ALONE: WHY DID SHE SCREAM? FARM ROOFING IN WINTER TIME DEC 12,2018

ALONE


alan skeoch
Dec.  12,2018




“We are putting a new roof on the farm house.”
“Why?”
“”Some leakage here and there along the line of the old  chimneys…Andy got
a crew of roofers together…professionals with nail  guns and  metal  cutters.”
WHo put on the old roof?”
“Now there is  a good story.”
“Who did  it?”
“Ray…did it all himself…  handled 8 x 3 foot sheets of corrugated aluminum
and put each sheet in place with a hammer and pile of lead head nails. And  did
not slip off to rock gardens below.
“Three guys up on the roof today…how could Ray do  it alone?”
“I don’t rightly know…”
“Who is Ray C.?”
“Died ten years ago…had a farm just above Ospringe…100 acres…pioneer farm 
handed down  from descendent to descendent  I expect until Ray got it.  Ray never married
and  just sort of slipped  into a  lifestyle few of us would emulate.”




The Freeman farmhouse as it was about 1918, one hundred years ago with a cedar shingle roof.  Look at the old  fieldstone foundation…perfect doorways for snakes and mice and other
creatures seeking to escape the descent of winter on the land.   Louisa and Edward freeman on left 1918 and  centre 1948.   Eric Skeoch  Elsie Freeman Skeoch and the last Freeman family dog 
Scottie.  Sunny days, as  they say.










Two Roofers…Ray is on the right in case you did not guess.  Looking at Ray put me in mind the Robert Frost poem about an old man on a winter night.



AN OLD MAN’S WINTER NIGHT
poem  by Robert Frost

All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him — at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off; — and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon, such as she was,
So late-arising, to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man — one man — can’t keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It’s thus he does it of a winter night. 



ALONE

alan skeoch
Dec.  13, 2018

This was  Ray Clough.  Below  is what imagination can do.  My version of the Robert Frost
poem…my old man on a  winter night is Raymond, farmer and roofer.

ALONE

Icicles on the window frames inside the house this night
as Ray lumbered in  from the warmth of the cattle barn
through the woodshed redolent with the smells of
split pungent cedar and the  candy sweet smell of maple
no time to tarry for the wind hammered  crystalline 
spikes of sleety snow  against his battered  face.
So bad was the night that 
The back kitchen door seemed  reticent to let 
Ray enter, acting as if a monitor off who it  would
accept and  who reject. 
Inside the wood  stove’s beatng heart kept faith
with those who would expire without the 
glowing embers.  Ray was not entirely alone
on this winter night for small grey things
scampered back to their baseboard doorways 
and  larger blacker creatures arrogantly
paused to see Ray enter.  Did Ray bring 
food to expand  relieve ehat near starvation
had shrunk.  Ray kept his boots on for the floor
was cold as fingers of  frost reached  up
from  the dirt floored cellar as if  alive.
Ray was  alone, had  been most of his life.
Loneliness on his farm meant routines clipped
short…straight lines from here to there made
 obvious from the tracks from stove 
to easy chair.   A track that stood  in sharp contrast
to the blackened floor.  The stove was  black
with the spillage of a decade’s neglect.
Here and  there were the bones of meals  long
gone…bones picked clean by the mice and rats
living in the crawl  space between the bricks and
plaster in Ray’s uninsulated domain.
And then  Ray plopped his bony frame  onto 
his eaay greasy overstuffed chair.  And Ray
sat there alone saying nothing but listening
to that winter wind as it ground the icy  sleet
into the once  tight and windproof shell  of his house,
walls that time and neglect had made porous
enough for outside creatures to find their way inside.
Earlier on this cold October night Raymond
had chosen to flee from Alan’s farm where he, alone,
had re-roofed  the ancient house.  
Why did the woman  scream when he knocked
on the darkened front door?  Was he that frightening
to others?   Some gourmet party was in progress
and the smells were sweet yet foreign to Ray whose
taste in food had  been reduced  to oat meal and fried
chicken with a dash of  hard liquor.  Marjorie came to
rescue Ray from the fear he engendered.
“Ray, sorry Alan is  away right now…love your roof,
Come in and meet the girls.”
Wordlessly Ray moved  backwards, down the steps
to the security of his  half ton truck.  He had  cattle to feed
and wood to chop.  An escape to make.
Now he sat alone again on his threadbare chair while
the wood  stove embers and  wild  things in the walls
warmed his  spirits.  He was  alone on this  cold  night
with fear in his  heart engendered by the fear of that woman
who answered Alan’s door with a scream and flight.
More fear in Ray than in the woman’s scream.
A tear dribbled down his face a dripped on his old torn  coat
as it worked its way through his layered clothing to
the  tartan  shirt and  the tip of his inner once white, now grey winter wear.
Clothes that were his costume to stave of the cold to come.
Ray stared  affectionately at he dust clad framed family
on the kitchen wall beside the calendars  nailed one atop the other.
His  reminder of grandparents long gone but present still.
They would  understand his tears and were they here this night
they would grasp  his  lean shoulders  with a warm embrace
but that was not to be…never to be…for Ray was alone
and would remain  so  until his  dying day 
which  he recognized was not that far away.
“Maybe,” he thought, “I’ll see Alan in the morning

And Ray fell asleep in the chair beside the stove
as he did often on these cold  pre-winter nights.
His dream was a  wish.  A wish that the woman at the door
did not scream but Ray also wished he had the nerve
 to join the
cluster of females as  they supped on foods fantastic
and  drank the wine of friendship.  A nice dream.
A false dream.  A sad dream.
The tear by then had been absorbed then evaporated
in his clothing and wafted as  a puff of air through the kitchen.  
The tear had  risen from his  shirt
and coursed through the rest of the
 house in search of something…anything…
unseen the tear floated  to the bedroom where Ray occasionally slept
beneath his grandmothers patchwork quilt.  
The tear eventually cooled and attached  itself
to the photograph of Ray’s parents hanging above his  bed.
There was  a time when Ray was not alone.
But that time was long gone.
And  soon Ray felt so would he.
Asleep, asleep…
Ray’s time worn fedorah slipped from his head silently
No sound in the house for the embers  were now ash
And the rat beneath the stove had curled up in comfort
As had the curled up garter snakes whose long bodies
slid easily through the chinks in the old  fieldstone foundation 
Also  curled in comfort were two raccoons, one in  each
abandoned  chimney…asleep until mid January when
the urge to copulate would assert itself and the empty chimneys
would again become a family homes.
Mice scampered across the dirt engraved floor with its
resistent knots giving a  rolling effect.  Some knots polished
by Ray’s heavy boots, sometimes  encrusted with manure, but
most of the floor was  black  … unswept.
“Needs a  woman’s hand”, commented  the odd visitor but
visitors were few and far between as Ray drifted deeper into loneliness.
His sleep was deep by now…body  limp in the arms of that soft chair
now contoured to Ray’s body shape for he slept here often.

All things considered, Ray was content.
He lived  as he liked to live
Did what he liked to do
Had  only the cattle to worry about…


But he had  been jolted that night.
Why did that woman scream?
Scared  Ray.  Worried  him.

just one old  man ALONE.

alan skeoch
Dec.  13, 2018

The story of Ray Clough was triggered  by the three man crew ripping off Ray’s  roof and putting on a roof less
prone to leakage.  That was  Dec. 12 and 13, 2018.    Ray’s  roof had lasted nearly 25 years and would last another 25 for sure but little bits of seepage
would bring wood rot and limit the life of the farm house.   Be nice to see it survive the 21st century.  Outlive me and
certainly out live Ray for he died just a couple of years  after roofing the house.  His visit to collect his pay, a visit that
triggered the woman’s scream was talked about by the gourmet women for some time.  He appeared in the dark
dressed as in his picture.  His clothes  were always the same.  “He was not the marrying kind’, they said not really
knowing Ray at all.

Below are the new roofers.  Three young men from Poland whose English was  limited.   They came armed  with power
nailing guns and motorized shears to shape the roofing panels.  When Ray did the job he used  a  hammer, lead headed nails
and tin snipping shears.   And he did  it alone.




Marjorie did  not scream that night.  She asked  Ray to come inside but by then he was backing up fast and reaching for the keys to his half ton truck.   The Gourmet club now had a different
subject of conversation.  Concerned that they had scared poor Ray.  And they had.





CORRECTION: WHO STOLE MY WOOLY MAMMOTH TOOTH? (Apologies to those falsely accused)


CORRECTION…REPLACE MASTODONT WITH MAMMOTH

alan skeoch
Dec.  2018


Big Mistake…my lost tooth came from a  Woolly Mammoth…not a Mastodont.  Apologies  to all including the Royal Ontario Museum


The molars of Woolly Mammoths  are ‘layered’…as was the tooth  given to me by the placer gold  miner in 1960

That ‘mastodont tooth at the Royal  Ontario Museum was too dissimilar from the tooth given to me by the gold miner in
Dublin Gulch.   My tooth had layers of tooth stuff (wrong word)…sort of like a sandwich…a big thick sandwich.    The mastodont (or mastodon) 
tooth was solid  much like my own molars.  

My tooth belonged to a Mammoth as opposed to a Mastodon?   The two creatures  
are often confused  because they lived about the same time and both became extinct in the last ice age.  With one exception, s herd
of small hairy mammoths survived the ice age living on Wrangel Island  until about 4,000 years ago when they were likely killed  by human
hunters.  

So I searched for a picture of a  hairy mammoth tooth and, Presto, it matched my memory of my ancient tooth exactly.  

Woolly mammoth molar..ridged 


Not only does the tooth match but the movement matches.  Mastodons  were found  in North and Central  America from 30 million years  ago until
about 12,000 years  ago when they disappeared along with most Hairy Mammoths.  Scientists have mixed  opinions about the causes of their 
extinction but most scientists believe we human beings had a lot to do with it.

 Mammoths evolved in Africa 5.1 million years  ago and  moved  through Asia eventually to North America.  The woolly or hairy mammoth from which
my tooth came evolved 250.000 years ago.  Change is slow but happens  constantly.

A lot of people get the two confused.   So I am not alone.  They look alike.  One of the key differences is the teeth.  A mastodon tooth has cone shaped
cusps which  facilitate the crushing of leave and wooden branches.  The Woolly mammoth on the oher hand  had ridged  molars more suited to grazing
on grasses.   

Both mastodons and mammoths had long curved tusks used to scrape snow and ice  away from vegetation.


The Woolly Mammoth with the fat layer behind the neck and the layered to tooth (right)

Woolly mammoths also had  an extra hump on their backs to store fat for the biter northern winters.


The Mastodon…best distinguished from a  Woolly Mammoth by the absence
of a pillow  of fat behind the neck.  


Mastodont (mastodon) teeth had cone  shaped  cusps for eating branches.

 We know  a lot more  about the Woolly Mammoth because we have discovered so many pieces of them.  In Siberia whole carcasses

of Woolly Mammoths  have been found when slabs of ancient ice melt…flesh, hair, skin. bones and teeth.  And more will  be found now the
earth is warming so  fast. So much has been found that a few scientists have considered using mammoth genes to recreate the animals with
Asian  elephants as the hosts.   Imagine that.   The idea is not quite as preposterous as it sounds.  Mixing Mammoth genes  from frozen carcasses  with
Asian elephants would  increase their tolerance to the cold…allow them to trample the tundra and make room for the grasses that once
flourished there.  The grasses would feed a  whole raft of animals.  And impede the melting of permanence frost thereby stopping the
release of immense quantities of carbon into our polluted  atmosphere.  Wait a minute…this gets  just too fantastic.  I cannot grasp it so I better STOP!
Pushing an idea so far that it becomes  science fiction.  But tinkering goes on and  on.

Guess  what?  Now I  know who has my Woolly Mammoth tooth.  Must be these gene manipulators.  A Parkdale student must be among them.  With
a little more tracking I may find the culprit.  Student?  No, it could be a teacher.

alan skeoch
dec. 9, 2018

WHO STOLE MY MASTODONT TOOTH? (A visit to the Royal Ontario Museum Dec. 8, 2018)


WHO STOLE MY MASTODONT TOOTH?
(Memories  while touring dinosaur exhibit)

Mastodon…12,000 years old

WHY DID WE VISIT THE ROM ON DEC. 8, 2018?
Answer:  We  wanted  to see my lost tooth…the story will unfurl below

Mastodont Tooth…12,000 years  old


alan skeoch
Dec.  8, 2018

“Hey Marjorie, we’ve got two hours to kill, let’s go to the ROM?”
“Why?”
“One of the best dinosaur exhibits in the world.”
“Also have a spider special somewhere in there.”
“What does the ROM look like to you?”
“Sort of looks  like a  kind  of Eiffel Tower that has fallen over.”
“Now what is  your real reason for the visit?”
“My lost MASTODON TOOTH…I would like to see it again.”
“A tooth?  We are looking for a tooth?”
“You betcha!”
“How much will it cost?”
“$35 for the two of us.”
“Better be worthwhile.”

“The dinosaur exhibit alone will be worth every penny….”



“Looks like a modernistic  Eiffel Tower has collapsed…”that’s the Royal Ontario Museum”



“We only have two hours…let’s find the TOOTH first.”



“Why so important to you, Alan?”
“Long story but here is the short version.  In 1960 I was prospecting in the Yukon Territory and found Dublin Gulch where
an American gold seeker was using hydraulic hoses to wash off the overburden to reach gold pay dust.  He had a slab of
gold as his personal knuckle duster.  Gave me some gold dust which I mailed to you…remember?”
“Sparkle on black electric tape in the letter.”
“Right.  Well he also found the bones  and tusks  of Mastodonts.  Lots of them as Dublin Gulch was a 12,000 year old
boneyard.  The tusks were hauled  up to his cabin along with ancient bones.  And a huge Mastodont  Tooth which he
gave to me.  A treasure.”
“Lost it…right? “
“Stolen.  I used the tooth in my early history classes at Parkdale C. I.  Kept it in my cupboard.  One year it was there…the
next year it was gone.  Stolen.  What a great prop that was for my lessons on human origins in North America…the Mastodonts 
walked  across the Land Bridge from Siberia to Alaska…people followed…thousands of years ago.”
“That’s the short version?”
“Some day I will tell you the long version.”



“Mastodont teeth in jaw.  They had two sets and once they were ground  down the poor
old Mastodonts starved to death.  I suppose that could happen to us if there were
no dentists to do tooth implants.”

“These ancient ivory Mastodon tusks have been carved into pieces  of art…valuable.”



“So we have  found the tooth…Now What?”
“Let’s tour the gallery…see what we can.”




“Alan, the sign says this ugly looking slug may have been one of our ancestors.”
“Speaks  to the origin of life on earth.”
“Other weird creatures in those ancient seas … below.”

















“Creatures as beautiful as this bird have evolved…50 million of them according to the sign.”


“Lots preserved in bottles somewhere in the bowels  of the ROM”





“And here is the DODO BIRD…probably our most famous extinct creature … has become a popular term today.”




“And here is an Arctic Fox with a Lemming in its mouth…supposed  to be millions of Lemmings.”
“Ever see one?”
“Never…worked in Alaska on the edge of the Bering Sea…expected to see lemming but never did…
and only once did I catch side of a Kodiak Bear.  Wild  things are not easily found…less and less so
as human beings with guns move into their territories.  Sad.


“Wow…look at them all…so many…bewildering…Dinosaurs.”
“What does  Dinosaur mean?”
“Terrible Lizard…term fits I think.”

“That is the head of a huge armoured fish … so big and hungry that you would make a tasty meal…could 
swallow and chomp you with ease.”



“Look at the bone yard…reminds me of Dublin Gulch…”




“The ROM has made a game of Dinosaur watching…This is Tyranosaurus Rex…big time predator 66 million years ago.



“Sign on the floor says STAND HERE…take your picture and send it home by Email.”
“Kids and adults lined up … big kids first.”







“Look down this gallery…see the flying creature at the end…bat like wings maybe 20 feet across…”
“I can’s see it Alan.”
“You will later.”



“The age of dinosaurs and other living things could not exist without the evolution of plants first.”
“Dinosaur had to eat something, right?”
“Yep…the herbivorous dinosaurs ate a lot of farms..tons of them.”
“Then the predatory dinosaurs ate them…right?”
“Survival of fittest … or the more ghoulish comment that “Nature is RED IN
TOOTH AND CLAW.”







THE skies  of earth some 65 million years ago were quite frightening as these huge Pterosaurs drifted on thermal  updrafts for miles and
miles with hardly a beat of their wings.”
“Look at the mouth on that big one.”
“Used the mouth to shovel up fish as it flew close to the water.”
“Had teeth that pointed  inwards…spikes..”
“Fish hooks.”









“How could a dinosaur learn to fly?”
“I do not know.”
“Bones must have been heavy…too heavy for flight.”
“Apparently the bones slowly evolved … became lighter and lighter…then some time in the deep past a dinosaur said ‘Look at me, I can fly”
“Any of these Pterosaurs around today?”
“Nope they all died in the Fifth Extinction 65 million years ago.”
“Then where did birds come from?”
“Birds evolved differently…I have no quick  answer for that…Do some work yourself…find out.”
“Look at those long bony fingers on that big pterosaur.”
“Now imagine a huge piece of skin that stretched  from arm to foot…so big that once airborne these
things could drift on the wind with no need to flap much.”

“Got to go now.”
“Gift shop.”
“Alan, we could buy this fake tiger for $1,000…full size.”


LEAVING HE ROM…FROM DEEP PAST TO THE PRESENT

“Christmas Luncheon at Victoria College where we first met…remember?”
“Yes, you leaned  out the window of your residence while I was running laps
to get ready for a football game.”
“You hollered…’Doing anything tonight?”
“I answered…”Not much”
“you responded…”See you tonight.”
“And so began our love affair…I am 80 now and you are a little younger.”
“Well, we’re not as old as the dinosaurs…that’s a comfort.”
“I wonder if our civilization, with its glass and aluminum towers, will last 
as long as those dinosaurs did?”





“Art in paint and timber inside Victoria College.”
“Will any of this survive 12,000 years like the Mastodon Tooth?








“The wind is blowing icy air down from the Arctic, Alan.”
“Climate change is happening…takes  time…the world is  getting warmer in slow steps…DON’T LET COOL AIR FOOL YOU.”
“A lot of people Talk about the  Sixth Extinction…blame human beings for it…we are changing the earth”
“Not always for the better.”
“Visiting the ROM is a sobering experience.”


“The footprint of a dinosaur.”
“The hand print of a human being.”
“65 million years apart.

“Let’s go home.”
“Just a thought…I  wonder if the ROM stole my Mastodon Tooth.”
“Maybe.”
“I should have scratched  my name on the tooth.”

alan Skeoch
Dec. 8, 2018

What was the secret question I asked earlier?  HOW DID BIRDS  EVOLVE?
BIRDS ARE NOT PTEROSAURS.  **Your job is to find the answer.

Post Script Below:  Changing Times and  survival

FACEBOOK DOES WONDERS! (and sequel ” WILD PIGS…RUN..RUN!”

FACEBOOK: A  POSITIVE FORCE  IN OUR LIVES 
(a feel good  story of Christmas Present and Christmas Past)


DATELINE DEC. 7, 2018


I have read  many criticisms  of our computer age but the one that
concerned  me the most was the comment that we no longer have
face  on friendships…flesh  and blood contacts…meet people who
we can see and touch.   That comment struck me as true and very
sad.


Guess what ?  The anonymity of  Facebook is  just not true.
 Marjorie and I  discovered that the word anonymity was not even part of
the vocabulary of these Facebook  users
…..as Christine’s smile (above)  confirms.

 Marjorie made contact with this  diverse group of Facebook friends
who  meet regularly in the middle of High Park.  They have one thing in
common…their ages and Roncesvales Avenue

This is Carl who organized it all and  supervised the gift giving and provided me with
a huge box which I expected to contain wealth beyond  my dreams.  Instead I received
a  pile of rubber mud  mats “that could be made to fit any car.”

And on Dec. 7, 2018 Carl organized a big Christmas party complete
with gifts (under $15) for everyone.  We became part of this  meeting.
Marjorie made cookies, big butter tarts and  a bright red cowgirl hat.  I wrote a story
about a dinosaur tooth and the mystery of time.  A replica of the dinosaur
tooth was included.   Goofy?   Right.  A lot of the gifts had a goofy
nature.  In my case I got that  huge box of rubber mud  mats that would
fit any car as long as you could use a big scissors.  Just opening the
box was an ordeal  worse than any snowstorm.

John was wearing a bright red  Christmas sweater with a prominent
Christian cross hanging from his neck.  “Are you a priest?”  “Nope, this
was my mother’s necklace.  I put it on 17years ago when vowed to never
touch a  drink again.   Sitting nearby was a man who gave my wife his
Christmas package which was a Moosehead Beer special.   Now who
could not enjoy meeting such people.  Some even had special Christmas
sweaters that were hand knitted.


It was  a grand experience.  Especially so since several of my ex students
from Parkdale Collegiate were present.  And they remembered  me.
One young  lady, Lucy, even confessed  she lied to me back in 1965
about doing her homework.  Confessional?  Seemed so.  I gave her
absolution ‘“but sorry to say I will have to dock you ten marks.”
Silly?   That’s the nice thing about the passage of time.  Being silly.
“Remember Joan, June and Carmen, …sir?”  “Sure  do.  I remember
Carmen set their house on fire by hiding in the closet  smoking a
cigarette.  And  June gave me her old  lawn mower years  ago…cast 
iron push kind…still have it.  Kids…students…became friends but still 
called  me sir.”
Another remembered my odd behaviour when teaching, “You would 
look at me…direct the question to me…but use the name of another
classmate on the other side of the room. “Classes were always fun, sir”

Jerry and Marilyn sat with Marjorie and me.  We have known each
other for sixty years.  Our paths  cross in the most unusual situations.

“Sir! “ Amazing to still be called  sir after nearly half a century.
 I am 80 years old and the students at the meeting must be
close to 70.  Yet they still called  me sir.  Heart warming.  Respected.

There were nearly 20 people at tis Christmas Party.  People from 
the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  As mentioned They were not brought together by schools,
churches,  businesses, sports…no, they got to know each other on
Facebook and they all lived within walking distance of Roncesvales
Avenue,Toronto.

alan skeoch
Dec. 7, 2018

See  pictures below…and if you really have noting better to do then
read the sequel which has little to do with Facebook but a lot to do
with my memories  of the High Park zoo.



Marjorie Skeoch with Gerry and Marilyn Holmes…our paths have crossed  for more than half a century.  Marjorie touched  base with
this crowd, “Alan, we must go to their Christmas Party…we were Roncesvales people too.”


This  is the Facebook gang having their annual Christmas party in the Grenadier Restaurant in the centre of High Park



MEMORIES OF CHRISTMAS PAST TRIGGERED BY THE  FACEBOOK CROWD

AN IRRELEVANT SEQUEL…BUT TRUE

Dad was  not exactly the doting parent.  And when he took on a  parenting role it usually led  to
a memorable  adventure.   Some of those adventures involved High Park.  Mom was the real
caregiver of  our family  and  Dad was more like the third child.   He  was no shrinking  violet though.
Quite the reverse.  He seemed  to have been given a double dose of testosterone when compared
to other fathers.   Tough and rough and endearing.  Loved.

THESE PHOTOS are a  little out of period except for the pic os Eric and me in Granddad’s wheelbarrow. 
But the pics will help the two stories  a bit.  Dad  made our lives  one constant adventure.  Mom kept us
alive.


“THOSE GODDAMN WILD  PIGS WILL EAT YOU!  RUN! RUN!”

As we exited the Grenadier Restaurant two of Dad’s  missteps  as a  parent came to mind because
both of them originated  damn close to the Grenadier Restaurant.

1)  The High Park Zoo is built in a little valley that weaves  southward  through the park.  In 1946 to 1947,
Mom asked dad.  “Why don’t you take the boys  to the High Park zoo?”  He could  find no good excuse
to avoid  the zoo since the horses were not running at either the Dufferin or Woodbine racetracks.
So  we went to the zoo. Most people view the zoo from deep in the valley but dad never did what most
people like to do.  “Let’s see the zoo from the backside…no one goes there.”  Seemed  like a  food idea
except for the fact that in 1946 the maintenance standards were not high.   Just as we reached the
wild  pig  enclosure disaster struck.  Now wild pigs are called  peccaries.  They are small but they are
also  vicious.  And in 1946 they seemed to be breeding like rabbits.  There were dozens of them behind
the wire fence.   Behind the fence be damned.  “Those goddamn pigs are free…and they out to get us.
Alan run like a son of a bitch while I grab Eric.”  And we all ran as fast as  we could with a couple of dozen
peccaries chasing us with their little tusks gleaming.   We survived but Dad was sweating.  Not sure if he
told  us  to “keep your goddamn  mouths  shut” when we got home.


“DAD NEVER RETURNED…OUR SLEIGH WAS SMASHED TO BITS”

2)  Just west of the Grenadier Restaurant is  the long rather steep hill that runs down to Grenadier Pond
where it was once believed the British Grenadiers drowned  with their cannons  while retreating from the
American troops  who took Fort York in the War of 1812.  Myth of course.  Let’s be fair and call it embellished
truth.   In 1946 to 1947, that long hill was a toboggan run.   Long, steep and fast.  No children romp in the snow.
This toboggan run was serious  business.  That year we got a sleigh for Christmas.  A metal sleight with metal runners
and a wooden steering bar.  Beautiful thing.  Eric  and  I looked forward to using it.  But we never got a chance.
“Red, why don’t you take the kids to High Park to try out their new sleigh?”  Again he was trapped.   So we hopped
on College Street Car that t germinated in High Park.  And there before us was the toboggan run.  Lots  of people
yelling and  screaming as they thundered down the hill and out onto the ice of Grenadier Pond.  We were nervous.
No need to be tough.  “OK, boys, let me test the sleigh first.”  Dad was  a big man…a tough man…a 220 pound 
tire builder at Dunlop Tire Corporation.  The sleigh seemed small when he plopped  his  body on it face down with
hands on the steering bar.  “Boys, you wait here…see how she goes.”  And  away he went.  and  we waited…and
waited.   He did not come back.  Eventually we walked  down the hill where a crowd had gathered.  Dad had  rocketed
his way down the ice covered toboggan run going so fast that the iron runners on the sleigh gave him enough speed
to become airborne.  He flew out of the wood channels, sailed  through the air for a short while and then hit a tree
dead on.  Broke his  ribs as it turned out.  He was badly hurt but managed to get us home holding his rib cage all the while

To us the big disaster was our brand new broken sleigh.  
  

alan skeoch
Dec. 7, 2018

The SKEOCH CYCLE CAR FACTOR 1920 PRODUCTION LINE … DANGERS



Begin forwarded message:


From: SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Subject: The Little Skeoch…picture of 1920 factory
Date: November 28, 2018 at 12:09:49 PM EST
To: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>

THE  SKEOCH CYCLE CAR PRODUCTION LINE IN 1920

(Dalbeattie, Scotland)

alan skeoch
Nov. 28, 2018

Seems to be quite an  interest in my last email concerning the Little Skeoch so  here  is  another picture of the production line as  it appeared
in 1920.  Lots of  things to see including the typical line shafting along the ceiling of the factory.   Wheels on the line shafts drove the industrial
machines…lathes, grinders, etc.    If you are really perceptive you might see the convertible top unfurled  and ready for assembly.  If you can 
read, and some  of you can no doubt, you will see a sign mentioning Wolseley Oil  Engines…whatever that means.   And  those if you who
are socially aware  and critical of the grim atmospheres of factories might note that sunshine floods  this  factory floor.

My dad,  Arnold (Red) Skeoch became a  tire builder in Canada around this time and I will always remember his stories  about the
dangers  of the big line shafts which had a drive pulley beside a stationary pulley.  If you wanted a machine to shut down all that
was required was  a slight push on the whirling drive belt to put on ‘idle’.  That way the whole  assembly line was not affected.
 I assume the movement was normally done by some kind
of lever.  But Dad, working in Guelph and later in Toronto, described how a worker decided to move the belt with his  hand.   His arm got 
caught and he was converted to pulp as his  body was drawn up and around the drive pulley.  Pulp is the wrong word.  But Dad
did say the man died.  I had  visions of the poor guy being whirled around the drive pulley like his body was a windmill.  Until his 
arm was  torn from its  socket and  his  blooded body fell to the floor.  That is my image…might be true .
 The pulleys  in this factory below are quite small but I do not see any idling pulleys which means all at the production line
has to be shut down to change a belt or service a machine.

Dad had another industrial  story he told occasionally.   Rubber tires  were made with flat slabs of  reinforced rubber.  To make the rubber
uniformly flat a large rolling machine was  used.  Very dangerous.  One worker got caught in the  roller and  came out flat.  Dead flat.
Was this  true?  Well dad told the story as if it was true.  Accidents in factories…even factories like this Burnside Motor Works factory…were
quite common.  And that still seems to be the case as a  few workers each year in Ontario meet their maker in such  accidents even
though machines are now shielded and line shafts are a  thing of the past.

The really bright readers among you will know what that machine on the far left actually did.   It may be the drive engine for the whole line shaft.  
The machine that powered the whole factory.  See
the drive belt dead centre…seems  to connect to that machine dead left.  Now why in hell’s half acre did  I  use the t erm  ‘dead’.

When Dad retired from the Dunlop Tire Corporation around  1970,  Eric and I asked if we could  tour the factory and see what he did
for his  whole working life.  That was  quite an experience.  Dad was  busy manhandling slaps of rubber … big slabs …onto some spinning
machine on which he carved bug truck tires.  A job only for the strong.  Dad  was  strong and proud of his work.  He grinned  at Eric  and I
as  the plant foreman took us around the factory.   Dad wore a simple sweatshirt and his  hands were blackened by the constant contact
with rubber.   Dad seemed to like his  job as he turned down the foreman’s job when it was offered.  “I can make more money making the 
tires than supervising.”

Dad liked working for Dunlop’s because for many years the factory was  very close to the Woodbine Racetrack where he spent all or 
nearly all of his idle time.   He  loved the horses  yet ye spent his life making car and truck tires for machines that rendered  horses
obsolete. Eric and I spent a  lot of time at racetracks along with Dad and occasionally mom.  But only once did  we ever visit the
rubber tire factory.  Glad we  did.


alan skeoch
Nov. 28,2018



Photograph taken in 1920 when the LITTLE SKEOCH CYCLE CAR WAS IN FULL PRODUCTION….three car assembly line.
In 1921 the factory burned to the ground  and the Little Skeoch became a blip in the the history
of the car industry.

Fwd: The Little Skeoch…picture of 1920 factory



Begin forwarded message:


From: SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Subject: The Little Skeoch…picture of 1920 factory
Date: November 28, 2018 at 12:09:49 PM EST
To: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>

THE  SKEOCH CYCLE CAR PRODUCTION LINE IN 1920

(Dalbeattie, Scotland)

alan skeoch
Nov. 28, 2018

Seems to be quite an  interest in my last email concerning the Little Skeoch so  here  is  another picture of the production line as  it appeared
in 1920.  Lots of  things to see including the typical line shafting along the ceiling of the factory.   Wheels on the line shafts drove the industrial
machines…lathes, grinders, etc.    If you are really perceptive you might see the convertible top unfurled  and ready for assembly.  If you can 
read, and some  of you can no doubt, you will see a sign mentioning Wolseley Oil  Engines…whatever that means.   And  those if you who
are socially aware  and critical of the grim atmospheres of factories might note that sunshine floods  this  factory floor.

My dad,  Arnold (Red) Skeoch became a  tire builder in Canada around this time and I will always remember his stories  about the
dangers  of the big line shafts which had a drive pulley beside a stationary pulley.  If you wanted a machine to shut down all that
was required was  a slight push on the whirling drive belt to put on ‘idle’.  That way the whole  assembly line was not affected.
 I assume the movement was normally done by some kind
of lever.  But Dad, working in Guelph and later in Toronto, described how a worker decided to move the belt with his  hand.   His arm got 
caught and he was converted to pulp as his  body was drawn up and around the drive pulley.  Pulp is the wrong word.  But Dad
did say the man died.  I had  visions of the poor guy being whirled around the drive pulley like his body was a windmill.  Until his 
arm was  torn from its  socket and  his  blooded body fell to the floor.  That is my image…might be true .
 The pulleys  in this factory below are quite small but I do not see any idling pulleys which means all at the production line
has to be shut down to change a belt or service a machine.

Dad had another industrial  story he told occasionally.   Rubber tires  were made with flat slabs of  reinforced rubber.  To make the rubber
uniformly flat a large rolling machine was  used.  Very dangerous.  One worker got caught in the  roller and  came out flat.  Dead flat.
Was this  true?  Well dad told the story as if it was true.  Accidents in factories…even factories like this Burnside Motor Works factory…were
quite common.  And that still seems to be the case as a  few workers each year in Ontario meet their maker in such  accidents even
though machines are now shielded and line shafts are a  thing of the past.

The really bright readers among you will know what that machine on the far left actually did.   It may be the drive engine for the whole line shaft.  
The machine that powered the whole factory.  See
the drive belt dead centre…seems  to connect to that machine dead left.  Now why in hell’s half acre did  I  use the t erm  ‘dead’.

When Dad retired from the Dunlop Tire Corporation around  1970,  Eric and I asked if we could  tour the factory and see what he did
for his  whole working life.  That was  quite an experience.  Dad was  busy manhandling slaps of rubber … big slabs …onto some spinning
machine on which he carved bug truck tires.  A job only for the strong.  Dad  was  strong and proud of his work.  He grinned  at Eric  and I
as  the plant foreman took us around the factory.   Dad wore a simple sweatshirt and his  hands were blackened by the constant contact
with rubber.   Dad seemed to like his  job as he turned down the foreman’s job when it was offered.  “I can make more money making the 
tires than supervising.”

Dad liked working for Dunlop’s because for many years the factory was  very close to the Woodbine Racetrack where he spent all or 
nearly all of his idle time.   He  loved the horses  yet ye spent his life making car and truck tires for machines that rendered  horses
obsolete. Eric and I spent a  lot of time at racetracks along with Dad and occasionally mom.  But only once did  we ever visit the
rubber tire factory.  Glad we  did.


alan skeoch
Nov. 28,2018



Photograph taken in 1920 when the LITTLE SKEOCH CYCLE CAR WAS IN FULL PRODUCTION….three car assembly line.
In 1921 the factory burned to the ground  and the Little Skeoch became a blip in the the history
of the car industry.


THE LITTLE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR … LIVED FOR ONE GLORIOUS YEAR…1920


ONCE UJPON A  TIME THERE WAS  A MOTOR CAR CALLED  THE LITTLE SKEOCH

(also called  The Skeoch Motorcycle  Car)

alan  skeoch
Nov. 27. 2018

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

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

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

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




Skeoch utility car




The original Skeoch Utility Car.


Skeoch Utility car advertisement






Burnside Motorworks

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

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

Well, not quite.

POSSIBLE REBIRTH OF THE LITTLE SKEOCH

Fwd: ALAN SKEOCH AWARD 2018



Begin forwarded message:


From: SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Subject: ALAN SKEOCH AWARD 2018
Date: November 14, 2018 at 6:31:06 PM EST
To: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>, “Macdonald, Leigh” <lemacdonald@scdsb.on.ca>


LEIGH…SEE MY NOTE THAT FOLLOWS…THIS  IS THE SPEECH I WOULD  LIKE TO GIVE…MIGHT TAKE EIGHT MINUTES

ALAN


SKEOCH  AWARD  … TO  NATHAN TIDRIDGE
( HAMILTON WENTWORTH DISRICT BOARD OF -EDUCATION)

CRITERIA
1) SENSITIVITY TO STUDENTS AT ALL LEVELS.
2) COLLEGIALITY WITH FELLOW STAFF MEMBERS
3) ORIGINALITY
4) ENTHUSIASM
5) REACH  BEYOND THE CLASSROOM INTO BROADER COMMUNITY


ALAN SKEOCH
NOV. 15, 2018

Members of  OHASSTA, publishers, student teachers, ladies and gentlemen

I consider it a great honour to have this  award  given in my name annually to a  classroom
teacher whose  contribution to education has  been remarkable.  

What makes  a  remarkable teacher?

Off the top I would put each of you in that category because you are willing
to reach  beyond the classroom to the wider  world of  education…that’s why
you are here at OHASSTA…you are  perpetual  learners … improvers…interested
in others ideas…prepared to share  your ideas.  Remarkable.

Nathan  Tidridge, this year 2018 is you…How  do I know?  Because for
the last half  century…48 years I have sat among you…joined  your tables…
shared  your joys and  your failures…noticed  things that make you remarkable

-Remarkable teachers  are respected…first and  foremost…without that respect Remarkability fizzles.
-Remarkable teachers remember names…memorize names  of their students from the get go
-Remarkable teachers can  control their classrooms…clear objectives
-Remarkable teachers never humiliate their students
-Remarkable teachers  have thick skins…not all teaching goes  smoothly…sometimes a  student might
tell a teacher to Go to Hell…that is a  real  teaching moment…remarkable teachers  know that.
-Remarkable teachers recognize distress in certain  students…and provide help…or get help.
-Remarkable teachers laugh a  lot…and can laugh at themselves
-Remarkable teachers are positive people;e
-RemarKalbe teachers respect social distance…they are called  Sir,  Miss, or Mr…not Joe, John or Judy
-Remarkable teachers enjoy rather than fear parents  nights
-Remarkable teachers want their students  to achieve…to be elevated
-Remarkable teachers know what they are doing…the lessons are going somewhere…coherent
-Remarkable teachers understand the curriculum…even  though they might pinch it a bit…or expand it more
-Remarkable teachers  are passionate about their subject
-Remarkable teachers  are passionate about children…love working with them
-Remarkable teachers  are remembered  … forever
-Remarkable teachers are cut from various  cloths…they  are not digital cut outs…they differ…students notice

I had a lot of remarkable teachers


Phyllis Morgan…who loved Latin but also  spent much  of her life finding  places in the  work world  for her students…and
who recognized distress and took action.
Evan Cruikshank…who admitted there were things  he did  not know about our world…instilled a desire  to work as  a  team in the classroom
Roberta Charlesworth…who lifted  me  by my ear and  drummed one clear lesson into my teen age brains  “I judge people by what they do,
not by what they say.’
Duncan Green…who  found a place for everyone in his  classes…in his school  play…on his track and field team…no one was  left out
Fred Burford…who  made math seem easy…and  who elevated a nondescript bunch of teen age boys into a formidable team of football players…
education requires  team  work.  I got the hop, step and  jump…not a  stellar role but one I  could attempt.
Miss Sharpley, Grade 6, who made every student feel important but who also  treated every student the same…
Mr.  Herman Couke…who suspended  me for 5 days for spotting a  football game played by  an  enemy school…that
was  unethical behaviour he explained…I have to suspend you Alan … your first offence…must treat all students the same
or our educational system will collapse into a sea  of favouritism.
John Ricker who taught me  a wonderful skill…to keep my mouth shut if a  lesson  takes  off…he  was  prepared  to
zip  sideways  in a  lesson…peripheral … and he used silence as a control skill…and  he showed deep  thinking and power using just as few  words as possible.
He knew  the power of  Silence…slow sipping of his  coffee  with his  eyes ferreting the room…then with one word…the word “Really”
he established  that historical  causes and effects are never simple…many causes of  one big effect…and that effect had  consequences
that were varied … not simple.   If he  were in  your class  next Monday he might ask”
   -Who is Donald Trump?
  -Why did so many Americans vote  for him?   
  -Why did the  Journalist Woodward title his book on Trump, FEAR?

 Or he  might just say, “I was thinking the other night about human  civilization, what makes us remarkable?  Do we have a future?


Alan Skeoch
Nov. 14, 2018
OHASSTA  CONFERENCE





ARE THEY NUTS? ALAN AND MARJORIE SKEOCH IN ACTION NOV. 10, 2018

Human  beings are a quarrelsome  bunch.  They like to criticize each other. Sometimes it is  hard

to find chinks in the armour.  Sometimes it is easy.   Trump, for instance,  invites criticism with
every  breath he takes…every lie  he  tells….every gross movement of his body.  Well, here below
is a chance for you to criticize Alan  and  Marjorie.  Just what the hell are they doing with their lives.

For  us,  we are having a good time.  We always have a good time.

But this  auction was a bit over  the top I must admit…as  you will see  by our purchases below.
How we managed to get all this in our truck and  still leave room for Woody and ourselves is 
a wonder.

Unlikely but maybe one or two  pieces of this jumble  will be seen  in a movie release  next year.

There is no accounting for  taste.

alan and Marjorie
Nov. 10, 2018

p.s.  Even the McCartney family, auctioneers, must scratch their heads at the bidding.