Paul Edward PENCE was born on 30 Jul 1926 in Windsor, Ontario. He died on 19 Oct 1981 in Toronto, Ontario. Paul Edward Pence was my father. He was born July 30, 1926 at his parents' home on 373 Moy Avenue, Windsor, Ontario, the third son of Frank William and Bessie Irene Pentz. He had an older brother Ed, who was 5 years old at the time, and a brother Frank who was only 13 months older.
When he was still very young, the family moved from Windsor to a large tobacco farm between Kingsville and Leamington. The boys had a whole wing of the big stone house to themselves as a nursery, complete with a room for their nursemaid, Annie. We have a picture of Annie, Frank and Paul when the boys are toddlers, sitting on the grass at the farm. On the back of the photo their mother has written, "Two of my most prized possessions, with their nursemaid Annie." One of Dad's earliest memories, which must have been when he was only 2 or 3, was having great fun running underneath the horses on the farm!
In 1929, the family moved to Highgate. As a result of the Depression, my grandfather had lost his chain of drugstores in Windsor and had had to sell the farm. In HIghgate they were close to my grandmother Bessie's family, her sister May in Cedar Springs and her sister Elma Bratt and her family in Highgate. Elma's son Neil was just a year older than Paul, and the two of them and Frank did quite a bit together.
Grandfather set up a new drugstore in Highgate and his boys naturally were given the role of delivering the goods. Dad recalled that often a customer would ring up the store after hours for an item and over one of them would have to go to deliver it.
Money was tight in those days. The boys remember their father saying, "Give me your shoes!" as soon as the weather got warm, and the boys would go barefoot through the summer and until the first frost came. When they did wear out the soles of their shoes, they had cardboard placed at the bottom as a quick solution to the problem. As in all families, clothes were handed down the line and so Dadl, being the youngest, rarely got anything new.
In 1932 the family, including their dog, moved to Toronto. During the eight years that they spent there, the family moved five times! Most of the moves were within the neighbourhood though, so the boys could stay at the same school.
In the summer of 1940, my grandfather Frank's job as a salesman took him back to Nova Scotia and the family moved down to Shubenacadie where Frank's sister Bertha and her family were. To Dad, who had just finished grade 8 and had been looking forward to going to high school at Malvern Collegiate in Toronto, a large school with lots of sports teams and clubs, having to go to the small school in Shubenacadie was quite a disappointment. Nicknamed "Wellsford Academy" by the students, it was a three-room schoolhouse heated by a coal stove. Two of its rooms were designated for the public school, and the third room was the high school.
Dad and some friends put out a magazine each quarter, in which he was the jokes and horoscopes editor and the cover artist. He kept them all his life! He was also a good runner, and went to Halifax for a few years to run in the track meets there. The 100-yard dash and the 440 relay were his races.Dad's first few report cards were not too spectacular, but steadily improved to the year he graduated.
His first job was in Shubenacadie when he was 14 or 15, and he worked at a saw mill cutting the "bark" for the trees into firewood. He would then load it onto the trucks, ride with them to their destination and then unload it all there.
Hunting and fishing were good down in Nova Scotia, and the boys liked to go out and see what they could get. Rabbits were often caught, and Dad once shot a snowy owl, which he had stuffed and which we still have. As a child I used to like to feel how sharp the beak and claws were, and put my finger in the hole in its side where the bullet had been! Sunday dinner at home was usually a pork roast
Dad got his driver's licence in Shubie when he was 16 years old, and as it turned out never even had a test. It was the fellow who worked at the gas station who was the official tester, and when Dad went in one afternoon to ask him to take a ride with him, he was told, "Aw, I've seen you drive around town with your Dad. You're okay."
As soon as Dad finished high school, he was determined to go back to Toronto, and his brother Frank wanted to go with him.. One of the boys' uncles, Bern Foster, offered to try and get them jobs at the Halifax Herald instead, so they could move there but still be close to their parents. Bern was the editor of the Truro News, and he knew the editor of the Halifax paper. They decided against it though, and left for Toronto on July 3, 1944. We have a photo of the two of them standing outside Union Station the day they arrived, happy as a lark.
In Toronto, Frank and Dad shared a rooming house and both went to work for different stockbrokers. Paul was with Thomson and McKinnon, and it seems he tried dabbling in the stock market a bit himself. I take it he wasn't successful, because one of the things my mother says he always told her was never to play the stock market! He worked there for a number of years, taking night-school courses at the same time.
It seems that the boys' parents were keen for them to continue their education, and tried to follow up on some ideas for them. Bessie wrote away to the Ontario Agricultural College on behalf of Frank, who at one time had said he might want to be a fruit farmer like his uncle, George Smith. He had worked on the farm one summer, driving a truck. They also wrote to Mount Allison on Dad's behalf, asking if they had an architectural course. Besides knowing from the high school newsletters that Dad liked to draw, perhaps the fact that his Aunt Dot's husband was the famous architect P.R. Pereira, who designed the lions that guard the entrance to the New York Public Library when he was only 19, was an inspiration.
In any case, Mount Allison didn't have a course, but the University of Toronto did. For some reason though, perhaps because far fields always seem greener, Dad wrote down to the University of Texas inquiring about their program. He was accepted for the fall session in a letter dated October 7, which said he would need to be down in Texas on October 28th to start.
Two days later, Dad sent a telegram to his parents, which we still have, telling them, "The stars in the night shine bright above, up in the sky in Texas," that he had quit his job and was going to Texas and to send any extra cash! The next day, he handed in his resignation letter to Thomson, McKinnon, a copy of which we have.
However, the story doesn't have a happy ending. His parents were apprehensive but supporting, and sent him a cheque for $25. When he got to the border, he found that he had to post a $500 bond to enter the country, and he didn't have the money. He was turned back, and had to return to Toronto and eventually go on unemployment insurance while looking for another job.
I think it was at this point that Dad decided he wanted back in the east end again, where he had lived before in the late 1930s with his parents. He saw an ad in the paper for a big home on Beech Ave which was owned by Doc Jones, a dentist, and went down to see them. Mrs Jones said when he arrived that they had just rented it out, but liked Dad's looks and said they had another room, so he took that one.
The deciding factor in what would be Dad's career path was the man who was renting the other room in the house. He was studying to be a CGA, and when Dad would go in and help him with his math at night, he said that he should take the accounting course as well. Dad did sign on, and became a CGA in 1961. Apparently I was very noisy as a baby though when he would have to do his studying, and so in the summer months I would be put in the pram at the bottom of the garden! He always regretted though not taking the conversion exams to become a CA shortly afterwards, as the two then split and career advancement became very different for the two groups. He was always adamant that I should become a CA, and I did become part-qualified.
Dad had a great time living down in the beaches. He loved tennis and joined the Kew Beach Tennis Club, where he met his great friend Alan Waters. Dad wanted to be good enough to play in tournaments, and asked the instructor there if he would teach him. Apparently he was told that he was too old though, and so the dream was passed down to me. I started to play tennis when I was six, and went on to play tournaments in my teens and now club tennis as the mother of three small children..
Dad and Al Waters and some of their friends started going up to Muskoka on weekends together. They would go up to Bala to hear the bands play at The Kee, and then sleep in their car in the parking lot of the Bala Hotel. They also had a good time at Milford Manor and Dad kept banners and photos that were taken there.
An accident happened up in Muskoka one weekend when he was young though which was to change his life in more ways than one. After partying and drinking one night up there, Dad was walking through the woods when he tripped and fell, his glasses breaking and some of the glass going into his left eye. He was taken to hospital and told that they could not save the eye and that it would have to be removed. Dad, whose Mother had been religious but who had not been so himself to any great extent up until that point, prayed all night that it could be avoided, and said that he would never drink again if only his eye could be saved. The next morning, when the nurses came to get him for the operation, they looked at his eye and then called one of the doctors in. After looking at the change in it from the day before, he said the operation would no longer be necessary, and Dad, true to his word, never had a drop of alcohol from that day on. He had no sight in the eye though, and so as a result of his cancer later in life which took the sight of his right eye, he became blind.
When my grandfather moved back to Ontario to Collingwood in 1949, Dad would go up on weekends to visit him. They and Frank would also sometimes go up to Napanee to see Ed and Bette and his new little daughter Bunny. We have lots of photos of those times.
Dad met my mother, Joan, at a church youth group down in the Beaches in July 1953. He kept from that day on the piece of paper he wrote her name and phone number on. They married on November 5, 1954 with Al Waters as the best man, and drove down to Florida for their honeymoon. They first lived for three years in an apartment in Don Mills, at Lawrence Ave and Don Mills Road, which has now been torn down. They then moved to 9 Terrington Court, Don Mills, a new house, in 1954. Dad, after having moved 13 times by the time he was 20, said that he would never move again, and he never did. His brother Ed bought a house just a few minutes away, on Tadcaster Place. Frank went to live in Scarborough when he got married.
The brothers and their families didn't really get together that often, although Grey Cup day at Ed's was a tradition when he made all of his elaborate hors d'oeuvre trays and then his traditional spaghetti sauce.
Holidays every year, both before my parents had children and after, were spent up in Muskoka, at a different resort most times. My first memory is actually of being at Paignton House when I was three, running back and forth over a tiny bridge with Dad waiting for me at each end. Other years were at Fern Resort and Lakeland Lodge. Many of their friends, like the Hawkas and the Crosbys, they met at the resorts.
In 1971, Dad realized his dream and bought land to build his own cottage on, on Long Bay, Lake Rousseau. It was the last piece of land left on the bay, at the end with a sandy beach. The cottage was built in 1972, and we went there every weekend in the summer.
Dad worked for a while at Dominion Catering., then went to work for Manufacturers' Life Assurance at their head office down on Bloor St. near Yonge in Toronto. I remember the huge Christmas parties they used to have for all the employees' children, and that the year I was 10, I got a manicure set from Santa there. I had never seen one before, and was enthralled!
The only other memory I have of Dad working down there was that one day, when I was 12, I went to lunch with him at Tanaka of Tokyo, which was at Bloor and Bay. It was a Japanese resturant where you sat around a huge table with 8 other people and it had a grill in the middle.The chef grilled your order in front of you, with knves and pepper mills flying. I had only been to three restaurants in my life before going here; to Sloane's in Gravenhurst when we were going back and forth to the cottage, to the Swiss Chalet on birthdays, and just before this, to the cafe at the Inn on the Park for my 12th birthday lunch, where I had a Rueben sandwich for the first time. This was really something!
Dad was first diagnosed with skin cancer that winter, and would suffer from it and endure many operations until he passed away nine years later in October, 1981. This may have been the impetus to leave Manufacturers and run his own insurance business, since he had always wanted to be his own boss. At Manufacturers he was a trouble-shooter, and that job took a lot out of him.
He bought a small business from Ron Hutchison and had his office down in the basement of our house. He ran it for a couple of years, but then became too ill and had to sell it.
Dad loved to eat, and when I was a teen I started to do all the cooking and tried lots of different recipes for him. Most were successful, but one that stands out that was not was the beef and ham roulades, which called for a clove of garlic and in which I put the whole head.
My Dad went to church every Sunday from the time I can remember. He had great faith throughout his illness, and always believed that he would pull through. Besides his prescribed medication and alternative medicines, he followed a strict diet later on, despite his above-mentioned love of food. He went to many church meetings and saw many healing ministers, becoming well-known in the Toronto Anglican church community. His spirits were almost always high and his outlook always positive. It was not until the night he died that he admitted he was not going to make it.
The little things I remember about my dad: Playing with him as a child on his bed weekend mornings, and him always saying, "Don't touch my nose!" His favourite song was, "Taking Care of Business," by Bachmann Turner Overdrive. He loved being up at the cottage. He was so happy watching me play in my first tennis tournament, even though I lost to the top seed in the first round 6-1, 6-0. He told me he had had no idea I could play so well. He loved to smoke cigars when I was young, and every birthday and Christmas my brother and I would give him a huge round can of cigars. I guess he stopped smoking when he became ill. He had white, white skin which never tanned, just turned red. We always insisted he had black hair, and he said it was dark brown. Dad always had to have a bacon sandwich for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. He had to have his dinner at 6:00 sharp each night. He read the Toronto Star every evening, and watched Johnny Carson each night at 11:30 before going to bed. In the only dream I've ever had about my father since he died, he was sitting in the living room watching that show, and I could hear him laughing out loud as he always did.
I remember long conversations almost every day with my Dad the last year he was alive. I was in my first year of university at the University of Toronto and living in residence. We talked about everything I was doing, and he was always so interested and lively. You would never have known he was sick. That summer I was travelling out west, and made a phone call home one day to find that Dad had been taken to hospital. When I called him there, he sounded as upbeat as usual, saying that they had just admitted him so that he could put on a little more weight. He never came home, though.
Just recently I looked through a box of things Dad had kept. I had always remembered seeing letters from his father to him in his big square desk downstairs, and I had transcribed them, 8 or so of them, years ago, letters from 1949-1951. In this box though were another 20 or so, starting in 1940 when the family moved down to Nova Scotia. Maybe he kept every letter that his dad ever sent him. Some from his mom were in there, too, and letters from the University of Texas, the CGA accepting him into their program, telegrams sent, his father's initialled wallet, newsletters from high school, letters from friends, photos, a Milford Manor banner, some very worn shoes, a pipe and some Waterford pens his mother had sent him on birthdays. I will keep the box as is.
Parents: Frank William PENTZ and Bessie Irene SUTOR.
He was married to Joan Marie DOWTHWAITE on 5 Nov 1954 in Toronto, Ontario. Children were: Carole Joan PENCE, David Brian PENCE.