I had envisioned myself continuing my photographic career, cut short by the demise of the Edmonton Bulletin in 1948. I went through the medical and psychological exams without difficulty. My plans took a turn when I discussed my career path with the Chief Petty Officer in charge of recruiting. He told me that because of my scores on the navy IQ test, I should seriously consider going into the electronic branch. He also said that the photographic branch was very small and promotions were therefore very slow. His recommendations were to change my life forever.
I had just missed a draft to HMCS Cornwallis, and had to spend about a month at HMCS Nonsuch in Edmonton, before I would be able to join my new division in Cornwallis. This actually turned out well, as I had a month more of living in Edmonton, and saying goodbye to my friends.
Life was pretty good during that month, because my future was decided. I was being paid, and enjoyed a pretty soft time. During the day at Nonsuch we would sit around the ship’s Company Canteen and shoot the breeze with regular navy personnel. I remember sitting, one day, with the Chief PO who told us that we were embarking to training which would slowly adjust us from civilian life to the navy way. I do not think I had ever been so misinformed.
When it came time for our train east (there were eight of us at this point) there was a terrific blizzard and the train was delayed. I called my friend Eric, a couple of girls, and we went roller skating. My date wanted to go bowling after so I borrowed Eric’s car. It was a very old car. It did not have a starter and so had to be hand cranked. I had parallel parked and had not straightened the wheels upon parking. There was about eighteen inches between the front bumper and another car for me to operate the crank. I cranked the handle and it started immediately. Unfortunately I had forgotten to put the transmission in neutral, and the car took off down White Avenue, sans driver. Because I had not straightened the wheels, the car missed crushing me, but I chased the car, shouting to my date to hit the brakes. She had no idea where the brakes were, but I was finally able to catch the car, jump on the running-board and pull the emergency brake.