The story of my life (to date) would be incomplete without mention of several minor disasters. When I was seven, and was catching a ride home from school on a small tractor (McCormick Farmall-A) a series of bumps resulted in my finding myself on the left rear wheel and going down to what i thought was certain death; but I came to, lying on my back, just as the tractor came to a stop and the other eight, or so, occupants were coming to check on my injuries. I then walked home, being unwilling to get back onto that crowded tractor. My face had a nice clear imprint of the zig-zag cleat-pattern of the tractor tire, as did the shirt on my chest, but no such pattern was visible on my legs. The only medical treatment I received was a visit to the Trajchtmoakasche (chiropractor, feminine).
In 1970, I awoke, while driving, on the non-existent shoulder of PTH-59 on the outside of a curve, just in time for a wild ride into the bottom of the Seine River Diversion; a doctor in the St.Pierre hospital sewed my face back together, after it demonstrated that windshield-glass can cut.
One year later, Tom Fast and I were on our way to the U.S. Grand Prix in Watkins Glen NY, when my car met head-on with a semi near Bowling Green OH; we both survived, but we spent 15 days in Bowling Green's hospital, and we came home by Greyhound, with one wired jaw, one plaster-covered leg, and multiple cuts, sprains and bruises.
During 1980-81, I was married to, and living with, Ruth Reimer, who was born with that surname. The marriage did not last, as we each had a house, and it seemed that neither of us was willing to live in the others house. The marriage was not really a disaster, but the divorce proceedings which lasted until 86 had some unpleasant moments.
My place near St.Jean became a small island in the middle of Lake Morris, during the flood of 1996, and I traveled by canoe when going to town for supplies. Then came an even bigger flood in the spring of 97, which destroyed my house and shed, after I had moved out by boat. Helping me, first with sand-bagging and later with moving out, were Richard Tilley, Betty Siren, Sid Barkman with Bobcat plus half-ton, my father Peter, sister Iris, Ron Friesen with sons David & Jean-Paul & Matt, John Friesen, Ralph Unger with half-ton, Garnet & Betty Reimer with boat plus half-ton, Aunt Liz and Aunt Anne; also the Manitoba government supplied a boat. I later helped others with sand-bagging in St.Norbert. For several months I lived in Richard Tilley's basement on Jessie in Winnipeg, enjoying long walks with Richard and Betty to the library and to the Forks, as well as all the free stuff for us flood evacuees. I am still amazed with the generosity of Canadians during the big Red River flood of 1997. I now live with one cat in Winnipeg. (end of my disaster stories.)
When i meet Dietsch-speaking persons, especially those of my parents generation, the question "Na vonn woat von ne Reimasch kjemst du dann?" needs to be answered with the names of parents etc. I haven't had that question much in recent years, possibly because people of my parents age are not getting out much any more. [more genealogy]
I like to travel and to see other places and other cultures. In 1967 as a group of five teenaged boys, we went by car and tent to Montreal to see the sights of Expo-67 - the group included Hans Neufeld, Mike Penner, Rocky Kehler, and Sid Barkman who supplied the 55-Olds transportation. This trip has given us many delightful memories, and reminiscing about it still happens especially when I meet Hans.
In 1969, between summer job and UofM, Sid and I went on another "Reiz", using his Austin-Healy, taking in a sports-car race in Elkhart Lake WS, and places like Pikes Peak, Salt Lake City, and Vancouver. In Vancouver we met Clarence Giesbrecht (later Larry) and Waldy Thiessen, whom we knew from Steinbach MB. We used to hear Larry's voice on CKY, though he seems to have moved on, and Waldy, who was on his way to Japan, has apparently settled down there.
When working for Systemhouse, I learned that travel loses some appeal when done often. By February of 1994, I was again willing to travel for pleasure, and Sid and I went to Belize (formerly British Honduras), by aeroplane this time; where we found relatives at Spanish Lookout who were Dietsch-speaking Kjleen-jemeenda (some fallen-off, some not), went into Guatemala to see Mayan ruins at Tikal, went by bus to Orange Walk then by chicken-bus and thumb via San Felipe to Blue Creek where we "mennonited" with Rudna-weidna who knew somebody who knew Sid, then by chartered small plane to the touristy island resort San Pedro, and later by scheduled small plane back to Belize City. We saw a lot of wildlife, much of it at the wonderful Belize zoo. At San Pedro, we met several members of the British Air Force, who operate in Belize to prevent a Guatemalan invasion. Near Blue Creek, we sipped Mexican beer on a river bank, which was fetched for us by the ferry-man who poled a small boat between the Belizean side and the Mexican side of the river. We also sampled local beverages under a thatched roof at Elvira's in Cayo (called something else on the maps, possibly San Ignacio?) - one evening I was briefly alone under that thatched roof, and could enjoy the music made by the insects dwelling in that thatch. We observed a chicken-slaughtering operation near Spanish Lookout, visited the lumber sawmill owned by (?) Plett and David Reimer, with skidding by Levi Reimer, brother of David, and saw both the farm and the retail business of Alvin Reimer. The Reimer brothers are my second-cousins but Sid actually knew them from when they worked in Manitoba; whereas Alvin is Sid's first-cousin on the Mankie/Barkman side. Alvin had an intriguing energy-source on his farm: being adjacent to a fast-moving river, he had constructed a paddle-wheel-like device to harness moving water; the device floated, so the wheel was half underwater, and it was kept in place by wire-ropes to anchors on both banks; it could have driven a generator, but he just had it driving a pump, for irrigation. Such "free-flow hydro-power" is rather a cutting-edge technology [see www.nrdc.org/onearth/05spr/gorlov1.asp], yet this is the only example i've seen. Alvin was also pleased to tell us the source for the parts that went into the construction of the device; the short version: everything was recycled from the scrap-heap; one example: the paddles were former seat-backs from an abandoned movie-house.
In early 1995, I visited Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Holland with the "first annual" Delbert Plett tour to the homelands of the Dutch/Prussian/Russian mennonites. I remember the market and monuments of Kiev, the picture-postcard scenery of the Black Sea coast at Yalta, the thousand-year oak at Chortitz (Zaporozhye), the warm friendliness and excellent English of Nina Ploutalova in Zaporozhye, the overnight train to Moscow, the Kremlin, Red Square, Lenin's tomb, St.Basils, the Armoury, the building we saw so much of during that brief revolt (now repaired), the overnight train to St.Petersburg, the gypsy street musicians on Nevskij Prospeckt, as well as impressive museums and cathedrals. I remember the shockingly low price of tobacco and alcohol, the pleasant smoothness of Bulgarian brandy, how impressive the Russian & Ukrainian infrastructure was (streets, trains, subway stations and pedestrian underpasses), and how low the salaries and pensions were, especially in the Ukraine, though food prices were the same as here. I remember the ubiquitous root-cellar: an urban block of flats would have a front lawn dotted with root-cellar entrances. On the outskirts of a city, would be gardens with Dachas, for the urban weekend gardeners, and gardening here means food production. I remember the villages with fruit-trees and outdoor pig-sties, and a person fetching a bundle of straw, from miles away, on a bicycle; the public-washrooms were both scarce and primitive. The mennonite graveyards were sadly neglected, though in Europe generally graveyards are tended more meticulously than in North America. The flatness of the land and the native vegetation of the southern Ukraine was remarkably similar to the Canadian prairies - if i ignored the man-made things, it felt more like home than anywhere else I have traveled. I remember marvelling at a crew of uniformed Russian soldiers doing road-repairs with shovels, and the surprising part was that the men outnumbered the shovels by about three to one, so they took turns using the shovels, and the resters had nothing to lean on. During my early morning walk in Kiev, i observed a woman stop a large Mercedes in what was clearly a no-parking zone; as she was walking away from the car, a policeman yelled at her; she turned very briefly, gave a decisive one-fingered salute to the policeman, then she continued to walk regally, and the policeman did nothing - that scene was my biggest culture-shock. For a thorough report on this trip, with pictures, see Delbert's article in the HSHS newsletter Preservings: Preservings-HeritageTour95.pdf. For a different trip to much the same region, see Elfrieda Neufeld (mother of Hans) in: home.ica.net/~walterunger/Connecting.html.
In 1997, while I was homeless, my father and I went to Kansas. We visited "Mennonite Road" near Garden City where my father grew up. We met some people he knew from his youth, including brothers Ted and Art Friesen in Garden City; Alfred Friesen and his sister Ruth Friesen Isaacs near Meade, who had been neighbors on Mennonite Rd. (These Friesens are distant relatives, fourth-cousins or so.) In Meade, we visited three graveyards: my father's maternal grandfather Abram Poetger Reimer or "Braunte Reima" is buried in the north (EMC) cemetary, while his second wife is buried in the south (EMC) cemetary, and several people known to my father are in the central (EMB) cemetary. On the way back, we stopped in at Cole Camp Missouri, where people from northern Germany still speak "Plaut" or "Platt", (some of) which is understandable by a Dietsch-speaker. Cole Camp has an annual Plattdütscher Theoter (Low German Theater), which is mentioned on a website devoted to Nether Saxon languages like PlautDietsch and Plattdütsch. At breakfast we met Vernon Stelling who introduced us to local Platt-schnaker Leonard Browers and to Delbert Holtzen. We spent the afternoon touring other towns in the area with Delbert and his wife Luella, meeting some black-bumper mennonites as well as some horse-and-buggy amish or pennsylvania-dutch. The horse-and-buggy people were already visiting under the large shade-trees when we arrived - the weather was extremely hot.
In 2008, Doris and Peggy and I went by car to Inuvik, as told about under my Photos page.
I took up sky-diving in 1971 with the Parachute Manitoba club; and I made 2 jumps before knee injuries (from my 1971 car-crash) kept me on the sidelines for about a year, after which I never got back to jumping out of aeroplanes. I have dabbled with woodworking and once constructed the kitchen and bathroom cabinets in a house I then owned on Dorchester in Winnipeg (which was next owned by Sheldon Oberman, the writer). I have tried rock-climbing with the local Alpine club. I have been down-hill skiing in Banff and Steamboat as well as on the few hilly bits of Manitoba; cross-country skiing closer to home; canoeing in Manitoba, Ontario and Minnesota; hiking in the Rockies of BC, in the Smokies of Tennessee/North-Carolina, in the Sierras of California, and many places in Manitoba.
To contact me: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org