Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – Danny Boy

I miss you Danny Boy.

It’s been awhile since we sat here in my back yard and quaffed a couple of cold ones in the warm sun. We spent a fair bit of time back here over the past four or five years. Lots of talk, lots of listening, lots of life.

Most of the conversation was about ‘the book’, naturally. That’s what brought us together. But a lot of the chatter and chuckles was about life in general. Some of it about you, some about me, and a whole bunch just worldly babble and/or creative solving of the world’s problems.

Most of all we shared a lot of laughter.

Blaylock’s Mansion also played host to many a good set of conversations between the two of us, as did a couple of favourite watering holes in Nelson, Trail, or Kelowna.

While I worked on crafting the book we swapped life and laughter together. Throughout it all you remained positive and determined to see the Lost Souls of Lakewood book to its completion. Despite your being wracked in pain from various serious health attacks you persevered -filling me with info about running the Mansion while inspiring my imagination.

Naturally I procrastinated a lot (as I do so well) and then struggled through my own significant health issues.

About two thirds of the way through we hit a wall. Both of us had to kick up our tough sides and struggle through life threatening surgeries. Neither of us should have survived, but we did, and soldiered on. We made jokes about being two dead men walking and how we had to stop talking and start doing in order to get the book done before we died. We just about made it.

In the process of all those chats with you, and others, I got to know my new friend Danny Boy better.

I learned that Daniel Gerald McGauley III was born in Trail in 1944 to Pat and Ged McGauley and after graduating from JL Crowe High School, you received your formal post-secondary education at the ‘School of Hard Knocks’. At least that’s what you told everyone.

An adventurous and free spirit, after learning the ropes of the family concrete business, McGauley Ready Mix, you headed to Toronto to work construction in 1967. However your best moves apparently were on the dance floor because that’s where you met a gorgeous French-Canadian woman named Louise.

Three months later the two of you headed to Mexico in a VW van with flowers you painted on it. It was a spontaneous adventure of world travelling that lasted five years! Amazing.

I was impressed at the romantic in you learning that on one of their last stops in Africa, you put a ring on Louise’s finger at the breathtaking Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. You moved to Japan to start a business with brother Tim and that’s where you and Louise married in Osaka in 1973. When Louise was seven months pregnant with Dan Jr., you decided to returned to Canada and the Kootenays to raise a family.
You helped run the family concrete business in Trail until your parents sold it and retired in Nelson. A couple of years later, in 1989 you and Louise also moved to Nelson for a fresh start and the promise of a perfectly quaint and bohemian paradise.

Little did you realize how much work running Blaylock’s Mansion would be. The world class, marvelous Mansion three miles outside of town was of local legend and lore and drew bed and breakfast guests from around the world.

I cherish the many stories told about your times at the mansion, the adventures of all your family and the many characters there. Most of all I cherish the time we spent talking. Sometimes it was quiet wishful thinking and sharing of dreams and goals that dominated our visits. It wasn’t always work.

We came to count on one another like brothers – to cheer each other up, motivate, inspire, or give a wakeup call to. We became best of friends.

Even better after you moved to Kelowna.

As the book completion loomed so did our health it seems. We both knew that time was not on either of our sides. We said that often to each other.

With the book finally written and you happy with my manuscript we began the arduous struggle of finding the write printer. In making our final selection we chose a company that said they could get the book printed ‘in time’.

It was an unfair request.

No one knew what that time was.

You checked out just a few months before the beautiful shiny book with the neat cover and our names on it arrived.

I remember that day well. I sat there looking at a palette of books, shocked that after five years work it was actually in my hand.

I was thrilled, ecstatic to be truthful, yet somewhat hollow.

You weren’t there to share the moment.

You weren’t there to cheer a beer to, to laugh and cry and celebrate.

This is your book as much as mine Danny Boy and it is a good one. Certainly it is selling well in Nelson, Trail, Kelowna and elsewhere when I check. Looks like they liked our idea Danny Boy.

So I sit here in my yard now, alone, with a copy of the book and I go through many emotions. I am so honoured and happy to have met you, glad for the time we shared and the friendship that grew from it.

I’m mad at you for checking out early.

Either way Danny, I have a feeling I will be seeing you again. Maybe at the mansion. Regardless – count on one thing my brother by choice, I will bring a copy of the book with me.

It’s a pretty good read and I figure you are long overdue to hold it in your hands. hoh

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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