Friday, March 11, 2016

A Native Conspiracy

In the nineties, when I took to researching and history reading, I found myself drawn to the history of North, Central and South American. Most specifically, the native peoples, who they were and how their stories played out. I found this most interesting and after reading quite a few books I decided to check the newspapers at the National Archives to see what they reported on the subject at the time that events happened. I went to the oldest newspaper they had, a microfilm, actually, it was from the USA before it was USA. The date was in the 1600s on the east coast. At that time, the Cherokees lived in the east and were trying to get along with the white people in their midst. However, up north, in what is now southern Ontario, a group of white-hating natives called the Mingoes were wanting to start a war against white expansion. They were, in fact, prescient, and could see that white people would destroy the native world forever. They were also remnants of tribes that had already been disseminated by the whites. They knew of what they spoke. So the article was about a meeting that was supposed to take place between the Cherokees and the whites. The whites disappeared and it was put around that the Cherokees had kidnapped them. The Cherokees big men got together and approached the whites in the colony, said they did not do it. That it was a warrior named The Wolf who had kidnapped the whites and tried to blame it on the Cherokees. The plot: that the whites would attack the Cherokee in retaliation and start a war. Then the Cherokee would side with the Mingoes and together they would destroy the whites. Alas, the Cherokees wanted peace and promised to retrieve the kidnapped white people. I never read if there was a follow-up piece or what they did about The Wolf. I didn't have to, I know how the story eventually played out. Two hundred years later the Cherokees were displaced, sent to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. The Mingoes do not exist anymore. We won, blah, blah, blah. but sometimes victory doesn't feel so good.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Laurier Palace Theatre Fire

Sometimes only a tragedy can effect changes which benefit society. The early part of the twentieth century saw no uniform building standards in the public structures of Montreal. Not until 1927 was this noticed to be a danger to the lives of the citizens who dwelt in the province. On January 9, eight hundred children aged five to fifteen were attending a movie at the Laurier Palace Theatre. All of them sat in the balcony enthralled by the comedy 'Get Em Young'. Under the floorboards a cigarette lay smoldering. In an instant it flared into a big fire. An usher tried to extinguish the flames unsuccessfully while calling to the children not to panic, but they became hysterical anyway. They fled from the balcony trying to get down the stairs to safety but as the doors opened inward, the great crush of small bodies pushing out kept the exits tightly shut. Children were trampled to death as more and more of them reached the doors in their haste to get out. The smoke choked and blinded the kids and more panic ensued. Although fire station number thirteen stood just across the street, they did not arrive soon enough to divert the tragedy. Many children had already been crushed underneath the feet of other kids when the firemen came. The men chopped holes beneath the stairs and walls, dragging children to safety. Many had already expired from asphyxiation and being crushed. One fireman, Adelard Boisseau, discovered his six-year old son's body when he entered the building. Later, at the morgue, he found two more of his children. This place became filled with distraught parents throughout the evening. Many parents were questioned as to whether their child had been accompanied by an adult or someone who could have calmed them. The answer was usually no. Immediately the Catholic Church exerted their great influence. Priests, who had always worried about the safety of people's souls called for changes as the shocking story hit the news. On January 11, the city held church services for all the victims. There were 78 dead children in all, most of them French-Canadian. The funeral procession was attended by 50,000 people. Mayor Moderic Martin issued condolences to the families from his office and the Montreal Theatre Managers' association began collected money for the families of the dead. They set their goal at $10,000, which would be $120,000 in today's money. The co-archbishop of Montreal railed from the pulpit, preaching that cinemas were unhealthy for children. It weakened the lungs, he said, and gave children sinful ideas which led to immorality. He demanded the moving picture theatres be closed to children. A few months later a judge recommended that everyone under sixteen be barred from public cinemas. More importantly, building codes were also changed. Now all safety doors had to open outward. In 1967, the ban on children at the cinema was lifted. Forty years of safe movie viewing plus the decline of influence of the Catholic Church made people stand up for children again visiting the theatres. Laws were modified with movies labeled as 18 and over, 14 and over and general admission. All this happened at the same time as Expo '67 when Montreal was opening itself to the world. Even though some of the survivors still lived, older folks now who could remember the smoke, heat and panic of that night, the majority of Montrealers were convinced that their children could now sit safely in a cinema and thrill to cartoons and comedies like other kids around the world.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cash Cow?

TV has a lot about mysteries on it. A couple of mysteries I have thought about are the Chupacabra and Cattle mutilations. Then one night it occurred to me. I have always thought the only animal to take blood out of a creature and leave the body behind is man, ditto for mutilating. Of course these mystery shows liked to posit that it was coming from aliens. The Chupacabra being an escaped pet of aliens who have visited Earth. The cow mutilations come from the aliens themselves. But I wondered, why would aliens leave a body they could just as easily take with them? To make a long story short, I looked at other animal stories. Stories of poachers. So who leaves the body of an animal to rot? Poachers. Think of the African elephant and Siberian tiger whose remains are found all over their habitat. And why are they poached? Medicine. Or for nickknacks made of ivory or rhinoceros horn. What is taken from the cows is their sex organs. So maybe there's a market for cow sex organs somewhere? Why would a poacher just have a herd of cows when they could steal some for less? And for the animals in Latin-America? Blood is drained. So maybe there's a need for blood in some market in the world? Just a thought. But I can't bring myself to believe that an alien would come millions of miles to Earth just to steal and cow's uterus.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

February 2

It's coming up. My fifty-eighth birthday. I am getting old. No, I don't really care anymore, I went through that trauma back when I was in my forties and realized that no one would buy or give me anything anymore because they thought I was pretty. That is for young women. I don't mind. I'm looking forward to all the benefits of senior life. Like discounts. This year I'm going to have a cake, too. Last year I didn't, I was trying to lose weight. But I've found out that my problem with losing weight isn't overeating, it's under activity. I'm on the computer most of the day and don't get out much. I have a friend who mountain bikes. He can eat anything that he wants to. So this year, for my fifty-eighth year, I'm going to get more active. It's going to be hard. I have a wrecked left knee and flibitis in my right elbow. I have a back which goes out everytime I do something I'm not used to. This is old age. So I have to try to find something interesting to do that I can do. Soccer is a possibility. All you do is run. I won't be good at the start but maybe I can get better. Of course that's not possible in winter. Another thing is, every year I buy myself a birthday gift. I don't want anything, really, but I am going to buy a really big steak. I'm looking forward to it. Winter birthdays are lots of fun. It's a real nice break in the cold days to celebrate anything, I find. Anyway I'm going to have a good time.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Children's Chocolate Bar Strike

It was 1947. The war was over and costs that had been held down by the war were zooming up. A chocolate bar in Canada was five cents. But cost of sugar etc was up. So the chocolate companies decided to raise the price to eight cents. A boy went down to get a bar and noticed the price. He complained and soon he and some friends were on a picket line outside the shop. The idea caught on. More and more boys and girls showed up to picket the high price of chocolate. Newspapers zeroed in on the children and the children's chocolate strike was born. It was country-wide and looked on with some amusement by the adults. The chocolate companies tried to reason with the kids. Tried to tell them about soaring costs of making the candy. Kids didn't listen. Then, on the eve of the biggest strike that was to hit Canada, a telephone call came it. The children, it said, are being used by the communists to derail the capitalist economy. No one knows who made the call. Overnight parents forbade their children to strike, fearing their sons and daughters were pawns of communist sympathizers. It was over as quick and as sudden as it began. The price of chocolate held at eight cents and now is about two dollars. But oh, those were interesting times.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Holidays

Well we had a pretty good Christmas and holiday over all. I know, I know, it isn't over yet. There's still New Years Eve and New Years Day to go through before we get back on our usual schedule. Okay. But I like to take stock before the new year, just to relax a bit in the in-between week and think whether it was good this year. I think yes. We had a great turkey. We had great presents. Everything came off beautifully. So it was good. What's New Years anyway but a chance to get sloshed? I might buy David a bottle of wine. I got him a new brand this year Hanging Man and he liked it very much. But it was white. He likes red better. Or maybe an Italian wine. He hasn't worn his cap yet. I got him one that has a maple leaf. Of course, one thing, my birthday is in February. So I'm looking forward to that. So all in all, this time of year is good to me and it always has been. So I'll see you all in 2016 and have a great one.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dream Graves

At 57, I've reached the age where I'm giving up on some of my physical dreams as being 'not able' to complete. When I was younger I used to walk along the bicycle paths. One is in Quebec. I would just cross the bridge and the bicycle track ran along the river. Once when I was walking, I saw a sign that said 'Quebec City' and an arrow. I was quite excited and decided that some day, I would get a bike and go along the track from Hull to Quebec City. What fun! I would have to take money for motels and food, but wow, what a great thing to do. My only problem is I never learned how to ride a bike. No worries. I would learn. I was young, right? Years go by and I would think of my 'trip' from time to time and watch it slip farther away from me. Now that my left knee has so much arthritis that my patella rides freely, only held by the tendons, I realize that there's no way I will be able to bike up to Quebec. I didn't even learn how to ride. Bah. But wait, there's other things a person can do. Only I haven't come up with many of them. Well, one of my mother's cousins went whitewater rafting when she was 73 but she said it was real easy run, just hold on. That's a great idea. I would love to be on a river, outside. Just hold on. Hmmm. Of course, technology might make things a little easier for older people. I'm sure there is a bike that runs on a motor. Not a motorcycle, but a regular bike. Why I'm sure I could learn to ride that. Or wait. In Ottawa, in summer, they have the Corridor Special on the train. Kingston to Quebec City for twenty-nine dollars. Well, I can sit on a train. And take a friend. We could even bring our own food. It's a six hour trip. I have been to Quebec City already, years ago. But I've always wanted to go again. Maybe it doesn't matter so much how I get there.