In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
OAKIE, Frank Ronald - On October 10, 1972, Frank Ronald Oakie, 7524 95 Avenue, age 56 years. He is survived by his loving wife, Lillian; two sons, Stephen of Edmonton, David with the P.P.C.L.I. Esquimalt, British Columbia; brother Mr. J. Oakie, Vancouver and two sisters, Mrs. I. Faith, Seminole, U.S.A., Mrs. F. Wilson, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, October 13 at Hainstock's Chapel. Interment in Munt Pleasant Cemetery. Hainstock and Son Limited, 105412 81 Avenue, South Edmonton.
Memories of my father: My name is Dave Oakie, I retired from the military after 45 years in the Canadian Army. My father was in the Navy in W11 and though he died before he could tell me his stories I heard a few from those who served with him.
Frank Ronald Oakie, my father, was from Transcona Manitoba, born in 1917. He became a Jeweler and graphic artist before his involvement in the War. The following recount, contains several tales which I found very amusing and just crazy. The photos show a Ronson Lighter with 20 plus Canadian mini hat badges glued to it, an envelope with amazing free hand penmanship, a picture of his kiosk in the bottom floor of the Metropolitan building in Halifax, a newspaper article which I am sure had him in tears (read that article last) and a Canadian Navy promotional photo.
My father passed away at the age of 56 in 1972. I knew he had been in the Navy during the War but that event in his life never came out in the open. I was 20 years old and had just completed a year in the military. When going through his effects I began to discover the answers to the questions I never asked. He had a trunk in the basement which contained hundreds of photographs, mementos and even his issued leather Navy bomber jacket. He was a Signaler on the HMCS Kenogami, a Corvette class Destroyer sailing out of Halifax.
I am sure my father was an opportunist, having eagerly volunteered to serve I am sure he thought that he could also use that dedication and his learned skills to benefit himself by offering them to those close around him. As mentioned my father had several talents, being a Jeweler he was a phenomenal free hand engraver (a vibrating tool used to mark metal). On ship he would engrave any surface ie watches, bracelets, rings, baby spoons etc for small fees of course. His penmanship with an ink nib is so remarkable I still don't know how he could be so finite as in this addressed letter to my future mother. I wonder if he wrote letters for his friends?
He had his own apartment in Halifax and started a small jewelry store as mentioned. When his ship came in, a friend told me he was the only guy who had a car waiting for him at the dock. Many years ago I met one of his best friends who served with him. He told me that my father was a really genuine fellow, always enjoyed good company and was a hero for entertaining his friends at the apartment when not at sea. He had the best liquor in the bar and the social occasions were done in a most respectful and proper manner. During one of these events there came a loud knock on the door. My father's friend opened it and there stood two herculean figures in Bogey trench coats and Dick Tracey hats. A badge was produced, Special Investigations Unit RCMP. "We are here to speak to Mr. Oakie".
My father went to the door where he was lectured for several minutes, then they left. Apparently my father, being the entrepreneur that he was, had been bringing in undeclared gold during trip stops when at sea. The investigators said that they knew what he was doing, that his days were up.....maybe permanently! They countered by saying that since he was in the service of his country and that if he would stop immediately, they would not press charges. I can only assume that was his shot across the bow! He curbed that practice.
On the subject of gold, the newspaper attachment details the sinking of a damaged freighter by my father's ship. Little did he know but you will see from the article my father either laughed his head off or said some choice words with maybe a few tears dripping into his rum and coke. That is the story I remember most fondly.
Several of his friends I met over the years all said the same things about him, that he was a class act, always did things in an upper deck fashion and treated everyone the same. I can only think that the Navy thought the same of him as they used him in Promotional photos (notice fancy signet ring and Rollex watch partially hidden).
The Ronson lighter which has 20 plus unit badges on it, I am sure this is his own creation. The Ronson company has no record of producing this and all badges are Canadian. The badges are mini replicas that were sold as charms which he had access to for sure.
This is a glimpse into what little I know from my father's military history. I hope that it brings a smile and perhaps a bit of wonder to whoever reads it.
One last incidence that really shook my head about my father's aura of influence. Several years after my father died I was invited to Sunday supper to meet the parents of my then girlfriend. I was an Airborne soldier at the time about to meet her Air force father. This is not a good situation to be in. My girlfriend says to me just before we walk in the door " I have to tell you that my father said to me when we moved here that under no circumstances will I ever bring an Airborne soldier into this house". Well I got ready for fight or flight. She introduced me and her father was sitting in his lazy boy with a newspaper covering his face. He drops it just enough to let out a grunt with a big cigar stuck in the corner of his mouth. Those were the only initial words. A little while later he asked what was my last name again. He then asked me if my father had a jewelry store back in the early 50's in Edmonton? That was a yes and who would know that he bought his wedding rings from my father! I married his daughter!
Ships served in:
(FR01) Sig Frank R. Oakie (FR02) Frank's medals - the 1939-45 Star, the Atlantic Star, the CVSM and the War Medal 1939-45; a HMCS KENOGAMI jacket patch; Frank on the signal lamp on HMCS KENOGAMI and un unknown trade badge (FR03) Franks Ronson lighter with mini unit badges (FR04) Frank's kiosk at the Metropolitan building Halifax (FR05) A sample of Franks penmanship
(...) Frank's horse hide jacket - which he is seen wearing in photos onboard HMCS KENOGAMI (...) Sig Frank Oakie (right) with unknown RCNVR Lieutenant - Official RCN photo
(...) HMCS KENOGAMI K125 (...) HMCS KENOGAMI jacket patch - based on the ship's gunshield art (...) Unknown sailors by HMCS KENOGAMI'S gun. Note the gunshield art (...) Frank (centre) with shipmates on HMCS KENOGAMI K125
Official RCN photos - usually used for press releases
(...) On the tin hat on the sailor on the left is G. Breton V3697 (...)