Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 13, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Saturday, November 13, 197] THE lETHBRIDGt HERALD Tropic of tin', sonlli 26 Lnr.khurst Forecast: settled, no sign of change Focus on the University By J. W. FISHBOURNE rro a large segment of our demanding and diabolical society the weatherman's j o b compares closely with that of an ump; if lie makes the calls accurately and with the united approval of all he is prclly much a hero, but when he goofs as he sometimes docs pow! A Friday evening's forecast as predicted for the area hy our local weatherman might go something like this: "Good eve- ning everyone and welcome to the weather map. Weil that cold mass which has been hovering over southern Alberta for the past few days is finally moving slowly eastward and a trend of warm air from the Pacific Coast is moving in ac- companied by some wind; not a Chinook mind you, so don't get all excited, but it will be balmier than the stiff breezes we've been experiencing. How- ever, darkling shadows over the northern part of the prov- ince produced by a high pres- sure area sweeping down from the Yukon etc., (the verbal description is made clearer by large swooping chalk illustrations indicating highs, lows, and other techni- calities of the weather's flights of fancy) "but we will not be affected here in the sunny south and a fine weekend is in store for us so everybody out, out, And more etceteras. So what happens? Early golf- ers cluster on the club house veranda gloomily watching rain laced with sleet bounce along the soggy fairway: Moth- er screams at the kids that it's rot her fault the weather turn- ed lousy and she slams the pic- nic lunch back into the fridge; and nine brides weep discon- solately into their bouquets as sympathetic attendants cover drooping veils with plastic wrap! And what does everyone do about the weatherman and his fine weekend? You're ab- solutely right. Pow! Bill Matheson. our entertain- ing, knowledgeable, and pretty accurate weatherman doubtless has been powed frequently (mentally if not physically) but what would we do without him? How would we foretell weather on our own? Go back to the old Almanac? Rely on our corns and aching joints? Watch the night sky to see if the geese are flying south earlier than usual? There are of coin-se, dozens of like amateurish ways of predicting whether or not it will rain tomorrow and the funny thing is that they're often fairly reliable, sometimes more reliable than the weatherman. But Bill doesn't look to his rheumatism, or scan the sky for flocks of geese. His guide is a scientific, mind-boggling plethora of maps and weather instruments (there's a fancy name for them but it escapes me) which he reads as quickly as we rend a road map and often much more precisely. Once in a while he may get lost too. but not for long another map and another read- ing will straighten him out and he'll once again have the weather under control, if you know what I mean. Bill Matheson didn't start out to become a professional fore- caster; it was something be eventually pursued because he was always interested in it. But between the lime he left school and the time he look up this occupation he was involved in a variety of other vocations, some here, some there, but al- ways finding his way back to Let'hbridge. "You know, not loo many na- tive Lelhbridgeitos slay here." Kill pointed out during an in- terview recently. "Hut it's home to me and I've never had much desire to leave here indefinitely. Oh. I've been away for a few years oti and on, but in the back of my mind I've always wanted to rclurn. Lclhbrid.se suils me fine." Bill, (everyone calls him Bill so there's not miuli use in me calling him Mr. Matheson even though I know I should be very respectful in these stories) re- ceived his schooling at old after which he joined the Ca- nadian army parachute corps. "Unfortunately I didn't get overseas because the day we were lo leave Halifax I he troopship was wailing to take. us over armislicc was signed with Germany. That was May fi. KMS. 1 was 111 years old and full of jouthfiil enthusiasm naturally 1 was prclly disnp- poinled. 1 had made eleven jumps and was looking forward to some real action but wilh the war ending this didn't ma- terialize of course." After dirchargo. from the iinny Rill and a friend hit on Jin idea of working their way to South America in order In galhrr material for slorios and articles. "I don't really kmiw why wn picked South Amei- Bill said, "but at any rate we were in Vancouver at tne time and itching to do some- thing. Well, our passports didn't come through, we were broke, so ultimately we had to walk back to Lclhbridge. We didn't hitch rides we sort of walked and jogged the dis- tance. We were given a bit of help from the railway however, we'd put our pack sacks on the train, they'd take them to the next station where we'd pick them up when we needed tnCMi. During one summer Bill worked for John vidson a fanner in the Coal- dab area. "Now there was a real interesting Bill recalled, "he claimed he knew Teddy Roosevelt and the tales he used to tell were pretty exciting real frontier stuff. At any rate one summer we took 3.000 sheep from Coaldale up to pasture at Daisy Creek. It was a long monotonous, three week drive and I remember that I saw the sun come up and go down on the longest day of the year. I can tell you I got awful sick of the sight of sheep. In fact one time when I was eating dinner I actually start- ed hallucinating all the stuff on tlie plate looked like sheep; and people's noses started re- sembling shceps noses! To this day I can't stand the smell of mutton." At this lime Bill got bitten by the writing bug. "I felt my brief experience driving sheep made me something of an ex- pert so I wrote a novel about it called "Transhumance." "What in the world is "Well, it's the business of driving animals to more suit- able areas to pasture. I spent a month on this book and I thought I'd done pretty well, but of course all I got was re- jection slips." In the following years Bill used his army service re-es- tablishment credit to attend university, first at the Univer- sity of British Columbia, then at'the University of Alberta, in a liberal arts course. "One of my elective courses was me- teorology which I enjoyed. I admit to being rather an indif- ferent student and I never did get my degree." Pursuing his interest in me- teorology Bill joined the staff of the Department of Transport and was sent up north to the weather office at Fort Simpson. "You might say that this was where I got my basic training in reading maps, charting the weather and so forth. There wasn't terribly much to do up there, so a few of us formed a little drama group; the RCMP fellow, a signalman and a couple of others who were in- terested got together and put on The Bishop's Candclsticks which we performed for the Indians who were our only au- dience. As you this is a pretty dramatic piece of ma- terial and the Mountie who played Jean Valjcan pulled out all'the stops, and gave it all he could. But the more he emoted and the more impas- sioned his dramatics became the funnier it struck the In- dians. They had a hilarious time laughing at this poor fel- low who was doing his best to be a true Valjean! But Indians have a bubbly sense of humor and it's hard to get them down, lip there in the north, for cen- turies the Indians have been following the caribou, farming them, depending on them for their livelihood. I remember one time going up with the doc- tor to one of their camps. Thcre'd been a bad flu epidem- ic and he was doing some checking, lie was getting along in years and had been up there for ages and knew the Indian's life style as well as he did his own. lie did everything of course, from pulling teeth to de- livering babies and giving shots, an all round Joe. Well this time he had to dub as dentist and there was a tcntful of patients wailing for him to yank out their teeth. And the thing that struck me was that once again. just, as I'd noted at our play, the Indian can turn a bad scene into a joke. There would be this doctor yanking out a tooth to yells from the patient and the whole tcntful who were on the waiting list, would be simply bursting with laughter! Even the next guy in line was laugh- ing and be knew what ho was in for! They have, a stoicism which is difficult, for us lo un- derstand Aflrr throe year, in the north Bill rclurru'd' to Ldmonlon where he worked in Ihc main weather office, plotting weath- er maps. Then after a bit he got closer to home when he became Ihc weatherman at. Suf- field. "You lie mused, "there's a fantastic amount of money spent on the weather, but in spite of satellites and so forth there have been no appre- ciable charges in forrcaslir.j; it exactness." While at Kufficld he heard there was an opening for a newswriter at CJfJC, he ap- plied, and got the job. "I had done a bit of writing off and on after my firsl novel, but 1 couldn't discipline myself to actually become a writer, how- ever ncwswriting is interesting work and I didn't find it too difficult to tackle." After a lime Bill started a talk show which he thought he would run on a Iria! basis for a six month period. "That was back in he recalled. "I slartcd off alone winch meant I had to do a lot of talking and if there were no interest- ing calls or the problems of the day limited I was left mutter- ing away like an idiot. Later there were two of us so hi the gaps we can chit-chat back and forth, and even if people aren't phoning in they're at least lis- tening, and this makes it easier for us." A talk show, or hot line as Bill calls it is one of the more popular radio shows of the day, and all stations across tho country seem to have one. "It's more entertaining than infor- mative, I've Bill said, "and funnily enough tho issues raised are not especially weighty such as England join- ing the Common Market, or the trouble in remote parts of the world. For the most part the problems or questions are small, local, and very often ot a complaining nature. Some- times an issue will produce a flood of calls. For example one of our busie-st mornings was fol- lowing the announcement that the annual parade in Raymond was changing its route! That brought in 32 calls; I believe it's a record. Another time we discussed m e n's Bermuda shorts and that brought in a lot of calls, most of were kind of fun for tlw caller as well as for MS. Of course wt> get callers who use Ihe show as a sounding board for all their grievances but over the years I've learned how to handle them wilhout being offensive I hope." Probably the feature which brings him the biggest au- dience is the evening TV weather forecast which at- tracts viewers from all of southern Alberta and also northern Montana, where he is almost as well known as he is in his own home town. "I've spoken to the Chamber of Com- merce in Cuthank and the Pi- lots Association in Great Falls and so forth so I must be being watched -or there'd never hear of me Bill said. Having a definite flair for forecasting, has he ever been approached by larger stations in bigger centres? "Well, back in 1905 I was approached by CBC to consider a job in Ot- tawa, but at the same time I'd been approached to run as a Liberal candidate in Fort Mac- Iced. I decided on the latter, and although I didn't get anywhere I was glad to have the oppor- tunity to experience what a politician lias lo endure. Now I have a high respect for all politicians for it's not an easy life and when a candidate is campaigning the pace is down- right murder. I'd have to speak in several places in one day, always trying to change my speech a litlle, and getting ul- cers from the rich diet pressed upon candidates by well-mean- ing organizers. Well, as I say 1 lost. And the CBC has not re- lumed with an offer of another job, but in any case I don't think I'd take il. I like what I'm doing loo well to make a change." From his earlv introduction lo the stage up north, Bill has graduated to more serious par- licipntion in the theatre cal theatre v.'as gradually de- veloping in II1.'1 GO.-, and I was interested in ils advancement because il was sadly needed Bill explained. "Person- ally I owe a great deal to Mur- ray Robison of Coaldale who look me under his wing and assisted with my training." This help was to prove benefi- cial to Bill as he went on to win the best character actor award twice, in regional com- petitions, and the actor award once. These awards are presented after careful adjudication by experts and signify excellence in perform- ance. Bill lias also given mu- sical theatre, a whirl having played Finian in Finian's Rain- bow and last year Professor Higgins in .My Fair Lady. Not discouraged by the dis- mal failure of Transhumance, Bill later wrote a successful one act play titled Chinook which won him honors in 1907 tile best original one acl play in I he region. It also earned him around SfiOfl which didn't hurl cither. Bill a member of the Se- nate of the University of Lelh- bridge and is involved in its decisions. "We're looking for- ward to the official opening next year and hope it will at- tract many former Lcthbridge people to return for this cele- brations.'' lie said. In 1955 Bill man-led Muriel Paynlcr. a girl from Mclforl, Sask. They have a daughter Patricia. H. and a son Kit. 10, three cats and two guinea pigs. "I'd hale to think what the family would say if ever I sug- gested moving Bill commented, "I Ihink even Ihe guinea pigs would object" BILL MATHESON by Walter Kerber Book Reviews Series of literary fragments "Down The Rabbit Holr: adventures a n d misadven- tures in children's litrratuir" tiy Srlma (i. Lanes (McC'lcI- land and Stow art, 4 FTER some years review- ing children's books for New York papers Mrs. Lanes has concluded, and one agrees, that Ihc book industry is churn- ing out far too many books and few of them arc of lasting worth Tho same can be said about almost every other U.S. indus- try devoted to lhc production of saleable merchandise; the. promotion of iion-books ris lit- erature is merely a feature of modern life. But books are differenl, Mrs. Lanes feels, and children's Iwioks are instruments for help- ing to shape young livo.s, so she writes her Iwok, "with no claims to professional exper- tise" hoping lo reveal "certain rock-like varieties ami hall- marks thai will enable interest- ed parents and admirers of the genre lo tnke not only chil- dren's books but some of the subtler aspects of childhood it- self more seriously. II i.- time attentive cars end eyes began to make value judgments con- cerning the worth and direction of our children's books." After so long on the fringe of the trade, why Mrs. L a n e s should disclaim 'professional Hooks in Itricl "Tears and l.nuglilcr" Knhlil Ciibran (Citadel rrrss, softback, 94 pages, St.n.'i dis- tributed hy George .1. Mc- l.cod VOU many Kalihl Gi- bran's The Prophet has found an appreciative reader- ship in the non-Arab world. Such persons will welcome this collection of prose and poetry written by Gibran when he was a young man. The concluding piece is a famous story about a mis'nkon marriage which the editor. Martin L. Wolf, in Ihe introduction, says was inslni mental in changing the mar riage tradition in Arab land.'.. except as a method of hedging her bet. one is not lo know, bul she docs fail short of her goal. The really stand-out "rock." variety or not that will remain in the writer's mind is her likening the results of Dr. S e n s s' anxiety-release techni- que to an "orgastic expe- rience." For pre-schoolers? Down (lie rabbit-hole, al- though apparently directed to the wider public of par-mis and admirers of Ihe genre, will read morn often than not, by profesMoiiab; teachers and school librarians, children's li- braria.ns in public libraries and others with a professional in- lerr-sl in children's reading. Mrs. Lanes' treatment of the subject will certainly disap- point most Canadian profes- sionals who have ready access to Shcilii F.golt's works on worthwhile reading for chil- dren. One doubts thai mothers can be conned into parting with nine dollars for this scries of lilrrary fragments li. D1CW. The student newspaper I first saw a university news- paper, I was a high school sludent, which probably accounted for an initial im- pression of tremendous journalistic sophis- tication. Time has tempered that extrava- gant view, and since then I've seen stu- dents' newspapers as being anywhere from a good thing to a necessary evil. But I have always been in favor of a campus having a student-owned-and-controlled ve- hicle for thought and opinion. Up until now. Since I arrived at this university, nearly four years ago, there has been a student newspaper. I would not classify it as a good student paper or a bad one; it's just a student newspaper. It has done a couple of good wit it has published more poetry, good, bad, and indifferent, than any other Alberta some bad things, just as all student news- papers do. At limes il has raised the hackles of some segments of lire local population by publishing material considered by them to be obscene. Some people have become deeply and quite sincerely upset about Uiis. f am not one of them; I don't happen to be sensitive about words At one time or an- other, I've probably run across every alleg- edly dirty word in the language, and I can't recall being upset by any of them, spoken or written. I'm just not impressed by the con- vention that says the word "spit" (under- stood by everyone) shouldn't be used in public, but that, "expectorate" (under- stood by about half as many) is a decent, proper word, good enough for any com- pany. (A pallid example, I dare say, bul anyone who can read will manage lo con- jure up one or two juicier examples, I sus- No, my turn-around on student news- papers, although it does apply locally, is not a personal thing at all. It amounts to the simple realization that this university can no longer afford the kind it has. This university has a serious financial problem this year, will have a worse one next year, and no guarantee that things will get better after that. There isn't a painless solution in sight, but how painful It wil! be will depend on two things: student enrolment, and the exlcnl to which the government will continue to bonus the southern Alberta university operation. For tetter or for worse, both of these depend on simple, old-fashioned, public opinion. Our recent information on factors in- fluencing sludenl choice points directly to parents as Ihe single most important In- fluence, not only on whether or not a stu- dent goes lo universily, bul also as to the universiiy he chooses. I've heard quite a lot of comnent from parents concerning our student newspaper, and it is Ihe one subject on which I have found unanimity; in three and a half years, I've not heard one favorable comment about the paper. Some comments have been temperate, many irrational, but ail have been disap- proving. If they could be averaged, they'd say something like "Tne university has no business allowing Uial sort of These parents are southern Alberta tax- payers, the people that our students listen to when deciding about university, and that our government will listen to when de- ciding h o w generous to be I o south- ern Alberta's university. If we are to alienate these people, it should Ire for good reason; tiie opportunity for kids to publish crap is not a good reason So, if I had the authority, I would simply ban lire tiling, immediately and permanent- ly. None of this one more chance" stuff. Those responsible for publishing this paper are aware of the situation in which the university exists at the moment They know Ihe details of the financial situation and of the enrolment situation; they know than anyone else, they factors influencing sludent recruilment One must conclude therefore, that what their paper does to the university Is delib- erate or uncaring That allows for no fur- tlier chances, in my book. So, without rancor, argument or the slightest hesitation. I would say "Sorry kids; your paper has become a sort of luxury item; whether or not we should have it doesn't really matter, because we jusl can't afford Did the ape descend from By Bjorn Kurlen Bjorn Kurten is professor at the Uni- versity of Helsinki and author of the forthcoming "Not From the Apes." r'AMBRIDGE Is man descended from the apes? Recently, it was still thought that our ancestors branched off from some- thing pretty close to Ihe gorillas and chimps, as late as the Ice Age. Now, for the first time, fossil evidence is accumula- ting on man's early origins; and as tiie pieces fail into place, a very differenl solu- tion is taking shape. We might even won- der whether it was Hie apes that descend- ed from man's early ancestors, rather than the other way around. Man differs from his nearest zoological relatives, the apes, hi three basic anatom- ical traits: his big brain, his fully erect posture, and his particular set of teeth with small incisors and eye-teeth. The big brain was Bie last to evolve; in fact our brain capacity tripled during the Ice Age. The up- right posture carr.e earlier, for the small- brahied humans of more than a million years ago were already fully erect. The human teeth are our oldest heritage; they can be traced back perhaps as much as thirty million years. Up to quits recently, the most primitive man-like being known was Australopithecus of Africa. He has been called an "ape- man" but this is misleading. True, his small brain and protruding jaws give him a superficially ape-like countenance; but this is just his primitiveness showing through. When you go to the details, Aus- tralopithecus is a man, with small front teetji and eye-teeth; his molars are bigger than ours but that is not an ape-like charac- teristic. Wlien did Australopithecus live? New dis- coveries have been pushing back his begin- ning date far beyond the two million years that is the slarting date for tne famous Olduvai Gorge sequence in Tanzania; and now, Harvard's Bryan Patterson has an- nounced the discovery of a jaw from Lotli- agairr Hill south of Lake Rudolf, in deposits dating back more than 5 million years. It is now evident that proto-men of Ihe Aus- tralopilhecus line existed in Africa for many million years. And as we trace them backward in time, they do not really be- come more ape-like. Instead, we find tile ancestral Rama- pithecus, which lived in Africa, Europe and Asia during the time range 14 to 10 million years ago; the African record may go still further back, up to 20 million or so. Still incompletely blown, this creature, the size of a five-or six-year-old child, a known to have had the small incisors and eye-teell) which suggest it may have given rise to Australopithecus. But in contrast with savanna-dwelling Australopithecus, lit- tle Ramapithecus appears to have been a denizen of the forest; and we may reason- ably suspecl that it still spent much of its time in the trees. What about the ancestry of Ramapitiie- cus? The bones of very early ape or man- like creatures have been found at Fayum in Egypt, where they were deposited moro than 30 million years ago by the proto- MIc of the lime. And here again, as in later times, are found two distinct groups. In one we see the enlarged eya-tceth fore- shadowing the condition in apes, in the other, the small front teeth and the em- phasis on molars which seems to charac- terize human origins. They look like minia- ture blueprints of tilings to come. The hint of a very ancient, separate origin of the human line certainly is there. Yet Uiere are obvious and haunting re- semblances between apes and men. In part Uiey certainly reflect a common heritage; but an important part is also due to parallel evolution during those 30 million years (give or take 10 million) that apes and proto-men have been distinct. This is cer- tainly true for such important traits as the relatively large size (early Fayum proto- types were no larger lhan a the lack of a Uiil (still present in Fayum the tendency to an upright pcsture (only semi- erect in the apes) and the highly developed flexibility of Ihe hand (still poorly developed some 15 million years Much remains to be filled in. But at least the real, historical evidence is now becom- ing available; and only in this way can the problem of man's origin be solved. The joke's on By Dong Walker AJA.IOR news that take place in the evening present problems for edi- torial writers of afternoon papers. They either have to go back to work at night or have their comments appear a day late. In an attempt to get ahead in the game, we decided on the day of UK Newfoundland election to write about the outcome in ad- vance. Margaret Luckhurst wrolc on a Con- servative victor.' and T wrote about a Lib- oral triumph and we left a note for the I.vposct.UT.s lo put whichever one was ap- propriate into print. As the evening pro- gressed it became evident that neither piece was appropriate so I had to phone to the night operators to throw out both writings. We might have enlisted Jane Huckyale to write on UK eventuality of a saw-off but she was busy anticipating that the Brit- ish government would vote to enter the Kiu'opean Common Market Anyway, lo bo honest, UK poffibilily of an inconclusive vote hadn't occurred lo 115.