It is amazing the things you can learn about a person in just a few minutes. Take Carol Maxson for example.
Maxson had just been named Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Citizen of the Year, and I patiently waited through the celebration and well-wishes from a roomful of friends, family and admirers at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Art Gallery to get a few minutes with Maxson to find out her reaction to the honour.
In a few short minutes, I was able to find out Maxson is originally from Rocky Mountain House, Alta., but lived in Red Deer for 12 years before she and her late husband Russ – who died in 1999 – moved to the farm south of Armstrong where Maxson still lives. They moved there in 1968.
I learned the Maxsons have eight children. That Russ had always wanted to move to B.C. and that he worked at the Vernon Fruit Union.
Maxson is no different than anybody else.
Everybody has a story.
At home, I have a file of some of my favourite stories that I’ve written. The common denominator, of course, is the people I’ve interviewed.
There’s the reverend in Salmon Arm, who took part in a curling event with his three sons called the Friar’s Brier, reaching the final, only to lose. “Was God on the winning team’s side?” I asked him. “I don’t think God was on either side,” he said, “But they had a third who shot the lights out.”
Talking with members of a Vernon lacrosse team who survived a plane crash after winning a Canadian championship, and to the pilot who saved his life and the lives of the players on the plane by landing in an Alberta corn field.
The Enderby artist, a mechanical shop foreman by day, who spent seven months working every evening, weekend and spare minute on a spectacular nine-foot-tall metal sculpture of a deer. And who followed that up with a metal creation of a bear.
Even celebrities I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with have some stories behind the stories.
CFL all-star centre and two-time Grey Cup champion Angus Reid wanted to be a fire truck when he grew up. Not a fireman, but fire truck.
Singer Ra McGuire, frontman for legendary Canadian rock band Trooper, told me how he stood in line for hours in the pouring rain to ensure his kid got a spot in a special school in the Lower Mainland. No different than parents standing in line for kindergarten or French Immersion spots.
Like with Maxson, I’ve only scratched the surface here. There are hundreds of stories in my file.
Well, I was born and raised in Vernon, have lived here essentially all my life except for stints in Burnaby, Quesnel, Fort St. James, Vanderhoof and Enderby. I used to be on the radio. Have a great son, great family and the best friends in the world. I like baseball, cribbage, mashed potatoes and I can cure anybody’s hiccups.
I also like to tell people’s stories. It’s the best part of my job.