Also in Cold Lake was one of my roommates from Basic Training, Jim Dunstan, working now in the Base Dental Section. Jim had the neatest cars, a Plymouth Road Runner and also a Mazda RX-7. And here I was, still walking downtown. He drove me to Calgary one weekend, so I could meet up with another old friend from my Halifax time, while he went on to visit his family in Lethbridge. This was my first time in Calgary and I also managed to spend a day at Banff, enjoying the scenery and the Hot Springs. One of the neatest things I recall from this weekend, was the change in climate as we went from Northern Alberta (-10 degrees or more Fahrenheit) to Calgary (sunny and mild; it was Chinook season).
During my time working at Base Transport, I worked both as the MSEO (for most of my stay there) and briefly in the other officer's position, that being the Base Traffic Officer (responsible for movement of all Cold Lake personnel across Canada, movement of the furniture and effects and also for cargo movement to and from Cold Lake). I preferred the MSEO's job, but both were very interesting and a great start to my military career. I had a crusty Major, Pete Vetra, as my boss, as the Base Transportation Officer. The one thing I learned from him was, "If you are making making mistakes, you are making decisions. Just don't make the same mistake twice." Words to live by. He trusted his two junior officers very much, let us have all the responsibility we wanted and was always willing to stir things up if we asked him. I fondly remember him and our Master Warrant Officer (MWO) 'Moose' Breitkreutz squeezing into my small office when they were bored, both smoking cigars, asking if I had anything for them to do.
You have to remember that this was before we all had desk top computers, I add as a preamble to my next comment. One of my favourite sections in Base Transport, and this is probably due to my love of lists, was the Maintenance, Planning and Liaison cell, ran by one Corporal, Mike Parr-Pearson, and a civilian. In this small room across from my office, all of the vehicles we managed (over 100) were tracked and controlled. The walls were covered with large bulletin boards, carefully lined and blocked, listing every single vehicle we had, who owned it, how it was controlled. Mike pulled them in for maintenance, moved them around the base to get best usage of them, all those sorts of things. I know it seems boring, but it was such an important job. Especially when the team came down from headquarters in Ottawa to review our establishment and make sure we could justify each and every one of them. Preparing the books for each vehicle, engaging all of the sections to come and meet the team (who were there for a week) and explain why they needed what they had or why they needed more, was a big job. We still do that, but I don't think bases get the visits and oversight from HQ, as we did back then. The meetings were quite fun. One of the members liked to jog at the end of the day and was impatient to get out, so we quickly learned to slip in the oddball requirements in then for approval. We were pretty successful with that.
OK, enough work stuff, although, I have to say, it was such a great job, it's hard not to expound on it more. One last thing I recall with pleasure. On many Fridays, after lunch, the boss and the Administrative staff would gather around the orderly room in Transport. One of us would bring a bottle of something, whiskey, Caesars, whatever, and we'd spend the afternoon, having a couple of drinks, joking, chatting. It was a great way to finish off the week and to head out to the Mess for TGIF.
As I mentioned earlier, for my first year or so in Cold Lake, I didn't have a car. So to get down to Edmonton, I either had to rely on friends or take the Inter-base Bus service the base in Edmonton and them make my way downtown for whatever weekend activities I might be attending. There was also a commercial Grey Hound bus service and the other option was the Dakota flight from the Base to downtown Edmonton. We had one left over from WWII, I guess, and it was used for hospital runs to Edmonton once or twice a week, but if there were seats available, you could catch it as well. Early morning departure and make sure you were at the municipal airport for the return flight. I used it to meet my appointments to get my Officer's mess kit tailored and my first new suit make. In the winter, the people in the last two seats, closest to the passenger door, were given blankets to keep warm, due to the draft that blew in. It was an old plane.
I did finally buy my first car. It was a black 79 Pontiac Sunbird, 2-door, hatchback. I purchased it on one of my trips back home and drove it back to Cold Lake. It took four days to get back; North Bay to Sault St Marie; Sault St Marie to Thunder Bay; Thunder Bay to Regina and then to Cold Lake. My first big car trip. The car only had an am radio and driving north around Lake Superior was booooorrrrinng. I think I managed to pick up Radio Wawa for awhile and sometimes an American station that skipped across the lake. But I had a car!!
|The boys at home for Xmas '78|
|The folks enjoying Xmas, checking out new books and relaxing after Xmas dinner|
|The boys again (that was my Cheryl Ladd poster by the way)|
|A visit from Chris and the kids|
|With my cousin, Laurie Lee|
|My trip to the West Coast|
|Maybe Lake Louise?|
|The touristy things, Butchardt Gardens|
|The Mountain shot|