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The Gagetown Blues

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

The Gagetown Blues

I arrive down in Oromocto. Although the town of Gagetown is nearby, the base is actually at Oromocto. Yeah, I guess "CFB Gagetown" sounds better than "Oromocto". But a shit-hole by any other name would still smell as crappy. And this one is the biggest army base in the Commonwealth. Gagetown's only claim to fame was that the Yanks supposedly tested Agent Orange defoliant on its vast forests before being used in Vietnam. Not much of a history compared to North Bay and Chatham. It sure wasn't like Baden in Germany! Lockett gave us the directions on where I'd find the place. I check-in with 403 Helicopter Operational Training Squadron. They were expecting us. I'm told to get squared away with a room & other details. So I report to Base Administration. It seems there's a foul up. Our documents haven't arrived. Without the docs, there's no pay! The best they can do for lodging is rooms at Transient Quarters. As I drive down streets looking for our building, I dodge Leopard tanks. The base is huge. I find our Mess where we'll have our meals - an unappealing, white stone building. There are several of these. Eventually I find our quarters. Another large, old, multi-floor, stone building. I quickly find this is an Army base from the pre-unification mold. The Spartan rooms contain several bunk beds. We have a couple of militia types sharing our room, who looked about as pleased about the surroundings as I was.

I run into Andy & Sherman out in the parking lot. Sherman's brand-new 1980 Mazda RX7 looks fantastic. They're checking the oil, as the car was going through copious quantities on the trip down. Sherman was breaking-in the wankel engine on the ride, so they weren't doing constant or excessive speed on the journey. Still, they made pretty good time. I tell Andy about the paper-work debacle. He's senior and perhaps his clout can help expedite matters. He gets on the phone to Toronto & talks to the top banana at the 400 Orderly Room, Coralee "Corky" Loosely. Corky is an older woman who normally is cool, efficient, and professional. A Warrant Officer with years of experience. I think she was having a nervous breakdown that day. Andy didn't get any satisfaction, just a long monologue about how the Squadron is swamped. SHE didn't make all the last minute changes and Corky is caught in the middle with everyone dumping on her. "This helo conversion is hell with personnel scattered all over the place, yadda, yadda". Andy has a short fuse to begin with & the SNAFU has got him yelling. I sense the nightmare is just beginning!

This is going nowhere fast. At least I have a credit card that can get us cash advances. We go to the Mess for our first meal and it's putrid. It's gruel on a platter. After this tantalizing feast we head to the Junior Ranks. It's huge & it's packed with Militia units that are on summer exercises here. There are a few women in army combat fatigues, chugging beer with their buddies. They're heavy & ugly, loud and raucous. A couple of these "babes" throw us glances as we sit at our own table, trying to disappear. The vibe is definitely not good. Back to the shack, we try and settle in for the night. I remember the hallway light streaming into the room through the skylight above the door. In the middle of the night, I awake to the sound of breaking glass. There are shouts & more breaking glass. It sounds like a riot. We're all awake now, including our two quiet army companions. We look into the hallway and see MPs. Eventually things quiet down. We have to be at work at 7AM, bright-eyed & bushy-tailed to service choppers, so we try to get back to sleep.

We see the destruction when we rise. There are broken skylights above room doors. The common room TV tube has been kicked-in & the room trashed. I imagine a prison riot caused by taking away cigarettes from the inmates must look similar to this scene. We get the whole story. Some Militia animals here for the short-term were tossing Frisbees against the glass skylights breaking them. Some Officer Cadet tried to intervene with these drunks & a large fight ensued. Resulting in the MPs being called to restore order. A few of the troublemakers were placed in the brig. This certainly wasn't the same kind of tolerable disturbance as the rattling of windows by the Voodoos. This situation was not tenable. There was no way I was going to last a few months in this barracks. We had to get out of this zoo. .

 

We become introduced to our new workplace at the 403 Squadron. The facilities are relatively new. A couple of metal hangars, secluded in the bush. Kiowas & Twin Hueys were our aircraft. A couple of the Kiowas were fitted with rocket pods on their skids or with the Mini Tat, the machine gun turret operated by remote control. At least we had some firepower here! An old Sergeant was our supervisor. He seemed more interested in which brand of roto-tiller he'd buy for his garden, as he thumbed through catalogs. They operated two shifts here: 7AM to 3PM & 3PM to 11PM. We'd take turns doing days and afternoons. The squadron mates were all Maritimers, a lot of them from Newfoundland. When asked where we were from I said, "T.O.". One of the group replies "Ah Truro, nice town, bye". "Sorry", I say. "Toronto, not Truro". We were like aliens in another world. Completely foreign to their understanding. It took some time to get use to their manner of speech and sayings. "A three-carter wrench" was a "three-quarter" wrench. "No-can- see-ums" meant the tiny fruit flies.
 I remember one fellow in particular. His name was Eldon - "like the toys", he would say. He looked & talked like Andy of Mayberry, slow & relaxed. They were all cordial but it was a close-knit, closed bunch. They had a small canteen in the hangar where a woman made western sandwiches & other great lunch items, so at least we didn't have to drive to the awful Mess for a snack.

We discussed our quarters with the Warrant Officer at the squadron, but we didn't make any headway regarding a change. We weren't getting anywhere with Base Admin, either. As far as they were concerned, we were here only for a short period, so Transient Quarters were all we rated. At the first opportunity, I drove the 16 miles to the University of New Brunswick at Fredericton. As a student, I knew of the campus there & also knew there would be a glut of available dormitory rooms for the summer. These were palatial in comparison. Single occupancy rooms, clean, modern - with private baths. The rent was incredibly cheap. There wasn't many people in residence but there was even a few pretty women, as the building was co-ed! We snapped-up three rooms. We'd simply commute to work. I remember getting shit from the Squadron Warrant when they found out we'd moved out of our lavish accommodations on base. You simply couldn't just move out "from the acceptable facilities the base had generously provided" for us without permission or notification. Well we did & the deed was done. We had to go through some more paperwork but the matter was closed. After a week or so, our pay & travel expenses were finally settled. By this time we had considered ourselves divorced from the base. We were now visiting airmen whose mind set was that we lived off base as individuals.

Visitors From Home

Sherman was missing Tony Cardoni. The two were an item at 411 for years. Unlike many of the girls, Tony was a dedicated technician & she was devoted to Sherman. She was far from being a player with a new guy each week. Sometimes her devotion cost her. I remember working with her on B class at Downsview and a couple of the RSU superiors were giving her a hard time. They had her in tears. It wasn't because of her work. After she had left crying, these guys went on about how it wasn't right that a nice Italian girl like her was shacked-up with a black guy. My opinion of these prejudiced rednecks dropped like a rock from "Angels Fifty". Tony & Sherman's personal life wasn't their business & wasn't an excuse to whip her. Many years later, Wild Bill, who knew Tony & Sherman well, said that their relationship faltered that summer. I just knew that Sherman missed her and he wondered if someone in Germany was making the move on her. Things may never have been the same for them since but they remain in contact as friends to this day.

Sherman & Toni. Paul Lamar photo.

Andy was lonely too. He missed Joanne Pilsener, that chunky, loud, and sometimes obnoxious lady. At least she was rude to me most of the time. She wasn't much of a catch in my estimation, and was a comedown for Andy after Cheryl & Betty. Still, Joanne must have had something going for her, as guys did go after her. Andy liked big boobs & she did have them! Some speculated she must have given good head. It's rumored that she screwed Al Cooper on a camping trip at Cyprus Lake. This was sometime after Gagetown when Andy was back in New Brunswick on the Spruce BudWorm gig. The same weekend Pilsener was coming on to both Cam & I in my family's motor home. She wanted a threesome while Andy was away! She was drunk & I knew how Andy felt about her. I told her to take a hike. That's when she visited Al's tent. We had a code of honour - you don't mess with a buddy's girlfriend. At least some of us believed that. Apparently Al Cooper didn't. I think it was Confucius who said, "a hard cock has no conscience" It wasn't the last time a brother would screw another brother's woman. My opinion of Jo nose-dived after that. Andy & her did end as a couple. She later married Pete Bannister. She left the squadron when Pete was posted to the West Coast.  Joanne Pilsener on her visit to Fredericton.
Anyway, on a certain weekend Joanne came to visit Andy at Fredericton with their little fur-ball dog. He was happy. She was actually pleasant to me on this occasion. I figure it was because Andy & I had become close. On the same weekend, a lady who was an old high school friend of Sherman's came to visit him. I didn't know it, but it seems that Sherman was a bit of a playboy. Many women wanted & had him. Unlike Cam, Sherman didn't kiss & tell, keeping his relations discreet. Cam thrived on his reputation as a womanizer. There was a park in Fredericton, Mactequac or something like that, which had a beautiful golf course as well as a beach area on the river. All of us spent a day there. My two companions were elated with having female companionship. The weekend ended too soon & they were back to their loneliness. I was lonely too. Not because I missed anyone in particular. I was lonely because I had no one at the time. I coped with it better than the other two for that reason.

Sherman's old friend that visited us that weekend

Freddy K on that beach area in Fredericton

The weeks wore on. We amused ourselves & found things to do. Oromocto was another town that didn't have much. We'd heard about a piano bar in Fredericton, the Club Cosmo, was the best place around. Run by people from Montreal, Club Cosmo was a ritzy place that we couldn't afford to make a habit of, but still a nice place to visit the odd time. There were more affordable pubs on campus. Sherman did more & more of his own thing, while Andy & I continued to do more things together. Maybe because Sherman might have been on the opposite shift to us. Although Sherman & Andy did visit Calais Maine together. The American border wasn't that far & I think they were curious to see what was on the other side. While in Chatham, Andy & I had found a music shop where I had gotten some sheet music & guitar accessories. In Fredericton, we found another shop. I found some items of interest, including a kazoo. Andy bought a recorder, a small wind instrument, and set about to try & learn to play it. I found a deck of tarot cards somewhere, and attempted to read fortunes. We'd go to the movies. "Airplane" was hilarious. "Return of the Jedi" we really enjoyed that as Star Wars fans. Andy did a great impersonation of Yoda - "A Jedi Knight you are not. You must focus the force, young Skywalker". 
We'd also repeat lines from "The Blues Brothers" movie. "We're on a mission from God". There was a driving range beside the river where we could whack some balls. We whiled away our time.

I actually enjoyed the shifts. Being off at 3 PM allowed you to do things like a round of golf before dark. And starting at 3 PM on afternoons gave time to do things in the morning or hit the beach before work, and you still could go drinking afterwards. Oromocto had a nine hole golf course that I played a few times. The course wasn't that great but the staff was. Well, at least one lady was. A stunning blonde in her mid twenties worked in the Pro Shop. She really didn't belong here. It was like finding "Billy-Jo" or "Bobby-Jo" in the "Shady Rest Hotel" in TV's "Petticoat Junction". This beauty didn't belong in this rural Canadian backwater. She never said much. She didn't have to. We made brief conversation but I never got up the nerve to find out if she was available for me. I fantasized about her though! I sensed that she was attached to the owner. She also seemed like she was marooned here, waiting for her ticket out to Toronto, Montreal, or Stateside. Waiting for some promising golf pro to come along & she'd blow this place, following him on tour. I seriously doubt that goddess stayed in Oromocto to spend her best years there.

We found there were a lot of differences here from home. Cheap lobster was available everywhere. You could buy it off the back of pick-up trucks at the roadside. For $2 you could get a giant one. But you couldn't get a decent pizza. There just weren't many Italians here. Pizza places were hard to come by & they didn't have the chain parlours we had at home, like "Pizza Nova" or "Pizza Pizza", "Mother's", etc. When we did find a rare place, such as "Pizza Delight", it was expensive & god-awful. Donairs, or what we'd know as Gyros, on the other hand, were everywhere! The Fredericton A & W Drive -In did good business. I think they still had carhops on roller skates. While the drive-in A & W's in Southern Ontario were gone, due to changing times & demographics, the 1950's still existed in New Brunswick. It was neat to have a Teen Burger & a glass mug of root beer sit on a tray on my car window again! Good fun to steal the mugs once again!

My old car was far from perfect. The engine had miles on it & the rings were worn. A lot of blow-by went past those rings & was routed through the PCV valve back into the cylinders. The engine would miss as the plugs became fouled. I lived with it but it was a frequent chore to either clean & re-gap them or install another set. One day I needed something for the Mustang, whatever it was wasn't critical, but was the kind of thing that I could get at any Canadian Tire back home. It probably was the plastic piece that held the horn ring on the wheel. There were a ton of the early Mustangs still on the road & these parts broke all the time. Except the sole Canadian Tire here in the Fredericton area didn't stock it. They suggested I go to the one Ford dealer in the vicinity. So I did & they tell me that the part would have to be ordered from Oakville & would take about six weeks! Gee, by that time I'd be back in Burlington, next door to Oakville, and I could get the part anywhere. I began to realize that we took a lot of things for granted, living in the industrial heartland of Southern Ontario!

Sherman was less fortunate. His new Mazda needed warrantee service. There wasn't a dealer in the area. Hell, I think the only one in New Brunswick was in Saint John. So on a day off, Andy & I loaded up in one of our cars while Sherman drove the RX7 to that coastal city. This city is not to be confused with St. John's, Newfoundland. Two very separate towns. Saint John is a seaport on the south coast, on the Bay of Fundy. The same Saint John River that flows through Fredericton eventually winds its way down to this city, where the river meets the sea. It all kind of makes sense, doesn't it? Anyway, it's an old town and its history goes back to colonial days. Parts of it looked like the buildings would be at home in Boston or New York City. We dumped off the Mazda at the dealer & with the extra car we did some sightseeing. There were cobblestone streets and ships in the harbour. We did a good thing keeping Sherman company, otherwise he would have been stuck at the dealership. We had lunch & I recall seeing the Reversing Falls. When the tide is low, the river flows over the falls into the sea. At high tide, the flow goes the opposite way and seawater goes over the dam, up the river. That pretty much was our day in Saint John.

There was a stock car track outside of town. One evening we decided to partake of the action. I'm unsure if Sherman joined Andy & I. The track was reminiscent of the local ones I frequented as a teen, like "Satellite Speedway" on the Stoney Creek Mountain, or "Flamborough Speedway" near Millgrove, north of Hamilton on highway 6. Loud, fast & fun. The demolition derby was a hit with the fans in the stands. The people were different than those at home. I vividly can picture a couple of men. They looked like they had just stepped off of a fishing trawler. One had those long "mutton chop" sideburns that were popular in an earlier age. He wore a jacket & cap like that of Captain Highliner, although he wasn't so old - maybe early thirties - and was smoking a pipe. This prompted some jokes amongst ourselves. Parodies of TV commercials. "Captain HIND GRINDER" jokes, such as "Have you ever been to sea Billy? No Captain. Well I'll show you how to get blown ashore." Or "bend over, and I'll give you a fish stick in batter, Billy!"

I came to learn that K. C. Irving owned this Province. His legacy was all over the place. From the "Irving" gas stations everywhere, to the shipping in Saint John, to the ultra-conservative newspapers he owned, like the Fredericton Daily Gleaner. Nary a negative word could appear in that paper about Irving Oil, McCain Foods, or Standfield underwear. These companies, like Sobey's food markets, were good Maritime businesses & what was good for Irving, was good for Maritimers. There did seem to be a lot of poor people here. Not immigrants but third or fourth generation Canadians, and many on welfare or pogey. The Province was truly bilingual. The French predominantly in the north & the English in the south. The English speaking ones struck me as being the wild "Yahoo" types. Forinstance, I remember a group of young guys driving their beat-up cars into the surf on a beach. They were seeing which car would go the furthest distance, before the engine conked out or the car submerged. A buddy with a tow truck & a winch would haul them back. They'd open their doors & salt water would pour out. Crazy! This was also the kind of place where girls got knocked-up at 16 and were abandoned at 17 or 18, as their boyfriends left them to go west (Ontario, Quebec or Western Canada) to find work. But the many single mothers were happy, as long as the Legion was open, the fiddle music played, and the child support cheques kept coming.

I'd also learned that military types weren't well liked at the University of New Brunswick. Apparently, there had been a dispute a few years earlier between Armed Forces personnel & UNB students that turned into a feud and came to a head with massive fights. It didn't surprise me. Riots & fights seemed to be the norm here. Ron Mercy & his brothers came by it naturally - they were English & from the south.

Letters From Germany

Cam wasn't much for writing letters. But Dave Cooper & I swapped a few. I'd send off mine with a return address of "403 HOTS" or "403 HOT Squadron". I liked the sound of that. I'd get Dave's letters from 444 Squadron via airmail. It was not the same as being there but I was informed of what I was missing in Europe. I heard about the lads doing "hot refueling" (quick fueling of the choppers while they were running). The "Triple Four" squadron's badge featured a cobra. This snake had a nickname  (Cecil) & was the mascot for the unit. A replica of the reptile was present at an indoctrination ceremony, at which our boys drank its "venom". It sounded like a big piss-up but after performing this ritual, our guys were then accepted into the unit. The 403 didn't have any such bonding rituals, unfortunately.

More interesting were their exploits off of the base. There was a club nearby that was popular amongst the Canadian servicemen. It sounded quite risqué. Pornographic films & shows were common & legal. "When in Rome…", as they say! The German prostitutes loved to sit with guys & have them buy drinks. The girls only drank small, expensive bottles of champagne called Piccolos. Beer just wouldn't do. Years later, the Minister of National Defense of that time was visiting the Canadian base & made an impromptu visit to this same club. The news story developed into a huge scandal, which damaged his political career. The poor sap merely went where every other Canadian did!

I recall Colin recounting how the Deutschers were enthralled with the U.S. TV show "Dallas". Many of them assumed that the Canucks, being from North America, had the inside scoop and could tell them "who shot J.R."? They'd have to wait for the Fall season to find out, just like everyone.

The lads bought Eurorail passes and with the ample time-off they received from work, they traveled all over Europe by train. I saw photos & heard about the travels to Switzerland, Holland, the UK, and other countries. There were accounts of the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Live sex shows abounded. There was a system involving the working girls that used mirrors. I was told that mirrors were positioned outside of windows above street level that were angled into the street. This allowed potential street customers to see what the available girls looked like, as they sat in their rooms. When the girls were occupied, the mirror was tilted away. A simple, effective system for your shopping pleasures. K-Mart was never like that.

There was a humorous incident at some border. The Iran Hostage Crisis was ongoing at the time. The lads were crossing a border with Bill Khyber. Bill was certainly of Iranian descent and drew suspicion from the authorities. I think a tense delay occurred as Bill was given a thorough third degree interrogation. Not everyone has the dubious experience of being treated like a suspected terrorist!

In comparison, our adventures in New Brunswick couldn't hold a candle. It was nice to receive the reports, though. Eventually, Lahr & Baden bases closed. Becoming memories like the other Canadian bases in Europe, which closed earlier. 444 Squadron still exists as a helicopter squadron at Goose Bay, Labrador. The present posting must be a disappointment to any veterans in the unit who served while in Germany. I wonder if they still conduct the venom ceremony?

And Then There Was One

Andy & Sherman had only committed so much time for OJT. There were jobs to return to in Toronto. I think they were eager to get the hell home. I had slated to work until the end of August (which was originally meant for quality time in Europe) and had several weeks left to go. I don't remember their departure but I believe they both left the same day. Andy probably said something like, "hang in there, little brother". Andy often called me that. Although I was older, he liked seeing himself as my bigger brother. Anyway, they were gone & the last guy from Toronto felt he was now on his own. Andy kept in touch. He'd send Care packages from home that contained Sunshine Girls from the Toronto Sun newspaper.

Shortly after they left, I went solo one night to a club. It was Ladies Night at the Legion. An older crowd was present. A woman collected my admission at the door & acted as a greeter. She was friendly and asked me home, when the evening was over. Sandy was thiry-ish and lived alone in the attic apartment of a house. Cozy quarters she had. We began seeing more of each other. She took me to a local tourist attraction called King's Landing, which was similar to Black Creek Pioneer Village. Historic buildings, people in costume demonstrating what life was like in earlier days.

Sandy at King's Landing

One evening I took her to see "Airplane", one of the films I had seen with Andy. It was still funny the second time. Then she took me out for a lobster dinner at a posh restaurant. I had limited experience with lobster & then only the tails. I was stunned when the waiter placed a bib on me & fetched various tools that looked like picks & nutcrackers. Then the whole lobster was presented before me, beady eyes staring at me and massive claws pointing in my direction! I discovered the reason for the bib. Sandy guided me through the process. I was told not to eat the greenish material in the head. To get the meat out of the little legs you sucked it out like a straw. It was a lot of work but I now knew how to wrestle with one of these beasts.

I was spending more time at Sandy's small flat than I was at my college residence. Things were getting rather domestic. We'd watch the TV news like a married couple. Jimmy Carter delivering a speech about the Iranians or the Iran-Iraq war. Premiere Richard Hatfield of New Brunswick is now on the tube. Sandy says that they've fattened him-up while he's been in office & it's time he was voted out. She's convinced he's gay. Him & Rock Hudson. I'm skeptical. We'd have sex & Sandy would immediately fall asleep. She snored. Probably because she was a few pounds overweight. She showed me photos once from several years earlier when she was a hot, young babe. Sandy had once been a biker chick. So this is what happens when they get too old to strip?

Pugwash

Willy Morris showed up one day at the base. He was passing through on his way to his family's cottage in Nova Scotia. Willy asks if I'd like to come for the weekend and I jumped at the offer. We head towards Moncton then turn southerly to the Nova Scotia border. I recall that the highway improved once we entered the other Province. Not too far past the border we come to the town of Springhill. Willy has friends or family here that we stop to visit. The people are proud that this is the hometown of singer Anne Murray. From Springhill, we head a few miles east towards the Northumberland Strait and arrive at the hamlet of Pugwash. We're still only a few miles from the New Brunswick border. Willy's cottage is a simple but comfortable one that's quite close to the water's edge. Out of view offshore is Prince Edward Island. What a pleasant setting on this peaceful shore.

Willy was with 411 Squadron. He was a gentle soul - always smiling & happy. The kind of guy that would never hurt a fly. I can't recall ever seeing him upset about anything. He had an effeminate nature. Some thought he was gay. I didn't care if he was but I knew he had the hots for a girl named Gloria from the Reserve, so I didn't believe he was. I'd also heard a story from Cam about Willy. He liked girls all right. Cam was bunking with Willy somewhere. Cam comes to the room & hears high-pitched screams & moans. When he opened the door, he saw a lady giving Willy head. It was Willy who sounded like a girl screaming! Maybe the story doesn't prove conclusively that Willy wasn't gay. But he was with a girl. There's no such thing as a bad blowjob, though! I had worked with Willy at the RSU for a bit but the thing I remember best about him was his dancing at the Thursday night Mess discos. He was a dancing machine. A "bionic man" that seemed tireless & he knew all the moves & line dances. I'd kid him that he was like the "Six million dollar man" of dance. I also called him "Little Willie", as in the early 70's song of the same name by the group "The Sweet". "Little Willie, Willie won't go home, but you can't push Willie around, Willie won't go". Anyway, I got to know Willy better on this weekend. We talked about different things. He had what looked like a burn or scar above the left eye on his forehead. I asked him how he got that. Apparently he drank bleach when he was a toddler. I guess he was lucky to be alive. I remember looking for shells in the surf & the sound of the wind while going to sleep at night. Willy was an excellent host. I felt recharged after my stay with him at Pugwash and was ready to cope back at Gagetown. I've not seen Willy in some 20 years. I'd heard that he got serious with Gloria at some point & that she took him for a ride. Not the first time that a nice guy was chewed-up by one of the Reserve's cuties. Willy is presently serving in the Regular Force at Trenton.

Baggage

Sandy was another single mother. She had a nine-year-old daughter that she wanted me to meet. The girl didn't stay with her but lived with an older woman elsewhere. I thought this whole arrangement was weird. We go to a hotel along the Trans-Canada Highway; a place where I believe Sandy works at the coffee shop. They have an indoor pool there. I meet her daughter & the girl's guardian. She likes to swim something that Sandy doesn't do, so I swim with her. Everything goes all right until we all have some lunch in the restaurant. The girl throws a tantrum and becomes hostile. When I try to intervene the girl lashes out at me. "You're not my father", she screams. Indeed, I wasn't. Nor did I want to be her surrogate father. Eventually she is settled down by the older woman, who then leaves with the girl. Sandy's visit with her progeny is over for this time.

I don't know what Sandy's agenda was in this. I suppose to see if her daughter would like me. If that was the case, it backfired. The situation was not clearly spelled out for me. I don't know if her daughter had special needs or if Sandy just didn't want the daughter at her home as the girl cramped her style. I was emotionally drained by the experience. The girl was messed-up, it seemed to me. Nothing was mentioned about her father. Perhaps she didn't have one in her life? Her mother was not really there for her either, as she was "farmed out" to this other woman. Maybe the girl had been introduced to some of Sandy's other suitors & she hated them all? I don't know but I couldn't handle this at my tender age. Sandy wanted me to move in with her but now I needed my own space. Returning to my lonely, single lifestyle was preferable. I craved being back at my dorm room, playing my guitar & getting back on my exercise program. The incident with her daughter settled it. It was time to say good bye to Sandy.

Swinging Moncton

After the other lads left, I came across a magazine called "The Fundy Times". This was a swinger's publication from Nova Scotia. There were no photos but it had sexual ads in it from throughout the Maritimes. There were categories for every kink, including S&M for those bad boys who needed a spanking. There were a few ladies & couples seeking single men. I wrote to a couple of ads that held promise. I decided that honesty was best, rather than describing myself as some sort of super stud like John Holmes with a foot long hunk of man-meat. I gave these ladies the straight goods and mentioned my love of lingerie, that I was a leg man, and that I could keep it up for a long time. Hey, that was true. I was near my sexual peak & often could keep it up for hours. Sandy's falling asleep on me made me hungry for a woman who could go the distance. I had a photo of myself, which Andy had taken earlier, at the beach with my camera. I made a few copies & sent them off with the letters to the box numbers at the magazine. A short while later, I received a response letter from one of the ladies. A Polaroid colour photo fell out from the letter. It showed a buxom, hefty, young redhead in a cheesecake shot taken in her kitchen. She wore a small apron around her waist & nothing else. A staged, pin-up type photo in which she was reaching up with one arm to grab something from an open cabinet, while the other arm was on her hip & one leg was bent like a flamingo. Very nice! The letter went on to say that they were an open-minded couple in their early twenties. They did same room swinging & threesomes but that she would like to meet me singly. She was into just about everything except pain. The letter said that she "just loves to suck a nice cock for hours" (Oh yeah, baby! With her words and picture, I could hardly contain my hand from my stiffening tool. She knew this. She knew exactly what men wanted.). She didn't travel or entertain at home but if I'd like to come to Moncton and get a room, she was game to make love all evening. Her name was Donna. I don't know if this was her actual name. Many people use assumed names for the sake of anonymity. Even myself, I had used only my middle name in the letters. I was keen to call her right away & get things rolling!

I got Donna on the phone. She was polite and pleasant. She knew I was a first-timer & was patient. She was available this weekend. So was I. Donna suggested a place & time to meet, Saturday afternoon at a restaurant called the "Bells & Buoys". It has a nautical theme, even though Moncton is land-locked. I get the directions & tell her I can hardly wait. She giggled. I guess I sounded like an excited schoolboy.

Saturday morning, I pack a bunch of necessities. Camera, liquor, smokes, and cassette deck & tapes for music. I'm wearing my gold chains, jade butterfly & Egyptian ankh for decoration & luck. I hit the road for Moncton, full of anticipation. The possibility is very real for sex with the perfect stranger.

I arrive at the restaurant a little early. We had each other's photo, so we recognized each other when she entered. We had also described what we'd be wearing. She was dressed in black, a black T-shirt & slacks. She wore glasses & her shoulder-length hair was curlier than in the photo. We order lunch & get to know each other. I guess I expected that she would act slutty like a stripper & would grab my cock right under the table. Instead, I found that she was shy, intelligent, and quiet - the perfect demure lady. She seems awkward at small talk but I get her to talk about some of her experiences & she's had far more than I have. She's a couple of years younger than myself but this submissive lady has been trained like the girl in "The Story of O", in areas I could only dream of. She knows the players in the area's swinging circuit and warns me about a couple in Nova Scotia who are active. She warns me that they have a fully equipped dungeon for bondage, humiliation, and S&M games. They seem nice enough but then they play rough. I ask her where her husband is tonight. She replies that he'll be with one of her girlfriends. It is a very open marriage, indeed! I think she tells me that they both like her & he hopes that they can arrange a threesome with the girlfriend sometime. I'm beginning to think I've got nothing in common with Donna. Her lifestyle seems a tad intimidating for me. And she seems hesitant and detached towards me. Just when things seem the most awkward, she takes off her glasses, looks me in the eye with her green, puppy dog eyes, glances down at the table and says shyly, "I think your attractive. I'd really like to spend the night with you, if that's OK. Would you like to get a room?" I say, "my pleasure". She smiles.

There are motel rooms next to the restaurant. We're on the main road on a ridge that overlooks part of the city. I come back with a key. Donna has a small piece of luggage with her. I get my stuff from my car. While I set some stuff up, she goes to the bathroom to change & freshen up. I've got some music playing & a couple of drinks ready. I'm lying on the bed in my underwear when she emerges. Donna is a beautiful sight in garter belt, stockings, and a demi-bra that supports her ample breasts from below. She's also wearing elbow length velvet gloves. Donna slowly crawls on the bed at my feet and makes her way to my face where she kisses me. Then she dangles her nipples to my lips, while a gloved hand strokes my hard dick. Donna is now in her element. The shy lady in public is the confident, sexy slut in the bedroom. She removes my underwear releasing my cock from its restraint. She coos, "what a nice cock" and goes down on it. Jackpot! The elusive blowjob has been finally realized! Donna is great. I'm on cloud nine. I have to repay the favour with a 69. Donna truly loves to please. In return, she's getting multiple orgasms. I'm far too excited to cum, so I do stay hard for extended periods. When it does get soft, we take breaks. She makes frequent trips to the bathroom to freshen-up, reapply perfume and lipstick, or make a lingerie change. Donna finds new and interesting ways to keep me aroused. From her bag of tricks she pulls out a vibrator, like a magician producing a rabbit from a hat. She rubs it against my cock. Good vibes! She has me insert it into her pussy while she sucks me. Afternoon becomes evening.

We do a nude photo shoot session. Some were posed, others were live action. She is game for anything. I could have had a trip around the world, but Greek didn't turn me on. Oral sex is what I wanted & Donna delivered in spades. She asks if I'd like her to talk dirty. "OK", I say. And she starts a monologue that would make the Happy Hooker blush. I mean I could now relate to how Cam felt when Janet gave him a similar verbal tongue-lashing in North Bay. Donna could see that some of the dirty talk like "fuck me harder, you bastard" was a bit humiliating for me. It was causing me to miss a beat with my humping, so the talk became more suggestive, such as how she liked the taste of my cock in her mouth, "please fuck my tits", etc. It was all wonderful ecstasy but the coupe de grace was when Donna asked if I'd like to fuck her mouth. So I straddled her breasts & began to hump her mouth. Her eyes looked up at me as I gave it to her deeply. It was a peculiar but erotic sight.

Donna stayed with me the entire night. I felt like I was the king of the world. Like I was the sultan of sex with my own harem. Like I was the high potentate, the high priest of perversion - I think you get the idea. My ego had gotten a big boost. I slept very well cuddled-up with her. The next morning I took her to breakfast. The quiet lady was back but now more smiling and relaxed. I just felt wonderful. We did a little sightseeing. I found a CF100 fighter jet mounted on a pedestal in a park. We stopped and I took some photos of Donna beneath the plane. She said that she really should be getting home. She was expected home last night and this was the first time she stayed out all night on such a date! She wanted to stay. I was quite flattered. Apparently, her hubby & girlfriend were worried about her & had been driving around looking for her! I believe that I gave her a ride home, as I don't think she had a car back at the motel. I thanked her sincerely for the experience. It was unbelievable. I kissed her on the lips, those same lips that had so eagerly worked on my cock.

The CF-100 we found in Moncton. Donna stands below it

On the ride out of town I began thinking about all the positive aspects of this encounter. No one was cheated on and no one was hurt. No feelings of guilt or dirty secrets to conceal. Nobody was talked into something they weren't ready for or didn't want. It was all open & above board. There weren't any of the arguments, fights, and nasty break-ups that often happen with relationships. None of the strings, commitments, or hidden agendas that women often employ. Donna wasn't out to rope me into matrimony, or to be a father for any kids, nor was she looking for a meal ticket to Ontario. She wasn't looking to mold or change me. And I didn't have to pay for it. I knew guys have used hookers, but they weren't for me. There were times that I was tempted, but I knew what hookers were like. They hated themselves and their addictions and hated their Johns even more. Donna didn't love me, what we had was lust. But she sincerely loved to please & be pleased. It was a symbiotic relationship. And I truly loved being with her. It was an affair I'd remember all my life. I'd come to know that not everything that's beautiful is good but everything that's good is beautiful. Donna was VERY good to me and that was beautiful. Whenever I think back on all the hurtful women I knew, I think of Donna and then the others fade to insignificance.



I never met her hubby, who was a working-class guy at the railroad about my own age, but what a gift he had given me. He'll never know. But then maybe he does. He had "trained" her even better than Cam was capable of with his ladies. I gained a new confidence. I also gained an appreciation for what married women were capable of. That night was better than any spent with single girls to date. I was inspired by the positive spin on this adventure to continue swinging when I returned to Ontario. Later on, I would have a couple of threesomes with some professional, executive type couples, which were also very rewarding. So while the Horvath brothers tried to achieve threesomes with barflies and Cam unsuccessfully tried talking Dorothy into a threesome, I found the guaranteed way was through ads from sober, like-minded people. It just took a little work to set-up. Discretion & honesty were the important factors to these folks. They needed people who wouldn't expose their private desires, or who would create complications.



I found the famed Magnetic Hill in Moncton & checked it out. Parking the car in neutral at the bottom of the hill, the car began to roll backwards uphill. The water in the ditch also appeared to flow uphill. This was an optical illusion created by the surrounding topography but it was very convincing. I then drove down to Fundy National Park where the Bay of Fundy narrows. Here you get some of the highest movements of the tide in the world & the water comes rushing in like a tidal wave. It was low tide at present and boats sat on the dry bottom many feet below the docks. Pools of water remained where all manner of aquatic life were trapped until the tide returned. Columns of stone rose into the air that at other times were small islands, like the Flowerpots at Tobermory. A father & son rode their motorbikes on this vast expanse of ocean floor that sometime later would once again be flooded. It was a breathtaking vista. It was getting late & time I headed back to Fredericton.

I phoned Donna a week or so later to see how she was doing. And for the selfish reason of seeing if we could arrange another meeting in the week or two I had left. Donna was doing OK. Although her hubby was jealous that she stayed out all night and that she had a better time than he did. Apparently, her girlfriend wasn't much fun for him, holding herself back. That's understandable, as she knew both of them and that leads to complications - no matter how much she was told by both that "it was OK". Anyway, Donna wouldn't be able to go unescorted again. It would have to be same room swinging and I think she didn't want her hubby watching us (maybe he didn't want her to repeat with me again). Maybe this put an end to their swinging? Maybe their marriage later failed? Maybe their experimentation led to a stronger union that didn't require others? Who can say? It's just as well that we didn't have another session. I mean, we had done just about everything that was conventional. If we met again it would likely be just a repeat. Besides, we might get too attached. That could get complicated. The fantasy & mystery need to be separate from too much reality. Although, I wouldn't have minded an encounter with both Donna & her girlfriend. The ultimate threesome - two chicks & one guy, me. Reality would suggest that this was highly unlikely for me. But we all dream. That's the scenario that Donna's husband was working towards. Maybe he got his wish? Better yet, I would have liked to have traded places with him. I guess there's a bit of a scoundrel in us all, if we are allowed to be.

Final Days

Back at work, my cohorts said I should have visited the "sandbar", their name for PEI. As they thought Moncton wasn't anything special (little did they know). My time was drawing to a close at 403 Squadron. I did manage to service a few Sea Kings (or "Sea Things") and one day an American Air National Guard Huey dropped by & I talked with the crew. Warrant Grondin signed me off on PI's & other checks. A Change of Command Parade took place. I was exempted from having to wear a dress uniform & participating, I guess because I was a visitor. So I took photos. They had a band and the choppers hovered & did fly-pasts. 

After almost two months, the young guys of the unit finally accepted me enough that they invited me out with them. That's when I discovered that most of them were potheads & toked all the time. My last night after work they got me totally incapacitated.

The lads ground handle a Kiowa

Towards the end of my stay, I visited a place the locals told me about, Grand Lake. It was a large, clean lake, about half the way to Moncton. The water was still & clear. The kind of place where close-knit cottagers partied on their beach. Not a touristy spot at all. I never did see PEI. It just seemed too far away. Fredericton is the capitol of New Brunswick. I recall visiting the Provincial Legislature Building. There was also an art museum donated by Lord Beaverbrook, which I visited. Beaverbrook was the New Brunswicker that made a significant contribution to England during the war. Even the UNB campus had its share of history. Many of the buildings were old & ivy covered. This campus had far more character than the dreary concrete of my campus back at York University in Toronto. It was just so damn quiet here in the summer. I wrote a song, "The Gagetown Blues" as a means of recording some of our experiences here. I packed up my gear & memories & was ready to go home.


Chatham Revisited

I was in contact with Deb in Chatham. She knew I was done and was heading out this weekend. She convinced me to come back to Chatham & we'd make a weekend of it. I agreed. It was nice to see her again. She took me around to see Rosemarie & Suzy at work. All the girls had gotten over their "separation anxiety" from my Reserve mates. Or so it appeared. Debbie took me to a pool party at her relative's house. I played with the kids. She also took a niece & myself to a carnival that was in town. We played the games of chance & I think I won a stuffed animal for the girl. Debbie invited me to sleep over at her place. All was well and good. Then she dropped a bomb on me.

She asked me if she could catch a ride to Toronto with me. She has taken time off work and wants to surprise Cam with her visit. I had no problem with Deb's company for the drive but the more that she told me, the more concerned I was that her visit would be a real surprise, all right! She was still stuck on Cam and believed that she & he were an item. From her perspective, Cam had led her to believe she was the only lady for him. He obviously hadn't mentioned Dorothy. This was getting uncomfortable.

That evening Madame was as charming as ever. It was now quite late. We all were getting ready to turn in for the night when there was a knock at the door. A beautiful young woman enters with a baby in her arms. She's someone that Madame knows. The woman speaks to Madame about the bad mood her boyfriend is in & requests a safe haven here for the night. Of course Madame agrees. Her reputation for taking in strays must be universal. The woman is thankful & quarters are made for her & child. I've been given a small room & I turn in. Sometime in the middle of the night, I awake to sound of the throaty roar of a high performance car. The light from headlights cascades past the sheer curtains of my room, while the sound of squealing & spinning tires is heard outside. I look to see a car doing circles on the front lawn. Its spinning tires are chewing up the grass. By now, everyone else is awake & has gathered in the living room in their nightgowns. The young woman is deeply upset. "It's him", she says. "Somehow he's found me." It was then I learn that "him" was that bad-assed Mallet that we had been warned about. Madame is worried about the young woman's safety and feels she should call the police. But the woman says that we don't know what he's capable of & there will be hell to pay for her (and him) if the cops get involved. She's insistent that he won't leave without her, even to the point of a shoot-out with police. He won't go back to Dorchester Prison. "At times he is really a good man & a good father. It's just when he drinks. I can calm him down. It's better if I go with him". If she doesn't do it soon, he'll bust his way in.

I'm tempted to do something. But what? Madame & Debbie have no weapons and we're told that he does. I re-think the situation & decide to keep out of this domestic. The woman hurriedly packed up her belongings & baby, and was out the door. She got in the car & it raced off, burning rubber. Other neighbours watched the spectacle but did nothing besides watching. Perhaps they knew the car and the driver's reputation. The three of us looked at each other. There wasn't much to say, so we went back to bed. I doubt if any of us slept, after all of the excitement.

In the morning we surveyed the damage. Madame's kindness had been repaid with a torn-up lawn. No good deed goes unpunished. Somehow I feared that Debbie's kindness would be repaid only by a broken heart. She was upbeat about the adventure that lay ahead. But I could only see it turning out badly. We put her bags in the trunk. We both said goodbye to Madame. It would be the last time I saw her. We drove along the Miramichi for a bit, for my final time.

I don't know what became of any of those people in Chatham. But as we drove off, I hoped that the prick in the car from last night would get everything that was coming to him. That pretty, young lady surely could do better than being saddled with that violent convict. Like so many in the play we call "life", she had chosen a role in a tragedy. Me, well I prefer the comedies.

I was in a hurry to get home. There would be no sightseeing stops on this trip. Even with only quick stops for gas, restroom breaks, and eating hamburgs while driving, it would still take about 16 hours of continuous motoring. Debbie spelled me at the wheel for a bit on the earlier part of the journey. By the time we got towards Toronto it was dark. I was determined to do the driving in Ontario, as I knew the road. By this time, fatigue had taken hold. The poor night's sleep didn't help. I was having trouble staying awake. I didn't tell Deb but I was starting to hallucinate. I was seeing deer run across the 401 that just weren't there. Even 60 miles per hour seemed way too fast. Thankfully, we made it to Toronto. I forget where I dropped Debbie off. I'm sure I invited her to stay with my folks & I in Burlington. We had the space with a couple of unused bedrooms. But she had made other arrangements. Maybe it was with the Grinches or possibly over at the Coopers.

Back At Downsview

I know that Joe Grinch told his wife all about the girls in Chatham. Joe always honestly leveled with Marg about any ladies he met on his travels. I also know that Cam thought Joe was stupid on this account. Being totally honest with your spouse was a dumb move, in Cam's estimation. Even if your better half caught you with another woman in your bed, you denied, denied, and denied. Even as the other woman got dressed & walked out. He felt if you denied it enough, she would eventually disbelieve what her eyes had seen. I knew Cam hadn't told Dorothy a word about Debbie.

Driving all that way with Debbie, I had become pissed-off with Cam. How could he have led this girl on? She didn't get into specifics but revealed that Cam had been intimate with her (Cam would be intimate with most if they let him) and he told her things that suggested they had a future. She was looking forward to spending time with him & hoped for a long-term relationship. Knowing Cam, he probably fed her a bunch of lines like, "Baby you're the greatest. The only one for me". Terms of endearment that was lines of BS. Meant only for sex & not to be taken seriously. Only she had. Debbie was too plain & domestic for Cam and I knew things wouldn't gel. They weren't over yet.

The summer hiatus at the Wing & the Squadrons was over. Thursday parade nights had resumed. We all had our stories to tell and there we were at the hangar & so was Debbie. A lot of the Chatham boys were glad to see her. Not Dorothy, who was doing a slow burn wondering who this woman was that seemed far too friendly towards Cam. He was being his usual life-of-the-party self. I pulled him aside at one point & let him know why Deb had come & how I felt about this. Cam protested that he hadn't done anything with her. It was all very innocent. He said he didn't even screw her. He did eat her out, just to be nice. He really had no interest in her. He kind of "did for the guys", so we'd have a place to party. Maybe it was her first time but he didn't lead her on or make any promises. He had no idea that she couldn't let go & would show up here. There was no relationship. Well this was something he'd have to sort out for himself. It sounded like he already had.

The group was making its way over to the Junior Ranks to party. I'm in the parking lot opening the door of my car. Suddenly, Dorothy is there beside me as I'm about to get in. She forcefully says, "slide over", as she gets into the car & closes the door. "Who is SHE?", she demands. This starts an interrogation that lasts an hour or more. Great, Dorothy refuses to leave and grabbed the keys from the ignition so I can't leave either. She wants to know everything that happened in Chatham. "Ask Cam", I say. She's relentless. When I tell her that Debbie is a friend of the group, "I don't believe you", is her response. She asks if Cam screwed her. I tell her it was all innocent (quoting Cam's words). Dot alternates between anger, hysterics, and tears. This has gotten very uncomfortable. I'm not going to lie for Cam. My conscience requires that I have to sleep at night. I'm also fond of Dorothy and regard her as a friend, too. So I try to be evasive. Dot is not buying it & is determined to get any & all dirty details out of me. God damn that Hungarian Lothario for putting me into this awkward situation, I thought. She won't confront him about this and won't let me leave. Now I'm getting angry. I didn't ask for this crap.

"Christ Dorothy. You know what he's like. You know he's attractive and that's what attracts you. You don't want to be with an unwanted geek. You suspect that he's unfaithful but you continue to put yourself through all the trauma & you stay with him. You think you can change him. Get him to reject offers from the others or stop him from actively chasing them. But you can't make him loyal." Dorothy keeps pressing for details.

Dorothy lavished Cam with attention. Why even his fine Fender guitar was a gift from her. There was an evening I remember well. Cam didn't have a car, so he got Dot to pick us up in hers. She drove us to Maple Leaf Gardens. She provided us with tickets for the Leaf game. And she had scored a couple of joints for Cam. "Isn't this great?" Cam asked. "You're the best, babe" he tells her. Then she leaves us. Cam & I got high & had a great time. Later, Dot returns to drop us off at Cam's and says goodnight to us. Yeah, great night for us but not much fun for Dot. Cam was pleased that she served us well. He reveled in it. I had the shit impressed out of me. At times like that I was jealous of Cam. How some women couldn't do enough for him. Maybe Cam made it up to Dorothy another time? I have my doubts. It seemed whenever Cam was a good and generous host, there was always a woman behind him that was actually the generous one. Whether that person was his mother, feeding us a meal, or a girlfriend like Dot that did all the work.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Dorothy has regained her composure in my car. She refuses to give me back my keys and starts again about Cam. So I ask her, "Do you really want a threesome?" Again, I have her off guard. You see, Cam had been working on Dorothy for sometime to convince her to service both of us at once. Or perhaps whomever else he wished to include and impress. But Dot did have limits to her love for Cam & continued to refuse this fantasy. I didn't have any strong desires for Dorothy & she probably felt the same about me. She had a nice body but I didn't lust for her. At the upcoming Halloween party, Dot looked mighty fine in a Playboy Bunny costume. That night she was attractive. So, if the mood was right, I wouldn't have refused a menage-a- trois. But it wouldn't be right if she didn't sincerely want it. I knew Dot had a soft spot for Colin Stearman. Maybe she'd be more likely to give Cam this fantasy if Colin were part of the plan.

She finally let the issue drop & handed me my keys. "Talk to Cam," is all I said. I believe Dorothy was taken aback by how many intimate details I knew about her. She opened the door & got out. I didn't feel like partying any longer.

I don't know what transpired about Debbie. She returned home. I don't think anyone in the group saw her again. Our correspondence ended after that. I hope she was let down easily. Rosemarie came for a visit & was a guest at one of the Grinch Christmas Parties. She looked great. Joe told me that another summer, he & Homaluke returned to Chatham for another course. He saw Rosemarie again. By this time, she was attached to a young Navigator at 416. The fellow got quite drunk & was jealous of her friends from Toronto & created quite an ugly incident. The communications with her were severed after that bad scene.

Dorothy continued on with Cam. She turned up the heat on him & wasn't as much fun anymore. She confronted him & called him scores of names & insults, among which she said he was "scum bastard" and "a urinal". Cam laughed at that one later. "You're a urinal", he'd repeat. If she didn't unleash this torrent on him after the Debbie incident, then it happen a bit later after he screwed Terry Hall on a ski weekend, or after some other indiscretion.

I have a few other memories about Dorothy. I remember being with Cam & her at Larry's Hideaway on Carlton. Dot had supplied Cam with more reefers. We must have done these in the parking lot & then came in for a beer. I'm holding my beer glass then get this strange sensation that I've lost control of my right hand. It has a mind of its own & it wants to squeeze the glass until it shatters. I'm finally able to release it & have a strange look on my face. They both want to know what's wrong. They laugh when I attempt to describe what happened. On the way home, I feel the same eerie loss of control, only this time with the foot on the accelerator. I figure that pot must have been laced with something. I've never had a bizarre experience like that before or since! I also recall being with Cam & Dot at Ontario Place. We watched fireworks & drank at the Edelweiss Bar where a crazy, old, bald, guy did something called the "upside down ein prosit". He'd do a headstand & drink a quart of beer. Quite a skill!

Dorothy dumped Cam when he found a fresh submissive lady off base. Ironically, her name was Debbie also (Debbie Underwear). Cam always seemed to have them lined up, waiting to take their turn as his "number one lady". I didn't hear much about Dorothy after I left the Reserve. Cam was my buddy & his old flames were supposed to be disposable & forgotten. When my father died in 1991, the obituary in the Toronto Star resulted in the receipt of a sympathy card from Dot. She didn't mention anything about herself. An attempt to contact her went unanswered. I guess she wanted it that way. I heard that she may have had a kid. Years after they broke up, I recall Cam telling me that they had a chance encounter. Even in recent times, Cam wondered if I had heard anything about her. I don't believe his curiousity means that he cares about how she is today.

Sidekick Or Evil Genius?

After that incident with Dot, I began to realize there was a steep price with being Cam's good buddy. Cam wasn't looking after my interests by setting me up with Janet in North Bay. Nor was he looking after me when he picked-up two ugly girls in some bar at last call & graciously gives the ugliest "as mine". Cam was creating complicity, a covenant amongst us boys. Involving me with Janet guaranteed my silence with Dorothy. Cam just looked after his needs. Although we continued to have adventures, I was wary of being his sidekick. The sidekick tends to come out on the short, or shitty, end of the stick. I didn't want a repeat of that scene with Dorothy in my car. You know, while I was with the Squadron, I'd sometimes think that if I ever struck it rich, like winning millions in a lottery, I would show Cam & my bruddas the time of their lives. I would assemble a bunch of the finest call girls available. Nice guys like Dave Cooper & Dougy Wilkins could have their ultimate fantasies realized. All I would expect from Cam would be him saying, "Fred, this is great"! A boyish fantasy. Many years later, I thought if I struck it rich, it would be nice to charter a jet and fly all the lads and their families down to my place in the Cayman's & have a grand reunion they'd not forget. Today, I'm thinking if I strike it rich, I'd send a cordial invitation for the bruddas to come down for a visit to my place in the Cayman Islands. We'll see who makes an effort. There comes a time when you decide to stop being the sidekick. It's better to give no more than what you get.

Recently, my wife asked a couple of my old squadron mates what I was like back then. We both were curious to see how I was perceived & remembered. Dougy Wilkins remembered me playing guitar to songs like "House on Pooh Corner" & some Eagles tunes. Those were Cam's songs. Doug didn't remember my original ditty "South of the Border", or sitting with me in my shack room singing Beatles tunes - that was me. Not the other stuff. As for what I was like, Doug felt that I would sit back, give Cam some ideas, and send him off to do the wild antics, while I would settle back & observe what happened. I was like Cam's "evil genius", the puppet master pulling his strings. An interesting interpretation! This was how I was perceived by many in the clan. Sure, there were times when Cam & I fed off of each other. But I guess I must have continued to control Cam even after I had left the Reserve. Even after he had gotten tight with Tom Idiott. It's interesting that for all those years when I felt that I was Cam's sidekick, others believed that I was the one responsible for all the shit that Cam got into! Revisionist history & hazy memories are quite something. Somehow Cam was remembered as the harmless, impressionable one, not me. Someone else must have been the schemer. But if that's the way I'm remembered, then so be it. I got all the girls, not Cam. I could say that I laid Jackie McGuiness & every other gorgeous lady. Who could contest that now? But in my mind I was noble. Anyway, despite Doug having info on many former co-workers, many of his details proved to be inaccurate.

No, Doug was wrong. He was confusing me with Cam. I know that Cam & I had very different philosophies - which became more apparent as time went on. Forinstance, there was the time around 1985 when Dad & I were installing new toilet stalls at his church's hall. Cam was delivering part-time for Fedex & dropped by. Cam thought it hilarious & demeaning that we were working in a toilet. Granted, this was not our usual work but dad cut a deal with his priest. A contract & a job to help the priest. The same priest that buried mom, and later funeral services would be held for dad in that church. The same hall would be used for my wedding. Cam just didn't get it. He didn't volunteer or do for others. People did things for him. He also wasn't much of a mechanic or a tradesman. Andy, on the other hand, knew about contracting. I did jobs for him in Oakville & Caledon. And he helped us with jobs at the priest's house. That's the difference. You couldn't count on Cam, other than for a party.

There are no pure villains or saints. And some people are better than others in certain aspects. If you wanted to party with no strings, Cam was your man. If you wanted fidelity, you were best to look elsewhere. The girls just didn't get this. They wanted Cam because they found him attractive or liked his popularity. Then they thought they could change him. None could.

I couldn't understand Cam's need to party to the point of incapacity. I loved music but it wasn't fun playing guitar when you are pissed to the point that your fingers couldn't find the chords any longer & your brain can't remember the lyrics. LuLu's bar in Cambridge isn't fun when you're passed out in the parking lot, or in the john, and Cam is trying to get you back into the club because, "I got us another round". He had an amazing tolerance for booze & grass. It seemed to take more & more of that stuff before he was able to enjoy himself. It was like sex, playing guitar, or whatever, weren't enjoyable in themselves. They all had to be preceded by an intense session of mind-numbing chemicals.

Chip Ray, when asked the same question, what I was like back then, he was bang-on. At least the same way I remembered how things played-out. Chip accurately recounted a lot of details concerning me. Like my wish to start a music publishing company, "Roundel Records". How I loved the old Mustangs & how I was taken by a body shop owner who conned me into giving him my new fenders on the pretext that he would make molds for the creation of fiberglass replicas & give me a free set. Chip remembered that the guy went bankrupt & disappeared with my property. Chip remembered how I was gung-ho on the old RCAF 5BX exercise program, and also a host of other details on events. Chip told my wife that back then he saw me as searching for something. He said that whatever it was, I didn't seem to be finding it there. Man, he was right. Twenty years later & he still had it down pat. He didn't know what it was I was looking for back then, but neither did I clearly know at the time. Looking back now, I'd say that I was looking to fit in. To find acceptance in the group. I wanted to fly, to be a crewman, and a career as an Officer. To be acknowledged by my peers and be a part of the great history & traditions of the old RCAF. I was also looking for "Miss Right" and hoped I might find her there. Where Cam sought the quick & meaningless, I craved something lasting & meaningful. Ultimately, I didn't find those things, other than a lot of adventures. Chip was also trying to find his way, too. In 1981, he'd join the Regular Force on a 14-year odyssey.

Westward Ho, The Cross Continent Road Trip

The Motorhome on the road

When I returned home from the East Coast, the summer of 1980 was winding down. I was shocked to find a motor home in our driveway. Dad had purchased it while I was away. The plan was to make a trip across the continent this autumn. Mom had been in declining health for several years. She had heart/lung surgery a few years back. She was on insulin for diabetes and took a host of medications for hypertension, glaucoma, etc. You name it, she had it. If we were to travel, this was the best way to go. Our own bathroom for her frequent "having to go" & a fridge for her insulin. She knew she only had a few years at best & she wanted to have an extended family vacation - something we never seemed to have time for. It was a nice idea. Dad would actually take six weeks away from his business. Not since 1971, when dad took five weeks away with mom to visit her family in Czechoslovakia, had they done something like that. I didn't have any plans. No "B" Class commitment with the RSU at the moment. I needed a break after the "Gagtown" experience.  So, I set about getting familiar with our home on wheels. Getting a feel for how it drove. I'd just driven from the East Coast & now would drive to the western one! I'd not driven something this large before. It was built on a truck frame with a GRW of about 5 tons. Powered by a Dodge 413 truck engine. We'd be leaving soon, in mid September. Mom & dad had taken her kid brothers on a road trip to Vancouver before I was born. They had not repeated this since I came along. Now was the time.
I still have a map that has all our stops marked on it. I remember our first overnighter. We pulled into a KOA (Kampgrounds of America) somewhere around Huntsville. We level the rig & go to plug in the electric connection. Then we realize our plug won't fit. We have a large 30-amp plug that won't fit a standard socket. Not without an adapter, which we don't have. Lights could run off of 12 V battery power & the fridge ran on propane as well as 110 V, so we were all right. If we needed hot water we could run the generator. We were learning about all the little quirks that went with this mobile home. Such as dumping the holding tank before it backed up into the shower floor. North of Superior there was snow flurries already. We had a campground to ourselves, as travelers were few after Labour Day. The furnace was needed that night. Saturday night in Dryden we witnessed a sad sight with drunken Indians & the cops. The policeman took away a baby from a woman who was so drunk that she was falling over with the baby in her arms. He screamed at her.  

Freddy K poses in front of the RV, somewhere north of Superior, 1980

I swear that we visited every relative & friend of the family clear across North America. Particularly in the Prairies. Dad wanted to show me his hometown in Manitoba, so we went to Fork River in the north, after seeing cousins in Dauphin. His cousin owned a music shop in Dauphin & had given dad the latest Ukrainian 8-tracks by a local ethnic band, which dad would play incessantly the whole trip. I'd grow to hate that music! There wasn't much left in Fork River. Many places were boarded-up & even the train didn't stop there any more. A small diner was one of the few businesses still open. We met one of dad's childhood chums. He still lived on the family farm. A bachelor, Mike produces a couple of dirty glasses from a cupboard & a jug of white lightning. Yep, they were still making it, just like in my grand mother's day when she was the local bootlegger. Mike tells us how the family farm is dead. It's all agri-business now with huge acreage. Harvesting is done with rows of combines.

Along the way, many people would notice our Ontario plates & many would say that they were originally from Ontario. This happened even in California. But I noticed that Western Canadians were different. Some folks would see our plates at a stoplight & would smirk or yell an insult. The dominant political thought here really was "let those eastern bastards freeze in the dark". Even among some of our relatives there was this feeling that Western Canada was a colony of Ontario & that we had been raping them for generations. Well, I hadn't raped anyone that I could think of but we were simply suffering some of the fall-out from the National Energy Program. Unlike the Maritimers who were happy-go-lucky & accepted their regional disparity, Westerners were mad as hell. Since Ottawa was in Ontario, we were the same as those bastards. You could see why the Reform Party was born.

We met lots of characters along the way. My dad's brother, my Uncle Andy, was one of them. He owned a hotel in Creighton, Saskatchewan. This wasn't the Waldorf-Astoria. It was a typical beer hall with cheap rooms upstairs. Andy wasn't much of a businessman. He had to hustle to make ends meet. He knew how long it took for the beer truck to make its delivery rounds. He'd take delivery of the beer & give the driver a cheque for an account which had nothing in it. He knew it took a couple of days before the truck gets back to its office, so he'd sell the beer & deposit funds in time to cover the cheque. Lots of these small towns didn't have stores that sold alcohol, so bars sold cases of beer for "carry out".

Andy lived upstairs in one of the rooms. He invites us up. Another bachelor, so the housekeeping is poor. Andy also invited a young barmaid upstairs to entertain her with his "cymbali", a Ukrainian stringed instrument that you play on your lap by hitting the strings with sticks. Kind of like a xylophone. Andy's having a great time but it's a trifle crowded with five of us in his room. Someone comes to the door & says that the boyfriend of the lady he's entertaining is downstairs looking for her. He said to tell him that she's already left. He tells us he'll take her home. As he leaves with her, we take our cue to return to the RV. Andy's likely to get pounded out at this rate! Yep, Andy was a character. He made no bones about writing to women all over the place. Not swingers, more like lonely hearts. He'd tell them that he owned a hotel. Some would come to see him & get a big shock when they saw the place in this one horse town.

We met some distant relatives that farmed in Saskatchewan. He was an interesting chap who flew Lancs during the war. He had lots of stories & said he was working on a book of those wartime days and would send me a copy. Never received it, so I assume he never finished it. A pity.

Until this point we hadn't done any sightseeing, other than people's driveways. And tacky spots like the world's largest Ukrainian Easter Egg in Vegreville, Alberta. That was a thrill! We went north to Edmonton. No, not to see the West Edmonton Mall, but mom's brother. I was getting embarrassed at dropping in on so many people unannounced. Finally we left the flat land of the Prairies for the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Some of the mountain passes were scary. You couldn't leave the cruise control "on" here! There were runaway lanes at the bottom of steep descents, for trucks whose brakes failed. The scenery was breathtaking. A stop at Lake Louise was everything the folks said it was. Banff was beautiful. Lots of road construction while the weather held. Somewhere in the mountains, a dump truck was carrying rock in the other direction. As we passed each other, a stone bounced off from that truck & shattered our windshield while I was driving. I was more startled than hurt as I was showered by glass. A hat kept the shards out of my eyes. I escaped with only a few small cuts & managed to keep our rig on the road. Found a glass shop & they replaced the windshield without too long a delay.

I loved BC. Lots of contrast with the mountains, valleys, rivers, and ocean. Outside of Vancouver, you guessed it, more relatives to drop in on. With all the Xmas cards the folks exchanged, they kept tabs on a huge number of people. Dad's cousin Nick & his wife Vera were older than my parents were. My dad was about 63 at the time but these folks were closer to 80. Now traveling with your senior-citizen parents for several weeks can be a strain, especially when in close quarters. I had picked-up a couple of swingers magazines, these ones with black & white pics. This helped me get through a number of nights - remembering my time with Donna. But staying with these two people for a couple of days, I really felt that we'd hit rock bottom. Not even the magazines could lift my spirits.

They lived in a trailer in the suburbs of Langley, stuck on a lot. These were popular throughout the West. Their space was not too much larger than our RV. Only their trailer never moved. And their idea of an outing was to go to this particular restaurant where they got free coffee when they showed their Senior Card. And seniors got 25% off their meals on this particular day. Whoopee! Nick & Vera went to bed after 8PM and awoke before dawn. Breakfast consisted of something like cottage cheese & cantaloupe. I had to make a break for it. My folks weren't too interested in seeing Vancouver. After all, they had done that some 30 years ago. Besides, they were tired & hanging around with Nick & Vera, their arteries were hardening.

I caught a bus & made a day of it alone in Vancouver. They have a nude beach but not any scenery at that time of year. I walked around Stanley Park & the zoo. I thought Gastown might still be like the wild place that my university roommate, Doug, had experienced in the early '70's. It was a hippie hangout, where LSD and free love flourished. Alas, the place was now a sanitized area ripe with trendy boutiques. Just like Yorkville had become in Toronto. The steam clock was still there, unchanged even if the area had. The city was quiet. Even the hookers on Pender were tame. I talked to a street vendor who said, "Van was more like Victoria - it's now the retirement capital of Canada". Hong Kong money had caused real estate prices to go through the roof. It was no longer a Mecca for young people. They couldn't afford it. I went to see a flick. Jack Nicholson in "The Shining". That was a grabber!

Riding the bus back to Langley, I fell asleep. I awoke to a commotion. The bus stopped at an accident scene, which had just happened. A car had rolled over into the ditch. With groggy eyes I go over to help. The weird thing was that the motor was still running with the car upside down. It shouldn't have. Fuel injection wasn't common then & the gas should have run out of the carb's vent & the float should have shut off the supply, stalling the engine. I reached in & turned off the key. A guy was still inside hanging from his seat belt. We got him out. Both he & his buddy were pissed. Back at the RV, I was pleased to have been a night owl, while everyone else had crashed around dusk.

From BC, we headed south to Washington. Outside of Tacoma, in Aberdeen, were more of dad's cousins and his ancient Uncle was still alive. One of the young ladies in this family was an aspiring actress in the local theater group. She took me for a tour of her theater. She had the affected accents & mannerisms of "theater people" but at least she & her friends were impressed that I was an acting student & had performed. Her brother played college football & we talked about the NFL and CFL. At last, people of my own age group with similar interests! Before our departure, they gave us baggies of volcanic dust from the Mount St. Helen's eruption. The dust had covered everything in the area. From there, it was a stop on the ocean in Oregon to visit more people from this family. This group didn't get along with the other bunch in Washington. Got to hear all the family politics, whether we wanted to or not. They were trendy folks with a modern place by the water. They had lived in the San Fernando Valley in California, and as a testament to that lifestyle, they had all the latest conveniences & toys. A side-by-side fridge with the icemaker in the door. Had a new microwave. The place was like the set of "The Price Is Right". They had a couple of teens that were hip but wished they were back in The Valley. The girl was especially bored. Probably missed the Galleria Mall, "fer sure"!


California was a land of variety & it took ages to get from the north of the state to the south. Ronald Regan had made this state a land of milk & honey. We saw Mount Shasta. And we got to L.A. Saw smog & it's true: L.A. is a great big freeway - complete with gridlock! We parked near Grauman's Chinese Theater. Dad had to pose beside Gary Cooper's name & handprints in cement. The folks took a break while I walked Hollywood Boulevard. Hollywood & Vine was then the center of sleaze. It reminded me of Yonge Street from a few years back, with sex shops & runaway kids bumming quarters. I did see the Capitol Records building & Frederick's of Hollywood.

We stayed at the Disneyland KOA & had to make a visit to this Anaheim landmark. I also convinced the folks to do the Universal Studios Tour. It was neat to see "Leave it to Beaver's" house and the house from Hitchcock's "Psycho". We were told that Kate Jackson from "Charlie's Angels" got her start here as a tour guide. Hey, maybe they're hiring? Having done the touristy things, we couldn't leave Los Angeles without visiting someone & dad made phone contact with a family friend whom had left Manitoba & married an American living here.

He got directions & we found the place. She was OK but he was another character. A southern "good ole boy" that did something in the aviation biz. He gave me a print of a KC-135 Tanker refueling B-52's. Nice. I pinned it up in my room for a number of years. Anyway, he was a card-carrying member of the NRA. And he had enough guns to equip a small army. Guns for every occasion. He showed me his collection. "Now this one I carry to & from work. While this here baby goes in the glove box. Y'all ever see the Dirty Harry movies? That's a 44 Magnum. Here, try it for feel". The bloody thing is like a cannon. "It's too big to holster on your side, so see the holster puts it across your chest. Now this is a 357. I took this one outside when a bunch of blacks parked in front of the house. I said, 'You boys get the fuck away from here'. They didn't want to mess with this when I pointed it at them." I wonder if the same bravado would be shown to the Crypts & Bloods in recent years, or if he had to move up to sub-machine guns? He did have them all. From US 45's to James Bond's Walther PPK. Even a Derringer he put in his sock. Wow, the land of the brave and the armed to the teeth!

Now that I'm suitably impressed & terrified, his teenage son offers to take me out for a ride. He's got a pretty hot car & we go cruising Colorado Blvd. He tells me that his old man is pretty lame. A real redneck. While stopped at a light, he glances over to the car beside him. They both rev engines. The light changes & they both floor it. The drag race culture that the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean sang about in the 1960's is still alive in Southern California. The same thing happens at just about every light with new contestants. I'm really blown away by this. Then we're driving in a very Hispanic area, where the places have shutters or bars on their windows. There's lots of graffiti in Spanish. I'm a little uneasy as I think we're in the heart of the barrio. He scores a joint or two from a couple of tough looking chicos. He peels off as he sparks one up & passes it over. "If it wasn't for this shit, I don't think I could handle it, man", he states as he passes it to me. He thinks he's got it tough. "My old man is John Wayne & the old lady is Suzy Homemaker". I just nod. I believe I have met the typical, dysfunctional Californian family!

It's time to move on. Stay at a campground near Palm Springs. It's hot as blazes & a good thing the AC works. Then we're on the road to Vegas. As soon as you hit the Nevada State line there are slot machines at the gas stations & shops. "Why drive to Vegas", the sign says. Eventually the lights of Vegas glow in the desert distance. What a place. You can do anything at any hour. Chapels for quickie weddings & places for quicker divorce. We stay at the Hacienda Hotel, as this one has its own trailer park. Redd Foxx is performing here, the star of "Sanford & Son". Tickets aren't cheap. But booze & food is - anything to keep you in the casino. I had a budget & when that was gone I quit. There are more pages for escort services in the Yellow Pages than for most other businesses.

Freemont Street in downtown Las Vegas, as it used to look



Leaving Vegas behind. The drive through the desert is quite something. There's the Grand Canyon and many buttes. We stop at a historic mining town called Calico. You can almost see the ghosts of a bygone age. Outside Omaha Nebraska, I make a side trip to the Strategic Air Command Museum. There are a number of planes & missiles on display. A B-58 Hustler, B-36 Peacemaker, as well as B-17, B-29, B-47, and B-52. Many others.

Postcards from the Strategic Air Command Museum in Omaha, Nebraska




Chicago, Chicago, That Totlin' Town

It was an uneventful drive through a number of states, until we hit Chicago. More crazy traffic & drivers. They can't pull behind you & exit. No, they have to pass you, cut in front and slam on their brakes to turn onto the exit ramp at the last second. More than a few times I had to hit the binders hard to avoid putting the RV into someone's trunk.

The purpose of the Chicago stop was to visit dad's cousin Nat (my but didn't dad have a lot of cousins). Nat was the eldest of his brothers & the one who had done well for himself. He invented a burglar alarm system with pressure sensors many years ago & had been "living high on the hog" in a Chicago suburb. We had been there before. When I was about 14, we came for Nat's daughter Eleanor's wedding in the late 1960's. I remember it well. I caught the garter! I guess that wedding was a disappointment for Nat. Eleanor was his only child & she ended-up marrying a USN sailor. I remember that she had a copy of Gord Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" in her record collection and her husband-to-be showed me a manual for the automated gun turret from his ship.

It was a dozen years later. The sailor was out of the navy. He and Eleanor, as well as their young boy were all living with Nat & his wife. The elders were quite elderly. Eleanor was now quite matronly, no longer the blushing bride. Her hubby seemed to spend all his time at home working on Heathkit electronic projects with his young son. They just completed their latest one, a primitive binary computer. The kid was doing math problems in binary. A couple of years later, Andy Gyorffy would have a Texas Instruments TI-99 that was vastly superior. Anyway, the dashing sailor was now a computer geek.

On our previous Chicago trip I had seen the captured German U-boat, which was cool. The only thing I was interested in seeing this time was the Blue Jays. They were in town to play the White Sox. Our hosts didn't know where to get tickets but kept saying that I should go see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field, here on the north side. I walked down the street to the corner store. I asked the counter person about Sox tickets. He echoed similar sentiments as those of my relations. "That's at Comiskey Park on the south side. You don't want to go there." A customer then joined the discussion. "Hell, if you take public transit, they'll mug you. If you take a vehicle there, it'll be stripped or stolen. The only way I go to the south side is with a 357 Magnum. Go see the Cubs. It's safe". Well, like Jim Croce's song "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown", the south side of Chicago really was the baddest part of town. I didn't want to go to Wrigley. And since everyone was trying to discourage me, and failed to give me info on tickets & how to get there, I gave up on the Jays. Maybe it was the smart thing. Or maybe I was now a party to their own fears. But these people know their city better than I, and they had lived through race riots & other nasty stuff. Even before Capone, Chicago was known as the city of "big shoulders". Not just the Windy City.

Mo Town

In Detroit, mother decided she needed a bottle of booze. This quest took us through some bad territory. Blocks & blocks of burned-out & boarded-up houses. The aftermath of urban decay & the legendary "Devil's Nights" that preceded Halloween in Detroit. I recognized the area around Tiger Stadium, having been there for a ball game. Having gotten our bearings, we got some booze at a liquor store & got the hell out of there.

Ohio

I guess we couldn't drive across North America JUST seeing dad's relatives. Mom wanted to see some distant relations of hers in the Cleveland area. There were three families there. I'd known them all since childhood from visits, weddings, etc. They were all proud, patriotic Americans. There were the Zagorski's. The patriarch worked for many years at the Lorain crane factory, where they made steam shovels & such. I suppose Japanese heavy equipment makers killed that company. That would have brought a tear to old Joe's eyes. They had sons who had been in the armed forces & survived. The Milos family wasn't so lucky. They lost their only son in Vietnam. He may have been about my age, or it was the fact that I was in the military myself, but my presence reminded them about their lost son. They kept breaking down in tears every time they looked at me. This was awkward for all of us. Then there was the Sekarak family. An elderly couple, their only child was a daughter, Carol. She was much older than I was and she was still living at home with her parents. She was well on her way to becoming a spinster. Despite this,Carol was pretty cool. She worked in Personnel at Ford's' Cleveland Engine Plant, the home of the 351 Cleveland & other renowned engines. She drove a new Mustang! I sensed that Carol had a secret side to her, like she was looking for "Mr. Goodbar" for tawdry sex. She liked younger men & perhaps today might be called a Cougar.

Carol sensed that I was bored & took me to a fantastic club by the airport. It was called 386 Bomb Group, or something similar. The place was massive. I went to many clubs in the early 1980's: Lulu's, The Bakery & The Library in Niagara Falls, the 747 in Buffalo, even the Havana Café in Havana in recent times, but I've never seen anything like it before or since. The owners must have spent a fortune. It was like a shrine to WWII and air power in particular. There were all kinds of aviation memorabilia. Mock-ups of aircraft, leather flying jackets & helmets on mannequins. There was a MASH like scene with a hospital truck, and an area that looked like a bunker with sandbags & camouflage netting. There even was a scene reminiscent of a bombed building with partial brick walls & debris. What a nightclub! We drank, danced & talked. We got back late. From here we headed home. I'd have a few stories to tell & memories to last a lifetime.

Halloween

Returned home from the RV trip towards the end of October. Back at the squadron, I got wind of a Halloween Party on base, which a bunch of our people said they were going to. Speaking with Ken Mills, it was decided that it might be a hoot if we went in drag. Kenny was fairly new to the Squadron. He was a couple of years older than myself & was an accomplished musician. Ken was a good sport, a lot of fun, and I considered him a Renaissance Man. He was interested in many things, had done a number of those interests, and went where his spirit led him. So Ken was game and then we talked Al Cooper into being one of the sisters - "Alice" Cooper.

We had a bit of time to put together our costumes. I think Ken raided his aunt's place for suitable garb. I approached mother to see if she could lend anything that would fit. Not much did. I borrowed cosmetics, a purse, & some accessories. I threw myself into my part, just like my old theater days. It wasn't quite like playing the lead character of El Gallo in the musical The Fantastiks, but I approached it as seriously. To achieve my alter ego, "Frederica", would involve some shopping. Sears provided a skirt, top, and wig. Large shoes were a problem but it was solved. The Sally Ann netted a few requisites. I got opaque stockings that covered the leg hair. Gloves worked for covering my rough hands and dispensed with the need for nail polish. Even found breast forms & a suitable bra. Well, if you're going to transform, you might as well do it right! I liked lingerie, so here was a chance to test-drive some myself. I was getting into this project & unleashing my feminine, creative side!

The night of the party rolls around. I'm looking in the mirror & realize that my mustache spoils the illusion. It has to go. Ah, much better. Hardly Kate Jackson, but you can only do so much when this "Charlie's Angel" is 6'-2" & weighs 180 lbs.! I remember visiting my old buddy, Ed, in Hamilton before heading to the base. I clomp down the street to his door in my low heels & swinging my purse. Ed does a double take when the door opens to reveal this tall, ugly broad. When I speak, he then knows who it is & laughs. Ed's dressed as a ghoulish figure. I ask if he wants to go to the party in Toronto, but he declines as he's going to a local one. His parents take a photo of us before I leave. Walking back to the car, I notice the strange sensation of the cool evening air flowing up my skirt. This is different. I guess ladies get use to it. Scotsmen or members of our Pipe Band must get the same with their kilts!

I arrived at the Supply depot for the party. Ken looks pretty good, like a middle-aged lady. Al, on the other hand, looked like he had raided his grand mother's closet. His mustache gave him away. Then again, my grandma had one. For quite awhile, Cam wondered "who is that trollop", while looking at me. I guess being clean-shaven fooled a few folks as to my identity. Once he knew it was I, he kept copping feels. He was amazed (or shocked) at the lengths I had gone to for my costume. Rob Carr came as a priest. We streetwalkers attempted to convert him to the dark side all night.

Vinny from the RSU had a great costume. Vinny, whose name was actually Ivan Vindor (but he looked like a Vinny) was a bear of a man but a gentle guy. He could give Ron Mercy a tough time in a scuffle but Vinny wasn't like that. Well, he came as a pregnant angel, complete with wings & a halo. He teamed up with Cam, who came as the devil. Cam had written on his chest "Heaven Can Wait", while Vinny had on his pregnant stomach "I Couldn't". Cam used his devil's tail like a penis, which had us in stitches.

We posed with it suggestively. Cam also inserted it into the mouth of a Jack-o-lantern. Diane The Jugs was also there in a devil's costume. It suited her. Joanne Pilsener came in a toga. Andy must have been there, taking the photos. Andy always preferred being behind the camera, rather than in front of it.

Halloween @ Supply Depot, 1980


Besides Al, some of the others from the Cooper Clan were there. Dave came as one of those hosers, the McKenzie Brothers. Phyllis "GiGi" Cooper also came in a toga. This may have been the first time she had come to an event on base. She hadn't joined the Reserve yet. Although many of us knew her from seeing her at Cooper pool parties, etc. She was starting to come of age. Whereas, a short while ago she looked like a kid, in her costume on this night, she looked like Aphrodite - a Greek goddess. Dorothy, as mentioned elsewhere, came as a Playboy Bunny. She looked pretty hot. But even when she smiled, that sad countenance of hers was still visible.

I must have drove home when the event was over. I did enjoy our night in drag. It was a sort of Monty Pythonesque evening of "We're Airmen & We're OK". More like being the Sweet Transvestite from the "Rocky Horror Picture Show". In subsequent years I've gone to a number of costume parties. I've gone as Alice Cooper (in his "I Want To Be Elected" period, with top hat & tux), gone as a mummy, even as Mickey Mouse. Haven't gone out in drag again. Perhaps because it's already been done. More likely because I wasn't very convincing. And I'm not going to shave my mustache off again! The feminine side remains denied and my drag queen flirtations ended.

The rest of the Fall was pretty quiet. I recall that MCpl Rick Peters from 403 Squadron was transferred into the RSU sometime after I had returned from Gagetown. He had a weathered, leathery face & was on the quiet side. But it was great to see a familiar face around Downsview from my East Coast experiences.

Promotion (Getting Hooked)

Sometime in April or May 1980, I received a promotion to Corporal. This occurred after 2 years in the organization & after attaining my TL3 in Airframe. It came as a surprise during a squadron briefing. The speaker commented that there was someone present who was out of uniform. My name was spoken & I was called to the front. I was handed a pair of Corporal's hooks to applause & a round of "Hooray for Kuzyk…he's a horse's ass!" I remembered when I was presented with my Private's hooks. As it was back then, it was expected that I'd buy a round of drinks at the Mess. I think Sgt Dave Hellyer wore a Corporal's flight jacket, so that he could sneak in for the celebration. I still have a list of drink orders I wrote down in my little pocket notebook.

So, after this initial expense came the additional expense of going to Stores & getting a bunch of hooks for fatigues & dress uniform tunic. Also obtained were Corporal's "collar dogs" for the dress shirts (hooks weren't sewn on them). Then a trip to the base tailor to pay to have the insignia installed. I guess mom could have done it but the results may not have been correct. I checked my account at the Base Credit Union. Still had enough of my chequing account left after buying drinks to pay for the tailor. Anyway, the tailor looks at my ill fitting tunic & said it looked like a clown's costume. It was baggy & obviously the wrong size. Private Goodyear, who issued it 2 years earlier, didn't like Reservists. & it manifested itself in my uniform. Finally, I looked sharp.

Royal Winter Fair

Parades were a common activity for us: Remembrance Day, Battle of Britain, and other ceremonies. I recall that someone got the bright idea that there should be a military presence at the Royal Winter Fair at the CNE grounds and our superiors committed us to it. This took place one evening at the Coliseum. For those unfamiliar with the venue, it's the horse palace. With band playing & colours flying, we marched into the dirt of the ring. There had been horse & wagon performances prior to our moment. It was awful. The music echoed in this barn, throwing some out of step. All of us had a hard time marching in the uneven ruts & horse shit! Some almost fell. I recall laughs & heckles as we marched out. This was not our finest hour. Never again would we do The Royal, thank god.

Stand Down

As Christmas approached, activities at 400 Squadron would cease for the holidays. On the final working day, work halted & the Squadron would "stand down". This was a pleasant duty. Earlier, we had drawn names from a hat & the name you drew was the person you'd give a gift to in an exchange. There was a budget that we'd stay in. We'd adjourn to the Canteen with our gifts. The squadron would put-up cases of beer & some light food. Festive music played, while we played darts, cards, or just talked. Of course this was another opportunity for Lockett or Hellyer to lead us in our bawdy squadron songs. The gifts were exchanged. Perhaps this was the year that someone gave me a model kit of an Otter. A very appropriate gift, indeed! Like a number of kits I have kicking around, I haven't gotten around to assembling the Otter. Something to do when I retire, I suppose. It must be as rare as hen's teeth today. The donors of the gifts were anonymous, so I don't know who got me the kit. Anonymity was a good thing, as it led to some interesting gag gifts bought from sex shops, such as "Candy Pants" edible underwear. There was lots of shop talk & reflection on the year that was, as well as the year to come. Some discussion took place on current events, like the Iran-Iraq war. I'd say that everyone was glad that we were at peace.

The Bun Fights

The last function of the year was the annual Squadron Christmas Dinner, better known as the Bun Fight. The unit never did a New Year's Eve Party. It took place in the Junior Ranks Mess. Unlike other times, when we had to sneak-in the higher ranks, all ranks could attend on this occasion. It was a dinner steeped in tradition. Dress uniforms & decorations. I believe we were led into the room by a piper. There was a prayer & grace, and a toast to the Queen. On this evening, the youngest Private would take off his/her jacket & don the tunic of the Commanding Officer. He'd remain the CO for the duration of the event. I recall when Tom Idiott was given the honour. The new "CO" could issue orders & they'd be obeyed - if within reason.

Another time-honoured tradition was that all the Officers would serve the Other Ranks on this night. This role reversal probably started during the war, the one time when the men could boss the Officers around for a change. The Officers would take off their jackets, roll up their sleeves, and would be our waiters & bus boys for the night. They'd scurry around bringing turkey & fixins from the kitchen. Some of us would delight in this situation to the point of abuse. We'd wait until one of them would sit down to their meal & then called them over to pass some butter or fill a water glass. It was part of the fun to see the real CO run ragged. I recall Rick Kurtzer getting annoyed after one too many trivial requests & saying something like, "OK, enough's enough". Things could get carried away & become humiliating for the Officers.

The evening was known as the Annual Bun Fight for good reason. When the buns were passed out, more were often thrown than eaten. The whole room would turn into a slapstick scene with everyone lobbing buns at targets. Some would hoard the breadbaskets so that they had a supply of ammo. "Get ready. Hurl!" The powers that be began to curtail this aspect of the dinner. It was always funny until someone lost an eye from a crusty roll, I guess! Too bad, as the bun fight was the best part of the night for many of us.

Ken Mills created a humorous little ditty entitled "I Don't Want No More of Air Force Life". The tune poked fun at a few individuals and mentioned the conversion to choppers. Ken had handed out photocopies of the lyrics to a group of us, and we rose to sing. Ken gave us a starting pitch from a harmonica. Everyone could sing along with the chorus. And the verses brought out laughter.

I Don't Want No More Of Air Force Life

My video rendition of Ken's "I Don't Want No More of Air Force Life".

And of course there was the compulsory group singing of the Squadron's traditional version of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot", with all the interactive gestures! The "coming for to carry me home" part was always done with gusto! I do have a visual aid that might help:

Swing Low (400 squadron style)









After desert & the speeches were done, I suppose a number of us adjourned to the bar for some Christmas cheer & toasts. Then it was time to go home to our families. We'd reunite sometime in January. 1980 was now history. 1981 would give me one final, full year with the Reserve.

Next Episode: 1981 - One Last Action Packed Year

Rank The Gagetown Blues

Received Messages for The Gagetown Blues


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