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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 27, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta Wednesday, May 27, 1970 THE IETHBRIDGE HERALD 33 Mythical Characters Of Old West No Longer Spark Young Generation By JOSEPH MacSWEEN Canadian Press Staff Wrilcr The poetry of prairie, earth and sky entered the character of generations of westerners but is heard less clearly or not at all by today's genera- tion, says W. 0. Mitchell, playwright and novelist. This saddens '.he creator of a whole community of mythi- cal characters such as Jake and the Kid, Old Daddy John- son, Malleable cal but just as colorful as the author in articulating Prairies life. "I think landscape has ev- erything to do with ihe way we grow as human said Mr. Mitchell, 56 .now writer-in-residence at Univer- sity of Calgary. A sort of yearning is evident as the vigorous, amiable nov- elist speaks of basic changes in the Prairie provinces, ex- pressing in artistic language what more pragmatic men discuss in terms of wheat acreage and grain quotas. SHOWS NO REGRET "A way of life has become a way of making a said a Regina wheat official, him- self showing a dash of poetic no he likened the bewildering scope of change on the Prairies to Quebec's Quiet Revolution. Mr. Mitchell said a writer can only produce good stuff by 'lowering a bucket into his own and that is what he proceeded to do for a visit- ing reporter. A child alone amid the es- sentials of land and sea and sky, for that matter develops an "over- awareness" of his own mortal- ity, in the observation of the author.' ft seems the fate of people who dwell on the awesome prairie expanses to live in memory and experience in the grip of mighty forces' over which '.hey have little or no control. They can be lifted up or thrown down. They remember blizzards, dust storms and crop failures. But they also remember triumphs beyond the dreams of compatriots in many other areas. Mr. Mitchell spoke of childhood: 'When you're alone and you walk out and there's the entire thrust of all the sun on the top of your vulnerable head. That's when a Prairies child learns about mortality, f think I knew f was mortal at ihe age of eight back at the sand pit along the CPR track when f saw a dead cat with a ch id of flies ex- ploding off it and undertaker beetles on the dried husk." UNDERSTANDS OTHERS Once understanding the im- pact of landscape and ele- ments, the Prairies product finds it easier to comprehend Canadians in other settings, said Mr. Mitchell, whose wife is from Mahone Bay, N.-S. On visiting Nova S'cotia's south shore, the author made an important discovery: 'The landscapes are differ- ent but perhaps not that dif- ferent, really in the effect on people. A niggardly environ- ment and a harsh sea is not too much different from the prairie and the bitter winters, burning summers and droughts. That's tough on peo- ple, too. 'Westerners pride them- selves, congratulate them- forever printed in stories and news and an- nounced on their wideo-ppen, free-wheeling indi. vidualist way. 'Well, 30 years ago '.hat was right. by most people I met in Nova think it is still true of Maritimers. Given time, the Maritimers are. L think going to lose tha'. in the sense that I think the West did. 'I don't notice it about the people in British Columbia, where I have a summer home in the interior. To me, B.C. people J.hink much smaller than do Maritimers." Mr. Mitchell was a trifle de- flating, perhaps about On- tario, too. Because of family back- ground, he had always thought the West began in On- tario. But wandering around Bluenose museums 'I real- ized thai was where Canada began." 'Ontario, the North Ameri- can continent in fact, began in Nova Scotia." A Bluenose-born reporter had never heard a more im- partial comment on Nova Sco- tia. .FEARS INFLUENCES Mr. Mitchell is concerned about today's influences on ;he life of Canadians and, in- deed, much of mankind. The environment of Canadi- ans everywhere is 'less and less the responsive living whole" that unfolded so natu- rally before the eyes of chil- dren in his birthplace, Wey- 'Now it's an environment that is man-made. The aver- age child growing up is denied the poetry of earth and the green element, which stirs his hair in the wind, which springs from seed and dies. 'What is his extension of himself now is the precise ge- ometry of the city and of as- phalt, moulded glass plas- tic." True, there is also an excit- ing 'poetry of the asphalt" but 'f don't think I'd ever have been a writer except for those first years and the influ- ence of the prairie." William Ormond Mitchell and his wife Merna raised their three children, Ormond, Hugh Hirtle and Wills, in a prairie setting. The two boys now are teachers; Willa is 15. SCENE 'DEVASTATING' John Nugent, Montreal-born sculptor who was captivated early by the romance of the West and has lived at Lums- den, north of Regina, for 20 years, said Saskatchewan's economic troubles constrict art and life in general. "A way of life is passing here as much as in he said. "But the people who are most aware of the including some of the political not willing even to mention them because political platforms are based on the price of wheat." Saskatchewan had enjoyed a lively history in the arts, but now the scene was 'dev- astating" because of eco- nomic and political factors. Artists, architects, tradesmen and contractors were closing shop and Mr. Nugent himself thought he might be forced by circumstances to depart. McArthur's fight inflation with this once-a-year Spring Clearance. Don't miss this opportunity for real savings. The prices have never been lower! SUMMER SKIRTS linens. Cottons, Orlons, Denims REGULAR VALUES TO 10.95 T88IT88I PANT SUITS CASUAL SUITS REGULAR VALUES TO 19.95 SUMMER BLOUSES All sleeve lengths, plain or fancy. REGULAR VALUES TO 10.95 DRESSES PANt DRESSES REGULAR TO 39.95 PANTS, SLIMS, JEANS Wools, Cottons, Linens, Denims. REGULAR VALUES TO 12.95 in 5-" BATHING SUITS 1 or 2 piece styles All Vi Price 4 and UP STRETCH SLIMS Machine washable, spring shades. REGULAR VALUE 12.95 WHITE STAG CO-ORDINATES Sweaters, Skirts, Shells, Slims. 75% OFF CLOSED ALL DAY WEDNESDAYS OPEN THURSDAYS 9.30 a.m. 9.00 p.m. SPECIALS! SUMMER SPORTSWEAR Shorts Blouses Tank Tops Sweaters Values to 10.95 1 ,00 FLORAL HEAD SCARVES Reg. 1.99 31 ,00 BOUCLE KNIT FORTREL CO-ORDINATES Pullovers, Shells, Cardiaans, Skirts. 75% OFF GENUINE BUCKSKIN SKIRTS REG. VALUES TO 15.95 75% OFF 'ARTHUR'S 509 4th Avenue S. 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