Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1996-06-12 Field Journal #7 @ Port Hardy + article

June 12, 1996, Wednesday, sunny with clouds

[21:22 @ Ruth Howard’s apartment, #404 – 7450 Rupert St., Port Hardy]

I took the 09:50 ferry from Cortes to Quadra, but not before I had sat with George and Mary on their rear deck for cereal and coffee. As usual, when I arrived at a host’s place, it was after dark, and as usually, the morning sun revealed something wonderful and breath-taking. Here, it was a large and mystical-looking pond just off the deck, festooned with water lily pads and inhabited by hundreds of multi-coloured Coy gold fish, adults and their offspring. And as with my other hosts, Mary and George treated me like royalty.

While waiting for the ferry at Cortes, I called the Grays at Campbell River which lies along the way to Port Hardy, and was invited to their place for tea. When I arrived at their place, I noticed a BMW 750 touring bike. I joked about us switching vehicles for two days, so that I could ride the bike to Port Hardy and back. Seriously, he told me about his motorcycle accident in which he hit a deer at about 120 km/h, lost control of the bike and skidded a long way on his leather jacket until it was worn right through. This instigated me to tell them about the Scott Tanner plane crash and how he was soaked in gasoline, which in turn brought out from the Grays the following heart wrenching story:

Wayne and Anita, back in 1972, had a near new Mustang. One day, they were caught in a dust storm and was rear-ended by a truck which was having a race with another truck. The Mustang’s gas tank was ruptured and burst in flames. The two trucks just took off. The fire inside the cabin started from the back seat. Their two young children (ages 4& 2) in the back seat were burnt to death. Anita and Wayne themselves sustained burns over 70% of their bodies. The car doors were jammed by the impact. They were also tied down by their lap belts. The rear part of the car was a ball of fire and the flames were searing their backs. After some time, Wayne’s seat belt burned off and he could move but still could not open the door. Somewhere along the line, a 70 year old man appeared and single-handedly tore the iron-hot doors off their hinges. First he pulled Wayne out, then reached into the inferno to undo Anita’s belt buckle, and pulled her out too, sustaining burns himself. Shortly afterwards, he lost the use of both shoulders and arms, having overstressed them in the process.

A number of days later, when Wayne was still wrapped in bandages, with skin grafts galore underneath, it was announced that he could go and see Anita. When he got there, he had a hard time recognizing her, except for her breasts, which were not burnt. After numerous skin graft operations, the Anita today is a beautiful woman in her 50s, with only the right side of her neck showing some faint scar tissue. Wayne himself had almost no scar to speak of, except, perhaps, in his heart. The last sentences refer to those parts of their bodies not concealed by clothing only.

Their telling me this story in camaraderie, and my listening to it with reverence, is our instant bond. When I was making ready to leave for Port Hardy, the three of us shared an embrace that will stay in my arms for a long time.

I arrived at Port Hardy around 15:30. My host Ruth Howard wasn’t home, so I went to do some banking and had some Chinese food at the Pagoda restaurant.

Tonight’s presentation was not as gratifying as the others. I’ve been forewarned that the farther north I go, the colder the reception I would get. What I did not expect is that the cold reception came from a group of invited teachers. First off, much to Ruth’s disappointment, and even embarrassment, only about ten people showed up, mostly from the school where the presentation took place. She expected about thirty. There were clearly one or two enthusiasts, but also, quite unusually, two or three who seemed entirely unmoved. It could be worse, of course, if their unmovedness was in fact suppressed hostility, in which case I should be thankful that they were teachers instead of pro-wrestlers. In the end only three people signed up as volunteer canvassers, including Ruth and her room-mate Matt. Ruth sincerely commented how appreciative she was that I came all this way to give the presentation, and hoped that I find it worthwhile. Well, I do, if only because of her.

Now, I’m sitting comfortably in her modest young-people’s apartment a la Kitsilano – something more on my level. Ruth is only 26, whose handsome face is framed in long and luxuriant brown hair worn naturally. She looks almost totally different from what I thought she would look, even in the wrong age bracket. I thought she was in her late thirties or early forties. Her apartment mate Matt Kliewer is even younger. They are both substitute teachers, Matt from Deep Cove, North Vancouver, and Ruth from Point Grey itself, within blocks of my residence. They’re here because they couldn’t find work as teachers in Vancouver or Victoria. It’s a choice between being a substitute teacher in Port Hardy and a waiter or waitress in Victoria or Vancouver. I commend them for choosing the former. Matt, a kind-faced young man with a crew cut, openly confessed that he has long since given up on finding a woman in Port Hardy. Ruth has a boyfriend called Shane who has a degree in geography, but now working as a tree planter in the Cariboo-Chilcotins. How our country wastes talents!


June 12, 1996, Wed
Alberni Valley Times

Wilderness group brings campaign to Port Alberni

The Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC) is on the road to protect bears. The Bear Referendum Road Tour 1996 will be in Port Albernie on Thursday, June 13.

The goal is to get the government to hold a province-wide referendum banning the trophy and sport hunting of bears in BC.

Because 78% of people in the province are against sport and trophy hunting of Grizzly and Black bears, WCWC believes this is possible, said Anthony Marr, a WCWC campaigner.

... The big order is that between 4,000-7,000 volunteer canvassers are needed.

Organizers will be holding an information meeting in Port Albernie on Thursday, June 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Friendship Centre.

Signatures must be witnessed by volunteer canvassers who have registered with and been approved by the Chief Electoral Officer.

The 90-day Initiative Petition process will begin in September, Marr said. If the signatures are confirmed by the Chief Electoral Officer, the proposed referendum could be held in September, 1999.

Since the Act was passed in July, 1994, several organizations have attempted to initiate legislation, WCWC said. All have failed, citing over-tough requirements as the reason.

No comments:

Post a Comment