Post 310


Have you ever found something in an old book? I think it’s kind of interesting to think that right now, there are many objects quietly tucked away into many books in many libraries around the world, still undiscovered.

How many times have we slipped things into books and then forgotten them? I once tucked my passport into my travel book, and promptly forgot that I had done that. It wasn’t until I had travelled to the capital (Belgrade), gotten a new passport issued from the Canadian embassy, and went through too many things that I found it. It hadn’t been stolen, and I hadn’t lost it forever. It was with me the whole time.

On February 22, 1961, Oрест Барабаш typed up his Ukrainian-language homework. He put his address on it: Едмонтон, 8919-88 вул.

This document was typed up very carefully, on a typewriter that had the ability to type in red, but no special way to correct mistakes. With the early typewriters, when you made an error, it could be a big deal. If you didn’t want to start all over again, you could do nothing better than type upper-case Xs on top of your typo. Some of the later typewriters had a lift-off ribbon that could remove characters that you didn’t want. Such a convenience! I know because over the course of my life, I have spent many, many hours at a typewriter, mainly typing out essays. I have always counted my typing class as the most useful course that I took in high school.

Anyway, this document has been graded. The instructor gave him 95% on one section, and 94% on another.

I was curious when I found it. Where was Orest now? How old was he? Wouldn’t it be funny if he still lived at the same address, and what would he think if you showed up with this document at his doorstep, 58 years later? I wasn’t even born when he typed it.

And in case you’re not keeping track, I’m 49 now. I am the same age as my dog, if you do that thing where you multiply the dog’s age by 7. My birthday landed on Easter Sunday this year, and that had never happened in my life. It will happen again in 2030 though, so I’m looking forward to that. My brother sent me a happy birthday email. Brothers are good that way.

So, being curious, I did what a person would do nowadays, and ran an online search of Orest’s name.

Orest came from Ukraine with his parents when he was about a year old. His brothers, Bohdan and Volodymyr, would have been born in Canada, but his mother must have died when Orest was quite young. His father, Harry, was a photographer, and named his photography studio after his son, calling it Orest Photography Studio and Cameras Ltd. I found out a little bit about Orest’s stepmother online too.

Orest attended St. Joseph’s Catholic high school, and received a silver medal for his high marks.

By the time he was 16, he was attending the University of Alberta, as an honours math student. He was part of two university clubs, both with Ukrainian names: Zarevo and Obnova. Off campus, he participated in a group called Plast, which is the Ukrainian Boy Scouts group, and he was a camping instructor for the Cubs. He also competed in tennis. And you could sometimes find him на лижах (on skiis) in Jasper or Banff. He competed in downhill skiing. In short, Orest was the kind of person who did his best at everything that he could, the kind of person who would easily collect all the scholarships that are always offered for people like him.

I am not sure what kind of illness Orest had, but the article in the February 18, 1966 Edmonton Journal says that he had a long-term illness, and died at the General Hospital while in third-year university. He was 18.

A funeral was held for him at St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, and he is buried at St. Michael’s Cemetary.

His date of death was February 16, 1966, almost exactly 5 years after he typed out his Ukrainian language homework, got it marked, and tucked it away in a book and forgot about it. He would have been 13.

But now this document has been found, and with it, we can remember its author.

Привіт, Orest! Як справи?

When you were alive on earth, there was no such thing as a blog. But now — surprise! — you’re in it, and so is your homework!

: D