Still smoking

Well, here’s another profile. 100 years old and still smoking a pipe. And drinking a little wine. Take that, you anti-pipe-smokers!

Still smoking

Written by Bernice Trick
Citizen staff
Sunday, 24 May 2009

Bill Vinson, who turns 100 on Tuesday, is rich in stories and experiences, which he loves to share with anyone willing to listen. (Citizen staff photo)

Bill Vinson, who turns 100 on Tuesday, is rich in stories and experiences, which he loves to share with anyone willing to listen. (Citizen staff photo)

Pipe in hand, Bill Vinson reflects on a century of life, wine A Prince George man who has observed the world for 100 years says he doesn’t feel any different today than when he was 99.

Bill Vinson, turning a century old Tuesday, is in good mind and decent health despite smoking his pipe and having a glass of red wine daily.

Vinson really isn’t as interested in talking about what he’s witnessed during his life, like new discoveries or inventions, as he is in sharing his own and family experiences of survival all these yeas. From his beginning in England in 1909 to his life in Canada, which began in 1910 in Amherst, N.S., where his family lived throughout the First World War years.

“We had a farm there — an acre in hay, an acre in grain to feed the pigs and horses. We had a big garden and us kids had to pull the weeds”

His father Albert, and two brothers served in the First World War. His dad and brother Alf came home. “Joe died of wounds in France, and Alf was wounded, too, and shipped to England.”

It was just after that war that he saw his first airplane — a biplane that flew over the town of Amherst and landed in a field.

“Boy oh boy. You should have seen us kids running to see that plane. It was better than landing the first man on the moon. You couldn’t run to the moon to see it close up like we could the plane.”

He went to a one-room country school and remembers it like it was yesterday.

“My teacher — Miss Little was her name — noticed I did arithmetic by counting on my fingers, so she arranged for me to stay in half an hour after class to do addition on the blackboard. Boy oh boy, she taught me to go up and down those columns of figures as fast as she could, and to memorize my multiplication tables. She really got me through my work.”

The next move to Calgary in 1924 was a jumping stone to Stuart River, near Vanderhoof, in 1927 where he and Alf settled on a homestead. They built a small cabin, cleared land for planting and spent days in the forest trapping, hunting and studying wild life.

He still has a well-worn, four-inch thick medical book he studied and doctored himself and others as well, and a small Bible he carried with him everywhere in a moose hide pouch he made to go on his belt.

“I needed the Bible to show people there is a God even when things were going wrong for them,” he said.

He became somewhat of a “lay doctor” in the remote area and people would come to him for help.

He’s study his medical book and “mix up another batch of medicine” to help them.

He swears there is a cure for rheumatoid arthritis that is made with a smidge of formaldehyde, onion syrup and pigweed juice.

As well as numerous jobs from farming to construction to being a game warden, he served from 1942 to 1945 in the Canadian armed forces in Special Reserve and Service Police, and he likes to talk about all of them as well as how he grew sugar beets for pancake syrup and how the Halifax explosion in 1917 could be felt for miles as it “blew big buildings to pieces.”

“It was a terrible thing and my mother was so upset. I can still see the look on her face.”

To celebrate the birthday, his daughter Lyn and husband Doug Murphy, who care for him now, are holding a drop-in open house tea daily through May 29 in her home at 6086 Caledonia Cres.

She said it’s a casual affair for revisiting good memories and making new ones.

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