Motivation lost, and found
It’s been more than a year since I had the time and motivation to write a column.
I would like to use the term “ writer’s block,” but in my case, it was more like a “ writer’s subdivision.” Too much had been going on, preventing me from getting back to the keyboard.
Over the last number of months, I took advantage of some downtime to start researching information for a historical novel I’ve had in mind for several years. After all, it has been said that every writer has at least one book in him ( her), but it’s not always a simple matter to work out. Although the core idea is there, it has to be developed methodically and accurately. With 30 years plus as a journalist, I can never take everything at face value. All the facts must be checked, and boy, can it ever become tedious.
One bad habit I have while doing research is that I tend to branch off into too many directions at once. If I only had more discipline, I could probably accomplish more. What happens is that I come upon some item of interest and immediately, I’m off on another tangent. And in this case it resulted in yet another book idea, not even related to the first. I’m keeping the topics secret for now, and the way I’ve been going, they may very well end up remaining a secret for quite some time.
In the meantime, I’ll attempt to inform and entertain our readers, especially the Baby Boomers.
Columnists, in general, enjoy having their egos stroked, because it always makes one feel good, knowing you got your message across. Many Boomers have thanked me for reminding them of things and events they have forgotten over the years. One woman I met in the grocery store said, “ You’re speaking for our generation.” I only hope I can live up to her expectations again.
In bidding farewell to the ( lousy) Summer of ’ 09, I can’t help but recall those carefree summers of the ’ 50s and ’ 60s, when the best way of cooling off was a dip in the city’s longest swimming pool, the historic Cornwall Canal.
Everybody seemed to have their favourite spot, starting at the east end of the canal, where the drydocks once were. Remember the boardy bottom, by-wash and the silver bridge? And just about any spot along Water Street, where there were concrete steps leading into the water? And who can forget how some of the guys dried their bathing suits? Hang them from the car antenna or outside mirror.
My most unforgettable summer was the one where I saved a friend from drowning.
One of the gifts I had received for Christmas was a diver’s mask with twin attached snorkels, along with a pair of swimming fins. Santa knew that I was a big fan of the television series Sea Hunt, with the adventurous diver called Mike Nelson, played by the late Lloyd Bridges.
That summer, I spent a lot of time underwater, searching the 14-foot depth of the canal and improving my swimming skills.
Anyway, a bunch of us from Pine Street were swimming at the former swing bridge, at the foot of Augustus Street. One of the kids had lost his glasses and I was trying to find them. I was on the surface, getting ready for another search, when longtime friend, Gerry Ward yelled out, “ Mike, Roy’s going down!”
It was Roy Riley’s first time swimming at the bridge, and as soon as I heard Gerry call, I saw Roy going down quite quickly. I had no rescue skills so I simply swam down below him and swam back to the surface with him on my back. As soon as we reached the surface, Roy started coughing and spitting and his red eyes were as big as saucers. I’ll always remember that look.
We got back to the embankment and helpful hands helped Roy up. After he got his breath back, the first thing he said to me was, “ Don’t tell my mother; she’ll kill me.” There are still living witnesses who can attest to this.