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Michael Johnson

Old Contemptible
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Blog Entries posted by Michael Johnson

  1. Michael Johnson
    Those of you who were born in the 1950-60s in Canada may recognize the title as a line from Romping Ronnie Hawkins's 1970 song "Home From the Forest", written by Gordon Lightfoot, about the death of a forgotten veteran.
    I fall into that age group.  I've been a militaria collector for 45+ years now.  This Friday, I'm opening a year-long exhibition on Canadian Peacekeeping at the Oakville Ontario Museum.  Apart for occasional presentations to Cub Packs for Remembrance Day, it's about the only use I've made of my collection.
    Last November I retired, not by my own choosing.  Given my family situation, which includes the care of my soon-to-be 90 mother-in--law,  to whom we owe our comparative freedom from 1990 to 2005, I probably couldn't have worked much longer.  Our sons have followed us into my wife's and mine respective professions, and are working on establishing themselves, living at home to save money, and helping out.
    But when I go on Youtube and play some 1960s music, I'm still that awkward teenager making model cars and airplanes.
     



  2. Michael Johnson
    Joan, whom I have worked with for more years than I care to think of, is in hospital seriously ill with cancer and a heart attack. Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.

    Over the years I have helped Joan research her family's military history. Her father was one of the Canadians who joined the R.A.F. in 1938. He ended up with 42 Squadron R.A.F. flying Beauforts, along with a compatriot Oliver Philpot. Both were shot down and both ended up in Stalag Luft III. Philpot was to escape with Eric Williams and Michael Codner in the wooden horse escape. Her uncle was killed October 13, 1941 with 58 Squadron R.A.F. on return from a raid on Nurenburg.

    A great uncle 464662 Pte.James Frederick Burns was killed October 26, 1917 with the 47th Bn. C.E.F. and is buried in Passchendaele New British Cemetery.




    I'm hoping Joan will pull through.

    Update April 29 - Joan died today. .

    Rest in peace, Joan



  3. Michael Johnson
    While researching a Metropolitan Police 1902 Coronation, I found and contacted the recipient's great-grand-daughter, who has her own blog on this man. I decided to offer to sell it back to the family, as I already have several of that medal. Her response was amusing:



    Sometimes virtue is not its only reward.
  4. Michael Johnson
    I'm not much of a blogger, unless you count my "John and Marie" fiction on the Great War Forum. However, as I get older I feel the urge to muse in (semi) public, which is certainly better than wandering down the street talking to myself.

    I've been collecting since 1973, and have gone from British Military longarms to badges, to uniforms, to medals. I've never been an "I never sell anything" collector (can't afford to), but nonetheless bits and pieces of each historical period remain (like the non-original front sling swivel from my Martini-Henry III, and a .577 Snider brass cartridge).

    This is one of the downsides of collecting. Medals and badges can pass fairly easily on eBay, etc. But the bits of webbing, helmet covers, paper, etc. are harder to move. Even cataloguing it is beyond me. But realistically most of this stuff I will never look at again, the boys are now too big to fit the uniforms, and I certainly could use the spare change to finance more R.G.A. Victory Medals.

    I can't look on this as a retirement project, as retirement at 65 doesn't look like a realistic option for me. I suppose I could stuff a moving box and bill it as "Grand Militaria Surprise Package".

    Books are a similar problem. I've got a great British Colonial library, most of which I haven't looked at in nearly 30 years. I'm sure there are collectors out there who could use these books, but postage (even in Canada) is prohibitive. I remember all too clearly clearing out my parents' books from the family home in 1988 with my then fiancée, (now my wife of almost 25 years). It's not a job I want to wish on my sons.
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