Monday, 26 October 2015

Reminiscences of a Military Brat - Part 17 (University continued and some summer activities)

University winding down (3rd or 4th year)
In my last entry, I tried to focus mostly on my last three years of university. Each summer in between I was sent off for either educational training or on-job training. For the life of me, I can't remember which summer I did which, but to the best of my foggy recollections, after my second year at university (when I learnt that Political Science was not going to be my main study program), my brother sent me to Canadian Forces Base Halifax, our main Navy base on the East Coast of Canada.
CFB Halifax Dockyard (It's changed a lot)
 I spent that summer learning how to be a Supply officer, working in the Base Supply Section as the Customer Services officer. Another officer cadet, a fellow logistician, Wayne Haggart was sent down there as well and worked in the Ration Depot. There were 4 officer cadets living in the same building behind the Wardroom (the Officer's Mess); Wayne and I plus a pharmacist, Gary, and a MARS (Navy type) officer, Roger. The four of us had a great time, travelling to Cape Breton Island to visit Sydney, N.S. and Fort Louisburg during the Canada Day weekend and spending most weekends wandering around the pubs downtown Halifax (I must apologise here for not having any photos of this portion of my life, but I can't seem to find that particular photo album. You'll just have to imagine it). Work was very interesting for me, my first real exposure to my future military career. My boss, Dave Blaney, gave me all sorts of responsibility and also provided me the opportunity to experience the social aspects of military life too. I learned of the Navy tradition of Weepers, basically their equivalent of TGIF. He and the other officers in Base Supply would gather Wayne and I on a Friday afternoon at lunch and we'd head off to one of the ships to spend time in the wardroom or we'd head over the Army officer's barracks for a similar Army style Friday afternoon. We usually managed to get them to let us spend the rest of the afternoon there as there was no point going back to work after a lunch spent enjoying a couple of ales, eh?

Halifax was a wonderful city. At the same time we were spending our summer there, there were also some young lady Navy reserve officers doing their summer training, so we used to go pubbing together, saw the premiere of the first Star Wars movie downtown. It made the summer go that much faster. The base was located in an interesting part of Halifax. From the base to downtown, you travelled down Gottingen, through one of the seedier areas in Halifax (at the time anyway). There were many evenings where we wandered by police cars with one person or another spread out over the hood being frisked. But, then again, we were fearless youngsters and tended to wander about with blinders on.

The downtown core was being gentrified and there were so many excellent pubs to go to on a Friday night. One of our favourites was The Privateers' Warehouse, which featured three levels and three kinds of music; rowdy down home music downstairs, more rocky on the second floor and jazzy on the third with a nice dining room. All in all, that was my favourite training summer. I learned a bit and got experience an area of Canada I'd never visited before.

Yes, I did date.. :)
I enjoyed my last two years of university the most. I dated a bit which was a nice surprise for me. I was taking courses that I enjoyed; mainly literature courses, which allowed me to spend lots of time with one of my favourite past-times, 'Reading'. I still have a few books that I purchased at that time decorating my bookshelves. As well, my time in Toronto was so much fun. I saw my first concerts there; the Electric Light Orchestra, JJ Cale, Harry Chapin, plus plays and the Toronto Symphony.

How do you like those slacks? (bottom left) Yup, I had style
Besides that, I had an excellent core of friends and when we weren't hanging around in the hallway (we did seem to spend an inordinate amount of time there.. lol), we were out on the town, or visiting friends who lived off campus. In my fourth year, as I mentioned earlier, I moved off campus, myself, sharing a place with Al Harris. It was an interesting experience, although I think we both ended up getting on each others' nerves by the end of the year. Having said that, we did make up and didn't depart on a bad note.

Home visits
Of course, it goes without saying that I did manage to get up to North Bay quite often to visit with my parents and younger brother, John. I tried to combine these visits, with times Rick and Heather went up; travelling by bus wasn't my favourite past time, but I did my fair share of that too over the course of my four years at university..

Basic Logistics Officer's Course on the road again.
After 3rd year, I headed back to Camp Borden for my Basic Logistics Officer's Course. This was not my favourite course; basically a rehash of portions of my Basic Officer's Training Course (meaning more military writing, public speaking 'instructor's comment - we kept waiting for you to rock that podium so far that it would crash to the floor', general service knowledge, etc. Combined with that was a basic overview of the Logistics classifications; Supply, transportation, finance, food services. There was a lot of information thrown at you but because you really had no frame of reference for it, very little sunk in. (Of course, I am speaking personally here, I may just have been a thickie).
BLOC course buddies
But, overall, it was an ok course. We lived at the Rafah barracks, basically in a co-ed situation, which was interesting and for the first time, had single rooms. (Small pleasures) The people on the course were all very nice and we got along very well.

I rarely spent a weekend in Borden (this was an ongoing theme when it came to my training courses at Camp Borden), either spending my weekends in Toronto with Rick or with university friends, or going up to North Bay to spend a weekend with the folks. This was definitely a more relaxed course than my BOTC course. There were at least two occasions when I  had to call the base up at midnight and let the Base Duty Officer know that I had missed my bus from Toronto and please advise my course officer that I would arrive a bit late for my Monday classes. The first time it happened, I anticipated the worst and basically received a shrug from my instructor. So it wasn't quite so scary the second time. Yup, I was still a bit of a slacker. After my summer, I was now considered a Logistics Officer (Basic) with no speciality yet. I went back to university to complete my 4th year. After 3 years, I managed to organise almost the perfect schedule; by Wednesday I was pretty well finished my classes and I could focus on spending time reading and enjoying 4th year.

Base Transportation CFB Cold Lake Alberta, circa 1978
Upon graduation, I found out where I was going to spend the next 3 years of my life, someplace out in Western Canada, at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Alberta. My message said Wing Supply, but that was a mistake, as I actually was going to Base Transportation. More on that next entry.

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