Philately

still the same stamps in the variety packetsThe impulse to collect stamps is labelled “philately”.  Between the ages of ~9 years old and 15, I possessed that rather solitary passion and it might be a major contributing factor in the development of my adventurous nature.  That need to explore goes hand in hand with a lack of fear of the unknown, in my case, and it brought me to Montreal, ideal home for adventurers…, and stamp collectors as I discovered today.

A small ad in a paper that I read rather assiduously led me to exup 42, which I suppose can only be the 42nd Exposition of the Union des philatélistes.  The ad promised both free entry and free parking, but I took the scenic route by bus along Jean Talon this morning and walked up to the second floor of the Maison  du Citoyen in Villeray – St. Michel – Parc Extension fashionably just after the 10am opening.

After a few words of counsel from the Union people, I was directed away from the merchants and into the Bourse des timbres à 10c de l’UPM.  Taking my seat with the other early birds, I introduced myself, “Mon nom est Ted et je suis une philatéliste”.  I blague (I’m joking).  It was more of a square than a circle, due to the tables in front of us.  In the middle of the room were other tables piled with hundreds of albums holding what the UPM volunteer described as “surplus stamps that their members were willing to sell at 10 cents each”. I had the full extent of my circa 1975 stamp collection along with me, and since there were some stamps that I lacked in a “World of Sports”” stamp album from the USPS.  I started by looking at “thematique” albums which contained various – boats, bridges, flowers, animals and, not least, sports”.  Soon I was lost in the beauty of stamps, filling out a dim sum-like summary of my purchases. MLK_Togo_timbreAfter a slow browse through 4 or 5 thematic albums, I was getting the hang of the system and decided that I would follow up on a recent read of a sort of autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. starting with stamps from Africa honouring him.  The albums of African countries, from North to South, Angola to Zanzibar piled before me failed to yield up a single Martin Luther King stamp, though I remember reading that he did travel there.  Finally in the Togo Republic, I found the civil rights hero’s image on a stamp.  I know the obvious is to look for MLK in USA, but since presidents and prime ministers like John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill can be found everywhere in the stamps of the world, I expected the same for this martyred civil rights hero.  Not the case.

The take home for me, besides a selection of stamps that I can use to illustrate future blogs on a variety of topics touching history or geography, is that there are people like me whose interest in stamps is not about rarity or even the collecting impulse but who see stamps as a “trampoline au monde entier”…, and a good conversation starter.  J’ai côtoyé du monde fort engageant aujourd’hui et c’est pas le monde des timbres, mais le monde des philatélistes.

Reverend Toussaint

My last blog spoke of a busy birthday weekend for me with both a Jireh concert and a Montreal Gospel Choir performance as part of an event marking black history in Burlington, Vermont.  In this blog I want to highlight an unexpected pleasure for me on my birthday – something that happened quite by surprise and was the perfect way to mark my 55th birthday.

I made the remark to a couple of my fellow MGC members in the weeks leading up to our choir’s second career performance in the United States that if there were any border troubles and for some reason, or perhaps some unwelcome choir member we were refused entry at the Quebec – Vermont border, it actually might turn out to be more interesting  that way than performing at the scheduled event.MGC  And I, who really do love performing anywhere, love especially performing to the people of Vermont.  This is a people as mellow as the Green Mountain Coffee that they serve, but you can count on them to raise their hands and participate actively in a  gospel concert. In the earliest years of Jireh, and before that with Union Gospel Choir, I had the pleasure of being before an audience who not only loved my Lord Jesus but outwardly indicated the same in the way that they responded to his music.  Rarely seen in Canada, this gospel fervour, I must admit.

The building of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington was what my ideal church building would look like – simple, but infused with light with windows on both sides of the sanctuary on the main floor and the balcony floor.  My own chosen church in Montreal does not possess such easy access to light.  We are a multi-campus church that has a goal of having a location in each borough of Montreal.  I may just drive across town to some foreign borough should we ever find a location with the quality of light that the Unitarian Universalists of Burlington possess!

The choir performed, and I must say we performed just a little better than usual because we were actively encouraged by the greater part of the black audience and even those of the whiter solidarity set.  My wife, Carol, as director is world class.  I love watching her lead – she has all the skills on and offstage to excel in her chosen field.  Then came my birthday surprise as Reverend Toussaint King Hill from Atlanta, Georgia was introduced as the speaker at this black history month event.

Carol and I went to see a civil rights era movie recently.  “Hidden Figures” is set in the very early 1960’s in the state of Virginia and follows the story of 3 black “computers”, women who used their dexterity with adding machines and sometimes, when given the opportunity, their math abilities to enable NASA to send men and spaceships into orbit and to bring them back to earth again.  Civil rights history in the United States is so close at hand to us as Canadians and is so troubling because my privileged class of whiter peoples in all their institutions were so slow at bringing equal rights and access to education to their neighbours who didn’t share the same ancestry.  It is striking to Carol and I, this injustice, as we can testify as a married couple that there are far more things that we share in common than there are things that would divide us.

Faith in Jesus Christ is perhaps the greatest unifying element that Carol and I share.  Carol loves hearing preaching even more than I do as she continues daily to hear the word of God set forth (through means of the internet) while I get my preaching fix but once per week at church.  This was my once per week prescription that the introduced Reverend Hill was bringing today and for Carol, it was a sampling of something too rare for our northern breed – African American preaching in the tradition of the great Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

Reverend Hill is a distinguished alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, without doubt one of the greatest colleges among all the outstanding educational institutions in United States.  He prepared there, as Martin Luther King Jr. himself did, to be the pastor of a church.  Reverend Hill received his present call as pastor in 2006, to West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta.  This was the church that Ralph Albernathy also pastored for many years, another renowned civil rights leader, colleague and friend of Martin Luther King.  Could there be a better speaker possible for a black history month event in Burlington, Vermont on a sunny day in February?

The sermon, for our speaker did not shy away from his gifting even in this Unitarian setting, started slowly, a cadence well-known in the southern states.  As the sermon developed, Reverend Hill added different “tracks” – biblical, historical, musical, mythical, inspirational, political and educational.  Instead of going serially from one track to another as a less-gifted speaker might, he wove the traps into a tapestry – one theme appearing for a minute before it stepped behind another track.  There was a large white handkerchief ready next to the pulpit for Reverend King’s use.  By midway through the sermon, it was obvious that our speaker would be needing the handkerchief even in these northern climes.  He was working the tapestry which was meant to both honour and inspire a people.  You certainly didn’t have to be black to be inspired and moved by his words.  You didn’t need to be a believer to have a great appreciation for his subject of the afternoon, but for those of us who were of the faith in Jesus, he rallied us to proclaim it and to acknowledge Jesus with him.

Carol could not have hoped for a speaker who better represented the preaching style that is native to the churches that birthed the gospel music that Montreal Gospel Choir sings.  His connection with American Civil rights history  and his practice as a preacher to continue in that tradition along with his obvious faith in God and love of Jesus made him the perfect person for us as a choir to back in this event.  Sometimes pastors are accused of “preaching to the choir”.  Because of the willingness of Reverend Toussaint King Hill to come north at the invitation of Patrick Brown, sponsor and organizer of this event, he had the opportunity to preach to a choir very different than the gospel choir that he has in his home church.  As Montreal Gospel Choir continues to develop in its unique way, Reverend Hill’s sermon on February 26, 2017 will no doubt provide a frame of reference to us in faith and in singing.  Preach it, brother!IMG_0763

Market and me

Pen & Ink sketch of Kitchener Farmers Market

This pen and ink print signed “Paquette 72” hung on the wall just above some Group of Seven prints in my parents dining room. It was well placed near the table where we celebrated special occasions as the meat business that the Dettweiler family has been associated with for several generations was founded on taking our meat to market and we still continue doing that.

My father remembers his earliest market experiences at the Preston market.  Sales began with the ringing of a bell at, I’m going to say, 6 am.  Seems early, but in that era the first sales would already be lined up for waiting purchasers and with the bell the money could change hands.  Farmer vendors like my grandfather had work to do at home and in the day of early morning markets they may have been back home by 9 am.  If you weren’t an early riser in that day, you did not get to buy the meat and produce brought to market by hard-working farmers.  At St. Catharines market, if you want Dettweiler’s sausage in the 21 century, you can come as late as 11 am – but no later, as at that hour I will already be packing up in order to get on with the work of my Niagara-on-the-Lake deliveries.

My father would make deliveries of meat after the brief market hours, perhaps to customers in the neighbouring town of Hespeler and certainly in the other direction from home to Breslau customers.  When he eventually built his own meat shop, maybe 1/4 mile down the road from the family farm, he called his business “Midway Meat Market”.  This name took advantage of the name of the Breslau telephone exchange.  When you picked up your telephone in those days you didn’t need to know any numbers.  You spoke to the operator and asked for the “Midway” exchange and then asked to be connected to the meat market there.  Presumably, picking up the handset and specifying “Midway Meat Market” was all it took to be connected to my dad in those days.  There you could order a pound of bacon, a nice chuck roast and 2 pounds of pork sausage and my father could arrange to deliver it to you at your home.

If you would like to order some of Mennonite smoked sausage these days you can contact us by emailing “info” followed by the domain name of the website you are presently looking at (which is our family name) and the “.ca” ending of Canadian domains.  We also have a store on Victoria Street, just across the Grand River from Kitchener and the phone number for this Breslau, Ontario location is the exact same one we have had since the day that they discontinued telephone operators for local calls.

Many things have changed over the years, but you can still get quality meat from the Dettweilers which will make your meal times to be special occasions.

I have a heritage

Harold Dettweiler, first-born son with (oldest to youngest) Margaret, Mary and Ruby. Year - 1925.
Harold Dettweiler, first-born son with (oldest to youngest) Margaret, Mary and Ruby. Year – 1925.

 

This photo of my father speaks volumes to me.  I love reading and contemplating history.  The best kind is the history that has shaped your own life.  My father is still with us in 2016, passing his 94th birthday!

In the midst of the “roaring twenties” my grandparents had the family put on their Sunday-best clothes and document themselves at a photographer’s studio.  Dad knew the Great Depression of the thirties. There’s a story of my grandfather going to market with piglets and coming home later with more than he took as someone else had slipped their own that they didn’t have the means to feed in with the Dettweiler stock.  The Christmas gift one of those lean years, shared among his sisters was a simple enamel or steel comb for their hair. Dad was finished his schooling at the Riverbank school, just down the road from home, in 1936.Harold, Clark, Ward and Glen Dettweiler in dad's teen years  The future, from that point was working on the farm.  My Mennonite heritage, through my father, is evangelical Christian.  His father’s barn impelled passers-by with the words of John the Baptist from Mark 1:15, “Repent, and believe the Gospel”.

In 1942, my dad was sent, along with other conscientious objectors to alternative service which began, for him, at the Montreal River camp in Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Superior.  An autograph book my father kept from those times makes me think that my father experienced an extended bit of camp-comradery as his co-workers there in the 6 or 8 months he spent there shared on those pages scripture verses or perhaps a witty poem.  His alternative service then continued near home as he worked for the local dairy right through the very end of the war in 1946.

After the war, life continued on the farm.  Dad travelled several times during those years between the war and the meeting-my-mom and marriage in 1952 to Alberta, at harvest-time to work on harvesting the grain.  In winter, when farm work was less intense he attended this Bible School held at First Mennonite in Kitchener.  The photo below is only half of a huge panorama shot of the students involved with him in learning from the Bible in January of 1948.  My dad is in the top row the second from the right hand side of the photo.My dad among other Bible School students at Kitchener in January 1948

From all this history of dad, I learn that I didn’t invent life out of nothing (ex nihilo?) I just continued it.  Like I would walk behind my dad as he tilled the soil of the garden in spring with the roto-tiller, I followed in the way that he had established.  If I like to dress well, I continue the lines established by father’s very non-plain ties.  I eat simple food and enjoy it; I love adventure that takes me from home and I love returning.  I can make my own way through life and I’ve been informed by God’s word.

Thanks, Dad for all of this.

Some excellent reading & music

Texture magazines

This morning, in my long run which effectively completes my training for the half marathon in Montreal on September 25, I ran with my Eers earbuds in playing this week’s Discover Weekly playlist put together by Spotify.  This is exceptional for me to run with music but since I needed to stretch my distance out and I would be running alone for two hours without a companion, I thought that doing this to jazz music would help “diminuer les ennuies”.  And so it did – I finished 16 km of running with 8 songs left still unplayed in the 30 song playlist.  If you use Spotify, clicking on the previous link will open up the playlist that I enjoyed this morning.

After returning home and being greeted as a hero by Carol for accomplishing such a distance (my training for this major run next Sunday has been, admittedly, spotty, I showered, brunched (oh, how I love running for the way that it makes everything taste better) and then rested my weary bones with some reading.  In a similar manner that I use Spotify to find any and all music that I want to listen to, just this week, I signed up for the magazine service put out by Rogers which gives me unlimited access to a whole panoply of magazines.  My iPad is the ideal device to read on.  I have these magazines listed as My Favourites: Bicycling; Canadian Business; Canadian Cycling; Canadian Running; Consumer Reports; L’actualité; National Geographic plus these from same publisher – History, & Traveller. Continuing: New York Magazine; Popular Mechanics; Québec Science; Popular Science; Rolling Stone; Smithsonian; The Atlantic; Travel & Leisure; Vanity Fair; Vélo Mag; Wired; The Official Program of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and, finally, Zoomer.  Missing from this list are weekly or bi-weekly magazines like Time, Newsweek, McLeans, The New Yorker, Billboard and People.  I opted for the Basic $9.99 per month subscription that includes only the monthly magazines.  From a point of view of costs, I simply cancelled my New York Times digital subscription (too much of the American election) which cost me $14.99 per month.  I am quite happy that the $10 per month gives me access to a fair slate of Canadian content including magazines en français that will help me expand my vocabulary.

Am I reading?  Yes!  Besides the reading from the library, much of this also coming across my iPad as e-books from the Montreal Library, the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Québec, and the Ontario Public Library system.  Thank you Baysville Library for access to the e-book wealth of an entire province.  My Goodreads links to my updated reading list with very short reviews for my completed books.

Now back to Québec Science magazine’s fascinating article on the history of the Saint Lawrence river.

saintlaurent

Mountain top reading

Mount Royal picnic site

Me voici dans les environs ou il me plait prendre mon petit-dejeuner-le-matin de temps en temps.  L’arbre dont son nom j’ignore (en francais je viens d’apprendre les noms des arbres et c’est un bouleau!) Je continue – cette arbre, le bouleau, est fixe dans une niche [ je pense c’est le bon mot] entre un plateau [??] de roche ou je me trouve assis.

[Hey, my incredibly awkward beginning to this blog – in the original version – seems to flow much better when I expressed it en francais.  Malheureusement, je suis assis devant le clavier chez mes parents et icitte, les accents, grave et aigu, les tres mignons cedilles sur les c, sont cachees qq-part et c’est pas ecrire en francais sans les accents. Pas de tout, pas de tout, pas de tout.  Et puis….. je retourne a mon originally-blogged language which is Capital E-nglish (with a little help from our German friends).]

[This is the original beginning to the mountain-top reading blog of Sunday, August 4 re-written when I saw that the original beginning had language that just-didn’t-flow, way-too many commas and well, it just didn’t please me in the way that this place that I sometimes eat breakfast at and linger and read at…not a great linguistic construct, that, but at least it’s a parallel construct…this place pleases me, but the description, not-at-all.  Here, I’ll bring my breakfast hot-from-home, and, when my schedule permits, I continue here and read books.  The birch tree which is rooted right in the middle in a small space between this large flat rock reminds me of a large rock along the Dickie Lake Road which has a similar birch growing, somehow, in a small space.  At first glance, both trees – the Dickie Lake birch and the one pictured here – seem to be growing right out of the rock.

The view from my picnic table looks down over a large picnic area which is situated just above (or behind) the chalet and the belvedere.   I can sometimes be distracted by others in the vicinity doing various martial arts, or throwing frisbees or playing catch with their kids.  But in the morning, at 8:30am,  it has the advantage of bird sounds and amazing light, and I climbed maybe 160 metres of elevation (with my bicycle) to get here, so I have an appetite and am already somewhat focused for my reading.  Not many users in this large area in the morning and the other users of this area, if any, are usually alone and into their own meditative pursuits.

What am I reading up here?  Well, if it’s in my Goodreads recently, I may have read parts of it here.  Last summer, which was before I discovered the advantages of this particular picnic site spot, I was bringing Pilgrim at Tinker Creek on my bike rides up the mountain.  But this summer and fall, I’m reading novels – literature, I hope.  Right now I’m reading a Michael Crummey novel set in the fictional outport of Paradise Deep in Newfoundland.  And then I have my regular 4 track Bible reading program which in September has me in Isaiah, Proverbs, Luke and Hebrews (some top notch Biblical writing, to be sure).  I’ve been reading a 1950’s Short History of Christianity by Martin Marty and “Credo” by Hans Kung.  Books like that I’m not reading in a hurry, but at a pace where I can contemplate what the author is really saying.  There is another book that is so complicated that I have to be in a spot where I can really concentrate before I can make any progress in aligning my thinking with that of the author.  This would be my best reading spot and probably the one where I am least likely to fall asleep mid-page.

And this is me re-establishing my Sunday blog on the Labour Day weekend, 2016.

Secret Sabbaths in Aargau TSB04

In Ted’s Sunday blog 02, I started exploring my ancestors on the Dettweiler (Dätwyler) side, based on documentation that I photographed of geneological records kept by the Swiss Reformed Church in Schoeftland starting in the year 1624 and my memories and photos of exploring Witwill and Staffelbach, Aargau (where the Dätwylers lived until the early 18th century).

Today, in preparing this Ted’s Sunday Blog on what a Sunday would have been like for Melchior & Maria, or for son, Samuel, I browsed pages in the Mennonite encyclopedia, read in French in the online Swiss Historical Encyclopedia and found other articles on the Ausbund (one of the earliest hymnals used by Anabaptists in Switzerland and in America).  Did Mennonites have a Bible?  Probably.  By the time of Melchior & Maria, the Luther (German) Bible had been available for over 100 years.  But let’s leave all that aside and contemplate what meeting in secret does to your faith.

Why did Swiss Anabaptists need to meet in secret?

The Swiss movement of the Anabaptists (a name their persecutors gave to them) began in 1525 in Zurich.  At the beginning of the movement, there were many of the Anabaptist leaders who were imprisoned or executed by drowning or asked to recant their beliefs under duress.  The last execution of an Anabaptist leader in Switzerland took place in 1571 in the canton of Bern, when Hans Haslibacher was beheaded.  In September of that year, Haslibacher’s son, though being of the Swiss Reformed faith, was fined heavily just for harbouring his father, a preacher who had been active in the faith since 1532.

Our family is fortunate to have been living in one of the last known areas in Switzerland where Mennonites were actively proselytizing.  A large number of Anabaptists left Switzerland in mass emigrations in 1711.  That probably included Samuel and Maria and their 12 year old son.

Anabaptists, because of the continued persecution that made it illegal to listen to Anabaptist teaching, met in secret in the wooded hills or in caves.  I saw one cave with a rock overhang at only a short distance from Wittwil.  I could imagine that such a cave could be used quite well for worship and teaching, allowing shelter from the rain and an acoustic environment for the singing and speaking.  Surely meeting in secret was never something done out of habit or duty.  The hymns that were likely sung were written by earlier Anabaptists during their times of imprisonment.  No doubt this would lead these secret followers to count the cost of their discipleship.  The bonds of fellowship with others would of necessity be tight as each one who gathered would be liable to arrest if their membership in this group was made known to authorities.  Personally, I have always appreciated church buildings that are bright with natural lighting.  This may be inherited from my spiritual ancestors who met in broad daylight in forests and caves.

In my era, many of my generation who grew up in churches that were active in spreading the good news of Jesus have now toned down the way they share their faith with others.  I want to continue to strongly identify with evangelicals even when we are accused of being simplistic in the beliefs we espouse.  Is Jesus really the answer for everyone?  Somewhere in our family history in Switzerland, another risked their life to spread what they believed to my family.  What a ride that put them on.

Leaving Switzerland before that country was formerly organized as a confederation, we arrived in America before that country had its formative revolution against the British.  Then in 1810, while Canada was still a British colony, soon to be at war (War of 1812), Rudolph Dettweiler moves with other settlers from Pennsylvania to German Company Tract land in Waterloo Township bringing his not-quite 3 year-old son, Rudolph.  All of this movement was largely for religious freedoms, including freedom of conscience with regards to war.

Now let’s go back to Europe where this faith was formed:  If Melchior & Maria were exposed to Anabaptist teaching in 1668 when their son, Samuel, was born they must have kept it secret by continuing to frequent the Swiss Reformed church where their marriage and the birth of their children, and their own births were recorded by the priest.  Perhaps living at a distance from the Reformed Church meant they could do that without being noticed, or it is possible that the conversion to the Anabaptist faith did not happen until their son’s generation.  Samuel married a Maria Dudli some time before 1699 when their son, Melchior, was born.  It is this Melchior who travels with others to America, landing according to ship records in Philadelphia in 1736.  Since we don’t have a birth record for Maria Dudli (a possible sign that her parents identified with the Anabaptists) she may well be the link to the Anabaptist teaching that lead our family to identify with Mennonites, ultimately to leave Switzerland because of religious persecution (probably to Alsace) and then to become fully identified with Mennonites when their son emigrates to Pennsylvania.

That is a capsule history of my Dettweiler roots, as contemplated on a Sunday afternoon.

 

 

 

Milton Book Shop

It would be rare for me to pass by the Milton Street Book shop on my way home on foot without at least a one minute glance at the books  that are clearing at 50 cents each on the exterior window sill.  If this used book shop is successful, and they have remained in business while many other book shops have not, it may be partly attributed to the siren’s call of these quality 50 cent offerings.
MiltonBookShop

 

Today I heeded the call of two books with a spiritual bent and one that excited my interest in history – a paperback history of the early Fabians in Britain.  It may always be best to buy used books on subjects that touch the spiritual life as if the ideas are new and in fashion they may not stand the test of time.  Why feed your ever-living soul something that has less than a 20 year time span?

Once in the store to pay my coin to the book-loving minder of the till, I browse the pricier yet still quite affordable selections.  I consider Robert Frost (The Complete Works) while reading “Christmas Trees” a poem he wrote as a Christmas circular letter sent out to friends.  I could take captive his complete works for only $10 and put it on my bookshelf at home (although there would be an opportunity cost – another book replaced – as there is no room left in the inn).  Then I look to see if there any books by my 1st year university English teacher’s favourite poet, except I can’t recall the poet’s name so I browse the whole poetry section (in vain) for the Jesuit poet who gave glory to God for dappled things.  Google those last 6 words and you’ll find the rich, rich poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins.  Meant to be read aloud his poetry was never published during his lifetime (and still he wrote, for the glory of God).

So, finally I leave the gas-heater warmth of my favourite book shop with $1.50 worth of books in my clutch.  If I put these three books immediately on my reading list along with another 3 to 6 books already begun I would not need to return to the Super Library before June.  Selah.

Read the exciting conclusion to this blog about used books at dettweiler.ca/wp sometime before the end of June.