On June 30, 2015, scores of former high school students and teachers will meet in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada for an evening of handshakes, hugs, and name-tag glancing.
It’s going to be magical.
‘Downhomers’ from three schools — Campbellton Composite High, Assumption Academy, and Restigouche Senior High — will gather at Memorial Civic Centre for munching, mingling, and some pleasant strolls down a pothole-free Memory Lane.
You can bet your smartphone that a few gigs of data [aka phone numbers and email addresses] will be uploaded that night.
The event is being billed as “Brian’s Dream.” It’s in memory of the late Brian MacNeish, a former Campbellton High student who, in 2013, came up with the idea of a high school get-together.
** Update: The event went off as planned. Like clockwork. For a write-up and some cool photographs, a slide show and two short videos of the Big Night, go to this link:
- A Stroll Down Memory Lane [words and photos]
- Student Brian MacNeish
- Fishfest: A Salute to Brian
- Hits From The 1950s
- Hits From The 1960s [2 music collages]
- Hits From The 1970s
- Hits From The 1980s
- What Song Was #1 When You Came on the Scene?
- High School Teacher Genevieve Ethier
- Sports Writer Don Parker
- High School Teacher Jean Olscamp
- Organizers of ‘Brian’s Dream’
- 1967 CHS Yearbook Flashbacks
- 1967 AHS Grad List [partial]
- The Campbellton Tigers featuring Tom Wright
- Trivia Questions
- Lou Bursey, Martin Luther King and a Rifle Shot
- Campbellton Aerial Shots – New and Old
- Class Reunion Cartoons
- Trivia Answers
- Readers’ Comments
A SHARED DREAM
I’ll be there. It will be my first high school reunion … although it’s not an official reunion, mind you. Official or not — gotta admit — I’m excited.
It was late spring, 1967, Canada’s Centennial Year and I was one of about 100 teens who sauntered out of the Campbellton High gymnasium clutching a small treasure — a piece of paper with an embossed imprint and a couple of signatures — representing 12 long years of reading, writing, arithmetic, nerve-wracking exams and all that.
We grads were on a mission, determined to make a difference in the world. Most of us left Campbellton for a university, college — or to find a job. And it may sound delusional, but we were on the road to a better world.
Along the way, we found ourselves. Traveling “far and wide” — sometimes down roads that weren’t paved — we’d see many wonders and make some life-changing discoveries. Two important truths we all discovered: the world is one huge classroom and education isn’t something we can finish.
EVERYTHING CHANGES. WE DO TOO.
Bob Dylan wrote, “The times they are a-changin …” Well, they sure did change — even more than the icon songwriter could have imagined.
When we attended school, back in the day, the world wasn’t such a busy place. Times were simpler although, let’s face it, they weren’t always easier.
In the 1960s, colour television was still a novelty. What am I saying? So was black and white TV. Cable or satellite television? Notta. Instead, we had rabbit ears sitting atop bulky, heavy tube TVs. Gangly TV antennas were perched on roofs all over town. Remotes? Are you kidding me. Us kids were the remotes.
Back then, items with the most views ‘online’ were clothes and bedding. After Mother Nature did Her magic, everything was downloaded to laundry baskets.
Nothing was digital. There were no iPods, CDs — even 8-Tracks or cassette tapes — only vinyl records. Computers were some massive, secret machines that governments used; our school desktops were solid wood — with a round hole cut into them to hold a bottle of ink; cars had neither airbags nor seat belts; children walked to and from school; a buck was a lot of money … and loonies were people we didn’t get along with.
And according to the ads, cigarettes were refreshing, good for your image … and your health. You bet.
Some homes had asbestos, sure — but none had rap music. You tell me what’s worse.
Our parents called our names, not our cell phones. And if we didn’t eat what Mom cooked, we didn’t eat. One more — and it’s the final one, I promise — back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s … we actually enjoyed Spam. “More Spam!” we’d yell at the dinner table. Try to get a youngster to say that today.
It was a different time and place. And I can’t help but think — without romanticizing it — overall, a better one.
For some former students, 50 years have come and gone since they last saw their old classmates, many of whom at one time were best friends. FIFTY years??? Are you serious? That’s half a century!
A few enjoyed marriage so much, they walked down that aisle not once or twice — but THREE times!
Most of us now use either glasses or contact lenses. And we’re heavier. [I sure am.] As someone put it, brain cells come and brain cells go … but those fat cells live forever.
Point is, we’ve gotten older. Hey, no big deal. Life happens. Having said that, a part of me says when we meet we’ll be 18 again.
This post focuses on three outstanding individuals, no longer with us, who left remarkable legacies. They are:
- Student Brian MacNeish , who died in 2014;
- High school teacher Genevieve Ethier , who died in 2012;
- High school teacher Jean Olscamp , who died in 1965.
BRIAN MACNEISH – Student
In the summer of 2013, a CHS grad from 1968, Brian MacNeish of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was attending ‘Salmon Festival,’ a popular annual event in Campbellton. It dawned on ‘Fish’ — as he was known — that some former high school students were back in town, and it would be cool if they could meet somewhere and chat.
His dream was an informal gathering — and he made it happen.
Brian rented Masonic Hall [corner of Aberdeen and Adam Street], then ordered in finger food — at his own expense. I heard about this and it made an impression on me, resonating big time. I was touched that someone — who was not rich — would pick up the tab for everything. He even decorated the hall. Like, who does that? The answer: those who put others ahead of themselves.Must admit, I hardly knew Brian MacNeish and I regret that. Back in the 1960s, Fish and I passed in the hallways of Campbellton Composite High [now a middle school] on Arran Street. We nodded ‘hello’ but that was about it. We were like two kids from Finland: He was quiet, but I was quieter.
The years passed. Then decades, and I forgot about Brian, oblivious to where he had gone and the many great things he’d accomplished. All that changed in February 2015 when a former Grade 9 classmate, Doris Best of Atholville, fired off an email about a gathering planned for June in Campbellton in Brian’s honour.
I’m always curious — and I’m sure you are, too — as to what happened to old classmates. Where’d they settle? Did they attend university or college? What line of work did they get into? Did they marry … have kids? And yes, are they still alive?
As my year of birth became more distant, more ‘reflective’ thoughts popped into that old hard drive on my shoulders: Did they help others and make this world a better place? Did they overcome some big challenges? Put another way, I was less interested in how much money they made and how much they invested in a pension plan … and more interested in how much they invested in society, if at all. The dissonance factor, if you will. Attribute it to old age, but I have to be honest — that’s the measuring stick I now use.
To sum up, Brian MacNeish did Campbellton High proud. And if you’re from the Campbellton area, Brian did you proud too. He truly was one of the good guys.
Let’s slip back to 1968 … and open up the CHS Yearbook to page 22. [Click to enlarge] Check out the first dude on the right.
In February 2014, high blood pressure finally got the best of Brian. He was at home when he suffered a massive stroke, one that had him in a coma in minutes. The man was on life-support for only a day or so when family members decided it was time for Fish to swim free.
Brian Arthur MacNeish took his final breath on the 15th of February — his 64th birthday — at a hospital in Halifax. When Fish crossed over he was surrounded by his wife, children and some dear friends.
According to his obituary in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Brian ‘joined the Council of the Gods of the Universe’ accompanied by music from the 1960’s British rock group, Led Zeppelin. The song? Ramble On … [“Leaves are falling all around, it’s time I was on my way. Thanks to you, I’m obliged for such a pleasant stay’]
I suppose another Zeppelin song that could have worked just as well was Stairway to Heaven. Hmmm. Maybe not. Brian was not religious.
Rob MacNeish pointed out that his Dad did not believe in organized religions. I interjected, “But he was spiritual, wasn’t he?” “Greatly! … yes.”
Brian’s wife, Shirley MacNeish, adds, “Brian believed in being good, kind, truthful — and working hard.”
Brian MacNeish lived life to the fullest. He and Shirley travelled the world and influenced people they met — and there were many. Quoting from his obit, “Brian’s life was big. Farming, construction, energy auditing with the Province [of Nova Scotia] and privately, home inspection, and real estate were the tip of the iceberg of his careers. He lived his passions, reducing untold tons of carbon emissions from our atmosphere — a testament to his love for the world.”
Sounds to me that if Brian wasn’t such a devout atheist, he would have made a hell of a preacher.
Brian also has a daughter. At the time this article was written, Avery MacNeish was travelling in Central America.
And when Brian passed, he was a grandfather [grandson; Hunter].
I had some great talks with Brian’s wife of many years. Shirley shared that she met her husband when they were students at Mt. Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. “You were married 37 years??” I asked. Keep in mind some people now change spouses as often as hockey players change teams. I joked, “If you were living in Alberta, they’d name a bridge after you …”
Shirley spoke about her late husband as though he was sitting right beside her on the couch, and they were going through a family photo album and reminiscing. The woman was at peace. She’d married someone who had made a difference in this world. If Shirley is reading this and tearing up, those are tears of joy.
Rob MacNeish says his Dad was an “old hippie” and that he loved music — especially the old ‘rockers’ from the 1960s. Put another way, Brian wasn’t a huge fan of Lawrence Welk and his orchestra.
TIME TO CELEBRATE, TIME TO HEAL
Hang on. If you’re into Led Zeppelin, click on the tiny white arrow to hear Ramble On, the song referred to earlier. Be patient, though, as the music may not start right away. Hidden behind that black stripe on your computer screen is the actual band, the midgets they are, getting ready.
The tune runs 4:21. If it’s not to your liking, no problem, you can always scroll back and hit ‘pause.’ The slide bar on the right controls the volume.
‘”Brian was kind,” says Shirley, “… and kindness is what makes us secure as a society.”
“He was a very generous man,” she adds. “Brian was community-minded and he helped people. We were of the mind that if you could help, you should. If someone needed assistance putting a roof on, Brian would help them for a couple of days — for free. He didn’t expect to be paid.”
Mr. MacNeish was his own person. Some things he believed in; some he didn’t. And one of the things he did not believe in was a funeral …
Instead of a funeral, the family had a “real” Celebration of his Life, attended by about 200 friends and family members. And celebrate they did. The party lasted 24 hours with music, talk, food … and drink. According to Rob and Shirley, “Everyone had a great time.” I have no doubt they did. Check out the faces in the group picture coming up.
“We had music, a BBQ tent, a pop corn tent, a beer tent, a Caribbean rum tent …” says Shirley. “That’s what Brian would have wanted.”
“The money spent on the party is what we would’ve spent on a funeral.”
Brian MacNeish’s generosity didn’t begin during the Salmon Festival in Campbellton. Rob recalls, years earlier, his dad getting a small inheritance. He didn’t spend his money on an addition to his house, a new stereo system, a trip to Vegas, or a new SUV. Even an old SUV. The money went to help friends and family. He hadn’t forgotten those who helped him.
Sounds like Mr. MacNeish was not only an old hippie, but one who “walked the talk.” A good friend put it this way: “Brian did what he had to do, and he was of the opinion that people didn’t have to be dressed in a suit to solve problems.”
The man was also not impressed with fancy estates either. Instead, he was drawn to where the poor lived. Inequity and injustices just didn’t sit well with him. In that respect, Brian MacNeish, Citizen of Campbellton, left town and returned a Citizen of the World. He pushed humanity in the right direction, and he pushed hard. Stuff like that makes teachers swell with pride.
Ron Reid, a long-time Campbellton resident and a retired worker with NB Power, had this insight into the Brian he knew as a kid: “He was wise beyond his years.”
A former CHS student, Ken Chambers of Saint John, New Brunswick, described him as a ‘deep thinker.’
In an email, former CHS classmate Brian Flann — a retired high school teacher and principal, now living in Abbotsford, British Columbia — describes his friend as one of the most academically-gifted people he ever met. “For the most part,” he says, “Brian was quiet and unassuming. He was a tremendous contributor [to school committees and groups] and very knowledgeable about many different topics.”
John McDonald of Toronto was with Brian from Grade 1, right up to Grade 12. “He was always one of the top students,” the financial consultant recalls, “a nice boy, reflective. He listened carefully. I liked ‘Fish’ … I liked him a lot.”I have time for people like Brian MacNeish. Sure wish I’d gotten to know him.
It doesn’t bother me the least that Brian was a “devout” atheist. Given the unholy mess organized religion has created, I get where he was coming from. As a friend once told me, “I’ve got nothing against God — it’s His fan club I can’t stand.”
It’s my belief that Brian MacNeish was always spiritual though he may not have known it. It’s no surprise that when we dissect inspiration we get ‘in spirit.’
Brian MacNeish not only found himself, he found the courage to be the person he was meant to be. He looked out for Number One, and Number One was the other person. There’s something generous and heroic about that.
Brian left one very cool legacy, the measure of a life well-lived. The man was an inspiration when he was alive, he’s an inspiration today and will be for years to come. Now that’s a legacy, folks.
As for his vision of a get-together for former high-school students, well, some dreams do come true.
One final thing … I was wrong about Brian. He was rich after all.
RIP, ‘Fish.’ Mission accomplished.
One more thing. Brian MacNeish was not alone. There are people like him clear across the Maritimes, Canada, and the world. It’s unfortunate their contributions often go unrecognized.
AND FROM THE GROOVEYARD …
Click on the first arrow immediately below to hear a collage of 17 cool tunes from the 1950s, songs that will unlock a few memories, I bet. They don’t call it memory music for nothing.
If 50s music isn’t your thing, you can hear songs from the 1960s, 70s or 80s. Or, if you wish, the sounds of silence.
[Note: First time loading may take 30 seconds or so before the music kicks in. You may have to click the arrow twice to get things rolling. The main slide bar can be edged ahead to hear a particular song.]
From Studio One … [clip runs 21:56]
- Fraulein – 1957 [Bobby Helms]
- Gotta Travel On – 1959 [Billy Grammer]
- Rebel Rouser – 1958 [Duane Eddy]
- The Great Pretender – 1957 [The Platters]
- Peggy Sue – 1958 [Buddy Holly]
- Young Love – 1956 [Sonny James]
- Hound Dog – 1956 [Elvis Presley]
- Johnny B. Goode – 1958 [Chuck Berry]
- 26 Miles [Santa Catalina] – 1958 [The Four Preps]
- Wake Up Little Susie – 1958 [Everly Brothers]
- That’ll Be The Day – 1957 [Buddy Holly]
- The Tennessee Waltz – 1950 [Patti Page]
- O Mein Papa – 1954 [Eddie Fisher]
- You Send Me – 1958 [Sam Cooke]
- Blueberry Hill – 1956 [Fats Domino]
- Whatever Will Be, Will Be – 1956 [Doris Day]
- In The Still Of The Night – 1956 – [The Five Satins]
And now … from Studio Two … memory music from the 1960s … [clip runs 23:50]
- Abraham, Martin and John – 1968 [Dion]
- My Boyfriend’s Back – 1963 [The Angels]
- Blame it on the Bossa Nova – 1963 [Eydie Gorme]
- Rhythm of the Rain – 1962 [The Cascades]
- Surfing USA – 1963 [The Beach Boys]
- Let’s Twist Again – 1961 [Chubby Checker]
- He’s So Fine – 1963 [The Chiffons]
- I Want to Hold Your Hand – 1963 [The Beatles]
- Where Have All The Flowers Gone – 1964 [Kingston Trio]
- Stand By Me – 1961 [Ben E. King]
- For What It’s Worth – 1967 [Buffalo Springfield]
- Bits and Pieces – 1964 [The Dave Clark Five]
- Where Did Our Love Go – 1964 [Diana Ross and the Supremes]
- Satisfaction – 1965 [The Rolling Stones]
- Eve of Destruction – 1965 [Barry McGuire]
- Mr. Tambourine Man – 1965 [The Byrds]
- Catch The Wind – 1965 [Donovan]
- You Were On My Mind – 1965 [We Five]
- Itchycoo Park – 1967 [Small Faces]
- Friday On My Mind – 1966 [The Easybeats]
From Studio Three … more cool songs from the 1960s … [clip runs 23:45]
- Walking to New Orleans – 1960 [Fats Domino]
- Last Date – 1960 [Floyd Cramer]
- Blowing’ In The Wind – 1963 [Peter, Paul & Mary]
- She Loves You – 1964 [The Beatles]
- Chapel of Love – 1964 [The Dixie Cups]
- I’m Henry The VIII, I Am – 1965 [Herman’s Hermits]
- Wishin’ And Hopin’ – 1965 [Dusty Springfield]
- Paint It Black – 1966 [The Rolling Stones]
- Do You Believe In Magic – 1965 [The Lovin’ Spoonful]
- Sweet Soul Music – 1967 [Arthur Conley]
- Fun, Fun, Fun – 1964 [The Beach Boys]
- Sugar, Sugar – 1969 [The Archies]
- Reach Out I’ll Be There – 1967 [The Four Tops]
- Pied Piper – 1966 [Crispian St. Peters]
- Just Like Me – 1965 [Paul Revere & The Raiders]
- Moon River – 1962 [Andy Williams]
- Stranger On The Shore – 1961 [Acker Bilk]
Studio Four … tunes from the 1970s [clip runs 23:15]
- Me And You And A Dog Named Boo – 1971 [Lobo]
- Sister Golden Hair – 1975 [America]
- Let Your Love Flow – 1976 [Bellamy Brothers]
- My Sweet Lord – 1970 [George Harrison]
- Beautiful Sunday – 1972 [Daniel Boone]
- From New York To L.A. – 1977 [Patsy Gallant]
- Take Me Home Country Roads – 1971 [John Denver]
- Snowbird – 1970 [Anne Murray]
- Daniel – 1973 [Elton John]
- Last Song – 1972 [Edward Bear]
- Sundown – 1973 [Gordon Lightfoot]
- Here Comes The Sun – 1971 [Richie Havens]
- Jeans On – 1976 [David Dundas]
- Take A Chance On Me – 1978 [ABBA]
- Don’t Pull Your Love – 1971 [Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds]
- It Never Rains In Southern California – 1972 [Albert Hammond]
- Afternoon Delight – 1976 [Starland Vocal Band]
- Sometimes When We Touch – 1977 [Dan Hill]
- Dust In The Wind – 1977 [Kansas]
- Sultans of Swing – 1978 [Dire Straits]
- What The Hell I Got – 1975 [Michel Pagliaro]
Studio Five … songs from the 1980s [clip runs 23:56]
- Against The Wind – 1980 [Bob Seger]
- Time After Time – 1984 [Cyndi Lauper]
- Missing You – 1984 [John Waite]
- Islands In The Stream – 1983 [Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton]
- Addicted To Love – 1986 [Robert Palmer]
- We Didn’t Start The Fire – 1989 [Billy Joel]
- Bette Davis Eyes – 1981 [Kim Carnes]
- Africa – 1983 [Toto]
- One More Night – 1985 [Phil Collins]
- Stuck With You – 1986 [Huey Lewis and the News]
- Centerfold – 1982 [The J. Geils Band]
- Mony, Mony – 1987 [Billy Idol]
- She Drives Me Crazy – 1989 [Five Young Cannibals]
- The Way It Is – 1986 – [Bruce Hornsby and the Range]
- Like A Rock – 1986 – [Bob Seger]
WHAT SONG WAS #1 THE DAY YOU WERE BORN?
Have you ever wondered about that? Go to this site, enter a date … and listen to the song that was number one the day you came into the world. [This intel courtesy of media vet Abe Schwartz of Las Vegas, Nevada]
GENEVIEVE ETHIER – Teacher, Icon
Campbellton High School teacher Miss Genevieve Ethier [pronounced: etch-chay] was a native of the United States of America. She taught typing — for years. Decades. Centuries. Don’t believe me? She and George Washington walked to school together, hand in hand.
Miss Ethier was tough, but I give her full credit. She taught us how to type and the proof is right here: as I work on this story, I’m blazing along at 200 words per minute. Okay, 60 then.
Just an aside here, it was Miss Ethier, not Ms. Ethier.
Miss Ethier and I didn’t really get along, although I’m not sure why. She knew me as ‘Byron’ and I knew her as ‘battle-ax.’
In the fall of 1967, I pulled out of Campbellton and — given my age  — didn’t really give much thought to the many good teachers I had, including Miss Ethier. Young people take a lot for granted, and I’m afraid I was like that.
The older I got, I found myself listening with new ears to a Roy Clark 45 rpm record I had spun in the summer of 1969, when I was a DJ at CFOM Radio in Quebec City … Yesterday When I Was Young.
The years have a way of sneaking up and tapping you on the shoulder and making you think. Put another way, the more grey hairs I got, the less self-centred I became. I was kinder to others and I thought about them more. I have often wondered what I did to deserve such caring teachers.
So there you go. Getting old ain’t necessarily a bad thing.
It was back in 2001 when someone told me Genevieve Ethier had died. Gosh, I thought, I never got to say good-bye. More important, I never thanked her. The news left me feeling not only sad but full of regret. It was a “if-I-could-do-things-again” moment. I wished I could have told her that I appreciated her.
For anyone over 40 reading this article, our teachers were role models. They weren’t there to please us. They were there to teach. At the time, it may have seemed that our teachers didn’t care about us because they weren’t always “friendly” but in fact, they cared very much. They didn’t always do what was ‘politically correct,’ they did what they thought was right. And yes, that is a reference to Genevieve Ethier. But not just her, of course.
Former CHS Commercial student Edris [McLaughlin] Power reminisces about her time in class with Miss Ethier. “I sported well-manicured but long nails … to which she objected,” she says. “Ms. Ethier would walk down the aisle, tap my typewriter with her wooden pointer and inform me that I ‘must cut those nails prior to the next class!'”
Edie, as she was known, ignored the ultimatum.
The two later met outside class — in the Royal Bank where Edie worked as Assistant Accountant. “Miss Ethier walked up to the counter,” she recalls, “took one look at my hands and said, ‘Well, you finally cut those nails!'”
For a brief moment, a faint smile appeared … then the stern look returned.
I tried to reach anyone in Campbellton who might have been close to Miss Ethier, and the first number I called was that of a ‘G. Ethier’ at 506.753.3716. An older-sounding woman answered. “Hello?” she said. And I said, “I’m looking for someone who knew Miss Ethier.” “This is she,” she said. My God. She was alive! I told her who I was. At that point, she said, “You’re in Edmonton … with the CBC [the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation].” “I worked there for many years,” I explained, “but I’m now at a private radio station, reading news and reporting on crime.” Ding. Miss Ethier was not only alive and kicking, but still sharp as a tack.
Then I told her why I was calling: I heard she died! “Well,” she responded in a sarcastic tone that suggested I wasn’t too far off in calling her battle-ax, “as far as I know, I’m very much alive.”
“What’s your address?” I asked. She said she was living at Bursey Towers, a seniors complex on Dover Street in Campbellton’s east end.
The very next day, a dozen red roses arrived at her door. Within minutes, she phoned — all excited — to say thank you. Several times. Women and flowers, I tell you.
DINNER OUT & CHATS
Ms. Ethier and I became good friends after that. Whenever I was in Campbellton, I dropped around to her small apartment on the fourth floor [Unit 405]. We talked, sipped tea and munched on biscuits. Hey, it was a senior’s complex.
I didn’t have the nerve to ask if she had any cold beer.
“By the way,” I said, “weren’t you known for standing in front of the class, with a heavy Underwood typewriter perched on your right hand, the keyboard toward the class, announcing: This is a typewriter! She smiled and said, almost bashfully, “Well, that’s what they say …”
I was reminded of that by Nick Murray of Halifax. Murray was one of many great hockey players to strap on skates at the old Memorial Gardens.
Miss Ethier talked about her relatives, especially those who’d just been injured [though not seriously] in a car accident while travelling to see her in Campbellton. She was down about that. But her eyes sparkled again when she brought up the Girl Guides of Canada, a volunteer effort that had been a big part of her life. She was immensely proud of her 65 years with the Girl Guides. That’s not a typo. Wow! 65 years. Clearly, the Girl Guides was her passion.
Genevieve Ethier never took that walk down the aisle. I can’t recall if she ever had a boyfriend.
She also talked about the “old days” — and by that I mean the time she grew up in Malone, a small town in central New York State.
In 1924, when she was 10, her family — mother, father, two boys and her — relocated to Canada after her father got a job in Edmundson, New Brunswick.
Miss Ethier then talked about her move, in the “dirty thirties,” to the Town of Campbellton where a clerical teaching job was waiting for her at the new high school, near the top of a hill, on Arran Street.
Miss Ethier interrupted herself to say that the “beautiful” roses I’d sent were the first from a man since her father presented her with roses when she graduated from high school, in the early 1930s. She paused and smiled. But I didn’t. I mean, 70 years is too long. Crazy, really.
I’m reminded of a quote from the late Andy Rooney of CBS’s 60 Minutes: “Under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.”
Miss Ethier still had that ‘edge’ to her. We stood at her living room window — which gave a spectacular view of the Sugarloaf Mountain and a large part of Campbellton — when she nodded in the direction of the new high school, just down the street. “Look at those kids,” she said, hands on her hips, “they get driven to and from school. No wonder they’re fat!”
I tried to impress upon her I was still in [relatively] good shape and that I continued to climb Sugarloaf Mountain, sometimes the face, depending on the weather. “What???” she said, incredulously, “you’re going to fall and break your neck!”
DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB?
Miss Ethier asked if I liked news reporting, journalism as many know it. Without saying anything, she must have remembered me as a quiet student who hardly mixed with anyone. I explained that through my work, I’d met all kinds of people, some famous, some infamous, some kind and a few who were dirty and mean — from Mother Teresa, human rights activists and heroic police officers to serial child molesters, drug dealers, bank robbers, and killers. Lots of killers. Too many.
I told her that I loved my job and took great pride in breaking news stories. I also admitted that I lost my smile after I began doing crime stories and that I struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] — something my dictionary defines as “a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of … severe psychological shock.”
My demons, I explained, are the nightmares: bodies at train crashes and plane crashes, bodies laying in the ditch from a bus crash, dead people in parking lots after a tornado has ripped everything to hell … and young adults in dumpy apartments where failed drug deals end in a hail of bullets … abducted children who are never found and their mothers can’t stop crying … a bloody revolution in Central America that wiped out 60,000 lives, mostly civilians … and sitting in a field at Auschwitz — the mother of Nazi World War Two death camps — amongst bone fragments of hundreds of captured Russian soldiers. On and on and on and on. They’re just dreams, mind you, but Christ, they’re awful. And they don’t seem to end.
I also told her there’s hardly been one night since the mid-1980s where I hadn’t taken a sleeping pill to get knocked out. Even now, I’m still restless. My brain has trouble turning off.
So I levelled with Miss Ethier on the toxic side of the profession, which of course is far less than what ambulance workers, firefighters, and soldiers have to put up with. In any case, her reaction was interesting: she bit her lower lip slightly and turned away.
It wasn’t a pleasant topic, but sometimes things have to be said.
The conversation switched to our health issues … then — moving to something more positive — Miss Ethier shared her memories of a trip she made to the beautiful Canadian Rockies, years earlier. I later sent her a calendar of the Rockies, which she put up on her wall. You could say that Miss Ethier ‘escaped’ to a different part of the mountains every month … and it didn’t cost her a dime.
Not until much later did I learn that her two siblings, both boys, had accidentally drowned one day in 1926. One lad was 15, the other 10. I tried to imagine how horrific that was for 12-year-old Genevieve and her parents. How often did Miss Ethier watch boys in Campbellton playing — and in a catharsis moment — had flashbacks to the day she lost her two brothers? How does anyone overcome something as horrific as that? I’m no shrink, but my guess is that they don’t.
Could it be that Miss Ethier gave a helping hand to young girls, all the while thinking about her two siblings who never made it to 16 and 11?
I saw Miss Ethier fairly frequently. I enjoyed her company.
She shared that she missed having a driver’s licence because she couldn’t get around like she used to. To get her away from the “four walls,” I took her for spins in my rental. Not far, mind you, just around town. I could tell she enjoyed going for a ride.
Miss Ethier and I were leaving Bursey Towers one day, her arm on mine for support, and she suddenly stopped in her tracks. “Want to know something?” she said, looking my way, “some of my former students now live here.” That was a head-shaker.
The old gal had slowed down herself. She was no longer the spry woman who stomped to the back of the class, a wooden pointer in hand, ready to snap the fingers of some poor kid — like me — who’d been caught passing notes. Whack! That, folks, was the original ‘auto correct.’
RAN INTO A RETIRED REPORTER …
At the seniors complex, I came across a retired sports reporter — Don Parker [Campbellton Tribune and Moncton Times and Transcript] who called out my name. Don was in a chair on the main floor, his back to a large window. I walked over, we shook hands and I asked, “Who are you visiting?” And he said, “I’m not visiting …” Whoa. That, my friend, was a searing moment.
Don Parker died in a Moncton hospital on 17 April 2015. He was 67.
Don was not only a good fellow and a ‘walk-the-talk’ kind of guy, but a huge promotor of local sports although, sadly, I don’t think the City of Campbellton ever gave him the recognition he deserved.
Don Hume of Campbellton agrees. “He quietly went about his work,” he says of the dedicated reporter.
Campbellton’s All-Stars made their mark with a hockey stick, baseball bat, tennis racket, etc., but Don Parker made his mark with a typewriter. And while he didn’t change numbers on a scoreboard, he changed — make that improved — the lives of many youngsters by giving them guidance and confidence.
Don Parker may not have known it, but in the minds of hundreds of many kids in Campbellton, he was their All-Star.
Richard [Dick] Tingley of Saint John, New Brunswick — a former Campbellton Mayor — describes Parker as a doer and “involver.” The retired lawyer and ex-Campbellton Tiger hockey player believed Don should be inducted into the Campbellton Sports Hall of Fame as a builder.
Tingley got his wish. About a year after his death, the man known as ‘Spiderman’ and ‘scoop’ was, on the 2nd of July 2016, posthumously inducted into the city’s Sports Hall of Fame.Don Parker was inducted into the Sports Hall of fame as a builder.
John Van Horne, who worked with Parker at the Tribune in the 1970s and 80s, pointed out his old friend wanted things done right, describing him as a “behind-the-scenes guy who got no credit but was highly valued.”
That’s all in the past now. Don Parker will forever be given credit.
‘TOUGH BUT GOOD’
Jim Babcock, a former CHS student who lives in nearby Tide Head, described Miss Ethier this way: “Tough but good,” with the emphasis on good. “You learned how to type.”
Long after Miss Ethier retired, Babcock ran across her a number of times in Campbellton. “She wasn’t crippled up, and she moved right along,” the former CN worker recalled. “She knew who you were, too. I think she knew every one of us — and, remember, she taught hundreds of students.”
We had lovely meals at restaurants in Campbellton, Miss Ethier and I. One outing was near City Centre Mall, forget the name of the place now. I was about to drive her home, when I figured it was a good time to crank up some tunes from the 1940s and 50s, so I plugged in the iPod. Over the speakers came a song by the McGuire Sisters. I held up the iPod and announced, ‘This little sucker holds more than three thousand songs!” Miss Ethier stared at the gadget and, squinting, asked, “How do they get all those songs in that small thing?” “My,” she said, shaking her head.
We talked about iTunes, iPhones, iPods and iPads. And here I was, sitting alongside an icon. Hey, don’t tell me you didn’t know that was coming.
Digital technology had overwhelmed Miss Ethier. I get that. It baffles me too. Then again, I’m still wowed at how typewriter ribbons reverse themselves automatically.
I didn’t bother asking Miss Ethier if she had a twitter account.
Once, we stood together on the main level of Bursey Towers, waiting for the elevator to take us up to her apartment. Before I go further, I believe that some folk who reside in seniors homes are a tad nosey … because … an old lady, whom I didn’t know, kept eyeing Miss Ethier and me. She may have thought I was her son, not sure. In any case, I broke the ice. “I’m not her son,” I said,” … I’m her boyfriend. She likes younger men.”
Well. Poor Miss Ethier didn’t know what to do. She stood at attention, stone faced, like a guard at Buckingham Palace, staring at the elevator door as though she was in a trance, and who knows, she might have been. The longer we waited for that elevator door to slide open, the bigger her eyes became. “Don’t worry,” I assured her. “That woman won’t remember a darn thing … she probably has Alzheimer’s.”
On my second last visit with Miss Ethier, she handed me more than half a dozen, mint-condition CHS yearbooks. “These are yours,” she announced with a smile, “I won’t be needing them.” I didn’t expect that, quite frankly, and I didn’t know what to say, except ‘thank you.’ Those old yearbooks were something else. They were my roses.
I gave some of her yearbooks to friends and acquaintances in Campbellton, mailed one to my sister, Cheryl Mayer, in London, Ontario, kept one for myself!  … and the remaining book — from 1968 — I’ll give to some lucky person at ‘Brian’s Dream.’
When I returned to Alberta, I flipped through the pages of the 1967 Yearbook, remembering all the faces but not all the names. Well, I’ll be. On page 30, there was my photo [Byron Hubert Christopher] and just above it, a handwritten notation from Miss Ethier. Click on the image to see it more clearly.
And lay off with the ‘Hubert’ jokes. As was the custom back then, us kids were named after aunts and uncles and perhaps pop singers our mothers had a crush on. In my case, my mother’s brother, Hubert. I never met the man. He was killed in World War 2. Hubert joined the Army when he was a young man, just happy to be wearing a uniform to fight for King and Country and all that, and to have a job coming off the Great Depression. Not long after he enlisted, Hubert was on a ship to help defend the British colony at Hong Kong.
The Japanese attacked Hong Kong, kicked butt … and Hubert was killed by a mortar. The Japanese dumped his remains in the ocean. Hubert’s medals were always proudly displayed in a frame at his home, a tar paper 2-story house on the gravel road to L’Averne, Quebec. I never fully realized the significance of Hubert’s death until I did stories on a civil war in Central America … and I must say, I’m not especially proud of waiting so long. Slow learner.
A DESTINATION WE ALL SHARE
I last saw Miss Ethier just a few months before she died. It was the fall of 2011 and she’d moved from her apartment to a semi-private room in the extended care centre, on the main floor of the same complex. She shared the room with a younger woman who had to be in her mid-80s. Sounds funny, I know.
I sat down on a chair beside my old typing teacher and nudged her on the shoulder, waking her up. She turned my way. “You’re back,” she said. I replied, “You moved … what happened? … didn’t pay your rent?” “No,” she replied, “I just got old.”
“How are you feeling?” I asked. “Terrible,” she grumbled, without looking my way.
Miss Ethier continued to call a spade a spade, mentioning out loud that her room-mate, resting in a bed just 20 feet away or so, was keeping her awake at night. I glanced over to see the woman, her face frozen, staring at the ceiling. She’d heard everything.
That was the bad news. The good news is that Miss Ethier didn’t toss a typewriter her way.
I know it’s not appropriate to ask a woman her age, but what the hell. “How old are you now?” “96,” Miss Ethier replied, without any hesitation. “I’ll be 97 next month [November 2011].” “Are you trying to reach 100? … now that would be something!” “Gosh, no,” she said, with more than a hint of resignation, “… this is bad enough.” At that point, I knew my old teacher was not returning to her apartment. Her long life had taken many turns, but this would be the last.
I told Miss Ethier that I planned to climb the Sugarloaf again. “Don’t you fall,” she cautioned. At that point, I stood up to leave and gave her a gentle squeeze. I looked back to see her eyes fixed on the television, though she didn’t seem to be too interested in the program. It might have been the weather channel, not sure. The old gal was simply biding her time, not unlike travellers in an airport lounge who stare at the overhead TV screens while holding their boarding passes.
It was the last time I saw Miss Ethier. I didn’t bother to ask if she wanted to go for another spin. I walked out to my rental in the parking lot, at the south end of the building, fired up the engine and turned onto Dover Street. “Darn,” I thought, “I will never see battle-ax again.” Had to be careful driving as my vision was a little blurred.
On the morning of 2 January 2012, a phone call arrived out of the blue from lawyer Thomas McBrearty in Campbellton. Hadn’t spoken with him before. The gentleman had some sad news: His dear friend, Genevieve Ethier, had died the day before [New Year’s Day].
“She talked about you,” McBrearty revealed. I told him I thought the world of Miss Ethier.
It was good of Mr. McBrearty to call. And classy. The man had cancer. It was sucking the life out of him, but he said not a word about it. In our brief talk, McBrearty mentioned that he too was from Campbellton. That didn’t surprise me somehow.
Three months after Genevieve Ethier died, Thomas McBrearty himself crossed over, spending his last days at a hospital in Saint John, New Brunswick.
When I heard that Miss Ethier had really died, I teared up, lit a tea candle and put it on my kitchen table where it flickered for a few hours. I also thought about our time at Campbellton High in the 1960s — and about all the highs we shared in Campbellton decades later.
I was told that a lot of people stopped into Maher’s Funeral Home in Campbellton to pay their respects to Miss Ethier. They obviously saw the same qualities in her that I noticed. They weren’t there to say goodbye; they were there to say ‘thank you.’ And when they pulled away from the funeral home I suspect they too were a little blurry-eyed.
Jocelyn Paquette, Head of the Campbellton Centennial Library, reveals that Genevieve Ethier left them money so they could buy what they needed. “Our library,” she writes in an email, “benefitted greatly from an endowment Genevieve arranged.”
“It was a great honour to be remembered by her,” Paquette concludes. I agree. She was the real deal.
Hundreds of books now commemorate Miss Ethier’s gift. Nice to know that she continues to educate even after she’s gone. That’s a whole new level of cool.
RIP, Miss Ethier. I like to think that when you arrived on the Other Side, your proud father welcomed you with a big hug — and a dozen roses.
JEAN OLSCAMP – Teacher/Educator
This story in The Tribune [a weekly newspaper based in Campbellton] says it all. That sounds a tad boastful, since I wrote it. Even so.
Click to enlarge and to read one account of how another teacher at Campbellton High had such a positive — and lasting — impact on her students.
A tale that never made it into the article was the time a group of guys from Campbellton High — this would have been in the early 1960s — drove around to Jean’s house in Atholville and caught her sunbathing in the back yard. Fun happens. And that’s why God invented beach towels.
You’ll notice the Tribune story has a reference to a 1960s tune by the Lovin’ Spoonful, Do You Believe in Magic? The song came on CKNB, the local radio station, when our funeral procession, heading west towards the church in Atholville, was stopped at a red light at the corner of Roseberry and Sugarloaf Streets. Whenever I hear that Lovin’ Spoonful song, I can’t help but think of Jean.
Thirty-six years later [we’re talking 2011 here], I was back in Campbellton and headed west on Rosebery Street when I pulled up — at a stop sign now — where Roseberry meets Sugarloaf Street. Music was randomly playing on my iPod. Guess which tune was on when the car stopped? I mean, what are the odds?
A psychic would say, “Hey, that’s no coincidence! … that’s Jean!”
The last CHS staff member to see Jean Olscamp alive was Michael Day, a newly-hired teacher who was born and raised in Campbellton. Day recalls what happened that Friday afternoon in October 1965: “We walked out of the front door of CHS together, I carried her suitcase down to the car parked in front of the school on Arran Street. We talked. After putting her suitcase in the car, I said, “Jean, have a great weekend … see you on Monday.” Jean waved good-bye and drove off.
The young teacher was killed on her return trip to Campbellton. The man driving the car lost control and smashed into a concrete bridge abutment at Beresford, just west of Bathurst. The driver, whose name I don’t know, survived the crash.
Michael Day plans to be at Brian’s Dream.
RIP, Jean. One word describes your enthusiasm and your ‘light-up-the-world’ smile: Magic!
Jean, if that stupid car had only been equipped with seat belts, you and I would be going for lunch and talking about stuff that mattered.
There you have it. A look at one outstanding student and two outstanding teachers.
Know that many more great students and teachers attended Campbellton High, the Assumption Academy and Restigouche Senior High … too many to include their stories in this post.
I’ve written about how two teachers had a high-five impact. When I went to school in Campbellton I had dozens of teachers, of course. Others who ‘made a difference’ — for me — were, in no particular order, Jean Stewart, Lou Bursey, Claire Dawson, Myrtle Van Horne and Linda Adams … who’ve all left us now.
If you’re from the Campbellton area, I’m sure you have your own list of teachers worthy of brisk salutes and thumbs-up.
A cool story about Mrs. Adams: She was an older, white-haired lady from Matapedia, Quebec [just west of Campbellton], and one day she did something at the Roseberry Street [primary] School that might not be ‘politically correct’ nowadays. I’m talking late 1950s or so.
Mrs. Adams walked up to the blackboard and scribbled a short poem about God and the need for us to be grateful. It was a prayer, really. I was just a little kid but even so, I realized this stately woman had given us something that was very meaningful, and so I copied it down. Would you believe that in quiet, private moments, I recited that poem, word for word … until I was in my mid-20s? That’s right. Hundreds and hundreds of times.
But I’ve not forgotten Mrs. Adams, a lovely woman who walked with God and wasn’t shy to say so. Sorry for getting religious on you.
To sum up, a good number of students and teachers from Campbellton turned out to be “All Stars,” those who went above and beyond. We all benefited from them and we owe them a huge thank you.
THE 30 JUNE GATHERING & MEMORIES
It was Dan Bartolovic who wrote, “A trip to Nostalgia now and then is good for the spirit.” You’re wondering who Dan Bartolovic is. I have no idea. I found his quote on the Internet, and I’m giving him credit.
A six-member committee is organizing Brian’s Dream, all but one member is living in the Campbellton-area. With thanks and deep appreciation, here they are!
- Susan [Irvine] Caron
- Marlie [Dow] Wirtanen
- Ann [Butler] Power
- Doris [White] Pollock
- Susan [Wood] Porter
- Penny Adams [in British Columbia]
There will be many ‘flashbacks’ during the June get-together, with former students carrying old Yearbooks and flipping open the pages … and seeing something like this:In the mid-1960s, David Humphrey, destined to become a successful lawyer in Campbellton, was one of the youngest DJ’s in Canada [CKNB Radio, Campbellton].
The teen held court before he worked in one.
ASSUMPTION ACADEMY – Graduating Class of ’67
THE CAMPBELLTON TIGERS [Hockey Club]
A number of students from Campbellton High and the Assumption Academy wore the uniform of Campbellton’s premier hockey team, the Tigers. The fabled team had many skilled players, but I’ll focus on Tom Wright, a CHS classmate in 1965.
Here’s a snapshot of a young Tom accepting a Most Valuable Player trophy when he played Minor Hockey in Campbellton.
Tom, #4, played defence. And he was good at it. Defence is “physically-demanding” because defenders block shots and clear traffic in front of the net so that the goalie can have a better view of that chunk of frozen rubber coming his way at 100 miles an hour.
It would have been the mid-1960s, and for some reason I found myself at the old Memorial Gardens, on Arran Street, and the Tigers were holding a practice. I was standing at one end of the rink, alongside the boards, taking everything in [the public is protected by a steel mesh barrier] … and … hey, there was Tom Wright, skating like mad for a loose puck behind the net. A player came up from behind and crunched Tom into the boards. But a split second before the punishing hit, Tom fired the puck around the boards, the puck making a distinctive thud sound as it hit the plywood.
Tom Wright had to be the youngest player on the Tigers — still a high school student, mind you — and I expected him to cry out in pain. Nope. He winced, but didn’t fall and he skated as fast as he could up ice to join the action. I thought, “Wow! That’s something!”
Do you know what made the biggest impression with me? Tom being in our class. Here was this local hero in Grade 10, sitting alongside all us ‘ordinaries’ — and he wasn’t stuck up, not boastful, just a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of guy. I was proud to say ‘hi’ to him, as we all were.
During the tail end of the 1965/66 season, Tom went on to score the winning goal in overtime in the Tigers’ successful march to the Maritime Crown. #4 was the toast of Campbellton and to us students at CHS, our very own star. You can imagine how that overtime goal lifted the spirits of students and teachers alike. When Tom was with us, there was a jump in our step as we left one class and walked to another.
Tom Wright also read sports on CKCD-TV in Campbellton, and for four years wrote sports for the two local weekly newspapers — all while attending high school. But at some point, he decided to focus more on his studies and so he stopped playing for the Tigers.
In time, Tom would go from clearing traffic in front of his net to a more demanding, pressure-packed job of clearing air traffic at some of Canada’s major airports. He became an Air Traffic Controller. There’s a good chance he helped bring your airliner safely to the terminal.
The man retired from Transport Canada and settled in the Moncton, New Brunswick area.
I asked Tom to pick his ‘Dream Team’ of high school students who donned the Tigers uniform over the years. Here’s his crew:
Goal: Jimmy Crockett and Claude Picard
Defence: George Davis, Sterling Loga, Robert Allain, Mel [Killer] MacKenzie, Jack Firlotte, Mike Cyr, Bill Gorham, Georges Vermette, Peter MacLean, Bill Miller [NHL].
Forward: George Bérubé, Ron [Carrots] Vermette, Johnny LeBlanc [NHL], Ray Cyr, Charlie Picard, Murph MacIntyre, Dick Dawson, James MacIntyre, J.P Picard, Dave Wisener, Johnny Wood, Perry Kennedy.
Manager: Arnold Firlotte
Coach: Gerry ‘Red’ Ouellette [NHL]
The Tigers went on to bigger and greater things, capturing three ‘Intermediate A’ [later ‘Senior AA’] national titles in 1972, 1977 and 1988. The ’72 squad had an incredible playoff record of 24 wins and one loss.
The 1972 and 1977 teams were inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame.
“The Tiger achievement is remarkable [when you take into consideration] the size of the community,” says Wright, “it is incredible. Just getting the right combo of players was crafty work of Manager Arnold Firlotte and Coach Gerry Ouellette.”
“I had to include ‘Red’ as Coach — even though he is a native of Grand Falls, New Brunswick — because he did so much for Campbellton over his long tenure in the city.”
Three Campbellton High students — Jimmy Crockett [1956 with The Toronto Marlboros], Dick Dawson and Nick Murray [1958 Hull-Ottawa Canadiens] played on teams that went on to win two Memorial Cups [Canadian Junior Hockey Championships]. Few communities can make that claim.If you’re wondering why I’d indicate ICE hockey — instead of simply ‘hockey’ — it’s because of the Internet. Reading this article are people in Australia, Asia, Africa and Central and South America and to them, hockey is played in a field — not on ice.
While on the subject head-scratchers, here are a few more …
- When Genevieve Ethier lived at Bursey Towers in Campbellton, she could be seen helping an older woman in a wheelchair — her former boss, an ex-Principal of Campbellton High. Who was that person?
- In 2008, the personal laptop of a well-known U.S. citizen was donated to the Campbellton school system. The American visited Campbellton several times in 2007 and brought international attention to the city when he left. Two clues: a] He enjoyed coffee at Tim Hortons on Roseberry Street; did his grocery shopping at Sobeys … and b] now resides in Colorado.
- In 2006, this former Campbellton High student was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- This teacher introduced operettas to Campbellton High in 1966. You’ll see him at Brian’s Dream.
- Twenty-one artists are featured on the collage of musical clips from 1979. One is from Campbellton. And that is …
- Where did Brian [‘Fish’] MacNeish get that crazy nickname?
- The ‘Romeo and Juliette’ ferry that ran between Campbellton and Cross Point got its name from the famous Shakespearian play. True or False?
- Another true or false: In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s there was segregation at Campbellton High.
- What year did Campbellton Composite High become a Junior High?
- Time to throw in a media-relation question. He was from Campbellton, graduated in 1958, wrote a book about what it was like growing up on the North Shore, worked for the major newspapers in Toronto and held down the position of VP of Marketing for McCelland and Stewart. He was known for his creative writing. He is a] Ken Taylor b] Chris Byron or c] John MacArthur.
- In the mid-1960s, DJ David Humphrey teamed up with another announcer from CKNB Radio to host a popular Saturday morning country music show called the DH Ranch. Who was the other announcer?
- Painted crosses on Sugarloaf Mountain mark the spot where two teenage sisters fell to their deaths in 1924. Who were they?
THE STORY BEHIND THE PASSPORT …
Canadians have an American to thank for having to run around and find guarantors. While staying at a rooming house in Toronto in 1968, Jimmy R., a 40-year-old from Alton, Illinois snagged a Canadian passport … with little problem. Think of it as pre-digital identity theft. Jimmy hacked into the Toronto phone book and picked out a name for himself: Ramon George Sneyd.
Within a week or so — thanks to the trusting folk at the Passport Office — there were now two Ramon George Sneyd’s living in Toronto.
The following year, shifty “Ramon” was busted at the airport in London, England, where his real identity was exposed. He was given a complimentary pair of handcuffs and a one-way ticket back to the United States.
The man’s real name? James Earl Ray.
Once Ray arrived in Tennessee, he was charged with the murder of Martin Luther King Junior — the civil rights activist who was gunned down on a motel balcony in Memphis on 4 April 1968. Prosecutors said to Ray: “You can either fess up and we’ll give you 99 years of free room and board — or … you can go to trial, which means you’ll likely get the electric chair and be out in 99 minutes. Your choice, buddy.” Sorry, those exact words may not have been said — had a Brian Williams moment there — but that’s the gist of it.
The second option shocked Ray and he confessed to King’s murder though he later said he didn’t do it. Ray [1928-1998] escaped the electric chair, but not Hepatitis C. He died in a prison hospital in Nashville. Ironically, the man who had caused so much bad blood between whites and blacks died as a result of bad blood.
And no, Ray didn’t write and we never talked on the phone.
An irony: James Earl Ray had plans to settle in Rhodesia [now Zimbawbe], Africa. Small world. I was in Rhodesia in 1972 and my ‘entry’ and ‘exit’ stamps are in that very same passport Lou Bursey helped me get.
So, thanks to James Earl Ray I have Mr. Bursey’s autograph. And what does this have to do with Brian MacNeish, Genevieve Ethier or Jean Olscamp? … or a get-together of former high school students in Campbellton? Nothing really. It’s just interesting.
“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.” — Haruki Murakami, Japanese writer, from ‘Dance Dance Dance.’
CAMPBELLTON AERIAL SHOTS — NEW AND OLD
For some cool photos … go to: https://byronchristopher.org/2014/09/29/aerials-campbellton-new-brunswick-and-area/
IN CLOSING, SOME REUNION FUNNIES …
Both Charles Thomas and Mike Trites are on the back row of that 1967 school photograph.1. Corinne Harquail, principal of Campbellton High School from 1959 to 1970.
2. Richard Lee McNair, a convicted killer who escaped from a penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana in April 2006. The former U.S. Air Force sergeant — one of “America’s Most Wanted” — was captured by the RCMP in Campbellton in October 2007.
And yes, the hard drive on his computer was wiped clean before the Mounties donated it to the school system. Not just the fugitive’s laptop was given away. So was his trusty mountain bike … to a needy child.
McNair is now in the world’s most secure prison — ADX Florence, Colorado.
3. Broadcast legend Peter Maher, the former voice of the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League for 33 seasons, whose family ran a funeral home in Campbellton. Peter began his broadcast career at CKNB Radio. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.
A broadcast booth has been named after Peter at the Memorial Civic Centre in Campbellton and at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
4. Michael Day of Moncton, New Brunswick. In 1965, Day taught at Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton where he introduced his students to musicals. Day then returned to his hometown where he introduced students at Campbellton High to Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. “I wanted something that would pose kids to music,” recalls Day, “and give them an opportunity to be a very active part of the performance.
“I think [H.M.S.] Pinafore in 1966 had 15 boys and in ’67, The Pirates of Penzance had 33 boys. It was so much fun. But the biggest reward to me was kids on opening night saying, ‘Mr. Day, my father is here.’ They were proud of the hard work they put into it — the reward of teaching.
“I still have those kids, some seniors now, saying, ‘Mr. Day, those operettas were my favourite part of high school and taught me to broaden my horizons in listening to other types of music.”
5. Patsy Gallant was born on 15 August 1948. When Patsy lived in Campbellton, she and her three siblings sang in a group called The Gallant Sisters [names of the other girls: Angeline, Florine and Ghislaine]. The Gallant Family — Mom, Dad and 10 children — lived in Campbellton’s west end.
That’s right: 10 kids. The Gallants were good Catholics.
Patsy lived in Paris for eight years before returning to Canada in 2005.
Want to see Patsy in action? Check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TohEJPjyi-U
6. According to Rob MacNeish, his father was nicknamed ‘Fish’ because he loved to swim.
7. False. The ferry was named after its owners, Romeo Allard and his wife Juliette of Campbellton. The vessel, which was made in Owen Sound, Ontario, was captained by George Day of Campbellton.
The captain’s daughter, Georgina [Day] Francoeur, now of Toronto, was on the Romeo and Juliette’s maiden voyage to Campbellton from Dalhousie in 1953. “It was quite a day,” Georgina recalls, “The boat was decorated with balloons … and when it crossed the boundary at Campbellton, the music was playing and my Dad was blowing the horn of the ferry boat. Everyone onboard — my mother, my sister Julie, myself, the crew and their families, the owner and his family — was waving at the crowd.”
The ferry pulled out of Campbellton in 1961 after the Charles Van Horne Bridge was built; it then went to Miramichi, but left after the Centennial Bridge opened in 1967. The Romeo and Juliette ended its days in the Saint John, New Brunswick area. Its final voyage was in 2001.8. True. But it wasn’t racial segregation, it was gender. There was one door for the boys, another for the girls, which wasn’t terribly unusual back then. Same thing at the old Grammar School on Andrew Street; that school burned down in the early 1960s.
9. Campbellton Composite High became Campbellton Junior High in 1970. In 1992, it morphed into a middle school [grades 5 to 8].10. The answer: a] Ken Taylor! b] Chris Byron? Are you kidding me? That was a fake name I used when I was a DJ — many years ago — when we played 78’s and 45’s. Besides, I’d never put myself in a quiz. c] Where did you go to school — in Moncton? John MacArthur was never in Campbellton, likely never heard of the place! MacArthur died in 1834. When MacArthur was a young man, he pulled out of England on a wooden ship and sailed away to Australia where he helped set up that country’s wool industry.
11. Don Hume. Get it? The DH Ranch? To learn more about Hume and his contribution to the Campbellton-area, click here: https://byronchristopher.org/2014/05/05/don-hume-a-tribute/12. They were the Ramsay girls from Hillside: Dorvil, 19 [married to Edmund McLean] and Lottie, 17.
The teens failed to return home after a late-afternoon hike up the Sugarloaf on November 9th, 1924. It was getting dark and light snow was falling when the girls plunged to their deaths. No one heard their screams.
In the morning, searchers traced the Ramsay girls’ route to the edge of a steep cliff and yelled out to searchers below. Lottie’s body was found in a tree while Dorvil’s remains were located nearby, at the base of a rock.
Two crosses [one large, one small] mark the spot where the bodies were found. The crosses have become a city landmark — and a chilling deterrent, no doubt saving others from a similar fate.
[I thank local historian Irene Doyle for that intel]
FOLLOW-UP PIECE TO THE REUNION
Just click here for part 2 of this story … ‘Fun, Fun, Fun.’