Just Passing By

The Fawcett name is still there, but B•93 FM, our local radio station, has gained a flock of new faces—and such personable people as I met at a neighbourhood barbecue should all be on television.
Not that we, in the competing media, make a habit of exchanging compliments, but I was impressed by the new personalities who replaced the former oldsters, including Jack McLaren and partner from Winnipeg, Bill McLellan, the fellows who many years ago bought out the founder, John Reid (John was the father of our two former parliamentarians, John Jr., MP, and Pat, MPP).
When McLaren became manager, he brought experience as a city newsman. He also became friendly with then Fort Frances Mayor Joe Livingstone, who came from Georgia.
Joe managed our downtown CNR telegraph office, where both McLaren and I were his nightly customers to wire out news stories to our separate customers—Jack being the Canadian Press correspondent while I freelanced for major papers as well as Time Inc. (later I added CP also).
Jack really lived for the big stories besides having his radio station, then “CKFI,” the name that preceded “CFOB” (now B•93). He went after the crime stuff while I had my hands full with our Canadians’ Allan Cup quest, town council, school board, police court, and general interest.
I came out of college too late to cover the sensational “hot stove murder” case, although I had worked with some of the culprits before they grabbed the international headlines in disgrace. But I imagine Jack could have paid for CFOB with his earnings from that story alone.
Our trails crossed regularly later and we remained sociable, although I got busier with the daily papers right along and also distributed the locally popular but now defunct Winnipeg Tribune.
Jack slowed down in his news coverage and eventually sold the radio station to move back to Winnipeg. He had trained younger announcers, some of whom joined the newer International Falls station.
Jack left it up to Gordon McBride and others to maintain “The Voice of Borderland.”
• • •
Bill (Willy) Anderson for 37 years (until retirement) has been sharpening your saws, axes, knives, and any other tools you handed him—while disguised behind that big beard for more than 20 years.
Now it’s his daughter, Anne, in Winnipeg receiving attention for her television artwork!
But say, if you need your toenails clipped occasionally, just notify the right nurse, Christina Hafdahl, like I did.
• • •
What’s this about Italian war veterans receiving a Canadian government subsidy of $1,000 if they want to visit the old country? Somehow, this doesn’t seem right because Italy was a Second World War enemy of Canada but stranger things have happened.
Besides, the suggested return fare is more like $3,000, I’m told.
• • •
Snow warnings keep coming in, you say? Well, the seagulls are still flapping and flopping around McDonald’s parking lot—and who would know better about coming weather conditions?
• • •
Bumping into older farmers like Henry Kaemingh and Bill Seiders quite regularly now that they aren’t so busy makes me wonder how much we own such former Hollanders for breaking their backs trying to keep our district agriculture industry going.
It’s believed around 50 such immigrant families settled here soon after the Second World War, mainly on farms with dairy contracts although beef cattle caught their interest also.
• • •
Joe Paldio was saying that drowning victim Jim Olson of Sleeman was only 32 when heavy waves threw him out of his fishing boat into Lake of the Woods last month.
Apparently, he was bailing out the waves with a lunch cooler when he was rocked overboard. It took searchers almost a full week to recover his body.
• • •
Joe also reported his Pinewood pasture was full of geese last Tuesday morning. Those birds know their calendar.
• • •
My kids keep insisting my memory is somewhat flawed these days, and they are probably right—especially concerning names of people I see right along.
For instance, a favourite coffee companion whose first name I knew well had to remind me his full name is Fred Grozelle, and he has not been the first.
But when Ken and Shirley Wickstrom arrived from Vancouver and I shook hands with Ken, that was okay because we attended classes together long, long ago in old Robert Moore School.
• • •
The Wickstroms have been residing on the west coast, which is threatened by earthquakes. They follow many Americans we were meeting as hurricane refugees from the deep south.
Has Fort Frances suddenly become an attractive refuge or crossroads for catastrophes? For some visitors, will it ever be safe to go home again?
• • •
Not everyone in these enlightened years wants to send the family to school in the modern style. But I wonder what the teachers say about the kids who like to parade their necklaces, earrings, and spiked hair that have all become rather popular among boys, or the bare midriffs some school girls prefer.
I know our own old teachers would holler at them, “And don’t come back until you learn better!” Yet their own parents tolerate such stuff today.
• • •
Stan Ward, an RCAF wartime pilot, was showing his German prisoner of war housing photos from Paris taken in World War Two. These were brick buildings several stories high.
• • •
Bud Hannam, in town from his Rainy River home, was asked whether his mother had allowed him to literally “fly” his motorbike across the bridge there—and also what she would tell him after she heard about it.
Apparently, he thrilled hundreds with this stunt before the bridge was finished.
• • •
Connie Cuthbertson, who sells books in her Northwoods Gallery and Gifts store on Scott Street, says she found the poem on “The Cremation of Sam McGee” just hilarious.
It was among the Yukon golf rush writings of Robert Service and very well recited here by the late Hammy Martin, whose rendition convinced me years ago I should buy the book.
• • •
And does the town intend to compensate the operators along “Hamburger Alley” for loss of income during that scary highway job being staged in our busiest season.
Or is garbage all these councillors care to consider.

Posted in Uncategorized