PREFACE

1. INTRODUCTION

2: FAMILY HOLIDAYSS

3: NEW YORK CITY

4: SUMMER ARMY TRAINING

5: NASSAU AND JAMAICA

6: RULE BRITANNIA

7 EIRE

8: THE SUMMERS OF '67 AND '68

9: GERMANY

10: THE NETHERLANDS

11: BACK TO GERMANY

12: FINAL YEAR IN DENTAL SCHOOL

13: THE SHORT HAIRED PART OF THE STORY

14: BACK TO MONTREAL AND BEYOND

15: THE ROAD TO CYPRUS

16 CYPRUS / UN PEACEKEEPING

17: SIDE TRIPS FROM CYPRUS

18: CYPRUS WIND DOWN

19: GREECE

20: ITALY

21: ROAD HOME FROM CYPRUS

22: MEXICO Y ESPANA

23: AIRBORNE PARATROOPER COURSE

24: AUSTRALIA

25:MOROCCO AND PARIS

26: THE END OF THE BEGINNING

27 FEEDBACK

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THE SHORT HAIR MEETS THE HIPPY PART OF THE STORY

 

      When I was in Halifax I almost arranged a weekend trip to Sable Island., This is a legendary island that is mostly shifting sand. It is 300 km South East of Halifax. It is 42 by 1.5 km . The drifting sand of the island is both a thing of beauty but it was also a sea hazard and many ships went adrift on the island over the centuries. There are about 400 wild horses on the island. Popular myth was that they were survivors of ship wrecks but it would appear that they were confiscated by authorities when the Acadians were deported to the USA. It was considered the graveyard of the Atlantic as the position would shift as the sand drifted below the sea. As well I had put in some good references to be able to sail on the Royal Canadian Navy training sailing vessel, the Pickle. As a ham operator I convinced the head of the project , who was also our rugby team manager, that I could provide valued communications skills, which as a trained ham operator I could. I was also able to provide medical care in the chance of injuries due to my health care skills. But these dreams both died when I was transferred.
                But, Summerside was an Airbase with two active Squadrons, 413 which was a search and rescue Squadron which flew tracker aircraft and 415 Anti-Submarine squadron, 415 . The plane used by 415 Squadron was the Argus. They were constantly patrolling the North Atlantic and now and then they took on “extra crew”. On one occasion I spent a weekend in Jacksonville Florida. The destination was enjoyable but the real excitement for me was flying in this large and noisy aircraft. It was piston driven and had no real insulation so the sound was omni-present. It was a joke at the base that one could always spot a crew that had just returned from a flight.
They were ones at the bar shouting . The Argus had the latest of the day technology to monitor Soviet submarine traffic. One interesting thing happened; we had Florida oranges on board for the crew, when we landed in Jacksonville Air base we were told to leave them on the aircraft. No doubt a precaution in case they had come into contact with insects in Canada but, initially it was an interesting juxtaposition of import cautions .
             In February a friend, Harry B, the base Fire chief and an engineer by training, and I managed to get a ride for a week holiday in the Caribbean. The previous night we had gone into the capital of PEI, Charlottetown and saw a budding new Maritimes singer...Anne Murray. I recall remarking to Harry that , “If she had a good manager she could go places” A month later she released Snowbird and by golly she did go places .

            The flight down was interesting. There was an Air Force Administrative Officer, a ground pounder as we called them, on the flight as a passenger. He gave us some advice on what to do if we got sick as the flight could be rough. Harry and I were both tired and fell asleep in about 15 minutes only to be awoken by the ground pounder being violently ill into a paper “Barf Bag”. We of course suppressed our laughs but...
           Later I wandered up to the cockpit and the pilot let me sit in his seat. And I sort of flew the plane for about 3 or 4 minutes. A few small turns to the left and right, very brief but exciting. As the son of a pilot this had a nice feeling. We were at about 5000 feet altitude when we flew over Bermuda. My friend and I climbed down into the observation dome on the belly of the plane and sat looking straight down. It was an interesting view as we could easily make out scooters, even some people and swimming pools.
         We landed at the US Navy Air base of Roosevelt Roads , in Puerto Rico. We spent a day wandering about. I got to visit the U.S. Navy dental clinic and of course we spoke of things dental. One of the dentists spoke highly of one of my professors, which shows how small the world can be. The next day Harry and I set out for San Juan, the capital. We were told of a system of taxis that run along the main roads. They were called “Publicos” and were similar to buses , as far as running a route was concerned. If you flagged one down you got in and paid for the trip you took. There were usually people already in the cab, who often got off along the route. Later I encountered a similar mode of transport in Turkey, the Dolmus. It was really a great system, as it was relatively low cost and was efficient.
           We found a small two story hotel in San Juan near the port. We were later told it might have been a bit of a touchy area; but , we had no problems, again no doubt, thanks to St Pesmo. On one corner I still recall a toothless fellow singing his heart out and thrashing away at a guitar in a manner that really appealed to me. Latino music has always been a favorite of mine. He of course got a nice stipend from us.
         The next day we took a single engine plane to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. The pilot was also the baggage handler and ticket agent as we got on board . There were 4 passengers. The flight was low and it was a rather pretty, beautiful sunny day. In St Thomas we made a few inquiries and we found out that there was a secluded beach where we could stay. “Stumpy Bay”, our new home away from home. We went into town , got some food and a bottle of rum and some Cola, and made our way to the beach. It was in a kind of cove. It was a warm night and we had a good sleep..until we heard waves spounding in a bit higher than we anticipated. It turns out there had been a big storm a few hundred miles out; but, the waves came in with abandon. So we had to move up a few times to avoid getting swamped.
         The next morning we hitched into town after “hiding” our gear. We were told it was a safe place , which it seemed to be. In town we wandered about the streets of St Thomas, which was mainly a duty free area. Not quite a way to meet ‘real’ locals; but, picturesque none the less. We bought some liqueurs and had a meal then set off back  “home”. One liqueur we bought was Chocolat Au Chocolat, it was a Baily‘s type drink with chocolate chips. Quite good and sadly I have never encountered it again. Ah life on a beach  . That night the waves were not as active...but, we were rained on. So the following day we bought some plastic sheets in a hardware store. All was well and we had a great and dry sleep the third night.
         The next day we set off for Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. We had been told they were a bit more colorful and less touristy. We landed at a small airport and ran into island bureaucracy. Nothing major or disruptive, just different. We went to a counter and were told “Over there is immigration.” . We got our passports stamped and were about to leave the small airport and were told to go back to customs, which was the first man we had met. So legally into the Island we set off for town.
            We had our thumbs at the ready and the fellow who stopped was ..the Customs man. A really nice fellow, in fact, and very proud of his island. He drove us around in a wonderful tour of a small but colorful corner of the world. It was not very crowded with hotels, so it retained the charm of the natural beauty. From a bit of a rise we saw a beautiful beach that was semi-circular with the most outstanding deep blue water that I had ever seen. In fact I found it a more attractive water than what I had seen in Nassau a few years previous. As we neared the end of the ride I asked if there were any ham radio operators around. He said he knew of one, a Frenchman who ran a restaurant that was a favorite destination with area yachtsmen. He brought us to the restaurant, which was a one story stone building on a small harbour front. The chef was Yvon, who was Paris trained and he had worked in Montreal. We had a pleasant introduction and exchange of pleasantries. He was most hospitable and he insisted I take a turn on his ham radio. His call sign was VP2VV, The VP2 was the British Virgin island suffix. I made several contacts including one in Montreal. The Montreal operator called my parents, who were surprised to hear from me, as they had no idea I was down there J . Meanwhile Harry had drifted to the kitchen and was helping the local lads clean up. Harry was always an open type of person and very personable so he and his “New friends” had some great conversations about the island. I think Harry’s willingness to help out may have made our stay possible.
              Yvon’s restaurant was a popular attraction to island yachtsmen. It was on Beef Island. It was so popular that reservations were required . This particular evening there were about 5 yachts at the harbour. After they all left Harry and I were about to take off and find a “beach hotel” . Yvon asked us to stay. We told him we had food and all was well but in a typical French way he said “ I saw your food , beans and besides I cannot eat alone”. So we were treated to a real gourmet dinner of Scottish Salmon and the requisite accompaniments. Desert was a crème brulé , a first for me , and it has become a favourite of mine . So a couple of beach bums at a gourmet restaurant. Really more credit to St Pesmo.
                     We had a nice sleep and the following morning Yvon invited us to join for a great breakfast. I had Eggs Benedict , another first for me. I enjoyed them immensely and in all truth I have had few eggs Benedict to rival those prepared by Yvon. He introduced us to a couple who had sailed over from St Thomas, they asked us to join them to help sail against a heavy wind that was coming from St Thomas.... We bade a fond thanks and farewell to Yvon, I did talk to him once or twice on the ham radio and at those times again reiterated my thanks. It was perhaps my first encounter with a real gourmet chef. Harry made a small innocent Faux Pas when he referred to Yvon as a cook. An infuriated Yvon turned to me and said in French. "I am not a cook of hamburgers I am a certified Parisian chef".  I assured Yvon that it was a turn of vocabulary Harry had used, not an insult.  But, I could see his point
              The return voyage was really fun for us. There were many very pretty small islands along the way and we stayed over night on a small island whose name I cannot recall. The small harbour was like a large aquarium. We borrowed some snorkel gear and enjoyed the water life. The fish were the colours of the rainbow and were of many varieties. One was called a trumpet fish, I believe it looked like a sea Horse that was straightened out. As well we say small barracuda, and what I can only call sun fish. I would say the bay was 10 meters deep yet the water was so clear it seemed like less. It was almost like swimming about a an aquarium. This was the clearest water I have ever swum in.
             We went ashore for a nice dinner of steak and escargot. All in all we were eating pretty well for two wanderers J Back in St Thomas we helped the people tie the boat up and secure it. They took us home for a small snack and the woman gave us each a leaf. Later I came to know that this plant is called the Plant of Life. West Indians have told me when they were sick parents would have them chew a leaf. Perhaps a vitamin C source. She told me to place the leaf in a wet dish and the serrations along the leaf sides would form roots. When they formed, we were to plant the leaves. I still have the plant , some 40 years later . Interestingly it had only flowered twice but it is a hearty and pretty plant. Ironically I was away from Summerside for a week and it dried out, when Harry was transferred he gave me his plant... About five years ago I ran into Harry and his wife, who were on a visit to Ottawa from Newfoundland. I gave him a cutting so the plant is now back with both of us J
            We spent the night back at our home away from home, Stumpy Bay Beach . No high waves, we had cover from any rain...but...no one told us about insects. We were bitten by bugs the locals call “No See E’ms’ or Mimi’s. Later I would marry Mimi and sometimes remind her of this J .
          Back to Puerto Rico . We took the ubiquitous public taxi, publico, back to Roosevelt roads from San Juan and spent a day getting ready for the return flight. That evening some air crew, Harry and I went into town to a nice local restaurant. I had seen one of the base medics for the bug bites. He prescribed an anti-histamine to reduce the itching and to help bring down the swelling. I forgot that alcohol and anti-histamines are like a knockout punch. I had two beers and was groggy as anything, much to the amusement of my Air Force friends who had a great time remarking on how little it took to knock out an Army dentist. The virtual Mickey Finn for sure. I seem to recall the trip back to the sleeping quarters as being one heck of a long trek.
         The next day I was refreshed, no doubt due to the deep sleep, induced by beer and the pills. We set off for home and some we had great memories of the trip. We were on a transport command plane. The landing at CFB Summerside was a bit rough, which the Summerside based passengers thought was a source of mirth J
           Later that Spring I was able to hop an Argus submarine patrol to the Azores. These are Portuguese islands in the mid –Atlantic. Again I was the “crew” and more or less sat around; but, at one point I offered to cook for the lads. An Argus had two complete crews as they were often aloft for close to 20 hours. So chief cook I became. Not quite the caliber of our friend Yvon though. Later when I tried to get on flights to Greenland and Iceland I was accepted because I was a help to the crews. Unfortunately I was the only dentist on the base so I could not take off , literally and figuratively as much as I would have liked.
              The flight to the Azores was quite interesting to me. We flew at about 7000 feet but now and then they would spot a ship they wanted to check out and they would descend to 300 feet. Occasionally they would drop a sono-buoy near a ship. This was essentially an underwater microphone with which the sound pattern of the ship in question could be recorded and saved. It was the Cold War and one never knew.
            The approach to Lajes US Air Base  in the Azores was quite a sight. We were flying in low and went by a couple of nearby islands at low level. The Azores are volcanic in origin and even at a few thousand feet the black soil and more interestingly the black sand on the beaches was evident. We landed at the Airbase , which was a USAF Strategic Air Command base . Bombers and U-2 spy planes were seen as we landed. Later we witnessed a U2 Spy plane take off . It was slow on take off but was designed for long range flights. The wing span was much wider than one would expect on a plane that size, it had a high altitude capability. My brief meeting  later ,with Francis Gary Powers in Labrador brought back the sight of the U2 taking off .
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               We only spent two days in Lajes but it was a very busy two days. Interestingly several of the crew had been there before but had never left the base. Four of us took a taxi tour of the picturesque island. The small towns were very well maintained. Cobble stone sidewalks and roads were still being maintained as we drove by. A man with a basket of various sized stones was the “road crew” in one town. Now and then we came across an oxen drawn cart. It was by no means a primitive place; but, more a reflection of what seemed to fit this small island. We stopped a few times to take in the local scenery. Land was scarce so every square meter of fertile soils was used. In some cases a “field” the size of a small house would be cleared of lava rock , and the rock was piled forming a fence around the small field and crops were sown in the cleared ‘field’. Sometimes some 25 to 100 stocks of corn filled a ‘field the size of a room.
          Lajes was also renowned for its’ “green “ wine, which was actually a pleasant white wine. On a couple of occasions, at the USAF Officers quarters, we enjoyed a local wine with escargots’ and steaks. I had eaten escargots before, so  this was a gourmet treat for me. Again part of expanding my horizons, in a beautiful setting among friends. The following day we went into the nearby town to buy some souvenirs. One I still have, it is picture frame with carvings inside of a local room setting. It has a 3D effect . What impressed me was that it was locally produced by proud craftsmen. We all picked up a bottle or two at the USAF PX, this was a shop that sold duty free items.
           The flight back to Summerside was without incident and the two day trip was over so quickly. At customs I snuck the bottle in and declared a few small items. I think the official was aware that this might be the case but they tended to turn a blind eye…the advantages of being in the service I imagine J
           In May I was informed that my delightful stay in Prince Edward Island was coming to an end. As a single lad I was an easy guy to move. They needed a bilingual dentist in St Hubert in Montreal so in late June I was back to the big city. But my year in the Maritimes had been great.
      In my first year out of school I became acquainted with a wonderful part of Canada and more importantly I learned about a proud and friendly people. I got a trip to BC to play rugby, trips to the Azores and Puerto Rico and the Virgin islands. My life, as a travelling short haired hippy was rolling along in fine fashion. What could the future hold ? As the Royal Canadian Dental Corps served all branches of the Canadian Military I had the unusual distinction of having been on a Navy and Air Force base in my first year out of school. Now I was on my way to Army HQ in Montreal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SH13
THE HOME OF CHEF YVON BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
SH11
NSIDE YVON'S RADIO 'SHACK VP2VV
SH12
YVON OUR GRACIOUS HOST AND CHEF
SH9
STUMPY BAY AMERICAN V.I
SH8
THE ROAD DOWN TO STUMPY BAY
SH6
OUR HOSTS ON THE BOAT FROM BEEF ISLAND
SH7
DOWNTOWN ST THOMAS
SH2
AZORES  VILLAGE STREET SCENE
SH3
VILLAGE STREET SCENE AZORES
SH1
SHIP BEING INVESTIGATED FROM     ARGUS  AT   100MTR
SH4
COBBLE STONE STREET REPAIRS AZORES
SH5
SCENE OUTSIDE MY HALIFAX DOCKYARD CLINIC