EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Keith 'Buddy' Swanson skipped afternoon classes at Chapleau High School with principal's permission to report back on the World Series

When he started attending Chapleau High School in September 1947, Keith J. 'Buddy' Swanson wrote that it became the 'focal point' of his young life until he graduated from Grade 13 five years later.

In a memory lane article for the ESCHS Souvenir Edition newspaper marking the school's 75th anniversary in 1997, Buddy noted that although there were many wonderful memories of all his five years at Chapleau High, "the first year in Grade Nine was extra significant".

I have been researching potential articles about CHS as the 90th reunion festival celebration approaches in 2012, and had planned to share Buddy's memories. However after receiving an email from Jennifer, Buddy's daughter this week, I decided this would be an appropriate time.

Jennifer, who is Jennifer David now, wrote in part "I just wanted to let you know that... I am hoping you can make an announcement or send an email, or include it in your (Chapleau) Express article this week, that The Globe and Mail has agreed to publish a story on my dad for their 'Lives Lived' column. It will appear in the Globe’s edition this coming Friday, August 26.

Buddy with grandson Caleb 2010
She added that if people are unable to get a copy of The Globe and Mail she has been told that people will be able to view it on their web site at: www.tgam.ca/facts www.tgam.ca/facts
on Friday. Be assured Jennifer that I will spread the word as best I can, and I hope all who read this piece will do so also.

Back to Buddy at Chapleau High School!

Buddy recalled that in Grade Nine, for the first time, he was able to make new friendships, which lasted all his life.

He was impressed with the fact that having had the same teacher for two or three years in elementary school, "I was quickly amazed at the fact that we got a new teacher practically every hour in high school.

"And I never realized the Public School had so many good looking girls who were now in high school." Buddy had attended the Separate School.

For Buddy, the real highlight of his first year at CHS was initiation.

"It lasted a week, and included having Joe Serre push me down Main Street in a baby carriage, dressed accordingly. And those big bad Grade 13 guys were always lurking to make life miserable for us grade niners at initiation time".

During his years at CHS, upstairs in the Royal Canadian Legion Hall, there was a snack bar and pool table set up. This was a favourite gathering spot for the students.

"Sometimes we rode around town in the rumble seat of Henry Korpela's car." (As an aside, I have been told that Henry may have been the first CHS student to have his own car and bring it to school. If others have memories, please let me know.)

Buddy refers fondly to John 'Mac' McClellan, who for 30 years defined CHS as teacher and principal, as the "little colonel" and relates a story about how he was able to skip school for a World Series at Mr. McClellan's request!

"Our principal 'Old Mac' as he was nicknamed, became an instant friend as well as a tutor when he found out I was a Maple Leaf fan and a ball fan to boot.

"One sunny October afternoon he told me to take the afternoon off and come back to report to him on the World Series game that was on that day. I remember it well because Bob Feller was pitching for the Cleveland Indians. He hurled a two hitter but lost 1-0".

So Buddy listened to the game on radio and reported back to the school principal.

He also paid tribute to Mr. McClellan, writing that 'behind his tough demeanour he was a good guy and a big influence on me during my early years" at CHS.

John McClellan, CHS Principal
Noting that Mr. McClellan's favorurite projects were 1181 Chapleau High School Cadet Corps and the Girls Bugle Band, he wrote that he had more success with them than some the lab experiments that he tried to teach Buddy's classes.

I too can recall Mr. McClellan doing lab experiments that didn't quite work, and he would say, after explaining what the result was supposed to be, "That's the way it is supposed to work". Nobody to my knowledge ever disagreed with him.

Years after he graduated from CHS, Buddy returned in a way, when he served several terms on the Chapleau Board of Education, as part of his lifelong involvement in Chapleau affairs always working to make it a better place to live, work and play.

Certainly one of the highlights of Buddy's immense contributions to Chapleau was the founding of the Chapleau Junior "B" Huskies of the International Junior "B" Hockey League, and its success in winning the league and NOHA championships in its first year of 1966-67. Buddy, along with his friend Lorne Riley who was the first coach of the team, Tom Welch, the first president and other interested citizens, all volunteers, made it happen. After Lorne became ill, Buddy took over the coaching duties.

Keith J. 'Buddy' Swanson, died on May 7, 2011. May he rest in peace. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Michael J Morris

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


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