November 20, 2013

November 22, 1963

It seems a long time ago. Fifty years is a long time. I was nine when it happened. I remember it being hot and sunny, even though it was late November in southern Saskatchewan and snow was on the ground and the wind was cold. My memory of the event is forever trapped in a sunny Dallas.

We came home from school over the noon hour. My Mom would always have lunch ready for my sister and me. I remember turning on the television, as usual, to watch the Flintstones, or whatever else might have been showing every weekday at noon. The program was interrupted by news reports, bulletins as they were called then; breaking news had yet to be created.

We received two channels, and only in black and white, and the CBC affiliate was using the CBS News feed for its bulletins. I don't know for certain if I heard Walter Cronkite's announcement, the one where he took off his glasses and teared up ever so slightly, that the President had died at 1:00 p.m. Dallas time, but it's stuck in my mind as though I did.

When I returned to school, late for the beginning of afternoon classes, the phrase I kept hearing, and saying myself, was "They killed the President." Even then, that early in the telling of the event, we seemed unwilling to believe that one man, acting alone, could possibly kill the most powerful man in the world. Throughout the school, radios had been brought into classrooms and we listened to CBC Radio coverage of the assassination. We were sent home early that day.

Maybe I was too young to cry. I'm not sure if my mother cried; maybe she did, I don't know. When Dad came home he was quiet, deep in thought. He had come home early too. I didn't cry.

I was glued to the television all weekend, watching the murder of Kennedy's assassin and the funeral of the President. Nothing really made sense, and that angered me. In a sense my political education began on that November day, as I began to read and watch and listen to the news. I became a news junkie at ten years of age. My life was changing and the world around me was changing too.

In 1968 while on a family vacation, as my sister and parents prepared to go out for dinner in Ottawa, I watched the television images of the Chicago Police Riot. The whole world was apparently watching and this time it was in colour. The year had already brought us the joy of Prague Spring, and its brutal destruction just days before the Chicago riots. We had seen the assassinations of Dr King and Bobby, and the insanity of Hubert Humphrey and Dick Nixon running for President. Students and workers had been crushed in Paris, and the cities of Vietnam were burning. If November 22 in Dallas saw the beginning of my awareness, 1968 brought the horrible realisation that everything was spinning out of control. I was angry. I didn't cry.

Today, the truth of Dallas on November 22, 1963 is still unclear. Fifty years on, and I'm still angry. And sometimes I cry.

Photos from AP. 
Text copyright 2013 by Jim Murray.

November 13, 2013

Colours of Vancouver ~ early November

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."  Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)

This year, autumn in Vancouver is an outstanding display of colour.

With a relatively dry month in October, the leaves have lasted longer and the resulting colours 
have been brilliant, especially when the sun comes out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                The colours won't last much longer. Rain and wet snow (at higher elevations I hope) are in the forecast for the weekend. 

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2013.

November 10, 2013

We remember... In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae (1872 - 1918) 
written May 3, 1915 in Ypres, Belgium

Photos by Jim Murray, from the Dawson City Journal - November 11, 2012. 
Copyright 2013.

November 07, 2013

Jeem's United Way adventure in North Vancouver

My work at the United Way of the Lower Mainland has passed the half way mark. It has been a busy and rewarding time.

Recently I had the pleasure of being involved with the City of North Vancouver, and yes it involved another escapade inside the strange red creature-mascot known as Care-y. This time it happened for the City's kick-off at seven in the morning. I managed to stay out of trouble, except for a minor altercation, and even though virtually blind within the costume, I still managed to find the bacon and sausage, though eating is quite impossible.

Co-chairs of the City of North Vancouver's United Way Campaign, Tim Ryce, Assistant Manager in Community Development, and Dave Owens, Assistant Fire Chief, posed with Care-y during the breakfast. The Mayor didn't want anything to do with the mascot, which might have had something to do with accidentally grabbing him earlier; I really can't see much of anything in that thing.

The next day a barbecue was put on at Fire Station No. 1 and Care-y was not invited, thankfully. It too was well attended and introduced many City staff to a first hand experience at a fire hall. It has a pole that firefighters slide down. I wanted to try it myself but was told very clearly, "No Jeem."

Interestingly one never grabs the pole with hands. You are to lean into the pole and when your shoulder nudges it, you then wrap your arm and leg around it and slide down. No hands prints are allowed.

The barbecue involved a group of City employees including those in Bylaw Enforcement, responsible for cooking burgers and hot dogs on this day. Though that guy with the shades might be from CSIS. Why is he looking at me?

Hey, that's the Mayor mingling with City staff! At least he won't recognize me, out of costume.

Fire fighters generously offered people the opportunity to use a fire hose and extinguishers. Alas, we did not get to start any fires.

A highlight for many was the chance to go up in the basket on Ladder Truck 10. At full extension the basket is about 35 metres above the ground.

And again, alas, when it came my turn to go up the ladder, wouldn't you know it, but an alarm came in and the truck had to take off into the city's traffic. I of course offered to go along and help, but of course.... "No Jeem."

Great things happen when people work together. The City of North Vancouver's United Way Campaign is an example of what can happen when people come together to make their city better: raising money for a good cause and building community within their workplace.

Still, it would have been nice to go up the ladder. Maybe next year? What if I pull up my socks?

Photos by Jeem. 
Care-y photos courtesy 
Rupi Cheema. 

Copyright 2013 by Jim Murray.

November 01, 2013

The long shadows of the autumn sun...

But then fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.
― Stephen King from the book: Salem's Lot

The rains will come soon enough. For now, after days of fog, we have sun, and the trees are beautiful, and their shadows long. It is a beautiful time of year.

Perhaps fall is sitting in a favourite chair at the Sylvia Hotel. Filling an afternoon with stories...

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2013.