Trip Down Memory Lane

The husbands grew up in Paris. The wives love the town for its charm, its pace of life and the secrets it has revealed about the men they married.

Each year five families, now widely scattered, return to Paris for a reunion. One of their mandatory stops is the Paris Museum & Historical Society for a trip down memory lane. The men pore over photos and information about their family homes; the landmarks of their youth; long-lost schoolmates and local history. The women tour the exhibits, visit the gift shop and eventually drift back to the research room to join their husbands.

This year, they kept four volunteers — Dale Robb, Chris Galloway, Sharon Murphy and Carol Goar — busy when they dropped in on Thursday, Sept. 20 and stayed for an hour and a half.

left to right: Linda Geary, Carolyn Smiley, Gordon Smiley, John Fielding, Diane Fielding, Art Binch, Hazel Binch, Jeremy Hamilton-Wright, Barb Hamilton-Wright

This year’s trip had special significance. John Fielding, a retired history professor, brought along his just-published book, Paris Daze. Like his previous six textbooks, it was designed to make history engaging. But unlike the others, it was highly personal. His subtitle made that clear: Adventures and Misadventures Growing Up in the Prettiest Town in Canada. In addition, his wife Dianne painted the water colours that adorn the front and back covers.

John grew up on Banfield Street, graduated from Paris District High School and went on to University of Western Ontario where he earned an honours degree in history. For the next 37 years, he taught history, first at the secondary school level, then at university. Now he is a happily retired grandfather.

John Fielding with his new book Paris Daze

The Fieldings drove from Kingston for the reunion. Art and Hazel Binch came from Ottawa; Jeremy and Barb Hamilton-Wright from Northville, Michigan; and Gordon and Carolyn Smiley from London, Ont.

As they reluctantly departed — leaving eight copies of Paris Daze to sell in the gift shop — they promised to return next year, with full-sized prints of Dianne Fielding’s water colours of Paris.

Written by Carol Goar with photos by Sharon Murphy