oldpages‎ > ‎MULTI MEDIA‎ > ‎On Guard Series‎ > ‎

1981 - One Last Action Packed Year

"ON GUARD"
By Fred Kuzyk. Copyright 2001-2002, Freddy The K Communications. No reproduction without permission.

1981 - One Last Action Packed Year

Sometime in January, the business of flying recommenced after the holiday stand-down. We got our first Kiowas then but we still retained the Otters. Winter saw a few annual rituals. Dinghy Drill & Winter Ops are two that come to mind.

Dinghy Drill

I only remember attending one of these. We'd meet at an indoor pool one evening. Donning our bathing suits & Mae West's, we'd do laps. I found it tiring to swim any distance with the inflated PFD on. We'd also inflate the dinghies & flop in & around them. It was supposed to be a serious exercise designed to save our lives if we had to ditch in water, particularly for Otter float operations. But it was more like an evening of splashing around, having fun, and dunking or splashing each other.

Winter Ops

We made annual weekend trips to Camp Borden with Otters fitted with skis. Unlike the Weapons Shoot where we were bused in, for this trip we flew. The pilots got experience with take-offs & landings on skis in snowy fields. All of us got some practice with working "in the field" in cold weather. Parkas, boots, mitts, & toques were required. We'd struggle with installing covers on the engine & the wings of the planes. If it snowed, we'd clean it off. I believe we also got rudimentary instruction in de-icing, as well as the use of APUs & heaters to start the aircraft after a cold night. I don't remember much else about Borden, other than eating at a fast food annex. We must have drunk at a Mess but I don't recall.

Winter Survival

We were offered the opportunity to go on a Winter Survival Course somewhere in Alberta. I declined the chance to pit myself against nature, deciding that freezing & starving for a week or two didn't sound like a fun time. But a few folks signed-up. I guess they didn't have anything better to do or welcomed the chance to test their endurance. Tony Cardoni was one of the intrepid souls. I asked her how it went when she returned. She wasn't impressed. Actually, it was hell. She thought it would mostly be theory. Instead, they were deposited miles from anywhere, with no food. They were given tents for shelter & snares for game. Whatever they caught - that's all they ate! Tony had a chocolate bar in her gear. They confiscated it. She found she's have to build a fire for warmth & to melt snow for drinking water. Her group eventually snared a squirrel but she couldn't bring herself around to eating it. She came back weaker & thinner. If the producers of the "Survivor" TV show ever decide to stage a contest in the far north, there are some CAF vets that may have an edge on the competition.

SAR Standby

For some time, the squadrons kept a vigil on weekend nights, mostly in the good weather. It was thought that in case a local Search And Rescue should occur on those nights, we'd be ready. A crew was designated to man a single Otter. They were given a room at the barracks. If the call came, they had a key for the hangar. They'd open the doors, tow the plane out & fire it up. They were to remain sober on the base. Somehow, I doubt that was always the case! I never did SAR Standby duty. The practice was discontinued long before the Otters were phased out. I suppose that a single plane, available only those couple of nights, wasn't much benefit to the Rescue Co-ordination Center in Trenton. I also guess that for the crews that did it, they felt they had done something worthwhile, even if the call never came.

Bet You Can't

My birthday was in January. I tried to keep this quiet but the Orderly Room had the data on everyone's birthday, so there was no escape from a new ritual. Dave & Stephanie Hellyer initiated this. They had a huge glass, shaped like an oversize brandy snifter, which had "Bet You Can't" printed on it. They began to bring this artifact, a sort of 400 Squadron Holy Grail, to the Mess on member's birthdays. A collection was taken up for the "Birthday Boy" and sufficient beer was purchased to fill it. The vessel held about nine bottles or so. The object was to stay there & finish it. There wasn't a strict time limit to complete this feat, but your mates encouraged you to do this as quickly as possible. If you tried to make an escape, you were dragged back to the table.

I recall Dave Cooper taking his turn at the glass. It wasn't a pretty sight when he was crawling on all fours in the bathroom, after being sick. It is slightly sadistic to delight in making one of your co-workers barf. While it may have been great fun egging on others during their turn, it wasn't so great when it was yours. I completed the task but with just dregs left in the glass, I was concerned about creating backwash back into it! Sitting there in the "snake pit" my vision was getting fuzzy. Knowlton Nash, the new News Anchor for the CBC's National News was on the TV, but I couldn't make out what he was saying. It was a challenge just to stay in my chair. I must have hurled. Of course, I felt terrible the next day. Somehow, I recall when it was Cam's birthday; he not only emptied the chalice, but also looked for those present to donate more! Maybe this is just bad memory on my part? Anyway, I noticed that those that survived the ordeal once usually made themselves scarce around the time of their next birthday, or just refused to be shamed into another session. I wonder if this tradition continues? As keeper of the glass, it may have ended when Hellyer quit. Or perhaps someone dropped it during his or her drunken stupor - a tradition ending instantly with the myriad shards of glass cascading across the Mess floor.

The Banshee

The RCN Banshee sitting in the Maintenance hangar (for years). Rollie Reeves photo

The restoration of our Banshee fighter was an ongoing project during my tenure. This continued pretty much year round, but mostly during the winter, as the mood allowed. I do remember helping out on a few nights. Dougy Wilkins was our leader during that time. I think I had found a magazine that had an article & photos on the plane, which I had brought along with my enthusiasm to the crew. I had also seen the movie "The Bridges at Toko Ri", the Korean War flick that had Banshees in it. William Holden & Mickey Rooney both died at the end of that movie. This might be symbolic, because our Banshee appeared to be suffering a slow death, at the rate we were going.

My impression after awhile was that Dougy was far too meticulous. Anal, even. It seemed to me that he was trying to restore it as if it would be put back into service flying at Mach 1. It was just going on static display. It seemed that every fleck of paint had to be carefully removed without scratching the surface. Every dent & ding had to be filled with DEVCON, aluminum filler that wasn't the easiest to work with. I thought plastic body filler, Bondo, would do the same job quickly & easily. Who could tell once it was painted? Doug was adamant that everything had to be done just right. I didn't have the patience or 13 years to spare. I said "good night" to the Banshee. My time was better spent on my cars.

Skiing Weekends

We did a lot of things together as a group. Even when it wasn't official, there were group outings, like the ski weekends in Collingwood. Andy Gyorffy & Joanne Pilsener organized a couple of them. They rented a large chalet in Tyrolian Village at Blue Mountain. One of those large ones with several bedrooms, 3 baths, and a sauna. Right at the foot of the mountain, it was a great place to party & we packed the place. Some of the people didn't even come to ski. One year, I brought my new Fender electric guitar & amp. Cam & Ken Mills brought instruments. Joe Grinch played guitar & took a turn. We had a hootenanny. Stereo equipment was also brought along. I recall singing along with the Blues Brothers soundtrack album, "What do you want for nothing, Rrrrrubber biscuit"! And of course, there was heavy drinking. We downed shots of tequila. First licking salt from the pocket where your thumb met your index finger. Then downing the booze in a gulp. Followed by sucking on the slice of lemon. I believe someone brought a blender for rounds of exotic cocktails.

Dave Hellyer passed out...before we painted him like a whore! Andy Gyorffy photo

Dave Hellyer passed out on a couch while clutching a booze bottle to his chest. He was totally unconscious. We took this golden opportunity to paint his face with cosmetics donated by the ladies. Someone suggested black balling him but we didn't go that far. In the morning there were hangovers during the communal breakfast. Then we hit the slopes.

There were wineskins to top-us-up while riding or waiting for the lifts. Chip Ray was hurting. He was a good skier but far too drunk to show his stuff. He puked at one point while in line for a lift! I thought it was funny how some of the young ladies like Ronnie Swift or Gigi Cooper had all the latest equipment & expensive outfits, even if this was their first time skiing. I guess it's not how good you are but how good you look! A pair of jeans worked for me. Anyway, no one broke his or her necks.

In the evening, we broke off into groups & went to various restaurants in town for supper. Cam, Dot, and I went to the same spot. Dot drove while Cam & I toked. While driving back to the chalet, we passed a cemetery. I saw something above one of the tombstones. Not quite sure what it was. It looked like a strobe light or some bright flash of light. Cam happened to see something too. We're both looking back as we whiz by. We look at each other. "Did you see that"? "Did you"? "What the hell was that? Looked like a strobe light". "On a cross. I don't know. It wasn't lightning." "It's winter, for Christ's sake". "Christ's…sake"? "Do,Do,Do,Do" (Twilight Zone style). At this point, we laugh uncontrollably. And then break into our Exorcist voices. Dot didn't see anything. Either we two have seen unexplained phenomena or we're both having the same hallucination. Dorothy thinks we're just stoned. For years, Cam & I would remind each other about the eerie gravestone. Meanwhile, there was more partying to do at the chalet.

It was inevitable that there would be some romantic encounters on such trips. Colin & Gigi were doing heavy necking. Andy & Joanne were a couple. Dave Cooper & Ronnie Swift were pretty close there, I believe. I didn't have any liaisons but Cam got more than his share. His favourite spot was the sauna for a late night rendezvous. He gloated that he & Terry Hall met there to make their own heat. When he got back to bed, he had nothing left for his girlfriend. Cam recounted how Terry was discreet about it. He liked that. It may have been at this ski weekend, or at another venue, that Cam popped the cherry of a young lady whom was new to the unit. She was also discreet, not expecting to be his girlfriend or clinging to him. At times I was jealous of Cam. Sometimes he was like the deli counter at Shopsy's - he had them lining up to take a number!

The ski trips ended. Andy & Joanne broke up. Maybe no one stepped forward to take their place at organizing them. Then again, after a couple maybe it was enough. After all, you could get similar partying on a squadron trip or at Summer Camp, without the chalet rental costs. And the government paid your salary while you were there! I'm suprized though that someone didn't arrange a White Water Rafting trip of the Ottawa River. They were popular then & it would have been a logical summer excursion. Then again, someone would have drowned.

Getting Their Wings

Paul Tulio was a good-natured kid. He was code named "McGarett" at Chatham. A muscular Italian & a nice guy. He & his 411 Squadron mate Graham Poole (both of whom I first met at North Bay in 1979) applied for Aircrew Selection and were in the process of becoming pilots. I recall Paul asking me for help with his resume & required English essay, given that I was Joe College & an "artsy", while we were both working on B Class for the RSU. I was pleased to help. They both were accepted & left Downsview for their training. Later, Paul became the stuff of legend when the jet he was flying had a bird strike to the engine, which caused a compressor failure. He walked away from that one. Paul dropped in one time with a transient aircraft while I was on duty. He was still the same pleasant guy.

Also ran into Graham sometime after they left. He was the quieter & more serious of the two. He had adopted the cocky confidence of an Officer Cadet. When speaking about Paul's near fatal accident he stated, "When you have candidates with superior flying abilities of Paul & myself…" or some BS to that effect. Yep, attitude is everything! Today I wonder how their pilot careers went? In 1981, I still had some time to apply for pilot training before I was too old. But I had heard how tough it was & I put it on hold. Something I didn't know at the time was that if you had actual pilot experience, you had a major advantage over the bulk of the candidates. I also knew the drill - RCAF history & traditions. My vision was 20/20 then. I should have given it a shot, as I'll never know if I had the right stuff. But I also had seen what some of the bases were like and was starting to have reservations. Besides, I was in a comfortable groove here in the Reserve. There was talk of the "short-short" flying program being resurrected to train new pilots on choppers. I could do that! I'd also apply to become an Officer in the Squadron. If that young jerk, Tim Olds, from 411 could be selected as an Officer Cadet, certainly I could achieve the same at 400. I put a lot of faith in the Reserve & things didn't go as I hoped.

Flyboy Porn Star?

A typical night at the Mess. Someone has brought a civvy buddy along. The fellow introduces himself. Let's call him John. Rather than throwing darts or playing shuffleboard, John would rather see the action at the Thursday Night Disco. The DJ is spinning some of the popular songs of the time, like The King's "Switching to Glide", the B-52's "Rock Lobster", and Boney M's "Ra Ra Rasputin". Willie Morris & the girls are doing the line dance, The Slush. Just a typical night.

I talk with our guest. John is currently a film student at Ryerson Poly Technical. Cool. We have something in common & I talk about film at York. He tells me that he makes porn films on the side, as a means to pay for the education. This suddenly gets very interesting! He states that there's great money in it & there's no shortage of good-looking female talent willing to appear in those films. I guess it's easy enough to get game strippers or call girls. Perhaps even thrill-seeking co-eds that need the money. He says the difficulty is finding guys. I'm surprised at this. I would have thought there would be tons of guys willing to be PAID to screw hot women in a fuck film. Sure there are many that fantasize about it but most are shy about being caught on camera.

So, John starts making the pitch to me to consider it. I'd be a natural, he figures. An acting student who is tall & not bad looking - I could make some serious coin with him. He's got me intrigued & I have a load of questions. "Those studs seems to go on for hours. I can't last that long. And I don't have a monster dick". He replies, "the shoots are done in numerous takes. To keep you hard for the next take we've got 'fluff girls' who give great head & they keep sucking you. They'll make you cum for the cum-shot. Nah, you don't have to be a freak like John Holmes. Guys feel inadequate when they see a lot of mutants like him. There's plenty of average size dicks. We use stand-ins sometimes for the close-ups. On some angles, you can't tell it's somebody else's dick. Hey, a couple of times I've gotten from behind the camera & took a turn fucking the star actress. And whatever your favourite kink is, we could work that into the script. You should consider it, OK?"

It's an interesting prospect. Lots of upside: money, getting off with beauties, kink, and 15 minutes of fame. The downside is that the film could come back to haunt me. Early porn movies didn't hurt Sylvester Stalone's later career. But I wanted to be an Officer. And later on, such a film could cost me a future marriage, or damage a political career (like I would ever be Prime Minister). And after that near brush of VD with Kinky Sue, I'm wondering about the cleanliness of some of the starlets. It seems everybody fucks 'em, even the cameraman/producer! I don't know this guy at all. Maybe they're really making a snuff film. Freddy blows his load then gets his brains blown out.

In the end, caution wins out over horny fantasy. I tell John that it's not for me. My acting would remain extra parts on the King of Kensington or auditions for commercials. Even he didn't want to be recognized in these films. He gives me a phone number in case I re-consider. He finishes with, "You see, that's the problem. Guys want to fuck, but they want it in private with no evidence. Shit, every guy wants to watch porn, but not star in it. Meanwhile, I can get plenty of broads who want to be exhibitionists in front of a camera. Go figure"

He sure sounded legitimate. I wonder if he recruited anyone else on base? If so, it was a secret. I'd lost his phone number. Never saw him again. In time, I'd forget his name & who his Reserve friend was that brought him to the Mess that night. But I always recall his frank conversation & my chance to have been the "Flyboy Sex Star". Still, it would have been neat to have done a "Mile High Club" Otter orgy scene… "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up".

Military Funeral

I started back working full-time with the 2RSU on February 9, 1981. Felt good to be with the RSU again. Got another room at the shack. One weekday, Dick Balls was putting together people for a special detail. The family of a war veteran requested military pallbearers for his funeral in Hamilton, and it was granted. Toronto was the closest base. This was my hometown. I knew the funeral home, so I was volunteered. About seven of us got our dress uniforms together, got into one of those green, nine-person CAF vans & headed down the QEW to Steel Town.

The service was fairly short. There weren't many people in attendance. We stood at attention at the appropriate time, picked-up the casket, carried it out the door & loaded into the hearse, waiting in the sunshine. That was it. For whatever reason, we weren't required at the hearse's final destination. The widow thanked us for our presence & said that her husband was proud of his service in the Navy. What difference did it make that airmen carried this sailor to rest? All the services wore green at this time & looked the same. Having done our duty ahead of schedule, I believe I took my RSU companions to a local strip bar called Hanrahan's, for a couple of beers before making the return trip to Downsview.

Myrtle Beach, Here We Come!

Postcard from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

A wonderful opportunity came-up during March 18-22. Two Otters (9404 & 3671) were being flown to the air base at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - with room for passengers. Officially, the trip was for the purpose of practicing IFR approaches. In reality, the Officers were invited to a Mess dinner. We "extra baggage" would have nothing to do, other than party! I was one of the chosen in the mix of Reservists & RSUs. Andy & I were in the same plane (9404) flown by Captain Don Eddie. (This was the same plane that was up in King William Island in the NWT during 1977, to help search for the ships of the Franklin Expedition). I recall that to avoid bad weather, we climbed to about twelve thousand feet. And we all crammed forward in the cabin. At above ten thousand, you're supposed to go on oxygen. We didn't have any. Everyone got a little sleepy.


Arrival at Chase City. Old Expediter parked behind us

We needed to make a re-fueling stop. Chase City, West Virginia was the chosen location. According to the latest book, this airport had the required grade of AVGAS we needed. It was dusk as we joined the circuit above the airstrip. Attempts to contact them by radio went unanswered. Maybe they closed down for the day? Things looked quiet from above. No planes on the runway, so we made our landings, taxied towards the office, parked beside an old Expediter, and went to see about gas. 
We are out of gas.....L to R: Vinny, Freddy K, Mo

It was a shock to find that the office, hangar, and fuel pump were all locked-up. A sign in the window read "we are out of gas". Subsequent investigation revealed that the airstrip went out of business recently. We didn't have enough fuel to make alternative airports, so we were euchred!



We're euchred ... empty pump



We clowned around taking photos, while the pilots (Eddie & Terrifico) figured something out. Andy took shots of Mo, Vinny, & I at the locked pump & sign. Herb Bond & Mo feigned pouring siphoned gas from a tiny pail into one of the planes. The one-horse-town at least had a motel. It was decided that we'd bunk there. The Otters were secured; we grabbed our gear and made our way over. I recall that the tap water & even the toilet bowl water were brown. We have to shower in that! A local "good ole boy" was our hospitality director, of sorts. He was like Otis in this "Mayberry from Hell". I recall having a conversation with him where we got on the topic of acid rain. He stated that Canada was just as guilty, if not more so, as smog from Canada was coming south & polluting their lakes, too! His mind was made up, so there was no point speaking further.
 

"Downtown" Chase City

Chase City was hardly a city. There was one restaurant called Dick's Diner. We'd walk over for our meals. It was one of those greasy spoons with round stools at a counter. The local Sheriff spent time there. He & his partner were serious, no-guff, types - not like Andy Taylor & Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show. Most of the locals were curious about, and friendly towards, the Canadian FlyBoys. The town was somewhat segregated. I remember black kids playing on the other side of the railroad tracks. Really!

It was getting boring. We spent a couple of nights in this redneck backwater. Meanwhile, the pilots arranged to have a fuel truck come from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The US military saved our ass! But the crew on the bowser wasn't impressed with us. Apparently, the truck had a governor with a maximum speed of 30 mph. They had to drive the whole way at that speed. They weren't looking forward to the trip back.

With our planes filled, we could bid adieu. We had become celebrities of sorts. We were the stranded Canuck airmen. People wanted to see our bush planes & I remember showing a group inside. Word spread that we were leaving (to the economic dismay of the motel & diner). Cars & people lined the road beside the defunct airport to watch us take-off. A major event it was for the local populace.


View of Chase City airport on our departure. Note the cars lining the road of the curious locals who came to watch our take-off

The Beach

Coming in to Myrtle was exciting. The sight of the ocean & beach from the air. You could see the amusement park & golf courses. Landing at the air base was a rush. A-10 tank killers were taking off & landing, even in formation. Very impressive. The weather was mild & there were palm trees all around. The air base shared runways with a civilian airport. We made our way over there to a car rental agency. Rob Carr & I used our credit cards to rent two sets of wheels for the group.

Getting on base at the main gate, we were inspected by armed Air Police, who checked our ID. Quite a change from Downsview where a Commissioner gave you a green light as soon as he saw your CFB Toronto decal. We made our way to the VAQ, the Visiting Airmen's Quarters. This was more like a hotel than a barracks. For $4 a day we got a great room which included a mini bar fridge, coffee maker, & maid service. Baths were shared between rooms, rather than the communal ones we were use to. Colin Stearman said there was a book that listed all the military bases and their lodgings, across the US. What a great way for us to travel across America! Isn't Nellis AFB near Las Vegas…?

We headed over to the Airmen's Club. This put our Junior Ranks to shame. The place had the feel of a swank cocktail lounge with Jacketed bartenders & comfy chairs. Waitresses said something that we couldn't quite make out. Sounded like "persh-she-ate-it". After awhile we came to realize that instead of saying "thanks", they were saying "appreciate it" - in their southern drawl.

The base was like Disneyland to us. It wasn't brand new but the amenities were far more modern & elaborate than what we were accustomed to. There was a golf course on base. This was Myrtle after all. They had a duty free liquor store. A shopping center, not simply like a Canex Store. And a huge bowling alley. Yep, Americans treat their military personnel right!

Striking Out On The Redneck Riviera

A night on the town was compulsory. We loaded up the cars & headed to the VIP 2001 disco, the big dance club on the strip. The crowd was pretty sparse. Cam turned on his charm & attempted to chat up the ladies. Now Cam's pick-up lines were typically shallow "Hey baby, let's party" stuff but they always worked. Not on this day. The women weren't biting and they were down right rude. Everybody was crashing & burning. I asked one woman if she'd like to dance. "I've got a broken leg"; she said smugly, hardly looking up from her drink. I looked at her fine gams & replied sarcastically, "Well then, can I sign your cast?" it was getting comical. In South Carolina they only serve liquor in bars from those tiny shot-an-a-half bottles. Our group was going through a gazillion of them. Except for our sober Andy, who was watching the pathetic spectacle & would later drive our car home.

Pete Bannister tries another approach. He offers a lady a cigarette from one of those stupid American packs. He coolly peels off part of the top, bangs it against his hand and then several cigarettes fly out at her & onto the floor. His image shattered, he says, "forget it" and walks back to us. The situation was becoming depressing. Pete holds up one arm like a periscope. He flaps his thumb against the fingers & turns the hand around the room. I ask him what he's doing. He says this is his "Ugly Detector". "The only way any of us is going to score is to locate & hit on the ugliest one here". I howl. Eventually his detector zeros in on a likely target. He makes a beeping sound, and off he goes.

The only one that had any luck was Joanne Gillies. Only thing was, she was hit on by a lesbian. This older woman cornered her in the can. "Why I do declare, you're as pretty as two peas in a pod! My little, speckled butter-bean". Jo was terrified & beat a hasty retreat. She repeated the story to the group. Colin kept repeating the women's lines & couldn't stop laughing.

Afterwards, we befriended a young woman who took pity on us. She was from Philly. He family moved here and started a pizza joint. She explained that there was nothing wrong with us, other than our timing. It was the week before the CAN-AM Celebration (when there were many tourists - including Canadians - in town) so tourist season hadn't started. Only the local women were around. And they get fed up with all the golfers who breeze into town & hit on them. She was a pleasant lady & I remember us visiting her at the pizza parlour. At least we had one friend in town. We learned about grits & hush puppies from her. Hush puppies were hunks of corn bread, which were baked alongside loaves of bread. She said they were given to the hound dogs to keep them from crying for the other baked goods. So, the trip was somewhat educational! Back at the VAQ, Vinny decided to serenade some of us with song in the middle of the night. At least he was happy.

The next day we were primed for more adventure. All except Cam. Cam, who was always up & ready to party was for the first time down & out. He was moping around his room depressed & didn't want to go out. All because the "Horvath Charm" had failed. I had found his weakness. He couldn't be alone without female companionship & couldn't handle striking out. For some of us, that was practically a way of life! But it incapacitated him - a trip without chicks. I told him to lose the funk. "We've only got a day or so left. Come on, we're gonna play golf".

"The Slavs" on the links. Andy on top, Cam, Freddy K.

A bunch of us were going to a par 3 Executive style course. This was Cam's first time, so we also did some time at a driving range & one of Myrtle's elaborate mini-putts. I think Cam was actually having some fun & it distracted him from his poor lounge lizard performance. Some seeds were sown here, as golf would become a passion for Cam. And he'd return to Myrtle many times. About a decade later, we'd return together for a golf trip, but that's another story. Those later trips of Cam's would get him into marital difficulty, but that's another story as well.


Andy in the ocean


Andy with Freddy K.

The Officer's attended their dinner on Saturday night. We kept busy on the links but also bowling. Although the temperature was about 60 degrees, there was absolutely no one on the beach. The water was cooler than that. In spite of the wind & waves, this was prime polar bear condition for Andy to have a swim in the ocean. We went to the beach & he had his dip. We recorded this on film. The amusement park was open. Andy clicked a photo of me in one of those trick mirrors. We decided to take a ride on the roller coaster. Bob Carr had never been on one in his life.

He started out OK as we climbed the first big hill. Then plunging over the top, he became terrified. While we yelled & screamed, Bob's eyes became the size of saucers. Drool spewed from the side of his mouth. The cars came to a stop. Bob's face was white. His hands are in a white-knuckle grip on the bar. We almost have to pry his fingers off - he won't move. He's paralyzed with fear and they want to get him out so they can load the next group for the ride. We coax him out. He can't speak. While walking around the park, Bob gradually returns from that far away place & back to reality. We kid him about going back on the roller coaster but he's adamant, "I'll never do THAT again"!

On Sunday we packed our bags, donned our flight suits, and checked out of the VAQ. Time to leave the temperate weather, A-10's & palm trees, and head home to snow. During the return flight, pilot Don Eddie had me take the controls for a bit, while he ate an orange & checked his chart. This was a thrill. The only time I recall flying an Otter. 


 Fort Bragg, NC. Andy Gyorffy photos

This time we were taking no chances & our fuel stop was Fort Bragg. As we descended & circled the base, you could see multitudes of transport planes & hangars. Rows of Hercules & Starlifters. Through our headsets you could hear communications with the tower. Eddie stated to ATC that "Canadian Military 9404 & 3671 were U-1A's". The U-1A designation is what the US Army gave the Otter when they were flying them. The US Army was DeHav's biggest customer for the Otter, but they hadn't flown them in years. From the silence of the tower, we gathered that they were flipping through reference books trying to figure out what we were. Everybody knew about the U-2 spy plane, but what's a U-1? Perhaps they thought we were some kind of secret, stealth spy planes! Finally they realized we had propellers & were STOL.

The tower gives us landing instructions. They doubt that we can touch down before the 1st taxiway, so say we can turn left at the 2nd. Well, this now is a challenge for Capt Eddie of how little runway is needed by the venerable Steam Otter! He brought her in low & slow over the button. Putting her down, he slams on the brakes to a chorus of squeals from rubber against asphalt. We stop short of the 1st taxiway. The tower then said, "Um, very well 9404, you can turn there". We all cheered & flashed thumbs-up. We were pleased to display the Otter's legendary short landing capability to the modern American military.

A truck with a "Follow Me" sign on its rear came to lead us to our parking area. We went past some of the rows of behemoth aircraft that seemed to go on forever. It was an ironic contrast. Our two tiny flying anachronisms compared to all this military might. The truck stops & out steps the driver - a tall, gorgeous, redheaded female Sergeant. We didn't see many American service women on the trip but if she was any indication, they didn't just surpass us in the quantity & quality of their equipment! We were shepherded into a lounge where we could get snacks while the planes were fueled. Colin & I made a side trip where we "Zap" one of the transports with a 411 sticker that Colin had. It was a good photo-op for Andy of our "capture".

Colin & Fred "zap" a Yank Herc with 411 patch. Andy Gyorffy photo

The journey home resumed & it was uneventful. The Allegheny Mountains past below. When we reached Niagara Falls, a couple of steep turns above the cataracts provided a breathtaking photo-op, and a fine conclusion to this story.

Our American cousins were outstanding hosts. This was by far the best trip I had during my Reserve days. It wasn't perfect. Sure, we got stranded, there weren't any sexual liaisons, any toking, no romances, but it was an eye-opener. An adventure. And nobody lost an eye. Got to see how the other side lived. I felt I was in my element - discovering other countries & southerly latitudes. It was my last trip away in an Otter. Probably the last for many of the others, too.

Otter on return flight from Myrtle. Andy Gyorffy photo.



Family Days & Otter Exodus

Oh the Otters were still around in 1981, but their days were numbered. At the Family Day held the previous October, the Squadron got their first look at a Kiowa. Sgt Jim Greig still did one of his parachute jumps from an Otter. I missed this one in 1980 but I remember the Family Days of 1978 & 1979. Hot dogs, pop, and such were served in the Canteen for the visitors. We readied the planes on the tarmac, which took our family members up for a "fright". Photos from 1978 help to jog my memory. There's Jeff "Smithy" Smith helping to do a start on 9421. Otter 9423 is on floats. Jim Greig did his parachute jump, assisted by Mo, once he hit the ground. 
The Pipe & Drum Band, who did a march past, provided entertainment. Children were taken for rides on our mock "train". This was a wooden locomotive that fit on a mule & hauled a few cars. It said "CFB Toronto" on the front with a picture of Sparky the fire safety dog. Obviously, this was built by the base firefighters. Steve French was the "engineer" this day, assisted by Erick Steckenbourne. Steve was a Metro cop who liked big bikes & went NES (Non Effective Service, which meant that you weren't showing up enough to be effective) sometime after this & left the Reserve.

In 1979, my dad attended the Family Day event. The highlight for him was sitting in the co-pilot's seat for a ride. Wearing the helmet, listening to the radio chatter while the pilot explained what he was doing - was all very impressive for him. Now he could see why I was giving up my weekends & part of the summer, or working B Class, instead of working with him in the family business! He was so excited when they landed, having flown circles around the CN Tower.


SAR in Matagami. Andy Gyorffy photo

In mid October 1980, the last major SAR with the Otter took place. This was SAR Ryan in Matagami, Quebec. I wasn't on this search but Andy was, from Oct 17-30. His logbook & photos document the SAR. The pilots included: Major Procyshen, Capt Blatchford, Major Chuck Reed, Capt McLean, Capt Giaconelli, and Major Ken "Cash" Money on 3671. Otter 9421 was also there. Besides Andy, the other Techs included Jo "No Balls" Pilsener, Eugene Pietro, & Ollie Slobelski. A Mary Ellen of Trans Quebec Helicopters found the lost helicopter on the last day of the search, in the company of the Search Master, Capt Burger. There were no survivors.

The official hand over parade for the Kiowa took place on Nov 15, 1980. We didn't have any at that time, so 3 were borrowed from 427 Squadron, on display for the ceremony. We didn't receive our own Kiowas until Jan 20, 1981. By the beginning of 1982, the Otters were gone.

May 1981 saw the last Operation "Rubber Duck" (float Otter exercise) take place. Sgt Dick Balls put this on. Neither Andy nor I were part of this. Andy hadn't been a crewman for any of the Rubber Ducks.

During August/September 1981, the Otter's "swan song" Cross Canada Flight took place. Captain Eddie started on the East Coast & flew an Otter west to all the Provincial capitals & to all the air bases. MCpl Cam Horvath & Cpl Tom Idiott were chosen as the crewmen. I was jealous of Cam & Tom for being selected for this detail. Tom was junior to me, yet he was bestowed the honour of being aircrew. Andy was passed over for this adventure, as well.

On Dec 20, 1981, the last 400 Squadron Otter flight occurred, also flown by Capt Eddie. When that flight landed, the 21-year association with Otters ended. It was a low-performance bird, but we killed a lot less people than during the fighter days. In fact, there were no fatalities while flying the Otter! The safety record continued with the Kiowa (I believe). Which isn't to say that there weren't any fatalities involving helicopters. Wally Sweetman's death in the Sea King crash, is one example.

In January 1982, one last, long trip was flown, as a perk for the air-crewmen. They were now out of a job. The destination was Washington DC. I don't recall Andy talking about being on this trip but he has dated photos from it. One depicts snow-covered mountains against an Otter wing strut. One of a tribute to Amelia Earhart in the Smithsonian. There's shots of the Spirit of St. Louis, a Ford Tri-motor, other planes, motorcycles, and spacecraft at the museum. The Capitol building, art, statues, The Jefferson, Lincoln, & Washington monuments. And one of a snow covered White House. Andy spent a scant 2 years as a crewman from late 1979 until 1981, but 2 more years than I had. I remember some of them from my time - John Monroe, Joe Grinch, Al Cooper, Cam & Tom, Kevin Lockett and others in the RSU & 411. They have their logbooks & memories.

Many aspired to join the "Mile High Club", which was having sex while a mile high in the aircraft. Perhaps this was more legend than reality. I believe that some not only aspired to join the "Club" - a few actually did! I wasn't one of them. And with the end of the Otter, my opportunity for a future possibility vanished. A sad day, indeed!

Crashes

There were a few forced or hard landings, prangs, etc., during my time with the unit. One winter, Irwin Terrifico was test-flying Otter 3673 after an engine change. The engine failed when an oil line let go. He landed it on a snow-covered field north of Toronto. The skis caught in a ditch & collapsed, as the plane kept going. Andy was on the recovery operation, as were Cam, Rob Cooper, Rob Carr, Rick Folker, Ron Mercy, & Colin Stearman.

Colin & Cam yuck it up at the crash of 3673

On another occasion, Cam was flying with Capt McLennon (the pilot who was displaced from his room in North Bay). They were taking off at Downsview during a strong cross wind. We watched the plane as it began to lift off the runway & a strong gust caused the plane to roll. One wingtip smashed against the ground. The plane was hastily landed. Cam came down the ladder & he looked as lily white as Rob Carr did on the Myrtle Beach roller coaster. Quite a trick, considering Cam's dark complexion. He dropped to his knees & kissed the ground. Cam was visibly shaken. "Life flashing before my eyes" shaken! He excitedly stated that he thought it was game over. He got over it. Damage to the wing was minimal.

We use to get these safety notices that had graphic photos of accidents. I took them seriously. I remember the ones depicting the loss of fingers from personnel who jumped down from the cockpits of aircraft, and their rings got snagged on something. I stopped wearing rings for that reason. These notices continued with the introduction of helicopters. I recall the photo of the mangled glove & hand of a pilot who decided he could stop the rotation of a tail rotor by grabbing the rotor's spinning drive shaft after shut down. After that incident, covers were installed on the shafts. Then there were the accidents involving wire strikes with the Kiowas. Wire cutters were then installed on the top & bottom of the cockpit. The "Safety Nazis" were kept busy, for as soon as they would create a fix for one situation, someone would find a new way to injure themselves.

Mile And A Half

One of the rites of spring while working with the RSU was the annual Mile And A Half. This had nothing to do with the Mile High Club, but rather was a physical fitness run. This was a requirement that probably went back to the RCAF days & their 5BX Exercise Plan, in order to keep us in shape (sort of). On a given day, the whole unit would report to a track area & everyone would have a go. There were different time requirements for the distance, based on your age group. Being 25 years of age, I would have to run the 1.5 miles quite briskly. Whereas, someone like Jim Whiting, a RCAF era "Rigger" who was well into his forties - he could almost walk the distance & still pass, given the time allowed for him. I recall finishing my run & seeing Jim still doing laps. Sweat was pouring from his baldhead as his round frame huffed & puffed, and slowed to a snail's pace. I believe Jim passed, or else the phys-ed staff was in a good mood that day & shaved some time off of his performance.

Jim was a character. He joined as a young man in the heyday before unification. I believe he had more than 20 years in but he was a career man that knew nothing else, so had no wish to retire. He had lots of "old days" stories. He remained a bachelor & stayed in the Men's Barracks his whole career. You couldn't call him a great worker, as he clowned around most of the time. I remember him often making mock trumpet music, things like the RCAF March Past, as he swung his arms & pretended to march off to the Tool Crib in his coveralls. He often complained about CFB Moose Jaw. "You haven't been cold until you've been posted there". I remember him congratulating me & being impressed that at my tender age I was doing research on RRSPs & retirement plans. He thought I was a smart cookie for thinking about the future. Although I liked his antics, he was one of those RSU Techs that gave Toni Cardoni a hard time about her going out with Sherman, the black guy. Secretly, I hoped he had a massive coronary as he ran!

Journal Entries

For a time in 1981, I kept a daily journal documenting the events of that period. Some of these I have very little recollection of. So, if it weren't for the journal, they would be lost memories. The feelings were real at the time. Here are some of the entries…

Friday, Apr 3:

Party at Colin Stearman's home. It was a great. I had a fantastic time. Gigi Cooper was hanging around with the group more & more. April is Cancer Month. I had gotten a daffodil for a contribution. Gave Gigi the flower & a kiss. When she left, she gave me a kiss goodbye.

There was a party at Mother Marl's apartment recently. We sat on the floor in a circle & played cards.

The Honour Guard did their performance. The Guard was composed of members representing each branch of the armed forces. The Air Reserve representation was pretty much Tom Idiott & Colin Stearman. Now, we're not known for doing rifle drill. So, our guys practiced & practiced. They really got into it, determined that they wouldn't be outdone by the army & navy types. They not only held up our end, they stole the show, to the joy of our people in attendance!

Saturday, Apr 4:

Earlier in the week, Rob Cooper approached me in the Tool Crib. Grinning like the Cheshire Cat, he said that he knew someone that wanted to go with me to the Ladies Night dance on base, on April 11. I couldn't believe it. Gigi & me? Nah, really?…But she agreed! There was a party tonight at Vinny & Vicki's PMQ. Something was up, as Dave Cooper asked me at the hangar if I was going. If not to the party, then later to the Mess. It was good at the party. I wondered if she would show up with her brothers & she did. Later, a bunch of us did go to the Club. This was the first time that Gigi came to the Mess. She moved next to me after awhile. And she grabbed me to dance - twice. And those slow ones are great. I love the way she feels. Pulling me close. Her height, her head on my shoulders, long slender fingers, and her arms around me, her face, her long hair - all very appealing. She's shy, demure, quiet, and classy - like her mother. A real lady.

I didn't get a goodbye kiss tonight when she left the Club. So, I was a little disappointed after reflecting on how hot & heavy she had been with Colin on the ski weekend. I'm getting attracted to her & we're going out together next weekend.

(During the Xmas break, I had gone to the downtown Simpson's department store to buy toys for my young cousins. I could have gotten toys elsewhere, but Gigi was working in the toy department for the holidays, and I wanted to see her. I guess I had been interested since Halloween.)

Sunday, Apr 5:

Thought about calling up Gigi, but I'm afraid of being too aggressive & scarring her off. I also wonder if she's really interested in Colin. He's involved with Lynda, the blonde on base. He went with her and a bunch to the Ticker Tape in Burlington. Both Gigi & I are available. I've watched her for sometime, dreaming. I know others are as well… Carmine, forinstance. She has much to offer but she's young & fragile. Everyone needs someone, including you. Go for it! Call her Wednesday & see if she's busy.

Tuesday, Apr 7:

Chip Ray & Tony Cane dragged me out of my bed to Fletch's room in the shack. War stories & drinking until 3AM.

Wednesday, April 8:

My throat felt lousy. Bad case of the dry coughs from smoking too much (and staying up late). I was rather excited looking at the Yellow Pages for rental cars or chauffeured limos. Called Gigi about the plans for Saturday. Thought about asking her out before then, but thought it could wait till after Ladies Night. Wanted to tell her a lot of things, but kept tripping over my tongue.

Cam & I went with Chip to the Colonial on Yonge. No one else was interested in going, even though it was Chip's last night in Toronto, before heading off to Cold Lake & the Reg Force. Chip almost didn't get in. The bouncer gave him a hard time, as he was underage. Chip kept working him, telling the guy it was his last night in Toronto & his buddies have taken him out before he leaves for the army. He apparently pleaded, almost in tears. The gorilla said, "OK, go in". Chip joined us at the "drool trough", the front row beneath the stage. We did a pretty good job of showing our departing brother a good time. He got quite wasted. I wasn't much better.

One of the strippers was a ringer for my high school sweetheart. She did ballet moves like my old flame did. The more beer I drank, the greater the similarity became, to the point that I truly believed that "those are her breasts". Could her dancing career have landed her on the stage at the Colonial, instead of the O'Keefe? Somehow we managed to get Chip & ourselves safely back to the base.

Friday, Apr 10:

Helped Dougy Wilkins with work on his dad's '52 Buick, in Pickering. Has a shop beside Vicki Street. His dad is a collector with several vintage cars. He's a good guy & he said to "come over anytime". Never took him up on the offer to return for a ride.

Saturday, April 11: Ladies Night

Couldn't get the chauffeured Bentley & a Caddy was too costly with not enough pizazz. So I rented a Gran Marquis. (While the primer covered Mustang was fine enough for the boys when we went that time to the Harbour Castle Hotel - and for the doorman & valet, when they let us out & parked it - it wasn't good enough for "milady"). I inquired about a tux. Not enough notice and a heavy security deposit would have been required. Instead, saw old Mike Schiller at Malabar's Theatrical Costume Rentals. Got a set of vintage tails. Nostalgia, like Fred "I'm putting on my top hat" Astaire. Next stop was the florist for a carnation for my buttonhole & a rose for Gigi.

Picked up Gigi at the Cooper's. She looked fine in her gown. She sat quietly in the front seat with her flower. I got the laughs later, all right. Someone else wore vintage tails, too. Lockett thought our suits were a sensation, but I wasn't a sensation with Gigi. I gave her attention but wasn't all over her. Played the gentleman. Anyway, she ignored me when Colin suddenly became available.

The emotions are not quite the same now, as I write this. I've had most of my frustration & anger vented. But I was some pissed off. What a smooth scene it was! Colin ignores Lynda & they fight. Lynda storms out. Colin puts the smooth move on Gigi & she's all over him. I can see that she has no interest in dancing further with me or in leaving with me. So, in the can I ask Colin if he wants the honour of escorting the lady home. He lays this narrative on me, whereby they've already discussed the dilemma - and behold, she says that she wants to go home with him. That she wants to be his girlfriend. Tomorrow, he says he's going to see her but gallantry dictates that she should accompany me tonight. This was VERY BIG of Colin. But being the NICE GUY - I said, "you take her". Let it never be said that old Freddy Boy stood in the way of true love!

At least I figured I could slip out before the embarrassment was too much to bear. But I was slow to act. I should have flocked off immediately. But instead of leaving in a huff in front of my friends, I sat it out. Gigi had now moved to another table. I went over to relieve some of the potential friction. To tell Gigi that Colin could take her home, it was fine by me. Big gesture on my part. While I'm attempting this, she's got her head turned, like she couldn't even look at me. And Mike Robertson's giving me; "go home, Fred. Fuck off!" while I'm trying to say good night. What did I do to deserve this? "Nice friends I have", I thought. I tried to get in with the Cooper Clan et al, but I guess I missed the mark. I was pissed at the whole lot of them. I drove home to Burlington that night. Left my barrack's room open for Colin. After all that, he wanted to stay at my room! I lost my date, my place on the base, and my dignity. Quite a bargain. I cut out. Sunday I returned the car with dad's help. When we returned home that morning, we talked for some time. I'm glad I've got that old guy. Granny was in the Intensive Care Unit. Went to see her. She was relieved to see me. Tranquil. Saw her again before surgery. Monday, I took back the suit.

(Ladies Night inspired me to later write a little tune, whose Chorus went:
"What did I do to deserve this?
Did I somehow step out of line?
What did I do to deserve this?
Everything was going so fine…"

I couldn't help feeling that I was set-up in this episode. I was the dupe. Gigi engineered it with the help of her brothers to merely get her an escort to the dance. So that she could hook up with Colin. Once that occurred, I was expendable. I guess what would impress a thirty-something lady (like renting a fine ride & a tux) was laughable to a teenage girl. My opinion of her brothers changed. All the Cooper brothers never said a word about it. I had been humiliated & not one of them apologized to this "brother". Least of all, Gigi herself. Her attention & kisses ended that night. To make matters worse, she joined the unit. I'd now have to work with her. Cam would say things like she's young & she's really sorry, but she never said a word to me. I never bought it. She continued to be the cute, innocent, little thing. I began to realize that not all things that are beautiful are good, but that which is good is really beautiful. Gigi fell in the former category. I tried to avoid her in the future. She would prove to be not so sweet & burned a few folks. I only lost some pride. Others were later defrauded out of money, even family members.

The Cooper family was considered the pride of the Squadron, in most quarters. A nice home. Classy mom. All the parties they put on. An open house to all. Good citizens. Likeable brothers. Lovely sister. But it wasn't a "Leave it to Beaver" life. This incident & subsequent ones caused me to realize that all wasn't so perfect in this revered family. There were warts to cover up. Blood was thicker than water, indeed. Not one of them would say, "Buddy she screwed-up & did a number on you, man". No one had the guts to be independent. It would have meant something if Gigi had said she was sorry sometime in the future. But it wasn't the Cooper way to admit a faux pas, least of all to be sorry about it. The clan would always choose silence to ignore any indiscretions & would always stick together. Or so it seemed.

I didn't expect things to play out the way they did, Prior to that escapade; I felt that Gigi deserved respect & the best treatment. I liked the family & found her attractive. I had hoped that things might develop slowly & positively for us. I could imagine her brothers as brothers-in-law & her mom as my mother-in-law. I would have been proud of that association & would have treated her well. I was fantasizing about marriage for the first time since my high school sweetie. We could have had tall children! Gigi had made her choice but I saw Colin as a player who was still seeing Lynda & others. He wasn't much different, I thought, than Cam - other than being more silver tongued & funny. The storyteller who could stretch out a common occurrence & make it an entertaining opera. That's whom Gigi wanted.

In hindsight, I see that we're all players. Nobody knows you for your whole life. All you have are little slices of life, snippets. And the people are frozen in time in your memories, like scenes from an old movie, unchanged. They don't change or grow. But they do. I did have some attention from Gigi for a brief period. It's better to love, even if unrequited, than not to have loved.

At the time though, I felt that if she, one of the "best of the 400", could treat me so poorly, what hope was there of finding a decent, loving woman in this place? Things soured quickly for me. I wouldn't take a chance again or give my heart away. Not amongst this crowd.)

Wednesday, Apr 15:

Things weren't bad at work during the week. That's because neither Colin nor the Cooper's were around. Today was the RSU Curling Funspiel (I've recounted this episode earlier). Colin showed up with Lori from Wing. He was smashed & was all over her & made an ass of himself, swearing at the barmaid. (Lori later hooked-up with Tom Idiott. For awhile, Tom was seeing both his old girlfriend Lori from off base, as well as this Lori. It got confusing, as both were named Lori & also their last names were similar! Coincidence? Anyway, Tom & Lori would soon leave the Reserves together. It said they got involved with a marina up north & dropped out of touch of the scene).

Colin apologized to me today. He "didn't mean to take my date away from me. That was uncool". I said that she had her share in the evening, that she was all over him. I thought a Cooper would have had more savvy. Cam was right; she was too young & fickle to know any better. But a Cooper could get away with it. A "lesser" lady might have been blackballed by the whole unit as a bitch.

Thursday, Apr 16:

Wearing myself down. Got pink eye again. I got some rest after work today. Went to the TGIF "Happy Hour". Free drinks. Played cards with the boys. Left early & crashed till morning. I missed the Squadron flying night, the stand-down party & the activities afterwards at the Mess. Who cares?

Friday, Apr 17:

Got up early. Met MCpl Martine Soindon from Quebec City. A reservist at CMA until July, to improve her English. A very charming woman, who reminds me of the Acadian cousins of my buddy Dave. I wished I would have gotten her phone number, as I'd like to see more of her. I could have asked her to spend Easter with my family. I know what it's like to be in a strange place on a holiday - away from friends & family.

Ken & Deanna Mills are having a jam session tonight at their farm in Bolton. I didn't want to go to Ken's because I can't take the group's shit anymore. What am I? Repulsive? A monster? A pervite? But this was OUR evening. Ken's, Cam's, Al's (Cam's brother), and mine. This was my medium. I belong at this kind of scene. Not at formal dances. Had a great time jamming. Played "South of the Border" & other tunes. 

Brought a cassette recorder along & made a tape of us playing. You could hear Colin & the girls in the background yucking it up. I ignored Al Cooper, Mikey, Gigi, and Colin. Colin & Gigi were pretty subdued after last Saturday. It seemed like Colin was keeping his distance, rather than being the loverboy. She didn't have anything to say to me, nor I to her. Ronnie Swift, the two Coopers, Mike & Carmine all left together. Colin left with Dorothy & Cam! Strange. I like Ken & Deanna. They're great to me. It seemed that everyone was going out of his or her way to be pleasant. Al & his wife Nancy, Dorothy, Cam & Colin. Everybody but Mike. I'm gonna get that guy if he keeps up the sarcasm.

One of the guys from Ken's blue grass band took me for a spin on a skidoo. We were both pissed at this point. He took us into a wire & we were both clotheslined & knocked right off the machine. It's a ride I'll not forget! Thankfully, we were not injured.

What you can get away with is a function of who you are & whom you're with. Cam could get away with just about anything. Gigi could, too. No one spoke ill of her because she was a Cooper. They would protect this girl [not even in the unit yet] over their "brother" Corporal. Now Cam came up with a name for Mike Robertson - "The Dog Faced Boy". Mikey wasn't the most handsome guy around, it's true, but it was still cruel. If I had invented that handle, the clan would have blackballed me, even more. But Cam could get away with calling him that. Moreover, he came up with a ditty, to the tune of the first part of "House on Pooh Corner":

"Michael Robertson, he's a dog
And he looks like one, and smells like one, too"

Yep, Cam could get away with penning that & singing it in front of the group. On this occasion, I delighted in joining in! Mikey, Cam suspected, had the hots for Gigi, as Carmine & others did. He was part of the extended clan & protected her. His sarcasm was reaching my breaking point. I had only acted honourably the previous weekend. I was now on the verge of smashing his teeth in. One might be ostracized for pummeling one of the Coopers but Mikey was no more a brother than I was was. The clan may not have liked me any greater for such an act but I was feeling I had nothing to lose. And maybe gain some satisfaction. But I resisted the urge.

(Ken & Deanna would soon go their separate ways. This would create a brief, awkward period, as they both were in the Squadron. Where Deanna may have been distant before, she then became too friendly, like to the point of coming-on to me. I didn't bite. Ken became negative about her. He said something at one point like Deanna was a slut. That she was a groupie from one of his bands. It didn't seem like the best basis for a marriage, as groupies usually want ALL the boys in the band & their infatuation eventually ends. This awkward period where both parties were trying to win people to their side ended when Deanna left the Squadron. Ken stayed but the farm in Bolton was then a memory.)

Easter Weekend
Apr 18-20

Spend the weekend at home & with family in the Fort Erie area. Did some work on the motorhome. Decided to pamper myself & bought a large ghetto blaster, like the boys in Germany got. With this, I could record some of my tunes. After someone's suggestion, I dyed my hair blonde.

Tuesday, Apr 21:

Yesterday I was working with Cam in the Maintenance Bay. He kept looking at me. There was something different but he couldn't figure it out. Sometime later, with sunlight glinting on my hair, he realized that my hair colour was different. He kept wondering why I did it. I wanted some change. (These days, Cam's hair is artificially dark. He fears aging).

Spent Tuesday evening at the Mess with Tony Cane. Fletcher was there. The girls (Ronnie, Sharon, & Darlene) came after work. Ronnie told me that she's NOT Dave Cooper's girlfriend. That she put a damper on the relationship before it got out of hand. Dave & Rob Cooper are down in Texas for a vacation until the weekend. Ron Mercy was molesting the women (as normal).

Wednesday & Thursday, Apr 22 & 23:

After work at the Mess with Cam & Tony. Stayed until 7 or 8PM. Went for a cruise with Tony to Canadian Tire, then to the Sheppard Centre.

Thursday, was a quiet night at the Sqn. Went to the Disco after work. Tony borrowed a pair of my slacks so he could get in. Dougy told me there's a party at the Cooper's when Dave & Rob return. I told him I rather go to the Grease Night at the Mess. That's more my style now.

Doug, Cam & I were talking for some time. They knew I was feeling down. Doug said that Gigi has this infatuation with Colin, but some of the Coopers aren't exactly happy with that. Doug & Cam are friends. They've not fucked me-up. Despite the "collateral damage" that occurs as a consequence with being with Cam!

Colin was on the move tonight, being a drunken lout. Mike, the young French-Canadian bartender/finance guy, was saying that Cam & I were good guys, but he has no respect for Colin, after seeing his antics. While Lynda is sitting at our table, Colin moves & chats up a babe at another table. Then Cam & I observe as Lynda gets in on the game. Colin ignores her while she begins necking with this Reg Force guy, and watches for Colin's reaction. There was lots of nice tail at the Mess tonight. I found myself getting itchy.

Neither Cathy, Alex, Lorraine, nor Diane The Jugs was here tonight. However, Deb, Maryanne Holdstill's friend was. She said to give her a call sometime at Base Supply - she's in the CFB book - and we'd go some Friday to Borden to visit Maryanne.

(Maryanne was well known to all of us. She was a child-like Reg Force girl. Her hometown was Coldwater, ON, where she had a boyfriend. This didn't stop her from heavy petting & maybe more. Pilots flew her home on weekends. Not from the kindness of their hearts, I suspect! I recall a particular Cooper party, where I slept over in the basement. Maryanne was very friendly that night & stayed over, too. We cuddled & necked. Heavy petting followed & I got it in her. But then she says, "No, I've got a boyfriend", like she suddenly remembered. No? But I'm already there! I had to make an early withdrawal. I guess by the time of this journal entry, she was now posted to Borden. I didn't make the effort to see her there.)

Cam & I leave the Mess & decide to pay Cathy & Alex a visit over at the PMQs. Cam would like a 2 on 1! We sang about 4 songs on their doorstep. They weren't around. Neighbours passing by watched us. One guy joined in!

Joanne Gillies asked us in for a beer next door. We stayed for one, arguing with her young, Reg Force, guests! Fucking animals! Afterwards, we went across the street & serenaded Vinny, outside of his place. Revenge for his serenade at Myrtle Beach. Vicki came down to chew us out.

Friday, Apr 24:

Vinny & I were on drop zone. We caused the abortion of the mission by getting the truck stuck after the 2nd chute.

Saturday, Apr 25:

I got checked-off on choppers today by "Cookie" Cookson. Grease Night at the Mess. I figured it wasn't worthwhile to head over to Burlington to get proper threads, so I used what I had. Tom & Darlene, Colin & Lynda, Vinny & Vicki, the Coopers, Cam & Dorothy, etc., were there. Cathy & Alex were there, too. The bitches left alone - good. As usual, they played a little of the "let's crucify Fred" routine. Fletcher told Alex to fuck-off, on her offer to take her home. We got really polluted. Closed the place down. Fletcher found a bottle of wine & we took it to the shack.

We sang in the stairwell. Tom Idiott was asleep on Ron's couch. He took Darlene over, no doubt! I was really ill. Bucket by the bed trick.

(Alex & Cathy -or actually the Two Cathies, as both were Cathies but Alex is what everyone called the one, as it was a shortened version of her last name- were two roommates who shared a PMQ. Cathy was friendly to me but Alex was always sarcastic towards me. She had her eye on Cam)

Sunday, Apr 26:

Lockett sent Dave Cooper over to my shack room to wake Cam & I up. Cam & I slept till about 10:30. Lockett put me on rigging a float while Cam went flying. I looked & felt shitty! I tried to sleep in the parachute well but Squadron members wouldn't let me. Later in the day, Lockett reamed us out for being late, for being so ugly looking, and for our brazenness. We went to the Mess after work. Fletch & the Duty Crew from Servicing joined us there. For supper, it was decided to do a group venture to Vetere's. Fletch came with Dave & Steph Hellyer & I.

The group was then going over to the Cooper's for a beer. Ron suggested that we boogey over. So we hopped into his Olds & went. The usual bunch was there. Carmine still was mooning over Gloria & me over Gigi. We watched the movie "The Cassandra Crossing".

Monday, Apr 27:

I just wanted to relax after work. Instead, I went downstairs to the snake pit to get some smokes. I ended up pulling an 11 PM stay. Carl Jurgens, Ron Mercy, and Frank Dixon were there. Ron bought us a round then disappeared to Eaton's to his part-timer. Carl talked at length about overseas, about the women of Denmark. Fascinating! Fletch, Doggerty, & Tom came by. Fletch & I was left. Both of us talked again about how lousy this place is. I told him about the Ladies Night fiasco.

(It's ironic that Ron & I were both living in the shack at this time & complained regularly about how much we hated life at Downsview. I was surprised to find out that Fletcher missed the place so much after he retired from the RSU, that he ended up joining the Air Reserve & served as a Warrant for many years!)

Tuesday, April 28:

I was in my room, playing guitar when Cam startled me by walking in. He came to pick up his uniform. Earlier I sat with Doug for supper at the Mess. He crashed in my room for awhile, while I played. He liked some of the tunes I did. The mellow stuff, like the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood". Cam had found out from Doug where I was & came over. We went back to the Mess. The GMT's were there. Gloria & Ronnie danced with Cam & I, while we were trying to chat-up Diane The Jugs. Cam & I later spent a great deal of time working on her in his car. He thinks we can get something going with her & her friends - Cheryl & Lynn. Maybe even with her older sister!

Wednesday, Apr 29:

My last day at the RSU. We got float 9404 ready by lunch. Dick Balls gave me the afternoon off to do clearances, and gave me tomorrow off to boot. So Carmine - his last day, too - and I were going around getting signatures and I was getting myself signed off on a slew of things. Greg MacGreggor went out of his way to sign my 5's. It was nice. Dick said he had a feeling I would be back. I told him it would only be as an Officer.

Saw Diane at supper. It was steak night. Told her we'd have to party & to call up her friends. Afterwards, I went for a ride up to Maple. Maple Air Service's airstrip has expanded in my 4-year absence. I was kind of surprised that it was still there. Wonderland should be quite the park, once it's done. The grounds looked a little disappointing from the road. Smaller than I expected. I've got to get back into flying & get out golfing.

Tonight I met the boys at the Northgate club. We met Pauline & Peggy, a couple of young ladies. Colin got along with them famously.

Sunday, May 3:

My last day in the shack. Moving day. I felt kind of sluggish. I took my time packing & leaving.

Wednesday, May 6:

Back at the Northgate. Colin said the broads were bringing a friend & wanted Cam & I to come with him. Dud city. This chick, Peggy, wanted to know if we could make it to a toga party she was having. I had to be in Borden that day. Cam said he didn't go either.

(It was strange but being immersed in the military lifestyle, I was finding "normal" civilian girls uninteresting. They couldn't relate to our reality. I preferred girls that were in our environment - even if they might be with your buddy next week. I recall meeting a couple of nurses while out with Cam. Had a phone number but never pursued them. They were good for laughs that night at a club. But the thought of going out on regular dates, just didn't fly at the time. It was only after I got out of the environment, that civilian women were appealing. In hindsight, I see that women outside the military treated me far better, than those inside it. Especially when you consider Kinky Sue & Gigi.)

Thursday, May 7:

My last Thursday at the Mess Disco. At least for awhile. I'd soon be starting summer courses at McMaster. I'm not doing Summer Camp this year, so they won't see me until fall. Everyone was super tonight. Lorraine gave me her phone number. Tienne was warm & we danced a lot (Lorraine & Tienne were regulars that I knew at the Mess). Even Alex said something peculiar.

She wanted a slow dance at one point and whispered in my ear, "Fred, you're so cool". I thought she was being sarcastic, as usual, and said something about not appreciating her & Cathy's little digs & put-downs. She got serious & said that she didn't mean it that way at all. That she's "never said anything to deliberately put me down". It seems that she was always just trying to get my attention.

Darlene dancing with me REAL CLOSE topped off the evening. She cut in on Gloria for the last dance. We clowned about the upcoming weekend of the Annual Shoot would be OUR weekend. It was one of my best evenings at the Mess.

(The journal entries end at this point).

Annual Weapons Shoot


Freddy K in the butts
Every year we either flew or were bussed to Borden for the Annual Shoot. I have photos from my first one & that's the one I remember best. Militia types conducted the operation & made sure we safely fired the weapons. 
Angie Kadonis & Oleh Slobelski on the range
This consisted of three small arms at the time: the FN rifle, the 9mm pistol, and the sub machine gun (SMG). These were done on various ranges. You laid down on the rifle range but stood on the pistol & SMG ranges. The target on the FN range was a large bull's eye that we took turns in the "butts" operating the target, working the machinery that raised or lowered the target. On the other ranges, the target was the caricature of an ugly looking hun, that you didn't mind blasting the shit out of! 

Chas Horvath approaches his target on the rifle range

There was a competition amongst our Squadron & a trophy involved. I recall just finishing shy of Chas Horvath. Our esteemed pilot won that year & received the title of marksman. I recall the Militia Sargeant at the end having us swear an oath that we had no live rounds or spent cartridges in our possession. I guess accountability for ammo was a big thing.

The pistol range



Freddy firing the FN






More Women Encounters

Darlene
Darlene Leech had been hanging out with Tom Idiott, but I guess that relationship was waning. May 9th was the Shoot at Borden & we were both there. Can't recall much about it, other than Darlene continued to get friendly and we spent time together. At one point, the young lady had me over to their PMQ. Her parents were out; Dan was probably at work at the RSU. We had a hot & heavy session on the couch, with Darlene stripping down. I remember fondling her young, perky breasts. It didn't get much beyond that, as she had her girly limits. Our relationship didn't blossom, as she moved on to Scott Irvine, the young RSU Private.

Cam also had a liaison with her sometime during this period. He told me about eating her out, but that's as far as she would let him go. I remember some jealousy about her choosing Scott as a suitor, but then they were closer in age. When Scott was first posted to the RSU, I remember him as a pretty good guy. He lived in Orangeville & had a girlfriend there. He had Cam & I visit with them there. He liked to drink, toke, & party. For awhile, we took him under our wing. After some time, I gave up on Scott. He developed that "Reg Force attitude", whereby he saw himself as superior to Reservists & talked down to them. This immature kid that didn't know shit about anything. More often, he was becoming an embarrassing drunken lout. So when he & Darlene became an item, it wasn't long before he beat her to a pulp during one of his drunken stoupers. She most likely left the Reserve after that. I did feel sorry for her, but that was her choice - and she didn't choose wisely, romantically speaking.

The Two Cathies

I use to see the "Two Cathies" at the Mess a lot. They were a tag team that was complete opposites. First was Cathy the blonde. She was a civilian that worked at Ronson, the lighter company. She was a tad heavy, had big boobs, wore glasses, and was the quiet, gentle one. Cathy was single & lived the other Cathy (who was known as Alex) in her PMQ. Alex was the military lady who was divorced or separated & they shared the place with Alex's kids. Alex was dark haired, tall & extremely thin, and almost had no boobs. I think she was a phys-ed instructor, or maybe her ex was, but she was athletic. Alex also differed in personality from her cohort. While Cathy was lady-like, Alex was more of a tomboy - loud, tough, hardened, and irritating.

I came to know this odd duo & Cathy took a liking to me. It was a "no strings" relationship, but Cathy seemed to want more than just a Mess friendship. Anyway, I recall that Alex took a liking to Cam. She wanted me to introduce her to him, and then to bring him along for a visit at their PMQ. Cam obliged. So, one night we partied at their place. It ended up with Cam & Alex adjourning to Alex's bedroom, while Cathy & I had sex on the downstairs couch. Due to the space, we did it on our sides. Cam was pleased with the set-up. No relationship developed, as both he & Alex were content just to have the one fling with each other. Although there was some joking afterwards about the possibility of a threesome with this pair, or the potential of swapping partners.

Cathy was a pleasant lady, but I had no desire to become a couple, or for her to be too clingy. So, I kept a distance afterwards. This caused Alex to increase her sarcasm & digs at me. Until that night that I described above, dancing at the Mess during my last days on base. It seemed that Alex liked me after all, just had a funny way of showing it. Since Cathy & I weren't serious and Cathy had moved on, she started to come-on to me in a manner that I liked. Sometime later in the year, she asked me over to her place. Cathy was out & the kids were asleep. So, she took me to her bedroom & we got it on. She was quiet & submissive. Her small breasts weren't a concern for me, as I never was a boob man. I recall putting her slender legs together & straddling her. At the time, I felt like she & Cathy must have compared notes about me, as her behaviour was so agreeable. As with Cam, she didn't need anything other than a one-night stand. We remained friendly to each other.

I talked to Cam about it afterwards. I felt quite proud of myself. In this instance, I had one on Cam - I had BOTH roommates. That was something that he hadn't accomplished! And it happened without my really trying. It was a big boost to the ego.

Diane Mueller

Diane was a foxy nymph. She was an Admin Clerk, petite with long red hair, which she often put into a bun. She was known for "Dirty Dancing" long before that movie came out. This sensuous dancing caused a few of the women in the unit to be jealous of her. She had her share of base & Summer Camp romances. I know of a few. I wasn't one of them, but truth be known, I would have liked it. I remember that she got a full time job at the base switchboard. It was kind of appropriate that she was then an operator! I can still picture her wearing a headset, while she made connections. I distinctly remember being at her room for some reason, while she was getting her self dressed to go out. She was in a nightgown. We talked while she sat & brushed her long hair. In its own way, an intimate, sensual moment. During my waning days at the Reserve, she was seeing a firefighter on base. They were a likable couple & I remember being friendly with both of them. You could always count on Diane for a dance at the Mess.

Grinch's Witch

There was another redheaded woman that I desired. I don't recall her name, so let's call her Jane. She was a friend of Joe Grinch & his wife. We were first introduced to her at one of the Grinch's Christmas parties. She wore black leather, which contrasted with her fiery hair. There was something about her, the way eyes looked at you & the way she smiled. It was if she had an aura around her. She seemed to radiate confidence, grace, & sexuality. She was captivating. She captured the attention of many of the men. Joe liked her but said that she was kooky, as she believes herself to be a witch! At some point I spoke with her about herself.

Jane confirmed that she was a practicing witch! But there was nothing evil about what she does. It was "white magic". As followers of Wicca, she attempted to become attuned with the forces of nature for good purposes, such as love, peace, and harmony with nature. It sounded like "New Age" philosophy. There were no sacrifices involved in their beliefs, no curses, or hexes. She said that they celebrated astrological events, such as the lunar cycles & the changes of seasons. They had large gatherings in the States, where they came together to pay tribute to the spring equinox, then they all would find a partner & go into the woods & make love! Well, this was fascinating! I welcomed the opportunity to indulge in that with her!

We had seen Jane a couple of times at functions. I became increasingly intrigued in this woman. I dug out my tarot cards & wore amulets, then read a book on her witchcraft, as a result of her influence. But anything further with Jane never did gel for me. I didn't get a phone number & she stopped coming around with the Grinch's. I have wondered what became of "Joe's Witch". Maybe they didn't bring about peace in the world, but you have to start with one person: yourself.

Airshows

We went to a lot of airshows in those days. Sometimes, our own aircraft were a part of a show & performed in them. But even if there wasn't a Downsview presence, we went to them. There were a few that we tried to make like clockwork, as these were the best local ones. These were the London Show (in early June), the Hamilton Show (on Father's Day weekend in later June), and the Toronto Show (on Labour Day weekend). A few times a bunch of us loaded-up in Joe Grinch's van & made a day trip to London.

The London shows were known for the number of military aircraft in attendance & the huge static display. What was great about London was that a number of great air force planes were parked so that you could inspect them close-up, even the ones that took to the air. I was very excited one time to have a tour inside a RAF Vulcan bomber. While we checked out the innards, the crew said that they'd have to end it then, as it was their turn to perform. They buttoned it up, started, then took off & performed their routine. Great stuff.

The Hamilton shows were known for the vintage warbirds. The Canadian Warplane Heritage with its fine flying collection are based there. Often there would be other antique military planes from the likes of the Confederate Airforce from Texas, or the WW I replicas from the Great War Flying Museum from Brampton. The Hamilton show regularly had themes, such as a salute to the RAF Bomber Command & the large number of bombers would stage mock bombing runs, complete with pyrotechnics. In the 1990's, one of the CWH's old WW II hangars burned down, taking some of the aircraft, like the Hurricane, with it. The Lancaster was spared. I joined the CWH for a few years after that, trying to recapture some of the love I had for aircraft in my Reserve days. But the CWH's new hangar didn't quite have the nostalgia as their old ones did. Until recently, I tried to make the Hamilton show each year & reminisce about the Reserve days. Sadly, there wasn't an airshow in 2002, as weather caused them to lose money over the years and so they cancelled it. I do miss it.

The Toronto shows were the most awesome. I still have a few programs from the Canadian International Air Shows that we viewed. They had a variety of aircraft types. In 1979, Oscar Boesch made one of his usual appearances in his glider, to the sound of the words from the poem "High Flight". There were also the Snowbirds, Tomcat, Eagle, F-16, A-10, Our own Otters, Voodoos, CAF Skyhawks parachute team, CWH warbirds, wing walkers, the RAF Vulcan & Nimrod, and the Concorde. The 1981 show was also impressive. Besides the Snowbirds, there were the Pitts Specials of the Canadian Reds, an Aurora, C5-A Galaxy, Sea Stallion chopper, B-52, CAF 707, CF-100's (one of 414's final shows), F-14 & F-15, SR-71 Blackbird, U-2 spy plane, Voodoos, Acrojet, Hughes 500D, and our own Kiowas. Wow! You won't see such a collection these days. We were in the market for a new fighter aircraft at the time, so all the main players were displaying their jet fighter product at the Canadian air shows. I bet the F-18 made an appearance the following year.

Downsview was also an exciting place while the CIAS was on. Many of the military aircraft lined our tarmac. I have photos from the 1981 show, when we parked & towed those fighter jets, Nimrod, Sea Stallion, & others. It actually felt like an airbase!

{air1.jpg - The Flight Line at Downsview during the Toronto Airshow 1981.}

[air2.jpg, air3.jpg, air4.jpg - towing an F-15 Eagle at Downsview.}


Thankfully I wasn't present at the Toronto shows where planes crashed in Lake Ontario. Over the years, the CWH lost their Fairey Firefly, the Snowbirds lost a couple of Tutors, and then there was the Nimrod disaster. With recent high fatalities at air show crashes (including one in Ukraine as I write this) I believe the liability insurance & lawsuits may result in air shows being just a memory. The Hamilton show now is just that.

London Trips

I also remember my first trip to the London show. I believe Mike Robertson may have had a hand in organizing this group trip, as this was his hometown. The group stayed for the weekend at the downtown Holiday Inn. We had dinner at a downtown steak house. The Saturday show was spectacular. The Snowbirds made their customary appearance. That night, we ended up at a local club. Cam & I met a couple of friendly ladies, who were nurses. It seemed there was a nursing school in town, as the place was ripe with them (London being more than just the insurance city). Anyway, Cam & I conned these ladies. When they asked about us, one of us (I can't remember who) said that we were Snowbird pilots in town for the show. We played off each other so well that they bought it & were mesmerized! We said that we were numbers 5 & 9 & we did the solo act, the two of us screaming towards each other & then banking vertical so that we just pass feet from each other. We described "our" start-up ritual, how we did things in synchronized precision, like closing our canopies, pulling out & taking off, then some of the formations. They bought it hook, line & sinker! They sat & danced with us all evening.

While dancing, the girls asked if the group of buddies at another table were also Snowbirds. I said, "No, they're our ground crew", loud enough to be heard. This didn't go over well with them. It's tough to remember just who were all there. I believe it was Joe, Doug, Mikey, Dave & Al Cooper. They threw sarcasm our way. They were just jealous that we had dates. I believe it was Joe who threatened in confidence to expose our pilot charade. But he was bigger than that. We drove the ladies home to their college. We didn't get intimate. Perhaps just as well, as we'd be scoring under false pretenses. It wasn't the first time that someone wasn't exactly truthful about who they are at a bar. We joked about the ladies coming to see "our" show on Sunday & finding out the guys climbing into the cockpits weren't us! Luckily, we didn't run into them there! I also remember visiting Mike's mom at her house with Mikey & others.

There was also a motorhome trip to the London show in the early 1980's. Cam & I went for the weekend with an old buddy of mine, Ed. We'd overnight with the RV at Fanshawe Conservation area. Driving over to the airport for the show. We even took the RV to some club where we met a few bimbos. I recall taking them via the RV to a late night restaurant that had a buffet, then dropping the wenches off. On the trip home, Ed had us drop him off at the side of the road. He said he'd find his way home but had something to do. Ed was a strange duck & was getting stranger.

Eddie-The-Axe

I had known Ed since public school. In high school, together we learned about girlfriends, driving, and fixing cars, etc. I looked more like his brother than his brothers did. Cam had met Ed on the odd occasion but not for an entire weekend. It was sometime after the RV trip to London that Ed snapped. For years after high school, those of us that knew him thought that Ed wasn't growing up. He still did goofy things & acted like he didn't remember doing them - particularly when he had wronged you, he acted like it hadn't happened the next time you saw him. It turns out that he was schizophrenic. This was only diagnosed after he had tried to kill a cop.

He had this big 1960 Jaguar saloon, the kind of stately old car with a bar in back. It broke down a lot. It did the night Ed appeared at some guy's door. Ed asked the fellow if he had any gasoline. The fellow helps him with some. Ed reappears at the door & now asks for matches. The fellow gives him a book of matches but now is suspicious. He watches as Ed takes an axe from his car & begins chopping at the car & an adjacent hydro pole. Next, Ed pours gas on the car & pole. He then takes a match & sets both ablaze. The Good Samaritan decides he had better get the cops. The first arriving cop gets Ed to calm down & put the axe on the cruiser. While the cop talks on his radio, Ed suddenly grabs the axe & plants it in the cop's back & elbow. The wounded Constable manages to shoot Ed in the foot before staggering away & collapsing. This only enrages Ed. When reinforcements appear, he threatens to kill another cop, "like I killed the first one". They run him over with a cruiser & still it takes nine of them to subdue him. (Ed was known to require half a dozen bouncers to throw him out of a tavern).

After this, Ed was known as "Eddie The Axe". He spent seven or so years in psychiatric institutions. His mental illness spared him from attempted murder charges but instead he was held indefinitely on a Lieutenant Governor's Bench Warrant - which meant he was confined until he was deemed safe to society. Initially, he was incarcerated at the Oak Ridge Division in Penetang. I visited him a couple of times. It was a shock. The security was intense. They took photos of the visitors, to ensure that the same people left. You were searched - no keys, metal objects, matches, etc. Heavy steel bars were everywhere. Ed's cell was Spartan, with metal toilet & sink. When he was violent or uncooperative, he was placed in a padded room, naked, with nothing but a slab to sleep on. When his privileges were revoked, he found novel ways to write me letters, such as using juice for ink. He took up smoking due to the boredom.

After one visit, I recall going to a club in Hamilton. A guy approached me & thought I was Ed. "Hey, Ed Dazzleme, how's it going. It's me, Gerry Hill", he said. No matter how much I denied that I was not Ed but Fred, he kept thinking I was pulling his leg. When I told him that I knew him, what had happened to him, and where he was now, he really believed I was making it all up! It was an un-nerving encounter. I cursed my resemblance to Ed.

After several years, Ed's condition improved. E was moved to more minimum-security facilities, first at St. Thomas, then the Ontario Hospital in Hamilton. He was like a lamb in Hamilton - very mindful of the rules, as long as he took his medications. His family worked hard to get him released. Once he was, he became a pain. He dropped by all the time. He gave my wife the creeps. When he didn't take his meds, the worry was that he would snap again. A walking time bomb. He got another psychiatric patient pregnant, then was charged for assaulting her. His family disowned him.

You could tell when he was incarcerated; the collect calls would begin. When he was released, he'd show up on the doorstep with other deranged friends. A firefighter colleague was close to Ed's younger brother. The harassment by Ed became such that this fireman had to move & get an unlisted number. I haven't heard from Ed in a few years. We prefer it that way. Sometimes, you have to let go of friends from the past. Ed blamed family, women, everyone else for his problems. But never himself. There never was any remorse for the injured cop, who was nearly paralyzed.

Peelers

We knew ALL the Toronto area strip joints in those years. For awhile, we were regulars at some. There was the Million Dollar Saloon, which had a shower for the girls to do a wet & wild act. Also the Airport Strip, Cannonball, someplace close by on Finch near Dufferin. Then there was the Colonial on Yonge (where we took Chip for his last night), another place off University called the House of Lancaster (which had a boxing ring type stage). Another place west of the base around Weston & Sheppard in an industrial area. It was here that I recall Huey giving his beret to a lady who was a former Israeli army conscript, to wear on stage. Every time I hear that Seeger tune - "Here I am on the road again, here I am up on the stage" - I picture some of the many women we saw, doing their third & final dance as a rug number on the floor. "No not the rug! Anything but the rug!" I would often say! With all those youthful hormones pumping, I wasn't the only one who was often aroused & couldn't leave my seat!

There was a headliner that a number of us liked & we followed her to a few of her venues. Her name was Bonnie Sue Connor. She was a young, gorgeous blonde with ample tits. Andy & Joe were big fans. Andy liked seeing the big chested ones. Andy got one of her autographed 8x10 B&W glossies. Going to see Bonnie Sue was another one of those outings that a bunch of us packed Joe's van. Good times. Sometimes we'd go en masse to the peelers; other times it was just a few of us, like Cam or Andy & I.

{bonnie.jpg - Our favourite headliner...Bonnie Sue. Andy's autographed 8x10.}

There was a period in the early 80's that Cam was a fixture at one of the places near his Cabbagetown apartment. I recall visiting him there, maybe it was at the Horseshoe, and all the strippers knew him. Cam was a special customer for one girl & he got her to table dance for us. She had a shawl that she held over themselves, while she put her nipples or pussy against his face. He was a charmer! It was also during this time frame that Cam & Tom Idiott were cruising the streetwalker area of Church & Jarvis streets, picking up hookers. I knew about the hookers. As a student, I drove cab part-time. I'd pick-up hookers & their Johns from the Warwick Hotel (where they made contact) and run them over to the better rooms at Larry's Hideaway on Carleton. It was only a dollar fare, but it was steady business! Cam gave me all the details of how they made contact, parked in an alley, the girls applied rubbers, then gave them blowjobs in the car. I believe the going rate back then was $20, but they'd dicker.

When Cam came to visit me at my home, I'd take him to some of the local strip clubs in Hamilton. Hanrahan's is still there; there was also the upscale Bannister's downtown. When I first started with the Fire Department, a lot of us went to the peelers regularly after work. But that practice, like many others, faded away with time. Mortgages, children, and a lack of interest ended it for many of us.

Dance clubs were also a popular activity. In the early '80's we visited places like Misty's at one of the hotels on the Airport Strip. The Harbour Castle down on the water had another disco with an elaborate light show. There was the Northgate or Ports, mentioned earlier. And I remember that the Hotel Triumph at Keele & Wilson had a disco I visited a few times. Other places from the period were the Jolly Miller, The Gasworks down town on Yonge, the Generator uptown at Eglinton, and the infamous Brunswick Hotel - a popular dive for the college crowd. Out of town, Cam & I made a few trips to Lulu's in Cambridge. They use to get big nostalgia acts, like Herman's Hermits playing there. People would come by the busload. The bar was supposedly the longest in the world. I recall passing out in the parking lot on one visit & in the john on another. Fun - wow! There were also places in Niagara Falls, NY that we frequented. Mostly with my buddies from Hamilton, as it was closer for us. The Library & The Bakery come to mind. One of these had a barber's chair & if you were brave enough to take a seat in it, they poured copious quantities of booze down your throat. The other place had phones at each table, so you could contact people at other tables without leaving your seat. Nice gimmick.

My Apartment

By 1981, I had given up my apartment. I use to share a 2 bedroom in the high rise at Keele & Sheppard with my York U roommate, Doug. He was short & slight with a premature receding hairline. A bit older than myself, he wore glasses & usually sported a beard. I respected Doug. He was very cerebral & a good listener. Although somewhat a social misfit, he was also cool. At an earlier apartment we shared, he rebuilt his 500 cc Triumph bike in our living room. In the early '70's, he thumbed across Canada & spent time in Vancouver's Gastown area, during the period when acid could be ordered in a restaurant like an entrée off the menu. I also remember returning to live together after the summer hiatus to find that he had lost the tips of his fingers from his left hand due to an accident with a saw at his summer job in a cabinet shop. He couldn't play guitar chords with that hand any longer, so he simply re-strung his guitar & learned to finger with his right hand, like Jimmy Hendrix. There was no sorrow from Doug; he just adapted to life.

{apartment.jpg - Freddy K chilling on the balcony at his apartment, Keele & Sheppard.}

Doug liked to toke on occasion. It didn't take Cam & a few others long to find that I had a pad close to the Base that was conducive for doing joints. So it was that Cam would come by and sometimes so would Shag Nasty. Doug had a great stereo. He had this ritual where he would wipe down a record with a brush & cleaning fluid, then very gently have the tonearm descend on the vinyl. We'd sit and pass the joint around while listening to albums.

Doug talked about the "information age" & the "information highway", long before they became popular terms. There was the one summer when we kept the apartment, rather than moving back to our homes. I grew a beard after the Summer Camp. I have a photo of myself playing guitar on the balcony barefoot. Doug & I watched the progress as they converted a golf course behind the building into a sub-division. We gave up the apartment when I began to live on Base. He went back to school for computer science. He helped his dad build a solar house. He took a six-month trip & traveled across Africa. Last I heard, the computer firm he worked for let him go & he was looking at selling vacation packages. It's been many years.

Shag Nasty

I first met Al at the Summer Camps in North Bay. He was with 411 Squadron. At the one Camp, he & Joanne "No Balls" Pilsener were an item. I had difficulty pronouncing his name (it was supposedly French). When I repeated it, it came out as "Shag-Nasty". This caused laughter to those present & the name stuck. He was also sometimes referred to as "Shaggy Al". He was long & lean, really skinny. His hair was cropped short & he often looked at you through squinty eyes, like that character from "Third Rock". Squadron mates use to kid that he had no neck - his shoulders always seemed to be hunched upwards & his chin was in his chest. His body always seemed to be in motion, as he walked, strutted, & bobbed like a black guy. He also liked to talk like a street-wise black guy, saying expressions like "what it is?" etc. Personality wise, I thought Shaggy was groovy & fun.

He loved airplanes & could recognize all the vintage warbirds. He built a ton of models when he was younger. I recall attending a party at Al's parent's home. Al caught hell from his father because someone messed with his dad's electric razor. Al was bent out of shape over who would steal parts from it while in the bathroom? He didn't host anymore parties.

Al also liked to toke joints regularly. This fact put Shag Nasty in Cam's good books as it was a common interest and Cam liked partyers. So Cam & Shaggy would drop by my apartment, one or the other bringing some joints. I'd put the Rolling Stones "Shattered" on the stereo. Al too liked the song & we'd laugh & get into it, while we ourselves became shattered. "Huh sha dooby, shattered, shattered…my brains have been splattered, all over Manhattan…this town's full of money grabbers…go ahead, bite the Big Apple…don't mind the maggots."

It was during one of these sessions that somehow Rob Carr also ended up with them at the apartment. Rob, besides being scared on roller coasters, was also extremely square & I suspected was a little slow. He was the closest thing we had to redneck "trailer trash". He had no tolerance for anything outside of his little world. Such matters as homosexuals or drugs threatened his beliefs. Anyway, one of the lads decided that we should turn-on straight Rob to the mellowness of cannabis. He wasn't big on the idea & refused as the joint passed his way. He succumbed to curiosity & our goading & took a couple of hits. All seemed well, that is until Rob snapped. The grass affected this first-timer quickly. He became very loud & agitated.

His face got red & his eyes went wide. He began to scowl & yell things like, "This shit is supposed to make you high? Make you more of a man? I'm an athlete", he screamed. He shot up & then grabbed the chair he was sitting on and flung it up on his shoulder. "I feel like throwing this chair through the balcony window! I'm an athlete; I get high on sports. I don't need this shit". Then he lunged towards the balcony. We restrained him. He was panting & had that far away stare. We got him to put down the chair & to chill. I was glad when he was gone. He was spoiling the good vibe. But then Rob had a way of doing that.

Bob & The Stolen Bottle

Misfortune followed Rob Carr like a black cloud. I remember Ken's story about the time Rob was drunk and he got his car stuck in a snow bank. While people lifted the car and he attached a towline, the car came down on his balding head! Then there was the time he was drinking with Ron Mercy & Ron smashed Bob's head into a urinal for no reason. God had it in for Bob. But sometimes, Bob's actions would impact on others. Such it was one disco night at the Mess.

Everything was fine until the drunken Carr decides to steal a bottle of booze from behind the bar. Mike, the bartender I knew, must have spotted someone grab it from the corner of his eye, then lost the perpetrator in the crowd. He quickly searched the room & found the bottle under a table where several of our mates sat. Everyone there denied knowledge of the theft. Mike gave them the opportunity for the guilty party to fess-up. Bob just sat there, stupefied. I recall going over to Mike to try & diffuse the situation, but he was pissed by their silence. He called in the MPs. Several of our people were taken to the MP shack for interrogation. I believe that Dave Cooper & Dougy Wilkins were among them and spent a few hours there. Eventually, either someone ratted on Bob or he confessed. When they returned to the Mess later, they didn't want to talk about the ordeal. I don't know if Bob was fined or banned from the Mess for awhile. The group could have ostracized Rob, but it was just another bonehead move on his part. I think he joined the Reg Force later on. God bless him & God help us.

The Army Summer Camp

Summer Camp resumed in 1981. But it was vastly different. It was held in Petawawa with the choppers. Apparently, the squadrons lived in tents & had to perform guard duty on the helicopters with rifles. Living, working, & eating "in the field" didn't appeal to me. I dodged this Camp but heard all about it when the squadrons resumed activity at Downsview in the fall. This may have been the summer that members also participated in chopper exercises with the US Army at Fort Drum, NY. I know that Ron Collins from 411 was one of them, as he talked about the experience. This summer I was promised Germany (again). Instead, I signed up for courses at McMaster in Hamilton to complete my BA. It was great to be living at home & seeing old high-school friends. Also nice to dry out from all the drinking I would otherwise be doing!

Following the Group

The parties went on. The group had numerous outings. The gang was getting larger with younger players. Dave Cooper was still chasing Ronnie Swift. His brother Rob was pursuing the young Yolanda. Cam was doing the young Mary-Sue. She didn't cling to him & he liked that. Gigi & Colin were an item. You could follow the group to Cypress Lake Provincial Park. Dave & Dougy liked going there. But I felt that the group didn't care if some of us came or not, just that the RV gave them an indoor bathroom for those in tents. A couple of times I followed the group. Andy & I went with them to see the Bill Murray movie "Stripes". I recall it well. The "urban assault" RV piqued my interest. As did "the spatula treatment". Mud wrestling was also featured in the movie. Perhaps this is what gave Colin an idea later on for the Spring Slop? I remember the clan was going to see "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". I had already done this cult phenomenon with the university crowd. More often, I was declining to follow the crowd. There was nothing there for me. The likes of Andy & I had little influence on the group.

On Thanksgiving, Ken, Cam & I took the RV to MacGreggor Point Provincial Park on Lake Huron, along with my dog. The name had significance, reminding us of Greg MacGreggor in the RSU. It felt great playing guitar with this small bunch of guys & going to a place that was my idea. The group would later follow each other to cottage country. Not my cup of tea - getting a cottage just to stay close as northern neighbours.

The Mock Court Martial

It was just another flying weekend. We had lunch at the Mess. Back at the hangar, it became obvious that a few personnel had not returned from lunch. Kevin Lockett (who by now probably attained the rank of Warrant Officer) was concerned with this tardiness. He said curtly to Dave Cooper & I, "Come with me". We returned to the Mess. There in the bar sat Mo, Cam & Tom Idiott, all drinking. Lockett said to Dave & I that we were to note who & what we saw. He then ordered the three amigos to accompany us back to work.

A flurry of activity ensued. I was advised that I was to testify in Court-Martial proceedings. My three colleagues were being charged with drinking on duty or some such charge. I sat outside the "Court Room" awaiting my summons. When I was brought in, I was ordered to answer questions. I felt awful at the prospect of ratting-on my buddies. I had considered playing stupid, making statements like "I don't recall", when asked what I had seen. But Lockett knew exactly what I saw & probably would put me on charges for perjury. So I made light of these proceedings. When asked to identify who had been at the Mess, I pointed assertively at each & said, "Him, him, & him! That's them all right! My God, they were DRINKING". I managed to make the accused smirk. I was dismissed. When all was said & done, the sentence was a mere warning. Not an official reprimand. Not a fine of so much as a day's pay. Nothing! They put us through that ordeal just to put the fear of God into three of their favourites. I kept thinking of the position they put me into. What a farce this was. The RSU handled the tardiness after lunch issue - without the theatrics. Had I lied on the stand, they might have come down hard on me, while these three went unscathed. Everyone laughed about it afterwards. But I didn't think it was so funny. Particularly, in light of events that followed.

Chopper Pilot Candidates

It was announced that pilots were needed for the helicopters & candidates would be selected for the Short-Short Program. I had hoped this would happen. I made it known that I was thrilled at the prospect. When the selection was made public, it was unbelievable. At least for me. The squadron chose Mo, Tom, and Cam - the same three who had become cocky, took liberties, and had been "charged"! It was deemed that they had the "right stuff", not the witnesses (the defenders of the faith) like Dave Cooper or I. But then it all made sense. The squadron couldn't put any black marks on the guys who would soon be our honoured pilots. Their selection had already been a done deal, so the Mock Court Martial was just to get them to straighten up & fly right. They would be our Officers & gentlemen.

The irony was that all three declined the offer! Neither one was interested in flying & giving up 16 months to the training. The chosen ones told them to stick it. Perhaps that farce of a Court-Martial backfired on the powers-that-be? Maybe the three were pissed at the embarrassment? So, rather than choosing alternates, giving some of us another chance, 400 Squadron decided that they wouldn't sponsor anyone. No one else was worthy, or so was the message given.

This was an incredible letdown. At the end of 1981, it was also clear that I wouldn't be considered as an Engineering Officer Cadet for the Squadron either. Rejection had become a way of life there.

I remember being in charge of a group of GMT Privates in Servicing during the Otter period. I believe that Rob Cooper was part of the bunch. Sgt Jim Train couldn't come up with anything more creative for them to do than to sweep the hangar, again. After the third time, the group's morale was lousy. They thought they were being punished. I suggested to the Sarge that I could do some meaningful training on an APU, something, and anything, to make them feel they were accomplishing something. He'd have no part of it. He ordered me to have them sweep, "because I told you so", or there would be consequences. That drunk who had lost his driver's license wouldn't entertain any ideas, simply because he had the power to make people miserable. There was yelling & I did it under protest. Even in the Fire Service, I continued to look after my crew. It's not "chain of command" or "policy & procedures" that gets you out of a burning building; it's your crew. Rank has its privileges but not simply for you. For the well being of your crew.

Maybe this incident gave me a reputation of being an obstinate malcontent. Perhaps. I just knew that a lot of Privates didn't stick around. We had a way of discouraging, rather than encouraging people - unless you were someone's relative, a good partyer, etc. - we'd un-motivate the motivated. The RSU were professional & relaxed airmen, while at the squadrons people played at being airmen.

Those that used the experience here as a stepping stone to being pilots, they went on to bigger & better things. Private Rahman in that group who swept the hangar, he quit & went on to the RAF as a pilot. But if you stayed here, you were pegged, your loyalty put you in a box, and you went nowhere.

Author's Note 2011: I have one more unfinished chapter "1982 & Beyond". Hopefully I will have it posted before the end of this year. 

Cheers, Freddy K