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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 24, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Tuesday, December 24, 1974 THE LETHBRIOGE HERALD Pros and cons of life of politician's wife By Paul Hellyer, Toronto Sun commentator OTTAWA "What an ex- citing life you a sweet elderly lady used to say, "yours must be a marriage made in heaven." On more than one occasion, well- meaning remarks like that almost reduced my wife to tears after a particularly try- ing day. Now that Margaret Trudeau has titillated the interest of thousands of people in the problems involved in being a politician's wife, I thought it might be timely to find out if her reaction is typical. Is her view peculiar to the wife of a prime minister or is it, to some extent at least, a com- mon experience? To get a cross-section of opinion, I talked to several political wives from various parties. Differences were related more to the type of person and her family circum- stances than to party or political rank. There were nuances, of course, but the message was clear being married to a politician, while interesting and sometimes fascinating, is not exactly a bowl of cherries. Mary Stan- field, wife of the opposition leader summed it up with "People back home think you are up here leading a very gay life. How little do they know." Quite a few wives, while charming and helpful, were reticent. Candor from political wives, chatting with journalists, can get them into a lot of trouble and they know it. "I don't think my husband would want me to say cropped up on more than one occasion. A good political wife doesn't "bare her soul" lest she cause acute embarrass- ment to her husband. Sometimes we switched to "off-the-record" when obser- vations like "Of course a wife is at times resentful because one is made of flesh and began to surface. There is the question of identity. Can a political wife follow an independent course without courting disaster or must she be content with a supportive role as an appendage to her husband's career? The former, it seems, is extremely difficult and the latter not always satisfying. Playing the role of helpmate Berry's World 1974 by NEA [1C haven't been very good. Would you consider a little plea can be a full-time and difficult job. Politicians become very dependent on their wives. Geills Turner once said "If anything happened to me, John would have to get married again the next day or he wouldn't be able to find his socks." The levity in this remark doesn't detract from the basic truth. The political animal expects his wife to perform every role from cook to chauffeur and as chatelaine and mistress. In addition, where there is a family, the wife must be mother, father, judge and ar- bitrator of the children. And when the inevitable election comes along, she must accept, stoically, the frenetic pace. Occasionally her contribution is recognized. John Diefen- baker, boarding his plane near the end of a campaign, turned anxiously and said, "Where's Olive? If I lose her I lose everything." A good wife can also help to prevent a politician from getting a swelled head. At the height of the unification has- sle my better half inquired "What makes you think you are right when all the ad- mirals say you are Though they are expected not to be, political wives, too, are human. They feel the loneliness of being abandoned. If they don't move to Ottawa, for example, they are alone all week. If they do, they are alone on the weekends. No matter what the decision, there is little time for com- munication. He will be in his office or the House of Com- mons for 14 hours every day and on the weekends will be much too busy with the problems of his constituency to pay much attention to the home front. Sophie Lewis, who enjoys politics for the most part, cited David's travels as her greatest regret. "The many separations lead to a less than private personal life." For most wives, the one thing that is worse than physical separation is the separate treatment. The partners can arrive at a public function together. Within minutes the "hero" is sur- rounded by admiring fans and ambitious partisans while the wife is left to fend for herself. When she does share the stage, it is worse than being in a goldfish bowl. If she dresses too well, she may be criticized for thinking too much about clothes. If s'he doesn't dress well, she may be accused of not measuring up to the position. If she is very intelligent, she is apt to be considered dominating and if she is retiring, some people will say she is dull and not pulling her weight. Some wives try to establish an independent identity by taking jobs or starting pro- jects. Nancy Fairweather is fully involved in "Operation and Lenore Dinsdale worked at the Ot- tawa Children's Aid Society until the election interrupted. Beulah Baldwin began a most unusual project. She makes very artistic hangings of birds that bear a resemblance to real MP's. One of her best, of Robert Stanfield, slightly stooped but with teet solidly on the ground, was recently purchas- ed by a group of B.C. businessmen for presentation to the PC chief. Most of the ladies agreed with Evelyn Munro (Es- quimalt Saanich) that the Parliament Wives' Associa- tion and the several party wives' associations were help- ful. "One gets to know the other and to exchange confidences. The range of choice is greater for wives with no family or with grown children. Those with young children have their hands tied. Adrian Lang, wife of Canada's minister of justice and mother of seven aged four to 10, finds "that the children have to be made to understand that daddy is just not going to be home at five o'clock like other daddies." And when she travels with her husband, ex- plains "there is only one of daddy and there are seven of you would you want him to go The pull always exists. Young children adapt fairly well but in their teens the explanations get more dif- ficult. "The children used to pray that George would be defeated so that he could live at home a normal family explains Mibs Hees. Now that the children are grown, life is more comfor- table and she is able to travel back and forth from Cobourg u Opening Soon Me Harvesters KM of People. People wfio life fo tffielax in an afmospfiere crimes, and Service. (Borne and dfieet us. Were tRe Beginning of {Remove c. THE HARVESTER "A HOUSE OF GREAT SPIRITS" 3rd. Ave. Sontb, SS2 to Ottawa with the former minister. The problem is not new and is not likely to disappear. The oft-repeated story of the Howe family is a classic. C.D. arriv- ed home from the House of Commons late for his birthday dinner. Greeted at the door by Mrs. Howe he was escorted to the dining room where the family was assembled. she said, "this is your father. You have often heard me speak of him." Living in two places with one foot in each is not easy. Nor is trying to cope with a se- cond unfamiliar language, on occasion. Mrs. St. Laurent, even though she spoke English quite well, was never com- pletely comfortable in the' language. Mrs. Pearson, Mrs. Stanfield, Mrs. Caouette and, one suspects, Mrs. Trudeau have each felt the pervasive mental fatigue that only someone who has struggled with a second language would understand. Of all the frustrating aspects of political life, "The said a minister's wife, "is watching your hus- band put together a policy he has worked very hard on and then sitting back and seeing him attacked for reasons that are not valid." Why then, if life as a politician's wife is so much more difficult than that of a senior executive, for example, do the majority stick it out? The reasons given were similar. They enjoyed the op- portunity to travel, to meet people they wouldn't meet otherwise and to support their husbands in the pursuit of common ideals. "When George was presi- dent of the PC's, I used to travel across the country with him drumming up business for the party. We visited a variety of places small villages off the main line absolutely Mrs. Hees ex- plained, "It is an opportunity given to few Canadians." You meet people from all walks of life native people, immigrants, athletes, scholars, academics and ar- tists. The kaleidescope of color and culture is an enrich- ment that cannot be measured And while some will admit it and others won't, most political wives enjoy being close to the action Adrian Lang spoke for the majority when she described the greatest plus as "being close to the people who are doing things that they believe to be good for the county and work- ing damn hard at it." Books in Brief "Draw Fifty Animals" by Lee J. Ames (Doubleday Canada Ltd., This is a grand teaching method for people who want to draw animals. It shows a good method of getting the basic forms and building on these in stages. The teaching method is similar to the best drawing instruction book I have ever come across, Andrew Loomis' Fun With a Pencil, published by Viking. Artist Ames started his career with the Walt Disney animation studio and the influence can be seen on his animals in this book the line is flowing and the action is smooth. My 11-year-old daughter took this volume in hand im- mediately and began turning out drawings of hippos, tigers, horses, cats and dogs. Maybe I'll get to use it later, after Nicoline has her zoo pop- ulated. D'ARCY RICKARD "Charles Chaplin: My Life in Pictures" (Clarke, Irwin and Co. Lid., 32G Few characters have endeared themselves to the public over the years like Charles Chaplin and his "little tramp." This picture documentary follows Chaplin through his youth, through the birth and growth of the tramp in motion pictures, and on into Chaplin's later life, culminating with his academy award presentation in 1971. The book includes many personal shots of the comedy genius as well as numerous clips from his films. Each pic- ture is accompanied by a short note from Chaplin. This is a must for lovers of nostalgia, and Chaplin. GARRY ALLISON I gather it's some difference of opinion over what key they'll sing Peace On Earth in Why light candles in December? By Eva Brewster, freelance writer COUTTS How many generations of children all over the world have asked the same question during wars and depressions, inflations and recessions: "Mum, are we go- ing to have a Christmas tree this My own offspring, grown up now (almost) and not even living at home anymore, went one step further, motivated no doubt by their mis- understanding of my sentiments on our society's materialism: "Are we going to have lights this Of course they'll have a lit tree to come home to, as we had every year for as long as I can remember. Not because it is a custom, not as so many unfortunately do now to flaunt our wealth with bright outdoor lights mocking the dark, undecorated homes across our border to the south, but because a world without warmth, hope and love is not worth living in. Lighting candles in mid winter is not con- fined to Christianity. Jews too illuminate their homes in December to celebrate Han- nuka in commemoration of the Maccabees' courageous stand in beleaguered Jerusalem during the second century B.C. against the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes. They light candles to remind modern man of the miracle of an oil lamp that then lit their temple and miraculously burned for eight days and seven nights, long after its fuel had run out. A time- ly reminder that faith, hope and effort can produce miracles. And ancient people who lived long beiore Judaism or Christianity emerged, lit bonfires during the darkest season of the year to remind themselves that winter doesn't last forever, that the sun was going to shine again and that spring was as sure to come as day followed night. To everyone of us, the quiet flicker of candles brings back memories and with them a calm reflection on values that, at other times of the year, seem to be almost forgotten in our noisy, turbulent world. It reminds me of an old lady, Olga, our cook, who lived with us for the first 16 years of my life and who died last Christmas in Berlin. I remember the obnoxious little madam I was so many decades ago and hear again her patient voice: "My dear girl, don't always complain about your good food; eat and enjoy it. Many a hungry child would envy your wealth. You'll thank the dear Lord for a crust of bread one day." I remembered her when, during the Second World War, her prophecy came true. And I'll never forget that after the war she was the only one of all my "friends" who had kept my possessions, who joyfully returned my fur coat, my favorite doll and a candle from the last pre-war Christmas tree my parents had given her. In the bombing of Berlin and the house she lived in, she managed to save nothing of her own but that coat, the doll, alic a candle she had carried into the air-raid shelter. Her faith that I would come back from the dead, she said, was so strong, she just had to save the three things she knew would be needed most: a warm coat, the love and happiness that doll represented, and a candle in her window. It was precisely the love and childhood hap- piness I had known that kept me alive during the dark years of imprisonment when so many other youngsters lost their will to live The spiritual poverty in the poor and broken homes they had come from left them nothing to fall back on or to look forward to. We, on this continent, have not yet reached a stage where our very survival may depenc on our spiritual reserves and I hope we never will. Yet. there is no doubt that we are going to face harder times and an ever darkening horizon of world peace and stability. We should not. however, wrap ourselves in sack cloth and ashes and forego-all joy because the world is in a mess. To the contrary, this is added reason for lighting that extra candle t" shed a little brightness on the darkness out- side. Our children must know that there is always a bright light waiting for them tc come home to and hope to carry in their hearts and memory should external il- luminations be, once again, extinguished as they are already in the United States ana even more so in the starving nations. Like the biblical Maccabees they should have faith that the oil lamp will keep buring long after its fuel is exhausted and like all faithful, they must continue to look forward to a Happy Christmas. Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Mankind. The fat cats By Harry Bruce, Toronto Star commentator There's a theory, you know, that poor peo- ple of assorted colors were fairly docile until television came along and showed them what fat cats the rest of us were. Once they'd seen the yummy suburbs, the creamy stationwagons, the deodorized housewives who looked like movie stars, and the pink, chubby kids who did not have rickets and slept in rat-free nurseries well, there was no more keeping them down on the cotton farm. And if it's true that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing because it makes the lower classes uppity, it's probably just as well that the rural poor of Ontario do not know that Toronto's Hyatt Regency Hotel has invited 200 couples to blow close to on a darl- ing little New Year's Eve party called "Serenade in Blue." The party costs per couple. That's more than it costs to use an international foster parent plan to feed, clothe, educate and give medical care for a full year to some otherwise agonized and doomed youngster in, say. Bolivia, Peru, or Indonesia. I dream of hordes of Ontario poor starting 1975 by swooping down from the north upon the Hyatt Regency just as Peanut Hucko's "Glen Miller Orchestra" begins Auld Lang Syne. The barbarians capture the elevators, the ballroom and the radio station and then, with blood curdling shrieks, they wreak horrible vengeance on the marshmallow soft orgy addicts ot the rotten soutn. But perhaps Ontario has no rural poor. New Brunswick has. The federal government predicts that, in the districts of Restigouche and Northumberland Miramichi, unemploy- ment this winter will steam merrily along at better than 25 per cent. Happy New Year, New Brunswick pulpwood Country: Have a smashing "Serenade in Blue" but take it easy on the French champagne, will you? Again, it's probably a good thing for the cause of social order that the slickest magazines of the western world enjoy only the most limited circulation among the forests from which their own glossy pages came. In backwoods New Brunswick, for in- stance, the random distribution of just the pre Christmas ads in the New Yorker, Vogue and the Connoisseur might set men marching on the decadent cities with dynamite and chainsaws in hand, blood in the eye, and murder in the heart. You think I exaggerate? Perhaps. But sup- pose you are some poor sod in a shack in central New Brunswick, and your wife cries all the time, and three of your eight kids are sick, and you have no job and no prospect of a job, and winter's coming on fast and hard. A Merry Christmas, for you, will be either impossible or a miraculous triumph of the human spirit. Okay. So then you find this magazine ad for a "dancing hippopotamus brooch" with a diamond in her golden belly. "Her eyes are the ad says, "and Tutu is fringed with oval diamonds." She costs and you know that some guy, somewhere, will actually buy that thing for his girlfriend. As a stocking stuffer. My belief is that you might just want to go out to do damage to somebody's Tutu, or something. And maybe you have not yet put together enough cash to buy your first Timex and you turn a few more pages in the magazine and there's "The watch a watchmaker would buy if he had the the money to buy that watch is a cool Ah, yes, and here's an orange sapphire ring for an emerald ring for a necklace in gold, diamonds, coral and onyx for a mere a bracelet for a clip for and for those who can afford cigarettes, a lighter. The champion this year, however, is a set cf six "old labels for liquor They're for your serious drinking man. They appear in a recent issue of the Connoisseur and they're so expensive it's impossible to know exactly how much they'll fetch. Probably as much as a federal grant to a New Brunswick sawmill. The ad states: "offers invited in excess of fifty thousand pounds. Each year in the New Yorker ads, food becomes more fashionable as a gift. These ads somehow suggest that, despite what's happening to the bellies of children the world over, there are also these special people, the beautiful people, perhaps, and that eveti though they are already extremely well fed, they are also forever sending each other prime steaks, Virginia ham, maple syrup, ex- otic fruit, almonds, pecans, smoky bacon. tangerine liqueur, and boxes of cigars. Maybe the ad industry, or the magazines themselves, should re examine their adver- tising policies. If not to prevent revolution, then simply in the interests of good taste. ;