Uncle Orville Remembers Dad

This post is primarily for my nieces, nephews, and their various offspring. This is the text I read at Dad’s funeral. His brother (my Uncle Orville) was not able to fly in for the service. These are his memories of growing up with Dad. When I got home from Canada it got tucked away for safe keeping- and emerged as I was looking for something else.

I share it for two reasons; this is a part of Dad’s life you likely never heard about; I know I did not. I have no memories of Dad that bring ‘outdoors person’ to mind. The second reason is a reminder of my post ‘To My Nieces & Nephews’ from shortly after Dad’s service. In it I encouraged you to each talk to your parents, and their siblings, “as, well, real people” so that neither you nor your family miss out.

“No-one could ask for a better brother. From my earliest of memories, Jamie was there. Although he was five years older than me, he was always there for me. We were buddies who enjoyed doing things like washing dishes, lighting the stove fire each morning, raking leaves, cutting the lawn, chopping wood and running errands. Equally enjoyable were swimming, skating, skiing, snowball fights, hiking, baseball, building model planes & ships, and reading comics or Mechanics Illustrated.

“One morning in South Porcupine, the kitchen stove became so hot that the stove pipe caused a fire in the ceiling. Jamie called the fire department and together we used the Royal Albert fire extinguishers to put the fire out. Royal Albert extinguishers are fine bone china receptacles used during the consumption of hot tea. We used water!

“A new ten-cent mail order Crystal set let us listen to CFRB Toronto from Muskoka (Peninsula Lake(. Summertime was cottage time. My big brother took me for rowboat rides around a nearby island, fishing, catching crayfish, frogs, and fireflies. Each summer we had a ride on the legendary Portage miniature railroad. Life was fun and we shared our adventures together.

“My father returned to his duties each August. So we had no access to a car. When it was time for me to get a booster shot from a doctor in distant Huntsville, eleven year old Jamie drove my mother and I in our wooden boat, powered by a small outboard motor. Put-put-put we slowly headed out. After a long while we reached the canal connecting us to Fairy Lake. Slowly and carefully Jamie navigated the boat through the lengthy channel. When we arrived at the other end, the passenger steamship Algonquin was idling waiting to enter the canal. We had delayed the ship and some angry passengers hurled insults at us while we went put-put-put on our way.

“King George VI died in 1952. At the memorial service in the North Bay arena, Lieutenant-Commander James C. Lyttle stood in front of his naval reserve contingent. Nearby, in front of his army cadet contingent was Major Orville Lyttle. This was the way things were.

“Throughout the years Jamie was incredibly congenial – even while his kid brother went through the brat stage. We shared interests in radio, electricity, stamp collecting, sports, singing, camping and adventure. Buddies we were and now in memories, buddies forever.”

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