As a kid working in the raspberry fields, in Lynden, WA, it was always about how many pounds did you pick?

15 cents a lb. toward school clothes and money for getting into the HS football games. I think the most I ever picked in one day was 200lbs or around 30$, I was on top of the world. Looking at a raspberry at times brought stress thinking of those long days in the fields. Days of hoping to hear to impact heads of the irrigation running for some flooded relief in the July heat. Today I grow raspberries in my garden, how much did I pick? Just enough to enjoy. Peace.

“The Grappler” By Raymond Roy #poem

The Grappler By Raymond Roy

Wrestling practice in a bus garage, where the only heat was from your breath and sweat.

To our adversaries, they ain’t seen nothing yet……….

Represented was every weight. Corn-fed Unlimited,

slender 101,

and in the middle, 168……

Up at 530 to run the bleachers,

Our Coach was Ross

aka one of the Algebra teachers……

No Friday night lights, no roaring crowds, no booming bands.

Immediate family were our biggest fans…….

Not to forget our Guardian Angels so secret in disguise,

They loyally dressed up our lockers, and brought plenty a surprise……

Back of the bus, spit in a cup.

Gotta make the weight, or you would wrestle up…….

First round of three you shook the hands of an opponent of equal weight,

Whistle blows, butterflies gone, training will tell your fate……..

Take down for two, escape for one

A pin and points, will matter none……

Quarter Nelson, cross face, or a fireman’s carry,

countering the cradle never reach back and be wary………

Your challenger’s breathing is all that you can hear,

and instructions from the ref, through your head adorned gear…….

The small frys are quick, juvenile looking at their best.

The middle weights, are intense, confidently pounding fist on chest……

Like charging bull or loco train, the heavyweights would grapple on the mat.

Raw power in slow motion, like a slothy acrobat……..

While defeat brought deep heartache and victory yielded bliss

Pinning meant a gold pin, and a mat maids innocent kiss.


By no means was I superstar wrestler. Record was 50-50 at best. One of my most cherished items is a peer based inspirational trophy I received my Junior year. It sits on my desk in front of me, as a daily reminder of my roots and my first experience of being part of something greater than myself.

This poem is dedicated to all wrestlers but especially to my coaches, teammates and those that supported us back at Lynden High School. Go Lions!

LHS Class of ’81

Lynden by Raymond Roy

Photo credit Gail Bonsen


Lynden by Raymond Roy

It is the the smell of fresh cut hay, calloused hands of a dairyman after a long hard day

It is the sounds of Lions football on a rainy Friday night and putting on jeans, on a cool summer evening, so mosquitoes won’t bite. 

It is red stained hands from summer work in the berry fields, The heat of the summer fair and the giant Ferris wheel. 

It is the the Dutch bakery with all your favorite treats, the farmer’s day parade, overflowing on Front street. 

It is the Ronde Voo for cruisin’ and a double Dutch deluxe, a large fry with tartar sauce and clam digging for geoducks. 

It is where we played outside regardless of the rain, it is where I grew up, I cherish it, again and again. 

 It is Lynden

Raymond Roy LHS Class of ’81

Learn by doing

In honor of my Stepdad Tony’s birthday in heaven, I wanted to share one of my favorite stories is about him. When I was about 10 years old, it was a beautiful spring day, in Lynden, WA. The sun was shining with a soft breeze. Tony and I had been planting trees(more like sticks we had ordered from the back cover page of The Family Weekly magazine) and we took a break. We sat on the soft pine needled ground under the shade of a big tree. Cars zipped by on Northwood Road. We were enjoying a Shasta soda talking about how nice the weather was.
Suddenly I felt something biting me on the legs, I jumped up, started dancing around, brushing away the ants that had crawled up my pant leg. Tony and I both burst out in laughter in response to my unscheduled ants in the pants routine. You always knew when Tony was busting a gut laughing as he sounded like Frank Burns of the TV series M*A*S*H. As I sat back down, Tony was still chuckling as he took a drink of his pop, “Oh Ray, I’m sorry haha but man that was funny”…suddenly his face had a startled look, he started spitting out soda as he scrambled to remove the ant that was now biting his lip.(apparently one had crawled on his can)

I cherished the times we would work on thing’s together, I learned by doing with Tony. Including learning how to laugh at yourself. RIP Tone, Love Ya Man and Happy Birthday. 

“A Creek Runs Through It”

Summer days fishing for rainbow trout, wading through a snow melt creek of British Columbia with my older brother Danny,….those days could never be long enough.

Before the Cocahalla freeway was built, it was a 4 hour drive from Lynden, Wa. along winding mountain roads to Merritt. First through Hope, Boston Bar, Spences Bridge and then finally “Merritt, Copper Capitol of Canada, a Lake a day, as long as you stay” the sign read.
Just before getting to our Grandfather’s house, your nostrils were filled with the sour mash-like scent of the wood mill. If it were after dark, you might see a series of sparks ascending from the metal domed screens of the scrap wood furnaces. The embers danced like fireflies twirling to escape into the pitch black abyss of the Rocky Mountain sky. Magically they transformed into the stars that shone so brightly, you felt you could reach up and touch them. This was my First Nations homeland. For over 10,000 years, land of the Shuswap nation.

Long before Feng Shui, Grandpa’s small wood tar-papered house provided all of life’s essentials, Running water was found at the kitchen sink, Heat was a Wood burning stove in the living room. Security- At night the front door was locked by a hunting knife wedged between the door and the jamb. The Entertainment center was the laminated kitchen table with a pint of 5-star Canadian Rye whiskey, deck of cards and a cribbage board.
I remember thin fabric hung over the kitchen sink window, futile in its efforts to filter out the intense mountain sun. On the window sill, there was a miniature prank outhouse that when you opened the door, a little boy figure would pop out and whiz water on you. The sweet smell of Old port cigarillos and scent of rye whiskey hung in the air. For a 10 year old boy, the best place in the world was sitting on Grandpa McIvor’s lap during a poker game.
“What a bunch of fisherman I’ve got “” “boy you’re a real smart feller”, Grandpa would say, waiting to see the gleam in my eye at being praised then like a skilled showman , ” “oh I meant a fart smeller”… What kind loving man Ernie McIvor was. Watching him surrounded by his grandkids was to imagine a king with his treasure.

“Well we better dig some worms if we are going fishing.” Grandpa would declare. Outside the foundation of his house stood a one foot high berm. This was home to a bounty of Canadian crawlers. With a coffee can full of worms Danny and I jumped into Grandpa’s truck and off we went.

Just on the edge of town, we would stop for some Old Dutch salt n vinegar chips, and always the generous one , Grandpa would treat us to penny candy.

Mill Creek was a ways past Lundbum Lake with gravel roads, steep drop offs and hairpin turns.

Grandpa would drop us off at the the top of the mountain , “see you guys at the bridge this afternoon”.

Our hearts would flutter as we hiked into the trees toward the creek. As the sun warmed the trees you could smell the sweetness of pine sap and hear the dry grass and twigs snap under your feet. At times snow stubbornly hung on in the shade.

For bait, we carried a Band-aid tin with worms, tackle boxes were a few split shot and hooks in our shirt pockets.
Our poles were 6ft branches with plenty of fishing line wrapped around one end.
Our stringer was a snapped off “y” shaped branch that looked resembled a divining rod. We left one part of the y long and snapping one short.
As we stepped into the water for the first crossing of a pool, I could feel the icy water flood through the eyelets of Converse Allstars, it took my breath away. I could feel life’s challenges melt away in the purity of that pristine snow melt creek water that was Mill Creek.
Working our way through the pools of crystal clear water, we would dip our lines in and shadows in the rocks would come alive . The small trout would flash in the sun as you felt that exhilarating tug of your first bite. One time I got so excited, I yanked my line out so quickly that I flung my poor trout far behind me into the woods.

While threading our long stem stringers through the trouts gill and out it mouth, scarlet blood residue was a sure magnet for horse flies and bees.
Walking down the creek it was almost best to stay in the frigid water as to keep your legs numb. Once your got out and they began to warm, they ached as the circulation returned, sending shocks to every nerve as if turning on a power grid.
All too soon our shadows lengthened as approached the bridge where Grandpa was waiting. Welcoming us with a chuckle and a wisecrack, we would head back to Merritt with a handful of small rainbows and a lifetime memory.
For those times so long ago, I still cherish them today. Thankful for two great men in my life, my brother and a loving father figure. Ernie McIvor, May he rest in peace, Amen

History Note from my Aunt Sharon McIvor:

“Wonderful Ray. The Mill Creek area is our traditional territory It is called Zoht in our language. The Creek runs right by where your Grandma Suzy, great Grandma Mary, great great Grandma Enulx and their ancestors lived and many were born there. It is traditional unceded Nlekepmux (Thonpson) territory. Grandma Suzy and her siblings fished that creek as did me and my siblings. When you got to Boston Bar that was the beginning of our Territory. It runs all the way to.kamloops. Kamloops is the beginning of Scwepmux (Shuswap) territory. Your Grampa Ernie was Swepmux although he was born in Merritt .”
Thanks Aunty.



Go Boy, Breaking Chains

We all have a sad story  but I believe we also have  a story of hope if we can recognize the chains that bind us making us prisoners of our past, “sins”of our fathers, (sins in the sense that what we have learned from our parental figures(blood or not) that keep us from experiencing the grace of God(feeling Loved/Worthy).

Prisoners, Cons, Convicts, Felons, Delinquents…hard to read or say these words without a negative feeling of wanting to get away , ignore or hope that some authority figure somewhere will deal with “THEM” societys undesirables. In this blog(my first) I hope to share life experiences which may help others cope with similar experiences as well as learn from others.

I first heard the term “Go Boy” during the summer of my 16th year.It was the title of a book by Roger Caron. I was visiting my dad for two weeks during the summer of 1979 in Edmonton, Alberta. I didn’t realize at the time this book held many secrets to understanding who my father was.. “Go-Boy is a prison yell used when an inmate (or inmates) break from a work detail or crew in an attempt to escape”……..Like Roger Caron my father spent many years behind bars or in institutes……

August 1979- My father looked tired, but he was “clean”. He hadn’t used drugs or alcohol in over two years and was proud of it. I hadn’t see him in two years and before that, I cant remember.  My Dad had always been my hero. Simply put, he taught me what feeling loved unconditionally felt like.

My first memory as a child was sittting at the kitchen table watching my Dad “mixing up the medicine” He was a Heroin addict. I was facinated to see the bulging veins, the needle, spoon, lighter and the change in my Dads personality.  I was maybe 4 or 5.

My Dad was born in Northern Ontario, in the early forties. His Dad away working, wasn’t around much. I heard he was good in school and a talented baseball player.

When my dad  was 15 my Grandfather was working in the mines of BC(British Columbia). As I understand it, my Dad and the mine owners kid.  took a jeep without asking, for a joyride. It was reported. The mine owners kid walked away but my father wasn’t so lucky. He was left in the prison with the general popul;ation of grown men for well over a year. I can only imagine what they did to him.

As noted in the book “Go Boy” prison abuse in Canada was extreme and tolerated. My dad told me of abuses such as dragging him up the stairs by his hair, making him clean out the gallows among other things. Guards telling him, “ya see that boy, thats where you’ll be one day”. As I understand this is where my Dad found his escape from reality, Heroin.

As I came to understand it, my parents had split when I was 3 or so. I lived with my 2 older siblings and my Dad until I was 9.  We traveled back and forth across Canada moving frequently. My Dad kept us away from my Mum. for what ever reason, only seeing her once when I was six. We stayed on the move, attending 7 different schools by the time I was in 4th grade. At times we slept in the car, snuck back into “our house” which rent hadn’t been paid, just to sleep there at night and scoot out at dawn. Through all this, I knew he loved me.

I was happy as long as we were with Dad. When we weren’t with him (when he was in “the joint” , rehap or a hospital). we became wards of the province. Then we were either in foster care(thats another story), with my Grandma(God Bless her) or my Dad’s friend.

Over time my Dad developed drug related Paranoid Schizophrenia. one incident,  he gathered all of us up as we ran down the street, knocking on a strangers doors so he could call the police as someone was after us.  As the police arrived, it was then the police who were now after us. I was in the back seat of the police car with my sister, and dad as he yelled at my brother in the front seat to  be ready to jump out. Chaos. But through all this, I knew he loved me.

How did I know he loved me? The way he held my hand. He danced with us, He laughed with us. One time I told him I had to go to a Bday party. I wrapped up one of my toy guns as a present and brought it to school. He showed up at my class with a new gift. Most importantly, wherever we were staying, he always came back for us.  Ultimatley and I didn’t realize until later, he brought us back to our Mum.

Through all the turmoil, fogginess of substance abuse, he saw that what his kids needed was stability. It wasn’t easy adjusting to life in the U.S. New school was the norm but the structure, bedtimes, homework, and wondering…when was Dad coming to get us?

Needless to say, we never did go back to live with him. He was again in and out of jail and institutions which at times were close enough by that we could visit. It was heart wrenching leaving the jails when we would visit knowing he would have to stay there.

Although “clean” for the last two years of his life, my Dad took it to the extreme when he stopped taking his prescribed meds and two weeks after my visit in 1979, he took his own life.

During a time that people didn’t talk about their feelings and you just sucked it up, I had no idea what I carried inside had to be dealt with.

To be continued…….