Colleen’s Air Force
“I remember the first day I started at D.W. Poppy and picked up the Daily Bulletin from my cubby in the staffroom. I was puzzled by an entry from the Principal of the School, which read: “The D.W. Poppy Air Force is cancelled forthwith.”
It took me some time to learn of Colleen’s experiment with a ‘hot air balloon’ that she and her students had manufactured. This outdoor art activity was simply to lift a student slightly off the ground while sitting on a chair attached to a balloon full of hot air. However, suddenly a huge gust of wind lifted the student off the ground and raised the chair to roof of the school. The student jumped off and the balloon continued… until it hit a power line on the other side of the highway with drastic consequences. Power was interrupted all along the whole Fraser Valley.
I met Colleen later when she cheerfully appointed me to be the Stage Manager of a play she was producing. I didn’t get a chance to refuse! My wife Barb and I became friends with Colleen and her husband Dave and we enjoyed many good times with them and their kids over many years.”
“It was summer 1969: I had known Colleen since high school, but I met Colleen in Detroit. She had been visiting someone in the eastern states and we decided to drive back to Vancouver together in my little station wagon. I was new to the art of driving, and clutched the steering wheel so hard the first couple of days that my hands stiffened and Colleen had to take over driving for a day. She taught me how to relax, right hand draped over the steering wheel, left elbow out the window.
We slept in the back of the car, at campsites. Somewhere along the way, we ate dinner in a very simple restaurant, probably at a campsite. The few other people there, at another table, were speaking Dutch, and since I had been to Holland and learned a few phrases, I greeted them in Dutch, to their surprise. I don’t remember this, but Colleen told me about it years later. We talked about how we missed our boyfriends. Colleen said she was thinking of marrying Dave.
We came to the mountains, and Colleen taught me how to drive up the switchbacks. Third gear on the straight parts, gear down to second to climb the curves, and gear down rather than braking going down the mountainside. Some time ago, as you know I moved to Norway and I have spent 20 years driving around the Norway countryside, where we have lots of mountains, and I have had good use of what she taught me every day. It was a great summer adventure.
Colleen was always such a “people person” who collected friends. She had such a joyful attitude to life and kept me supplied with funny videos for many years. She was an artist and I treasure several of her productions. I will treasure our friendship forever.”