THUNDER BAY – LINVING – Late in life, I had developed a subsequently discredited theory that I had scientific proof time did pass more quickly as we aged. I argued the transit from your twelfth year of life on this orb to your thirteenth represented one thirteenth of your life span. With equivalent logic I then posited that the leap from your sixty-fourth year to your sixty-fifth was one sixty-fifth of your rapidly aging life. With further brilliant deductive reasoning, I then further concluded with mathematical precision that to traverse one thirteenth of any measure would take a lot more time to traverse than one sixty-fifth of the same measure (remember we are talking about time and how quickly it travels), ergo time passed much more slowly in our younger years, much more rapidly in our doterage! As trivial as this argument may appear, it does remind one of how our younger years – the interminable school-year, the endless summers seemed to have lasted forever. The recollection of cherished memories almost immediately brings you back to a time and place so vivid that you can still feel how you felt!
One of the most cherished memories of the dawning of my teen years was the fascination my best friend Richard and I had with the American Civil War. The first five years of the 1960’s, was the American Centennial of that war and there was no shortage of information and memorabilia to whet our curious and eager appetites. You have to remember that this was well before the era of both Star Trek and Star Wars. Light Sabers were yet to become the weapon of choice and mind-numbing digital video games were still, thankfully, the stuff of future science fiction. Our generation had been “nurtured” on the Lone Ranger and Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke and Dragnet. The kingdom of the imagination dictated our every move. Richard’s garage and porch in the back of his house on St. Denis Street easily became our Marshall’s or detective’s office after school or during those wonderful, long summers of our content.
I can’t explain our fascination with that foreign war and it would only be much later in life when we would learn of its real horrors, of well over a half million dead and the arrogant evil of slavery and the scars which still inflict the psyche of the American social landscape. But back them in that dimly lit porch at the rear of my best friend’s house, it was all about Union and Confederate generals and their strategies, about Grant and Lee, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the chivalry of the old south and the same romantic trappings that had lured our fathers and their friends into other wars. In typical American fashion, Life magazine published a strategy game as an insert to an early 1960 edition and Richard and I were hooked. The outcome of our first game was decided by a coin toss which was a harbinger of things to come. I lost. Richard was a strategy master (after all he was one year older than me) and when he subsequently developed a more complicated and dimensional version of the Life game, I lost every one! But I remained undaunted and was deeply lured by the history of that time and place.
We became familiar with the centenary of every major battle in that terrible conflict and Richard, a voracious reader, would instruct me on both the duration and outcome. Many were the days when, with whatever regalia we could muster, and majestically astride our imaginary horses, we would ride off as generals both and scour the woods beside the train tracks or the golf course looking for the enemy. We had even organized a Canadian Civil War Centennial Commission and due to the stringent knowledge requirements for entry, we were its sole members! Those four years seemingly lasted forever and provided respite in an imagination which had been devastated by my mother’s death but two years before. I don’t think my best friend new the nature and depth of the oasis he had provided me.
I write this tribute, a tribute as much to memory and history as to my good friend Richard, on the 150 anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on that foggy, misty night in Washington on April 14th 1865. Arguably the greatest of US presidents his leadership and compassion still inspire, while his masterful conciliation strategies kept lesser mortals in tow. While my adult life has provided me with numerous opportunities to visit the Lincoln memorial and other battlefield sites from that era, nothing surpasses the memory of those long, youthful hours trapped in the splendour of imagination.
When I recently travelled through the fabled Shenandoah Valley, the site of many a Civil War campaign, I reflected with not a little melancholy on the marvel of 3-D history. Simultaneously, you are there making a little history in your own life, you recall the original events which took place there some 150 years ago, and then you look back 50 years ago when you had conjured up the geography and events and wondered what the valley must have looked like.
The four year sesquicentennial of that long ago war now seems to have traversed my life in but a few heartbeats. The years 2011 to 2015 have flown by. Proof enough for my mathematical formula which has enshrined the early 1960’s, those halcyon days and my good friend Richard in my memory forever.
Peter Andre Globensky