It’s been a week of bitter cold, minus 20 degrees. It’s been too cold for any Buskingdoms.
On Canadian televisions this week, along with inundated spates of our criminal senators and the latest buffoonery of the nincompoop mayor of Toronto, a couple of newsworthy items have been airing continuously: JOHN F. KENNEDY documentaries and the GREY CUP.
Yes … I DO REMEMBER WHERE I WAS ON THAT FRIDAY OF NOVEMBER 22nd, 1963.
I heard the news of President Kennedy while I was having lunch with my Grandma and Sid in the village of Vanguard, Saskatchewan.
At that time, the Canadian hoi polloi knew only hagiography of John F. Kennedy. We knew that he had a beautiful wife; we knew he was the youngest president ever; we knew he was Catholic; we liked his big teeth and his shock of hair; we knew he was friends with Marilyn Monroe. At the time, Canada had John Diefenbaker -- America had John Kennedy!
We were campestral; the Kennedys were Camelot.
The village of Vanguard was a typical prairie community, having a Chinese café, a French tailor, a Joe’s Groceteria, and a Revelstoke lumber yard. We were a 300 population with the highway sign Welcome to the Village of Vanguard, smeared with mud to instead read, Welcome to the Village of Mudville.
And I shall now annotate the connection betwixt John F. Kennedy and the Grey Cup.
Everyone knew the members of the Kennedy family loved to play football, and football Kennedy style was played on a wide green lawn at their summer home Hyannis Port on Cape Cod. In the Village of Vanguard there were no wide green lawns for football games. In fact, I remember only three lawns in the whole village: at the Hornungs, the Hopfners, and the Shiislers, and none of which designed for the game of football.
We played our football on the school grounds – no grass, just dirt.
When I lived in Vanguard I really did not know much about politics, and nor did I know much about football. Vanguard was not really a football town; we were a hockey town. Only at noon hour and after school did we play football, Aerial, with three downs and a steamboat count from 1 to 10. I remember the best players being Butch Stokes (who tore every ligament in his ankle during one of our games), Reg Hornung (who was just an excellent athlete eventually playing in the Western Hockey League for the Swift Current Broncos), and Jerry Scheller (who was our very own, Sam the Rifle).
Everyone had a collection of Canadian Football League player cards which included Sam the Rifle. Everyone had Jackie Parker of the Edmonton Eskimos, Kenny Ploen of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Russ Jackson of the Ottawa Rough Riders, and of course, Sam (the rifle) Etcheverry of the Montreal Allouettes.
It was relatively warm day for the season and I remember telling the other kids at school that President Kennedy had been shot and they did not believe me. They just continued their pick-up game of Ariel football.
As I write this blog entry I can hear the horns honking on Victoria Avenue. As I pause this blog entry to view from my 6th story balcony I see the gambol below of 55,000 rabid fans dancing a seriocomic shindig of laughter and drink … and drink … and drink.
Today celebrates the 101st GREY CUP game of the CFL, the final football game of season. The SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS and the HAMILTON TIGER CATS are playing for the GREY CUP right here in Regina. And isn’t it sweet for the RIDER NATION that their beloved ROUGHRIDERS are in the GREY CUP!
Yes, I remember knowing about JOHN F. KENNEDY, before I knew about the amours, before the beginning of the Kennedy tragedies.
Life really is ephemeral. Life really is but a fillip.
I’ve just one marcher in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week, CORVUS, the baby with the big brown eyes. CORVUS is the brand new baby boy of my friends, Karen and Marc. CORVUS and his mom came by work for a quick visit. CORVUS is named after ravens!
CORVUS … I LOVE THAT NAME!