Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

May 16, 2017

 

The Senior Times

Pit Stop by Neil McKenty

On the Shrivers, the Special Olympics and floor hockey.

I was enjoying a winter holiday in Palm Spins, California, when it was announced that Sargent Shriver gad died.  I met Shriver, married to President John Kennedy’s sister Eunice, in the early 70’s.  I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Mr. Shriver was the founding director of the Peace Corps, the signature success of Kennedy’s New Frontier.  He directed Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, founded Head Start, created the Jobs Corp and Legal Services for the Poor.

He served as President of the Special Olympics, which was founded by his wife.

Writing in the New York Times, Bob Herbert said that  »Mr. Shriver affected more people in a positive way than any American since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. »

When I met Mr. Shriver in 1971, he struck me as an enormously enthusiastic and energetic man.  I met him to discuss an award the Kennedys were making to Jean Vanier, the son of the former governor-general.  Mr. Vanier was being honoured by the Kennedys for his work with the mentally challenged.

My boss at the time, the Toronto philanthropist and sportsman Harry  »Red » Foster, thought it would be appropriate if Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau wrote a short statement to be delivered at the awards ceremony in Washington.

I called Mr. Trudeau’s office and he agreed to send a short statement to honour Vanier.  There was, however, one condition: The statement would be in both English and French and must be read that way.

I explained Mr. Trudeau’s condition to Mr. Shriver and he readily agreed to find someone who would be able to handle the French.

At the event, however, somebody dropped the ball.  To my exasperation, the statement did not get read in French.

I expressed my anger to Mr. Shriver.  He was upset as I was and apologized profusely.

As this was playing out, we were negotiating with Mr. Shirver’s wife, Eunice, for Canada to play a larger role in the Special Olympics.  We had a Canadian Special Olympics at Exhibition Park in Toronto and we had been invited to join the Kennedys for the first international Special Olympics in Chicago.

One of the most successful elements of our own Olympics was floor hockey.  We had convinced the National Hockey League to get behind this project and we were eager that Mrs. Shriver accept floor hockey into the American Special Olympics.

To that end, I had several meetings with Mrs. Shriver in Washington.

What a though lady she turned out to be-though in the sense she knew what she wanted and used any means to get there.  Smart, too.

I was not the only person who thought if Mrs. Shriver had been born later she might well have become the first female president of the United States.

She questioned me carefully about the suitability of floor hockey for the Special Olympics program.

I am writing this wile still in Palm Springs.  While here, I’ve talked to a number of Americans about the Obama presidency.

Most people seem all for it or all against it.  There is no middle ground.  As one of the naysayers put it:  »My husband had a job under George Bush and he lost his job under Obama. »

My own view is unchanged.  If the unemployment rate comes down one full point or more, Obama will win a second term fairly easily.  I mean, who is likely to beat him?  Michelle Bachmann, the poor person’s Sarah Palin?

Published in February 2011.

Jean P.

RADIO WAVES

March 27, 2017

 

Exchange on CJAD with Neil McKenty.

NM001

On today’s program, Mayor Drapeau.  Did Mayor Drapeau mismanaged the Olympics.  Neil talks with Montrealers on the mayor at the time.  Enjoy!

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

October 11, 2016

 

The Senior Times

Pit Stop by Neil McKenty

On the Shrivers, the Special Olympics and floor hockey.

I was enjoying a winter holiday in Palm Spins, California, when it was announced that Sargent Shriver gad died.  I met Shriver, married to President John Kennedy’s sister Eunice, in the early 70’s.  I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Mr. Shriver was the founding director of the Peace Corps, the signature success of Kennedy’s New Frontier.  He directed Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, founded Head Start, created the Jobs Corp and Legal Services for the Poor.

He served as President of the Special Olympics, which was founded by his wife.

Writing in the New York Times, Bob Herbert said that ”Mr. Shriver affected more people in a positive way than any American since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

When I met Mr. Shriver in 1971, he struck me as an enormously enthusiastic and energetic man.  I met him to discuss an award the Kennedys were making to Jean Vanier, the son of the former governor-general.  Mr. Vanier was being honoured by the Kennedys for his work with the mentally challenged.

My boss at the time, the Toronto philanthropist and sportsman Harry ”Red” Foster, thought it would be appropriate if Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau wrote a short statement to be delivered at the awards ceremony in Washington.

I called Mr. Trudeau’s office and he agreed to send a short statement to honour Vanier.  There was, however, one condition: The statement would be in both English and French and must be read that way.

I explained Mr. Trudeau’s condition to Mr. Shriver and he readily agreed to find someone who would be able to handle the French.

At the event, however, somebody dropped the ball.  To my exasperation, the statement did not get read in French.

I expressed my anger to Mr. Shriver.  He was upset as I was and apologized profusely.

As this was playing out, we were negotiating with Mr. Shirver’s wife, Eunice, for Canada to play a larger role in the Special Olympics.  We had a Canadian Special Olympics at Exhibition Park in Toronto and we had been invited to join the Kennedys for the first international Special Olympics in Chicago.

One of the most successful elements of our own Olympics was floor hockey.  We had convinced the National Hockey League to get behind this project and we were eager that Mrs. Shriver accept floor hockey into the American Special Olympics.

To that end, I had several meetings with Mrs. Shriver in Washington.

What a though lady she turned out to be-though in the sense she knew what she wanted and used any means to get there.  Smart, too.

I was not the only person who thought if Mrs. Shriver had been born later she might well have become the first female president of the United States.

She questioned me carefully about the suitability of floor hockey for the Special Olympics program.

I am writing this wile still in Palm Springs.  While here, I’ve talked to a number of Americans about the Obama presidency.

Most people seem all for it or all against it.  There is no middle ground.  As one of the naysayers put it: ”My husband had a job under George Bush and he lost his job under Obama.”

My own view is unchanged.  If the unemployment rate comes down one full point or more, Obama will win a second term fairly easily.  I mean, who is likely to beat him?  Michelle Bachmann, the poor person’s Sarah Palin?

Published in February 2011.

Jean P.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

January 26, 2016

 

 

 

Lets continue last week’s writing conversation.

 

The Inside Story

 

The Inside Story

12

The Special Olympics And A Special Wedding

I represented Red at the first Special Olympics ever held in Quebec, on St. Helen Island in Montreal.  Then we flew to Washington to attend two events hosted by the Kennedy Foundation.  The first was a seminar on the rights of intellectually handicapped, attended by Senator Edward Kennedy and Mother Teresa.  The second was the presentation of a Kennedy award to Jean Vanier, son of the former Governor General and founder of l’Arche community homes for the intellectually handicapped.  Some time later we flew with a television crew to West Palm Beach to interview Rose Kennedy.  The footage was used as part of our campaign to raise money for the Special Olympics in Canada.

But the highlight of my time with Red Foster did not involve big names people.  It involved the intellectually handicapped themselves.  One event stands out – the first Canadian National Special Olympics, which were held at the CNE and Ontario Place in June 1971.  Enormous preparation had gone organizing these games and teams had been entered from all ten provinces.  On a warm June evening, the opening ceremonies took place on the track in front of the grandstand at the CNE grounds.  There they all were – the dignitaries, the Lieutenant Governor in the gold braid, Premier William Davis and his wife, city officials, aides in their glittering uniforms, the milliary, bands and cheerleaders.

Then I looked down the track.  A band came into view, its martial music reverberating through the grandstand.  Next, from each of the ten provinces came bearers with their banners and flags gently flapping in the warm breeze.  And behind the banners came the special athletes, the Olympians, carrying in their hearts their special oath:  “Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”  Some of them stumbled a bit, others walked haltingly, still others tried to do a little jig, but all waved and smiled at the rest of us in a kind of happy blessing.  I smiled back at them, these special people.  I looked at their faces warm in the setting sun and watched them dancing to the music – and suddenly I reach out to them, to respond to their courage and their love.  And I started to cry.

During this exiting period working for Red Foster, I had plenty of time to socialize and make new friends, such as Bill Belyea who helped me navigate the workday world.  Denise and I saw less and less of each other as I tried to put old patterns behind me.  My counsellor at Southdown, Mark Eveson, warned me to make no major decision for at least a year.  But that left plenty of room for action.  I took up ballroom dancing, joining a group called Hiatus which billed itself as an Arts and Letters Society with a sense of humour.  And I met several women with whom I had brief relationships but no commitments.

Not until the beginning of 1972, that is, I was hosting a social evening for Hiatus at my house.  The speaker was Professor Ramsay Cook, probably English-Canada’s leading expert on Quebec nationalism.  In the course of the evening I met another member of Hiatus.  She was tall and slim, had blond hair and striking blue eyes, and her name was Catharine Fleming Turnbull.  Some time later we met again on the dance floor at another Hiatus party.  I was intrigued and asked her out for dinner and more dancing.  I sensed that somehow Catharine was different from other women.  We had a long, inconclusive discussion about appropriate sexual behavior and that is where we left it.

Six months later the phone rang in my office.  It was Catharine calling from her office.  She was a speech writer with the Ontario Ministry of Education at Queen’s Park.  Had I seen the reference to my Hepburn book in The Globe and Mail?  Indeed I had, which was not important.  What was important was the phone call unleashed an emotional avalanche that moved with blinding speed and quick engulfed us both.

To be continued…

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Jean P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Landmark Moment

February 24, 2014

Sydney Crosby’s defining second goal in Canada’s battle for hockey Olympic Gold

Triggered off some wonderful memories. Two weeks after our honeymoon in September 1972, Neil and I packed up our stuff and watched as the big guys from King’s Transfer Line loaded it all into their van. We were moving lock stock and barrel to Montreal and a new life with Neil going on air at CJAD.

We had been watching the Canada-Soviet hockey game, our TV set was the last to be loaded on the van. As we were about to run the key in the lock we heard the voice of the announcer shouting ‘He scores!” Henderson had shot the winning goal.

A night to remember

February 21, 2014

Did you watch the finals of the Women’s Long Program in skating?

Who will soon forget the sheer human drama unfolding on ice? Did four minutes ever seem so long?

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2014

I can’t believe thousands of people in the US are once again being effected by a monster storm. And in the meantime, over the Atlantic in England, thousands of acres of farmland are now under water. How are you coping with nature’s moods?
Apparently a couple of people pulled a gun on snowplows that were shoveling snow back into their driveways. Do you have any suggestions of better ways to deal with this situation?

In meantime, there were more riveting times at the Olympics. The whole audience gasped as Jeremy Abbott from the US took a nasty fall in the Men’s Short Programme, then cheered him on as he rose to his feet. A gutsy performance! No longer about marks but an incredible fightback. Afterwards he said ” I just have one thing to say – get up when you fall”.