Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 23, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Margaret Luckhurst Love me, love my many strange pets ,N a wet, dreary day last spring Nancy came dripping home for lunch with a suspicious bulge under her raincoat. "I've just washed the floor so take your boots off right there," I ordered, "but before you do, you can throw that stray cat out again." Nancy, I should explain, is not a kitnapper, nor is she a member of the SPCA. She's our teenage daughter and the greatest protector of all the flotsam and jetsam of the animal world since Farley Mowat. In (he few blocks she has to walk to school she has picked up (and brought home) widowed robins, sick squirrels, infant sparrows, lost pups, misplaced guinea pigs, and vagrant rabbits gorged to immobility on someone's prized carrots. A knowing neighbor once phoned to say he'd just passed Nancy headed for home leading a moose. I knew the man to be a real kidder, but I admit I put in some uneasy minutes until the kid showed up empty handed. At certain times of the year our basement .fairly heaves with jars of tadpoles, branches with caterpillars in various stages, boxes of lady bugs and a weird and alarming assortment of grubs, beetles and night crawlers. It's got so we've considered moving closer to the school. Nancy is so dedicated she never gives up without a fight. At my instant dismissal of her latest rescue her eyes filled with big brown tears and she began to wail. "But he's just a baby kitty, and he's wet and lost. He was up a pine on 13th." "Well, then he must belong to someone on that street," I countered logically, "take him back to the same spot like a good g>l and I bet he'll run off home." "I tried that," she sniffed. "I went up and down that general area twice, but he just kept following me." At that point the subject of the controversy poked its head out and stared at me with big, cheeky eyes. "It's not a him, it's a her," I shrilled indignantly, "now look Nancy . . ." There comes a time, after all! "How can you tell it's a her from there" Nancy protested, "I can spot a female cat at 100 yards," I replied, "they have that bold, liberated look about them. Out with her, out, out!" While I went into a long motherish discourse about all the trouble and work her pets caused me, the kitten struggled free, popped down to the floor, muscled poor old Hank out of his dish of chopped liver and completely took over. She was kind of cute; a tabby with neat little white shoes and a white, spotless vest. Still there comes a time. . . . "Okay," Nancy said grudgingly, "I'll make a deal. You keep her until after 4, I'll ask at school and see if I can't find the owner. In the meantime you phone the radio stations and get them to advertise her. When I come home I'll look after her, I promise." Some deal. I've had those promises many times before. Please Mum, can I have a St. Bernard, I'll look after it, honest - please can I have a couple of gerbils, I'll look after them honest, etc. After the novelty wears off, guess who walks the St. Bernard and feeds the gerbils, if they can be found? Nancy isn't aware either, that it's not always easy to advertise a lost pet on radio. While this medium is always very co-operative in this regard, there is something about a lost pet, or a found one for that matter, that gets to the disc-jockeys and suddenly they're all comedians. "Found," my urgent request came across later in the afternoon, "a tabby kitty up a pine tree on 13th with white shoes, ha, ha, ha!" Either their days must be awfully dull, or d.js must figure nobody listens in the afternoon. Just in case, I advertised in the paper too, but knowing how hurriedly people skip over the free cat column I worded it differently "Nice grey kitten to go to good home, plus $10 and a year's supply of free cat food; will deliver anywhere in city." We didn't get a nibble. Nancy reported that nobody at school had lost a cat, and while I didn't really expect a rash of anxious phone calls I did expect one or two. My husband, who does not find his daughter's overworked Samaritan complex either rich or rewarding felt we were going about the thing the wrong way. It was his opinion that an abrupt solution to the problem might well be within our grasp if we kept the kitten and gave away Nancy. Meanwhile, the kitten settled in, showing no more conscience or gratitude than an unwelcome relative. Nancy's promise to look after Kitty, initially sincere, fizzled out as I had predicted. I think she fed her twice and changed her box once, and from then on guess who had to take over? You're right. Kitty, (who somehow never received another name for the simple reason that in 20 odd years' of cats and other pets we've run out of them) was no easy puss to train. Maybe her former owners were smart in turning off their radio the day she got lost. She ran up the drapes and picked at the furniture. She kicked old Hank out of all his favorite sleeping spots and she teased the dog until she snapped. She gulped her food in vulgar, unladylike mouthfuls so she could finish uo in a hurry and move in on Hank's dinner. After a couple of months of strong discipline with a paper swatter, and just at a time whe� I was getting to like the creature she came into her season. It was much too soon, I thought, which only confirmed my suspicions all along that she was plain and simple, an unrepentant juvenile d e 1 i n-quent. For a time our back yard looked like Friday night at the fish market. Toms of all colors and sizes sat on the fence yowling at each other, carrying-on half the night. Eventually things settled down again and Kitty began to behave with more propriety and decorum - doubtless in keeping with her gentle condition. Nine weeks goes fairly quickly and before we knew it the whole house became a maternity ward for the simple reason that we were trying to outguess Kitty in her selection of a cozy spot to produce her Utter. My husband isn't the best midwife in the world. In fact he isn't even the best midwife in our house. His only contribution to the coming event was to go around obligingly opening dresser drawers (mine), cupboard doors, (also mine) and the linen closet - encouraging kitty, as he did so, to make herself at home. Nancy ran about making nice little nests out of our good bath towels, in all the warm, obvious spots. Psychologists like to say that animal birth can be very meaningful for children. In my experience which ranges from farm life where the dogs and cats had their litters in unreachable spots under the shed - to urban sophistication where anxious owners some- times insist on Caesarians to save themselves the strain of pet-watching during the confinement - I've never known kids to stick around. Either they go off to school, or out to play, or they get conveniently lost at the first signs of labor. Kitty came into her time the afternoon I was entertaining two elderly maiden ladies from Ireland. As I poured our tea, I could hear Kitty fussing in some remote part of the house. By the time I located her, on Daddy's curling sweater left casually on an old chest, three little black kittens had arrived, all wearing white shoes. After giving my blessing and assured that everything was under control, I went back to my tea-party. The cldprly ladies expressed interest, but politely and somewhat stiffly declined my excited invitation to share in the meaningful experience. When Nancy came home from school, Kitty had a proud smirk on her face and gracefully accepted the respects and adultation of the throngs of small visitors who trooped in and out of our basement. For all that her life had been somewhat mis-spent, she settled into domesticity with a sense of responsibility that surprised me. In no time at all the kittens were up and down the basement stairs, swatting at everyone who went by. Nancy had done a good public relations job on the need for every family to have a kitten so that they were all spoken for several times over. A few mothers phoned and laughingly tried to tell me in a nice way that they really didn't want Johnny to have a kitten, but they weren't quite sure that regardless of Wheir wishes, Johnny would waltz home with one some nay anyway. I know how easy it is to smuggle a cat in under a coat. How could you resist me? Si y l -Photo by Elwood Ferguson Book Reviews Pleasant surprise in store for readers "The Secret Archives of the Vatican" by Lnlsa Ambroslnl with Mary WHUt (Little, Brown and Co., 366 pages, $12.00). ARCHIVES do not have much appeal for the average person. Luisa Ambrosini admits at the outset that she had never cared for them. "They seemed like tombs of the past, tombs of ideas that no longer mattered. I felt for them the physical distaste that one feels for dusty old papers." That is very much the way I felt, too. So this book about the archives of the Vatican has sat on my shelves for months, al-ways being passed over in favor of other books that looked more interesting. Luisa Ambrosini went to the Secret Archives of the Vatican to look for background information on some statuary about which she was writing an article. By the time she was finished that project a spell had been cast over her so that she came to spend a lot of time exploring the archives and finally to write this very remarkable book. Once into the book a reader with even a modicum of interest in history and a taste for felicitous expression will be hooked. He will read it with increasing delight from beginning to end. It is truly a treasure. The Secret Archives of the Vatican contains about twenty-five miles of bookshelves laden with parchment and paper manuscripts of great historical value. Until 1881 the archives were not open to the public and they are still only accessible to scholars. They acquired the name "secret" during the time when they were strictly guarded against investigation but there is still a justification for calling them secret inasmuch as much of the material is yet unexplored and uninventoried. Choosing the subject about which to write from the multitude of interesting things she must have encountered was probably one of the most difficult things the author faced in writing her book. The chapters are often topical - about rebels, saints, or the interlude at Avignon, tor instance - and yet the book on the whole is chronologically developed. Perhaps the best way to whet the appetites of other potential readers is to quote some of the astute and engaging comments with which the book is laden. Speaking of Jerome acting as a seminar leader with a group of women: "the early Christians had not heard the French proverb that equates talking about love with making love;" Charlemagne's friendship with the learned English monk Alcuin: "one of those close friendships that one sometimes sees between extremely able leaders and contemplative scholars, men who are the best of their separate kinds, and are able to admire each other generously because they are too different for rivalry;" St. Francis' love of birds and beasts: "he has given some shadowy theological sanction, some faint touch of Church approval, to those who believe in civil rights for all the citizens of the planet;" Pope Boniface VII in conflict with Philip the Fair: "his bulls were too clearly written; they left no room for the ambiguity of interpretation that might have made for peace;" the case of Sister Cristina del Rovales: "this is probably one of the cases that has convinced the Church that the only dependable saint is a dead one;" the story of the fifth-century Saint Pelagia the Harlot, written to be read aloud in refectories: "I do not see how it can have contributed to the tranquility of the brothers;" regarding the test of sainthood, 'was enough struggle involved?' "this seems rather like faulting a musician for having absolute pitch." Even that little sampling should be enough to permit the reader to agree with the conclusion reached by the author: "the real value of the Secret Archives is not in intellectual discovery but in the sense of the past that they give to us, the rich regretful wisdom of our human experience. And with this sense of the past is the sense of fellowship with its people . . ." The book includes 32 pages of photographs, as well as an index, bibliography, and notes identifying the source of all quotations and references. A splendid book! DOUG WALKER. Where education is today This Book Is About Schools, edited by Satu Repo (Pantheon Books, 457 pages, 19.50, distributed by Random' House). IT'S a rare treat to find a book on educational reform as free from pretension, jargon and pomposity as is This Book Is About Schools. Certainly, the book is not meant for the atrophied traditionalist, for whom it would only "prove" that the world is rapidly going to hell in a basket - or some such old-fashioned cliche. But for anyone else, who wants to see where education really is or can be today, This Book provides an exciting, clear and lucidly written summary of a few of the considerations discussed by those supporting a variety of "free school" experiments, and modem no-n o n s e n s e techniques which encourage the student to retain his integrity, his enthusiasm to learn and his ability to create. It is also probably the best-possible advertisement for the journal, This Magazine Is About Schools, from which the book's articles are taken. For the teacher interested in learning a bit more about some of the innovative approaches, for the parent wondering what free schools and other locally-unavailable education systems have to offer, for the education student searching for potentially more mature education techniques than he or she is now exposed to - This Book provides a bit of the answer. Books in brief "The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowc (Arno Press and The New York Times, 508pp., softback, $4.05, distributed by George J. McLcod, Ltd.). QBVIOUSLY this is a reissue of an old book. Criticism of her novel led Mrs. Stowe to compile this book of supporting evidence of the iniquity of the slave system. In the first part she put together material backing each of the principal characters in her famous novel. Other sections deal with the role of law and the church. An authentic and valuable composite picture of slavery is provided from the primary sources. The reader must have good eye-sight to cope with the large amount of small print employed. The various articles deal with a form of teaching success hard to achieve: releasing students to 1 e a r n. They also offer suggestions on how a teacher can manage to overcome obstacles put in the way of minor classroom reforms, due not to administrative fear or interference, but to simplistic and old-time regulations. It provides a commentary on some of the more pressing social-school issues which abound today: sex and family life education, individualism, how to teach Indian students, how to help the emotionally handicapped student, how to help socially and educationally disadvantaged students and-prison education and its lack. It offers some alternative ways of organizing schools so they can cater to several types of students on a relatively equal basis, instead of the low-average common denominator many schools design themselves for today. This Book, like This Magazine, is frank, and says what it means and means what it says with no particular regard for the false sensitivities many people secure around themselves. It's one of the better educational bargains around. JIM WILSON The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORIEY Reflection on our Times (2) T^HIS is an age which seems to be in love with despair. Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre, and Samuel Beckett made despair the primary article of their creed. Possibly the current popularity of the classic of galsworthy, Forsyte Saga, is a reflection of the nostalgia for the time when men enjoyed greater emotional security. One must, of course, use the word "men" in a generic sense, since this is increasingly becoming a woman's world. The father-figure is becoming expendable in the modern home, women hold the purse strings, advertising is beamed at women, and they enjoy legal and social privileges denied to men. Nevertheless the pessimism of the time is not unqualified. If the United Nations has not achieved all the founding fathers hoped for, it has increased the ideal of world law and an international court of justice. It provides a world conscience with a focus for world attention and a forum for world debate. It has been the salvation of millions of refugees, provided international aid on a world scale, created a pool for scientific knowledge, profoundly affected undeveloped countries, established an amazing world health organization, and prevented war not once but many times. If the U.S. does go to war in Vietnam, her military operation is inhibited by world and American opinion. Russia may overwhelm Czecnoslovakia, but her fearful revenge which would have certainly taken place under Stalin is softened by world opinion. Countless tons of materials have been sent to aid famine stricken, disease ridden Peru and Pakistan. Hunger, starvation, and unemployment leave no government indifferent today. Even the hippies excuse their gross conduct by the hypocrisy of love. There has been a loss of faith in science which would have been unbelievable a generation ago. This generation also rebels against industrialization and technology. This is strange because industrialization was synonymous with standard of living. America was the envy of the world and Russia looked longingly toward catching up. Anti-intellectualism, however, is far more pervasive than anti-technology. Such anti-intellectualism takes the forms of Nazi-ism, Communism, existentialism, the ridicule of the egghead, and the pornography and bestiality in movies, plays and literature." If one eliminate the vulgarity and four-letter words from "Love Story" not much is left. The appointment of the deputy assistant post office commissioner as head of Canadian penitentiaries, a post that calls for a specialist, must disturb social welfare workers. But Canadians are hard to disturb, or they would be alarmed over the pollution of their water and air. The ecumenical movement is no longer a river but lias settled down into a lake with pollution and marshland like other Canadian lakes. Two trends are clearly discernible in church life. These trends reflect the fact that members find themselves more in sympathy with people in other churches than with many members of their own denomination. Consequently denominationalism increasingly counts for less and less and ultimately people will break away from their own church. For example after the "union" of 1925 between Congregation, Methodist, and Presbyterian bodies, the old-time Methodists missed the fervor of their former worship and joined evangelical churches, such as the Naza-rene. Now one sees an evangelical body emerging of whom Billy Graham is chief spokesman, while, on the other hand, the ritualistic and "mainline" churches like the Anglican, United, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic Churches form another natural grouping. Already the colleges of the latter have practically merged in Toronto and Montreal, indeed right across the continent. Two such bodies make far more sense than the silly suburban proliferation and competition. Some denominations have so far come to this conclusion that they use the same building. Now that Roman Catholics and Anglicans have taken the altar from the wall and made it more the form of a table, the liturgical and architectural dissimilarity with Protestant buildings is not so marked. Just what names one would give to two such denominational bodies would leave room for some imagination, but undoubtedly such a coalescence is coming. It is almost here. How To Succeed In Dizziness By Richard J. Needham in the Toronto Globe and Mail T\0 you suppose (said the man at the bar) that there is anybody who still reads the works of Horatio Alger Jr.? That there is anybody who ever has read them? That there is anybody, indeed, to whom Alger's name means anything whatsoever? I can clearly see it means nothing to you, my dear sir, so permit me to enlighten you. Horatio Alger Jr. was an American author who flourished a century ago. He wrote more than 100 books under such titles as Ragged Dick, Bound to Rise, Slow and Sure, Jed the Poorhouse Boy, each of them revealing how, in the United States of that era, a lad might rise from poverty to riches through honesty, frugality, hard work, good manners, neatness of appearance and similar virtues. Ah, sir, do not gag on your Scotch-and-soda; people really believed it in that day and age; and in that day and age, my dear fellow, it might well have been true. And what, you may ask, has Horatio Alger to do with me? During my formative years in Upper Respiratory, N.S., I found a yellowed set of Alger books in the attic, read them avidly; and when I left high school and headed for Toronto, sought employment in the style of bis heroes. Going to a factory which produced machines to produce other machines to produce other machines to produce chicken jokes, I asked for the personnel manager, who turned out to be Calvin Caliban - a swarthy fellow who chewed on a cigar butt as I told him: "My name is Hezekiah Homespun and I wish employment in your plant. I am willing to start at the bottom and learn my trade, taking whatever salary you wish to pay me, working whatever hours are required, sleeping under or on my desk at night, and greeting the other hands with a cheery salutation as they punch the time-clock at 6:30 a.m. I am honest, frugal and industrious; I do not smoke, drink or consort with women; and my ambition is to become president of the company." Mr. Caliban looked at me quizzically, "Ain't you got no degree?" I shook my head, and he frowned. "We don't hire nobody in this here dump if he ain't edificated. Even the jerk what runs the back freight elevator is a Rhodes Scholar. Tape a tip from me, sonny - boy; forget all that garbage about hard work; it'll only make trouble with the union, and we got enough of that already. Grab yourself a Ph.D., then come back and see me. Next?", and he nodded to a young man in the doorway who was anxiously clutching his theses on Babylonian astrology and the benefactions of Walter the Penniless. Bitterly hurt by Caliban's rudeness I sought revenge by obtaining not just one but several degrees. I studied under savants at the University of Guelph; gathered pearls of wisdom at Laurentian; engaged in keen intellectual cut - and - thrust at Waterloo Lutheran. On receiving my third Ph.D. (you'd enjoy my thesis on the military strategy of Ethelred the Unready), I telephoned Mr. Caliban, who1 replied, "You done good, kid. Come down and we'll fit you somewhere into this crummy dive." I laughed to myself, for my plot was all in order. I had let my hair grow halfway down my back, and sported a beard which looked like some revolting animal from the Matto Grosso. I wore sandals, a filthy army tunic, and a set of temple bells which chimed Rocky Racoon. To make the scene complete I drank a quart of cheap gin, lit up a joint, and staggered into Mr. Caliban's office coarsely pinching his secretary as she opened the door for me. "All right, you creep!" I declared. "Here I am with my three Ph.D.'s and I may as well tell you now that I don't intend to do the slightest tap of work. I will come in at noon, drink my lunch, and spend the rest of the day playing poker, chasing secretaries around the desk, and embezzling the company's funds," at which I hurled the sheepskins full in his face. Caliban sank reverentially before me. "Would you mind starting as a vice - president? The salary's only $20,000, but there's a four-week paid holiday." I graciously consented; so here you see me now, a successful business executive. In between my intellectual discussions with the other executives - we had a delightful talk today about the Manichaean heresy - I've suggested we should get rid of Caliban who, as you may surmise by now, is a Grade 4 dropout. The difficulty is that he's the only person who has the vaguest idea how the company functions. Do you suppose, sir, that this insistence upon degrees is a diabolical plot on his part to keep things that way? Once bitten, twice shy? The Winnipeg Free Press WORKERS on the St. Lawrence Seaway " are asking wage increases amounting to between 24 and 34 per cent over one year, plus "healthy" fringe benefits. The latter include double time for overtime instead of time and a half; an extra statutory holiday; and bonuses for shift workers who work on weekends. All of which takes the country back to June 1966 when the Seaway workers made similar outrageous demands and got them from the government. Then the workers, threatening to strike, received a 30 per cent wage boost, with Prime Minister Pearson saying "Such a settlement of the dispute in this essential service at this time is in the national interest." In fact, as everyone knows, it turned out to be very much not in the national interest; for the Seaway settlement (along with a substantial settlement given to Quebec longshoremen) was the spark that fired the blaze of inflation that the country has been trying to dampen down since that time. If the present government is as weak as the government in office in 1966 and gives in to the Seaway demands, Prime Minister Trudeau's recent statement that inflation no longer exists in Canada is going to sound very funny indeed.