LOOKING BACK AT THE SPACKS
FAMILY MEMOIRS
by Mike Spack
Part 6


POST WAR

Little did I realize what a busy life it would be after returning from overseas, a married man with Liz to arrive in March 1996 as well as attending a university soon after returning to Winnipeg. Andy was fortunately well situated with a job in the city of Winnipeg Signals Department. He was one of a team that would install, repair traffic lights and occasionally I would see him up a pole attending to his tasks.

We did have our family gatherings naturally but in looking back I regret that Andy and I did not establish the very close loving relationship that I had written about in my letters to him from overseas. One may always find all kinds of reasons for this but basically it was a matter of my basic nature to become so busy and so involved in many ways. Some of this was essential such as Liz and I having our first child, university and summer jobs as well as  basketball in fall and winter. Even so priorities should have been thought over more carefully.

MARRIAGE/BASKETBALL

Basketball was our common activity but Andy, an excellent Senior A player by this time, participated with Paulins while I was with the university team. At that time Senior A level was the best performance basketball and was headlined in the media.....similar to University basketball today. So he was busy also especially when he met Mary Brown, became engaged and then married to start his own family soon after. I was honored when Mary and Andy named their first child, a son, after me. He was followed by Debble, a beautiful girl indeed, and a third child that lived only a few days.

Our dream of playing together seemed very distant indeed.  The opposite became reality since when university basketball was over and I started my teaching career, the University Grads team was formed and we played in the same league, Senior A, as did the Paulins. The rivalry between these two teams was featured often In the media as was occasionally the two brothers playing against each other.

A DREAM COME TRUE

When the Grad team folded, the manager of the Paulins, Whitey Carlson had his own dream which was to form a team  that would win the national title. I was asked to join and how wonderful it was that Andy and I at last were to play together. And not only that but with the realistic possibility to come much closer to our own dream which was realized in 1954 in Toronto.

That same year the Winnipeg Paulins team was chosen to represent Canada at the World Cup in Rio De Janeiro having to raise a considerable amount of money through an "On to Rio" fund-raising endeavour (indeed $7000 does not seem too much but in terms of value today that would be somewhere around 50 to 60 thousand). The story of the Winnipeg Paulins in my sports career writing, still to be written, will include more details. One last note on Andy's basketball career was that in later playing days and after he became an excellent coach.

A SAD TIME

It is probably true that Andy's life changed radically when his dear wife Mary passed away. Prior to this time there  were indications that for him as well as Rudy the "alcohol syndrome" took its effect since both began to drink. In all likelihood this had its unhappy family consequences. As with father, too much alcohol resulted in both of them an angry mood whereby any disagreement became a crisis. Liz and I were involved in this to the extent of trying to help - counselling for Andy which was beneficial for only a short time.

 Our families did have our outings so there was communication but not to the extent that it might have been. Son Michael married Elaine Siddal and Debbie with Bob Snowdon. Debbie and Bob had three children but were separated and then divorced while Elaine and Michael are separated at the  present time. The eldest child lives on her own I believe, and the other two were placed in a foster home. Liz and I do not know the present situation since Debbie has not replied to our enquiry. Elaine and Michael did not have any children as noted on the family tree. The domino principle held true  with our own family, then Andy's and later Rudy's - broken families due mostly to alcohol.

Only Andy and his family know the actual circumstances with regard to his family. Our family had moved to Brandon but in my visits to Winnipeg I did my best to visit both Rudy and Andy. Andy I did see many times in his apartment. The  meetings were strange in a way since it was so difficult to  establish communication. It appeared that he did not wish to talk about how things were with his children and grandchildren. Nor could we maintain any conversation about memories of our basketball days and the friends we had at the time. I would walk away from these sessions feeling  quite sad. Also, he was not well and had been drinking heavily. The consequences of increasing ill health, of angina and then later cancer, finally took their toll December 23, 1988. Two letters describing the funeral proceedings, his obituary, a lovely wedding picture, his plaque in Elmwood Cemetery beside Mary's with a direction sheet as well as some pictures follow this page.

Near the time of his passing away, in one of the many visits to see him at the hospital in Winnipeg, I held hands with him. We said little but understood so much of his feelings about his life. I know he respected his eldest brother and indeed loved him in his own way as I did him. Understandable it was that in the short period of time we became closer than ever. Also a number of Paulins basketball players visited him once a week having lunch first and then off to see Andy. These gatherings continue to this day and now visiting with another Paul ins player Roy Burkett who is ill. Andy is at rest now as is Mary and God bless them both with the hope that their children and grandchildren make a success of their lives.


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RUDY, BROTHER AND ROAMER

LETTERS

 Four letters to Rudy from overseas during the war years are in my possession with three of them in answer to his letters, one of which had a picture of my father. Admittedly when I wrote the many letters to the family, all members were included with the exception of father whose residence was
 hard to establish. Less often was the same situation with Rudy who did indeed have the wandering itch. My view was that he was in a way a lost soul even after he left our church group which played basketball in the Sunday School League as youngsters. Indeed one of our team pictures and a writeup of a basketball game includes Rudy.

As for the letters, they are rather routine with some sermonizing on my part. how I felt. and my activities. My hope was that since I as the eldest child away from home. Rudy would assume more responsibility tor the family but as it turned out his restlessness and lack of purpose made this impossible. There was some reason, healthwise probably, for his remaining out of the services during the war. If he had joined, perhaps his life may have become vastly different.

RUDY AS A PERSON AND OCCUPATION

It is important to write however, that Rudy had many fine qualities such as generosity and able to establish a fine relationship with many persons. Certainly one may easily point to weaknesses as Is true of anyone. His strength was in his hands for he became a fine car radiator mechanic and had an excellent knowledge of cars In general. Interesting it is that our father was a radiator mechanic and very successful until alcohol took its toll.

Rudy worked in a number of places and I remember best his working at Richeliu's located on Main Street just north of the corner of Euclid and Main. Indeed the Richelieu family was very fond of Rudy and cared for him in many ways. Sad to say he followed in his father's footsteps and alcohol became his downfall.

POST WAR

Memory fails me as to Rudy's whereabouts for most of the war years. I did catch up with him post-war especially when he was in hospital firstly in Winnipeg followed by Selkirk and then in Brandon.  Remembered though, prior to that time not long after Kath and I were reasonably settled in Winnipeg, are the efforts made by Liz and me to try to change his lifestyle even to the point of convincing him to go to the hospital for alcoholic treatment. When he found out he was in a psychological ward, he rebelled and would not relent. Finally he was released still the same Rudy. One can only try; for example the family trying to help father in Vancouver in hearing he had lost his leg. A prosthetic was arranged but later we found out he was not willing to cope with it and used his crutch instead, wandering about downtown Vancouver.

MARRIAGE

When we lived in Winnipeg, communication now and then took place and for a while, as I recall, some stableness appeared. He met Ann Hanaway, a fine person, and our family hoped so very much that this would make a difference. I know not whether he worked at this time or how his marriage was getting along. No doubt he was employed by the Richelieus. Ann had a job in a bakery I believe, so perhaps finances were not a severe problem.

Whatever happened, the result was separation and eventually divorce. They had two children the eldest Rudy who looks very much as Rudy did when he was young. Ricky is the other son. Both of them are married with fine wives, Terry and Barbara, and both have fine positions (see family tree  page). Communication with them is practically nil except for the exchange of Christmas greetings and we did see them at Rudy's Ash Ceremony. Certainly much credit is due to Ann who must have realized that living with Rudy was Impossible. She took up the challenge of raising her two sons who today are fine persons with lovely wives. So positive aspects of the marriage materialized.

LOOKING FOR HIM IN WINNIPEG

I remember so clearly my occasional visits to Winnipeg during the early years after moving to Brandon in the fall of 1966. The Richlieus located on Main Street would give me an update on Rudy. For a few visits just prior to his outbreak of seizures and hospitalization. I did find him and we chatted. He was always pleasant accepting apparently his condition which by now was seriously alcoholic. He lived upstairs in a ramshackle Main Street apartment close to the corner of Selkirk Avenue and Main St. Unfortunately the liquor commission was just down the street from where he
lived. Any suggestions of treatment were brushed aside by him until the inevitable, seizures, took place.Eventually he was diagnosed with organic brain syndrome.

HOSPITALIZATION

He was placed in a Municipal Hospital (King George) located at the end of Merely Street in Winnipeg. We saw him there a  few times and then one day when in Brandon we found out that he had been shifted to Selkirk Mental Health Centre for the more serious cases of mental illness. Liz and I talked this over and felt it would be far better to see if he could be moved to our own Mental Health Centre. A visit to Selkirk and the psychiatrist plus red tape of course with assistance from daughter Suzanne, resulted finally in the move the actual date being October 10, 1980. He remained in Brandon until he passed away May 6, 1992 at the age of 69.

LOVING, TENDER, CARE

Overall the care provided for Rudy in Brandon was marvellous firstly at the Mental Health Centre up on the hill, First Street, and secondly at a more community type locale Rideau Park Centre on Victoria Avenue East. This last was truly excellent with each patient having his or her own room, TV, and loving attendants. One beautiful relationship stands out and this is the special love he had for Liz. She had a rapport with him so much so that at times she was called to the Centre to deal with him.

 The reason was his surliness for he often was a bad patient to one or two attendants and even to some patients. Then he would refuse to take his medication and other services. Hence the call to Liz and she was able to blunt the surliness sufficiently so he would cooperate. Rudy called her Katie always and his good moods came more frequently when she was around. Our dogs helped also for we did take one or the other to the Centre. Some patients would have nothing to do with the dogs while others just loved to stroke and smile.

Obviously Rudy was not able to help himself too much although he managed the wheel chair quite nicely using his feet as breaks and often to move forward. He slept often due to the drugs no doubt. We came to be very close to Rudy and I in his own way he returned this affection. The name he gave me was "Mikey" and he said this often with a shy smile. It  was a mixture of sadness and deep down a feeling that it was time he deserved his "rest" when on May 6, 1992 we received the phone call that he had just passed away and we hurried to his room to see him for the last time.
Trustee and funeral arrangements were made starting with a service at Rideau Park. Cremation took place and later an ash ceremony in Winnipeg occurred with families and friends gathered around the plaque located in Pineview Cemetery, Clark Leatherdale, Waverley Street not far from MacGilllvary Boulevard, Fort Garry. How fortunate we were to have Rev. Fred Douglas conduct the service on a lovely summer afternoon. Fred knew Rudy at the time when Rudy did attend Sutherland Mission. Sisters Nellie and Margaret were there as was Ann and the children Rudy and Rick with their wives  as well as family friends. Pineview is where Kath-'s Mom and Dad have their plaques and both Kath and I have plots near Rudy. It was indeed a lovely gathering and pictures were taken of the events. Later quite a number turned out at the social held in a hotel.

FINALLY

A personal belief I hold about Rudy and many like him is that in many ways he just did not receive the " breaks" in life that is due to all persons. Easy enough it is to say that he could have helped himself, made the better decisions at various crossroads in his life. Support was provided many  times but somehow things just did not work out. There are those who state at times "Look at how so and so overcame the odds and became an outstanding citizen!" I look with disdain on this comparison. Rudy was a worker but also a wanderer propelled no doubt by an alcoholic background. Genetics play an important part in this as well and it is a matter of degree as to how much of a hold it has on persons. Well, he is at peace now as is Andy and we think of both of them often. His being herein Brandon allowed us the opportunity to see him often. This meant a special relationship and love for  him to remain with us always.
 

SECTION I: SPACK FAMILY HISTORY

Kathy and Mike Spack
CONTENTS
Introduction
History 1
History 2
History 3
History 4
History 5
History 6
History 7
   
 
 
Photo Album 1
Photo Album 2
Photo Album 3
Photo Album 4
Photo Album 5
Photo Album 6
Family Tree

Contact Daughter Cathy at:
cspack@mymts.net
 
 
 
 

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