Thursday, January 13, 2011
This is George Henry Walpole Woods -my father's father's oldest brother, or my Great Uncle. As seen here, Great Uncle George was a formidable athlete, defeating Norm Woods (perhaps a relation, perhaps not) to earn the 1932 Canadian Lightweight wrestling title in Vancouver.
Dad notes that Uncle George was a young teenager - 15 or 16 years old - when he went overseas as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to serve in the First World War. According to family legend, George and a number of his friends enlisted because their scoutmaster had been killed in the war, and they wanted "to kill the German that had killed their scoutmaster." Apparently George served with distinction, braving enemy machine-gun fire to save a fellow soldier - only (again, according to family legend) to have the army charge him for the rifle he left behind.
You can't tell in this black and white image, but Great Uncle George had bright red hair, "just like I used to have," Dad laments.
I've always thought it somewhat odd that I didn't pick up any of the athletic heritage of my father's side of the family. Dad was an excellent baseball player, hockey player, and figure skater; his father was a hand-to-hand combat instructor. None of those talents rubbed off on me, nor am I at all certain I would have had the courage to enlist in a time of war. (Or a time of peace, for that matter.) Perhaps if the need was great...but I'm just as glad to have grown up in a time of relative peace. There are some questions that are better left unanswered.
Needless to say, I'm impressed by and proud of the athletic accomplishments of the Woods side of the family. I never took much interest in sports, but I can't help but appreciate the talent and determination required to excel, whatever the pursuit.