By Kenny Russ Warren (ISN)
August 27, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Welcome to the latest edition 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 a small diversion to his artistic side, sharing with us some poetry related to sports and other topics.
A BIG BROTHER FOR JOHN
A light-hearted poem by Kenny Russ Warren
I know a young boy whose name is John
He loved fishing but had seldom gone
He was very sad, and his face was wan
Whenever he saw his neighbour Don
Take along fishing his young son, Shawn,
And even sadder when neighbour Von
Took along fishing his youngest son, Ron.
“Mother,” said John, as he sat on his lawn.
“Where is my dad, and why has he gone?”
The mother frowned sadly, her face withdrawn
“Stranded,” she felt, “like a doe with fawn.”
Then the gate squeaked, as it was drawn,
And standing there was a man all brawn.
He said “I’ve come to see a boy named John,
And if he says ‘yes’, we’ll be fishing anon.”
The mother cried out: “If you joke, be gone!”
“I’m Tom from Big Brothers. I wouldn’t con.
“If John can be ready, we’ll leave at dawn.”
“Yes, yes,” said John. “By dawn, I’ll be gone.
“Whether we fish for salmon or for prawn.”
Mother and son’s faces both really shone;
Gone from their visages: ‘wan’ and ‘withdrawn’.
PEEWEE SPORTS IN CANADA (1994)
A sportsman’s poem by KENNY RUSS WARREN
Hockey nets, balls and a bat; this must be the home of Pat.
Soccer balls and hockey sticks; you couldn’t guess he’s only six.
Throwing hoops with a basketball, Pattie thinks he’s seven feet tall.
Playing with his good friend Gordon, both want to be Michael Jordan.
Yet when Gordon’s shooting, it’s no big deal,
He can be Mike ’cause Pat blocks like Shaquille.
After an hour, hockey’s their game; now they have new claims to fame.
Gordon is Bure and Pattie is Wayne; running and shooting in the rain.
“Come in for lunch, boys. Gordo can stay, if you both put the stuff away.”
When the rain stops they’re out again;no more hockey, no more Wayne.
This time Pat picks out a bat. Baseball, he says, is where it’s at.
Gordon agrees and throws the ball. A solid hit goes over the wall.
Gordon is Griffey and Pat, Joe Carter;Griffey is good but Carter’s smarter.
The game ends with the Jays winning;Carter homered the very last inning.
Now to some soccer of sorts; closing the day with the last of the sports.
Pat is Baggio and Gordon, Romario; they play ’til the sun sets in Ontario.
Gordon is happy when Romario wins; that makes up for Griffey’s sins.
They pack up their nets, balls and all, and each heeds his mothers’ call.
This was Saturday, what a fun day! It shall continue ’cause tomorrow is
A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
A Poem by Kenny Russ Warren
“She’s dead.” I said, as kindly as I could,
And touched her body–stiff as wood
At first my son was stunned by what I said
Then he realized that she was really dead.
He cried his little heart out after that
For what I had considered ‘just a rat’.
Then I learned of her importance to a kid.
She played a part in most of what he did.
How really careful one has to be
When a six-year-old loses ‘family’.
“Why would God take her from me?”
He asked, as he mounted my knee.
“She was my most favourite pet of all.
“I fed her enough, and never let her fall.
“Why would God do this to me, Dad?
“Why has He made me so very sad?”
What do you tell your kid when he cries?
How do you answer him when a friend dies?
I discovered that that was a test for me
The “rat’s” death foreshadowed reality.
“Some day someone important will die,
“And God wants you to know how to cry;
“And also learn how to say ‘Good-bye’,
“If losing Hampstie makes you this sad,
“What would it be like losing your dad?
“Or think what it would be like losing Mother.
“We can replace Hampstie, but not your brother.
“If we lost you, what would we do?
“Your mom and I would be bluer than blue.
“So that must be what God was doing;
“Showing our family that it needs glueing.
“To stick together and respect one another;”Your mom, your dad, you, and your brother.
“We only ask you to always take care.
“Hampstie’s death is a reminder and scare
“That we always have to be aware
“That accidental death is always there.”
Author’s Note: My son Patrick was six when his hamster died. Pat was 14 when his pet rat, Sneezy, almost killed him. He was the first person in Canada since the 1950’s to have contacted ‘Rat Bite Fever’. Sneezy didn’t bite Patrick, but kissing a rat that is sneezing in your face is a really bad idea. Many doctors in Victoria mis-diagnosed Patrick. Most thought he had meningitis. The wonderful biologist Dr. Kibsey at Vic General recognized the symptoms and tested Pat for Rat Bite Fever. Bingo! Patrick ended up in the medical journals and government health agencies sought in vain for Sneezy who had been put down by the pet store and the body hidden.
THE REAL SANTA & THE REAL SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
A Christmas Skit by Kenny Russ Warren
Twas the week before Christmas
And all through the town
Shoppers jostled shoppers
Up streets and down.
Last minute shoppers
Doing their deeds
Last minute purchases
Despite any real needs.
It was an overcast night
No stars shining down
Yet a sign in the store window
Read: “SANTA’S IN TOWN”.
And reading further one noted
With many hee-haws:
“This is the spirit of Christmas;
The real Santa Claus!”
So this Santa was sitting
At the back of the store.
Beside him, a large golden box
And candy suckers galore.
Inside the golden box
Were the treasures of ages:
Goodness, knowledge and love
From the hearts of the sages.
With any young girl or boy
The box would surely depart
Who had charity in mind
And love in their heart.
The suckers, of course
Were the consolation prize
For children whose hearts
Ran a poor second to eyes.
Santa looked at the children
All standing in file
And as a motion to proceed
Issued his famed, jolly smile.
And so to the children,
The first was sweet Betty.
She outlined her achievements.
Oh, Santa, how petty!
BETTY: Oh, Santa, I did the supper dishes for my mother tonight, and I made my bed, and I never told any fibs today, and…well, I mean I was very good today, Santa.
SANTA: That’s fine, Betty. Fine! And are you like this all of the time?
(Betty is eyeing the golden box while Santa is talking. She hasn’t heard him).
BETTY: What was that, Santa?
SANTA: Are you always helpful like this around the home, Betty?
BETTY: Maybe not this extra good, Santa. But every Christmas I get the Spirit of Christmas (eyeing the golden box) and then I’m really, really good.
(Betty reaches for the box, but Santa shakes his head negatively, and sadly gives Betty a sucker. Betty stomps hard off stage).
And next came Buster, a disbeliever.
Never a giver, so seldom a receiver.
BUSTER: Keep your silly box of love. Keep your rotten lollipops. I’ll just yank off your phoney beard, And bust you in your jolly chops.
(Buster yanks at Santa’s beard but it doesn’t come off. Momentarily, Buster stands back dismayed. Then, frightened, he exits quickly.)
SANTA: Oh, Buster, some day do come back And hold that stringy tongue its wag; Else we’ll be forced to conclude, All the suckers aren’t in this bag.
(Santa smiles at the next in line)
And next came Sandy, meek and mild;
A humble boy, a loving child
…or so he claims!
SANDY: Hi Santa, sir. That Buster is sure rotten, isn’t he? Boy, I was standing next in line to him and you should have heard the things he said. I tried to tell him you were the real Santa, but guys like that, you can’t tell a thing. I tried to tell him about the big golden box but he wouldn’t listen. I tried to tell him about the lovely things it contains. Is there a rifle in there, sir? I love hunting. I tried to tell him about the goodness and warmth in the box, but he doesn’t even like skiing. How would he know about the warmth of a good ski outfit, including furry after-ski boots, of course? Or the goodness kind of time I could have on a nice new bike? Is there warm ski clothing or a nice bike in that box, Santa?
SANTA: What about charity, Sandy?
SANDY: Charity? Well, I don’t know that so well, but if it’s something like Monopoly, I could easily learn it. I want other things too, but not much more because there are other kids too and they should at least get something. Here’s a list of the other things I could use. And Santa…sir…do you think I might get that tonight? (He points at the golden box. Santa shakes his head negatively and hands Sandy a sucker. Disappointedly, the boy heads off stage).
And next in line was Sally Mae,
A wealthy man’s daughter.
No more is needed to say.
SALLY MAE: Before you even ask, Clausy, I never did the dishes, floors, or helped my mother at all today, yesterday, the day before, or even ever that I can remember.
SANTA: Why, goodness mercy, Saly Mae, What a dreadful thing for you to say.
It’s true though, Santa I’ll be a hard case to judge.
My mother and father Don’t make me budge.
It’s that way with money, In the family, you see.
Even my mother takes It extremely easy.
And so for the golden box
You must consider me too.
As nothing was asked of me,
There’s been nothing to do.
Sally, Sally, oh my dear!
What sadness this is for my ear to hear.
If from home chores you find you’re free,
Then volunteer in your community.
SALLY MAE: But I do volunteer, Santa. I host pajama parties.
SANTA: Not enough, Sally Mae.
SALLY MAE: But I give those girls from poor families a chance to see all my stuff. Maybe one day they’ll get lucky, too. (Santa nods negatively) And I… Well, I…
(Santa hands Sally Mae a sucker. She exits unhappily)
(The procession of children carries on until only a final pair remain)
The last in line was Jimmy Brown
And at his side, in ragged gown,
Little brother Bennie, gazing round
Enraptured by the night’s busy town.
Hand in hand, they’d paced the streets,
The youngster’s gaze upon the treats,
His eyes so dazzled by the sweets.
His belly had never met the meats–of Christmas.
Benny couldn’t sleep that night.
The busy town was all alight,
And “Oh, please Jimmy; such a sight,
“I wish I may; I wish I might,
“See all that’s light and bright tonight.”
“It’s only right,” said Jimmy.
And so old Santa didn’t frown
To see this little Bennie Brown.
So young and yet about the town,
Still dressed in ragged sleeping gown.
“Come up here, Bennie, and sit down,” said Santa.
And Bennie Brown in sheer delight
Climbed on Santa’s knees alright.
And foggy though had been the night,
The clouds made way for Moon so bright
It filled the store with a wondrous light Of Goodness.
And Bennie Brown told of his joys.
He’d seen the crowds and heard the noise.
He’d watched the children: girls and boys.
He’d kept his fingers off the toys of Christmas.
He said he’d heard of the golden prize,
Offered to the child most charity-wise.
Then some great tears filled his eyes,,
As he tried to make Santa realize
That those things that only money buys
Jimmy couldn’t add to the box
He pleaded with Santa to let them instead
Fill the box from their hearts and head.
Jimmy offered the things they had felt and read:
Their friendship, caring, and love to spread.
And never again would any man dread – an evil.
And then it was Santa’s turn for tears.
He’d heard the whimpers; gotten used to the jeers,
And yet amid these leers and sneers,
Here were children in material arrears
Who’d lift from the world all its fears,
And hurl them boldly from the piers.
“Three cheers, my dears,” said Santa
Bennie, Bennie, wise and true.
The box is yours, and Jimmy’s too.
And knowing you’ll do as you must do,
I’ll take my leave; my job is through.
(Santa rises and pauses)
And yet this last request I make of you:
Open this box, and adding your virtues,too’
Just watch this world made over right
MERRY CHRISTMAS, BOYS
JIMMY & BENNIE: MERRY CHRISTMAS, SANTA
NARRATOR: Jimmy and Bennie start opening the golden box.
(Jimmy motions other children to come and join them).