Reflections of Ponoka: Writing Reflections, Remember When? and Hammer column is really a labour of love

As I sit at my computer reminiscing, day-dreaming, and going through my files looking for story ideas and pictures, I have just realized that early in the New Year I will be putting together my 200th Reflections article for page A5 of your Ponoka News.

Reflections of Ponoka

Reflections of Ponoka

As I sit at my computer reminiscing, day-dreaming, and going through my files looking for story ideas and pictures, I have just realized that early in the New Year I will be putting together my 200th Reflections article for page A5 of your Ponoka News.

I cannot express how much I enjoy writing the Reflections stories, finding great photos for Remember When?, and still having a blast with the Hammer’s Column, which I have had a whole lot of fun doing for over 25 years. It has now all become a perfect ‘retirement rush’ being able to put on paper an ongoing wonderful tribute to a community where I spent over 55 years of my life; and I have so many people to thank for all the opportunities, support, and keen camaraderie that I have received along the way.

As a tiny little English lad in short trousers, I came to Ponoka with my parents in the winter of 1949, and just about froze! We started out living in a rustic old shack in the Riverside district, then progressed to our first home next to the Community Golf course, later moving to the massive grounds of the Provincial Mental Hospital (Centennial Centre). Through the many good and a few tougher times I have gathered so many fond memories of my learning years (starting at the historical Red Brick school), of always playing hard but for fun, being a little hooligan at times, and always wondering if I would ever really grow up? Later on I managed to fall in love a few times, raised a family, went through four cars, enjoyed five career changes, had some great parties, and goofed up on many occasions; but through it all I somehow managed to survive and get involved with a whole lot of wonderful friends, acquaintances, workmates, characters, clubs, groups, and organizations. The knick-names that I am allowed to publish included: motor mouth, hammer, prong, Rabbi, and mouse; and I just love it when I still get referred to by those handles.

Now it is a great honour to acknowledge and write about all those marvellous memories, as well as about our hardy pioneer families, merchants, teams, and individuals who laid the foundation of our great community and districts, and to those generations who have proudly carried on the successes and traditions to this present day. Chasing and writing these stories and pictures has allowed me to rekindle old friendships, and to meet so many great people in their homes, their businesses, or at the local coffee shop; then later sharing their unique and exciting tales and skills with you our faithful readers. It is very gratifying when people pop into the office or stop me on the street with story ideas or pictures, as well as phoning with a hot tip, to say thanks, or to just chat about the good times.

A sincere thanks to Judy and the super staff at the Ponoka News for giving me the opportunity and encouraging me to keep on writing, and to Barb and Sandy at the Fort Ostell Museum for so kindly providing me with the historic information and photos, as well as an ample supply of coffee and cookies all year round. The computer room in our condo is full of history books, pictures, notes, and old newspapers, and my e-mail is constantly full of delightful copy and inspirations from relatives and friends that I love to meld into a story and pass them on to you.

Four years ago my retirement led us to Red Deer to follow my very understanding, patient, and younger wife’s career. With her support and encouragement I went into training as a rookie house husband, joined our Condo Board of Directors, love volunteering and being a grandpa, do lots of walking and am still a sports fanatic; but I will always find some time to keep on writing and visiting my one and only favourite home town! The two fine old gentleman I volunteer with each week still laugh at my jokes, my 66 year old body is holding up quite well as long as I don’t abuse it, and I have quickly found out that being a grump or complaining doesn’t get much sympathy or make many new friends.

We have also been blessed with four wonderful children and four special grandchildren to pamper and love, as well a whole bunch of old and new friends! My super father, who always told me that “you won’t make friends or impress everyone that you meet, but the more you have the merrier,” will soon be celebrating his 90th birthday and lives happily with my step-mom Jean in Victoria. My brother Peter is a butcher in Nanaimo, and our large extended family on my wife’s side all get along very well.

God willing, I will continue to surge ahead at a slightly slower but humble and positive pace, as well as continuing to enjoy mingling with the human race and writing about the history and happenings in and around Ponoka. What more could I ever wish for? Thanks again for your great and ongoing support and for the countless memories; and may I take this opportunity to extend best wishes for a happy and successful New Year to your family from mine.