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October 13, 2005


On Thursday my Grandfather passed away.

BELL, Gene - Peacefully at the General Hospital
with his family by his side on Thursday, October
6, 2005 at the age of 81. Husband of Bernadette
Bell. Stepfather of Robert Martin (Nancy) and
Susan O'Leary. Proud Papa of Rob, Ted and Wesley
Martin, Erin, Andrew, Mark and Sean O'Leary. Also
step-father of Gary Burns (Leigh Campbell) and
Ronald Burns (Judy) and their children, Brian and
Stephen Burns and J.D. Burns. Special friend of
Anne and Cliff Sanderson. Brother-in-law of Del
Belanger, Robert Bouillion (Cecile) and Theresa
Eaton. Uncle of many nieces and nephews. Friends
may call at the Arthur Funeral Home & Cremation
Centre on Sunday, October 9, 2005 from 12:00 noon
until time of funeral service in the chapel at
2:00 p.m. Rev. Bruce McLeish officiating. Memorial
contributions to the Group Health Centre Trust
Fund would be appreciated by the family.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning,
We will remember them.
Members of the Royal Canadian Legion are requested
to assemble at the Arthur Funeral Home & Cremation
Centre on Sunday, October 9, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. for
a service for the late Eugene Bell.

I was one of three who gave a eulogy at the funeral service. Below is my speech...

Papa, not Grandpa. Papa. I believed we called him that because my father called his Italian grandfather Papa also. It has some Hemingway-eskness to it now as I look back. Technically speaking Gene Bell was a stepfather and a step-grandfather, but he preferred not to use the "step" prefix. Some of the bonds he created with his children and grand children are much thicker than blood.

Papa was good at many things.

He was a master distiller. Ruby cabernet, dandelion wine and chokecherry wine come to mind. One day my brother called me. He was all excited that he obtained a coveted bottle of the chokecherry wine. I recall seeing these old bottles of Seagram's 7 in the rafters of his workshop in the basement, filled with a dark red liquid. Usually the cap was almost hermetically sealed with the finest masking tape that was stained from the wine oozing out the cap. That evening Brian opened the bottle of wine and drank it. He did not awake until 5pm the next day.

Papa was an outdoorsman. He loved to go hunting. He enjoyed fishing whether it was by boat or by snowmobile on ice.

Papa was a great gift giver. Gifts from Papa and Bernie at Christmas were the best. I never once received a pair of socks or a sweater. All the gifts were battery operated and had motors like remote control fire trucks and motorcycles. After a few months my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up dismantling all the toys to see what was in them and how they worked. This did not go unnoticed and the following year, at the age of 10, I received a real set of Canadian Tire screwdrivers and pliers.

Papa was best at telling stories. He wasn't much of a listener, but he sure could tell you some pretty cool stories. Now that I think of it some of Papa's stories parallel some of Papa Hemingway's fables. I remember an ice fishing story about catching the dreadful ling fish in Northern Ontario. However, I will not miss the story of Ronnie wanting to smoke a cigarette at the house. I've heard it too many times. I've heard many stories about his troubles with his Mazda van and the customer service he received. Poor Bernie must have heard them a hundred times.

When I was in my twenties I started taking interest in World War 2 history. I would visit Papa and we would sit at the kitchen table and sip ruby cabernet and I asked him to tell me about the war. His stories were fascinating and vivid. They were much more interesting and detailed than the war documentaries on the History channel. He once explained how after they took Normandy, his group was humping it up the roads along the coast heading north. French women stood along the rural roads with glasses of milk for the invading troops. Their sergeant yelled, "Do not drink the milk, it could be poisoned," since these women were previously acquainted with the German soldiers who occupied the area. One of his buddies immediately snatched a glass of milk and quaffed it down and yelled, "The milk is okay Sarge!" I also got out of him many other battle stories and the one of how he got the bullet wound on his brow. I'm sure many of you have already heard it.

In 1999 while bike riding along the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto my friend and I stumbled upon the Legion Branch 344, home of the Queen's Own Rifles. The Regiment Papa belonged to. We couldn't resist, and within moments we were sitting in the Legion at the bar, drinking draft beer and talking to veterans.

A few months later, on the evening of my initiation at that branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, Papa and Bernie were in the area visiting their children Susan and Bob. So, Papa met me at my place in downtown Toronto, and we went for dinner at an Italian restaurant. He was wearing his Queen's Own Rifles jacket and his 50th Anniversary D-Day cap. Afterwards, we headed down to the Legion where he ever so proudly, sponsored my membership and paid for the first year. He said, "I'm only paying for one year, you'll have to pay the dues for rest of them." I am still a member today.

On the way back home in the car, I regretfully mentioned to him that my brother and I, knew the whereabouts of our biological grandfather in Niagara Falls. We were thinking of going there to meet him. Papa piped up loudly, "Now why in the hell would go and do that! I'm your Grandfather! I'm your Grandfather!"

He was right.

Papa will be greatly missed by all of his grandchildren.

Eugene Dexter Bell

Posted by stephen at 7:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 1, 2005

The High Cost of Underwear

I'm back.

Inspected By...

I guess it's a good time to replace your underwear when you can see daylight through the crotch. I'm 35 and my mother still purchases my underwear for me. Oh, don't laugh at me. I can't get this underwear without the help of my mother. I like to keep at least 12 pairs of boxer-briefs in the top drawer of my dresser. That's enough to get me to get to the furthest possile laundry day during earthquakes or black-outs. Plus, the more you have, the less they get worn, so you can get more miles out of them. My current outgoing set of Stanfield's are on their sixth year. They are the only underwear I will wear, besides my sporty fave, the Ex Officio which I will talk about some other time. Meanwhile, the Stanfield's are 100% cotton and are tight enough to hold the boys in place. It's all about support. Over the years the fabric will relax and lose its tenacity. I bought my first pair of Stanfield's at Chalkies clothing on Spadina Avenue in Toronto. Annually in the fall, a group of fraternity brothers would visit the winter clothing store mecca. Since I have moved to the states I have not been able to find a boxer-brief that had good, thick, high quality, cotton, ones that wouldn't be see-through in a couple of washes or was a 50/50 blend. I looked online too and went to the Stanfield's website and phoned them at their offices in Truro, Nova Scotia. But I couldn't find any stores online that would ship to the United States. My mother was planning a visit so I placed an order with her to purchase seven pairs of medium Stanfield's from Sears in Sault Ste. Marie. Priced at $14 CDN each the bill can add up quickly when you purchase multiple pairs, but look how long they last. I got 6 years out of them for $12 back in the day, so that's $2 per year divided by all those days equals 0.00547945205 canuck cents a day for your scivvies. Not too schabby. As I was unpacking the undearwear from the bags that they came in, an "Inspected by" tags fell out from behind the shorts, officially signed my Jean and Leah. It appears Jean was working the black underwear assembly line and Leah was working the gray gitch that glorious day in Truro. It must have been cold out. I unpacked all the gotchies and put them in the washer machine on warm with a little soap. I hate wearing brand new clothes with that brand new sheen on them. A good wash and dry, especially with cotton with puff and soften the fabric up nicely.

I also highly recommend that you do not purchase white underwear. First of all you will never be accused of wearing tighty-whities, when you are wearing nothing but solid gray or black. Whites show the stains to predominantly. Remember that time when you where getting naked just before having sex with your lover. You threw your underwear nonchalantly onto the floor and they fell onto the carpet with the interior crotch exposed for your naked lover who sitting naked on top of the bed to see. I'm not saying this ever happend to me but I'm sure that your undearwear with a bigger skidmark than a five car pile up ruined the mood. Whites are for those who shave their ass and use wet baby wipes to clean up their bottoms after bowel movements. Anyways you get my point.

Black and gray underwear also helps you differentiate the new and used underwear on a trip. I think I'm going to use the Sharpie laundry marker this time and number them.

I wanted to make sure that the ladies who inspected my underwear were aware of my undying gratitute to there service in the undergarment industry, so I sent them a thank-you email to: inquiries@stanfields.com.

Subject: Thanks to Leah & Jean

I just wanted to thank Leah and Jean for inspecting my Stanfield's boxer-briefs. Please let them know that the fine work that they do is appreciated.


Stephen Burns
A fine Canadian in Los Gatos, California

If you would like to get your hands on a pair of new Stanfield's from Canada, contact my mother.

Posted by stephen at 3:28 PM | Comments (0)