Flash Back Fridays
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (UBC) 1953
When I was 18 and in my second year at university, my future husband picked me out of a meal lineup at UBC. I was taking an accounting course to prepare myself to go into Commerce. There were a total of 152 girls staying at the women’s dormitories that summer, and no men.
We had meals at the nearby Fort Camp dining hall. Three guys came for a brief period that summer to write exams. Jim later said that he picked me to pursue because I had good legs and a nice ass. His older brother Joe, who was a doctor, had told him that was what to look for in a woman.
Jim had been working as a hard rock driller on the pipeline and was at UBC briefly to write a supplemental exam in English 200. I was not too taken with him. I was going out with a PhD candidate in physics and my main interest was horses. I had been a successful competitive English rider and jumper, winning many top prizes in B.C. I had even taken my best horse to Vancouver when I went to UBC. Jim was persistent. I finally went on a date with him. Later I told my cousin, Bill Baikie, that he was all brawn and no brain. Bill insisted that I not give up on him, that he really did have some depth. Actually Bill and many others treated Jim like a hero because he was a famous UBC football player. He was so well-known on campus that no one else asked me out after that, even though there were about five guys to every female on campus. I had officially become his girl after he took me to the first football game. I had so little interest in football that I never did learn the rules.
At university I had a car. Jim would rarely ride in it because he was obsessed with fitness and got around by running all over the campus. One weekend I took him home to Comox to meet my parents. Well, that was the official reason. I really wanted to see if he could ride a horse. I put him on one of my high-spirited nags and told him to follow me around Filberg’s field which had been set up with numerous jumps around the perimeter. He stayed on the horse, on an English saddle, which gave him brownie points with me. Prior to this Jim had worked for a summer with his brother Chuck running trips for Brewster’s Tours in Banff; Western style riding, of course, but Jim was such a good athlete that I expect he could have done it bareback.
As an undergraduate in Physical Education (PE) and History, Jim wrote many essays about the value of youth being out in the wilderness. Apparently he had skipped a lot of school when young, spending his time in the mountains around Penticton. His mother Rachel, a feisty nurse of Irish descent who had seven children, would argue with the principal about his absenteeism, insisting that he had been in school. He fervently believed in getting his education outdoors, eventually joining the boy scouts. He never did learn how to spell, but got through university with his phenomenal memory, undecipherable handwriting, gift of the gab and because UBC needed him as a star football player. He also played basketball, rugby and baseball.
Coach Don Coryell: “Jimmy was one of the finest football fellows I’ve ever met, and he is a magnificent football player. I would say that he could make the Lions”