Feeling a bit nostalgic these days. Maybe it’s the changing seasons, coming off a particularly long, hot and dry summer that just seemed like it would never end. Maybe it’s my age and upcoming birthday. Maybe it’s the belated realization setting in that both my parents are gone now, after long, healthy and happy lives. Maybe it’s the scotch I’m sipping (a considerably smoother swig than the bottle of paint thinner masquerading as scotch that we finished off in my Dad’s room after going through his effects).
I got an early birthday present, a high end flat bed scanner that scans negatives as well as photos. It’s the last piece of kit I’ve been waiting for before diving into playing with my 4×5 large format camera.
The scanner’s reminded me that I got a bunch of scanned photos after my Dad passed away. There’s a whole side of my dad’s life before he got married that I always vaguely knew about, serving in the RCAF flying bombers during WW2, but didn’t really know. He rarely talked about it.
Many of the photos of him from that period were photos that I had never seen before. Photos of a young man with a cocky grin who wore his hat at a rakish angle. He had all the confidence of someone who had his whole life ahead of him.
At the age of 24 he enlisted in the RCAF in 1942, after working in an English aircraft factory for 3 years. At some time during his tour of duty, he took in the all nude revue at the Windmill Theatre at least once (and probably more times) on his time off. If you haven’t seen it, Mrs. Henderson Presents is a wonderful movie telling the story behind the Windmill Theatre. I first saw it a couple of years ago. So I was really tickled when I found a souvenir program from the Windmill Theatre in my Dad’s effects.
His plane was named in honor of Jane, a cartoon character during the war who had the unfortunate habit of continually losing her clothes at innoportune moments, and in the process helping to inspire the entire English war effort. Dad, I hardly knew ya at all.
By his mid-20s, he’d completed a tour of duty flying night bomber missions over Europe with the Lion Squadron of the RCAF. Reading through his log book from the missions, I immediately recognize his handwriting. I also gain a new appreciation, and deeper respect of what he accomplished during that time.
After the war, he went to college. As far as I know he never flew a plane again, and rarely talked about his experiences. He was never one to wear his experience on his sleeve. Knowing who he was, I know how those experiences helped form the man I knew growing up.
For his 90th birthday we bought him a tour of the area around Victoria in a float plane. He never lost his sense of adventure. Not a bad role model to have.
So as I ponder my sense of nostalgia, I’m left with the lesson that life is what you make of it. Don’t wait for it to happen for you, go out and make it happen.
Life is what happens when your’re busy making other plans