arrived.  We sang and maybe danced the night away.
And when we got ready to leave we were all given a bottle of  wine to take away with us.  No one
really knew who had paid the bill.  May have suspected.  But I did not have to play the awful role of
the big spender.
That was an evening I will never forget.)

Why tell you this story?  Because we are now at that stoney moment in our lives. A moment when something
big is wrong.  A moment when we cannot pay for everything that is needed…a moment when many of us
fear for our jobs, most fear for their health.  Many fear for America…

OR, put another way, We are standing in a small Slovak village with no lights and a pot holed  road cobbling its way past houses
with dour faces.  In front of us is a winery but we cannot see it. There are no signs.  We hope that behind
those ancient doors there will be light, food, music and revelry.

There was another bright moment on that trip.  Kevin asked me to teach a lesson in the high school where students
longed  to learn English.  I thought that would be difficult.  Not so.  The moment I entered the room everyone
stood up at attention and said “Welcome, Mr. Skeoch”.   A sunny moment as Justin Trudeau would say. (Sunny Ways)

Let’s hope. ‘We can but hope that somehow good will be the final goal of ill,” as someone said in a book I read  long ago.

yours,  alan
(claustrophobic feeling tonight)