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Doing the RSU Shuffle

By Fred Kuzyk. Copyright 2001, Freddy The K Communications. No reproduction without permission.

Doing The RSU Shuffle

One of the tunes that Cam & I played on guitar & sang from the period. The words have significance for me, as many of the people I never saw again.

There was one afternoon while I was living on base that I remember clearly. Sitting in the Apollo Lounge at the Mess with Dougy Wilkins & Dave Cooper, having a beer while the DJ was setting up sound equipment for the Thursday night Disco. The room was bright with sunlight & the tune "She So Selfish" by The Knack was booming with its drum hits. We changed the lyrics from "no toucha-me, toucha-me, tonight" and sang instead "no fucka-me, fucka-me tonight… she's soooo selfish!" To each of us, I'm sure the "she" referred to different women in our minds. That moment summed up a lot of those days living in "the shack". The frustration & routine. It didn't matter at the time that myself & those two drinking buddies didn't have companions - we had our brotherhood - and that song. I was in the midst of working "B" Class stints on base that would last from 1979 until 1981. The Mess was the scene of many incidents. So were the hangars.

The Communist Clock

Rollie Reeves photo. Pseudo-names listed here as they appear in the stories.

Rear rank from left: Unknown, Barry Millward, Sean Dogget, Mo Morris, Pete Bannister, Dick Redmud (Dick The Prick).

Front rank from left: Rollie Revel, Rick Folker, Sgt Dick Balls, MCpl Ron Adams, MCpl Shorty Bone. 

My immediate RSU Supervisor was Mcpl "Shorty" Bone. He was French-Canadian & he was short. He'd kid that the nick-name didn't refer to his height but the length of an appendage. His happy, round face always sported glasses. Shorty was easy to work for, as he was always encouraging you (at least he did me). I remember him telling me once that he was terribly weak & sick when he was posted to Toronto. This posting was considered a soft touch & he'd either retire or die from here. He made a great recovery, instead. I first met him at North Bay but grew to love working with him. One day, Shorty told me something that has stuck with me. He said, "You know, I should be working under you". I asked what he meant. "You should be an Engineering Officer & my boss. You see the big picture & find solutions. You should be an Officer." Shorty's words were inspiring. But my becoming an officer just wasn't meant to be. I always remembered his confidence in me though, and I strove to do well with my Reg Force cohorts.

I recall that Master Corporal "Shorty Bone" use to recite the following toast when I worked with him in the Air Force at CFB Toronto in the late 1970's - early 1980's:
"Here's to the hole that never heals, the more you rub it the better it feels
And all the soap this side of hell, won't wash away that fishy smell. Wine, women, song, and vice, syphilus, blue balls, crabs, & lice, we have had them all by Jesus Christ,
Gentlemen, the queen!"

I'd forgotten that until I came across a video I made based on "The Gross Manual" from MacLean & MacLean  on their Bitter Reality album.  MacLean & MacLean  were Maritimers that were popular at the Toronto clubs The Chimney & El Mocambo during the late 1970's & early 1980's, when I was with the Air Reserve at Downsview.   The video contains Photos from  family day at Downsview, working with the 2RSU at the hangars there, a couple from Terry Hill, and the last ones are from the 400 Squadron reunion in 2002 at CFB Borden.  WATCH VIDEO

Sergeant Dick Balls was the next higher authority in the chain of command. He was in charge of Aircraft Maintenance. His superior was Warrant Officer Tension. The Warrant was removed from the shops and was mostly cloistered in the RSU offices with the BAMEO, so we seldom interacted with him. Dick ran the show. He did have an office in the shop area that was hardly lavish. The desk & chairs looked like war surplus or at least from the '50's. The telephones were relics. There was a procedure even for answering them. "2 RSU Aircraft Maintenance Office, Private (your name) speaking, Sir". Just saying "hello" didn't cut it.

Dick Balls was a kind man, with an expressionless face. He spoke with a slow, low drawl. I'd come to respect him. He had the tolerance of a saint & was very accommodating, even to a Reservist. I remember an episode during the Mississauga train derailment in 1979. I was home for the weekend & my car was in the shop. My dad offered to drive me to work at the hangar that Monday morning. Coming from Burlington, we had to take all the back roads to get around the evacuated area & traffic chaos. As we turn a corner right beside the Maintenance hangar, a tie rod snaps on my dad's car, and the one front wheel won't steer any longer! I've arrived late for work. But my dad's dilemma is how does he get home now? I approach Sgt Balls with the situation & he graciously offers a DND vehicle to get the parts, as well as any tools from the RSU to make the repair. I spend the better part of the working day fixing the car. Both my dad & I were grateful to him.

On another occasion, I was late for duty. My old wind -up alarm clock didn't go off. I know it didn't. It had to be a malfunction. So I hurriedly got myself down to the hangar, bringing the damn clock with me. Dick has a stern look for me on arrival. I show him the cursed device & launch into a long spiel. "Sarge, it's a communist conspiracy. The bloody thing is made in the USSR. See here on the face? Try it yourself. They've deliberately made them so that they only work some of the time & hoped that some of these would get into the hands of us in the Armed Forces. They knew it would undermine our operational efficiency, causing guys like me to sleep-in. Delay our aircraft repairs. Reduce our sharpness & vigilance." Dick laughed so hard he said, "just get to work". But I was serious & he wouldn't test the thing. I bought another clock. One made in a trustworthy democracy. There were no reprimands, warnings or penalties. I never saw him angry, ever. When I completed my last stint with him in 1981, he gave me a glowing letter of reference. Although some in the RSU didn't think much of Reservists, Sarge Balls treated me with the utmost of respect. More than I often got from my own Squadron.

The RSU crest

The Daily Routine & Cast of Characters

The average working day was really a leisurely affair. There were no sign-in sheets here. No clocks to punch. We'd gather in the canteen for coffee. After enough time had been wasted, you could count on Sgt Balls to get on the PA in his office and say, "Let's boogie". Meaning that it was time we got up & did something. Sometimes there were special tasks. Doing a weight & balance on a plane, Corrosion control, going over procedures in the Canadian Forces Technical Orders (CFTO's). Some of us went on the salvage & recovery of a downed aircraft. I remember being introduced to NDT or Non-Destructive Testing. This involved the use of a special dye placed on a critical component & then checking for cracks with the use of a special light. Most of the time, the work was routine stuff related to your trade. Sometimes you were just given some kind of busy work. Such as sprucing up the painted lines on the hangar floor. Among the odd jobs I did, I distinctly remember replacing the door knob on the canteen, which previously had a habit of coming off in your hand.

411 Tech Willie Morris with RSU Techs Joe Tinker & Shorty Bone.

400 Engine Tech Zaid Mohammad on B Class


Occasionally, you'd be assigned to assist another trade. As an example, the RSU only had one Refinishing Tech. He was Corporal Grimm. I vividly recall my first time helping him. He was a serious fellow that never smiled. He was also kind of a strange duck. On that particular day, we had to strip the paint off of a plane & prepare it for a repaint. Now weight & balance is a definite consideration with aircraft. Unlike painting a car or a house, you can't keep slapping on more coats of paint. You have to strip it down to the bare aluminum. Peel & stick decals were used for Roundels. Stencils were used for certain symbols & lettering on the planes, such as the words "Air Reserve". Grimm had his work area at the back of Maintenance Bay. So we get to it & slap on gobs of noxious paint stripper chemicals. We waited till it bubbled & lifted, then we scrape it off with soft tools onto brown paper on the floor. Final cleaning was done with a solvent, MEK (Methyl Ethyl Keytone) on rags or "scotch brite" pads for the stubborn spots. We were working in a large area but the fumes began to overwhelm me. I became dizzy & giddy. Grimm recognised this & suggested I go sit outside for a spell. Grimm didn't believe in respirators. He was immune. I now think he was also a fucking idiot! I honestly believe that he was spaced-out most of the time. Years of exposure to those vapours had no doubt killed off a plethora of brain cells. He also applied spray paint without a mask. Anyway, he comes outside to see how I was doing. I was slowly coming back to earth. Like a condescending teacher, he hoped that I learned respect for chemicals like MEK. I sure did! It provided a free & probably deadly "buzz"! Later, I got accustomed to such chemicals but I also learned respect for breathing protection, too. Grimm still was a fucking idiot! I'm curious to know if he has died from brain cancer by now.

Metal Beaters

On a few Occasions, I was also detailed to help the Metal Techs, also known as "Metal Bashers". They had their own area complete with brakes for bending sheet metal. This was something I was familiar with, due to working in the family aluminum business by bending coiled stock for capping around windows & doorframes. They also had welding equipment MIG, TIG, arc - inert gases for exotic jobs, like welding thin aluminum. I was interested in that sort of stuff. They could replace a skin panel & match all the rivet holes. They used temporary devices (called "Clikos" or something like that) to align & hold things together while they were fitted & riveted.

Heavy-set Vince Fallata, a younger guy in his twenties was one of the Metal Techs. He was one of those blond haired Italians that seem so rare. He was a nice fellow, yet some in the RSU called him "Felatio", only because his name was somewhat similar to that word. He gave me sheet metal for car repair, such as some heavy gauge steel that I bent to replace a frame section. While I was there, he packed-in the CAF & returned to his hometown of Hamilton. It was also my home turf & I recall bumping into him once at a club when he was a civilian.

Another Metal Tech joined the RSU, a fellow whom we'll refer to by the name of Einstein. The name was a misnomer. He was no genius. Well into middle age, he was older than his years due to heavy drinking. The man was an alcoholic & you could see it in his weathered face & malnourished body. You could tell the mornings when he was recovering from a bender. It was said that he was a wife-beater and that he lost his driver's licence. I believed it. He wasn't a mean prick but he made my skin crawl. I tried to avoid him.

Engine Bay (not to be confused with Bomb Bay)

Rob Carr one of the AR Techs working on an Otter engine in Engine Bay.

The AE Techs spent time tearing down or building up engines that were on stands in the Engine Bay. Compared to automotive engines, these babies were clean & relatively sludge free. Maybe because they were rebuilt often, after only a small number of hours. I think that aviation oil also had a lot to do with it. That oil contained far more detergents than the typical 10W30 from Canadian Tire and was a lot more expensive. Don't quote me but I believe they often just removed equipment from engines needing a total rebuild, and packed it up for shipping to Pratt & Whitney. There were some good AE Techs in the RSU but their boss, a Master Corporal who was later made Sergeant, was a miserable old SOB. Dick Redmud was often referred to as "Dick The Prick". He was a gruff old coot that was especially hard on Reserves. I felt sorry for the Reservists in his charge. You'd hear him yelling & throwing tools. As well as hear Techs mutter under their breath as they were once again mopping drip trays. As a result, Engine Bay was another place I tried to avoid.

Paul, Huey, and Rob in the Engine Bay.

I remember "Wild" Bill Khyber telling me one time "Fred, he's whipping me. I can't stand it anymore. He never lets up. Yes, Massa Corporal, whatever you says, Massa" (Bill said in his best Uncle Tom voice). "I'm, gonna shoot him. A sniper shot in the parking lot." Bill had his way of venting. The only time I remember Dick The Prick being human towards me was once at a party. He looked almost dapper in his suit jacket & tie. He asked me how my 1966 Mustang was coming along at the Auto Hobby Shop. I told him that progress was slow. You start on an area & keep finding more rust. I was losing faith in the project & realised that it wouldn't be done anytime soon. I had bought a hardtop parts car Mustang, which could be made road-worthy, so at least I'd have wheels.

Dick actually smiled for once & told me "You know, it doesn't matter how long it takes & whether it's perfect. Sometime it will probably be finished. It'll gleam with new paint. What's important is that you can take pride in the fact that YOU did it." Those were inspiring words coming from old Dick. I still remember them. I noticed that he had a little crown-like pin on his lapel. As it turns out, this was the logo for "Best Line" products - a pyramid sales scheme for cleaning products. He said "Ask me about it another time & I'll give you the whole story". I never did & it's just as well.

Eventually, I had to give up my space at the Auto Hobby Shop and moved my car home. It sat for several years. I never did finish it - it was too far-gone. Sold it to someone who had the patience to complete it. Later I'd get a 1969 convertible Mustang that was solid in Florida. I rebuilt the engine, the interior, and still have it today, after a dozen years.

2011 Postscript: I no longer have the Mustang convertible. After 14 years, when we made the down-size to the bungalow, I sold it. Similarly, we sold the Morgan Sportscar after 10 years of ownership. Those were fun cars & fun days but these days we don't have a garage nor the interest in car shows, etc that we once had. Just part of the cycle of life & you have to let go of things along the way!

Tire Bay
We "Riggers" didn't have an "Air Frame" shop, as such. But we did have the spot known as Tire Bay. This is where we had presses & tools to get tires on or off of rims. The area where we rebuilt brake assemblies or hydraulic actuators. Most of my time was spent here or on the hangar floor. In this shop we either serviced or repaired a component, packed it off for repair, or for disposal. I still have an old "Canadian Forces Identity & Condition Tag". New components came in metal containers, the part covered with preservative oil & a desiccant sack to remove humidity. Affixed to the container would be one of the tags indicating that the part was "Serviceable" and the top white portion contained a description, stock #, etc. Bilingual instructions stated to "remove & destroy tag when equipment is placed in service". If a part was totally screwed, we'd pack-it & leave the pink bottom portion on the tag, indicating it was "Unserviceable". "Repairable" components would have the pink portion torn off at the perforation & the green section remained. You'd fill out the areas with your name, date & unit. A foolproof system. Most of the time.

Freddy K working on a float plane main wheel disk brake in the Tire Bay

Tool Crib

Specialized tools, like large or torque wrenches, would come from the Tool Crib. An area where the tools hung on peg boards against black silhouettes, so you could readily see what was missing. They had to be replaced by the end of the workday.

Supply Tech

This technician presided over a kingdom that was critical to the whole operation. His bins stocked everything from nuts & bolts of every size & thread; to bar soap and mop heads. Part numbers for the aircraft components were kept on microfiche. If something needed to be ordered, the Supply Tech did it. It was hardly a physical job but crucial. He issued you a little pocket notebook with a hardcover, which was useful for writing down part numbers, procedures from manuals, etc. Today, the trivia contained in that little book is priceless for the memories triggered.

Carl Jurgens joined the unit as the new Supply Tech. A tall, lanky man with a ghoulish face. I had a neutral opinion of him initially, which later became negative, as he became rude & standoffish. Then one day, I sat drinking with Carl in the Mess. He opened-up & related stories to me about his travels overseas. He talked about the beauty & the beautiful women of Denmark. It was fascinating. After that, he wasn't so cold. Carl too was then helpful with fasteners I needed for my personal projects.

Photo Tech

Sergeant Roly Revel ran the Photo Shop. He was of French-Canadian descent. He was an anal, awkward, nervous, mousy little man. Hardly a partyer. Glad I didn't have to work closely with him, like aircrew & pilots did. I recall him lecturing me at length on some trivial matters. Although a wet blanket most times, he did write a nice photo article on our summer camp in North Bay. He also gave me a couple of black & white photos. I guess he wasn't all-bad.

IE & Others

Besides Pete Bannister, there were other electrical & radio guys. There was old Danny Glee. He looked like Rodney Dangerfield. Herb Band was another older fellow. Dogget was a younger, quiet guy. He looked like some mad scientist, soldering away at circuits in their shop. There were other characters but they just aren't very memorable. There's one exception…

Have Mercy

I remember the arrival of Corporal Ron Mercy, a Fitter, or Engine Tech. He was one of the Mercy Brothers from New Brunswick. Apparently, they were all bad asses. At first he seemed civil enough. It didn't take long to realise he was a psycho! He was big & muscular. His manner of speech at times was like that of a pirate. He really sounded like Long John Silver and would gaze at you with wide eyes & a wider grin. He'd say things like "Come on Fred, let's arm wrestle or I'll have to lays a beatin' on ya." He introduced a couple of words into the RSU vernacular. These were "Knob Gobblers" and "Cock-a-ma-jaws". I'll let you guess as to their meaning! Ron also had a penchant for altering people's names. He'd call Captain Crosty - "Captain Crusty", forinstance. Everyone should have a hobby…

Ron was becoming one of the most colourful & fascinating characters. He began to carry a piece of broom handle in his coveralls, which he'd reveal on occasion to unsuspecting Reservists. This he called his "Donkem Stick" for thrashing "Donkems" to within an inch of their lives. Ron even changed the slang for a Reservist (Donkey) to his own variant. Many of us just didn't know how to take him, whether he was serious or joking. So it was with me one day. Ron comes up to me and asks

"How much gas do you have in your car?"
"About a quarter tank. Why?"
"I'll show you where you can get free gas."
"Free gas?"
"Just get the car & bring it to the hangar doors!"

The POL Locker, as it appeared around 2001.

Now I'm suspicious that Ron is going to pull some kind of a joke on me. For whatever reason, there are few people around Maintenance on this day. As I drive over, he's now standing beside a couple of open hangar doors. He motions me to drive in. He has me stop beside the POL (Petroleum Oil Lubricants) locker. He unlocks the door & we go in. I know there are 45-gallon drums of bulk oil for the aircraft as well as gas cans to refuel the APUs. There are also drums marked "Contaminated AVGAS". One has a hand pump on it & Ron hands me the nozzle, with a huge smile on his face.

"Go on, put it in the tank."
"Wait a second. That gas is drained from the planes because water or dirt was found in it, or so I was led to believe."
"Yeah, that's what everybody thinks. Put the nozzle in, you Knob!"

So I reluctantly do as he says while he pumps away gleefully. When it's full to almost overflowing, we pack it up & I drive the car out of the hangar - not knowing what I've gotten my car into. Turns out the car had power like I'd not seen before. That tank had high-octane aviation gas far more powerful than the best grade at any gas station.

I guess that Ron liked me. Liked me enough to show me one of the little secrets of the insiders. I'm glad that I wasn't one of his best buddies, though. He was volatile & unpredictable. He had a habit of suddenly snapping & attacking his drinking buddies, as he did one day with Rob Carr. I believe that for no reason he smashed Rob's head against a bathroom urinal. I recall Greg McGreggor telling me a story about Ron. They were once stationed together somewhere as roommates. They had been drinking; ending up at their room, then suddenly Ron attacks him. Greg said that he actually feared for his life, as he was a smallish man & Ron towered over him. Somehow, he said, during the scuffle he was able to bang Ron's head against a radiator & he passed out. He believes it was the only thing that saved him. When Ron came back to consciousness, he didn't remember a thing. I believe the tale. Greg wasn't the type to embellish.

I remember the first time sitting with Ron at the Mess & suddenly he began to chew off a section of his beverage glass. He'd chew the piece of glass, then swallow it. Then he'd take another bite & swallow. He did this on other occasions. He never seemed to get cut. This certainly got your attention! But Ron was like that - he was totally outrageous & liked to shock you. On another occasion drinking with him, he told me abut some of his navy experiences. Apparently he served on the aircraft carrier Bonaventure, when Trackers were flown. Well one day, one of the planes didn't get into the air on take-off. The catapult propelled the plane off the bow of the ship and then the ship ran over the plane. It was dragged beneath the entire length of the carrier. He helped pull the crew aboard. One of them, he said, lost a leg when they got caught in the ship's screws. I believe I heard this story elsewhere, so it probably did happen. He said the sight had always stayed with him. After relating this serious story, Ron then recounted how they would go out on the town in Halifax. He'd let fags buy him drinks. They'd give him a ride back to the docks, and then he'd beat them unmercifully! He'd meant this story to be comical. I'd take it at face value. For Ron wasn't exactly a model citizen & not very tolerant of alternate lifestyles.

Ron Mercy at left with Rick Folker & Rob Carr, at Otter crash recovery. Andy Gyorffy photo.
Ron Mercy again at the crash of 673. Andy Gyorffy photo

Despite his wild, crazy nature I did see another side of him. This was when his wife was present. She was kind of a tough, "battle axe" of a woman. He was obviously henpecked & completely submissive in her presence. This opposite behaviour of "yes dear" servitude was amazing. Maybe it explained why he was unrestrained at other times, because he was so restrained at home. Most women could control him, as I recall. 

I was at their home once. Ron lived in these townhouses just off base on the south side of Sheppard, just west of Keele. I think they called them LDH's (Low Density Housing?). They had that military feel to them. Perhaps the base was bigger at one time & these buildings were then actually on the property? At any rate, they were now outside the wire with Metro Toronto encroached all around them. Later, Ron would move to the suburbs. 

At various times, Ron took select members of the Reserve under his wing & they became his drinking buddies. I know that he did with Mo from our squadron. It was during the Kiowa conversion that a new tech with chopper experience was brought into the RSU. I can't recall his name but he looked Latino if he wasn't. I remember that Mercy gave him a hard time & rode him constantly. He called him things like "Spic", "Mexican", "Pablo", etc. The guy took it & took it. I don't know if they had it out one day but the tech had passed the test & they became best friends & drinking buddies after that. Ron was volatile but if he liked you, and if you could handle the abuse, he liked you.

In recent times I got together with a few people from the squadron days. We talked about Ron Mercy & I wondered if he was still living at the house he bought in Tottenham. It would be interesting to look him up. The consensus of the others was in his case "to let sleeping dogs lie". He was far too scary for most.

The RSU Shuffle

The Aircraft Servicing Crew at the RSU was a real soft touch. The RSU only had a few pilots, so Otter flights were infrequent. But the crew had to sit around for the occasional transient aircraft. Lethargy was rampant! I remember Cheryl Cardiff & Noel Woolger. They were a package deal that were posted to the 2 RSU. He was veteran Reg Force, a quiet, aloof man that loved to ski. She was his "squeeze". Both said little. Cheryl tried to be cool & aloof, always wearing a flight jacket & sunglasses. She reminded me of that buxom blonde Sergeant in the "Police Academy" movies. At least in the tough, confident, detached image she tried to project. But she wasn't nearly as good looking! The game amongst the RSU was to try & get her off her ass to do something! In the Fire Service, she'd be what we'd call a "load". It became almost a holy mission to try & get her to do her fair share. But Woolger was always protecting his babe, who inevitably never got up from the card table.

Cheryl Cardiff looks at an Otter ski assembly. "Look" is the operative word as she would seldom "do".

It was in this environment of rampant "productivity" that Shorty Bone assigned me to a project. I spent a number of days wading through stacks of paper, modifying the stats with the goal of creating the illusion that we were understaffed here at A/C Servicing - so that an additional body would be transferred in! I was just doing as I was told but I found it hilarious & ironic that I was ordered to juggle the books in-order to hoodwink somebody in Ottawa to supply more manpower, when we were overstaffed already. Instead of getting rid of Cheryl, they wanted to bring in more that were possibly just like her. And if they weren't, after spending some time there, they would be just as lazy! Apparently, Ottawa didn't fall for it.

Rob Cooper came onto Class B about this time. I had been training him at the squadron & now took him under my wing. I introduced him to the fine art of playing the card game "Casino", which is what we did in Servicing. I also came up with a song at that time "The RSU Shuffle". Rob saw the humour in it & added a line or two. It honestly was a case of "how slow can you go" at this workplace. Why, if we went any slower, we'd be going backwards.

This song "Do The RSU Shuffle" was always on the back burner but in 2011, just recently, I banged off a quick & dirty version of it ... enjoy.

"Do The RSU Shuffle"

Copyright 2011, Roundel Records Music.

Original Lyrics by Fred Kuzyk. 

Do the RSU shuffle
Never use your muscles
Always take it slow
That's how you make your dough
Playing Casino
That's the RSU shuffle (Boogie, Let's Boogie)

Do the RSU shuffle
Never ever hustle
Always say "Yes Sir"
Then you disappear
There's places to hide, On the Maintenance side
That's the RSU shuffle (Boogie, Let's Boogie)

Do the RSU shuffle
Nothing like the "Trenton Bustle"
No one will tell
And Sgt Bull won't yell
If you sleep in the parachute well
That's the RSU shuffle (Boogie, Let's Boogie)

Do the RSU shuffle
There's never a scuffle
Always try & do less
And they'll never guess
You did a 2 hour lunch at the mess
That's the RSU shuffle (Boogie, Let's Boogie)

Special Times:

High Altitude Indoctrination

There were days that broke from the regular routine. Getting a High Altitude Indoctrination (HAI) qualification was such a diversion. The HAI was a three-day course that qualified one to take rides as a passenger in jet fighters. I was fortunate that the course was available on the base at the Defence & Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (DCIEM). This was by far the most interesting military course I'd ever taken. It taught the effects of lack of oxygen (hypoxia), explosive decompression, the art of ejection, survival at sea or in the wild, etc. You wore an oxygen mask in a chamber that simulated being in an airplane cabin at say forty thousand feet. You took turns taking off the mask. They had you draw diagrams, replicating familiar objects like a Christmas tree or a house. After awhile, your drawings began to get sloppy & maybe even unrecognisable. You'd begin to notice symptoms of oxygen deprivation, such as feeling giddy, light-headed or drunk. The instructors would put you back on oxygen & tell you to remember the way you felt, so that you could recognise the symptoms when you were on an aircraft.

Another smaller chamber simulated explosive decompression. You'd be sitting in the chamber doing some task, at altitude. Then suddenly, you'd lose pressure with a loud bang. Loose articles like sheets of paper would go flying & get sucked out - just like in the movies! The ejection sequence was discussed: what to pull & when. The pilot would say "eject" three times. If you didn't pull your levers on the third one, you'd see him leave without you! Thankfully, I never had to put this into practice. Perhaps it was just as well that the planes currently based at CFB Toronto didn't have ejection seats. The old "RCAF era" fellows with the RSU had told me how there had been suicides where some poor bastard ejected himself right through a hangar roof. There were also stories about people getting sucked into the large intake on the Sabres. Of course this could be an urban legend.

Lobster Run

I recall one of the Techs asking me how many lobsters I wanted. At first I didn't understand. They were taking orders for live lobsters from the east coast. An annual trip was made with an Otter to the Maritimes & it's sole mission was to bring back garbage cans full of fresh lobster! I didn't have anywhere to store or cook the critters, being that I was living in the shack. But if memory serves, not all the lobster was for home consumption, as I think the RSU held a lobster feast to celebrate the rich bounty. This flight was one of those little perks that everyone looked forward to.

The Drop Zone Fiasco

One Friday in April, Ivan (better known as Vinny) and I were working the drop zone for parachute target practice. We were sitting on a mule near the target. The idea was that the planes would take turns dropping their cargo & we would move in to retrieve the chutes & practice loads. It was a beautiful, sunny, Spring day. Vinny & I were sunning ourselves while waiting for the initial plane. Their drop was way off the mark. The second drop was on the button. We raced in with our mule to retrieve the chute. While the day was warm & dry, the ground around the zone was soft. Our mule sank to the axles, hopelessly stuck. The rest of the drops had to be cancelled. We had to wait for some heavy equipment to tow us out. Sarge Balls never said anything. He just shook his head. Shit happens. And it usually flowed downhill.

The Funspiel

The RSU held a curling tournament at the base curling club on April 15, 1981. I know this date is accurate, as I made an entry in a journal I had kept. It was quite the riot. Even before the tourney we were plastered, as we started drinking at a pizza restaurant up Keele Street that we frequented called Pietro's. I had never curled before. The rest of my team weren't pros either. I was teamed with two other Reservists: Mo & Tom Idiott. Our skip, Barry Millward from the RSU, did have experience. Barry was an older, mature guy who was taking all of this far too seriously. We lost the first two games. Barry was giving us the rah-rah spiel to try & motivate us to win at least the final game. But the three of us decided to rebel against our skip & deliberately lose the last game. At least this way we'd win the booby prize! But we blew that by somehow winning the last game without trying! The most exciting action took place off the ice. Colin Stearman was there with the pretty Lori from Wing. He took her out to lunch & was now smashed. He was all over her like a drunken lout & was making an ass of himself. He was swearing at the barmaid. He wasn't alone, as young Scott Irvine was also making a rude spectacle of himself. Well, at least Ron Mercy was well behaved on this day. I did learn that sweeping was a lot of work.

Mess Duty Corporal

The Mess was the centre of our universe. So much time was spent there eating, drinking, dancing, and carousing. The club portion was open later than bars off base. And when it did close at 2AM or so, you'd stumble back to the room in the shack where the cold beer machines were always open for business. I remember it all. Thursday night discos where we'd do the line dance "The Slush" to Boney M's "By the Rivers of Babylon" or to the tune "Rah Rah Rasputin". Then there were the TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) parties. Where they served doubles for the price of singles & food was free. If some sorry shmoe wore his hat into the Mess, he'd be buying a round for everyone. You didn't need any official to police that because everyone would be clamouring for his or her free drink.

In the dining hall, every Wednesday was steak night. I became familiar with culinary delicacies I never had at home, like Yorkshire pudding & shepherd's pie. From time to time, the Mess was inundated with roaches. But other than that, the meals were a fantastic deal given what you paid for a Meal Card.

I was drafted one day to be the Duty Corporal. The title was incorrect, as a private could do the job. I guess the various units on base took turns supplying someone to the position each day and the RSU decided I was it. You had to wear your dress uniform & sit at a table checking Meal Cards during the meal hours. The cost of meals and a barracks room back then were minimal. They gave you a cash box as well, so you could collect cash from those who didn't have a Card & wished to pay for the grub. It wasn't a tough job but you had to be there for breakfast, lunch & dinner. You were exempted from your regular duties. Most hung around the bar in the afternoon, having a few rounds. Hell, most of the Techs from the hangar hung around after lunch for a few rounds, too. The lunches were getting longer & longer until Sarge Balls laid down the law. When the meals were done, you'd hand in your cash box. It was interesting to see who would be doing it on other days. I suppose if it was someone you knew, you could wrangle free meals all day.

Shack Life

Living in the barracks wasn't lavish but comfortable. The baths were communal. The rooms were double occupancy but if you didn't have a roommate currently, then you had enough space. The floors were carpeted & the furnishings fairly modern. I did learn how make a bed so taught that you could bounce a quarter off of it - with the nice hospital corners. The same was expected at Summer Camps. And the weekly inspections re-inforced this practice. I didn't know how the Reg Force old guys, like Ron Fletcher could live in this place. But he was single. Didn't need a garage or Rec Room. Or lawns to mow!

Base Bicycles & Other Bimbos

Working & living on base also introduced you to other characters, including the fairer sex. The term "base bicycle" might have referred to a conveyance that everyone took turns using, in-order to get into town during the war years. But when I first heard the term, it had come to be slang for a loose woman that every guy had taken a ride on. I recall young ladies giggling & calling each other the latest "BB". Truth be known, there were quite a few. Being in the minority, women could have their pick of the men & many were players.

The Squadron held a reunion in 1992 & had attempted to track down former members. It didn't surprise me that someone like Ronnie Swift was "whereabouts unknown". In my mind her & a few others were most likely to become strippers, sluts or hookers. Maybe all of the above! She would most certainly qualify as a "BB". Ronnie was the only gal I ever knew who was engaged to the same guy, Dave Cooper, twice. She was a fast little cutey. I have an entry in my journal where Ronnie tells me she wasn't Dave's girlfriend. Too bad she didn't tell him. Meanwhile, her & the other girls were giddily going on about the merits of black cock. Although he didn't realise it at the time, it was best that he didn't get hitched with her. She would have likely screwed around on him, emasculated him, had him murdered & made it look like it was an accident for double indemnity! She was heartless. I steered clear of Ronnie, but stepped on plenty of other land mines myself. There were many more around.

Kinky Sue

I don't remember exactly when I first met her. Maybe one night at dinner. She was definitely different. Don't think I ever knew her last name. It didn't seem that she belonged in uniform or in the CAF. She was attractive, smiled, giggled & was suggestive. She just oozed sensuality. A stark contrast to her plain looking, subdued Quebecer roommate. Sue was a West Coast gal & could easily have been a "Valley Girl". The new girl on base didn't take long to build a cadre of admirers, myself included. There was also Bill Kyber's buddy Aldo, the Metro cop, who began to hang around more with Bill, just to get at Sue. Then there was Pete the young Meathead. Scott Irvine, the young guy at the RSU from Orangeville, was another whose eye she caught while dancing at the Junior Ranks.

One day her red hair (and I don't know if that colour was real) was changed to purple. Yep, that's right, purple! This caused quite a stir in the Mess. I thought it was great. She was such a non-conformist, a free spirit. Bizarre, anyway. I found myself drawn to her. Then one day she's in a funk. It seems that her superiors had threatened that if she didn't lose the purple dye, she'd be doing brig time in the military prison at Edmonton. The charge was "being out of uniform". She was defiant, depressed, frustrated & giddy all at once. I decided to ask her out to a movie & get her off base for awhile.

I began to learn about Sue's philosophy of life. Essentially, it was "only me counts". She did whatever pleased her, with no regrets & no thought of consequence. I discovered that she was bi-sexual. Something Sue freely admitted & it was confirmed by that roommate of hers ("She's been trying to seduce me", said she). Did this scare me off? Nope, just made me more awe-struck. So, we end up at her room in the female shack. She tells me that I'm nice & attractive & we should fuck. Well, this is very forthright & a rare opportunity. She didn't have to say it twice. She was like a purple-haired Venus. Very exotic! Her techniques ran the gamut from the coy little schoolgirl to a wild animal. We went from doggy style to her sitting on me, rotating around, squatting so that she faced away. Missionary position was too mundane for this one!

There was no doubt that she came. She was done but I wasn't. Being that she was so unshockable, I decided I might push my luck & enquire about the possibility of a blow job. This was a sex act that my high school sweety had denied me, as she was "saving it for the honeymoon" (yeah, right). It had remained elusive for me. What now followed was a revelation. She explained that she wanted to fuck me, which she did. She wanted to suck Aldo the cop, which she also had done.

"But then I bit him"
"You did what?"
"I bit him, hard."
"Uh, why?"
"Because I didn't like him anymore!"

Without further explanation, I could only imagine the reason for Aldo's quick change from what might have been the blow job of the century to a sadistic, painful experience. Maybe it was something rude he said? Perhaps he began to cum with no warning? Maybe it was the result of some of those chemicals she had done in Vancouver? Or was it that she was psycho?! Well now I'm wondering if a climax is worth the risk? What are the odds that she suddenly wouldn't like me anymore, too? Anyway, it's a moot exercise because oral sex is not offered, nor is anything further on the menu. There was to be no further contact, no cuddling, smooching - nada. She had cum & now was done. She didn't want any terms of endearment or sweet talk, but suggests that I get dressed. It seemed a tad selfish, if you asked me…

Around the moment that I got my clothes on, her roommate enters. She's surprised to see me & warns us that the barracks are being inspected. (I thought that it was strange that females were forbidden in the men's barracks, yet male visitors were allowed in the ladies quarters but only during certain hours. And not overnight). I beat a retreat to the washroom. Crouching on a toilet in one stall, the inspection party couldn't tell I was in there. When they went around to another wing, I slipped out & made my escape. It was not the last time that I'd evade capture at the female barracks.

Back at work, I'm doing maintenance on a plane with Wild Bill Khyber. So I gingerly ask him:
"Did something happen with Kinky Sue & Aldo?"
Bill gets all wide-eyed. He looks around & then whispers.
"Yeah, she was blowing him & then she bites his dick! Aldo said he couldn't believe it. He almost hit her. He called her every name you could imagine." So it was confirmed. "How did you know", he asks.
"She told me after SHE had finished fucking me. She seemed proud of it!" 
"What a bitch!" says Bill.

I noticed that Aldo stopped coming around the base after that, and he had a gun! I suppose she was too scary. At the Mess that night, I wanted to spend the evening dancing with my "lady". After all, we were now intimate, an item. Wrongo! Young Scott Irvine was obviously the target for tonight & she used him to show me that we were now done. As the inebriated Scott leaves with her from the dance, I think that he probably doesn't know what he's getting into. But neither did I at the time. A couple of days later the purple was gone from her hair. I didn't see much of her after that & she was gone from the base soon after.

I received a mysterious call at the hangar from the Base Surgeon. I was requested to come by the hospital. There I learned that they have reason to believe I've come in contact with a woman who was a positive carrier of VD! I'll give you three guesses who that was, and the first two don't count! What a painful, de-humanising ordeal awaited. I curled up naked in a fetal position on a cold, metal table. A doctor with oversized digits, whose meaty knuckles were reaming me out, probed my prostate! They took samples of all my bodily fluids, including sticking a needle up the inside of my urethra, or the eye of my trouser snake! All in all, not a fun time. Then there was the wait for the results.

It was Kinky Sue's roommate who confided that she called the hospital. Sue was keeping her condition secret. Then it dawned on me. Before we got it on, I remember that Sue was writing notes in my little notebook during lunch one day. So I flip open the book & amongst the cryptic scribbling she wrote "VD 2.3% real". To which I responded, "Unreal portion must then = 97.7%". I had no idea what she was trying to tell me, but now it looked like it was a warning. Sue openly declared that she does hard drugs. The Canadian Forces had a policy about that, as well as policy on avowed homosexuals, and people with VD. How the hell had she slipped through the cracks? In a way, you have to give her credit for pushing the envelope!

I was thrilled to test negative. Turns out that Aldo the cop had to endure the same process, as well! Bill tells me later that he came out negative, too. I guess you could say that Sue bit him twice, what with the VD scare. Come to think of it, I got bit as well. She had no conscience.

The last memory I have concerning her was while sitting with colleagues at lunch. Pete the Meathead enters the dining hall. He comes over & says quietly to me that he knows I'm a friend of Sue's & he'd really like to get to know her. I don't know if he's looking for my blessing or some info, but after what I've been through, I tell him:

" Pete, you're an MP & a lot of people don't like Meatheads. But I like you. Listen, she's got VD. The things they put me through, you don't wanna know. She's a lesbian & wants to screw her girlfriend. She went out with another cop & almost bit his dick off. You want her? She's all yours!"

Pete was a cocky young guy but his whole demeanour changed. He stammered and fidgeted. 
"Look, I've done some wild things but I'm really a pretty conservative guy. I don't want to chance VD! She's slept with her?" 

He points at the Quebec roommate.
"She's tried".
"Right, thanks for the heads-up. I owe you buddy."
I couldn't help singing a few lines from Dion & The Belmonts 'Run-around Sue'.
"People let me put you wise, Sue BITES other guys,
Keep away from Kinky Sue…"
It seemed appropriate.

I never collected from Pete. As for Sue, it was rumoured that she left the service but shacked-up with some old Major. If true, I'm sure she put the lead back in his pencil. Doubt if it would have lasted long. I could see some poor schmuck leaving his wife for her, only to pay alimony & get the dose!

Lori The Liar

Corporal Lori Carr was another on-base romance. She wasn't related to Rob Carr in 411 Sqn. She was another Reg Force lady, who worked at the Supply Depot. She was known to some of our group. She wasn't the prettiest. Kind of short, her dark auburn hair was worn in a bun. She also wore glasses. She had an easy going nature. You'd see her at the Mess & she'd dance or drink with most everyone. She didn't seem to have any animosity towards Reserves & she knew everyone on base. Lori would shoot pool, play darts or shuffleboard with the gang & pay her own way.

She had her own car. Something like a mid-seventies Chrysler Cordoba. Kind of a beater like my own wheels. I believe that her home town was Brantford. I remember sitting with her & a few others. We got onto the topic of sex & I can still see her say that there's one thing she doesn't do. She purses her lips into a perfect circle. Her head bobs forward & back while her tongue pushes against her cheek in appropriate rhythm. Well, for someone who doesn't give head, she simulates it very well! I think she likes me, though, and we start seeing more of each other.

She took me to one of her favourite places, the Nag's Head Pub with some of her crew. She loves to sing Irish songs. Selections like "No, nay, never, right up your kilt"…or "Oh dear, what can the matter be, seven old ladies got stuck in the lavatory". We end up going enough that I learn the lyrics. In a couple of weeks, we get kind of domestic. She lends me her car so I can do some chores, and I get some parts so I can service it, in return. We dance, kiss, and walk hand in hand. She tells me all her little secrets. She comes from a bad family. Her brother once stabbed her. She says she has a dark side but she's also a romantic. She wants to know what turns me on. I tell her that I fantasize about stockings garter belts & heels. On a certain night, she asks me to come to her room at the female barracks.

Well it was quite something. She either went shopping or borrowed from all the ladies in the shack! There was candles & soft music. A feast for the senses - from the perfume to the black stockings, garter belt, panties, bra, heels, and sheer negligee. Gone were her glasses & her hair was let down. She spoke softly & inviting. We removed some of the sensuous clothing but the heels stayed as her legs wrapped around my neck. It was a beautiful fantasy fulfilled. We slept until morning. Again, there was a damned barracks inspection! Once again, I was hiding out in the bathroom. It seemed like all the ladies were in on it. They knew what had transpired & there was snickering as I made my exit.

I was on cloud nine for a few days. Whistling away at work. I guess I got too close, though. Lori began to drift away, becoming evasive. Her affection ended. Then I saw her with a new acquisition. I was broken hearted. It all happened so fast. Then Dave Cooper had a heart-to-heart with me. It seems that he had a similar ride with Lori in the past. I didn't expect it to lead to matrimony or to last forever, but I thought that things were beginning, not concluding. After analysis, it appeared to me that she liked nice guys, but only for a short time. Dave & I both fell in that category. I didn't see the scar on her back where her brother had supposedly stabbed her. Was that real? Or was it fabricated, like the words of love that she confessed? When the love letters began, she fled. I wondered if she became guilty after she had seduced her love interest & that's why she always ran to another. Was she just another player like Kinky Sue? I came to realise that Lori had emotional problems & issues. I didn't hate her. She gave me exactly what I wanted. But I was hooked & then she threw me back. Maybe she just had to dump guys, so that she never was dumped herself. I hope she found some permanence in her life, eventually.

Diane The Jugs

I came to know her through my buddy Cam. He had been seeing her & according to him, she was wild. I recollect that she wore a devil's costume at Halloween. That spoke volumes. She was a heavy set, big, Reg Force girl. And her tits were massive! She was upset that they wouldn't let her into the combat infantry. She'd go on about how great it would be running through woods or jungles with weapons, killing the enemy. I think she meant it. They should have let her. Not for equality issues, but simply because she was motivated - more than any guy I met. Anyway, I know she was a bit strange & that Cam has been trying to encourage her to do a threesome, since she's been so friendly to him.

So I'm at the Mess one night & not much is happening. Cam's not there. I dance with her. Ron Mercy does the same. Ron is becoming volatile. He's reached the point of wanting to arm wrestle. He gets a bit suggestive with Diane but she handles herself well. He might pound a buddy to pulp but would melt like butter with women. She tells him that she's going home with me. Well this is a surprise. I haven't a clue where she hangs her hat but it isn't on base. I'm driving but she really doesn't want to go home & suggests that we park. We begin to get it on in the old Mustang parked down in Downsview Dells, just off the base. But this isn't comfortable for her, so I try to find a motel. After a bit, she suggests that we should just go to my room in the men's shack. I currently don't have a roommate, but I'm reluctant given the policy about women (OK, so I was a candy ass!). I give in.

We get it on. She made wonderful little moans. She loved to cradle you in that ample bosom. Anyway, she tells me some pretty amazing things. She states that she's a submissive. She likes to have a high heel ground into her chest, among other delights! She tells me about a group of dominants & submissives that are into S&M on the base. Then she says that her "Master" ordered her to show me a good time tonight! Now this is a startling revelation! It's got me wondering who the "Master" is. Cam? No, she refuses to name the leader but it isn't Cam. Cam however "is special" she says. Now I know that Cam said she was giving him great head (probably on the orders of the Master), so he indeed was special. Attempts to receive "special" treatment for myself didn't go anywhere, as it was not what the Master ordered. I think about all this strange stuff as we fall asleep. The next morning is, you guessed it, barracks inspection. When they opened the door & saw that a guy was asleep, they would shut the door & move on. Two people in the bed would cause some flags to go up. So I hustle Diane down my corridor to the fire escape & out the door. At least it was my partner making the hasty exit, for a change! I never did find out if the Master & that group existed, or was simply the fantasy of a demented lady. When I told Cam about these statements he just laughed. Cam had some amazing abilities but couldn't organise a two car funeral, let alone a kinky sex group. The Master would remain a mystery. But I thank him for the memories!

Next Episode: "The Road To Chatham"

(which was nothing like a Bing Crosby - Bob Hope movie)

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