Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lost Families – Abdikarim Ahmed Abdikarim is gone

The headlines screamed at me, “Murder Suspect freed: ‘It’s like he died again.” Below the title of the front page article is a photo of a woman weeping. I gulped when I looked at the headline and also read the story. I feel their deep grief. What can we do to let these folks know that we care?

Abdikarim Ahmed Abdikarim is gone. He was 18 years old when he died on March 14, 2008. Two security cameras caught his assailant firing shot after shot into him. The shadows covered the murderer’s face – just enough that this past week the Crown Attorney had to let the suspects go free. Everything points to their guilt – there is not enough hard evidence to convict them. So they are free and Abdikarim Ahmed Abdikarim is gone and the Abdikarim family has been destroyed.

The Abdikarim family came to Canada from what I have gleaned in 1989. They joined us to make Canada better. Knowing a little of their country of origin’s history – I am assuming they came to be safe. They came to enjoy a life that would be free of oppression.

I have had flash backs as I have followed this story.

We lived and worked in Scarborough, Ontario one point in our lives. We were right in the middle of the horror that was developing. I witnessed the ethnic hatred between people groups from afar. They not only brought their suitcases filled with what little “home stuff” they could bring along – but often brought their ancient hatreds. This was not done intentionally – it just happens. It is part of family unfortunately.

I have watched so many tears fall in the court hallways as young boys are trapped with their parents in the Canadian Maze of justice.

The Abdikarim family have been there in their new setting. Their son is gone… and now the killer is not known.

Most Canadians will be now waiting for the next headline of the next Big Story. The Abdikarim family are not waiting – they are reliving and reliving and never moving on… at least for a long, long time.

The Abdikarim family is a victim of crime. And with that simple knowledge WE AS CANADIANS – need to be aware. No it is not Victim’s Awareness Week – some time set aside to think about them. This is every day – every week – every year – from now on.

I will think of the Abdikarim family a lot in the days to come. I will pray for them and not forget Abdikarim.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lost Families – School Disaster

It is dangerous to write about this today. Mainly because I may not know the whole story at this point – or worse yet I (we) may never know the whole story.

The main characters I point to now are “Joan” and her son “Nick”. There is also another parent/teen duo given the names “Barry” and his son “Mark”. (all four whose names have been changed)

Nick and Mark are part of a group of five students that have been suspended from a local high school for wrongful things they supposedly have done – one the main ones is using and selling drugs.

Yesterday’s local Newspaper – The Peterborough Examiner, February 26, 2009 has reported that Joan and Barry have both hired the services of their lawyers to help find out what has happened in their son’s situations.

The local School Board has been involved now along with the leadership of the student’s School, PCVS. They are not making any statements now.

Andrea Houston, the Peterborough Examiner’s reporter states the following…
Quote ~
“A legal battle has been launched in Peterborough over the powers of Ontario's Education Act versus the rights of people under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a case that left five students expelled from school.

At the centre is a Peterborough mother who is upset at her son's school, PCVS, because she says it investigated an off-school party incident and searched backpacks and a cellphone, which resulted in several expulsions.

While the public school board says it has the authority under Ontario's Education Act, the mother's lawyer says those powers violate personal rights and freedoms.

The dispute between the board and family that started in December will be the subject of an appeal hearing on March 2.

Let's start from the beginning with what the student's mother says happened.

Joan knows her son smoked pot.

She even knows he sold a $10 bag of marijuana to a friend at a party a couple of months ago.

But when her 17-year-old son was expelled from PCVS in December, she felt the school had gone too far”. ~ end quote
(reference to this article is below)

The events that are reported in the Newspaper took place in two places from what I can determine. One was at a party on a weekend – no where near the school – where Nick sold a $10 bag of marijuana. The other took place in the Vice Principal’s office – where it is alleged that the VP had a Cell Phone of one of the students. The VP(staff?) found names of students on that phone and then forced them to confess to their “crime” or the staff person would call the police. The person made this statement while their hand was on the telephone – indicating/suggesting if the student didn’t say/tell what was desired the police would be called. No parent, no lawyer no support was there for the student.

There is no report that the police were involved. It was staff and student(s)… then school board… and an expulsion from school. Four students received one level of expulsion from PCVS and one received an expulsion from all schools in the school board area.

I really don’t have this clear yet. Andrea Houston did her best to help readers like me know what was going on. I am still confused.

But I am not as confused as the teens must be. Good or not good students – they are out. They are losing school time and the help that they need. I am not sure here – but it is an educated guess – they likely are not the shining example of top students – yet they could be the next potential level of “lawyers” or even “future clergy”.

Six families have been deeply affected. Of that six, four families affected more deeply. Of that six one family and one student – very deeply – with no school that will receive him at all.

I am a grandparent… and I think, “What if this was one of my grandkids?” I am deeply concerned for these kids and their families.

It is not the first situation to be concerned about…
A few months back a student was issued a warrant for his/her arrest by a judge in one our courts – because the student failed to appear to answer why they had not attended school.

The school board and school leadership had taken this drastic step working with the court officials to get the student and family’s attention. They got the Newspaper’s attention as well and the population or our city as well.

Some local students interviewed reacted as well. They thought it was ridiculous.

I am not inferring that it was the PCVS School that was involved in this arrest warrant situation – but the school board was. They apparently backed the actions taken as did the court system pointing out that it is their duty to make sure that every “child” gets an education.

Today Nick and Mark along with four others must wonder where it changed.

Now I know teens can be “knuckle heads” (a really old term from my high school days that some of us were called by our teachers). But are they redeemable? Is there any hope at all?

Andrea Houston mentioned “Joan” and her son “Nick” – but there was no “Mr. Nick’s Dad” mentioned. So what is the real story?

I deeply fear there are more potential families that are lost. They are “Lost” in the shuffle of RULES, Legislation, and Policy. They are Lost and Broken… now because of what has happened… add the word “discouraged”.

The School Board will “listen” to them in the first week of March to at least two families with their lawyers. There are not only questions about the School Board ruling but also about the Education Act and its new rules and powers. Then add to that ONE HUGE problem that appears to have taken place – Canada’s precious Charter of Rights has been possibly broken by the School and School Board action.

Before this is sorted out – Five Students will lose their school year – unless there is an outright miracle. Five families will have LOST their momentum forward.

In Andrea Houston’s article she mentions that she spoke with Rusty Hick, “superintendent of schools and operations for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board”.

A Few Years Ago…
I met Rusty Hick just after I conducted a funeral a few years back for an older man in our community. Along with Rusty I also met with a predecessor to the present principal Ms. Dinise Severin.

The older man that I conducted the funeral for had died in a tragic way beside PCVS High School. Students from PCVS were constantly smoking in his yard, in and near his driveway. When he pulled in one day to his driveway an altercation took place with angry words. There was some pushing and physical contact. The man had a massive heart attack and died on the spot in front of the stunned students.

I took part in a public forum following that tragedy. Rusty had invited me to take part in the forum – kind of representing the family of this man (I assumed).

The tension at that meeting was great. Students had strong opinions. Community had very strong opinions. Staff looked for answers.

Unfortunately there is another controversy for this great High School now. And IT WILL HAVE AN AFFECT ON ALL THE STUDENT BODY. From what I know Ms. Dinise Severin has accomplished amazing things at her school. The students at this school are amazing as well – I know some of them! They don’t need this now.

A Deep Reflection for me…
Earlier I stated “…yet they could be the next potential level of “lawyers” or even “future clergy”.”

A long, long time ago in Central Collegiate Institute – (CCI), in Regina, Saskatchewan, three guys were studying for their finals of their Grade 12 Exams. Two of the guys slipped out of the study session to get some fresh air. They saw the third guy’s car out front and slipped into the front seat. One guy found a pair of small scissors in the glove box and used them to pick the ignition lock. The car started easily. The other student proceeded to drive them around the block a few times honking the horn and burning rubber. Later - together they parked the car in the same spot and returned to their studies. Their friend found out and was very angry at the time.

The friend told his mother. The mother called the police and the police visited the homes of the about to graduate Grade 12 Boys with an announcement was presented of potential “car theft” or “joy riding” charges to be laid over the next few days.

Their marks were not the best entering that study session. Now they were likely going to fail entirely and could be in court soon – and/or worse.

I was the guy that picked that lock. I sat in a car that made lots of noise and had a ball – for a little while. I was part of a class of potentially good students that just were having way too much fun.

All of us graduated. There were no charges laid – an apology given – and that car owner is still a good friend and doing well.

Of the entire class of Grade 12 students… one or two of us became ministers, two or more are University Professors, at least six became lawyers(some of those became politicians), and mixed with that were at least that many doctors, teachers and successful business men. These were great years in High School – BUT all of us did some really STUPID things.

I tell this part of my story in my early retirement – so that you will know I care for Nick and Mark and whole lot more.

~ Murray Lincoln ~


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lost Families - Religious Abuse
So what would you do if your kids disappeared? What would you do if you never were able to see your grandkids again? Of what if you never ever saw your grandkids – you know your children have kids – but you have never seen them?

On the other hand – later in life this new family will age. These grandkids will grow old and have health issues of their own – with the possibilities of these health issues trailing back to grandpa and grandma – the people that they have never met.

Kidnapping is a horrible thing. In most countries it is treated with immediate responses from police forces. It is a parent’s worst nightmare. One can only imagine the horror of the sudden loss of your kids.

What I am writing about is worse – it is not kidnapping in the sense of the law. It is “familynapping” – whole families disappearing from sight and sound – ripped to pieces by someone or someone-s that you know nothing of. Your kid is there one minute and gone the next – never to be seen again.

What kind of monster could do this kind of thing?

I want to make it clear with this post – there is a growing group of religious whacko-s in our country. They are extremists to the max. They are dangerous in that they split families down the middle. They think they are interpreting the Bible in their actions – but they could never be more wrong. By doing what they do they have destroyed generations of relationships.

Real Scenario One…
My friend has been active as a pastor, evangelist and church leader over the years. He is just a few years younger than me. He is still active in ministry today. But he has a huge hole in his heart and family.

His only daughter fell in love with a young man. The young man was from another denomination but a fine Christian man. They were delighted with this dating and also with the growing relationship. The kids married. There was no sign as to what would happen next.

Suddenly they were informed that their daughter would no longer have anything to do with her parents. It was her decision – they were told. Her deep love for her husband was without question. He on the other hand took issues with her father the minister. He had a different interpretation of the scriptures. Accusations were made about her father’s control over her life and that this control was a form of spiritual bondage. The new husband would now offer his new wife all the guidance that she would ever need. They would no longer be over or ever have any contact with her parents! It was over.

Yes – this is true! It is a “spiritual kidnapping”. It is from the Pit of Hell. I could never condone what has been done in the name of Jesus! Jesus help us! God help us! Some one help us… PLEASE!

This minister and his wife will never see them. There are also grandkids that they have never seen.

Their “son-in-law” however connects with his parents all the time. So the grandkids do have grandparents.

But there are no laws against this kind of spiritual abuse.

If this was in an Islamic Country under a very different set of rules, rites and laws – you would expect it. But this is Canada and the USA. It happens hear and now… and more and more.

Real Scenario Two…
The couple are friends of ours. The lady is soon to be 80 years old. Her husband has been suffering different ailments for a number of years. Together we attended the same church and I was directly involved with their kids over a number of years.

Their oldest daughter perhaps more than all the youth I had in the youth group was deeply dedicated to her parents and God. She graduated from Nursing as an RN. She also attended a theological school as well. She then met the man of her dreams. They fell in love and married.

You can now repeat the same story over as Real Scenario One – above. Right down to words used and actions taken. But the geographical areas are vastly different involving Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.

Our friends are without their daughter for many years and have never seen two grandkids – EVER. Attempts by her siblings to make contact and talk with her were treated as suspicious and disallowed by her husband.

This ongoing… today… not the early 1800s… not witch craft days… not some spooky era when a monster like Hitler was loose. This is 2009 – and the freaks roam and destroy families – without any opposition and no legal interference.

No these are not the Nutty People with multiple wives and children from one man… Not “Bountiful People”…

These are from Pentecostal and Baptist and other Evangelical type churches. They are from respectable families and things are done from respectable family/community members.

And they are dangerous – very dangerous.

One common thread…
One thing that is the same is also is the spiritual fervour and zeal. These new young fathers are into the prophetic realm. They get messages from God. God doesn’t speak to the rest of the world like he does to them. They are connected – DIRECTLY to the Throne Room of God.

In one setting I attended a little while ago I watched the husband of the young lady from our youth group work the crowd. I had not expected that he would be at the function we were attending.

Yes he “worked” the crowd. He went from people group to people group in the audience and spoke words over different ones.

In our quasi Pentecostal world we have had this kind of abuse for many years. Little men become Big Men with the use (and abuse) of God’s power – or so they say it is.

He has firmly established himself as “voice of God” for a whole group of people that listen with captive minds to “what God would say to them”. This dude is a modern day side show.

This dude also kidnapped a young lady that was close to her dad and mom… too close for the dude’s liking – now they are gone.

Have you ever wondered why some people stop going to church? I certainly understand.

God help us all!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Book of Treasures

As I turned the page of the old book slowly the feeling that gripped me was amazing. “That was so long ago…” came to my lips.
The words read…
“Remember and bear in mind
that a faithful friend is
hard to find and when one you
find that is good and true
exchange not one of the old
for one of the new”

~ written by Susana Shilling

The date at the top was Jan the 3, 1916

It was 93 years and 53 days ago that my Great, Great Grandmother penned these words in my Grandma Emma Kirkpatrick’s old Autograph Book. Emma’s brother gave it to her at Christmas 1915. The book is just over 94 years old!

On the second page was another hand written note by Benjamin Franklin Kirkpatrick…“Remember me you may you must
As long as you can bite a crust
But when a crust you cannot bite
Forget me if you think it right
B. F. Kirkpatrick
Truax, Saskatchewan April th 21=1916”

My mom has shared this book with me over these past few days.

It all started in our senior’s group of Thursday afternoon, at “New Friends”. I asked if any of the seniors remembered the old autograph books that were used – and if they had ever had one. The entire group knew immediately what I was talking about. Everyone used to have an autograph book in which they collected the treasured words of their friends.

The autograph book that I am holding was given to my mom by her mom, Emma Kirkpatrick. As mom let me look at it I noticed something special, on each page my mom has attached sticky notes to let us know who these folk were. My mom is the only link we have left to these distant relatives and the slipping treasures of our family. At 88 her memories of these special people is as vibrant as if it was yesterday.

On the page where my Great Grandfather B.F. Kirkpatrick’s hand written note appears my mom attached a note… “Written by my Grandfather – died before I was born – September 8, 1918 a few years after my parents were married. My parents were married April 29, 1916" The Autograph was written just 8 days before their marriage.

That is something I didn’t know! I remember the stories about Charlie and Emma’s wedding(my grandparents). There was a short trip to a friend’s house and their honeymoon in that house.

I fear that there are tons to stories that are untold and will remain that way forever. And except for an old autograph book that is a family treasure now… it will slip away.

Fast forward to now…
My grandsons and granddaughter come over to be with grandpa. We talk about what they are doing now. I see them growing so fast. I hear what they are doing and hear of their latest computer games. We are in a buzz most of the time when we are together. But I never tell them the stories. The stories are going slowly into the “unimportant and too busy” zone.

But someday they may want to know…

How will I tell them of all the joy and the happiness of my life time? How will I convey the depth of the words that I have used? Will they catch the failures and see that I was so human and so weak at times? Will they be able to related with all that I have lived?

Oh – I hope so.

Benjamin Franklin Kirkpatrick was a young father when he dreamed of leaving his home area of the rich farm land in Iowa, USA. He walked into his banker one day and explained the possibilities that were before him in Canada. He could purchase rich farm land in a place called Saskatchewan, which was located just north of North Dakota… three states north of where he lived. The banker encouraged him by giving him a loan and a promise that if he needed more money he was simply to let that banker know.

B.F. Kirkpatrick loaded his family, his machinery and equipment that he needed to homestead in southern Saskatchewan and then traveled north by train.

What a colossal effort that must have taken. What a huge change that was for the family. From the rich and rolling country side of Iowa, completely surrounded by huge trees… to the super flat Saskatchewan prairie – with next to no trees… Can you imagine the transformation?

That is only one of the stories that captured my attention in recent years as I drove that one last time to Truax, Saskatchewan with my mom.

Back to the Autograph Book…
Christmas 1915
“There is a wish within my heart,
Though we today are far apart
It is the Prayer “From every care
God shelter Thee where Thou art.”
~ Your Father
Mom’s note with this page was special…
“My grandfather ~ August Christian Henry Schleede (age 64) ~ learned English speaking and writing after moving from Germany to America”

August Schleede was a head waiter in a very fancy restaurant in Hamburg Germany in the 1890s. It was a very good job and one that would keep his family well. For some reason they decided as a young family to move to the USA – southern Texas to be exact – prior to that first horrible war with Germany. The children couldn’t speak English either so get on their feet they all worked in the cotton fields – my Grandma Emma as well.

From there a few more moves took place including a few years in California where August owned a huge Peach Orchard. The harvest produced tons of Peaches that simply were thrown out. Everyone else’s orchards also produced tons of Peaches and there was no market for anything. A great idea/opportunity – but a very bad time – they lost everything. From California they went to Oregon and then to Saskatchewan.

What a heritage to have! What treasure to keep!
This small autograph book may be the right moment to capture the rest of the stories. It may well be a new book. Someone has to tell the story… Oh boy – where do I start?

Thinking of your family today… what is your story? Who will write it? Oh boy – where do you start?

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Images That Don’t Go Away

So with a few words the image sticks deeply in my mind. If it is an odd picture – it sticks better and for longer. On this cold February day try this one out…

“Wedgie used to hold down suspect"
"SALT LAKE CITY - It took a wedgie and a headlock to pin down a man suspected of breaking into a car in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Yvonne Morris, a technician at the Brickyard Animal Hospital, says she chased a man who broke into a co-worker's car, but he kept squirming away from her. Morris eventually grabbed the man's boxer shorts and pulled.

Salt Lake City police say she then she put a headlock on the man until help could arrive.”

I don’t know about you… but for me that is hilarious. Yvonne could easily have entered WWE wrestling events with that cool move. A head lock and real good wedgie of the boxer shorts. (For some that have never witnessed this kind of action… the “Wedger” grabs the back section of the waist band of the other person’s under wear and pulls upward hard and fast…producing a “Wedgie” on the other person.)

Or try this one….
“VERNON, B.C. - Members of the Vernon RCMP detachment in British Columbia's North Okanagan are used to seeing crooks hauled through their doors.

But they aren't used to seeing a suspect dragged in, almost by his ear, after being corralled by a small, irate woman furious about the theft of her pickup truck.

Mounties admit they had trouble keeping straight faces as they rescued the suspect from his captor early Friday morning.

The woman says she was sitting in a nearby car, waiting for her truck to warm up, when the man jumped into the pickup and sped away.

She followed in the car and, when the suspect realized he couldn't shake his tenacious tail he ditched the pickup - a block away from the Vernon RCMP detachment.

That's when the truculent truck owner collared the man who, it turns out, was not sober.”

She is not very big, but she is some upset! The dude had no idea what kind of day he would end up having the day that he messed with this little lady.

What an image to store. Headlock, wedgie and wild older lady….

But then there are images that are actual photos that stick deeply and produce amazing feelings.

For example this photo of the Koala Bear receiving help from a firefighter. My heart was stirred with reports of this fire in Australia and the reports of the animals that were killed by the thousands.
Next I offer this photo of a dog trying out for the position of a Mascot. I love spaniels and this one is a great photo example of character.
The fact that our minds keep the images for a long time after they are brought in is the amazing part of the ability that we have been given.

Last week I sat with a group of seniors and reminisced over some old days. I asked them what their favourite game was when they were a child. At least half the group remembered the game called “Jacks” – then described the little red ball, the shiny steel(or black) Jack, and then went on to explain how to play it. As one lady spoke the others grinned at her description – they were right there with her as young hands grasped each Jack and a red ball.

We also went on a ‘favourite vacation’ spot and as they began again to share the places that they had traveled to at one point in their life. Sandy beaches, warm sunshine and people they had met. The memories came from all over the world. Sand on their toes and warm water around their ankles… Wonderful memories, with the images that come back so powerfully to reaffirm us – are there all the time.

On this cold winter morning can you remember the hum of that miserable mosquito that was able to follow you indoors last May? Can you remember the smell of the marigolds that grew along the path – and the soft wet felling of their flowers when you touched them?

Images that don’t go away are my close friends.

I praise God for the ability that he has given us to remember. How about you?

On this cold winter day… why not make a list of the wonderful memories. Do you remember the first time that you held that baby – maybe your own – or someone else’s? Do you remember when that little hand held yours?

So many wonderful images… so very many!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Monday, February 23, 2009


Money is tight. That is what we have all heard. It is on the TV and it is in the newspaper – so it must be true.

The price of houses is down – somewhere – so it must be the same here for me.

Times are tough… sort of… well maybe…

People still want their stuff.

My wife enquired about a product(and I think she bought a gift too quite a while ago) from the Bradford Exchange – which then brings a catalogue to our home regularly. It kind of gives you an idea of what people are wanting now.

I have shown one of the products that caught my eye. And I will file it under “I cannot imagine who would buy this”. An Elvis Cuckoo Clock!!!!
The script in the catalogue and also on the web site states…
Can it really be 40 years since Elvis®'s historic '68 Comeback Special? Now, a collectible Elvis Presley cuckoo clock pays tribute to the undisputable King of Rock 'n' Roll™! Elvis appears at the start of every hour to sing a part of one of his four timeless hits - "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel," "Blue Suede Shoes" or "Jailhouse Rock."

Enjoy Elvis for all time with this limited-edition Elvis Presley memorabilia, available exclusively from The Bradford Exchange. Showcasing famous Elvis images by artist Nate Giorgio, this cuckoo clock is crafted of solid wood with artist's resin attachments and a gleaming brass pendulum bearing Elvis's replica autograph. A whole lotta demand is expected, and you won't want to miss out. Order now!

Did I read that right? Elvis will sing at the top of the hour, one of his four timeless hits to mark the hour - "Hound Dog," "Don't Be Cruel," "Blue Suede Shoes" or "Jailhouse Rock."

I cannot imagine why you would want this… except you may be over 65 and stuck in the deep past. Maybe you need a pilgrimage to “Graceland” where you will be able to….
"Get "all shook up" with the ultimate Graceland tour, which takes you inside Elvis' beloved mansion, through two museums, aboard the king's custom airplanes, and much more! The Platinum Tour includes an audio tour of the Graceland Mansion, where you'll hear an informative narrative, family memories from Lisa Marie, and commentary from the King Himself. Tour eight rooms of the main house, including the famed 'jungle' den, the racquetball building, original business office, and the trophy building. You'll go on a self guided tour of his two custom airplanes, the Hound Dog II and the Lisa Marie, commonly referred to as the "Flying Graceland." And for those looking for a sentimental time of remembrance, you'll have the opportunity to visit and place flowers upon Elvis' final resting place in the Meditation Garden."

It seems that people are now considering less long holidays with the money being tight – but rather considering fixing up the old estate by getting more stuff.

One local shop owner stated that people are now fixing up their homes and buying things they would not normally buy to make a “holiday at home” better.

Buying a 72 inch High Def TV will cost less than a trip on an Ocean Liner… and you can watch the activity that happens on the ocean liner from your lazy boy chair.

So the reasoning behind the Bradford offer… buy the tacky clock… and you not need to get all the way to Graceland. You can’t get to Elvis and his Shrine… but he can come to you – and EVERY HOUR sing a dumb song to you.

Recession fever… is real. When people catch it they do funny things. Now if I can just carve a Wooden Elvis Clock or something “Elvis—ee” I would make a fortune… maybe adding a few rhinestones would help too.

The fact of the matter is we likely couldn’t afford to buy the big vacations and the stuff before… anymore than we can do it now… not much has changed. It is just that we woke up and found that we should be directing the money that way now… and instead of giving the money away to someone else – buy something for yourself… NOW!

One strange thing is that “we” idolize a person like Elvis that lived in excess all the time. From what I know of Graceland it was the ultimate of Excess – and Elvis died because of his Excess.

Recession? Or is it Excess-ion?

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kingston's Cold Gray Tower

I awoke early on this cool day. It is still winter nothing has changed since last night. But the day was colder still as I looked across the road at the tall, imposing gray stone tower that stands to the side of one of the main thorough Fares of Kingston, Ontario.

I asked someone what it was and the answer was simple, “Hanging!”

No kidding? – yep – Hanging!

As you look at it closer the design is something special. There are windows – or at least at one time there were windows. Now they are covered in. The stone work is very unique and would have been completed by experts in stone masonry of their day.

It sits just north of the old and infamous Women’s Prison building in Kingston. It is also just a short distance north up the road from the famous and ancient Kingston Prison ground – or KP as my other friends know it.

On Friday February 13th I had written about Peterborough’s Last hanging.

This Gray Stone Tower sparked another thread of thinking as I stayed so close by – literally across the street from where it stands quietly as a reminder of our gruesome past in Canada.

(Perhaps as some of my American Readers that follow this Blog – there will be some extra thinking going on – in that a number of your states still carry on the practice of Capital Punishment – the Death Sentence)

The information that I share here was hard to find. I was searching for information on the Cold Gray Tower standing alone in Kingston as a testimony to our past… but found nothing. But what I did find was an amazing. Please read all of the article related to the link below – “capitalpunishment”.

I point to one man referred to in the article… Arthur B. English. His was also known as “Arthur Ellis”… and was a cousin to a man that used the name “John Ellis” in England.

The quote from the article tells the story better…
“1865 – Arthur B. English was born in England. He was the cousin of England’s official hangman John Ellis. Arthur English became the hangman in the Middle East and South Africa. English then became the Official Executioner for the Dominion of Canada in 1913. His pseudonym was Arthur Ellis. He officiated at 549 executions. He died in 1938 and is buried in the Mount Royal Cemetery, Quebec. Arthur Ellis continued to be the pseudonym of the Canadian Executioner until the last execution in 1962, and abolition of capital punishment in 1976.” – end quote…

Can you imagine… he attended to 549 deaths by hanging. In the Peterborough Story of the last hanging in our city – he did that one too. As the official “Hangman” for Canada… he traveled everywhere to do the “job”.

Quoting the article again…
“1867-July-01 – After Confederation, the Dominion of Canada’s Department of Justice kept the record of names, dates, and places of 705 executions in Canada until the last two on December 11, 1962 at the Toronto ‘Don’ Jail. Two of the first hangings after Confederation in Ontario were John Hoag in Walkerton, and Ethan Allen in Kingston.”

That is 705 people(known and recorded) killed with a sharp stretching of their neck. “Arthur Ellis” watched it happen 549 times. Do you suppose that he had a rather difficult time with his “dreams”? I do.

Something needs to be known about hanging before I go further with this thought… quoting again the article as it told of Canada’s early Hangman – John Radclive(Radcliff)
“1890 - Canada’s executioner was John Radclive (Radcliff). He held this position until 1912 when he died. His one contribution to the "science of hanging" was the construction of a gallows that had a rope go over the top beam. One end of the rope was fastened around the neck of the accused and the other end held an iron weight (350 lbs.) which was dropped thus yanking the victim off the ground and dislocating his neck, resulting in instantaneous death (a technique affectionately known as the "jerk'em up gallows").”

The article shared also…
“The new technique was not a success for Radclive, as Birchall (Oxford County Jail) died of strangulation 18 minutes after the weight fell because the "drop" did not dislocate his neck. Radclive discarded his invention and went back to conventional hanging. Radclive died in Toronto in 1912 from excessive drinking after hanging 132 persons. He was one person who used his real name when acting as executioner. He used the alias of Thomas Ratley for his social life.”

Enter Arthur Ellis…
“1913 - With the loss of Radclive in 1912, there was a need for an experienced hangman for the Dominion. Arthur English, an ex-English army officer serving in the Middle East as an executioner was unofficially approached by the Canadian government to move to Canada.

English came from a family of executioners who worked in England for almost 300 years and whose uncle was then an official hangman in England under the pseudonym of John Ellis. English accepted the offer and moved to Montreal where he took the trade name of Arthur Ellis after his uncle.”

When he did the hanging there was a problem. He had continued to use the practice used by Radclive – dropping a 350 pound weight – the jerk-em up gallows.

The article states these gruesome thoughts…
"1935 - Ellis’ last hanging was done at the famous Bordeaux Jail in Montreal on 28 March 1935. Ellis had been called to Montreal to execute Leon Gagliardi, Angelo Donafrie and Mrs. Thomasina Sarao after they were found guilty of killing Nicholas Sarao in an intricate insurance scam.

Ellis was now 71 years old and had either assisted at or performed over 600 executions throughout his career in England, the Middle East and Canada. He was a master at his trade, yet this hanging would be his last because of a disastrous set of events that had him boycotted from further hangings. It seems that when Ellis went to weigh Mrs. Sarao at the Women's Jail he was not permitted access and had to be satisfied with the weight handed to him on a piece of paper. Based on the weight given to him Ellis calculated the length of rope needed to break Mrs. Sarao's neck.

On the morning of the hanging Mrs. Sarao walked to the gallows some 32 pounds heavier than what had been scratched on the piece of paper and when she plunged to her death the extra weight supplied enough force to decapitate her. It was not the first execution in which Ellis had miscalculated the condemned person’s weight.

On August 25, 1926, Ellis was called to carry out the execution of 240 pound Dan Prockiw at Headingly Jail. Prockiw, a former real-estate owner in Winnipeg, had been convicted of the March 18th beating death of his common-law wife, Annie Cardno. The drop was too much for Prockiw’s heavy body and the result was it jerked his head right off his body.

However because it was a woman that was decapitated, the execution of Mrs. Sarao marked the end of Ellis' 22-year career as Canada's "Official" Hangman and it effectively ended the practice of allowing the public to attend hangings. Ellis died three years later in his hotel room in Montreal. Although open public hangings were discontinued since about 1869, members of the public could still acquire a pass to attend a hanging inside the jail walls."

Did you catch that Mr. Ellis was 71 years old when he did his last hanging – the disastrous one of Mrs. Sarao. He died 3 years later in a lonely hotel room.

Back to the Cold Gray Tower in Kingston. From what I can gather (and perhaps have read between the lines to gather) the tower was built make the Hanging less of a community show – which people from all around gathered to see. The Cold Gray Tower was perhaps the first demonstration of humanitarian effort in our country.

Personally – every automobile accident that I have attended – being often the first one to help had left a deep mark on my memory. The same is true of each death that I attend as a Hospital Chaplain. You never forget.

I can feel pity for “Mr. Arthur Ellis” and his family.

Away back in my early days in Walkerton, Ontario and my early involvement with that jail, I met one of the guards that had attended the last hanging in that jail. That man was never the same after that job of “witnessing”… he drank himself to sleep to sooth the misery and nightmares that he had.

As I stared at the Tower for a long time… I was very quiet… very quiet.

I wonder what God thought at each of those moments of finality – when someone said, “May God have mercy on your soul…”. Perhaps it should have also included… “and May God have mercy on our souls as well.”

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Excellent Source – A MUST read

Friday, February 20, 2009

“Today I toast happiness”

Brightening a weird day is sometimes all I need. This kind of weather and season needs some brightening around me – and I am sure that you have the same sense.

Let me start with some silly stuff… you likely have heard them before…

  • "Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law." ~ Hubert Humphrey

  • "Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do." ~ Ronald Reagan

  • "Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder" ~ anon

  • "I can see clearly now, the brain has gone" ~ anon

  • "I am nobody - Nobody is perfect - Therefore, I must be perfect!" ~ anon

  • "Some people say that one's personality is reflected off of their car... Well, I have no car." ~anon

  • "I'm gonna live forever, or die trying." ~ Joseph Heller

  • "Committee - a group of men who keep minutes and waste hours." ~ M. Berle

  • "A friend is someone who's there when he needs you" ~ anon

  • "Sure there have been injuries and deaths in boxing - but none of them serious" - Alan Minter

  • "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on" - Samuel Goldwyn.

  • "What's another word for thesaurus?" - Steven Wright.

  • "Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet." Mark Twain.

  • "Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

  • "Love is temporary insanity curable by marriage." - Ambrose Bierce

  • "You're about as useful as a one-legged man at an a** kicking contest." - Rowan Atkinson.

  • "If toast always lands butter-side down, and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast on the back of a cat and drop it?" - Steven Wright.

  • "I can resist everything except temptation." - Oscar Wilde.

  • "If at first you don't succeed... So much for skydiving." - Henry Youngman.

  • "The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans are suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you." - Rita Mae Brown.

  • "I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally." - WC Fields.

As we drove away from the problem we began to laugh. It started as a giggle when we remembered how funny the lady looked. It broke into a full laugh when we thought of how foolish the man beside her looked. Then we bean slapping our legs as tears poured down our face as we thought of what happened next….

One of the best reasons that I know of that explains my lack of belief in Evolution is that no animal I know or have ever met… laughs.

But then again when you join into the world that you are part of – and no one laughs… your are either with animals… or some really impossible people.

Come on brighten up!

Yesterday at a Senior’s group I belong to – called “New Friends” people laughed and giggled the hours a way. They were fun to be with.
Some had religious background others have never been inside a church (at least for a long time) – yet they were happy.

“Today I toast happiness”. I appreciate a good giggle. I long for a hearty laugh.

Now if you have nothing to laugh at … look in a mirror… that is what God sees… and really… it is funny…very funny the way he put you together… and the fact that someone loves the one in the mirror… that is not only funny – but a miracle.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The unique sign hung in the very creative shop and jumped from the wall. Its statement was very powerful after what I had just been through. It said, “Home is where the Story Begins”

I had just witnessed the initial steps of a family making contact with each other. A Dad was allowed back into his sons’ lives – and it went okay… in fact it was excellent.

On Wednesday morning early we left on a four hour drive through a snow storm trying to meet an 11:30 AM appointment at the Children’s Aid Society office. This was the last step after months of preparation and planning for this meeting.

Huge questions loomed for me as I drove my friend to this meeting. Would his former wife be able to drive the distance that she had to through this storm as well? The meeting place was not near the homes of either party.

Would the reception be tense and expressions of anger develop because of the past? Would the children even talk let alone look at my friend? There were hundreds of questions – because of the past and the present…hundreds. This was a four drive one way and another four hour drive home. Will it be worth it all?

We arrived at 11:45 AM – fifteen minutes late – after getting lost in the small town and directed to the wrong location.

Before I tell you what happened, let me share a small thumbnail sketch of the past. The sign said, “Home is where the Story Begins” This is never more true than with this family.

My passenger riding with me is a former Federal Prisoner. He has been in prison for almost 2 and half years. His sentence was 4 years for his crime but he was released in less time than he was sentenced to because of his personal problems. While inside of prison a tumor began to grow inside his brain. It is life threatening. He was considered for a “Compassionate Parole” and was granted his freedom upon the condition that there was somewhere/someone in the community that could take care of him. Peterborough Community Chaplaincy(PCC) was that group.

I am a volunteer with PCC and a friend of this former Federal Prisoner – now known as an ex-offender. His crime has left a permanent and indelible mark. There is no doubt about that. That mark is not only on his life as short as it may be, but also on the lives of four sons and his wife. It also has marked and separated all of his own family(mother and siblings) with the shame of what he did and community embarrassment. When he came from prison he had no one… not even a doctor to help him toward the next crisis that looms with a brain tumor growing.

PCC and its volunteers have grown into a new family for him. His parole officer Bill has supported and cared for him like few would have. He truly lucked out with this support.

Back up three years…
The crime committed happened at home. No one really knew until a fateful night when the police arrived to arrest him. From that minute on his life changed forever. I doubt that any of you as readers could imagine his first jail cell experience that first night. He was a well known community person that people were proud of. He owned his business and loved his kids & wife. No one would have any idea that he would be a potential “bad guy” living and working near them. From one minute of being loved and respected to the next – hated because of a crime.

His boys were sound asleep and knew nothing of their father’s arrest that night. They were young, handsome kids ranging from 12 down to 7 years old. They had an older brother that was 19 as well.

When they woke their dad was gone. Anger, frustration, fear, - there are a million thoughts that might have taken small boys when their father suddenly disappears in a night.

The older kids understood I am sure. The younger ones likely would not have. With a community as small as this one they lived in… everyone knows everything. And that community includes school mates. I am only imagining what these sons went through over these past 3 years.

But remember with me there is a mom who was also a wife caught in this tragedy as well. One minute everything was smooth and family… and the next it became a nightmare. I can only imagine how her life changed after that knock on the door, the police arrest and the stillness of her home mixed into her personal shock and horror of what had just taken place.

Days, weeks, months and then years would seal the fate of the family. It would be and was broken.

Crime does that in such a tragic way. If people considering their potential crime could only hear these stories that are so real… they would never go near what they may be considering… NEVER! But that is an “if only”.

As we walked toward the CAS office my friend’s steps were very slow. He drags his right foot slowly, every step is an effort. The walkway was long and slow. Up ahead were his three sons waiting for him. The last time they saw him he was a vibrant man – full of life and love for them. Now he is a broken and unhealthy man with a tumor growing that may take his life. What will they think? What will happen? It was very quiet as we walked toward the meeting room.

The CAS worker opened the door for us. Before he could say anything the boys jumped up and cried out “DADDY!” and the hugging started. The first one to greet him was his 15 year old. The second group was his two youngest. Then his former wife and her friend greeted him too.

I left the room for a while to retrieve his gifts for his sons from the car. I also left to cry a little and blow my own nose. This was one of the most powerful meetings I had ever experienced. All my questions were answered in a heart beat. All of my personal fears were swished away with one word, “DADDY!”

It was a very good first meeting with their dad. It lasted from 11:45 AM until 1:30 PM – every second counted. When it was over we were beginning to plan for the next one – should it be allowed and be able to happen with the help of CAS.

We left at 1:30 PM and arrived home at 8:40 PM. Slow driving, poor road conditions, lots of snow plow trucks and a few places to stop for coffee… filling every minute with talk and savoring of the minutes that we had together.

As a side benefit my wife had made a new friend with his former wife – and they have much in common.

My friend has some difficulty with his speech at times. The tumor makes his speech slow and words are at times hard to retrieve.

In the car on that long way home, he reached over and touched my shoulder. He said, “Thank you. Without the two of you helping me today this could never have happened. Thank you so much.”

I am thankful for Peterborough Community Chaplaincy and its plan to love everyone. I am thankful for Dan Haley, our Community Chaplain – without him none of these steps would have ever have happened. I am thankful for a GREAT Parole Officer Bill.

And most of all I am thankful to God for allowing me to be this close to see the miracle of Grace and Mercy that he is working in this family.

I think God giggled yesterday when he heard that one word…. “DADDY!”

~ Murray Lincoln ~
PS – Yes… I have photos of all that happened… but you can’t see them. At least not right away. Sorry!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Common Sense? Yah right!

( Photo of a Good Lung)

I first heard the story last evening on the news. A driver in our area was charged because he was smoking in a car with a child present. The whole event happened when a policeman spotted an adult driver smoking while driving and noted that there was child in the car.

The driver received a $155 fine for that smoke.

Since January 21, 2009 any driver in Ontario caught smoking in a car with a child present will be fined.

When the media first carried the story of the new law I remember thinking – so who is going to police this one? How many cops are going to be watching every car on the road for drivers that smoke and are smoking? Will they be watching for the hand with the cigarette in it, the lips with the weed hanging from it, or the familiar window rolled down just a bit? How will they know?

In Port Hope, Ontario, Sgt. Bryant Wood became a cop to be remembered because he was the one that pulled over the offender, Mr. Troy Ashton for his smoking.

Now the reason that the event became an event was that as the cop was giving Mr. Ashton his ticket for smoking, the “child” got out of the vehicle that Mr. Ashton was driving and lit up a cigarette… the “child” was 15 years old.

In Ontario, 15 year old children can smoke all they like. So can 12 year olds and 7 year olds or any year old – of their own free will. BUT it is illegal to purchase or sell tobacco to a person under 19 years of age.

Now something is really goofy about the rules/laws.

If you drive by any high school in Ontario at break time/lunch time you will find masses of teenagers(CHILDREN) clustered in large groups just at the edge of the school property SMOKING! Sometimes groups of teens I have viewed reach upwards to 35 kids clustered together. In winter time the cluster is closer as it is freezing cold – summer time it is further apart.

Recently as I drove by the school at least 15 kid were standing together puffing. That meant there had been at least 15 sources of the cigarettes (or maybe one) that had broken a law.

(Photo of Lung Cancer)

The January 21st law made sense and was sold on the grounds that the innocent child that cannot make a decision about what air they breath. They are forced to inhale with the adult as they puff away. Second hand smoke is the target and it has caused problems for everyone – with the new law someone is trying to help the innocent ones.

But when they choose to not be helped – how then do you help them?

I thought about Officer Wood in Port Hope. Law Makers have added another thing to his list of things to do. While on traffic duty he will watch for irregular and unsafe driving habits, poorly maintained vehicles, speeders, and a whole list of things that he must be aware of ALL THE TIME. I’ll just bet that when January 21st came around my cop friends rolled their eyes and said – “Yah right….”

Sgt. Wood has proved that it can be done…

Now think it through further….
What if the person smoking is 15 years old and the driver isn’t smoking. And in the backseat there is a baby in a car seat…

There are many ways that this whole thing could unroll and cause problems.

No I do not agree that a child should smoke. I do not smoke. I think smoking is STUPID and anyone that does it is STUPID. But they have made a choice and I know that once that decision to smoke has been made – quitting is maybe one of the hardest things that one can attempt.

I work alongside different Government departments. At all seminars and functions they have a break time. They officially list the break as a “Health Break”. When I first saw that on an agenda I nearly died laughing.

At the hospital yesterday there are dozens of people standing outside smoking… along way from the doors of course. The parking lot attendant – along way from the main Emerge Doors was policing that area as well. Two you people(under age) were smoking not far from her booth. She stuck her head out of the small window and yelled, “You can’t smoke there – go way down there by the stop sign!”

Now if they didn’t move – she could call the cops… and have them arrested… or just fined.

What has our world come to? We are trying to legislate “Common Sense”. Something is wrong with the picture.

But with all of this… I pause and consider a powerful thought. What does God face all the time? He sees some really intelligent people making some really STUPID decisions.

Stupid Reigns…
I know an older couple that have chosen to fight all the time. They don’t seem to be happy unless they are screaming at each other.

I know a couple that have broken up because she is plain stupid and wants her own way. She has gone off with another really stupid man that thought the same and left his wife and kids.

I know a man that has chucked his relationships with his wife and kids to pursue a higher purpose.

Bob Pierce founded World Vision the powerful world wide humanitarian ministry that is loved and accepted by almost every country – yet lost his marriage, while his daughter committed suicide and the other one just lived screwed up forever… but told the story of how Dad saved the world and lost everything affecting his whole family.

Common Sense? Yah right!

~ Murray Lincoln ~


Monday, February 16, 2009

Treat Me As I Treat My Neighbor

Short note before this post... we took my Mom to the hospital for some tests this AM - throwing my schedule off... thanks for praying for her.

My thanks to Max Lucado and a friend that sent this my way.


"Treat Me As I Treat My Neighbor."- - - by Max Lucado - - -
Are you aware that this is what you are saying to your Father? Give me what I give them. Grant me the same peace I grant others. Let me enjoy the same tolerance I offer. God will treat you the way you treat others.

In any given Christian community there are two groups: those who are contagious in their joy and those who are cranky in their faith. They've accepted Christ and are seeking him, but their balloon has no helium. One is grateful, the other is grumpy. Both are saved. Both are heaven bound. But one sees the rainbow and the other sees the rain.

Could this principle explain the difference? Could it be that they are experiencing the same joy they have given their offenders? One says, "I forgive you," and feels forgiven. The other says, "I'm ticked off," and lives ticked off at the world.

It's as if God sends you to the market to purchase your neighbor's groceries saying, "Whatever you get your neighbor, get also for yourself. For whatever you give him is what you receive."

Let's take this a step further. Suppose your neighbor's trash blows into your yard. You mention the mess to him, and he says he'll get to it sometime next week. You inform him that you've got company coming and couldn't he get out of that chair and do some work? He tells you not to be so picky, that the garbage fertilizes your garden. You're just about to walk across the lawn to have a talk when God reminds you, "Time to go to the market and buy your neighbor's groceries." So you grumble and mumble your way to the store, and then it hits you, "I'll get even with the old bum." You go straight to the skim milk. Then you make a beeline to the anchovies and sardines. You march right past the double-chocolate ice cream and head toward the okra and rice. You make a final stop in the day-old bread section and pick up a crusty loaf with green spots on the edge.

Chuckling, you drive back to the house and drop the sack in the lap of your lazy, good-for-nothing neighbor. "Have a good dinner." And you walk away.

All your brilliant scheming left you hungry, so you go to your refrigerator to fix a sandwich, but guess what you find. Your pantry is full of what you gave your enemy. All you have to eat is exactly what you just bought. We get what we give.

Some of you have been eating sardines for a long time. Your diet ain't gonna change until you change. You look around at other Christians. They aren't as sour as you are. They're enjoying the delicacies of God, and you're stuck with okra and anchovies on moldy bread. You've always wondered why they look so happy and you feel so cranky. Maybe now you know. Could it be God is giving you exactly what you're giving someone else?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Savoring Memories

I looked up at the ceiling in my garage and there were my old friends waiting for me. They look like their busting to get out and get involved again. But for the present moment they are covered with a lot of dust and the cob webs that are thick after only 5 months.

My old friends? My fishing rods and tackle box are my friends and they are ready.

For the fun of it I pulled some of it down and held then in my hand. The rush to go fishing was there immediately. My hands started to grip the rod tighter and the weight of the old tackle box felt so good.

In the tackle box are more old friends. The red and white Lucky Strike plug has teeth marks all down the side from multiple, successful times of dipping the deep. Just looking at that old fellow brought back the rush again. It was very successful the day that Alida and I were in the little boat at Hearst, Ontario. I caught 12 Northern Pike and she caught 38. No kidding 38 big fish! We quit when her arm started getting tired. And she did get more than me – because my job was to take off the fish from the hooks… I couldn’t get my line in the water because I heard, “Oooo Oooo I got another one!”
Then there is the small collection of much finer hooks with simple paraphernalia attached to attract the fish… all that is needed is a live worm. This little one with the yellow tail is a no-name brand but did it ever produce fish. That one day on the trout filled river was one of the excellent adventures of that summer.

Oh man I can’t wait.

The best part about fishing is that you remember everything… every detail… every sound… every tug on the line and just everything!

The best part is that you remember.

Yesterday as I sat in my garage looking at the stuff that is waiting for summer – even more memories came.

There is my dad’s pliers and wrench set. That day I brought my old Model T car home and began the restoration on it dad had let me use these tools to start taking the car apart. I was sixteen and had never done anything mechanically bigger than repair my bicycle.

As I held the tools 49 years of rich memories rushed back – even the smell of that old car was there yesterday. Along with it was another one – the last few times I talked to my dad was 22 years ago these next few months. He was always interested in what I was doing. As I held the tool that he had written his name on with a scribing tool – lots of sadness came back too.

I laid down the wrench and picked up the Brass Vice. There was some sadness to this tool but also some rich memories. Norm had given this to me just before he had passed away saying, “Murray, I know that you like to fish, I want you to have all my Fly Fishing stuff.”

The Brass Vice is an antique worth a fortune. It is portable and goes with you to the edge of the stream… easily set up and then helps you to tie “flies” that match what the local fish are eating.

I remember that first series of “flies” that I tried. They were weird – not at all graceful like the book’s photo. But when I presented it that magic day – I had four fish hit it out of five presentations on that lily pad cove.

I love remembering. I love the feeling that comes with something old.

Oh boy…

This may well be the last few days of my “Cabin Fever” that came with the very cold weather, lots of snow… and no place to get out much.

It is only about 5 or 6 weeks before the first summer birds will be back. The Robins are booking reservations now. Below the snow and the earth of my wife’s flower garden is that rich soil holding enough worms for Mr. Robin and my fish friends.

Oh the memories… sweet and wonderful memories.

~ Murray Lincoln ~
PS – this was written for no other reason than to get you ready for memory making days ahead. Have a great one!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Need A Happy Movie

The discovery came later in the evening as we sat around our dinning room table getting to know each other. We were with new friends and enjoying a wonderful meal in our home. It was warm and comfortable – and then the information hit us like a sludge hammer.

Our new friends had told us about the impact that a funeral had upon their life this past week. It had been a great tragedy for their family. The funeral had followed a wedding that was a wonderful blessing to them. Both the wedding and funeral were connected.

A quick thumbnail description (if that is possible) may help you to understand.

At the wedding the Bride’s mother received a call that her Brother’s wife was not able to make the wedding because of an illness. She was mildly confused by this. Her brother wasn’t able to be there because he was in Dubai serving in his job as a Canadian overseas… but his family was coming to the wedding.

After the wedding the news poured in. The brother in Dubai had been killed in a pedestrian/auto accident – hit as he was crossing a fast moving street to get a taxi.

Our new friends described the fact that the new widow’s father had traveled to Dubai with his daughter to help with the expatriation of her husband’s body. Folk in Dubai will not talk/communicate with a woman in any way.

The story was very moving but it was not yet ours.

One small comment and then a question brought the story home to our table with a huge blow. The father of the new widow is our neighbor that lives 10 feet to our north. For the past few weeks our friends to the north have lived through a nightmare that few Canadians will ever see or know. Tragedy has hit very close to home with the loss of their son-in-law. We knew nothing of this.

Our new friends, sitting at our table, were cousins to this deceased man.

What a small world – but a close one. One moment it was a story… the next it was ours.

I told the story of “Peterborough’s Last Hanging” and the power of the story on my senior friends at the New Friends group. In the story was the powerful part of the churches of Peterborough ringing the bells late at night for at least a half hour when some one was hanged.

I am quoting myself here…
“As I paused in that part of the story, everyone was thinking deeply. It had happened in their life time. I asked if anyone in the group had heard the bells. There was nothing but silence in our group.”

In the group of Thursday afternoon there was silence as they listened – and then considered responding.

The mark of a life well lived is the depth of the experiences each has had. The group that sits with me each week laughs and tells stories – each one having suffered a deep loss. The remarkable thing is that each started again.

Two Thirds of the group is widowed. Some were widowed early and some were widowed after many years of rich married life.

Beverly Eckert, 57 years old, passed away suddenly and violently in a horrific airplane accident just across Lake Ontario in New York State. All day we listened to the reports as they poured in. 50 People had lost their lives.

For the past 7 years Beverly Eckert has lived as a widow. Her husband Sean had been killed in the disaster of 9/11 in the Twin Towers. She had been speaking with Sean on the telephone right up to the minute that he died.

Yesterday she had been traveling to Buffalo on her husband’s birthday to do something in his honor when the tragedy struck.

Dubai – Buffalo – Peterborough areas swirl in my head today.

This morning early I was informed that I should go to the movies today with my grandkids. The world is a swirl at this moment and my mind is tired… I need a happy movie today… I really do.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Crew saw ice before crash

Friday, February 13, 2009

Peterborough’s Last Hanging

So do you know what a “gat” is? I sure didn’t.

I am sitting with my New Friends group enjoying our talk together. The group began at 2 PM and we are now at the 2:50 PM mark. We have all been sitting for almost an hour – and the exchange has been wonderful. People talking with people.

All of the people are older than me – much older. Among the group is my own mom who is an active participant. This day she had brought her wonderful collection of very old Post Cards organized in special three special books for everyone to look at.

The week before I had brought some different antique things from our home, that we had collected over the years, to show. I had encouraged my Friends to treat this like “show and tell” from their own school days. Simple idea but it worked well.

As mom shared her Post Cards her New Friends asked questions where they came from. Mom explained that the people that she had collected the cards from had traveled on the ships from Britain. They had settled in Southern Saskatchewan. The ship line that they had traveled on was the same one that owned the Titanic – which brought more questions.

Mom then told the story about how she had bought the house in her home town many years ago. I told the rest of the story for the whole group to hear.

Mom had convinced my Dad that they should buy the small two bedroom house with all its contents. It sat on three lots and was fully furnished. The cost of the house was $550 – and she bought it from the Town of Truax who now owned it after 10 years of back taxes at $55 a year tax.

That led to more questions. “How much did you sell it for?” a New Friend asked. “About three times what I paid for it.” (more than 20 years later)

That is how the afternoon goes with my New Friends. It is okay to change the topic and let one thought flow into another. My task at the group is to be like a traffic cop – letting everyone know that the topic has changed – the louder voice helps.

When you think of it – it is amazing that 20 some older folks will sit for over two hours and not move, listen closely, and share deeply. And not one went to the bathroom the whole time. They were enraptured with each other.

A daughter of one of our New Friends sat through the whole thing smiling. She listened to the interaction and exchange. At the end she commented to me how impressed she was… and how “they” (the seniors) all seemed to enjoy the interaction and the group so much. She didn’t know that this was only our second meeting. She didn’t catch that a shopping trip had been planned for the same time and half of the group from last week went for the outing – but a new half showed up to take part.

We have stumbled on to something very good!

As part of the input of the afternoon I read from a book that is from their own library.

The book is entitled “My Town – My Memories”. Many of my New Friends have a serious vision problems and have not read for years. And my suspicion is that their kids are too busy to read for them.

As I read the story aloud of “Peterborough’s Last Hanging” they were listening intently. It was in the part of the story about the killing of the man by his friend that I ran across the word that I didn’t know – the “gat”. I paused and after reading that part and asked what a “gat” was. Three ladies and one man immediately said together – “A gun”. I had looked up asking the question. The one older fellow in the group was grinning as he pointed his forefinger at me and with his thumb coming down on his hand – like a gun shooting. He was a former police man by the way. We all laughed – even though the story was very serious.

The man that was hanged was Black. The man he shot was also Black. The killer was named Edward Franklin Jackson. He had killed his partner and friend, Eugene Lee. Both men had hailed from the USA. The story had so many tidbits of info that the author had captured from the years gone by.

The murder had taken place on October 17, 1932. On November 12, 1933 at 12:01 AM Mr. Jackson was hung in the court yard of the small Peterborough Jail behind the present court house.

In the period of waiting for his hanging Mr. Jackson had gained 50 pounds with the food that he had been served at the jail.

That night at 11:45 PM the church bells of Peterborough began to ring for the next fifteen minutes. Then at the hanging moment they stopped. After the man’s death the bells again rang for another 15 minutes telling the city and its residents that the murderer was dead.

As I paused in that part of the story, everyone was thinking deeply. It had happened in their life time. I asked if anyone in the group had heard the bells. There was nothing but silence in our group.

Now consider the fact that at every hanging in early Peterborough, the Bells of the church tolled their long, lonely peal of the death that was taking place…. Wow!

This story led to another fact to be discussed. At a very early age one of the residents had traveled from Bridgenorth to attend a carnival/circus that had come to the city. It was his very first time to see a Black person… and he said they simple stared at the man with fascination. That comment led to more stories and a lengthy exchange about Peterborough and its feelings about Black people…

My New Friends are among the most interesting people that I have ever met… and their stories are amazing.

As I reflect on what has happened again in this group it is powerful for me. Few people in these New Friend’s life have take time to listen to the stories… now they have a place to share them with glee.

Hmmm… is there something here to consider in the wider and bigger world out there? Hmmm…?

~ Murray Lincoln ~

This portion is added a few hours later... I received this bit of information from Jessika... seen as a comment below...

Hello, I actually researched this long ago, and it is so funny to hear about it on your blog today. Did you know that in reality what you read is the "white" version of the story?

Eugene Lee was convicted of rape of a girl he worked for on a farm out in Duoro. The story goes that when his best friend Mr.Jackson found out, he shot him. However, the only weapon Jackson would have access to, would have been a pitch fork.

The gun wounds were in Eugene Lee's back, not his front. When the shots rang out, the farmers wife ran out to find Eugene Lee, dead (FACING) Jackson, and her husband hiding behind a hay bale (behind the two men--specifically Eugene).

Jackson was put on trial, found guilty by a jury of white people, and sentenced to death for the murder of Eugene Lee. Yes the two men argued that night, but I do believe you can now figure out where the gun shots really came from!!

It is a neat story, and I am glad you brought it up. It has much controversy here in Peterborough.

Now an extra little tid bit for you...Eugene Lee was convicted by the farmer, and was being taken to the police station that evening. (The daughter was out late, and came home with blood on her dress, father put two and two together, and said that she was raped by the famous Eugene Lee-so as not to ruin her reputation)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jigsaw Puzzle Pleasure

Rediscovering the simple joys of big Jigsaw Puzzle on a cold winter’s day is wonderful. This winter I pulled a couple out and tried them again.

It brings back the rainy day experience at a cottage. Too wet to go outside and do anything – so with a warm cup of Hot Chocolate and a quiet table top the pieces pop out at you as you eyes survey the puzzle. Add to that the sound of the rain dripping from the roof – and it is perfect.

Doing a puzzle in winter time makes it summer time for me.

One thing I have noticed is that it takes time. It can fill an evening up with such a simple pleasure – one piece at a time… then a section… then the dark areas that all look a like… then the light stuff at the top. Slowly the beautiful photo appears. The simple joy of finding that one piece that wasn’t there an hour ago!

As I was working on the Jigsaw Puzzle of the inside of the aircraft cockpit it was slow moving. The puzzle was very old – so old that the box did not have the IPC Bar Code on the side of it – placing it back about 40 years ago. We had given this to my dad years ago as a Christmas Present – he was a pilot. His name was Clifford.

Just after I had assembled the outside pieces with all the straight pieces in place… the grandkids came over for a time with us.

Clifford, named with Great Grandpa in mind (actually two of his Great Grandpas were named Clifford), sat down to work on the puzzle. I couldn’t remember when he did a puzzle last…maybe small ones but not the 500 to 1000 piece kind. He never ever sat still enough for that when he was younger!

I had to do some Grandpa Chores and Clifford began working on the puzzle alone. When I returned whole sections were together… all of the one kind of dark… then whole rows of light… click, click, click… pop, pop, pop…

This young mind is SO FAST. He is like a machine that never stops. So very intent to get it done and help me..

In the corner of the room we have an old clock that ticks steadily. The basement rumpus room is warm and quiet – except when you turn on the TV or watch a DVD. Clifford was just happy to sit quietly working by himself.

It is a simple family pleasure passed from generation to generation in our family. Now it is done again to at least one grand child.

As I sat working with Clifford, the growing child with an almost adult body at 13 – I thought back to 13 old time for me. Many memories flooded back to warm me… It was a happy time as well. So many memories – so very many!

I remember that lakeside cottage on Manitoulin Island.. a rainy afternoon… and rain drops and a puzzle. I remember that east room in the old farm house in rural Saskatchewan… the wind was whistling around the house… snow curling in eddies of snow drifts… a thick frost on the window pane… and a puzzle.

Winter for us is slowing down. The puzzle is almost done. The 13 year old is growing quickly… and may not be so interested in puzzles this time next year. But for now I have captured another wonderful memory.

Thanks Clifford for sitting with Grandpa. This winter was a special one.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nut Cases – Kooky Khristians

It certainly didn’t take long for the dirty stuff to hit the fan. Less than a month and it has happened.

President Barack Obama was honored, adored, worshiped and every other kind of great word I can think of on January 20. Now in early February the baloney is flying thick and heavy. He is now being made a monster by the most unusual people I can think of.

I receive emails from many people. It likely happens because I do this Blog or maybe because I have hundreds of friends that capture my email then snow me under with forwards. Each one only sends a few – but after 100 people of my 500 or so friends forward one – today… oh boy.

Well in one situation an African Brother, named Rev. Samuel Dorbor, has just sent me another of his emails with commentary. I read most of what he sends as he tends to reflect some of what is going on in the African church generally.

Well the last one was a wild email… with quotes from many sources and other emails… all hating President Obama. (My Friend Rev. Samuel Dorbor doesn't believe this I am sure)

Obama is the Anti Christ – coming from the same roots that the writer has deduced. Someone has traced Obama’s roots to “Danite” roots (Tribe of Dan???) and that “Hippolytus (e. A.D. 200) wrote: "Dan is a lion's welp" naming the tribe of Dan from which the AntiChrist is destined to spring; just as Christ comes from the tribe of Judah, so the AntiChrist is to come from the tribe of Dan.”

The email is entitled “He is Him”

The content of the email plucks from a number of sources and people looking for attention. Some are trying to sell their books – others are trying to sell themselves as experts.

One minister quoted in the email is someone that I know and have had him speak in two different churches that I pastored… but after the last time when I found out the kind of nut case that he was really… I declined offers when he was “coming my way”.

This particular minister hates Rick Warren… or should I say strongly dislikes Warren. He condemns him for having prayed at the inauguration – and Warren should have known better! And because he prayed – this minister then attacked Warren’s ministry and makes him the worst ever – the “Purpose Driven Life” book is so wrong that it takes pages to read the rants. (Warren sells way more books than my other minister friend – that may be the cause.)

(If you would like the original email – let me know and I will send it.)

Christianity is full of Nut Cases! From the outside of the church people look at these kinds of Nut Cases and shake their heads.

Not long ago a very Non-Church person saw some Christian antics going on. One Christian was pulling another Christian down… attempting to tear everything that one had done to pieces. The Non-Church person shook his head and said, “That is why I would never call myself a Christian… I believe in God and even pray – but I never want to be a Christian!”

Well my Non-Church Friend – I think we can agree – I don’t want to be that kind of person either. I am a Christian because I follow Christ and know him personally. I DO NOT FOLLOW NUT CASES or believe in what they say.

Yes I wrote back to Rev. Samuel Dobor – but no answer as of yet.

One of the whacko people that Samuel quotes in his email goes by the email name “godslildemonslapper” – that is “God’s Lil demon slapper.”

See what I mean about nut cases.

If you have followed Barack Obama’s rise to Presidency you will have noted the powerful Cars and other transporting vehicles that he rides in. With this many whacko and nutcase kind of people running around – there is no wonder.

The number of secret service people with ear plugs in and black suits is astounding. They literally follow every move that Obama makes… and their eyes never leave the crowd around the President.

The President need not worry about the terrible extreme Islamic terrorists – he has enough trouble with “Kooky Khristians”.

When I wrote back to Samuel Dobor – I tried to point out that he was associating with some nut cases. No answer as yet.

My roots away back are American. Yes I am related to Abe Lincoln. My family moved to southern Saskatchewan about 100 years ago – making my Canadian roots possible.

I am glad that I don’t have to face what my American friends must with these Nut Cases that seem to grow in your country. I am also thankful for so much snow in Canada – it keeps the Nut Cases out of our country for the most part.

I pray for my leaders today that work so hard for us in our country. Then at the end I pray for our American Leaders as well – including the President.

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good News - Bad News

I don’t know why the strange feelings have rolled around inside of me all night! Wow what a dream land I traveled to last night. But after thinking about it for the last hour – I know why.

For more than 40 years I have waited for this fast approaching moment… the actual moment of retirement… the moment that your pension arrives! Easy street… the soft life… the joy of sitting back and now collecting oodles of money… as if it falls from trees and covers my driveway like liquid gold.

One the steps took place yesterday. A letter from the company Pension Plan with its official notification arrived. Two pages of info and a letter said it all.

It is good news in a way – there will be a little coming in. The good news also is that if everything holds the way that it is right now… I should make it to April 13th 2009 – “Magic Moment Day” when I hit the monumental 65th year mark.

Now the part that the two sheets of Pension Plan reminded over and over again… “after your death” and “you were receiving when you died”… was stated at least 3 times each before the middle of the sheet fold.

“If you die within 60 months of your pension commencement date, your spouse will be paid the same amount you were receiving at the time or your death of the balance of the 60 months….”

Hokey Mokey – that sounds too serious and a way to close for me at this moment. That starting count down is only 62 days away… I feel like I am sitting on the nose of a Rocket that is headed for Mars… tick… tick… tick… tick

So with this bit of information… should I die within the 60 months of April 13th, 2009 – Alida will get more for the following 60 months from my death.

The word “Incentive” comes to mind immediately. Dead within 60 months – means more money. Death after that 60 month period means that my wife will get only 66.67% of what I am going to receive.

Now here is the forming plan – I need to hang in there for 59 months and 364 days and 23 hours and 59 minutes to MAX OUT. But then I need to check out of “this Hotel” and take up an elongated box. With the new knowledge that I will be being paid something to prepare for my death… for that is what a pension seems to be… is a little unnerving… and it makes you roll around a little at night.

And seeing that the official crowd in a Pension Office somewhere are calculating and have calculated my demise… is really unnerving.

I have come to the realization that I am not looking forward to the next 20162 days with great joy… but rather watch out for what might happen next.

No wonder you can’t get seniors to come out on an Icy Winter Day. No wonder they are at the Doctor’s Office at the slightest whisp of ailment.

But as some of you know me better than that and you know my personality – it likely isn’t going to have much affect on me. It will rather be 20162 days of PARTEEEEEE on DUDE. I think my Mid Life Crisis that I missed because I was too darn busy working – will be my next event.

If Alida will agree to let me do it… I am going to buy one really hot convertible sports car… never wear a neck tie again… unbutton my shirt buttons to about the third one… no chest hair to speak of so I will glue some Bear Fir to my chest on days that I am driving the sports car through the streets of Peterborough… and Scream “ Go Baby GO! WAHOOOOO!”

After that ride I will get on my Harley Davidson and roar down the street. I want that one that is $57,000 – silver and black.

After that I will climb aboard the airplane and we are going to Bali.

Well… maybe not right away. Well it was a great dream… for a few hours.

I was in a Senior’s Home this past weekend to speak to a group. After my talk a lady about my age smiled and asked me a unusual question… “So have you got your SUV?”

“SUV”… huh?... I drive an old 1996 Nissan Quest Van with rusty holes through the sides. “SUV”?

I said, “Nope… I gotta Van”
“No, No” she replied, “Your SUV… Socks, Underwear and Viagra?”

To say that I nearly fell over before I began to laugh is an understatement. This lady’s sense of humor was very good… her timing just right and she got me there. I mean how many times does a congregant ask the minister that kind of thing!!!?

But does that small question ever help relieve the 20162 days of waiting.

Today the PARTEEEE begins. Anybody want to Boogie?

~ Murray Lincoln ~