Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day 2017 ...Remember When Grandma Dennie..

    SO since it is International Women's Day, I thought I would talk about my Grand-mother. Elva Irene Dennie was her name and she was born in Dundas, Ontario, Canada on August 27, 1923. The Daughter of William George Dennie (who I have spoken of many times in previous blogs) and Gladys Irene Forwell. She was the oldest of their children. Now my Grand-mother lived a life that was dedicated to her own enjoyment. She was married many times and it is assumed that my father and his siblings have different father's. Or at least my father and his brother have a different father then their sister. We never got to hear the truth of this from her however; because the day we as a family were going to sit down with her and finally have it out; that is get to the truth of it. She died. My birthday 1992. My uncle Vince was dying of cancer and had only a month or two left. My aunt had come in from the states to see him and for us to get together and have this conversation with her before Vince died. He wanted to go to his grave having all the past issues and questions taken care of. So even in the end she took the secrets with her. However all this being said, I know that she loved me and her children. She may not have been able to be the best mother in life; but she did love us and I know she held a special place in her heart for me. In her earlier years she was a part of history, such as it were. She joined the Military during WWII as a Leading Aircraft Woman and served for about one year. I recently ordered and received a DVD from The National Film Board of Canada entitled Wings on Her Shoulders which is a short documentary about this group of woman that served. They did jobs to free men up for the combat roles and played a vital part in the war effort.  You can view the video here  I also have a document she kept that was with her important papers when she died. It is her statement of service.  It shows her time of service and states she received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and War Medal 1939-45. She was honorably discharged Nov. 23, 1943 in Toronto, she served in Hamilton, Ontario.  I also have photo copies of a section of the book A History of Women in the Canadian Military about the Aircraft Women of WWII.  All in all I Remember When I sat with my Grand-mother and I will always be proud to know that she served our country.

Statement of Service for Elva Irene Dennie (from the collection of John Goodwin)

Above cover and section of the book 'A History of Women in the Canadian Military' featuring the Aircraft Women of WWII.

Picture of the Volunteer Service Medal 1939-1945. While she never had these in her possession when she died, I found this on line.

    I almost forgot; she told me how she and her friends from the service use to hang out at this cafe in Hamilton called the 'Air Way' and how after someone was discharged they would all go their to say good-bye and good-luck. So I have a picture of her in front of that cafe ( I think it was scheduled to close and so she wanted a picture in front of it; if I remember correctly). Anyway I post that picture and I have a copy of the menu from when she was discharged. I guess part of the ritual of saying good-bye was that all your fellow service people would sign a copy of the menu and send you off with it. She kept hers and I found it in with her box of pictures and things after she died. I don't have it copied; but will dig it out and try to update that into this blog later.

My Grand-mother outside the 'Air Way' Cafe in Hamilton May of 1955. (Part of the collection of John Goodwin)