Thursday, March 31, 2016

John's Letter, April 2016

Well, here it is April.  It’s been almost 10 years since we moved out of our old house into this money pit house sold to us by George Stibbs.  Elly always liked him because he reminded her of some teacher she used to have that cured her gum-chewing habits when she was in elementary school by making her chew an excessive amount of gum.  As a dentist, I can’t recommend that method, but Elly liked that teacher and so she liked George Stibbs.  Chee!  When the tree fell on the roof the first month after we moved in, it was like an omen, or fate, as Elly would say.  I think we have had to repair something in the house every couple of months since have moved in.  George did not keep the place up. 

I thought we would see April over Easter coming in from Guelph and taking a break from veterinary school, but she’s still up there in that apartment she lives in with her boyfriend up there.  Elly tried to keep her mouth shut about that like she did when Elizabeth was living with that Eric Chamberlain fellow at Nippissing who cheated on her and she missed her opportunity to marry Anthony when she was in school.  April’s old boyfriend, Gerald Delaney-Forsythe got married to her old friend Becky McGuire, the pop superstar Rebeccah, and it was all over the entertainment news.  Elly could barely stand it.  “Just like Elizabeth.  Missed her chance.”  April and her boyfriend have been together for years now and still no cheating.  I told her that Phil and Georgia lived together for 5 years before they got married and Elly just says, “You’re not helping, John.”  I thought we could go visit April, but Elly always says, “We never visited Mike at Western or Liz at Nippissing, so why go visit April at Guelph?  She’ll come back to us after her boyfriend cheats on her.”  I think she would have come back after we finished her downstairs apartment with that giant cast iron bathtup, but Elly took that over and she’s down there all the time working on her book or soaking in the tub or both.  “If it’s good enough for Dalton Trumbo, it’s good enough for me.”  I guess this Trumbo guy used to write books sitting in his bathtub or something like that.  Elly spends almost all her time in the basement now.  I can’t see her giving that up, even if April comes home after her boyfriend cheats on her. 

I’m back in the dental business after selling my old business to Dr. Everett Elliott Callahan.  There was a dentist in town who got in a bad accident.  He was riding his bicycle and got hit by a dump truck.  I substituted for him for about a year, and then bought his business, when it was obvious he wasn’t going to recover to where he could do dental work again.  It was like being able to breathe again.  I was never meant to be retired and stuck in the house all day.  I wanted to do medical mission work or community service, but Elly was determined I didn’t do that.  “Connie got pregnant when she did medical mission work.”  I don’t think I would have that problem, but still, I am back in dentistry now.  I am almost 70 and I still love it.  We did a free public information session about dental implants at the Milborough Museum last weekend and I loved every minute of it.  I love keeping up with technology and my practice is almost as big as it was before I sold it to Elliott Everett. 

Elly did take a trip back to Vancouver for her high school reunion and she really liked it.  She’s been talking about some old classmate she ran into that is now a jazz musician.  She really liked his moustache and she’s been telling me it would be nice if I grew a moustache.  “No, thank you, ma’am” is what I say.  I remember when Anthony Caine grew a moustache and it looked like he aged 40 years.  If I grew a moustache I would look like I was over 100 years old.   The other thing the guy did was wear ties that had cartoon characters on them.  I said, “You mean like Snoopy or Garfield?” and Elly said, “No. Like fish or dogs, where from a distance it looked like something paisley but up close it looked like cartoon fish.”  The fanciest I get is a colourful bowtie.  I can’t imagine any adult man wearing that kind of stuff.  Elly seemed to like it, so I think I know what I am going to get for our wedding anniversary. 


Talk to you later,




Blogger howard said...


George Stibbs, the man who sold his home to be Elly and John's retirement home, was named after Lynn Johnston's 4th grade teacher. In The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston, Lynn tells this story about how George "cured" her of gum-chewing by keeping her after school and making her chew pack after pack of gum until she got sick. Lynn reveres George for giving her the attention she so desperately craves. His process is a little too Clockwork Orange for my tastes.

April was going to be a veterinarian and the way vet schools work is that you pretty much have to go to the school in your province. For April in Ontario that would be Guelph. In the latter days of the comic strip, University of Guelph got wind of it and apparently contacted Lynn Johnston to ask her about using April at Guelph. Nothing came of it because Lynn retired the strip before April graduated high school and in her final strip described an April that had already completed vet school. In 2016 that would not have happened yet and April would still be in school.

Elly and John visiting the Patterson kids at school. John took Michael to Western for his first year. After that, there is not one single strip of a Patterson parent visiting a Patterson kid on campus until graduation. After that, I appreciated my parents a little more.

Elizabeth moving in with Eric Chamberlain and missing her chance. The comic strip spelled it out plain and simple that the theme for Elizabeth and Anthony was "second chances". In the comic strip, Anthony practically tells Elizabeth that he became engaged to get married for no other reason than because he learned Elizabeth moved in with Eric. Because of that, they did not get engaged when they should have. Lynn has some theme of getting engaged while still in school, possibly because that's what she did in real life. John and Elly, Mike and Deanna were all engaged while still at university. Elizabeth had to wait until later.

Phil and Georgia lived together for 5 years before they got married. The comic strip does record that and all indications are it matched the timeline of their real-life versions of Alan and Joan.

Cast iron bathtub. Lynn's home in Lynn Lake had a downstairs rec room with a cast iron bathtub, which apparently she liked a lot. She mentioned it in the Elly monthly letters when discussing the renovations to the basement as the improvements that would be made to April's room in their retirement house.

Trumbo. I saw the movie and it shows the great writer doing most of his writing in the bathtub. It seemed to fit.

Lynn Johnston fancies herself to be a good writer and often projects that onto Elly Patterson.

The new dental practice. Dr. Rod Johnston had this exact situation happen to him. He subbed in for another guy's practice who had an accident and eventually bought it from him.

Medical mission work and community service are two things Rod did when he was "retired" and they are lifted up here as things Elly prevents him from doing. For some reason Lynn Johnston never sought to put these aspects of her ex-husband into the strip as John activities.

Real-life Rod did do a public information session about dental implants at the North Bay Museum just recently.

Elliott Everett or Everett Elliot - the ever-changing name of the guy John sold his practice too.

Lynn Johnston lives in North Vancouver now and did run around with a high school classmate named Paul who was a jazz musician. I don't know if he has a mustache, but Lynn made a big deal at the 2014 Toronto Comic Arts Festival about how she was dating a North Bay guy that she asked to grow a mustache, which he did.

Anthony, when wearing a moustache, started to be called "Granthony - grandfather + Anthony.

Fabric with patterns is a current Lynn thing. The text is taken directly from her description of the fabric in a radio interview.

2:34 PM  

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