I hope you enjoyed Chapters one and two. Here are the first twenty pages of Chapter three. My book is not only a family memoir; it is an attempt to analyze the dysfunctional elements of my own family. To do this I address such Issues as sibling rivalry, the development of one’s identity, parental alienation, poor communication in a family, severe spousal abuse, etc. I hope that many people who had to cope with a dysfunctional family of origin will read my book (It should be available within a month or so.) I believe it might inspire them to write about their own family. It might also provide a good example on how to go about exploring your past. I found while writing this book I was able to see the past in a new light: I was moved to forgive certain people, including myself. What a relief that was!
If you haven’t read my recent postings on Chapter One and Two I strongly recommend you do so. If you do, Chapter Three will make much more sense. I should add that I was not able to upload some of the photos that are found in the original. Hey, I’m a senior still struggling with technology.
CHAPTER III 1948-1951 NORTH VANCOUVER
3841 LONSDALE AVENUE
Summary: In the summer of 1948 we move again, this time across the harbor to North Vancouver. I suspect it was motivated by Mother’s fear of Al Hoare. If she put a harbor between him and her maybe she would feel safer. Our new house was located part way up Fromme Mountain and a few blocks from us there was a deep forest in which I regularly sought refuge from the tense atmosphere of home.
Within a few months Don and I found a weekend job caddying at the stunningly beautiful Capilano Golf Course in West Vancouver. This too would become for me a kind of home away from home. The downside of Capilano Golf Course was the morally corrupting influence of the caddies’ waiting room.
Don and I joined a fine musical group, The North Vancouver Schools Band. Its conductor was Arthur W. Delamont who used the North Shore band as a source of talented musicians for his world-famous Kitsilano Boys Band.
Baseball had become an obsession for me. I tried out for a position on a Little League team but I was not accepted. My arrogant behavior alienated the coach. Failure to make the team was a major trauma for me.
Several pages near the end of this chapter explore the tragic events in my mother’s life: the death of her father, the sudden impoverishment of her family, her marriage to a handsome policeman who turned out to be a problem drinker and a wife-beater. It is thanks to writing this book that I acquired understanding and empathy for my mother.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 We move to an enchanted house in North Vancouver
2 North Star Elementary School
3 Don and I discover Capilano Golf Course
4 The golf pro and the caddy master (Jock and Hector)
5 Some of the golfers I caddied for
6 I am almost killed by Admiral Brodeur
7 Two heroic army officers from World War One
8 Rey Sargent, the bullying magistrate
9 Percy Williams, the champion Olympic sprinter
10 I break the ice with a lady golfer
11 Caddying: the long wait for a bag
12 The Immoral influence of the caddy room
13 A closer look at a few caddies
14 Don and I learn to play golf
15 Capilano Golf Course as a welcome escape from home
16 The death of my mother’s father and its tragic consequences
17 How my Mother’s family was financially ruined by George Godwin’s interference
18 Swimming and endless hours of playing catch
19 My big mouth causes me to be banned from Little League baseball
20 Nasty fights with my brother
21 Ernie surprises us at The North Vancouver Summer Carnival at Mahon Park
22 Don and I teach ourselves how to play golf and baseball
23 Don and I join Arthur Delamont’s North Vancouver Schools Band
24 The many joys of playing a musical instrument
25 I recognize that my mother’s love for me is very limited
26 Mother’s attempts to convince all of us that we loved each other
27 Mother, our model of womanhood
28 Mother’s flaws
29 The many reasons I now 2021) feel mainly compassion for my mother.
30 Miscellaneous reflections from 1948-1951
31 What was going on in my family
32 What was going on in my own little world
1 WE MOVE TO AN ENCHANTED HOUSE IN NORTH VANCOUVER
The main street leading up from the harbor towards Grouse Mountain is Lonsdale Avenue and our house was located near the very top of it. As to our move to North Vancouver Don and I were not consulted. I think that’s regrettable because if Don and I had been consulted it would have made us feel respected and validated. It might even have motivated us to get along better.
The top of Lonsdale was a beautiful place to live. The deep forest of Fromme Mountain (sometimes called “Timber Mountain”) started about four hundred meters north of us. My first impression of our new house was one of enchantment. To get to the main floor you had to enter the house and walk up a flight of steps. On the wall beside the staircase the previous tenants had left pictures of North American Indians. I still recall the faces, lined and full of character, strong, proud and wise-looking. I was enchanted by them and they had a powerful effect on me: they made me want to know the forest and what it would be like to live like an Indian.
A few months later we went to a drive-in on the Capilano Indian Reservation. It was called “The Tomahawk Barbeque” and the walls inside were covered with bows, arrows, tomahawks, head-dresses, stuffed wildlife, etc. I was fascinated by that place and it wasn’t long before I was making my own bow and arrows (I made the arrow heads by heating nails in the living room fireplace until they were red-hot, hammering them almost flat and then filing them into a sharp point.) Around this time I started spending many, many hours alone in the forest. Without knowing it I was almost becoming an Archie Belaney, (known widely as “Grey Owl”) the famous Englishman who passed himself off as an Indian (from about 1910 to 1935).
Archie Belaney alias Grey Owl
The forest for me was a calming, soothing place. There was a price to pay for this escaping: I was becoming a bit of a loner and I was not developing the social skills I needed in order to make new friends. Don never bothered escaping into the forest. He could make friends easily.
Don and I both liked to climb trees. There was a fifty foot cedar just outside our back door and Don and I often climbed almost to the top. The idea was to climb as close to the top as we dared then rock the tree violently: back and forth and from side to side. Mother wasn’t aware of this until one day when she was sitting near the kitchen window and she noticed the tree moving back and forth. Then she looked higher up the trunk and saw one of us. She yelled out: “Oh, my God, it’s Bob!!” We never had to buy a Christmas tree, we would just climb a tree in the nearby forest and cut the top of it off. This was dangerous but we became good at it.
The winters there were unusually cold and this meant lots of good sledding. I recall one night (1949) when all two miles or so of Lonsdale Avenue were coated in thick ice. We hopped on our sleds and let the steep road carry us all the way down to the North Van ferry. It was also about
this time that we both started skiing. I recall Don broke his leg once. 1948-1950: the chair lift had not been built yet so you had to hike up Grouse Mountain, then ski down it, then hike back up it. It was great exercise and it built strong young bodies.
2 NORTH STAR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
I started grade three at North Star School. I can recall some strange things. One day David S. cut a nauseating fart in class and our teacher, the elderly Miss C., descended on him like one of the Furies and dealt him a flurry of slaps. It was spectacular. About that time I carved my initials in my desk. The janitor reported this to the principal, Mr. B. I got two blows of the strap on each hand. They hurt. Maybe they should have probed a little into my case. If they had, they would have discovered that I was still troubled by having to change my name. There might have been anger and an obscure search for identity in the strokes of my pen knife. Poor Miss Calder was, I now think, burnt out. I still have my grades three and four report cards that she made comments in: “a splendid pupil,” etc. Compared with teachers’ salaries in 2022 teachers in British Columbia were badly paid in 1948.
3 DON AND I DISCOVER CAPILANO GOLF COURSE
CAPILANO GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB (Club house on left, 18th hole on right)
Around 1948 Don heard that it was possible to make money caddying at Capilano Golf Course in West Vancouver. (I think we were paid $l.50 to carry a golf bag or pull a golf cart around the course. That may seem a pittance for the three and a half hours or so that it took to walk the course but it might put things in perspective if I tell you that the “legendary” deluxe White Spot hamburger back then cost $1.15 (Today they cost about $10.) Don wanted to check out Capilano Golf Course and for some reason he took me along when he made his exploratory trip. It wasn’t simple: You had to take a bus down Lonsdale, transfer to another bus at fifteenth, get off that bus at the last stop before Lions Gate Bridge then walk about half a mile to the bottom of Taylor Way where you would try to get a ride up to the golf course with one of the club members who was driving up there. Sometimes we had to wait for a half hour or so to get a ride and during this time we would amuse ourselves by shouting out the make and year of every car that went by. This may seem a strange and useless thing to do but we were getting practice in observing carefully and memorizing what we saw. We were a bit like Rudyard Kipling’s Kim with his memorizing games.
Capilano Golf and Country Club seemed to me a strange place, a weird mix of spectacularly beautiful golf course (cut right out of a few square miles of sloping virgin forest on the lower slopes of Grouse Mountain) and the stink and squalor of the caddy shack (actually it wasn’t a shack but a large gloomy room under the pro shop). Jock McKinnon was the pro and the caddy master was Hector Herbert, both of whom I got to know well in the following years.
4 THE GOLF PRO AND THE CADDY MASTER: JOCK AND HECTOR
The pro, Jock McKinnon, played almost every day. When I was about sixteen I started caddying for him in various tournaments in and around Vancouver. He had a strange and magnificent obsession that took many years to complete: to collect his best score on each of Capilano’s eighteen holes, for example, Capilano has five par three holes and over time Jock got a hole in one on four of them. He shot an eagle (two under par) on almost all the other holes. If you tally up his best scores on all eighteen holes Jock shot an aggregate round of thirty-seven. This is a phenomenal achievement in itself and it might get into the Guiness Book of Records but scoring thirty-seven on a round of golf is impossible. I used to watch Jock giving private lessons to members. The theatrical way he walked and gesticulated gave me the impression that he was not a good teacher. In those years not much careful research had been carried out on what a good golf swing was and how to improve a golfer’s swing. This would all change in the 1960s with the knowledge explosion and what experts were to discover about real mechanics of a golf swing.
Hector Herbert was the caddy-master. Over the years I got to know him well and in my teens played golf with him. He and Jock did not get on well. Even we caddies could see that. Part of Hector’s job was to walk many times a day to and fro along the exposed passage way that led from the pro-shop to the caddy room. This was very dangerous because if golfers on the first tee miss-hit their drives Hector could be hit by their golf ball. Golf balls have been known to kill people. The sane solution to this problem would have been to put up a net about ten feet high so that Hector would have some protection. Jock McKinnon did not want any net obstructing the view of his precious pro-shop so Hector never got the protection he needed. Over the years he got hit by golf balls twice. The second time it happened Hector had to be hospitalized. I once heard Hector refer to Jock as “Big Dinkus.” I think he had a point.
5 SOME OF THE GOLFERS I CADDIED FOR
The men and women we caddied for were, to some extent, Vancouver’s business elite. They were generally well off and good humored (as far as it possible to remain good-humored on a round of golf). I still remember many of the golfers I caddied for and got to know:
Stan Bekins who owned a huge moving company
Gordon Money who owned Money’s Mushrooms
Hilliard Lyle owned theclassic Sylvia Hotel in the West End of Vancouver
Bryce Evans and Jack Edgehill, prominent lawyers
Poldie Bentley, (né Bloch-Bauer) and his son Peter (for many years club champion) who were founders and owners of the giant Canfor Forest Products. They had fled from Austria at the time when Hitler was about to take over that country. They were friendly and good tippers (a whole quarter!).
Basil Rae owned Raeson’s imported shoes on Granville Street. He used to speak French with me from time to time and he wangled me an all-expenses paid trip to caddy in August at the Totem Golf Tournament at Jasper Park Lodge. Bing Crosby frequently played in this tournament. .
Emmett Ritchie was a fine golfer (I loved his bold, devil-may-care manner when he made a shot.) He always went for broke. In 1956 I caddied for him when he played in the finals against Peter Bentley for the club championship. Peter was controlled and relentless, like the Roman Army; Ritchie was the wild, reckless Celt.
6 I AM ALMOST KILLED BY ADMIRAL BRODEUR
Admiral Brodeur of the Canada’s Pacific Fleet was another member of Capilano. One afternoon when I was in grade eight I was caddying in his foursome (four golfers and four caddies) and we had all stopped walking about eighty meters short of the thirteenth green to look for Brodeur’s ball which was hidden in the long grass. The area where we were looking for the ball was at the bottom of a steep hill leading up to the green. We were spread out and me and another caddie were searching for the ball part way up the hill in an area that would have been in Brodeur’s line of fire. We naturally thought that we were safe because Brodeur would surely alert us if he found his ball and was going to shoot for the green above us. Wrong! Brodeur found his ball all right but he hit violently and within a few seconds of finding it. No warning. No shouting of the word “Fore.” Crack! The ball hit me, full force, smack in the face. Had it hit me on the temple it probably would have killed me. Admiral or no admiral Brodeur acted recklessly; you could almost call it criminal negligence. I had a bruised face for several weeks. Brodeur never even apologized to me and never offered any financial compensation. What kind of man was he? And what kind of person was Jock McKinnon, the pro, for telling Brodeur, in my presence, that there was nothing to worry about? I took a few somewhat bitter lessons from this incident: it is difficult for the poor to sue the rich; it is easy for a grown man to intimidate a boy. I don’t blame my parents for not trying to sue Brodeur because in those days most people in our community tended to think that people in powerful positions did not have to answer for their behavior and it would be pretty well impossible to win a case against them anyway. This same cautious, authoritarian mind-set explains my parents’ reluctance to complain about any of the abuses I suffered in the school system (unjustified strappings in grade two and eight). I will write at length on this subject in chapter five. Insert the final page no. when you have it.
7 TWO HEROIC ARMY OFFICERS FROM WORLD WAR ONE
Don and I also caddied for Colonel Cappel and Major Scoldie, both of whom had lost a leg in World War One. I admired them. What guts it must have taken to walk with crutches the whole hilly four miles of Capilano Golf Course! On the other hand we weren’t pleased with the five hours or so it took for them to play all eighteen holes. (The average foursome took about three and a half hours.) A caddy had to take their crutches from them and hold them as these two war veterans hobbled around getting ready to make a shot, then hand them back the crutches after they shot. Golf’s a difficult game for people with two legs; I can scarcely imagine how hard it would be to play it with only one leg.
8 REY SARGENT, THE BULLYING MAGISTRATE
The one golfer all of us caddies dreaded was Rey Sargent, a local magistrate. He seemed to take delight in picking on caddies. He would watch his caddy like a hawk for any real or imagined deficiencies: “Stop rattling those clubs!” “Don’t stand so close!” “Move back!” ’Your shadow disturbs me!” “Hold the pin properly! Hold the flag so that it doesn’t flutter!” All of these comments were uttered in a strident, hectoring voice. It was enough to make you a nervous wreck.
Much later in life (around 2002) when I was reading about the trial of Vancouver’s corrupt Chief of Police, Walter Mulligan, I noticed that Sargent had stood up for Mulligan to the bitter end. Mulligan was on the take (from gambling and prostitution) and pressured key policemen under him to extort money from criminals in exchange for leaving them alone and not arresting them. Mulligan took a percentage of the proceeds. It was very difficult to prove him guilty but in the end he was, by a bold and clever journalist (and a fighter pilot during The Battle of Britain) named Ray Munro. The pressure Mulligan put on his staff caused at least one of them, Detective Len Cuthbert, to commit suicide. Rather than support Mulligan, my biological father (Detective Sergeant Alan Hoare) quit the force and took a senior job with B.C. Hydro. Mulligan chose to fly off to Mexico rather than face the charges against him. Twenty years after fleeing the country Mulligan returned and the charges were dropped. I forget the details.
Years later (1954) I attended my brother’s high school graduation ceremony. The keynote speaker was none other than Rey Sargent. I remember him saying something that must have made a big impression on me because I remember it clearly so many years later: “If you don’t think there is a God, look up at the sky at night and feast your eyes.” Grand words, but Sergeant was pathetic in the way he treated caddies. Did he enjoy humiliating people publicly?
9 PERCY WILLIAMS, THE CHAMPION OLYMPIC SPRINTER
I caddied from time to time in foursomes that included great golfers and famous people. Stan Leonard, who for a few years in the mid-1950s was considered one of the best golfers in the world; Ken Black, who won the Canadian Amateur several years; Percy Williams, who came first in the 100 and 200 meters at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. In the 1980s he was caught stealing whiskey from the clubhouse lockers of fellow golfers. This resulted in his expulsion from the club. Within a few days he took his revolver and blew his brains out in the West End apartment where he lived alone. I thought him a strange, sour-looking man. He had the most fluid, graceful swings I had ever seen. I used to wonder about the sour look. Why? He was such a natural athlete. He was famous the world over.
10 I BREAK THE ICE WITH A LADY GOLFER
As for the ladies, they usually pulled their own golf carts around the course. Only a few of them hired caddies and very few of them tipped. Wednesday was ladies’ day at Capilano. One day Hector approached me and asked me to caddy for a lady who, he said, had soured on caddies but was willing to try one more time. I caddied for her that day and all went well. Then I caddied for her about six more times. She started asking for me in the pro shop. End of story: Hector called me one day and said, “That lady likes you so much that she wants to give you something: a set of golf irons, any kind you want.” I was thrilled and realized what a little charm and tact can do. I chose a full set of Scottish-made, hand-forged Ben Sayers irons.
Over the years I carried golf bags for many a mile and several golfers got to like me as a caddy (and I think as a person) and would ask for me in the pro shop. On one wonderful occasion 1955 several golfers actually argued heatedly as to who would get Bob Thomson as their caddy. (I have to smile when I write this. It was so good for my self-esteem and I’m sure it puffed me up
with pride.) On the occasion mentioned above I ended up caddying for four golfers at once: carrying a bag on each shoulder, pushing one cart and pulling another. A regular donkey! What a bonanza for me! This must have been a record as far as Hector the caddy master was concerned.
11 CADDYING: THE LONG WAIT FOR A BAG
We spent many hours in the caddy shack, waiting to be assigned a golfer by Hector. To while away the time we would play chequers or read. Sometimes we would see how many seconds we could hold our breath. We also improvised a game we called “Peggie.” It was a bit like cricket excerpt we used two holes in the ground instead of wickets. We used a piece of wood (“the peg”) about three inches long instead of a ball. Instead of bats we use a three foot length of branch. A pitcher would pitch to a batter who tried to knock the peg a long way. Runs were scored by the batters running back and forth from hole to hole. You could get the other side out by throwing the peg into an unguarded hole.
Gambling too was popular. There were two favorite games. One consisted in tossing a coin to a wall and seeing whose coin would finish up closest to the wall. Another involved competing with someone to see whose coin would end up closest to a hole in the floor located in the corner of the room. Gambling sometimes led to fights and I witnessed some violent ones.
Waiting to be assigned a bag (or two, if not many caddies had showed up for work) often took several hours. Sometimes you would wait all day and never get a bag. The experience of caddying taught us an important lesson in economics. If the source of laborers is larger than the number of jobs, there will be laborers who won’t get work. Some of us caddies understood this law and a few (very few, because jobs were scarce), moved on to car-hopping at the local White Spot Drive-In restaurant. If you were hired there you could count on a weekly paycheck and tips. You could also eat, free of charge, as many delicious hamburgers, sandwiches and fish and chips as you pleased. (I worked as a car-hop, only much later in life, in first and second year of college. I lived on my own and car-hopping helped me pay my own way.)
Although it’s true what I wrote about going to the golf course even when there was snow on the ground, the truth is that that did not happen often. From 1950 to 1954 I managed to make steady money up to the end of December by delivering newspapers. I had my own little system worked out: I would take on a paper route in September and then quit it at the end of December. This enabled me to collect the Christmas tips from my newspaper customers. They added up to a tidy sum. I thought I was clever but I didn’t realize that I was forming a very bad habit, one that would affect me adversely for many years: I was not learning to be tenacious and stick with a job through good times and bad. I was learning to quit jobs too easily. I was not developing a good steady work ethic. I was also learning to think only of myself and not of the other guy. What did I care if the kid who too over my route in early January would have a very long wait to collect his Christmas tips? This bad habit might explain why I quit Delamont’s fine band after only three years. He was moody and he punished laziness but if I had taken the longer view I would have seen the benefits of staying in the band and practicing until I was a good musician. Sure, Delamont was moody and he punished laziness but if I had taken the longer view I would have seen the benefits of staying in the band and practicing until I was a good musician. I didn’t think of the obvious: the longer you play and the more you practice the better you play and the more you enjoy making music.
12 THE IMMORAL INFLUENCE OF THE CADDY ROOM
In the caddy room we were exposed, hours on end, to the filthiest language imaginable and along with the words probably some very unwholesome ideas and attitudes about sex and women. Some caddies had even carved into the woodwork of the caddy room walls a “V”, a crude attempt to depict a vagina. Underneath this drawing was the phrase “target for tonight.”
In grade four I made friends with a kid named Gordon B. I visited his home once or twice. Then, suddenly, out of the blue, my mother told me that Gordon’s mom had phoned her to say that she didn’t want Gordon to associate with me because I was a bad influence on her son and I had a foul mouth and gutter-level views about sex.What a sad way to lose a friend! But I have to plead guilty as charged. That’s what can happen when kids are not supervised. I was very sad to be walled out of Gordon’s life, especially since I was not good at making friends. Part of the reason for this is that I had a foul mouth and wore drape pants. I would have been much better off if I had got rid of the drapes, censored my speech and joined the Boy Scouts.
Don, on the other hand, was always quite skilled at making friends. This stood him in good stead throughout his life. In his youth: Ted Strachan, Barry Drummond, Doug Marks, Dennis Nowell, Guy Boucher—I can still remember some of their names. We were given lots of freedom, true, but there was a negative side to this coin: we did not do many fun things with our parents. We were not with them as much as we should have been. Not just Don and me, but Ernie and Frankie too, we were all shortchanged with regard to love. I think this has to be called what it is: neglect. Our parents were neglectful but to some degree Don and I were as well. We walled out our parents, to some extent, and we walled out each other as well. There was alienation everywhere you looked. We were a dysfunctional family. I wish I could live those years over and help that family of mine see how dysfunctional it was. Our family life could have been so much better.
To get back to the caddy shack, another of its bad influences was in the area of clothes. Some of the older kids fancied themselves as real Los Angeles Chicano Zoot-suiters with the strange pant legs (28 inches at the knee, twelve inches at the ankle). These kids talked about nothing other than sex and violence. We thought their fantastic trousers were so cool! They helped you think you were tough! I must have thought they were good role models because before long I was taking the ferry alone and then walking to Chinatown where I paid a tailor to measure me up for a pair of these hoodlum-style drapes (as we called them). (This was probably in 1951 when I was eleven.) I didn’t go so far as to wear my hair long and greasy but when I was twelve I got a Mohawk cut and looked outrageous. Strangely enough our parents didn’t stop either of us from wearing drapes even though they were the badge of a juvenile delinquent.
Don and me, 1951 He is fifteen, I am eleven
13 A CLOSER LOOK AT A FEW CADDIES
Another detail stands out in my mind. I was about nine and was standing in front of the caddies’ room. I saw coming towards me from the parking area a strange-looking kid. He was about my age and was wearing a coat that was far too big for him and almost touched the ground. He looked pathetic in that coat. As he came closer he looked at me with a strange, sheepish smile and said, “I’m a D.P.” (i.e. a displaced person). I didn’t know what he meant back in 1949 but over the years I have learned a great deal about the Holocaust, the work camps, and the terrible displacement of people that occurred during the Second World War. Who knows what this poor kid had had to endure? Being homeless and without even a country to call your own is a terrible thing. The image of that poor kid’s smile has haunted me for over seventy years now. What a plucky little guy he must have been! (He looked a lot like the boy with the smile in the top right of the photo below.)
Displaced children from World War II in Germany, 1945 The smiling boy
at the top right resembles the smiling “D.P.” I saw at the golf course.
Another caddy I recall is Carl, an old age pensioner. He was always dressed rather formally and in the lapel of his jacket he wore (like my step-father, and Nana) a lapel pin from World War One. He was a silent kind of person. I wondered about him. Was his government pension so inadequate that he had to scrounge $1.50 for half a day at the golf course? Life would have been hard for this old age pensioner back in the late 1940s: a meager pension and no Medicare of any kind (British Columbians would not get Medicare until l968).
At Capilano Golf course they sometimes opened a concession stand near the eleventh tee. They sold excellent sandwiches and sometimes a golfer would buy one for his caddy as well. He would sign for it; nothing as vulgar as cash was exchanged! This was a big treat in my opinion. It was here that I had my first tongue sandwich. How classy!
14 DON AND I LEARN TO PLAY GOLF
On Mondays caddies were allowed to play the course as much as we liked and we took advantage of this when we could (and we had lots of spare time in the summer). Ernie and Frankie visited friends one evening and Ernie made a deal with the host: the host would swap his set of old heterogenous golf clubs (and bag) in exchange for a bottle of whiskey. This was great, at least as far as we were concerned, and it showed that Ernie was thinking of us. Just the ticket for those sunny summer Mondays when we had Capilano Golf Course to ourselves. With those clubs Don and I were soon doing crazy things like smashing drives across Lonsdale Avenue and beyond, over the roof of Mr. McDougall’s house and the enormous plate glass window below it. We could easily have broken his window and it would have cost hundreds of dollars to replace. Another stupid thing we did was to hurl icy snowballs at street lamps. We had developed a good throwing arm and managed to smash a few. Needless to say, this was not enlightened activity. What were we thinking of? If we had been caught, these stupid stunts could have landed us in borstal, a grim place in those days.
15 CAPILANO GOLF COURSE AS A WELCOME EXCAPE FROM HOME
Yet for all its faults Capilano Golf Course was a kind of refuge, an escape from a home atmosphere that was rife with tension. (Being in the house was expecially bad for me because I had misophonia and Ernie’s continual sniffing caused me crazy-making anxiety.) The idea of hanging around home on a Saturday or Sunday had no appeal for either Don or me. We would have had to saw wood or do yard work or sit around doing nothing and be bored to tears. (There was no TV to escape into back then.) Sawing wood often led to fisticuffs. Our determination to get away from our house caused us to go to extremes: we went to the golf course for most of Saturday and Sunday, sometimes even when it was snowing hard and there would be no golfers to caddy for. With snow on the ground the golf course was a melancholy place. Still, we preferred the golf course to staying at home..
On a few Sundays I recall (with some admiration) watching Ernie light a fire under a huge rock in the back yard and then split it apart by dousing it with cold water. I think we thought that this was some kind of trick that he’d learned from his years in China.
Overall I think our parents were quite content to see the backs of us and to be alone together: Ernie had lost his wife, Marguerite, around 1930 (she had died giving birth to her daughter, Norma) and I think he led a lonely life throughout the 1930s. During the 1930s he also suffered from war wounds (of a respiratory nature and caused by the poisonous gas used by the enemy) and had to spend many days in Shaughnessy Hospital for Veterans. I can remember Mom taking me to visit Ernie in that hospital. It would have been about 1944. We stopped at a store on the way home and she bought me a Revel. That was a rare treat. I loved her for it and it felt so good to be alone with her. (That happened very seldom.) Frankie too had suffered years of sorrow (and fear) with Al Hoare and she must have been longing for a close relationship with a man who respected her. Ernie Thomson fit the bill perfectly. Another thing about Ernie attracted Mother: he was thirteen years older than her and I think, to some degree, that she saw in him her lost father, the strong, reliable, loving soldier who would have protected her from Alan Hoare. Ernie, I discovered very recently, had been married to a woman before he married Marguerite so Frankie was his third wife. I wonder who she was and what she was like. Ernie never mentioned her. He was secretive about his life before Frankie came into it.