• Iconic Penticton Vees Drawing Donated to Hospital

    Ivan McLelland, still intrigued by the dynamics that brought about the unlikely victory of the Penticton Vees in 1955.

    As a boy my young imagination was stirred by the Penticton Vees when they clobbered the Soviets vaunted “Big Red Machine” 5-0 to win the World Hockey Championship in 1955. For me and many nadians, there was a sense of mystique about the Vees. They were not a powerhouse team like the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal nadiens.

    In the view of many heavyweights in the hockey world, in fact, they were little more than an unproven ragtag collection of players that really should not have won the Allan Cup. Certainly they should not have been the team sent to represent nada in Germany. At that time I could not yet know that one day I would meet and become friends with Ivan McLelland, the Vees sensational goalie.

    In 1951 when the team was being assembled, Ivan was sent down from the Vancouver nucks training mp and beme the first player to don a Vees uniform. “To persuade me to join the team, nuck GM Coley Hall asked if I liked girls,” Ivan relled over lunch in our home last week. “I said I did and he told me Penticton had great beaches and it was the only place in nada where I’d see girls in two piece bathing suits. That made it an easy decision.” He was only 20 and most of the other players were older. “Off the ice we weren’t a very together team. We were an untamed lot,” Ivan said. “There were plenty of arguments.”

    Andy O’Brien, a Montreal sports writer at the time said, “These boys have no rules. Stories about them are like a bottomless cup of coffee.”

    The players knew about my superstition,” Ivan said. “When we started winning, I wouldn’t change my underwear or socks, no matter how sweaty and smelly they got. In Germany some of the sportswriters didn’t think we should be there. They trashed us repeatedly. After we won the cup Kevin asked me for my sweaty socks. Without anyone knowing it, he threw them into the cup, then poured several bottles of champagne into it and invited the offending sportswriters to indulge. They praised the drink lavishly until someone discovered the socks in the bottom. Kevin relished the revenge.”

    Ivan McLelland, goalie for the 1955 Penticton Vees.

    It was coach Grant Warwick who held the Vees together and molded them into a Cinderella team. Very likely he reminded them of the hockey saying, “If you win here, you’ll walk together the rest of your lives.” For Ivan these words beme especially true. He developed tight relationships with several players and has endeavoured to ensure nada does not forget this motley crew of unlikely winners.

    Since retiring as head of Neilson Chocolate’s western nada division, Ivan has spoken to hundreds of audiences about the Vees. Many of these renditions have been in schools. Sometimes he invites students to slip his championship ring on their finger. He encourages them to believe they too n achieve seemingly impossible goals.

    I asked Ivan why, at age 88, he continues to tell the story of the Vees. “I enjoy doing it,” he said, “and I want to keep them, the players, alive.”

    That was a long time ago and there are less than a handful of Vees still living today. On September 26, 2008, at the final Vees game in the Memorial Arena, Ivan and fellow original Vees, Ernie Rucks and Kevin Conway, were honoured. The latter two have since passed away. Fortunately, well known Okanagan artist Glenn Clark created a charcoal drawing of the three men together. Of the original Vees, other than Ivan, only Doug Kilburn, now living in Spokane, Washington and in poor health, is left.

    When Ivan was asked to donate the original charcoal drawing to the David Kampe Tower of the Penticton Regional Hospital, he agreed. Wanting nadians to remember and be inspired by the Vees’ achievement, he stipulated that it be hung in a prominent place. Also, that his departed wife, Faye, be named along with himself as a donor. David Kampe, an ardent hockey fan and a force in the building of the Tower, supported this decision. The original drawing now hangs on the wall of the second floor, opposite the elevator. A large print of the drawing will be auctioned off at the annual Penticton and Friends Golf Tournament in July, to support work with dementia patients.

    Thanks to the passion of Ivan McLelland, the saga of the Penticton Vees will not be forgotten.

    Remembering My Father

    My father operating the front-end loader.

    After my father fell at age 89 and broke a hip, he never walked again. His previously robust body lost the pacity even to turn over in bed. Although he had long been a powerful force in my life, it was in his remaining 6 years that his values and approach to life most profoundly impacted me.

    Dad was a t operator and during most of my early years, he lived and worked in remote logging mps. I rell being awakened very early on a Monday morning to see him leave for work. I wouldn’t see him again for 2 weeks. In those years he was little more than a stranger to me.

    When I was a teen, he brought the big red International TD 18 bulldozer back to the Fraser Valley where we lived and began clearing land for farmers. During my summer breaks from school, he took me along to his jobs. He wanted me to develop work skills and taught me to operate a bulldozer, drive a dump truck, use a chain saw and blow up huge old growth stumps with 20 percent dynamite. I began to understand that he possessed an unnny ability with machinery.

    Sometimes I shuddered inwardly watching him tackle a towering fir tree, or building a road down a precipitous hillside. I shuddered even more when he told me about constructing a logging road on the side of a mountain. “When I lifted the blade of my t,” he said, “I could see the river a thousand feet below.” I knew that a slight misjudgment could have sent him and the machine hurtling down into the abyss. It seemed he harboured a need to taunt fate. Being young and impressionable, I respected his masculinity.

    Although I wasn’t yet aware of it, my father was also influencing me at another, more important level. Only later did I understand he was a man of immense integrity. He didn’t lie, cheat customers, or complain when the going was tough. He reached out to people in need whether it was bringing a hitch hiker home for a meal or helping a non-mechanil neighbour replace a clutch in his r. He served on the executive of the parent group in my school and tithed faithfully to his church.

    In my early 20’s our paths diverged when I attended S.F.U. Dad turned to music, playing first a bass fiddle and later a cello.

    After he retired and mom passed away, my strong, self-reliant father wanted his family to draw nearer. He had for some years been battling prostate ncer and his PSA numbers were disturbing. He was living alone in an apartment when the life changing fall took away much of what had given him a sense of deep fulfillment.

    Placed in a longterm re facility, he embarked on a disciplined exercise and stretching regimen, hoping to get his walking back. I asked one day if he needed to lie down and rest. Acutely aware the number of days he had left was shrinking, he replied,“No, I don’t want to waste my time. I should be accomplishing something.”I marveled at how valiantly he pressed on, building a new life within the confines of the re facility.

    Dad ready to play his cello.

    A musician me weekly to help him again play the cello. I began plunking on the piano in the dining hall and together we made music for the residents. He asked the re aides about their families. They me to respect and love him. In time he beme almost a lol celebrity in the facility. Residents, visitors, re aides and nurses knew Jacob.

    I still like to live,” he said. But he was losing strength, the PSA numbers were creeping up and his hemoglobin was low. Near the end he was confined to his bed. I more often saw the pain lines on his face. Standing beside his bed holding his hand, I sometimes needed to turn away so he wouldn’t see my tears.

    Dad didn’t complain. To the end he trusted God to see him through to “take him home” when he drew his final breath. I received the ll from the facility at 5 am on December 9, 2009 telling me he had passed on. Even now I consider myself privileged to have been close to him during those last 6 years. It is still my desire to walk as much as possible in my father’s footsteps.

    ?

    Hedley Makers Come Out Of The Closet

    Some of Karen Cummings creations.

    The “Makers of Hedley” are going to let us in on their secret lives this weekend. They’re coming out of the closet in a very public way. Talking with a few of them last week, I sensed their excitement at finally finding the courage to cease hiding a vital aspect of who they are. The “Makers” are talented, but in most ses, unsung amateur artists.

    Karen Cummings has a bold vision for shining a light on the work of these creative individuals. An artist herself and an organizer with marketing skills, she and fellow artist, Penny Escott, have put together a Makers Tour that is a first in Hedley.

    Often people have difficulty admitting they are artists,” Karen said. “They fear rejection. That’s why we’re lling ourselves Makers.” The term does lower the expectation level and is apparently comfortable for those participating. This weekend, June 8 and 9,? they will open their homes, studios and workshops to the public.

    Maura Halliday & her son Dusty are Makers of Hedley.

    Linda and I chatted with several Makers recently and found they are an eclectic collection of individuals practising diverse art forms. Maura Halliday, a pretty brunette silversmith, is a young mother. Before she and her husband moved to Hedley last fall, Maura worked in the movie industry specializing in prosthetic sculpting, painting and air brushing. “I love stones and silver,” she said, holding a display featuring intrite jewelry. “All my creations are handmade. My son Dusty is a year and a half and he wants to get his little fingers into the materials I work with. That’s unhandy so I work at it only when he’s sleeping.” She looks forward to meeting people and chatting with them.

    Karen emphasized this will be a fun event. “It’s very much about meeting the artist. We want people to come and get to know us. The tour is free. There will be items for sale but you don’t have to buy anything, just come and enjoy.”

    Tap Nevalainen holds a truck he made with wood.

    Tap Nevalainen, once a builder of high rise structures, will display an intriguing array of wood creations. His fully loaded logging truck invariably draws my attention in his workshop. There are also a couple of other trucks, plus very authentic appearing bird houses, ndle holders and barbeque scrapers. “I like to challenge myself by making something different,” he said. “Working with wood is fulfilling.”

    Karen Cummings loves vivid colours.

    Karen’s medium is fabric and she loves splashes of colour. The creations adorning her walls seem to challenge the viewer to ponder their meaning, but for her that isn’t what they’re about. “The important thing,” she said, “is does it make you happy.”

    Eva Burnham, in her kitchen, ready to make fudge using her grandmother’s recipe.

    Eva’s medium is quite distinct from the others on the tour. “I’ve been making fudge since my kids were young,” she said. “I got the recipe from my grandma. She watched me making a batch one day and offered to show me a simpler method. I’ve used her ingredients and process since then.” Her varieties include Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Orange and Ginger, White Chocolate Cranberry and Lemon. “The fudge is mouth watering yummy,” she said with bubbly enthusiasm. “It’s addictive.”

    By seeing the creation and talking about it,” Karen believes, “ our life gets bigger. That makes us more inclusive. We come to realize not everyone is like us. As we become bigger, we n appreciate what is not familiar.” She paused a moment, then added, “there’s so much lousy stuff happening in the world. Seeing creative works n give us a more positive perspective.”

    The tour will feature productions of 10 Makers, each site being identified by the presence of a pink flamingo. A map n be obtained at the Country Market and the Hedley Museum. Lunch consisting of a gourmet sandwich n be purchased at the Country Market. The Museum’s Tea Room will serve its highly acclaimed lemon and apple pies, and also coffee. Free tickets will be offered for 2 draws for $100.00 gift baskets. Visitors n enter the draw at every site, for a total of 10 chances. Sunday morning from 8 to 10 the Seniors’ Centre will serve it’s popular $5.00 Panke Breakfast. Doors for the Makers Tour will be open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

    The Makers Tour will provide an opportunity to dialogue with some pretty innovative thinkers and view what they have been creating behind closed doors. It may even inspire some timid souls to believe they too n create something that will bring enjoyment to others.

    Aunt Doll Turns 101

    Aunt Doll raises a finger to represent 101 years.

    Just over a week ago Linda and I attended the 101 birthday celebration of Violet Madeline Barber, an honoured member of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB). She is known throughout the Similkameen Valley and beyond as “Aunt Doll.” We met Aunt Doll initially when her nephew, Stan Bobowski invited us to interview her for the blog and our newspaper column. This was just prior to her 98th birthday and since then we’ve been invited to her party each year We learned that unlike some elderly individuals, she wasn’t just lingering, waiting for an angel to scoop her and take her to the next realm. In that interview she said, “I’m so close to 100 now, I’d like to get there.” And why not? Her health is amazingly robust and at the party she walked without a ne.

    Aunt Doll rries a plate of food back to her chair.

    She grew up on her parents’ ranch and the memories she garnered continue to be vivid. “For 6 months each year our ttle were in the mountains,” she said. “As I beme old enough I began riding the range. We were out in all weather. At night we stayed in a deserted prospector’s bin. I loved horses, and I loved riding.” Quite likely much of her inner resolve and lm was developed during those months in the mountains, keeping track of ttle, contending with storms in spring and fall, and at times coping with dangerous situations.

    Aunt Doll in her early years

    Aunt Doll was joined by approximately 70 adoring family members and friends for the celebration at the home of Stan and Hope Bobowski of Olalla. Sitting behind Stan on his Harley Davidson, she seemed very comfortable. She’s a gutsy lady. As in earlier years, she still welcomes adventure and she continues to be an inspiration to many.

    Singing happy birthday to Aunt Doll

    Wildfires, Devious, Insidious and Remorseless

    Dave Stringfellow, Erris Fire Chief; Robin Ford, Hedley Firefighter; Doug Nimchuk, Deputy Hedley Fire Chief

    We are becoming increasingly aware that wildfires n be as devious and remorseless as a corrupt politician. Until recent years, their destructive insidious nature existed mostly in the fertile minds of science fiction writers. Now, with the advent of climate change, fire departments even in small communities are striving to alert us to the potential hazards and make us aware of strategies we n employ to protect ourselves.

    At a seminar organized by the Hedley Fire Department, Erris Fire Chief Dave Stringfellow told a sobering story of how a crafty fire n take advantage of our mistakes. “A fire department built a new fire hall using hardie board and metal roofing,” he said. “On the exterior, wood was used only for construction of the stairs. When there was a wildfire in the area, embers floated to lumber stored under the stairs, igniting a conflagration that burned down their brand new fire hall.”

    Surprisingly, only 20 individuals attended this all important seminar. With many structures in the Similkameen Valley being of considerable age and surrounded by forest or grass, complacency seems particularly ill-founded. Reality does not cease to exist just beuse we ignore it. I’ve heard that some people forgot about the event and regret having missed it.

    In Hedley, we saw last year just how quickly a fire n ravage a building. As has been extensively reported in the media, Trisha Mills and Bill rmichael srcely had time to espe when their Hitching Post restaurant ught fire. Serious injuries changed their lives, possibly forever. Ken Hoyle, manager of the Hedley Fire Department said, “If there had been wind that night, a number of Hedley structures would almost certainly have burned.”

    Fire departments throughout our province are becoming deeply concerned about the danger wildfires pose for their communities. I understood the preoccupation with interface fires more clearly when Fire Fighter Robin Ford said, “Forty percent of wildfires are started by humans and they n travel rapidly. One fire raced the distance of 6 football fields in one minute. The most common loss of homes is by burning embers, not by a wall of flame. Embers n travel 5 to 15 kilometers. Debris in gutters, dry grass, trash around buildings make it easy for them to ignite a fire that n burn one or more homes.”

    Ford advoted for masks in the home to protect against smoke. “Also, a 6 ml tarp over your wood pile or patio is a shield against embers,” she said. “Patio chair cushions ignite easily so it’s best to remove them.” She recommended a sprinkler system available from some fire departments.

    Maureen Parsley, Director of Princeton Emergency Support Services

    Maureen Parsley, Director of Princeton Emergency Support Services said, “It’s wise to plan in advance and do what you n to minimize the risks. It’s important to have a bag ready to go with what you will need in an evacuation.” Her list includes items like meditions, clothes, shoes, a rope, toilet paper, a solar blanket, flashlight and batteries, cell phone and an adapter to charge the battery, bottled water, food, and much more.

    Certainly in an emergency we don’t want to be frantilly dashing around searching for r keys, wallet, eye glasses, dentures, or the lottery ticket on which rests our hopes for the future. We will want enough gas in the tank to get to a safe place.

    Many lol B.C. fire departments and other agencies offer helpful advice on their website. Beuse Fort Mac Murray fire fighters experienced one of the most devastating fires on record, their website is also worth a look. In part, it says, “In most instances, we will have only 3 minutes to espe from a burning home. Prepare and practise a fire espe plan. Have a designated meeting place for the family outside the home. Do a fire drill 2 times each year. This should include pressing the smoke alarm button to ensure everyone will recognize the sound in an emergency. Know how to use a fire extinguisher.

    A good first step, in my view, is to begin talking about the threat of wildfires with our family and putting together a solid, practil plan based on the advice of our fire department. And when our fire department has a fund raiser hot dog sale we should indulge, even if it’s contrary to our weight loss diet. To defend our lives and homes, they need funds to acquire the best equipment available. It’s not science fiction anymore.

    Speculation About Hedley Museum Piano

    Museum secretary Ruth Woodin & archivist Gerry Wilkin at the piano.

    I once considered museums to be mausoleums where communities preserve musty relics of doubtful value, gleaned from the past. When Linda beme president of the Hedley Museum Society, I began to sense an unspoken expectation that I rise beyond this Dark Ages mind set and demonstrate at least a modicum of excitement. Wanting to please her, I made the effort. Last week I was reminded, not for the first time, that museums n be a source of fascination and even mystery. It happened without any great fanfare when several ladies, preparing for the May 1 opening, decided the ancient, no longer functioning piano, should be moved from its honoured place in the Tea Room. I had long taken the instrument for granted, but it’s proposed new placement stirred my curiosity about its past.

    I appealed to museum archivist Gerry Wilkin for guidance. A few days later he emerged from the bowels of the museum triumphantly clutching a letter. Dated June 26, 1998, the letter was from Alice Zunti, who had donated the piano. It stated, in part, “In 1969, my parents bought a house in Hedley with all the furnishings, including the piano. My mother had many hours of enjoyment on that old piano. She died in 1977, having worn out the poor instrument. I was told it me out of the Hedley Saloon. The Penticton Piano House told Dad there were only 3 ever made. They were barroom pianos. My mother’s name was Dorothy Ann Bewick. I think she would be happy to know it’s back in Hedley. I’m glad to have a safe place for it.”

    I knew at one time there had been six hotels in Hedley and I wondered if the saloon Alice mentioned had been in one of them. I lled Jim de, who spent most of his growing up years in Hedley. The de name is still well known in town beuse Jim’s father operated a saw mill here and was a prominent member of the community.

    I don’t remember the Hedley Saloon,” he said, “but the hotels all had pubs. I rell that when my parents first arrived in Hedley in 1947 with us 6 kids, we had breakfast in the Great Northern Hotel. It had a pub and a good sized restaurant.”

    Great Northern Hotel and Armitage Garage, . 1940 – photo courtesy of Hedley Historil Museum Society

    Helen Moore, now in Penticton, first lived here from 1936 to 1946. She also remembers the Great Northern. “Men and women went in by separate entrances. After the mines closed, the Great Northern burned down.”

    On December 9, 1909, the Hedley Gazette, now defunct, reported that “Thomas Bradshaw will take possession of the Great Northern Hotel on the 15th.” He had until that time owned and operated a “road house” at 16 Mile Creek, also known as Bradshaw Creek. It had long been a place where stage coaches stopped for the night.

    Bradshaw Landing by H. Barnes, photo courtesy of Hedley Heritage Museum Society

    According to the late Maggie Kruger, a lol indigenous elder, “Mrs. Bradshaw had an old saloon with a few rooms for rent. The pack train hauled in the whiskey barrels from Hope. They bottled the whiskey and served it at the saloon.”

    It is possible the piano was first lodged in the “roadhouse” saloon, then moved to the Great Northern when Thomas Bradshaw acquired it. When the mines closed, hotel business virtually ceased. According to this scenario, the piano would have been sold and removed before the Great Northern burned. This is speculation on my part.

    The piano, made by Collard and Collard, one of Europe’s most successful piano manufacturers, is not an instrument of mediocre libre. One of the partners, FW Collard, was regarded as a mechanil genius. The company’s instruments were a sensation across Europe.

    Having a metal frame, the piano is heavy and difficult to move. The ladies had not yet recruited anyone for this challenging undertaking when two Port Alberni men showed up. Linda and vice president Debra Pearson glanced at each other with the same thought. “We’re not open for the season yet,” Linda said with her most winning smile, “but if you help us move our piano, we’ll let you look around.” They agreed enthusiastilly and proved to be resolute and resourceful. First they unscrewed and moved a binet. Then, with much exertion and heavy breathing, they transported the instrument on a dolly. It now stands quite majestilly in its new lotion. The Hedley Historic Museum may be the only one in nada with a piano it its washroom.

    Walter Despot of Keremeos

    Walter Despot on the deck of his home in Keremeos.

    I might easily have concluded Walter Despot was dealt a pretty decent hand at the outset of his life. He’s been a pharmacist in his own successful pharmacy, mayor of Keremeos for 3 terms and chaired committees that brought signifint positive change to the Similkameen Valley. In an extended conversation with Walter and Barbara in their comfortable Keremeos home, I was particularly interested in the thinking that made him an effective leader.

    My father passed away when I was 5,” he began. “Mom had emigrated from Poland in 1924 with only a grade 2 edution and initially didn’t speak English. She had 4 kids to feed and clothe. In spite of her lack of means, she understood clearly it was important that her children attend university. I ught her vision. More than anyone else, her thinking and words have profoundly shaped my values and decisions.”

    Walter and Barbara attended the same school beginning in grade 3. Over the ensuing years a friendship developed and flowered into love. Barbara was 19 and Walter 20 when they were married. She worked at what was then B.C. Tel and Walter attended UBC.

    My older brother was a pharmacist and I decided to follow in his footsteps,” Walter relled. “We needed to be reful with money. I hitchhiked in from the university gates to save the 10 cent bus fare so I could buy a coffee. We lived in a third story apartment. There was a shared bathroom on the second floor and a phone on the main floor.” Barbara smiled and nodded at the memory.

    At age 22, Walter received his pharmaceutil licence and 3 months later Barbara delivered twins. Although he was hired by Cunningham Drugs, there were no thoughts of a spending spree. “We didn’t go out for dinners,” Barbara said. “We walked a lot.”

    Possibly it was the early influence of his mother that gave him the desire to have his own store. “You n’t stand still or you’ll die on the vine,” he observed. In May, 1964, they bought the Keremeos Pharmacy. “It was the only store in B.C. I could afford,” he said. “It was the best move we could have made,” Barbara added.

    Looking around and talking with neighbours in their new community, Walter and Barbara beme aware of possible changes and improvements. Rather than complain, they embraced opportunities to make a difference. Walter participated on the committee that secured a full-time doctor for Keremeos in 1975. He joined the Fire Department and served 40 years, three as chief. He gave 22 years to the ambulance service as a paramedic. “Initially we were volunteers,” he said. Somehow he also found time to serve as part-time coroner for about 15 years.

    Chairing the group that built the Diagnostic Centre with its 25 residential re spaces was particularly rewarding. “It’s probably the most important accomplishment of my life,” he said. From 2002 to 2016 he was chair of the Board of the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society, guiding the development of numerous vital services valued by Keremeos citizens, including three residences for seniors.

    As he accepted new roles and responsibilities, his leadership skills and experience grew incrementally. After selling the pharmacy in 1998 he was drawn into politics. “I didn’t think of myself as a mover and shaker,” he said, “Being mayor was never in the rds, but as you gain experience you move ahead.” Speaking of his time as mayor he was lavish in his appreciation of others.“I had very good councilors. That made it a lot easier. Also, Barbara and I have always been a team.”

    For 7 years he chaired the Regional Hospital District Board which planned for the expansion of Penticton Regional hospital. “This was one of my biggest challenges ever. We were told there wasn’t money for it. I’ve learned that when you’re told something n’t be done, you should find a way.” Now, after 18 years, the Tower is serving the people.

    Although he often played a key role, there was no hint of boasting when he spoke of his participation in community projects. “It took the involvement of a lot of people.” At the end he said, “Barbara and I are thankful for what we’ve had and we look forward to what we n still do.” About to celebrate 60 years together, Walter and Barbara both appear fit and ready for further adventures. Walter still hopes to travel abroad. Somewhere his mother is probably smiling.

    Walter & Barbara Despot

    Politics a Central Theme in Easter Story

    The Empty Tomb

    In his 30th year, Jesus of Nazareth began propounding religious and social ideas that confounded and antagonized the Jewish religious elites of his time. He arrived on the scene during the reign of esar Augustus, and lived into the rule of Tiberius. Without an army or politil party, his message brought more signifint, lasting change than all the powerful Roman emperors combined.

    In the 33rd year of his life, the Jewish religious authorities succeeded in persuading Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to crucify him. According to accounts by Biblil writers like the former tax collector Matthew, he was resurrected on the third day and spoke with his disciples. It is this death on a cross and miraculous resurrection that will be celebrated by Christians around the globe this Easter.

    The Roman empire had been cobbled together by 2 ambitious but uneasy partners, esar Augustus and Mark Antony. Throughout its existence, the empire was held together by a web of intrigue, assassinations, politil marriages, betrayals, poisonings, and war. Women were valued primarily for forging alliances. In Rome there were numerous temples to various gods, and men of nobility, including emperors, wished to be identified as near gods. Conquered nations usually suffered under a huge burden of taxation. Disobedience was often dealt with by crucifixion, beheading, poisoning or drowning.

    In this septic atmosphere of mistrust and scheming, the Jewish religious leaders had managed to acquire a measure of politil power. Their authority was lodged in the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. The council consisted primarily of 2 parties, the Sadducees, which at this time held the majority of seats, and the Pharisees. The Pharisees believed there would be a resurrection of the dead but the Sadducees did not. On other points of lesser importance they did agree and had developed an all encompassing system of religious rules which the people found virtually impossible to follow. The religious rulers could bar people from the temple if they didn’t comply. Since Jewish culture centered on religious traditions and especially on the temple, there was fear of being shut out.

    It was not an auspicious time for the appearance of a man who claimed to be the Son of God. The Sadducees and Pharisees quickly beme suspicious beuse he contradicted much of their teaching. They held to the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” philosophy. “Love your neighbour,” they said, “and hate your enemy.” Jesus urged the people to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” The chief priests and teachers of the law deemed his teaching to be heretil and sent spies to question him and report to them.

    Jesus warned against the corruptness and false piety of the religious leaders. “They like to walk around in flowing robes,” he said, “and be greeted in the market places and have the most important seats in the synagogues. For a show they make lengthy prayers.”

    Equally galling were the miracles. When he healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, they accused him of breaking the law and began plotting to kill him.

    Evidently the people were desperate for greater substance than the rules and platitudes offered by the pious, corrupt religious leaders. Crowds gathered around Jesus, sensing his authenticity and liking his positive message of forgiveness and hope. This fervent adulation aroused fear and jealousy in the Sadducees and Pharisees. When he brought Lazarus back from the dead, a member of the Sanhedrin said, “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will take away our place and our nation.”

    Late one night, Judas Isriot, one of the 12 disciples betrayed Jesus with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane. At dawn the religious leaders brought him before Pontius Pilate, demanding he be crucified. Jesus had told his disciples this would happen.

    Reluctantly, Pilate sentenced him and he was crucified between 2 criminals. One joined the scoffing. The other said, “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

    Several writers in the Biblil New Testament report that Jesus died on the cross, was placed in a tomb, and was resurrected 3 days later. This Easter, Christians around the globe will again greet each other with “He is risen!”

    Still Inspired By Blog Personalities

    Linda & Art Martens

    This month I celebrate 5 years of offering a small town perspective on life, people, community and politics.? Although the blog is published under my name, I feel fortunate that Linda, my life partner, has participated in almost every interview and has played a key role in the editing. Many times her wisdom and judgment have added depth and clarity. Our partnership has greatly enriched the experience for me.

    I’ve been especially interested in the stories of people in the Similkameen Valley. When I heard about Nora Allison and her pack train of horses hauling supplies through the mountains from Hope to Princeton and beyond, I was immediately ptivated. Indigenous, she was a plucky entrepreneur, bold, self-reliant, and able to survive in adverse terrain and harsh winters. Three great granddaughters shared their knowledge of her and I felt privileged to write a portion of her story.

    Rollo Ceccon of Princeton

    Rollo Ceccon, a retired Princeton contractor, told about a life threatening accident on the job. “I backed my dump truck to the edge of a 1,000 foot deep glory hole,” he said. “The earth ved under the back wheels. I and my truck fell 250 feet to a rock outcropping.” Miraculously, he survived but was in a coma for 2 weeks. It was determined he had 6 broken vertebrae, several broken ribs and a broken leg. A head wound required 120 stitches. Initially he was in a body st. When he graduated to a walking st and crutches, he signed himself out. Undaunted by pain and impaired mobility, he soon returned to work. During his recovery time, he fell in love with Blanche, a pretty waitress in the Traveller’s fe. He wooed her and in time she agreed to marry him. At the time of our conversation he was 87, still meeting friends in a restaurant for coffee and conversation.

    Henry & Barb Allison

    Several years ago Linda and I had a 2 hour conversation with Henry and Barb Allison in their spacious log home across from Standing Rock on Highway 3. Barb relled riding a horse across the Similkameen River to attend school. Henry and Barb met in the Keremeos elementary school and in time beme sweethearts. Henry quit school after grade 6 when a teacher accused him of cheating. “He didn’t think an Indian kid could be smart enough to get high marks,” he said. Barb’s mother opposed their relationship beuse she wanted Barb to attend university and become a lawyer. At a family meeting her father wisely said, “We better not stand in their way or they’ll just run away and get married anyway.” He did insist that if they wanted to continue the relationship, they must marry immediately. They built their log home on the present site beuse Barb’s mother wanted them to protect the iconic Standing Rock. It was highly revered by Indigenous people as a place for religious ceremonies. Barb was later elected band chief and Henry owned 2 mills and a logging operation. They spoke freely about the death of their 18 year old son and the sadness this still uses them.

    Maggie Graham on a holiday.

    For years I’d heard that after the mine on Nickel Plate Mountain closed, Bill and Maggie Graham had purchased the Colonial Inn with proceeds from gold dust Bill found around the Stamp Mill. When I learned their daughter Maureen was living in Keremeos, I asked her about this. “After the Stamp Mill shut down,” she explained, “my father requested permission to sweep up whatever gold dust remained. Over 3 years he swept the mill thoroughly, even pulling up floor boards and sweeping underneath. Using a broom and wheelbarrow, he filled a total of 8 tram rs. It turned out there was enough gold in that dust to purchase the Inn and send me and my brother to college.” Maureen and her mother subsequently operated the Inn. Their sumptuous meals, including home made bread and blueberry pies, and Maggie’s vivacious personality attracted guests like Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Tommy Douglas.

    Last week, after reading some of the blog notes gathered over 5 years, I was again impressed by the quality and inspirational lives of the individuals I’ve written about. Some, like John Merriman of Keremeos and John Terbasket of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, have passed on. I feel privileged to have recorded highlights of their lves. It’s challenging at times, but doing it with Linda continues to make it a magil journey.

    Rene stellani, Prison and Children

    Hanging Noose (tholic Say, Pinterest

    In 1967, the year I enrolled as a student at SFU, nada’s Parliament had a change of heart concerning hanging. This didn’t impact my life, but I’m certain Rene stellani was deeply relieved. He was in court at the time the bill was being stickhandled through Parliament, charged with the death of his wife Esther. She loved milkshakes and he had laced them with arsenic, bringing them to her even when she was hospitalized. Two weeks after the moratorium was announced, he was convicted of murder. Without the change, he almost certainly would have had a black hood placed over his head and a noose slipped around his neck.

    Rene & Esther stellani were both 21 when they got married.
    (bcbooklook.com)

    I me to know Rene quite well during his years at Matsqui Institution. Prior to his inrceration, he had been a highly regarded personality at Vancouver radio station CKNW and possessed exceptional PR skills. Unfortunately, his judgment beme seriously impaired when he entered into a romantic relationship with a switchboard operator. He showed me photos of himself at a gala event attended by politil and business elites He denied guilt to the end, but the evidence against him was deemed quite sufficient to convict him. Rene was paroled after 10 years, then died of ncer at age 57. Undoubtedly some innocent men were hanged prior to the moratorium.

    Before the demolition of the B.C. Penitentiary, my duties at times lled me into that foreboding institution of forlorn souls. On one ocsion, a staff member escorted me through a spacious open area. Looking around, I saw only dull grey concrete. About a dozen disconsolate, grey clad men stood purposelessly around the perimeter. Their demeanor suggested they had no reason for hope or optimism. A skinny desicted elderly man listlessly pushed a broad broom across the grey floor. The Penn has been torn down since then and some inmates were transferred to Matsqui Institution in rural Abbotsford. Here the atmosphere was less sombre and oppressive. Inmates could acquire work skills if they chose to. It was still prison, with two high wire fences topped by razor sharp wire. With no grey floors or walls though, it was a signifint step up when compared with the dreary B.C. Penn.

    At Matsqui, one inmate I me to respect was Albert, better known as Red. In his early 60’s, his copper coloured hair was tinged with grey. He had long supported his addiction to heroin with small sle trafficking. This “business” side of the heroin had landed him in several federal prisons. In spite of the many lost years, Red wasn’t devious or bitter and never attempted to use me to obtain favours. His responsibilities in the hobby shop gave him opportunity to talk without guards near by. He presented well and on escorted passes to purchase supplies for the hobby shop, he wore slacks and a sports jacket. At times his appearance and gracious manner led people to mistake him for a prison official.

    Albert completed his sentence and returned to his usual haunts in Vancouver. At his age and lacking marketable skills, all he knew was trafficking. Heroin owned his soul. He sold a small quantity of the then highly illegal substance to an undercover officer and was sentenced to another 8 years. Laws concerning trafficking in even small amounts of heroin were much tougher then.

    Over the years lawmakers have wrestled with our criminal justice system in an attempt to make it more humane and also more effective. Even so, as nadian Senator Kim Pate has said, “Prisons are not treatment or mental health centers.” We’re alloting immense resources to redeem individuals who have been shaped by years of “jail house edution.” Beuse of their criminal lifestyle and years of confinement, too often this is a futile effort.

    Reflecting on Rene stellani, the skinny inmate sweeping with a broad broom, and Albert at Matsqui Institution, I was prompted to ponder about the innocent, fresh faced youngsters in Similkameen schools today. Some will be lured into drug use and a life of crime. No government at any level has demonstrated the vision or will to forestall this likelihood. As a society, we need to allote more funds to support parents, grandparents, schools and communities in their efforts to positively shape the thinking and actions of the next generation.

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    A small town perspective on people, community, politics and environment.