Sunday, 19 July 2015

Reminiscences of a Military Brat - Part 12 - Moving on to University and the Military

In my last entry on this subject I opined about my final years of High school and my life in North Bay. The summer of 1974 was an important one for me as I had to sort out where I would go to university and if I would join the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP) or try to fund my own way through university. While I sorted this out, I spent the summer or '74 working and enjoying myself. I managed to get two jobs through the job centre. I first got a temporary job stripping and waxing the floors of a special school in North Bay. It was only supposed to be for a couple of weeks but when I finished, the temporary job, they kept me on for the rest of the summer, doing after school cleaning and general duties. I would show up around 3:30 Mon through Fri, just as all the students were being picked up by their parents, then spend the next couple of hours, cleaning the classrooms and bathrooms and buffing the floors. Not to strenuous but it was a job nonetheless. After this I'd head home for dinner and then a couple of nights a week, back to the base for the intersection fastball league as this was my last year playing for the teens.
This used to be the Continental Hotel
Luckily for me, the job centre offered me another job opportunity as a night clerk at the Continental Hotel (I'm sure that's the name of the place. It's now called Cecil's Eatery). I showed up in the afternoon one day, the owner was having lunch and a meeting in the dining room and she showed me the cash register and how to use it and then tried me out for an hour. She was pleased with how I worked and hired me. I worked 3 or 4 nights a week, the midnight shift and the Sunday afternoon shift. On my first night there, a Friday night, as I nervously walked up to the front door, the bouncer was in the process of throwing out some rowdy fella. I approached the glass door just as the bouncer was pushing this guys face up against it and then guiding him through. It wasn't a fancy hotel, as you can tell, mainly busy on Friday nights when they would have live music (I'm sure that one of the bands that played there was Heart, when they were first starting out, but it could have just been a band fronted by two other attractive ladies.)

Anyway, that was my summer, at times tedious, but I earned some money and started planning my future. I had applied to University of Toronto, Carleton University and on a whim, University of BC. I also went to the Recruiting Centre to look in to the ROTP. They had me fill out a bunch of paperwork, do some tests and then go up to the Base and have a full medical. I remember the doctor, as I was going through this medical. He started of by saying, ah, you wear glasses, I hope you don't plan on being a pilot. I replied in the negative. Then we did the colour vision test, which I failed and he then said, ah, I hope you don't want to be an Air Traffic Controller, to which I once again replied in the negative. Then the almost crushing blow to my potential military career, before it even started. "Did you know you have a heart murmur?". Cautiously, I replied, 'No, I didn't, what does that mean". Well, it could have been strike 3, I'm out, but for some reason, he let it pass.

Now the application I filled out gave two options on the bottom of the page; military college or civilian university. I checked off civilian university, as I had already applied for my civilian universities. In fact, I was accepted by University of Toronto, maybe Carleton as well, but my preference was U of T, especially as my brother Rick, who was stationed there and living in Military housing, said I could live with him and, his wife, Heather, while I got started. It all looked pretty good. I just needed to hear from the military about ROTP.

Royal Roads
Well, I did hear from them. I got a phone call one day and was told that I had been accepted into Royal Military College on Vancouver Island. Now this was a twist I hadn't anticipated. I thought about it for a few days or maybe just hours and was intrigued about going out West and getting to wear that fancy red and blue uniform and having a salary and my university costs all covered. But, on the negative half of the page, I was a bit sick and tired of school and wondered if I wanted to spend 40 hours a week in classes and then the rest of my spare time, doing compulsory military and other activities. So I was definitely leaning towards U of T and I phoned the Recruiting officer back and asked what would happen if I turned down Royal Roads, as I had been accepted by a civilian university. He said that it shouldn't be a problem.

So the summer moves on and I still haven't heard anything else from the Recruiting Centre and I'm getting a mite worried. I call back and the Recruiter who answers tells me, "Well, you turned down the best (meaning military college, of course), why would we pay for you to go through civilian university." Now I'm panicking and I tell him that if that's the case, then please let me go to military college. Of course, now it's too late to go to Royal Roads or Royal Military College, as the vacancies are all filled up. The only slim possibility is maybe if they didn't fill the Francophone quota at College Militaire at St Jean, Quebec, they might be able to give me a vacancy there. I ask them to check into that, please, but, of course, this also falls through.

So I'm back to square one. I'm going to University of Toronto, can afford to pay my tuition for one year and I can stay with Rick and Heather and their dog and I can hope that eventually the ROTP offer might come through. Now I don't remember thinking that I could also get a job while I'm in Toronto to help pay my expenses. I have this habit of flying by the seat of my pants and hoping that things will work out. Oddly enough, quite often in my experience, that has been the case.

At my very finest
So it's September 1974 and Rick and Heather and their dog, Nasha, have come to North Bay to pick me up and deliver me to University of Toronto. I say an emotional good-bye to my parents and younger brother. Mom was working at the Post Office, so we stopped there to say good-bye to her. There were tears shed, by me anyway; crying isn't really a Dumoulin trait. I now began my big adventure at University of Toronto, University College, entered in a Bachelor of Arts program.

More to follow.. :)

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