Parrywinkle, April 13, 2017
If you recall dear readers, last week on this page I reported on Hudson's indefatigable 97-year-old Maxine Bredt and her daughter, Christine, having been invited by the Canadian Government to attend the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge ceremonies in France this past Sunday, April 9.
Well, also in attendance were two fellow Hudson Legion members, avid globetrotters, and Vaudreuil-Dorion residents John & Inga Lawson who were there on a two-week tour of the battlefields and cemeteries of Northern Europe, including, of course, Normandy synonymous with the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, and Vimy Ridge, the site of a seminal event in Canada's history forever altering our country's status in the world.
NOT FORGOTTON - Before he left, I caught up with John and was intrigued to learn that he was a graduate of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, who was commissioned as a pilot and who would go on to test fly aircraft, fly fighters, as well as instruct others, before joining the world of civil aviation in 1961 with Canadair and Bombardier.
“The ethic of service to Canada has always been important to me. And having spent a good part of my life in the military, it is something I have always wanted to do,” said John. “My father served in World War II and I lost both my grandfathers in World War I. When I think of the horrendous loss of life on all sides during both wars, it is such a tragedy. And I guess this is my own personal way of thanking them for their sacrifice. And to tell them that they are not forgotten.”
A sentiment echoed at the Hudson Legion Branch #115 this past Sunday, April 9, when 2nd Vice President, Rod Hodgson, lowered the flag just after sunrise to half-staff until sunset and conducted a short remembrance ceremony at 1 p.m. in front of the cenotaph while saying a few words about those from Hudson who fought at Vimy. According to Rod's records, an estimated 20 to 25 and perhaps even more and only one of whom was killed in action. Lest we forget.
THRILL OF A LIFETIME - Now I have to be honest folks, for me squash is something you eat, not play. But for longtime Hudsonite Philip Habib it has been a lifelong passion. The sport that is, not the food.
And as he told me this week, he experienced a thrill of a lifetime back in April 1985 when, on a show entitled appropriately enough Thrill of a Lifetime broadcast nationally on CTV, he played a match in Toronto with legendary professional player, the great Sharif Khan who won just about every honour there is in the sport.
“So why are you telling me now?” I asked. “Because last month, and with the help of Squash Ontario, I managed to track him down 32 years after we played that game at his club in Richmond Hill,” explained Philip for whom it was obviously another thrill of a lifetime.
“I contacted him, and he and his wife, Karen, graciously invited Diana and I and her mother, Sally, to their Toronto home for dinner. Sidelined by health issues in 2014, I learned that up until then Sharif was actively coaching squash in Toronto clubs and still remains connected to the North American squash community.
Added Philip, “Sharif is recovering well. And what a true honour it was for me to be able to spend an evening with this world class champion, who I had last met so long ago. Together we watched a documentary about his father, the legendary Hashim Khan, who dominated the sport in the 1960s and started the world famous Khan squash dynasty.
“We also perused his personal scrapbook of press clippings and photos from newspapers from around the world. It was also very fortunate that I was able to conduct a videotaped interview with him which I will cherish and keep with the videotaped game of our match. It was as much a thrill to be able to spend an evening with this gracious gentleman and legendary champion as it was to play that memorable game of squash with him on that day so may years ago.”
Ah, Philip. What a wonderful story. One question I forgot to ask you, however, was who won back in Toronto? But then I guess you did. Regardless of the final score!
And that's a wrap!
PHOTO COURTESY PHILIP HABIB In a blast from the past taken in 1985, Philp Habib (right) takes on squash legend, Sharif Khan, in Toronto.