Archives for posts with tag: Veterans Day

Grandpa&GrannyWard 1250

  • I never met my grandfather, Walter Ward of Portsmouth, UK but I know he doodled and had twinkling eyes. His obituary said he was “a Peter Pan of a man who never grew old,” “a genius of friendship,” and “one who walked with both princes and paupers.”
  • My grandmother, Elizabeth, on my fourth birthday in 1937, sat beside me on the back stoop to do a jigsaw puzzle and shell peas. Then she served a princess-pink dessert called ‘blamonge’ (blanc mange ) for dinner, since I said I didn’t like cake.
  • My father Jack Kell of Cookstown, ON joined the Royal Navy Canadian Volunteer Reserve with two high school buddies in 1917, arrived at Portsmouth barracks and saw a sign on a telephone pole. It invited colonial servicemen to come to the Methodist Chapel Young Men’s Sunday Morning Bible Class.
  • When the buddies went the next Sunday the teacher, Mr. Ward, invited them also for Sunday tea at his home with his family. That consisted of his wife, his eldest daughter Kathleen (my mother) and the twins Enid and Eric.
  • The ‘Chapel’ was four stories high, had four indoor bathrooms and was on land where John Wesley had preached two centuries before. The Ward tea party also attended the Sunday evening service.
  • The J.B. (‘Jolly Baker’) Ward & Sons Bakery stood on a busy corner. My great grandfather, Jabez Burt Ward, had founded the business on the miracle of baking powder and taken his four sons into it. Walter was the accountant.
  • J. B.’s office was linked by a secret door and passageway to his bedroom in the first in a row of three brick houses. He was a widower who lived with his four unmarried children, Frank, Clara, John and Alice. The second house was for Walter and his family and the third house was occupied by J.B.’s son, James, and his wife Lottie.
  • As a councillor for the City of Portsmouth, Walter sat on committees to provide better housing for the poor and combat the spread of venereal disease.
  • He became founding President of the Portsmouth Brotherhood in 1919, an organization to help returning servicemen adapt to civilian life. He was a sought-after guest speaker across the country.
  • In early  December, 1925 Aunt Enid married an Australian sailor, Joseph Burnett. He had come for tea during the war and now his ship was being refitted in the Portsmouth dockyards.
  • When they got back from their honeymoon in Switzerland Joe found out he would be in command of the crew of 25 who were on duty on Christmas day. The question was, how would he round the sailors up and get them back on board after spending their leave wallowing in the debauchery of the harbor? They would all be drunk.
  • Elizabeth and Walter promptly invited the whole crew to come and eat, drink and be merry on Christmas at their place. They got all the food ready in J.B.’s house, while a raucous party complete with J.B.’s stories of South Africa, Eric’s conjuring tricks, ukuleles, cocked hats, raunchy Australian songs and recitations rocked Walter’s house next door.
  • If we must have wars, thank goodness we also have kind human beings on the home front who don’t let us lose. Elizabeth and Walter knew how to live. They found husbands for their two daughters even though 50,000 Englishmen were killed in the war. They provided lonely sailors in a far-off port with a temporary home. They paid half fare so that their children and grandchildren in Australia, Canada and England could meet at a family reunion and bond for life.

Without a war I would never have been born.  My solemn efforts to remember turn up moments of love and joy.



A raven is a larger-bodied member of genus Corvus.

A raven is a larger-bodied member of genus Corvus, an extremely intelligent bird.

  • This year I’m celebrating November 11 (aka Remembrance Day in British Commonwealth countries and Veterans Day in the USA) the way the ravens do. This member of the intelligent common crow family is a sinister omen in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, The Raven, but they have a happier side. They don’t all just sit around croaking “Nevermore, Nevermore,” like Poe’s raven does, and we do on our annual observances of the darkest days in human history.
  • Visitors to the Champlain Lookout at Gatineau Park in late October were dazzled by birds who are anything but grave by nature. A flock of young ravens unexpectedly put on an aerobatic display for those who were there. It was enough to make the Snowbirds, the Royal Canadian Air Force ceremonial performance team, die out of envy.

    Ravens are sinister omens of doom but also have a happier side.

    Ravens are sinister omens of doom but also have a happier side.

  • The flock of eight was just out for the hour before sundown to play and flirt with the opposite sex by touching wingtips, feigning collisions and showing off their flight savvy.
  • These youths will settle down to monogamous partnerships, once they lay eggs and have families. But first they go all out to dare, defy and celebrate what it means to be alive and to express themselves.
  • They frolicked, dipped, taunted and teased each other as they rivaled in making best birdly manouvers. They flew in line and glided parallel either on top of or beside one another while their merely human audience gasped.
  • Oh, who would not love to be a raven, free and having so much fun! Yes, the ravens match up well with ghouls, ghosts, gorings and ghastliness but they are too smart to accept this role all the time. Maybe they came out to remind those who were there that the souls of our veterans are free now. Bravery, courage and doing the right thing to save others are ubiquitous qualities that help make a heaven.
  • Thanks, raven, for the dance and the message. I’ll remember to think of the vets when the gates to the Park, now closed in anticipation of snow, are freed and happy crowds gather again.

You can find out more by clicking on the ‘Home’ and ‘About’ icons at top left of this page. I (Margaret) have written about my experiences growing up 1933-1950, my father’s service in WWI and my mother’s coming to Canada as a war bride in 1928. Please click on the links below to find my books.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

I used this table display and it helped me sell seven books at Brittons book store and four at the Small Press Book Fairl

I used this table display to help me sell eleven books altogether Saturday at Brittons book store and the Small Press Book Fair. Other Ottawa authors I know who are on the trail are Bob Barclay, Allan Bowker, Barry Findlay and Bob Fowler. Check the Citizen’s Book Events for those I’ve missed.

Pearl Pirie is an icon of the avant garde poets' community in Ottawa. She hosts a radio program and conducts workshops.

Pearl Pirie is an icon of the avant garde poets’ community in Ottawa. She hosts a radio program and conducts workshops. Here she takes a rare pause at the 20th anniversary Small Press Book Fair sale.

I was across from Pearl at the wonderfully varied SPBF, selling my books in a more classical style. We're  friends and photographed each other.

I was across from Pearl at the very varied SPBF, selling my books in a more classical style. We’re friends and photographed each other.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, CreateSpace or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!