Start with a bank robbery and wild western theme!

This town’s most spectacular bank robbery (actually, there have been only two here and the first one was a rather drab affair in comparison) occurred 15 years ago—and I haven’t heard much about Jerry Sawicki since.
Looking back now, I’d have to call Jerry a natural-born adventurer with a vivid imagination. At least he put a wild west-type gang together here to start a drama that might rival the productions of either Stratford or Hollywood.
Jerry was somewhat of a dreamer and also a philosopher who had studied some psychology, according to what he told me. And he was going to put his old hometown here on the tourist map—even if he needed John Wayne to help him.
He was the only son, I believe, of a local logging contractor, Alex Sawicki, who once owned much of our waterfront where there will be a condominium erected soon. Now, Alex was known as something of a colourful character himself so Jerry stepped into his own career rather naturally.
His big scene here occurred just before our banks opened for business one bright morning when down the street clattered a horse and rider who reached the Toronto-Dominion Bank with a flourish as the horse skidded on the concrete and crashed.
Jerry somehow emerged unscathed as he brandished a pistol which I don’t believe he fired.
Our desperado quickly entered the bank and apparently received the welcome he deserved. His arrival seemed no surprise to the bank staff as they jovially accompanied the “robber” outdoors right away.
Somehow all this appeared to have avoided police attention for the moment.
For much of his career, he was a lone wolf. He rode a motorcycle with a colourful parrot on behind him as his only companion. But suddenly, he had attracted a gang of three quite normal-looking fellows. They soon took over the basement of a local pizza parlour as headquarters for their scheme.
Jerry had no shortage of ideas and events to keep them busy! First, having advertised their presence with that raid on the bank, he took his crew out to meet district natives on their reserves. He previously had performed as a teacher among them.
He would create a frontier western town such as maybe Dodge City if some reserve would grant permission—and it appeared the Red Gut Bay people would enjoy that for the benefits from future tourism.
While our natives were a long way from the U.S. Southwest, the stories of Geronimo and Wild Bill Hichock, Jerry seems to have sold them completely. Adding to the wild west values was a small home near Emo that somehow became part of the deal.
Suddenly, though, there was a surprising turn to this tale when Jerry and company were said to have found fresh friends in B.C. and a more suitable environment for their plans.
I learned this from Jerry’s daughter, who came to work as a Times reporter late that summer, having already seen her father’s new home in the mountains where she went to live a little later.
She had been a hard-working reporter here but soon notified us that she would be staying with her dad out west.
Exit Jerry, but this most recent chapter in his saga may still be continuing in the mountains.
One final note of his activities comes up during a country fair in Manitoba. A television news photo caught Jerry—his parrot on his shoulder—strolling through that fair.
We never heard whether, deep in the B.C. mountains, there may exist a frontier village attracting tourists to witness gunfighting and saloon brawls as entertainment that was once planned here.
• • •
But here’s our Blossom City never looking more beautiful, if wet, while our “No Smoking” signs on all the eateries are attracting some admiration also!
• • •
There is sympathy and distress going around town concerning the theft of $600 from the purse of a lone woman asleep in her home one night last week.
• • •
Souvenir toy hockey sticks brought to the old Canadians’ banquet Friday evening were provided by Alex Kurceba, who has given away many items of sports equipment on his visits back to reunions here. This time, he also included a large pile of excellent perogies.
Those little white plastic sticks soon were autographed by all his old teammates to become popular keepsakes.
• • •
I am not passing on the following item as any joke but I believe that you’ll agree with this suggestion after you see “Smokey” Kawulia giving his impression of Jean Chrétien. He has our prime minister down pat.
With all Jean’s troubles at the moment, the PM could do worse than send for Smokey to take over for a while with his humour. Only, it could turn out that Smokey might get stuck with Canada’s top job and how could we ever get along here without him?
• • •
While we’ll continue to brag about them, probably forever, our Dominion championship Canadians are going ahead with fresh records, it became evident last weekend.
Besides winning the Allan Cup, there is this matter of longevity—both in terms of years they have been kept in the hearts of their community and in their sticking together so closely that it’s just possible another anniversary reunion is still probable down the road.
They spent the weekend kidding around and doing justice to a fine meal at La Place Rendez-Vous and having another grand get-together the next day in the beautiful yard of their teammate, wife, and family, Peter and Pam Makarchuk.
And the half-century they were celebrating seemed strangely brief with the players looking young as ever.
I told their host, Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, his thoughtfulness on this occasion won’t soon be surpassed and our main speaker, author Neil McQuarrie, also should be proud of himself. This was after the laughter at the team entertainer, Doc Johnson and his remarks had died away—as everyone made sure this was the celebration to remember.
Of the surviving 11 players, only one couldn’t make it back. “P.R.,” or Percy Robertson, everyone hoped, would check in again here any day now, same as our old referee, Buck Riley, who arrived to make up for his recent months on hospital.
They brought their wives and children, and at least for Alexa Kurceba, one granddaughter, and there was no doubt through the whole weekend that these people and their many friends were enjoying the happiest days of their lives!

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