A native Castlegarian returned to his roots last week to join family members and other friends in honouring the life and memory of Peter W. Plotnikoff, whom he had known since the two were little boys.
Paul Planidin, whose circumstances had led him away from Castlegar back in 1945, was back in town for Mr. Plotnikoff’s May 6 funeral service and stopped by the Castlegar News where he spent a half an hour sharing some memories of the area, and where his own life’s path had gone.
Planidin related that Castlegar was home to only a couple of hundred people when he was a youngster. Some perceptive orchestration by his father had gently guided him toward the teaching career he was to end up with.
The family had headed east in 1945 as the patriarch had found work near Calgary. The job turned out to be short-lived and, on Paul’s grandfather’s suggestion, the group returned and Paul’s father found gainful employment at a local sawmill owned by a Mr. Waldie.
“This was a paradise,” Planidin recalled of his youth, “we lived across from Zuckerberg’s Island so we had all the sports we wanted… skiing, tobogganing…swimming, rafting. There was a lot of resourcefulness in the family when it came to making things like skis, etc., but even yet, Paul craved the occasional store-bought item so he started thinking in terms of earning.
It was around this time that some of Paul’s friends were quitting school and getting jobs, and the lure of sawmill employment beckoned.
“I thought, I’m going to quit (school, and get a job),” he recalled on May 8. The going rate was about 20 cents an hour, and even though $2 seemed like a lot, the ten hours of hard work required to get it seemed harsh to young Planidin.
“My dad said, ‘I tell you what, son, you come to Waldie’s mill and I’m working there. You make a decision there.’ I got to the mill and Dad was piling lumber… maybe eight – 10 feet high… 2x10s or 2x12s. When I came to see him he had one of those 12-foot boards on his knee, hoisting it up… I don’t know how he ever did it. I watched for about five minutes and thought… ‘I don’t think so… I’m going to go back to school.’”
Paul’s choice proved right for him and he went on to a rewarding career as a teacher. He moved around plenty, enjoying a variety of experiences, and locations that included England.
Paul and his wife currently enjoy their lives in Comox, where the climate and geography agree with Paul’s love of nature and exercise. At 83 Paul is in fine shape, able to get to any number of favourite locations near his part of the north Island.
When hearing of Peter Plotnikoff’s recent passing, Paul did not hesitate to book the flight to make it for the service.
The passage of time can do many things, but not even the passage of 80 years can erode a close friendship.