EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, April 15, 2010

A potpourri of stories from working with Tee Chambers to Junior Red Cross play at Chapleau Public School plus the 'devilish deed' and more from Chapleau

Let me begin with a definition. As I was going over my notes for this column, I immediately thought of 'potpourri' but wasn't exactly sure what it meant. I recalled that the late J.M. "Jack" Shoup, the longtime principal and teacher at Chapleau Public School, township councillor and veteran of World Wars I and II, once wrote a column with that title in the Sudbury Star.

I went to dictionary.com and the first definition I saw said it was a mixture of dried petals of roses or other flowers with spices, kept in a jar for their fragrance. That wasn't the definition I was looking for. The second one came closer: Potpourri is a miscellaneous anthology or collection: a potpourri of short stories...

So, with thanks to Mr. Shoup for the idea I am going to share some of the stories and comments I have been receiving recently from readers of Chapleau Moments in the Chapleau Exoress and my blog plus the story of the "devilish deed."

Michael Cecile, formerly of Chapleau, now living in Calgary wrote after seeing the column with his sister Susan's comments on rock and roll and a photo of Garth "Tee' Chambers with Harry "Butch" Pellow and Aldee Martel.

Michael wrote: "Like all the others I’m really enjoying your articles!

"You’ll be pleased to know I get the Chapleau Express by a method something like a portaging trip on the Chapleau River. Marie Fortin has the Express sent to John Champion. He passes them on to me when we meet in a park, walking our dogs in NW Calgary. Not technically sophisticated like email, but it works, and I get to talk with John, his family and friends (he's a Grand Dad now!!).

"I really enjoyed the ‘53-‘54 picture of Tee Chambers! I worked with Tee’s Cartage one summer (like many others). We unloaded box cars and transported goods to the Dominion Store.Then we delivered groceries to Dominion customers around town. If you worked for Tee you’d know he had a great sense of humour and I was the recipient of one of his favourite jokes. We had formed a chain, moving boxes person to person from a box car to his truck. When we came to heavy cases with cans, Tee (next to me) called out “Heavy”, and again “ Heavy”...etc. I of course adjusted my catch-lift accordingly.

"Then Tee called out “Extra Heavy”, I adjusted my lift even more and ended up smashing the box of Kleenex, or something
lighter, right into my face. Of course we all had a good laugh, especially Tee!

"I also enjoyed reading a quote from my sister Susan’s article on “ the mostest rock and roll”. Your readers might like to know that Susan had a stroke in December but is recovering very well with great support from her kids."

Thanks Michael and all the best to Susan.

Louis Fortin's sister Muriele wrote to provide interesting comments on her brother working on the ice gang and Dr. Bill Pellow's memories of the ice house in the winter. Louis worked on ice gangs in the summer and Bill spent winter weekends at the old ice house across from the Boston Cafe. Both graduated from university.

Muriele wrote: "Mike you are such a great 'raconteur'. As I'm reading Bill Pellow's and Louis' details of ice gang and pre ice work, I'm thinking what physically demanding work that was for young people. Is it any wonder they and many others went on to futher education and successful careers, less physically demanding. For several years I raised my two sons in a rural setting where their summer jobs entailed washing milking cows, haying, cleaning barns etc. I believe it was during those gruelling summer jobs that they decided to pursue higher education. It happened. I'm happy. They are happy."

Steve Degeer, a former student from my time at Chapleau High School wrote after paying a recent visit to Chapleau. "I just recently returned to Chapleau for a visit with my parents and I read your article in the paper and I love it! I can remember that you loved to tell us stories about the old days! Someone would bring you a Mars bar and start talking about hockey or chapleau and you would go off on a good tale! You were one of my favorite teachers! And that's to date! Well I'll be looking forward to your next article! Keep up the good work!!!"

Thanks Steve, and yes, I have enjoyed stories and story telling for as long as I can remember. Since I was a child growing up in Chapleau has been central to me whether I was playing in the living room or creating my own plays for the Junior Red Cross Society performances in Grade four at Chapleau Public School. If I remember correctly Alison (McMillan) McMullen, Ted and Brian Demers starred in the first play I created. We rehearsed in the basement of Demers' home on Beech Street at the time.

Thanks to my mother, Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris, who instilled a love of stories in me before I could hardly walk, and gave me the freedom to explore all the great children's literature of my time, story has been the place where I have lived. And I very much appreciate all the kind comments that I receive from so many of you who were her students over the 32 years that she taught at Chapleau Public School.

Michael Cecile shared the following about his mother Renee Cecile who also encouraged a love of reading and music and recipes in her children: "Some parents balked at their kids reading Classic Comics and comics in general but Renee was happy to see us read and encouraged that too. She liked to try new foods and recipes but my Dad was only liked well-done meat and potatoes, but she did experiment on us!" Those of us who worked with and knew Mrs. Cecile, through her years of devotion to the Chapleau Public Library and as school librarian are well aware, of her love of books and music.

Little did I realize that my experience as the Chapleau High School reporter (with Joy Evans) for the long gone Mid North News, and a television program on CHAP TV in 1957- 1958 (with Phyllis Chrusoskie, Bill Mcleod and others) would lead to story telling and talking about the stories of others in classrooms in Ontario and British Columbia. And people even got me to write stories about people and events in daily newspapers, for television, in magazines and the internet and books.

Yvonne (Fournier) Kohls, sent me comments from her brother Rene Fournier who also loves storytelling. Rene wrote in part to his sister: "Thanks for sending M.J. Morris's stuff, I enjoy some of these that I can connect to. The Yen Hong and family article was interesting because Dad was close to the elders and of course I was the same age as Yen's sister (Jean). In fact at some tender age I asked dad if I could marry her. He suggested I should wait till I was ten, but it was O.K. with him if it was O.K. with her mother....

"I will say this, I actually do tell stories about life in a small town through the eyes of a kid such as the morning all the men and boys of Chapleau went to the freight shed to see ten wheel truck unloading. A huge Event! On par with the day the King and Queen's train passed through Chapleau. (they slept while we watched the silent event with our hats off)"

Thanks Yvonne and Rene. Great memories. The Yen story to which he refers is the one about the seven members of the family appearing on the game report of a hockey game at one time and the game played in the Boston Cafe.

The other day Hugh McGoldrick posted on Facebook that he had been talking with Lynn Hazen about the possibility of reunion in 2011 of the the 1976 graduating class of Chapleau High School. I immediately thought of a story that Lynn told about me in the newspaper marking the 75th anniversary of the school in 1997.

Lynn wrote in part that in 1972, two grade niners who had never done anything wrong took the plunge. "When Mr. Morris momentarily left the classroom, the wall clock came down. As they turned the time forward, it slipped from their hands and landed in several pieces on the floor. The two niners slinked to their seats just before Mr. Morris came through the door.

"The longer he grilled us about who had done the devilish deed, the more we dug in our heels and adhered to a new found code of silence. We all stayed for detention. We were together on this one."

To this day I have no idea who did this devilish deed. Perhaps if I attend the reunion, someone will confess.. Contact Hugh or Lynn for more information on their plans.

No comments:

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


click on image


Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE