|Photo by Michael Pelzer|
Almost 50 years ago I asked P.V. Wade, the legendary managing editor of the Star-Phoenix in Saskatoon, why he didn't write a book.
I had read a couple of his columns and as a young reporter, newly arrived in Saskatchewan from Ontario, I was impressed. Mr. Wade, none of us dared call him Phil, was a World War !! veteran, and had served on the staff of General Dwight Eisenhower, as Canadian press relations officer.
Mr. Wade replied: "I have never written anything that would make it into the plastic books of the 21st Century."
Well, he wasn't quite right about the "plastic books", but in 50 years of doing and teaching journalism and communications, I too never thought anything I have written would survive much past its publication date.
To a great extent, nothing I have written has survived, but was quickly dispatched into the "dustbin of history" taking Ronald Reagan a bit out of context, simply because journalists write the "first (or maybe second) rough drafts of history", attributed to Philip L. Graham, when he was publisher of the Washington Post. Others may or may not complete the stories. Enough already of mixing metaphors!
Therefore, I was most surprised to receive an email inviting me to have my Cranbrook Guardian columns placed in a time capsule being organized in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the city's Sam Steele Days. It will not be opened until the 75th anniversary in 2039.
The time capsule will be closed at a ceremony to be held at the Chamber of Commerce office on June 19.
Here in part is the email I received from Maureen Frank of the Sam Steele Society: "I am helping to coordinate the Community Time Capsule and was wondering if you had a collection of your articles ... to add to its contents. I read your column through the Cranbrook Guardian and feel the topics you write about cover topics that will be of great interest to a future population. I hope you will consider the impact that your writings may have on a future population. Thank you!"
I've never really thought about the possible impact that my writings may have on a future populations. In fact, for 50 years I've wondered if they had any impact on anybody.
When I was at the Star-Phoenix, I was sent to North Battleford to open a bureau for the newspaper. Part of my duties included writing a column for the weekend edition, and I decided to do one on a controversy surrounding the building of a new swimming pool in 1966.
I was really proud of my article and waited until after the locals had time to read the paper before joining them in the bar of the old Auditorium Hotel. We chatted about hockey, weather, curling, crops -- but nobody mentioned my swimming pool column.
Finally, in exasperation, I asked what they thought about my column, and was greeted with dead silence. Eventually, one said, "What column?", and the conversation resumed centred on topics under discussion before I interrupted. Lesson learned.
Anyway, after thinking about Maureen's kind invitation -- and in interests of full disclosure, after sharing the news with three of my closest friends -- I replied and agreed to prepare a collection of Guardian columns for the time capsule. I just couldn't resist.
As I wrote in my first Cranbrook Guardian column in March 2013, I agree with Reynolds Price, the writer, that to "tell and hear stories is essential" -- and he argues it comes second after nourishment and before love and shelter.
"Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day's events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths."
In my life for sure, in the brightest and darkest moments, the sound of story is the dominant sound. Think about it. Now I am off for a walk to hear more of the sound of the Cranbrook story. If we meet, please feel free to say hello. And I hope that in 2039 when the time capsule is opened, some will enjoy my stories.
Thanks to Maureen for the invite and special thanks to Jenny Humphrey for publishing my "musings" and to my friend Joel Vinge for as always being there and getting the stories together. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org