Lew Duddridge

Langford author bestows his wisdom

Lew Duddridge recently launched a children's book co-penned by his wife Hilda

Louis Bockner/News staff

“I found myself doing something I had long ago promised to do. I left the house quietly, and alone, and unashamedly knelt down to kiss the ground,” writes Lew Duddridge in The Flying Duddridges of Hanley. The book, his fourth, is no masterpiece. The prose doesn’t rival Hemingway or Joyce.

Yet it tells the truly remarkable story of Len and Lew, brothers from a dusty town in southern Saskatchewan who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War defending their country the only way they knew.

On a warm July evening in 1940 Lew’s mother became the first Canadian woman to pin RCAF wings on both her sons at the same time in Dauphin, Manitoba. Following this momentous day of “pomp and ceremony” the brothers were whisked away to defend the skies over Europe and North Africa.

Now, 73 years later, 95-year-old Lew sits in the comfort of his Langford living room, while is wife Hilda answers the never ending phone calls.

His hands are large. His broad, striking face carries the creases and scars of a life well lived and although his short-term memory falters from time-to-time, the long-term is wielded with a precision that defies his age.

His eyes close as he remembers seeing Hilda for the first time. There she is, standing on a German railway platform with four other girls, awaiting a train. It is a Tuesday.

An offer to carry her bags led to a date later in the week but this wasn’t good enough for Lew.

“I was a flight commander and I thought ‘you know, I don’t want to wait until Friday to meet this girl.’ I was smitten and there’s no use kidding.”

It’s a feeling that Hilda, 88, reciprocates.

“Oh he was pretty sharp looking in his wings and officers uniform and he was Canadian and a real talker,” she says. “He could talk the hind leg off a donkey.”

Six months later they were married and 68 years later they carry out the dance of life with a compatibility and grace that is a joy to watch.

They plan to publish a children’s book together called Friends in Picture and Verse, in which Lew provides the poetry and Hilda the artwork.

In a culture where divorce rates soar Lew offers a few secrets learned during their marathon marriage.

“You have to be able to laugh at things that aren’t funny,” he says. “Just remember that there is two ways and two answers to a lot of questions and your way isn’t always the best one. You have to be prepared to recognize that.”

Lew doesn’t know what to credit with his old age and vitality but his ability to stay away from alcohol has helped.

“I have a pretty strong mind in a lot of ways and whenever I start losing my faculties or begin feeling uncomfortable, I quit,” he says. “You can lose male friends with that attitude but I don’t think I lost too much in life by being called a chicken. Anyhow I didn’t give a damn. It’s my life and not somebody else’s.”

 

To keep up with Lew (and good luck with that) you can visit www.theflyingduddridges.com.

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Coast Collective ready to Raise the Roof with Langford art auction

The fundraiser is Friday, Oct 18 at the Royal Canadian Legion on Station Road

Saanich residents planning Halloween fireworks displays must plan ahead

Folks are required to attend one of three safety courses, buy a permit

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

Alberta to join B.C.’s class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

B.C. government claims opioids were falsely marketed as less addictive than other pain meds

Most Read