Monday Morning Musings

Posted on January 29, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with 4 comments

Happy ( Cabot ) Trails, Don


So long, Don!

It’s the end of an era.

I met Don Connolly in the late 1960’s. He was in the final throes of his illustrious educational career at St.F.X. I was just beginning mine. Even though he was from Northern New Brunswick, it was no surprise that he chose Antigonish as his mother ( a MacDonald )  grew up here…. and he was born here.

Radio. Golden radio.

Max Ferguson. Allen McPhee.

Don finished a 42 year career in radio last Friday. I know that many of you had your radios on and were listening to every word of the program like I did.

Radio is so special. It is intimate and personal. At least it was in a bygone era. Regular readers know that I am routinely plagued with bouts of nostalgia but it is truly sad that our children and grandchildren might never have the pleasure of listening to (quality) live radio with so many other distractions.

Foster Hewitt. Danny Gallivan.

Don had a rare gift for a media star: humility. He was just one of the guys to most of us. Listening to his early morning show, you felt that he was sitting in your kitchen by the wood stove, having a coffee as you dawdled around in your tattered sweater and worn out slippers.

Don Tremaine. Liz Logan. Costas Halavrezos.

Don had a conversation with his listeners. He was the facilitator and provocateur. He was a great speaker but God gave him two ears so he was blessed with a rare skill: listening. Unlike so many media darlings today, Don didn’t interrupt. He knew that the show wasn’t about him.

Stuart McLean.

“Oh radio, oh radio, where art thou?”

Like many sports enthusiasts, I listened to the World Series and NHL hockey games on my rocket radio. Our local radio station was no slouch when it came to excellent programming. We had “People’s School” and “Farmer’s Forum” and “Fun at Five.”

Rhonda. Marilyn.

John “a Go Go.” Dr. Cecil and Ken, Ray Mac, Gus, Armond Soucy and the Old Timer.

Don Connolly shared many passions including The Habs and golf. At University it was a tossup who had the biggest afro!

On air, Don talked with you, not at you. He had such a wonderful sense of humour. As one person said at his on air tribute last Friday, “Don was well informed and curious.”

Barbara Frum. Possibly one of the best interviewers of all time.

I don’t play golf anymore. I used to bump into Don and his Black Street Aces cronies at the Cape Breton Highland Links on Labour Day weekend. I don’t think anybody enjoyed life more than those fellows. I might just make a trip up there this fall and caddy for Don. I’m sure I could get enough material in 5 hours for another book!

Peter Gzowski.

Farewell, Don. It is the end of an era and like many people my age, there is a feeling of sadness. Not only have we lost Don but we have also lost a part of our youth and our past. Make no mistake, radio still plays a vital role in our daily lives but as baby boomers are wont to say, “It’s just not like the old times.”

Don Connolly.

Have a great retirement, Don.


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The Milk of Human Kindness

Posted on January 27, 2018 under Storytelling with no comments yet

Milk. Sinful.

( Peter MacDonald photo )

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

John. 8:7

We’ve all done something and felt guilty about it afterwards. Depending on your religious upbringing, the guilt could last weeks, months and even years.

Harold (*) was a patient at the hospital and was quite ill. Indeed, Harold, after a long and productive life, was more than prepared to meet his maker. He felt that the end was near.

Annabelle (*) was a veteran nurse. She was smart, compassionate… and a noted prankster.

Annabelle was on the night shift. Harold was one of her patients. It wasn’t the busiest night the floor had ever seen but busy enough that Annabelle never had a chance to take a break. On her rounds, she stopped in to see Harold and noticed that he was restless. “I can’t sleep,” said Harold. Annabelle checked the meds chart and noted that there wasn’t anything unusual. “Are you in pain, Harold?” “Not exactly,” came the reply.

After a few rounds of questions, Harold admitted that there was something bothering him, and it wasn’t physical. “I need to see a priest. There’s something I have to get off my chest before I die.”

Having an opportunity for a last confession is the right of the dying and most hospitals go out of their way to accommodate this most important of requests. “Well, Harold, you’re in luck. There just happens to be a priest in the hospital and I can get him for you.” It was well past midnight. “I can take you down to the chapel right away.

There wasn’t a priest within miles of the hospital at this time of night.

Annabelle gently got Harold out of bed and into a wheelchair. They took the elevator down to the darkened chapel. Annabelle turned on one small light at the rear of the chapel. She got to the confessional and carefully got Harold out of his chair and into the small, dark chamber. “I will go and get Father,” said Annabelle.

Harold had a few minutes to review his transgressions. He was a good man and sin of any kind didn’t sit well with him.

A few minutes elapsed when Harold heard footsteps coming into the chapel. Moments later, the priest’s door closed and a screen pulled back. It was impossible for the priest or Harold to see one another with the subdued light in the chapel.

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

There was a long pause as Harold mustered up the courage to confess his sins. “A few nights ago, I was quite thirsty. I was able to make it from my bed to the nurse’s kitchenette. I opened their fridges and helped myself to a glass of milk. It was outright theft. For this, I am truly sorry.”

On the other side of the curtain sat Annabelle. She felt slightly awkward hearing a confession, wondering what punishment the Lord might send her way. When she heard about the theft, she stifled a guffaw, wondering how she would keep from laughing out loud and exposing her deception. She absolved Harold of his heinous crime and asked him to say 3 Hail Mary’s.

Harold was visibly relieved as Annabelle wheeled him back to his room. The guilt had imperceptibly shifted to the shoulders of Annabelle.

Once back in bed, Harold thanked Annabelle profusely for arranging a priest on such short notice…. nothing short of a miracle.

Before turning off the light, Annabelle asked Harold if there was anything she could get for him before he went to sleep.

“A glass of warm milk might help me sleep better.”

Annabelle got one for Harold and fixed one for herself as well.

*Names have been changed…

( Thanks, JT )

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Faces in the Crowd – Rose to the Rescue

Posted on January 25, 2018 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

Brenda’s Best Buddies


“Teaching is the greatest job in the world. You can make such a difference in a child’s life.”

Meet Brenda Rose.

Brenda grew up in the Gaspe, the youngest of three children. There was no running water or electricity in the home. Baths took place in a large washtub in the kitchen by the woodstove. When she was four years old, the family moved to Montreal. There were more job opportunities in a big city after the war and her parents wanted her oldest brother to attend high school there. In spite of their lack of education, her parents were aware of its importance and wanted the best for their children.

Her father worked as a pipefitter in the shipyards and her mother did housecleaning for the wealthy folks of Montreal. Her mother would often come home with toys, castoffs from the home owners. Brenda amassed a large collection of dolls and would often line them up and pretend to be a teacher… a precursor of things to come.

A love of music surfaced at an early age and once again, she and her siblings benefited from the largesse of their mom’s employers. Brenda started taking piano lessons around the age of 8. With no piano at home, she practiced on a cardboard keyboard.

The idea of service to others was ingrained in the Rose children from an early age. Brenda knew (and so did the dolls!) from an early age that she was going to be a teacher. She worked at Morgan’s (which eventually became The Bay) which paid for her entire university career. This also developed a strong work ethic.

She attended Sir George Williams (Concordia) University, the educational institution for the working class. She eventually received her B.Ed. from McGill. She taught for 37 years and in many cases, chose schools that served poorer populations. She realized that she could make the biggest impact on those less fortunate.

She raised two small children as a single parent. Both had allergies, especially to fur. It was no surprise then that the children coveted a dog! In 1992, a story appeared in the Montreal Gazette about Greyhound Rescue Dogs. At the urging of her daughters they went to see them. Neither of the children sneezed or coughed. The children pleaded to take one home. “I thought I had died and gone to hell,” quips Brenda.

And so began a love affair with this special breed of dogs.

Brenda and the children did a lot of camping over the years in different parts of Canada including two weeks every summer at Cape Breton Highlands National Park. She decided that when the time came, she would buy some land and retire in Nova Scotia. In 2005, she acquired land in Cape George, sight unseen. She built a home which has become home to Fable and Queenie, her beloved greyhounds. She also babysits for other people’s greyhounds.

Reflecting on her life Brenda comments, “Not everything I did worked out but at least I tried.”

Brenda has rescued the lives of many of God’s creatures … of the two legged and four legged varieties.



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