MY DREAM NOV. 11, 2018

Freeman farm November 10, 2018

Freeman Farm taken in summer of 1918 
(with mom, Elsie, and  Grandma  Louisa and  the  dog Punch)

Last night I had a bad dream.  Dreaming happens all the time, most are good dreams.  But last night I dreamed we  drove to the
farm and found the whole house had  collapsed in on itself.  Hand hewn beams, lathing, plaster, furniture, dishes…all spread helter
skelter.   So we began the clean  up and  began  planning the reconstruction.  Optimism asserted itself.  To rebuild the farm house
we would need  a builder so we drove to Rockwood in search.  The town was different with more Victorian and Edwardian buildings
than  I  had  ever seen before.  Saunders bakery, a  place we visit often in real  life, was  no longer in the village.  But the other
buildings were pulsing with life.  “Need a builder, try Coulson and the Mennonites,” commented one  citizen.  Then the storm hit…a  whopper
of a storm with the sky as black as  midnight.  And wind began to scour the leaves and rubbish into airborne  missiles. Then the rain
hit like a the worst torrent of  a mountain stream.  A  deluge.  We sheltered in a building with an overhang once used by horse drawn
carriages…brick with a curved arch.  No  sooner had the storm hit than it ended and the sun burst forth like the dawning of a new
summer day.   We drove back to the farm where the boys were still imposing order on the heater skelter mess.  Strange mix of
images dominant of which was a  feeling of optimism in the midst of the destruction.  

Armisitce day…100 years  after the end  of World War I…any semblance of connection to the dream?  Mom’s first boyfriend was killed
in the Somme  offensive…his  body marked by an  upturned  rifle.   Dad’s  oldest brother Jack died  in the last day of the war, hit by
a mortar shell as he walked  along a train track en route to a Red Cross station knowing, perhaps, that the war had  ended.  Both
Harry Horsman and Jack  Skeoch were tragedies in our family life that happened long before I was born.  Harry’;s death, sad though
it was, meant Mom  would  look for a  new man and eventually, in 1937, married  Red Skeoch producing in 1938 myself and  in 
1940, my brother Eric.  A good thing for Eric and  me…not so good for poor Harry.  

The death of Dad’s brother devastated the Skeoch family.  He was  the oldest and a  leader for sure.  His  picture was  inserted  in
a family picture taken shortly after World  War One.  A  ghostly  reminder of the war.  

Then there was the death of my  cousin George Freeman who died when  his Halifax bomber was shot down  over Bourg Leopold
in 1944.  The  deaths of George and  Jack  devastated  their respective families.  I was told by mom that Aunt Kitty and  Uncle  Chris
kept George’s  room at the Toronto Hunt Clubg  gardener’s  cottage exactly as it was  when he left for the war.

In all  three cases  I found  or have been given letters they sent home.  Jack’s letter to his brothers is most explicit.
…’do not come over here’ (paraphrase from my memory).  Harry, who was a Home  Child with kn known parents, sent
many letters to Mom, letters that got more depressing as the horror of the trenches deepened.   Harry’s letters were
given  to me  by some after my dad died.  “Alan, you might like these.”  I did and made  the letters into a  filmstrip/movie
for Ontario  students.   Technology unfortunately  has rendered that film obsolete.  Harry’s lonely cry will not longer be  heard.

George also seems 
to have known  his days were numbered as were  the days of all the flight crews  in  the allied bomber command where each
returning flight had missing  bombers  such as  HX 313, the Blond Bomber.  I was able to reconstruct George Freeman’s
life overseas  in a story titled The Last Flight of HX 313 by interviewing all the survivors of his crew.  George tried to squeeze as
much life as  possible  into those months before his death as an  upper turret gunner when  a German  night fighter stitched
the bomber with slugs.  Those  who were still alive bailed out.  George  did not.

Was anything learned from the loss of so many young men?  Was there anything positive from so much destruction?
I think there was.   Most survivors knew the full meaning of  war and  the subsequent Cold War was carefully managed
lest a  hot war burst forth.   And we all  knew that any future world conflagration might spell the end  human  life as
we know it today.   Nuclear war would take no prisoners.  The Freeman/Skeoch farm house would  be pile  of rubble.

Any connection to my dream?  Maybe.  No matter, today I  think of Harry and Jack and  George…boys I never knew yet
came to know so well.

alan skeoch
Nov. 11, 2018

Want some proof?  Pictures  below.

Alan  and  Eric Skeoch  at the Freeman farm around 1947.  We were
the luckiest generation the earth has  ever seen.  Children who
became adults  in the booming post war years the 1950’s. Yet
we worried about the nuclear bomb.

Some of  the Skeoch Brothers around 1956 on the Fergus family farm…
Norman, Archie, Greta  (aunt), Arthur and  Red whose real name  was Arnold,
my father (all dressed up for gambling at the horse races)

Elsie Freeman and  Red Skeoch around 1937 when they got
married though mom was cautioned about dad who had
deep love  of horses as much as that of  mom.

Uncle Art rolling his  own  cigarettes.  

Uncle Norman,  the youngest brother who inherited the family Fergus

Mom,  Elsie  Freeman about the time she  was  corresponding  with harry Horsman
in 1916…not really  a torrid love affair.  Mom  was too young and  Harry was too
lonely.  Mom gave me his letters after  Dad died.

I reconstructed  Harry’s  life in a  filmstrip titled  Canada and  World War One…now
a technology long  outmoded and never to be  seen again.

Arnold, Red,  Skeoch in 1930’s

This is  Victor Poppa around 1980.  He was the rear gunner on HX 313 and best 
friend  of George Freeman.   Victor was  trapped in the bubble at the back of
HX 313 as  it pirouetted  out of the sky  in May 1944.   Hydraulic  lines  had been
severed  by bullets.  Sure of his  death.  Then the plane corck screwed  and  the 
force twisted the bubble  in such  a way  that Victor fell out with one line attached
to his  parachute…he pulled the  line down  and yanked the rip chord.  Became  
a POW.

We visited Victor in California…got his story which  became the basis  of
‘The  Last Flight of HX 313’.   

The great mass  of the Freeman families  around  1958 when we gathered to celebrate
the golden wedding of  Aunt Kitty (seated centre) and  Uncle Chris Freeman.  There
would have been more people in this  picture  had George Freeman survived.  How
do  I  know that?  Because I found a  picture of a British girl he was planning to marry
after the war.  Sadly her name is lost.  Red  Skeoch is seated  far left…Elsie (Freeman) 
Skeoch is  standing with arm on hip on far right.  Eric  is sitting beside dad.

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