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featured in The Londoner media (jpg 288kb) + article by Chartwell Royalcliffe

enlarge, story circle, Sept 2015 "Residents adore Sandy; listens, values their stories; caring professional; talented writer, facilitator; everyone thrilled with her!" /SB, Programs Mgr.

enlarge, story circle, Jan 2015 "Prompted me to write stories; my family appreciate • enjoy coming every month • love this session • very interesting, time flies • love people's stories of childhood • different views • so glad I joined." /retirement residents

Participants' Works

Residents' stories uplift the community, too, often tucked in with Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels A grateful stranger: "Made my day; that letter that came with MoW was great, fantastic job, thanks very much." Group compositions are: Unknown Soldier (pdf 426kb); New Year (pdf 77kb); Spring (pdf 74kb); As Fall Calls (pdf 562kb).

And individuals' 250 words inspired in our first story circle, now monthly since 2014:

Air Raid Runners, Beryl H.; Meeting Place, Molly I.; Nana's Bike, Donna G.; Model T for 'Terror', Ilienne L.; Peaks My Interest, Marian M.

Air-Raid Runners • by Beryl H.

My mother said, "Leave in time to get through the tunnel before the air-raid begins". I was fully aware of her caution. It was 1941 and the blitz was devastating London. The underground North/South line ran beneath the Thames and flood gates were closed before 7 PM. The German bombers, first the incendiaries, then the high explosives, made their runs, wave after wave, precisely at 7 o'clock. My friend and I were going to visit the mother of a mutual friend who was taken POW at Dunkirk. The visit over, we hurried to the tube but a false air-raid warning was sounded and we were hustled into a shelter, despite our pleas to get to the tube.

Later, the all-clear sounded but we knew it would be too late to get through the tunnel. Arriving at the south end of London Bridge, we went up to the street. Not a soul was in sight. The river and docks were aflame, a pall of smoke lay over the city and the scream of bombs detonating and our own guns booming was deafening. A sight and sound never to be forgotten.

At my instigation, I'm afraid, we raced over the bridge to be met by a 'Bobby' half way across. We were prepared for a tongue-lashing but he was sympathetic and just said, "Run". We caught the northbound train home. My very anxious mother was waiting on the door stop. go to top

The Meeting Place • by Molly I.

The meeting place. Not a house of worship. A tree. A massive tree, a few hundred years old. All the local children met there to play. While waiting, the challenge was to walk on the gnarled roots all the way round the tree without touching the ground. Will we play rounders today? Or maybe cricket? Around the summer solstice it never got quite dark, so at 9 o'clock mothers began calling their chicks home.

In our teen years, we still met at the tree. Now the choice was tennis or movies. We did not pair off in boy-girl dates. It was still the group, until life and war intervened, and we scattered. Some of us never came back and those of us left mourned their loss.

I emigrated to Canada and many years later made a trip back 'home' to Scotland. When I looked for the tree only space remained. Weather and age had taken its toll. As I gazed at that space, in my mind I could hear laughs and shouts of children – before the world caught up with them. go to top

Nana's Bike • by Donna G.

My grandmother was 65 when she decided to buy herself a bike. She learned to ride it by going along by the river then, together, we'd ride our bikes in downtown Stratford. I was 12, an age when I felt self conscious about how we must have looked – a mismatched, pedaling pair.

Nana worked evenings at a bakery. One night, while riding her bicycle to work, all of a sudden, a truck was there. My grandmother ran into the truck and, thankfully, she was okay. The driver got out and helped her. She carried on to work where she made the pies.

A little later, coincidentally, the truck driver came in to the bakery. They said to him, "You're late today. Why? What happened?". He replied, "Well, some old lady ran into me with her bike", and he embellished the story. Nana stood there making the pies, but said nothing.

She died soon after that and I never got to ride with her anymore. I realized then that our rides weren't embarrassing – in fact, they are my favourite memories of Nana, who remains very special to me. go to top

Model T for 'Terror' • by Ilienne L.

It was a Sunday morning on a sunny spring day in 1944. My friend had left his old Model T Ford parked in our driveway overnight. Just having learned how to drive, I invited my cousin to go for a ride around the race track the next block over. She was still in her nightie and housecoat, her hair in curlers.

Once I arrived at the track, I hit the pedal to the metal, going at a pretty good clip. I could see cousin Georgia was getting nervous because her knuckles were turning white. I started laughing, driving all the faster. Spying an opening in the fence surrounding the track, I headed straight for it, not anticipating a steep drop once we reached the edge of the track. Over we flew. Georgia's arms were flailing, curlers were flying, and the screams were at a frightening pitch.

Still laughing hysterically, I drove the old Model T back home, none the worse for wear. go to top

Peaks My Interest • by Marian M.

My favourite place is the Valley of the Ten Peaks, located between Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta. The first time that I went there, I was 8 years old with my parents. I was born in Calgary. My dad was on a convention at Banff Springs Hotel, so they took me up there and I fell in love with it. I've been back several times since then and love it.

The Ten Peaks are 10 mountain peaks that surround Moraine Lake, which is gorgeous. The water comes down the mountains to fill the lake and it is a beautiful, turquoise colour. The place itself is quiet. I've canoed on it and you can see all 10 peaks while on the lake. I hope to go there again before I die.

My husband and I went there for our 25th wedding anniversary. They had just built new cabins overlooking the lake. My son is in Calgary, and I hope to visit he and his family next summer and, when I do, he always drives me up to the mountains and especially to Moraine Lake. go to top