Monday, 5 October 2015

Reminiscences of a Military Brat - Part 16

In my last two entries, I talked about my first year of university and my acceptance into the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP) and also my first summer of military training (Basic Officer Training Course/ BOTC) at Camp Borden. Well, for the next three years I alternated between university and more summer formal training courses or on-job-training. For Part 16, I'm going to focus on the three years of university and in the next one, my next two summers of training.

Some things of note happened in my 2nd year. Firstly, my brother Rick became my University Liaison Officer (our watcher) and that was fun. The first year he worked out of the Avenue Road offices and then, if I recall, he moved back to the Base at Downsview. I've mentioned Avenue Road before, it was also the home of the Canadian Forces Staff College course and an old military site. I used to go up once in awhile for meetings with Rick and he also introduced me to Hand Ball and Squash as they had a court on the facility; great work outs. He tried very hard to make us realise that we weren't just university students, but also in the military. He scheduled a few Mess Dinners for us so we could be exposed to the more formal (but fun) sides of the military. One thing I learned from mess dinners at that time was that throwing buns during the guest of honours speech was not acceptable conduct anymore. (not that they didn't throw buns anyway). Also, there were many fun after dinner games, some involving two teams trying to go from either end of an overturned sofa to the other and finishing first, the other involving players balancing on empty wine bottles and trying with a broom stick to knock the other player off. Very mature we were. Rick also tried to ensure that my summer training was also fruitful. If I wasn't going on a course, he made sure I went someplace where I could learn more about my future Classification (that being the Logistics Classification)

There were no secret societies in our residence... lol
The second item of note that I discovered in 2nd year was that I wasn't suited for Political Science. I had planned to major in Pol Sci and in 2nd year I took five Pol Sci course and one History so I could complete my minor at least. Of course, this also coincided with my first full year in Residence, once more sharing a room with Chris Bradford, even though as 2nd years we could both have moved into singles. He was an easy roommate, albeit somewhat sloppy and spent lots of time away with his girl-friend so quite often it was just like having a single room. All that I had to remember was to push his dirty laundry under his bed when it started to spread to my half of the room. Anyway, back to Pol Sci. I started off 2nd year with six full courses, but by Xmas exams, I realised that I would have no chance of passing one of my Pol Sci courses and also my Spanish history course.

And why was that you might ask. A fair question. I was very much enjoying the social aspects of living in residence. Cody House was a very fun place to live; not Animal House fun, but just friendly and we did a lot. I've described this before, but the first floor was for the guys and the next two for the ladies. We spent many evenings just sprawled in our hallway, chatting, drinking wine and joking around. There were regular evenings of cribbage or backgammon, with snacks and wine/ whiskey. (Yes, I did enjoy the odd guzzle). Once every couple of months we hosted Friday night dances that were very popular on the campus. We started a Bridge Club and spent many Fridays, thru early Saturday, playing Bridge and just shooting the shit. And I did find that I wasn't totally oblivious to the fairer sex and did manage a couple of very serious (to me) relationships. There always seemed to be something going on and what ended up suffering was classwork. When it got to Xmas exams I realised that I had maybe attended 3 or 4 classes only in my courses and that Spanish History and Canadian Public Policy had to go. That meant picking up a couple of half courses (both history) for 2nd term so I could at least make my five credits. (Needless to say, my University Liaison Officer was not best pleased. Especially when my poor marks were compounded with me missing a couple of Friday night events he arranged for his students)

Ah the annual Xmas brunch in residence
So as I say, thus ended my plan to finish off university with a Major in Pol Sci and maybe a minor in History. What I ultimately ended up with was a Minor in Pol Sci and maybe a minor in English as I switched paths in 3rd year and started taking English. This suited my needs much more readily. I basically spent all my time reading; Canadian Literature, Classic Lit, Science Fiction Literature, and watching movies; my Film Studies Course. It was much more enjoyable although most likely useless for a career in Politics.  It was so much easier to get into a routine; read the book by mid- week, write up a book review or whatever by Friday, then spend Sunday at the main library in the typing room, hashing out an essay (yes, no laptop computers then, just your old-fashioned electric type writer.) I will say that my marks improved greatly with this program shift and it still enabled me to comfortably take part in the social aspects of university life.

Funny how many people got locked in this closet. lol
In 3rd year I moved across the hall into a single room and in 4th year I moved into an apartment with one of my pals from residence. 4th year was a bit stranger; living off campus meant that life revolved more around the apartments of those of us who had moved out. I still had friends living in residence and still spent time there, but more often that not our functions were off the campus, at friends' apartments or at pubs and restaurants. It was a fun time for me, an experience that I would not change for anything. Having said that, with the moves I've made over the course of my military career, I have lost touch with pretty well all of those people I spent so much time with at university; something I regret but have learned to live with. It's become a common theme in my life at least. I don't know how other kids who grew up in military families found their lives, but for the most part I did find that while I made many friends over the course of my life as a military brat, long-standing friendships have been few and far between. I don't mean that as a complaint, just a fact of life.

My 4th year roommate
At the end of 4th year, I obtained my Bachelor of Arts from University of Toronto and found myself moving on to Cold Lake Alberta for my first post-university job. Before I get to that, however, I'll get into some of the activities I got into with the military during my summers between 2nd and 3rd year and between 3rd and 4th year.

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