In Praise of Memory

I did a radio show for a number of years in the early 90's with a news broadcaster named Dan Chabot. He had an encyclopedic memory of dates and trivia, maintaining a mammoth pile of news clippings and notations in an elaborate filing system back at his house. He was also a recovered alcoholic who had the total days of his sobriety at the tip of his tongue along with a laundry list of that particular day's historical items of note. I loved the guy, and enjoyed some of my most fulfilling moments behind the microphone on the radio with him on the other side of the glass in the tiny news booth just beyond my reach. We had fun, and shared a love of interesting anecdotes and really bad jokes.

The "Q14 Wake Up Call with Russell Thomas and father Dan (he was a proud new daddy at the time)" got the community of Stettler going in the mornings almost 20 years ago. Dan has continued his radio career and is currently co-hosting the morning show at 107.7 The Jewel based in Hawkesbury, Ontario.

I had lunch today with another of the world's great icons of memory, Curtis J. Phillips. Every time I spend time with him I find myself shaking my head in awe of the vast and comprehensive knowledge he has about sport in Fort McMurray. As part of the process of gathering names as potential inductees for the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, CJ produced a list of over 70 athletes from the region who went on to achieve success on the world stage. Without taking a breath he can recall in tremendous detail the current whereabouts of Fort McMurray's finest whether they compete in hockey, basketball, swimming, archery, volleyball or a multitude of other lesser known sports.

CJ is old school, capturing thoughts and snippets of information on little scraps of paper he carries with him as he goes about his travels. He doesn't carry a Blackberry, iPhone or mobile device of any kind. And even though he makes prodigious use of the computer, he's had to extricate the wealth of detail from his brain and his collection of notes on more than one occasion as everything disappeared with the arrival of the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH.

CJ Phillips, Dan Chabot, Frances Jean, Jerry Bussieres, Irwin Huberman and all bastions of memory are so important to a community. They provide the thread that weaves moments and memories together to create a rich tapestry and an enduring history. They are an amazing gift to all of us and I am grateful for all they do.


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