Category Archives: self-discovery

Memories of Loyalist College – September, 1982 – October, 1983

*Note: This is a special blog post written in honour of what would have been my graduating class’ (I didn’t graduate) 30-Year Reunion, which I am unable to attend.

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who decided she wanted to be a Broadcast Journalist. This was due, in part, to a much older ex-boyfriend who had done exactly that, and partly to an admiration for female journalists of the day such as Barbara Frum, Hana Gartner, Adrienne Clarkson and (*whispering) Pamela Wallin.

The application process was fairly straightforward: fill out the college application, and send it along with an audition tape (there may have also been an essay, but I’m not sure) and the application fee. I was lucky that my parents lived near Loyalist College…I was spared the whole student loan nightmare that many of my fellow students were subjected to (surviving on Kraft Dinner…aaack!). I was accepted, and started the course with about 19 other students in September of 1982.

At 21, I was one of the oldest students in our class. I felt infinitely more mature than the mostly 18 and 19-year-olds in the rest of the group! I remember feeling sorry for the kids who had come from the Maritimes…they were so far away from their families!

bj_lounge1_lg

Me and some of my Broadcast Journalism classmates…that’s me in the bib front blouse…

Within the first month, I had (unwillingly) earned a nickname: “Wendy Shoots, She Scores”. This was courtesy of our journalism prof, Phil R., who thought it was hilarious…he also teased Lisa M. mercilessly about being from Dingwall, Nova Scotia! I took a lot of flak from other students for my homemade tape recorder case…it didn’t occur to me when I made it that putting “Wendy B.J.” on the side in big letters might be a bad idea.

Classes that year were a bit of a blur (although I did go to them)…I remember the soporific quality of Len A.’s Broadcast Journalism and the Law class, and struggling to pronounce Russian names in Ken B.’s Foreign Language Pronunciation class. I was happy to get an exemption from Typing…I passed the test with flying colours…the test machine was a far sight better than the 1940’s Underwood I had learned on at home!

The school had its own radio station, which was staffed by the Broadcast Journalism and Radio Broadcasting classes. There were more than a few pranks played: one time, a fictitious story about The Flintstones was inserted into an unsuspecting newscaster’s copy. There was at least one instance of news copy being set on fire while the news was being read on the air (glad that wasn’t me!).

I was always nervous doing radio news…somehow, seeing the mike in front of me was intimidating! I always did well on airchecks though…my voice was naturally low, which I supposed made it easier for me than some of the other girls!

One of my favourite things was producing radio documentaries…I spent hours in the studio editing tape with a razor blade! I still have some of them somewhere…

The heart of our school life was the Radio Lounge…all the fun happened there! That was where my classmate, Steve S., got his nickname: he was playfighting with his cousin, Kent Mo. one day. One of the Broadcast Journalism students, Brad S., hollered: “Look…it’s “Chunk” Norris!” From that day forward, no one ever called Steve by his real name again.

Chunk was the oldest in our class at 26…he was one of the few students who had a car: a Mercury Comet, which became known as “The Chunkmobile.” A bunch of us used to bum a ride back into Belleville after school with Chunk…I was the only girl, and often ended up sitting on someone’s lap (I’m sure my mother would have been upset to know that I was usually not wearing a seatbelt!). Later on, the Chunkmobile became “The Vomit Comet” on account of the powerful smell that erupted one day and never went away, even though Chunk made his best effort to get rid of it…

Another fun part of Loyalist College for me was the “Pubs”: I loved music, and saw many acts live that I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to: Lee Aaron, Matt Minglewood, Murray McLaughlan, etc. I was probably one of the few students who didn’t go to Pub just to drink…

I spent a lot of time hanging out with the folks from the Radio Broadcasting classes…they seemed to be closer than my own classmates, and had way more fun! I went to several parties at various students’ apartments…I remember at least one Toga Party, Tequila Sunrises (didn’t drink them…just watched them being made and consumed), and dancing to Stray Cats rockabilly. There was the M*A*S*H* party on John St. where I started dating my (now ex) husband, Radio guy, Kent M. (we were introduced by Radio girl, Becky W., at an earlier gathering at the Doc’s Hotel).

One party stands out…it was the one and only time I was ever drunk in my life: this one was at Broadcast Journalism guys, Ed L. and Greg V.’s apartment on Front Street. Ed and Greg were two of my “Chunkmobile” buddies…the day of the party, I got dropped off with them at their apartment since I lived in the country and didn’t want to have to get my mom to drive me back into town for the party later. I planned to just “hang out” until the party started…Kent had to work that night, so he would come and join me after his shift was over at 11 p.m. We got to the apartment around 4. I remember somebody asking me if I wanted a drink. “Do you have any rye?” I asked. They did, but no ginger ale, which is what I usually mixed it with. Greg had gotten a large root beer at McDonald’s on the way home, and still had a lot left…he offered me the rest to mix with the rye. Stupidly, I agreed.

It was about 8 p.m. when I started feeling really sick…I spent the next three hours in and out of the bathroom. When Kent arrived, I was ready to get out of there. We had to walk several blocks to the rooming house where he lived…some of the sidewalks were under construction…my arms and legs were not cooperating at all! We went to Kent’s room, where I lay on his bed as the room spun around, and wished for either death or my mom to come…she came at midnight to take me home. Lesson learned…I never got drunk again!

Beside the Doc’s Hotel, we also liked to go to Dolan’s, and Copperfield’s. Songs like Laura Branigan‘s Gloria, Men at Work‘s Who Can It Be Now?, Alan Parsons Project‘s Eye in the Sky, and J. Geils Band‘s Freeze-Frame all remind me of that time.

When summer came, I went off to Ottawa for six weeks and did my internship at CFRA Radio. It was there that I got the first inkling that perhaps I didn’t have the personality to be a journalist…I was a basket case nearly every night…I was wrapped up in all the stories I’d had to cover…a lot of them were upsetting! I did get to see Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their visit to Canada though…I was told by my News Director to get some tape of the Princess’ walkabout. I was having difficulty controlling my boom mike in the wind…Diana was saved from a possible concussion by a burly RCMP officer swatting my mike away from her head! Needless to say, I didn’t get my tape!

The second year of our course was mainly television. I loved doing the newscasts! However, dragging heavy video equipment around to get stories was not my cup of tea, especially when it was very likely you could arrive at a venue with a completely dead battery pack! Editing videotape electronically was not my forté either…

In October of 1983, Kent got a job offer from a new radio station in St. John’s, Newfoundland: CKIX-FM…I was sure I couldn’t live without him, so I quit school and moved to the Rock (we were married less than a year later, and have two daughters together).

I’m grateful that I went to Loyalist College…it was the first time that I ever felt I “belonged” to a group…I was very much a loner in high school! I made many wonderful lifelong friends (including my future husband), and the skills I learned in our course came in handy later on in my writing/non-profit communcations careers. If it weren’t for Loyalist College, I would probably not be living in the Maritimes, my adopted home of the last 30+ years!

Have a wonderful reunion…wish I was there to see you all!

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Filed under friends, memories, music, self-discovery

A Getaway, Gorgeous Greenery, and A Get-Together…NEW POST!

Note: This is a post I started last Tuesday…I’m only just getting back to it!  Pretend you’re in the Twilight Zone while you’re reading, if that helps…

After a LOOOONG week at work, I was very happy when Jim picked me up late on Saturday afternoon for a mystery getaway he had planned for my 50th birthday on Sunday (the 17th).  I only knew that we would be away Saturday night, and back Sunday night, because we needed to travel to the Passport Office in Fredericton on Monday to get passports for Jim and I, and Anna and Hope (Devin and Brianna already had theirs).

Our first stop was Comeau’s, a legendary seafood restaurant near Pennfield, NB.  There was a bunch of people standing and sitting in the entryway when we arrived, so we amused ourselves during the 20-minute wait by looking at some of the items displayed for sale: toilet gaskets, aluminum siding, fishing licences, dulse, and date cookies were among them (Twilight Zone, remember?).  Jim had called that morning for a reservation, but Comeau’s doesn’t do those apparently.  The people coming in were quite a mix: a lot of old folks, a family or two, and some bikers who decided to do a takeout order when told of the 20-minute wait.  Almost no one was dressed up (except the biker chick with the bleached blonde hair, leather fringe vest, and the shiny bling on the pockets of her jeans). 

Finally, a table was free, and one of the two waitresses seated us (they never stopped running – I was getting stressed just watching them).  The menu wasn’t quite what Jim had expected either: he thought Comeau’s was a little fancier.  Pretty much everything was deep-fried…we opted to share the large seafood platter.  Neither of us could believe the plate we were presented with: it was stacked four inches high with three pieces of battered fish, 8 fried scallops, 4 fried shrimp, a bunch of fried clam strips, and a few French fries at the bottom of the pile – pretty good feed for the $24.95 they were charging for it!  We ate as much as we could, and had the rest packed in a doggy bag.

When we got back to the car, some thoughtful soul had left a half-consumed can of beer in the parking lot beside my door.  I emptied it (on the ground!), and left it on the picnic table in front of the restaurant…damn bikers!

Jim asked me if I wanted to know where we were going…I thought that would be a good idea.  “St. Andrews,” he said.  I love St. Andrews (technically called “St. Andrews by the Sea”)…it’s a lovely old tourist town in southwestern New Brunswick near the Maine border.

After another forty-five minutes, we pulled into the parking lot of the St. Andrews Motor Inn.  The man at the desk graciously upgraded us to a King Suite (Jim had booked a Queen Suite)…”It’s not very busy tonight,” he said.  Excellent!  We thanked him profusely, and explained this was the first time we’d been away from our four teenagers in almost two years!

Our room on the third floor was called “Kathy’s Suite,” apparently for a deceased woman who had managed the inn.  I hoped Kathy’s current accommodations were cooler than her suite…it was like a sauna in there!  We opened the windows, and then went for a walk in search of snacks, ending up at the Save-Easy grocery store.  We bought some bottled water, sparkling grape juice, chips, and caramel popcorn, as well as multigrain bread and some margarine for breakfast in the morning (our suite had a fridge, stove, toaster, and microwave).  I saw several faces I recognized from Saint John as we walked back to the hotel.

It was still hot in the room when we got back.  We sat on the balcony for a while munching our junk food, and Jim took some photos of the sunset.

On the balcony with my sparkling grape juice...

  

Sunset in St. Andrews...photo by Jim

 

View from our balcony in St. Andrews...photo by Jim

We finally went to bed…I was tired from working all day.  About midnight, Jim was still awake, and went downstairs to have a conversation with the desk clerk about the room temperature (I was snoring by then).  The hotel guy explained that the air conditioner was probably “iced up”, and recommended turning it down a bit.

In the morning, I showered, and then made us breakfast to eat on the balcony: leftover clam strips, scallops and fries from the night before, and multigrain toast.  Jim went down and snagged a couple of donuts from the “continental breakfast” provided by the hotel.  There was a prominent sign in front of our kitchen sink warning that dishes were the guests’ responsibility…a $25 charge would be added to the bill if they were unwashed.  So I washed them, not realizing that one of the wine glasses would break when I stuck my hand into it (luckily, it didn’t cut me).  I left an apologetic note…

We checked out, and drove to our next stop, the Kingsbrae Garden.  We realized right after paying the admission that Jim had left his camera in the car, so I waited while he went to retrieve it.  Even though it was early (around 10 a.m.), the temperature was already high.  We had dressed in cool clothing and applied sunscreen…luckily, it stayed rather cloudy and there was a bit of a breeze! 

As we toured the garden, there was a girl who was a dead ringer for Anne of Green Gables…beautiful red hair, porcelain skin, and even a straw hat!  I wish we’d thought to take a photo of her!  Here are some of the dozens of pictures Jim took in the garden:

A poppy...

 

Lilies...my favourite flower!Hens and chicks...

 

Calendula or "Bellflowers"...

 

A Bee on Hydrangea...

 

After about an hour-and-a-half touring the wonderful garden, we were melting in the 32-degree Celsius heat (about 90 degrees for Americans)…we drove back downtown in search of lunch, stopping at a small café the hotel man had recommended: the Sweet Harvest Bakery.  It was packed, but we were lucky to find a table for two.  We sat down and eventually the waitress came over with a handwritten menu (laminated).  It was a Breakfast Menu, but the food looked good, so we went with it.  I ordered the Potato, Onion and Cheese Frittata, while Jim went for a more traditional breakfast: eggs, toast, and bacon.  As we waited (and waited) for our food, we watched the people around us.  We overheard the couple at the next table inquiring about when the Lunch Menu started: they were given the lunch menu!  Oh well…we eventually got our “brunch”, which was delicious!

Potato, Onion and Cheese Frittata...taken with Jim's Blackberry...

After lunch, we checked out a few stores in St. Andrews, but didn’t buy much…most of them were tourist traps.  We inquired at the Information Centre about whether there were any old bookstores in town, but there was none.  We found a park and walked down to the water, hoping to cool off with the breeze off the ocean.  I would have loved to wade in, but there were thousands of tiny pieces of broken shells, which probably would have cut my bare feet to ribbons!

We left St. Andrews mid-afternoon, and headed in the direction of home.  Jim told me the kids had forbidden us to be home before six o’clock.  I assumed they were making a birthday dinner for me.  We took the scenic route, managing to stretch an hour-and-a-half drive into four hours: touring St. George, Dipper Harbour, Musquash, checking out fruit tree prices at a Garden Centre, stopping at Jim’s office in Lepreau, and picking up some meat and produce at Olsen’s in West Saint John.

We got home a little before six…I was surprised to see three extra cars in the driveway.  I knew Jim’s brother-in-law was coming over after supper to fill out paper work for Jim’s passport, but I didn’t know what the other cars were doing here!

The first thing I noticed when I came in the door was that the house was clean (no dirty dishes or dirty clothes to be seen, and someone had actually vacuumed!…Twilight Zone again).  The second thing was that almost our whole family was in my living room (all except Jim’s sister, who was away camping in Maine).  “Surprise!” they yelled as I walked in.  You could have knocked me over with a feather (a really BIG feather!)…

Devin was on the deck barbecuing hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages, and the girls had made salads (Jim’s mom and sister had brought salads as well).  There was a vegetable tray and various snacks laid out on the coffee table.  Elise was chowing down on as much caramel popcorn as she could get into her mouth (just like her Gramma).  Jake was howling outside, having been banished because he was behaving badly around the guests.

After supper, I opened my cards and presents, and then had ice cream cake: I was glad the girls had only put six candles on it…I had no trouble blowing them out!

My 50th Birthday Ice Cream Cake...photo by Anna

 Thanks to Jim and our family for a truly unforgettable 50th birthday!

An apology to my blogging buddies…it’s happened again!  I haven’t been around to visit…I hope to be back on track with my reading soon!  WM

 

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Filed under family, food, self-discovery, travel