Story and Photos by Ken Warren (ISN)
July 23, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Welcome to the 14 article of Ken’s Blog, where historian Ken Warren takes us through some of his childhood memories, sharing with us the lives and times of his sports oriented family growing up in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the 1900’s and beyond. In this article Ken takes us through new beginnings and success in sports.
In July, 1984, Kit, Keeley and I went to Kindersley to the World Youth Baseball Championships. We first flew to Calgary and who, of all people was on the plane, but Doug Husband, the guy who had joined the RCMP with me in Vancouver. Doug, who had whipped our boxing instructor Corporal McCrae. Talking with Doug, he had gotten out of the RCMP when his five-year commitment was over. He had been Mayor of Delta, a large municipality south of Vancouver. He was in business and looked good. We had a good session reminiscing.
Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)
When we got to Calgary, we took an air bus into the city and located a business that rented us a truck and camper. Kindersley is only a few hours drive from Calgary and I told the boys stories of when I was their age living in the town. I told them all about the gophers and how we were going to have fun shooting them. We’d have to borrow a .22 from someone there, but that shouldn’t be hard. As we got close, I told them to watch for the big silver water tower. It’s the first thing you see when you’re approaching Kindersley. Keeley spotted it first.
We got into town and I went directly to Thelma Staples house. I knew John, her wonderful husband was departed, but we lived for years only a few houses from them on the same street, and they were among my parents best friends. I once told my mom that John Staples was handsomer than any movie star at the time, and there were a lot of good looking men in Hollywood in the 40’s. Anyway, Thelma was there and suggested that we park our camper in her yard and sleep upstairs in her spare bedrooms. It was an offer we couldn’t resist.
From Thelma’s we walked down to the house that we used to live in and I asked the lady if she minded if I took a picture of the boys on the front steps where Mom used to take pictures of my brothers and me. She invited us in to also have a look around the house and show the boys where my bedroom was and just to reaquaint myself of all the walls I used to know. After the tour inside, I thanked her and we headed for the sports fields.
In 1984, Kindersley had a population of about 3,200, yet had built two baseball diamonds, one with 10,000 seating capacity, and the other 7,000. They were almost side by side. Ten international teams were in Kindersley for the under-18 World Youth Baseball Championship: Korea, Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Cuba, USA, Canada, Panama, Belgium, Australia, and Nicaragua. If you know Saskatchewan, then you know there are villages or hamlets every seven miles along railway tracks so that grain elevators could be built there. In Kindersley’s case, there’s nearby towns north, south, east and west; and each country was hosted by a different village. Except in the case of Kindersley. They hosted Team Canada both pre-tournament for team selection camp and practise, and then for the tournament itself. In addition, Kindersley had to build a high pre-fab wall and supply several mobile homes inside the wall for the Cuban team. The Cubans feared that many of their players might defect if given the opportunity. Also hosted in Kindersley homes were players and coaches from the Dominican Republic team.
It was the D.R. (Dominican) team that Kit and Keeley fell in love with. We had brought our ball gloves thinking the three of us would play catch often, however, the boys played catch instead with D.R. players every day. Almost every day in the afternoon or evening they would swim with the D.R. players as well, and even taught some of those older boys how to dive properly. I had some good visits with old family friends: Joe and Marion Staples, Don Staples was still running Staples Men’s Wear, Jackie Clark and Jim Dobni who our dad had sent up to the professional ranks in hockey, Jim Nash, who gave me a .22 and we missed every gopher we shot at.
The baseball was great. Cuba was crowned ‘World Champion’. After ten days of playing catch with the D.R. players, swimming with them, and cheering at their games, I hadn’t noticed that Kit at ten, and Keeley, eight, had fallen in love with these dark-skinned 17 and 18 year-olds. It was as we were leaving Kindersley and headed back for Calgary that I heard strange wailing coming from the boys in the camper. I stopped the truck and went into the camper.
“Okay, who started this fight ?” I asked, since they were both sobbing.
“Nobody, Dad. We miss our friends,” Kit said. “We never got to say good-bye.”
“I’m really sorry, but they left town before we knew it.”
“We still miss them though,” Keeley said.
“I know what I’ll do, I’ll go back to Kindersley and get you a little surprise.”
Since they were $10.00 each, I only got one to share. It was a large, coloured Dominican Republic Team Picture. They could pick out all of the guys they had played catch with, the guys who starred in the games, the guys they had taught to dive, and the guys who they liked the best. On the way to Calgary they sat in the cab with me, but spent most of the time picking out guys and saying something about what that individual had done that stuck out in their mind. They had so many memories with so many of those fellows that going back for that picture is one of the most sensible things I’ve done in life.
It wasn’t until about ten year’s later that it became an even more important purchase. I had always been a Toronto Blue Jay fan, but in the mid-90’s when I looked carefully at the Dominican Team picture I noticed Blue Jay’s pitcher Juan Guzman sitting there as a 17-year-old kid with a huge smile. I was in Seattle at a Mariner/Blue Jay game when Juan whipped the Mariners and Ken Griffey Jr. with a pitching gem. I called to Juan after the game as he was heading to the team bus, but despite calls of “Juan, Juan,” he never looked up. So I yelled through the hustling crowd at him: “Juan, I have your Dominican team picture from Kindersley.” He stopped short and came over to me. I explained I didn’t have it with me, but would send it to him. He gave me his address, and when I got back to Canada, I sent him the original. He was very excited at the prospect of receiving it.
The Dominican Republic team. 18-year-old Juan Guzman 4th left bottom row – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)
I put an ad in the Times-Colonist for a person to share a lakefront home, especially if you have your children on weekends, because this is a very child-friendly home with lots of great activities. In response, I got a call from Denise Holden, who had her seven-year-old son Michael on the weekends. She worked at the Royal Jubilee Hospital as an admitting clerk, so we set a date to meet at the hospital and go up to the Harmony Restaurant for a coffee.
She told me she was really excited when the day and evening to meet arrived. We hit it off. She asked what was the main thing I looked for in a woman. I told her a good conversationalist. She said she was a great talker; she loved it. I hadn’t meant conversation about housecleaning, sewing, growing flowers, pop music and chic flicks.
Denise came out to see the house, but it wasn’t as clean as she likes things. I showed her the bedroom she would have, the kids’ bedroom, a spare room , which excited her because she had extra boxes, and she demanded to see my bedroom. My bedroom was about three times the size of the other bedrooms, so she was no longer happy with her lot. Besides, she liked my kingsize waterbed with the red silk sheets. And she had never seen a bidet before. It was too much for her; it became our room.
We had a lot of fun in that home. We stayed in bed most of the day of the Grey Cup between the Bombers and Tigercats. I had made a $100 bet on the game with Lyle Kahl and the Bombers came through for me.Through Kinsmen in the summer I ran a Kinsmen Summer Camp at Glen Lake School and the Glen Lake Field and public access to the lake. The kids swam, played ball, and had many games and activities daily during the summer from 9 am until 3pm. We had 25 kids and 2 counsellors the first year. It only cost $20 per week; that’s $4.00 a day to have your child aged 6-12 entertained all day. The money collected was used to pay the young adult counsellors. We ran the Kinsmen Summer Camp for three summers, and by the time that the federal Career Access program kicked in we had 54 kids and seven counsellors. Kit, Keeley and Mike attended all three camps.
Denise and I played a lot of volleyball with the Monnington groupees, and that first winter on the lake, it froze and we skated all over the lake. There was enough snow also for the boys to make tunnels through the drifts. By Valentine’s we had the best party we had in that house. Every woman had to get a present for a man, and every man a present for a woman, but the presents had to be bought at a sex shop. All the different presents were set out and only identified as to whether it was for a man or a woman. Everybody had a different number, and when their number was pulled from a hat they selected a present and opened it. Lots of laughter at the sexy presents. However if a woman or man is drawn next, and they want someone’s present that has already been won, they can take it and give that person their new pick.
By this time, Kit was able to be in charge evenings, so Denise and I could go to singles dances at Leonardo da Vinci Hall. Tony Gelsthorpe, the metal teacher from Elizabeth Fisher was in charge of the dances. They were great fun, especially at Hallowe’en when we won the top costume prize two years in a row. Then Norm St. Cyr, Rob Harris, and Larry Lund tried kicking us out of the house so they could sell the house and subdivide the property. They took us to a Residential Tenancy Hearing, but we kinda kicked their asses because the hearing was found in our favour to the extent that we were given two extra months to stay in the house rent-free for all the noise they had already caused. That threesome was so pissed, they wouldn’t talk to us.
While we were living on Glen Lake, Kit and Keeley played Little League baseball on Legion 91 and I coached. We were a so-so team. When Denise and Mike joined us the next year, we were Columbia Ready-Mix, and the best team in the League. Unfortunately, David’s wedding (the best wedding I ever attended, other than my own, of course) was the same day as our last league game, and with Denise and me in Vancouver, my assistant coach let his son pitch for the first time ever and we lost the league championship by half a game. Kit and Charles were our main pitchers, though Keeley, 9, coaxed me to let him have a rather disastrous go that lasted less than three batters. The following year, however, he was a great pitcher.
We bought a little one bedroom house on Victor Street and added a 9′ x 18′ shed that we thought we would winterize as the boy’s bedroom. However, we filled it up with so much junk, it lived its life out with us as just a ‘shed’. When they were with us, the boys slept in the living room on a hide-a-bed. Shadow was with us fulltime. Barb and Blair lived across the street from us. Barb had the world’s yappiest little dog. Blair had his yard decorated with awesome Hallowe’en ghoulies and cemetery stuff. Behind us were tennis courts, playground, and soccer and baseball fields.
The Green Machine: American Little League’s City Champions – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)
One of the parents offered this artistic rendition of a secret play we used – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)
It was in this little house that the Victoria Little League Championship was crafted. Keeley, Mike, and our Taiwanese foster kids, Kiet and Tuan, headed up a team that first won the playoffs for American Little League at Allenby Park, and then won 8 of 9 playoff games to take the Greater Victoria title. Keeley finished 22-0 as a Little League pitcher over the three-year period of his pitching 10-12 years old. He wasn’t allowed to play on the National League Tournament team because we had moved to Sooke. Kit, by this time, was playing Babe Ruth ball at Carnarvon Park. It was in this little Victor St. home while the boys were playing in the city championships that our newest edition, Patrick, was conceived. He was born nine months later on April 12, 1988. He came to Keeley and Mike’s games at National in his mother’s arms.
Both Kit and Keeley played soccer for Oak Bay, and both played against the Nash brothers. Kit against Steve, and Keeley against Marty. Actually, Keeley also played against Marty in baseball, and once when Gordon Head came to Carnarvon with only eight players, he played with Marty’s team. Marty is the captain of the Whitecaps and Steve the majority owner. I hope I don’t have to say what Steve does for employment.
Me, on the otherhand, I’ve coached about 300 baseball games, 100 soccer games, limited number of hockey and basketball games. While I was teacher sponsor of the junior boys basketball and soccer teams at Edward Milne, I don’t pretend to be a coach in basketball at that level. That’s why I got a grad student to do the actual coaching.
I ended up at Edward Milne Secondary School because Vic Martin, as I discussed earlier, eliminated my district work experience program. I had nothing against Edward Milne, in fact I had been there at least once a week for ten years since it was one of my four secondary schools to interview students for work experience. Besides, Jim Gauley was principal and one of my better friends from Kinsmen. We had also taught at Elizabeth Fisher together, and also played hockey together in the Kinsmen/Maintenance/ Teacher midnight hockey league at Juan de Fuca Arena. However, even though I lost at the School Board level and was teaching at Edward Milne, I called former Education Minister Vander Zalm at his home for information on how to appeal for reinstatement of the work program at the provincial level. Some Edward Milne teachers thought I was putting their school down. Not the case, I was still fighting to keep a valuable program afloat. The early 1980’s had taken their toll: divorce, legal costs, lose new house because federal funds dry up, lose provincial coordinator assignment because Vander Zalm leaves politics, fight over child custody. I lost that provincial appeal and a psychiatrist said this man needs a rest. I knew in his ignorance that Vic Martin just wanted to do what was best to save money. He must have thought to hell with whether or not it made sense. Such being the case, why should I regret it if my taking the year off with pay thwarts Vic’s plan to save money? Of course, I do want Dr. Vic to know that it helped me considerably, mentally speaking, and I never viewed my action as pay back. Though some might say it was!
When I returned to Edward Milne I loved the place. For three years I had the Special Ed class, Grade eight math, and Grade nine English; then I had the ABE (Adult Basic Education) classes, which we changed to CORE (and taught them Math, English, Science, and Social Studies) at the General Grades 10 and 12 levels. While there were no spares for this group, we were allowed to go out of the school for five minutes every hour to have a smoke. I think all sixteen students in the class smoked, so did their teacher.
In the meantime Denise and I had moved to Selwyn Road in Langford. We had sold the Victor Street home and now owned a beautiful three-bedroom up, and i bedroom full suite below. We even rented the basement suite without the living room/family room which we kept as bedrooms for Kit and Keeley, and Mike when staying over.
Life at Selwyn was good. Patrick grew up there with his older brothers in the Selwyn house, and his girlfriend Megan next door. She was older than him, but they played sports often, until the thief, Graham, urged her to play with him. Pat went to Savory Elementary for kindergarten, and came to Sooke with me to attend Saseenos Elementary for Grades One and Two. After school he and Jeremy Walsh would walk over to Edward Milne together where Jeremy’s mother, Cathy Walsh and I taught. Ten years later Jeremy and Pat got together again when they graduated from Mount Douglas Senior Secondary in 2006. (WHILE WE’RE WAY AHEAD OF OURSELVES IN A TIMELINE, I WANT TO STICK WITH JEREMY WALSH FOR A SHORT TIME).
Jeremy and his wife leaving court – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)
Jeremy was one of the nicest boys and later, young men that I knew. I wasn’t surprised when I heard that he had gone to Thailand and had met and married a beautiful woman there. He was a special young man and a good catch for any young woman. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize who is and who isn’t a special young man; on second thought, maybe it takes a lot more than a rocket scientist, BECAUSE JUST THAT KIND OF INDIVIDUAL, A ROCKET SCIENTIST FROM THE USA IS CHARGED WITH TRYING TO KILL JEREMY AND HIS WIFE, TATCHA AROONJARATSANG. David Ross Goldberg, 38, of Washington State, a former fiancee of Tatcha, is charged with trying to kill the young, married couple, Tatcha, 26, and Jeremy, 22, on the night of September 24, 2008. Goldberg, who worked for Boeing in its space research department for more than a decade, was also charged with possessing explosive materials. He had been pointing a pistol -with laser sights- at the foreheads of the couple as they arrived at their home in Victoria having been out shopping for groceries. Jeremy tackled Goldberg and tried to get his gun away. Jeremy’s father, John Walsh, heard three shots and came outside his home to find his son on top of Goldberg, telling him to drop his gun. John helped Jeremy subdue the American scientist until police arrived. The trial was still going on as I was writing this at the end of March, 2011.
Back now to Patrick, my son, and Jeremy, Cathy’s son, coming over to Edward Milne every day when their school day at Saseenos was over. Our school day ended later than theirs, and then of course there were still many things to do at the school in preparation for the following day, so Jeremy and Pat had to entertain themselves by playing basketball or soccer in the gym, if the gym was unoccupied, or coming into our special ed room and playing games. It was an especially long wait if we had a staff meeting, or department meeting at the end of the day. But never did I ever hear either of them complain. In fact, in the case of Patrick, the department head of Phys Ed found him a small Edward Milne basketball jersey and let him shoot baskets as entertainment at basketball games at half time. He was considered the school’s basketball mascot. While I don’t have a picture of Pat in his Edward Milne Jersey, here’s a picture of him with two Victoria boys who are the best two lacrosse players ever, twins Gary and Paul Gait.
The Gaitway to Lacrosse Dominance. Gary and Paul: Victoria’s greatest contribution to lacrosse. With my Pattie – Photo courtesy of Ken Warren (ISN)