howtheduck (howtheduck) wrote in binky_betsy,
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The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston Part XV – And Here Comes Rod

To recap, the chronology as I understand it is this:

1973 – Aaron is born in April. Doug departs in October to move in with another woman. Marjorie Baskin drops a major clue that Doug’s departure had something to do with Lynn being seen out with another man (most likely Rod). Farley is sent to “the farm”. Lynn going with freelance only and fails. Lynn takes a job with Standard Engravers.
1974 – Lynn publishes David, We’re Pregnant!
1975 – Lynn gets some royalties and quits working at Standard Engravers

We will discuss what happens next after the cut.



Katie:

Starting her own business was exciting and rewarding, but Lynn remembers she couldn’t help feeling depressed and lonely: she wanted to be part of a couple again.

Lynn:

As a divorcee, I rode the rollercoaster of relationship. I had just come to the end of another gut[-]wrenching and empty ride, and on this particular day, when the sky was overcast and the baby was whining in the car seat behind me, I drove to the local airport. Oh to be able to climb into one of those beautiful, tiny planes and fly away from everything. The sky brightened. I watched a small blue Cessna touch down and taxi toward me. A rather familiar figure emerged and…it was [Rod Johnston] the fellow I’d met at CHCH.

10th anniversary collection:

The above from Lynn is directly from this except:
[Rod Johnston] = “the fellow with the fur ties”.

And then continued:


He ran to meet us and greeted me with such enthusiasm I could hardly speak. (In fact, as Rod tells it he said, “Lynn, it’s great to see you! How are you?” And I replied, “Who the hell are you?”)
Well, he invited Aaron and me out for lunch and flew us to the next airport for a hamburger.

The Hogan’s Alley version of this story:

So that’s where I was right before I met Rod Johnston. You see, I love to fly, and I love small aircraft. The smaller, the better. One stormy day in March, Aaron was sitting in the car seat, and this little plane flew overhead. He said, “Airplane, Mum!” So, I turned the car and drove up the hill to the airport so we could watch the plane land. The fellow who flew the plane came over to me and started a conversation. And he invited me to fly with him the next day. We flew to the next airport for hamburgers.

Me:

In the Hogan’s Alley version, Lynn pretended it was a first meeting at the airport. In the 10th anniversary, she pretended she didn’t remember Rod. In our latest version, Lynn no longer denies knowing the fellow.

10th anniversary collection:

Boy, was I impressed! Rod was nice and funny and talented and motivated and he liked me. Here was someone with whom I knew I could be great friends.

On our second “date” I took him to a Polish wedding. We did the polka and told stories and laughed. It was evident that there were possibilities for this relationship. The following Saturday, we sat down at my kitchen table, each of us with a sheet of paper, and wrote down all the things we were looking for in a partner. We spared no details. We included such trivia as food and music preferences, we were both adamant that our partner not smoke. Amazingly, our lists matched almost exactly except for one thing. Rod was planning a career as a flying dentist in the Northwest Territories and I wanted to live in the city. If I wanted him I’d have to sell my house in Dundas and move north.

Dentistry was a far cry from the career Rod Johnston had planned. After achieving a degree in broadcasting and spending two years in the business, the glamour had gone. When I met up with him on that windy day in March, he was in his second year of dentistry and his plans were set. He would go back to the North Country he’d grown up in, provide a service to the native communities, and buy a plane – something he’d wanted since childhood.

I could see that life with this man would be more than interesting. It would be an adventure. I agreed to sell the house and go north.

We were married in a small civil ceremony by our friend Rabbi Baskin. Rod resumed dental school and, with his student loans, a small income from the books, and my business, we had enough to support the three of us.


The Hogan’s Alley version of this story:

A year later, we were married. Now, you can’t tell me that somebody didn’t say, “The guy in that airplane is your guy.” [laughter]

Rod wanted to move to the Northwest Territories. He wanted to be a flying dentist. He was in his second year of dental school, he was brought up in the Arctic. His father was a miner and a prospector, and his mother had been one of the first teachers to go up into the Arctic. I thought, “I don’t want to lose this guy.” And he was going to have a rough time accepting Aaron, because Aaron was a very difficult child who wanted his mother all to himself. He did not want Rod around, so he’d scream all night and throw these temper tantrums where he’d foam at the mouth and bang his head against the wall. And one day, Rod said to me, “Look, I’ll take on Aaron, and you take on the bush, and we’ll make it.” And we did. I’ve been married to him for 17 years now, and I’m still crazy about him.

Kate:

Lynn learned that with his instrument and float ratings training to complete, Rod regularly commuted to the Hamilton Airport, where he was taking flying lessons. He had given up on a career in television and was now in his second year of dental school in Toronto. Once he graduated, his plan was to go back to northern Manitoba, where he had grown up, and provide a travelling service to First Nations communities in the Arctic. He was going to be a “flying dentist”: spending one week a month flying to remote villages to offer free services in exchange for goodwill, experience, and the occasional gift of fish or furs. In order to do this, he would have to buy his own plane one day.

Me:

First of all, subarctic. Not arctic.

I notice that in the 10th anniversary and in the Hogan’s Alley interview, Lynn says that Rod started off wanting a career in the Northwest Territories which is not really very close to Lynn Lake. In this version, Lynn has changed it to northern Manitoba. In Rod’s version from the University of Toronto description, Rod said his plans were to go to Lynn Lake, but that he originally planned to spend 3 weeks over every month doing the flying dentist thing and then changed that to one week a month after he married Lynn.

Alumni Today University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry Winter 2005:

Rod has always had a desire to become involved with worthwhile projects that benefit the community. In dental school his aim was to be a flying dentist, working for one of the medical services that flew into the North West Territories. Marriage to Lynn caused him to re-examine a lifestyle that would result in him being away from home for months at a time and come up with a workable solution. By opening a dental practice in Lynn Lake, Manitoba he was able to work in the community for three weeks of the month and then spend one week flying to and servicing the outlying villages within a 100 mile radius. Rod worked in Lynn Lake for seven years helping to deliver dental care to people who otherwise would have had no access to it.

Me:

So it was the Northwest Territories. I stand corrected. Thank you Rod. Apparently Lynn's memory prior to The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston was better than mine. This version shows Rod being the one who comes up with the plan and not Lynn.

Kate:

Lynn and Rod hit it off. It wasn’t long before the new couple had moved in together, into Lynn’s Dundas house. Lynn continued with her freelance business during the day while Aaron was in daycare. Rod commuted daily from Dundas to Toronto to finish dental school, which was especially difficult in the winter.

Me:

It’s a 45 minute drive from Dundas to Toronto. The idea that they had moved in together directly contradicts this next piece and it is shocking that Lynn would admit that they moved into together before they got married after denials such as this one:

Treasury #2:

Helen Binks was a dear lady with whom my husband, Rod, lived while he was going to university in Toronto. She rented him a small room in her home, and became like a surrogate mom. After Rod and I were married, his brother, Ralph, rented the same room.

Kate:

Christmas was approaching, and Rod had made plans [long before he met Lynn] to visit his brother, who was studying in Scotland. Feeling badly that Lynn and Aaron were going to be alone at Christmas, he suggested she travel to British Columbia to visit her family, and while she was there, she could meet his parents. They were looking after a weaving studio for a few weeks for a friend in Victoria and would love to meet her.

Suddenly Silver – Ralph Johnston version of the story

The first time I “met” Lynn, I didn’t actually meet her. I had finished high school in Lynn Lake, the small northern Manitoba mining town I had grown up in, and ventured across the Atlantic to study textile design at a college in Scotland. My brother Rod (then living in Hamilton) took advantage of having a brother so far away and came to visit me over the New Year’s holidays. When he arrived, his big news was he had a new girlfriend, an artist, who had sent along a gift for me.

It was a cartoon painting by Lynn of me (with my face drawn from my high school photo) at an imaginary kilt-weaving competition. Over the next few years, Lynn with young Aaron, and then baby Kate, became more and more part of our family. My own relationship with them was long distance, since we were usually a few thousand miles apart. They were in southern Ontario when I was still in Scotland, and when I moved to southern Ontario, they moved to Lynn Lake.

Lynn:

Aaron and I made the long trek to Victoria. When I knocked on the door, a tall, strapping fellow answered and said, “Ruth, our girl is here!” Then Tom [Rod’s father] gave me a great big bear hug and laughed. It was the most amazing welcome from complete strangers. They were nothing like my parents. I remember thinking, “I want this family. I will do whatever it takes to be a part of this family.”

Kate:

There was only one snag. If Lynn wanted to marry and have a future with Rod, she would have to pack up the life she knew in Dundas and move north. Meeting his parents was the deciding factor.

Lynn:

I agreed to sell my house and go north, but I couldn’t imagine living in a tiny Arctic community where I knew nobody and wouldn’t be able to continue my work. I asked if could go to Lynn Lake, where his parents lived. There was a good airport, and he’d be able to travel to many small isolated communities from there. He agreed to the compromise.

Me:

First of all, subarctic. Not arctic.

Second of all, bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Lynn asked to go to Lynn Lake. It was her idea! Lynn Lake, the land of adulterers (according to Lynn’s 2008 interview with Maclean’s Magazine). Lynn Lake, the town where Lynn in her 1980 CBC interview spoke at length at how much she wanted to move from there. Lynn Lake, the town which in multiple collection books, Lynn talked about how she couldn’t stand it there and took every opportunity she could to take trips out of town. That Lynn Lake?

Of all the revisionist history in The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston, there is none as outrageous as this one. The only thing Lynn Johnston hated more than her mother or her ex-husbands is the town of Lynn Lake. She could not have been more definite about her opinion on this matter. I am shocked that she would ever say she wanted to move there.

Kate:

Lynn and Rod were married by Rabbi Baskin in February of 1975. Lynn’s mother, though not in attendance, made Lynn’s dress, and Marjorie baked the cake. The small ceremony was held in the Baskins’ living room. Only the Baskins, Lynn’s brother Alan, and a few close friends were there.

It would be a full year before Rod was finished school, and they would be ready to leave Ontario. Although Rod’s schooling was covered by student loans, and Lynn continued to eke out a living with her freelance business, money was tight. The summer was approaching, and Rod was on the hunt for summer employment. Rod’s sister, Beth, and her husband, Don, offered them work as labourers on their farm. With a family to feed and bills to pay, the offer was hard to pass up. They headed for Manitoba with young Aaron in tow.

Me:

Let’s be clear about the timing, since Katie doesn’t seem to be able to do it.

1972 – Rod starts his Bachelor of Science degree with McMaster University where Lynn is working. Lynn quits her job at McMaster. Lynn starts working freelance with occasional work for people at McMaster.

1973 – April. Aaron is born. October. Doug leaves. Marjorie Baskin drops a clue that Lynn has been seen in public with a man other than her husband. Lynn starts work at Standard Engravers.

1974 – March. Lynn and Rod have their “first date” just 5 months after Doug has left. I don’t know where in here that Lynn’s brother Alan moved in with her.
Probably around May, Rod graduates from McMaster.
Fall Rod starts dental school at the University of Toronto. Rod is not in his second year at this point when he started dating Lynn, even though Kate and Lynn keep saying it. He was in the second year of getting his degree from McMaster that would allow him to go to dental school. This "error" constantly threw me off in trying to figure out when Rod and Lynn got married.
Somewhere in here, Rod moves in with Lynn. I would guess summer time after he finishes at McMaster. That’s a good time for moving. I am going to bet this is when Alan moved out.
Christmas holidays. Lynn meets Tom and Ruth Johnston. Lynn makes this seem as though this is the moment that clinches their relationship, but with a wedding coming up in 2 months, I suspect they were much further along.

1975 - February. Lynn and Rod get married. Only Alan attends.
Lynn quits working at Standard Engravers, and she credits this to getting some money from David, We're Pregnant! and not the fact she just got married.
Summer. Rod and Lynn work at the Cruikshank farm.
Fall. Rod finally starts his second year of dental school. He will graduate in 1978.

Lynn:

We worked from May to September. Rod and Don built a pig barn, put up grain bins, and worked on the tractors out in the fields. I cooked and cleaned and helped Beth in her veterinary clinic. It was such a busy time. There were no children on the farm, and Aaron was in constant danger of getting hurt. […]Rod’s mom and dad came down from the north to look after him, and they were wonderful. Those months in Manitoba changed me so much. They introduced a city kid to the life-and-death, matter-of-fact business of running a farm. I went from eager beaver to pain-in-the-arse and back again. I learned to drive a combine, to look up and see a prairie storm coming from miles away, to appreciate where food comes from and how hard it is to grow. There is no one more innovative, patient, or business savvy than a famer! The farm is where you learn to make things yourself, to rely on each other, and to accept the fact that dirt will enter your house through every portal no matter what you do, to live with it and clean up when it rains.

Me:

Quoted from Lives Behind the Lines.

Katie:

Lynn soon realized she could live anywhere – as long as she was with family and the people she cared for.

Me:


Later on Lynn would realize she couldn't live some place without decent shopping. However, I suspect this last little line is a note from Katie to Lynn about their recent move back to Vancouver. See Lynn is not the only one who can send messages indirectly.

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