Beggar Charlie

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Toronto Zoo

Always around this time, when Christmas is just around the corner, I think of something: the Toronto Zoo is open every day except Christmas.

I don't know why I think of that except that I used to go there every two years or so. It's quite a trip from Ottawa. The six hour bus ride to Toronto, then, once in Toronto, a couple of hours ride on another bus to the zoo.

I always caught the Voyager bus in Ottawa at 11:00 PM. I figured I could sleep all  night and wake up refreshed at my destination. One year I got on the bus and a little, slim drunk got on behind me.

"Let's get rolling. I want to go to Toronto." He chirped happily. Then he said it again two minutes later and a couple of minutes after that, too. In fact he kept on all the way to Kingston, Ontario, merrily calling out, "Let's get rolling. I want to go to Toronto."

At Kingston, there is a stop at an overnight diner where passengers can get something to eat and drink. Most people got off to get something. The little man did, too. He got a pie and headed back to the bus with his plate and pie.

I was sitting there when another passenger came up to complain about him, then another man came up.

"People like that need their own bus. They need their own bus company and their own bus." This man looked like a nice man, a decent hard-working man, but he was very angry. We all got back on the bus.

The little man was still eating his pie when the bus pulled out. I wondered if he knew that he wasn't supposed to eat on the bus or take the plate with him. When he finished he lay the plate on the seat next to him and went to sleep.

I couldn't sleep right away and didn't get to sleep until 3:00 AM. I woke up as the bus parked in Toronto. I waited for the man to start cheering or something but he just got off and walked away. I drifted over to the all-night cafe. It was 5:00 AM. I never saw the little man again. He was not on the bus home.

I went the zoo and took photos of the animals. I was into painting then and wanted to have some of my own photos to work from instead of getting a magazine.

But I'll never forget  my bus ride to Toronto that December.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ferguson Falls

In watching the marches about Ferguson I began to realize that I don't really know much about racism in America. They say stop shooting black men. So are they saying that the authorities are terrrorizing black men or are they saying that they are so afraid of black men that their first response is to shoot them?

The first one is unacceptable. So is the second one but in that case, maybe you can change attitudes. It's been done before. I think in America, the fear is based on the fact that everyone has a gun and can use it.

We see that is true in all the mass shootings, even though black men do not seem to be doing these shootings. All the culprits I remember are white. But I think that is still the fear.

In Canada, blacks claim to be discriminated against, too. I always say that I don't see it and they laugh at me. But I've changed my mind about that and now think they're right.

Up in the Great White North, however, I believe racism is based on cultural reasons. Most of the early Canadians were from England or Scotland and these ethnic cultures were considered 'Canadian'.

The Irish, the Quebecois and everyone who came after has felt the sting of not 'being Canadian' because of their culture.

Take Sikhs for instance, they wanted to wear their turbans and carry their ceremonial knives when they became cops. They weren't allowed. Not Canadian. Not turbans certainly. That's foreign. So they took it to court and won. Now Sikh mounties wear their turbans with a yellow band around it to designate who they are.

I passed one on the street and noticed his ceremonial knife and warrior-caste certainty that anyone who made trouble would find himself in a bad place. They are such good cops that it makes me glad such a small thing was solved.

As far as blacks are concerned, the main problem seems to stem from the fact that they still think about slavery. I've met many people upset about that and I never took it as racism before. But then I thought about the saying, 'those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it' and thought, well they're saying that it's not going to happen again and they're remembering history, right? That's what we're told we should be doing, right.

So that's what it's like to remember, to be angry and aware. Is that a bad thing?

But I do know that there are many people who are not racist, who love black people as they love East Indians and all others. And I'm glad to say a lot of those work in book stores. I love people into books and non-racists, too.

I'm just hoping that this ethnic idea of Canada falls, that other cultures dances and such will be seen as Canadian, too. I mean, Vietnamese love Canada as  much as the next person so shouldn't their culture be considered 'Canadian', too?  I think so.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Wrong Convictions

Detective Nicholas Power. Wait...who?

He was once known as the Sherlock Holmes of the maritimes and had a %100 case solved rate. Fantastic, right?

Well. A researcher has gone in and looked at all his cases and researched his life. Remember Princess Diana? How she had to read all the newspapers for what they said about her and was affected if it was bad?

That was the same state of mind of Detective Nicholas Power. And he must have been severely flawed because he would do anything to get those good press stories about himself.

I'll explain. His method of crime solving was to look at the evidence, such as it could be collected in the late 1800's, then think about who had done it. Once he decided a certain person was guilty, he happily suppressed contrary evidence that proved innocence and coerced witnesses to lie.

He would do anything to support his decision of who the guilty party was. A good book written about this is The Lynching Of Peter Wheeler. He was accused by Powers of murdering a girl. He had been to see her the night before, in the morning when he went back, Peter found her murdered.

The problem is, she was seen alive after he left her and his whereabouts are definitively known from that time on. He went home and everybody saw him there. There's no way he could have killed the girl. But he hung based on what Nicholas Power said and did.

Did I mention that all the people hung because of Detective Power were dark-skinned?

This cop had a definite Jim-Crow darkness inside of him.

It's not that we can bring them back or change history in any way but I do think that it is time to have a good look at these old cases. It is thought now that not one of Power's suspects was guilty. He made the whole thing up.

The sad thing is, these men are still considered guilty, their cases still on the books at the National Archives. It really is time to change history.

I would feel a lot better if history could give these men back their good names.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Domestic Violence

While watching a television show I'd never seen before, a lady guest came on who said she had started a movement to end domestic violence and the blaming of victims.
Sounds good, right?

Well, I have to say, I don't believe the gallant solution will work, ever. I mean, there are  just some people who have problems who stay in dysfunctional relationships. Men, too, stay when they shouldn't. After all, why would anyone want to live a life where you have to hit another person to get them to do what you want?

And there's another reason why the law can't start making things safe for only women. You shouldn't hit a woman, right? But how about women who think it's cute and funny to smash a fist into their boyfriend's face just because he spoke to another girl.

You can't ever dismiss the reality that people will take advantage of any law that favors them. How about a jealous girlfriend who deletes her boyfriend's computer work? Is that to be condoned? It may not sound like domestic violence but it is an assault on personal property and intellectual property.

I'm just saying that as long as society 'gets away with what it can' there isn't going to be any solution to any problem because as soon as you make a law, people will twist it.

Canadians should remember the days when anyone under fourteen could not be charges with a crime. The law was to prevent older people using kids for crime purposes. Instead you have ten year olds stealing cars and such.

So to me, no gallant solution, 'never hit a woman' will get rid of domestic violence. We just somehow have to accept that a lot of people are dysfunctional and address the roots of the family problem that creates abusers and victims.

Captivating Tales is available for download now,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Post-Halloween, Pre-Christmas

November. I can't remember much going on for this month. Lately, there's been Movember where men grow moustaches, but of course, I can't do that.

I try to think back to when I was a kid to remember what I thought about November then. After Halloween, Thanksgiving (Canadian) and my brother's birthday in October, there's not much. I just had to last until December when the really good stuff begins.

Ten days off from school, prezzies, the tree and lights and dinner with grandma and grandpa and any other family present in White Rock for the season.

So what's to look forward to in November for Canadians who don't have Thanksgiving that month?

Well, there's the weather. It's not too cold. It's not too snowy. Just enough to get kids going with the snowplay. For winter athletes it's a great time, skating, skiing, snowmobiling.

I never did any of those when I was a kid. But there was the fun of going to the beach. Okay it was cold. But the waves were much bigger in winter and it could be lots of fun.

I guess I see November as a preparation month. Preparing for winter play, preparing for a great holiday. All the same, I'm glad it's almost over for another year.

Oh, and one last thing, Captivating Tales is a 6-in-1 tween/Young Adult book package of over 1000 pages for $1.99 for Black Friday until December 2nd. So that's one good thing for me this year.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Upper Roper Millionaire

So I was finished my writing for the day a few days ago, and I thought I'd type in my old address in White Rock, just to see the photos of it.

We lived on Upper Roper Ave. in an old house with a post coming up through the floor. Dad got a loan from the bank and he built, or had built, a house in the backyard. We then pulled down the house we were in and moved back.

It had four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It had a fireplace.

I remember it as a nice house, one that was well heated, unlike our old one, and big enough to move around in a bit.

Dad built it for $10,000 dollars. When I last checked it in the summer, it had sold for $780,000 dollars. From such humble beginnings.

But I enjoyed looking at the photos to see what had changed and what others had added so I brought it up again.

It seems the guy who bought it in April had flipped it. He had re-done so much that it was listed as being built in 2014. I don't know how much work it takes to make something forty years old be listed as new but I know it now has six bedrooms and two kitchens. It has a basement now, something we never had at all.

It's price is over $3,000,000 dollars. Wow. I don't know if Dad is looking down from beyond at his old house. I don't know if spirits care about such things. But if he were alive I'd tell him just to get his reaction.

Just as an aside. We have bundles from MuseItUp Publishing. My story, Beggar Charlie is bundled with five others and the whole package of over 1000 pages is only $1.99. Here's the link if you want to check it out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I watched the Remembrance Day service on TV today. It made me think of my grandfather, who fought in the British army. He was in Salonika which never gets any airtime, even in shows about WWI.

The one thing I think is that although for the rest of us, the war ended on such and such a date, for the soldiers, it never ends. My grandfather couldn't stand to kill anything after he came to Canada, even when he had to put meat on the table.

They lived in the woods so they had to get their own meat. Grandpa had others shoot his game for him.

Another thing, he hated mules. They had a mule train in Salonika and he claimed the officers treated the mules better than the enlisted men. So a perfectly harmless animal became his bug-a-boo. Also, he was bitten by a mosquitoe and came down with malaria. This weakened his heart which was the reason he came to Canada.

He was also in France, almost killed, he was only saved because he had swapped belt buckles with an Australian. At one time he was reported killed and a note sent to my grandma, but it was another Albert Edward Smith who had been killed.

I don't want to go on and on, it's just that we should remember all those who can't sleep at night or other symptoms of war shock, etc, all the time, not just on one day. I often think of my grandfather and what he went through and am very grateful for his sacrafice of his mental health for us.