Mailbox caveat

29 Aug

I sincerely hope the lead item in last week’s column didn’t send you off in a frantic search for one of the fancy new mailboxes I mentioned. For those of you who missed it, I was commenting on a new mailbox I spotted in Glengarry. Thin and vertical like the wall-mounted boxes one sees beside the doors of suburban homes, it had a slot at the top in which to drop mail and a locked access panel below. However, the box I spotted was mounted on a pole.

Out of curiosity, I consulted Canada Post’s Rural Mailbox Guidelinespamphlet. It clearly states mailboxes must have an opening of at least 7” in width and height, and an interior compartment of at least 18” in length. If the mailbox is cylindrical, it must have an opening of at least 10“ in diameter and an interior of at least 18“ in length. Furthermore, “mailboxes must have a door located in the front, with a sturdy handle, lip or flange. They must remain open while mail is being picked up or delivered, and be able to open with ease and close securely.”

Despite the possible protestations of those at both ends of the political spectrum, this is still a freeish country. So there’s nothing preventing you from installing one of these new-fangled mailboxes. However, if you want your mail, you’ll have to drive to your nearest post office to pick it up.

Maintaining memories

One Sunday in Dunvegan’s liturgical calendar that can always be counted on to draw people from near and far is the Annual Memorial Day Service and Luncheon. This year, it will be held on September 2ndat 11 AM. I’m still trolling through back issues of the Glengarry News to see if I can determine definitively when this tradition was established. However, I believe it was sometime in the 1930s or 40s when concerns were raised about the state of the church’s graveyard. An increasing number of stones had toppled over and the problem was getting worse every year. And so Memorial Sunday was born, along with its special collection earmarked for the maintenance of the graveyard. It was, and still is, a time when people with families and friends interred at the Dunvegan church gather to celebrate their loved ones’ memory. As always, a light lunch will be served in the Church Hall following the service. Among the joys of living in our hamlet is that of passing the churchyard the Monday after the service and seeing the grave markers festooned with flowers.

May the best candidate…

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Dunveganite Louise Quenneville has tossed her hat into ring and is seeking the position of Councilor-at-Large in North Glengarry’s upcoming election. While there are other contenders for this position — and I will examine their platforms carefully — at this point, I am leaning in Louise’s direction. Yes, she lives in Dunvegan. However, my endorsement is not based on geography. In my opinion, her passion and professionalism would be a definite asset for the Council. However, I suggest you visit her web site and decide for yourself:

As an aside, I wondered where and when the “hat in the ring” expression originated. One researcher suggests it entered our lexicon in the 19thcentury. He found a reference in an 1810 issue of The Mirror of Taste, published in Philadelphia: A young fellow threw his hat into the (boxing) ring … He then walked round the ring till a second hat was thrown in, and the umpire called out, “the challenge is answered.”

McKenzie King and me

Dumpsters are usually a sign that someone’s moving out… or doing renovations. So when one of the big metal boxes appeared outside Ronna Mogelon’s place at Fiske’s Corners a few weeks ago, I admit I was curious. Nosey me asked, and it turned out that neither of the usual scenarios applied. Ronna’s sister Marcia was visiting and the two of them were combing through the boxes their late father had stored away for a future day. (Back before gigabyte hard drives and the digital Cloud, this was the way Alex’s generation preserved memories.) The time had come to edit the collection down to a more manageable level. Hence the big metal trash bin.

To their delight, the two sisters discovered suitcases full of wartime love letters to their mother Lila. Suitcases. Plural. I’m guessing Alex would have taken to texting like a duck to water, given the body of work he generated staying in touch with the love of his life. At the time… the war years… Lila was a radio operator with the Ottawa Monitoring Station. The top-secret site was located on the Experimental Farm because of the lack of surrounding buildings and the absence of electrical noise. Part of her job was intercepting German messages that were then transferred to the code breakers at Bletchley Park in London. Amongst the collection of letters, Ronna and Marcia came across the following typewritten ode to bureaucracy entitled Vital Statistics.

Population of Canada                              12,500,000

People over 65 who can’t work               -3,200,000

   Left to do the work                                9,300,000

People in the Active Service                       -600,000

   Left to do the work                                  8,700,000

Children under 18                                     -4,100,000

   Left to do the work                                 4,600,000

Dominion government employees           -3,000,000

   Left to do the work                                 1,600,000

Provincial government employees            -1,580,000

   Left to do the work                                       80,000

Zombies                                                        -79,998

  Left to do the work                                                2

That leaves McKenzie King and me. He is always down in Quebec coaxing the French vote or off at some meeting with two other silly dopes and I’m fed up doing all the work myself.”

I did a bit of digging and the headwater of this irreverent account appears to have been a December 5th, 1944 column in the Toronto Evening Telegram called “How Thomas Richard Henry Sees It.” Thomas Richard Henry (Tom, Dick and Harry, get it?) was the nom de plume for long-time columnist Robert Webber. And if you, like I, were puzzled by the reference to zombies, “The Walking Dead” did not start out as a wartime radio show. Zombie was the pejorative term for draftees… men who didn’t volunteer for active service overseas and had to be conscripted.