Outlander, Mr. Peabody and Time Travel

Mr. Peabody, his boy Sherman and the Wayback Machine

 

Having binge watched the first two seasons on Netflix, my wife is now reduced to a single weekly episode of Outlander. The hugely popular historical time travel series is in its third season, with a promise of a fourth to follow.

…I have never really been able to grasp books or films that include time travel or fantasy

When she watched it on Netflix, Spanish being her first language, she took advantage of the English subtitles to decipher the often thick Scottish accent and 1700’s vocabulary. I’m not certain if the W Network offers subtitles. Although, I must admit that in addition to learning some Scottish words including aye, nae, and bairn she has mastered the program’s catch phrase “I am Sassenach”, Gaelic for outlander. I know because she says it several times an hour a day!

I have watched bits and pieces of a few episodes but have not been bitten by the Outlander bug. This is not surprising, as I have never really been able to grasp books or films that include time travel or fantasy. I just can’t suspend reality; could never understand the appeal of mind altering drugs. When I read a book and come upon a character walking through a wall or, as is the case of the Outlander, a stone, I lose interest. I have to believe things are possible.

…I can’t help but find myself thinking about Mr Peabody and his Wayback Machine! (And of course his boy Sherman.)

As I sit watching the lead female character, Claire Fraser, prepare for and discuss her intended return to 1740’s Scotland I can’t help but find myself thinking about Mr Peabody and his Wayback Machine! (And of course his boy Sherman.)

Although I would be remiss if I did not mention that time travel nudity is just as pleasing to the eye as present day – of course I mean Outlander, not Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Don’t Memorize, Write an Article

mem·o·rize
ˈmeməˌrīz/Submit
verb
commit to memory; learn by heart.

As my memory starts to play games with me I have taken to writing things down. Not just grocery lists and the like, but family history and lore. With two such memory-boosters developing from mere notes to published articles about my grandmothers.

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

School Principal’s Less Than Magnetic Personality

It’s the first day of school. As I have mentioned in another post, I don’t believe I ever returned to school before hearing Jerry Lewis close out his annual Labour Day telethon by singing You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Fifty years ago I was entering grade three. I still live around the corner from the school but it has changed so much any nostalgic feelings are quickly quashed.

The high school French teacher who moon lighted as a piano player in a bar. Most mornings he was still drunk or hung over, but worst he went to Mexico over the Christmas holidays and never returned

At this time of year I often think back to my school days. This year it struck me that although the vast majority of teachers I had, it is the lousy ones who I remember most. The high school French teacher who moon lighted as a piano player in a bar. Most mornings he was still drunk or hung over, but worst he went to Mexico over the Christmas holidays and never returned. A string of substitutes made preparation for province-wide 100% final exams dicey at best.

There were screamers and ranters along the way, perhaps trying to channel their emotions in the relatively new non-corporal punishment school environment. The old crack across the back of the head being no longer acceptable. I recall the principal coming to our grade two class to give a child the strap. He was a large over-weight oaf of a man who seemed to take pleasure in removing the weapon from his inside suit jacket pocket and applying it several times to the seven-year old’s hands. No Doubt hoping this little act would serve as a deterrent for the rest of us.

Returning to school after summer holidays for grade seven was like walking into a new dimension. No longer was it called grade seven, it was now Secondary One. And the small close-knit group of students who had been together, with some shifts of course, for six years had been overrun with students bussed in from other schools now close, the baby boom having run its course. But we adapted and came to know the new kids and formed new friendships, as children will do. But there was a bigger problem.

In all of my years of education, from grade school through graduate school, I cannot think of a more miserable cuss than this guy … to unleash this abhorrent man on youngsters was questionable.

With this influx of students, someone had the bright idea that the nun who had been the principal for many years would be easy prey (pray?!?) for these newcomers. So they brought in a new principal. In all of my years of education, from grade school through graduate school, I cannot think of a more miserable cuss than this guy. Had he been dealing with university-aged students it would not have posed a problem, but to unleash this abhorrent man on youngsters was questionable. He would have fit in well as a character in a Dickens novel had he been just marginally more human. His was not a magnetic personality.

He was a short balding beady-eyed man whose face would have cracked if he smiled, yet somehow remained intact when he sneered. One of his favourite methods of communicating with students in the corridors was to snap his fingers. God forbid a custodian should miss a scrap of paper as this would lead to the next student passing by to be snapped at, a finger pointed at the offending paper, indicating that the student was to pick up this trash and dispose of it. Not a friendly could you just pick that up chuck that in the wastepaper basket Jim, oh no, finger-snapping.

I do not know what became of him, nor do I really care. But I promise to give equal time to the many good educators I encountered in an upcoming post.

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

A Nostalgic Look at Park Pond Cleaning

The pond when clean and clear

Today is a beautiful summer day in Montreal. The sky is cloudless, the humidity level is moderate, even tolerable. After many dull cool days, this is a beaut. I left my apartment building for a stroll through the park and was reveling in the wonderful conditions when it hit me like a slap to the back of the head.

They say olfactory stimuli are some of the most powerful when it comes to arousing nostalgic experiences. Well, this morning’s first whiff of the fetid, putrid, reek that had engulfed the park brought me back 35-years or so in an instant. While others were looking at each other with puzzled expressions on their faces, I smiled or so slightly, for I knew it was pond cleaning time in the park.

With the perfection of hindsight, it is clear the pond should have been made of concrete …

When the park underwent a major overhaul in the early sixties the existing pond was extended and resurfaced. The method used was tar paper. Yes indeed, just as if the pond was a roof, rolls and rolls of tar paper were placed and tarred into position. Thereby creating a watertight seal, just like a good roof. The only problem was that a pond’s floor is constantly underwater while a roof only has to deal with rain, even heavy rain subsides.

With the perfection of hindsight, it is clear the pond should have been made of concrete that would not have come loose over the years and have to be replaced as is the case with the tar paper. I suppose concrete was deemed too expensive, but as is often the case these things cost more when done later. I imagine the city has paid many times over in repairs what a concrete floor would have cost originally.

The stinking process of cleaning the pond

About twice a summer the pond is drained for cleaning. Hence the stench. The hot sun beating on the oily filthy surface, replete with duck droppings, the occasional dead pigeon or squirrel and sadly more than a little trash creates a malodorous assault on the nose.

Hence the stench. The hot sun beating on the oily filthy surface, replete with duck droppings, the occasional dead pigeon or squirrel and sadly more than a little trash creates a malodorous assault on the nose.

Having been involved in this process as a student employee I can assure you it is less than pleasant; sweeping the feculent slop into piles with the aid of a fire-hose, then shovelling it into a cart for disposal was not anyone’s idea of a nice day in the park. Tea anyone?
Yet there I was all those years later actually smiling at the horrible stink, The concept of nostalgia is a funny thing; a formation of a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning “pain” or “ache”.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Expo 67’s Lack of Corporate Branding

Photo credit: © “Expo 67 Montreal Canada.” Toronto: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1968

As we mark the 150th birthday of Canada – rare are references to it as our sesquicentennial, thank God – we are also celebrating the city of Montreal’s 375th anniversary. But for me the most enjoyable reminiscences have been those documenting the 50th anniversary of EXPO 67.

One of the things that has struck me while looking through many photos, is the seemingly total lack of corporate branding at the fair

As a seven year-old the huge World’s Fair was a pure joy for me. Thinking back to those days often tweaks a pang of nostalgia in me. Not surprisingly there is a plethora of tweaking going on as many exhibits and special events are running this summer. While I enjoy these formal presentations, what I find most heartwarming are posted photos of EXPO 67 that were taken by average visitors.

As an example this collection on Flickr comprises over a hundred photos that were found in a scrapbook on the street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I figure sooner or later I will come across a picture with me in the background.

One of the things that has struck me while looking through many photos, is the seemingly total lack of corporate branding at the fair. There were corporate pavilions; Kodak, BELL etc. But when it came to branding  there was little if any. No  Doritos pavilion of the United States or Stella Artois’ Belgium pavilion.

Another thing that comes to mind while looking at these photos is that although there were lines for many pavilions … there never seems to be overwhelming crowds. It always looks comfortable

Given our reliance on corporate branding in today’s overpriced world, this is a breath of fresh air. I know it would be folly to suggest another EXPO 67-like event for any number of reasons, perhaps this is a good thing as another such event would no doubt be riddled with corporate logos and slogans.

Another thing that comes to mind while looking at these photos is that although there were lines for many pavilions (remember admission was free once you entered the site, no fee-per-exhibit) there never seems to be overwhelming crowds. It always looks comfortable – or is that an illusion after fifty years –  even if over 53 million visitors dropped in that summer.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Home Children: My Paternal Grandmother

Last year I wrote a piece for a British genealogical magazine, Family Tree, about my paternal grandmother. She came to Canada as part of the Home Children migration program. Here it is.


DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Postal Art and the Hope Diamond

Here’s an example of my Great Uncles’ correspondence during the early 1900s. The envelope below was posted at 2:15 pm on March 9, 1903 from London. It was from Matthew Deegan, aged 21 at the time, and addressed to his brother Ernest Deegan c/o Lord Francis Hope. Does that name sound familiar? Think diamond!

 

Hope_Diamond
Hope Diamond

According to Wikipedia, Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 8th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (3 February 1866 – 20 April 1941) was an English nobleman. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He inherited the estate of his grandmother, Anne Adele Hope (widow of Henry Thomas Hope) in 1884, upon condition that he assume the name and arms of Hope upon reaching his majority; he did so in 1887 and became known as Lord Francis Hope.This bequest included the well-known Hope Diamond. He was Sheriff of Monaghan for 1897 and 1917.

Lord_Hope
Lord Francis Hope

He married American actress May Yohé in November 1894. She had gained fame on the London stage in 1893 and 1894, especially in the burlesque Little Christopher Columbus. He led an extravagant lifestyle, which the two continued together, and was discharged in bankruptcy in 1896. One journal wrote: “Pecuniary troubles, however, embarrassed the two but slightly. A future Duke and Duchess can always beg or borrow, and they did.

In 1900 they made a tour of the world, and on their way home fell in with Captain [Putnam] Bradlee Strong, at that time one of the handsomest and most popular men in the United States Army, and a special favourite with President McKinley. The actress fell head over ears in love with him. She refused to return to England with Lord Francis”. Hope divorced Yohé in 1902; at this time, he obtained court permission to sell off the Hope Diamond to pay some of his debts. After lengthy litigation in the Court of Chancery, he was able to break the entail on most of his grandmother’s trusts, and sold off The Deepdene in Surrey and Castleblayney in County Monaghan, Ireland.

Hope_BankruptLord Francis married Olive Muriel Owen, née Thompson, in 1904. They had 3 children:

  • Henry Edward Hugh Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 9th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (1907–1988)
  • Lady Doria Lois Pelham-Clinton-Hope (1908–1942)
  • Lady Mary Pelham-Clinton-Hope (1910–1982)

He inherited the dukedom from his brother in 1928 and died in 1941 at Clumber Park.

If only my great Uncle had traded these cool postal art envelopes for that diamond … then again I understand it brings bad luck. Better to have the envelopes!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+