Muir Adair’s story – Preface

A few years ago, our youngest grandson asked me what I remembered most about the War. And in the usual flip manner with which we (of more mature years) tend to deal with the very young when asked questions that cannot be readily answered, I quipped:

 “When they transferred me to ‘Class E Reserve’ and put me back into civvy street.”

I promptly forgot all about the matter.

Many years later, our oldest daughter asked a similar question, suggesting that there probably was much more to my exposure to war than the yarns spun in my somewhat tongue-in-cheek previous book, “The War of the Erks”.

It was then that I remembered the earlier query, and it occurred to me that our children and grandchildren deserved something better than the answer I had so off-handedly given a few years earlier.  They have not known war – not in a personal sense, nor on a global basis.  Oh yes, there have been recent wars.  There will continue to be wars.  Man, being who he is, will always face or cause conflict of some sort; we never seem to learn.  But the two wars faced by my generation resulted in a comparatively peaceful period of history that has lasted for more than 50 years, and that is something that must be regarded an accomplishment.

We survived two World Wars of unbelievable ferocity, a financial depression of catastrophic proportions, and infantile paralysis or other life-threatening epidemics.  We lived, in the eyes of our grandchildren, a somewhat primitive life and yet, in the doing, we paved the road to the greatest advances in technology, health and social welfare since time began.

Today there are aeroplanes, automobiles, televisions, microwave ovens and computers, all of which were either in their infancy or non-existent prior to World War II.  In the days of my youth, there were more horses than tractors, more grocery stores than megamarts, more wood stoves than heat pumps, and more coal oil lamps than light bulbs.  People and freight travelled over railroads not superhighways.  Hospitals were operated by religious or charitable organizations.  Schools, police, fire and municipal works departments still functioned as arms of the municipality in which they were located.  Governments were not considered to be the answer to all Man’s problems and a neighbor was more important than a member of parliament.

From that background there emerged a generation of self-sufficient survivors and “do-ers” that, for five decades, stabilized a world, a portion of which had succumbed to the blandishments of a madman.  I belong to that generation.

This then, is the last of seven books concerning the growing-up and coming-of-age of a kid during one of the most fascinating periods in Canadian history, with emphasis on 1939 to 1945, the World War II years.

Muir Adair,
Langley, British Columbia, 2007

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