the nineties

 Software clients in the Nineties
 
This decade was probably my most productive from a custom software point of view. Amongst the clients I developed custom turnkey applications for were the following: 

  • Your Host Caterers Ltd - Fully automated invoicing and requisitioning software for a food processing company that supplied coffee trucks on a daily basis. (YOHO)
  • Harts Upholstered Prtoducts Ltd - Manufaturers of top quality office chairs. A full management programme including inventory control but excluding accounting. (HUMP)

  • Mattamy Homes - Comprehensive property sales application. (MATT)

  • Hendervale Equestrian Complex - Full control of Equestrian events including prize distribution and billing. (HEMP)

  • St. Luke's Anglican Church - Congregational church management programme (PRAE)

  • Strasser Metals - Automatic billing programme for scrap metal dealer (SASP)

  • L'Atelier Grigorian - Recorded music store chain management programme (ATEL)

Naturally there are many, many stories regarding the design and implementation of these applications. Far too numerous to recall or detail here. Suffice to say I was frequently severely challenged but all clients were eventually satisfied and these programmes significantly contributed to the smooth and profitable running of their various enterprises.

All of these major applications were in daily use for several years. Between them they generated considerable income for me, certainly more than enough to attract the attention of the tax people who finally caught up with me and which resulted in a massive bill from them. I was extremely stupid and did not make any tax returns for a considerable time and of course sooner or later it caught up with me. We had managed to become mortgage free but I had to take out a large mortgage to pay off the tax people who were getting very uptight.

At the time of writing (2014) I believe all these software programmes have been superseded and replaced with more up to date applications or the clients have ceased trading or changed hands.. In any case I am no longer in a position to support any of them and have virtually lost contact with them all.

The Dolls House

When we let (rented out) Cushy we hid Mollie's pre-war dolls house in the attic well out of sight. One of our tenants apparently found it and either kept or sold it. Naturally Mollie was devastated. We didn't discover this theft until we repossessed the house in 1979. I said I would make her a replica at some time in the future.

The acquisition of the radial arm saw in the basement of 2068 enabled me to produce all the scale timbers for building a new dolls house for Mollie. Fortunately Mollie had taken all the vintage furniture with her when she left Cushy so that at least was saved.

Here's a few pictures of the finished replacement house...

Doll's house replacement 


On the move again - July 1996.
 
In mid 1996 we decided we had had enough of 2068 Headon Road mainly because of the traffic and the close proximity of the neighbours. Mollie went to the UK for her usual summer holiday and the day before she left we listed the house expecting that it would take several months to sell. Our next door neighbour had waited almost six months for a buyer so we did not expect a quick sale. We had, however put a reserve on a new townhouse just up the road at 2120 Headon road. It had not yet been built and we did not expect it to be ready until much later in the year.
 
Mollie left for the UK on the Tuesday and by Saturday I had sold the house!!

We got a good price and the purchasers were anxious to move in as soon as possible. In fact we had to fix a closing date that was 7 days before I left for the UK to join Mollie, and this was in around five weeks time! Panic set it, I first rushed around looking for immediately available townhouses that would suit, then I looked at rental properties none of which were suitable. The agent for the new house at 2120 said that he had an already built unit on the same site as that upon which ours was to be built and the sale had fallen through so they would be happy to rent it to us until such time as ours was built. We agreed a rental deal and this at least took the pressure off. I was looking around this "new" rental home one day and one of the workers said "You goin' to buy this then guv'nor?" to which I replied "No just renting" Then it dawned on me, this was the perfect house to buy instead of the as yet un-started place. (As it turned out the builder went bankrupt so the one were going to have built never happened, at least not for several years until another builder bought up the remaining lots.) I negotiated a very favourable deal and was able to arrange the closing date to coincide with that of the purchaser of number 2068. I had to do all the packing myself and more or less do all the moving in and unpacking myself. I had just 7 days before I left for the UK. An added challenge was the fact that Mollie had never seen the house, I did my best to describe it to her over the phone and with the aid of computer plans etc. Furthermore all the legal paperwork had to be done via fax across the Atlantic and of course UK paper sizes are not the same as those used here in Canada. Eventually, we managed.

2120 Headon Road - Unit 24

 We duly returned from the UK and much to my relief Mollie just loved the place and in fact still does to this day.

Briefly unit 24 is one unit in a "fourplex" In other words there are four units forming a single building, two on the ground floor and two on the first floor (2nd floor in North American parlance.) We occupy the upper unit at the right hand end. It has a total area of 1700 square feet. A perfectly straight 13 tread staircase leads up to the living room. There are three good bedrooms one of which has an ensuite bathroom and walk in closet. The second also has a walk in closet and the third bedroom is my office come hobby room. There is a very large living room with a sliding door to a substantial deck overlooking Headon Forest and Tuck creek. We are not overlooked at all at the back. A large eat-in kitchen and a laundry room completes the suite.




Interiors of 2120 - Clockwise - Master Bedroom, Living Room towards kitchen, Living room towards walkout.

Epiphany

As already mentioned I had written a software programme for St. Luke's Anglican Church here in Burlington. This came about because my next door neighbour, Gary McDonald, was a warden of the church and they wanted to produce a photo directory of their congregation. In order to do this the directory people required a list of the congregation in digital format with a certain layout. The church's existing management software was unable to produce this so Gary asked me if I could use their data and produce a properly formatted list. This proved to be quite a simple matter and during the course of conversation the church secretary, Liz, asked if I could do anything to improve their management software. I don't remember what programme they were using but it was outside my ability to do anything to improve it. I suggested that perhaps they would like me to write a completely new programme. Since this would have the possibility of being sold to many churches I offered to develop the programme free of charge but that I would retain all rights for selling it in future, They agreed with alacrity and thus I developed PRAE (Parish Register Auditor & Editor) The acronym was thought up by my son-in-law Wally and was well received. The programme was quite a success and I did actually sell one copy to another church, namely, St. Mathew on the Plains.
 
I was in St. Luke's church office one day talking to the secretary when a lady walked in saying "Oh Liz I've finished in the church, can you lock up for me please?" Liz agreed of course, and I asked "Can I come with you, I've been doing all this work for you over the years and never seen the inside of your church" . We went into the church and I had the strangest feeling that I should be worshipping here. I can't explain it, except of course, that it was a message from on high calling me to faith. I went home and said to Mollie "Can we go to church on Sunday?" She was astounded and said, "Well, yes of course if that's what you want" We went to St. Luke's for a couple of Sundays, but  never felt that we were welcome and it was as if we were sitting in someone else's pew and they were highly put out. After a couple of tries I asked Mollie if she knew of another Anglican church we could try. I should explain here that I was baptized in the Anglican church, (see Beginnings) and Mollie had been going to the local Pentecostal church for some years. I had tried the Pentecostal services once or twice but found them far too "happy-clappy".
 
Mollie suggested going to a small church in Lowville called St. George's, about 15 minutes drive from Burlington. She had once been to a Prayer breakfast there and was most impressed by the vicar namely Rev. Charlie Masters. so it was decided that we would go there the following Sunday.
 

St. George's Anglican Church Lowville

St Georges Anglican Church

What a difference! We were immediately made to feel welcome and the service was most satisfying, it was a communion service and because of my Jewish connections I didn't feel I could partake therein. As we left Charlie was standing at the door and personally greeted us asking our names and other details. In the course of conversation he asked why I had refrained from taking the communion and I explained about my Grandfather being Jewish. He was most interested and said "I would love to talk to you about this, give me your phone number and I'll call you to set up a meeting". I thought yes, 'tell me the old old story', that's the last I'll ever hear of that. How wrong I was, 10:00 am Monday morning Charlie called and asked when I could come up to the church and have a chat. I went the very next day and after some discussion and prayer I started my journey towards becoming a "born again Christian". That journey has not been easy and is still, to this day, a difficult task. Unfortunately too many years of sinning has left me battling against adversity, but I struggle on, knowing that Jesus has forgiven me, even though I don't deserve it.
 

Brother in Law Lou, Dies

 
Lou & Barbara July 1950

You will recall that back in 1942 my sister Barbara married Lou Danielli (see The Forties Part 1) Now in the nineties they are living in what we would call a Town house in Brighton, not far from Brighton Station. This small terraced home was by this time, in very poor state, and could really be described as a slum. Lou had a minor stroke which left him incapable of working ( at the time he had a paper round to supplement their meagre state pensions) During my summer visit of 1999 I had visited them both and tried to persuade Lou to let me take him out in the car for a ride to at least try to cheer him up a little. He said he would think about it. Shortly after we returned to Canada, September 8th to be precise, he had a heart attack and died very suddenly. As you can imagine, despite their difficult circumstances and poor quality of life, Barbara was totally dedicated to Lou and of course, devastated by his demise. I flew back to England straight away and Tony and I made the necessary funeral arrangements and of course we both attended to funeral, a simple affair at Brighton Crematorium.
 

Barbara & Lou c1980 in Brighton
Barbara & Lou - Early days in flat at Brighton

At this point I should mention what a fantastic supportive friend Tony Jaffe was and always has been. His dedication and support were legion and I know I can never repay him for all he did for Barbara and me after Lou's death.
 
First of all there was the question of what to do about Barbara's living accommodation. The house was, as I've already mentioned, a slum. The basement was unusable with the windows boarded up, the bathroom ceiling had collapsed into the bath making the room unusable. The whole place was filthy and stunk of nicotine with yellow walls and ceilings throughout. I guess Barbara just couldn't cope any more as she was far from fit and suffered terribly from her digestion etc. She had in her younger days been a very house proud person and a good housekeeper and cook, but things had begun to slide especially after Lou's stroke.
 
I talked to her about moving, but she said it was out of the question and in any case how could they possibly sell their slum like house. Just as an experiment I called an Estate Agent and asked them to give me an evaluation. Barbara was convinced that it wasn't worth more than £25,000 but much to her great surprise the Realtor valued it at between  £85/100,000. However Barbara was in no fit state to make such big decision about selling and in view of Lou's recent departure I didn't press the point and decided to leave it until my next visit the following summer.

By coincidence Tony had a friend who was a builder and developer and who was looking for suitable properties to develop. Tony talked to him, Brian was his name, and within a few weeks he had bought the house for £83,000 which after paying off the small mortgage of £23,000 left Barbara with £60,000 cash approximately. Again my good friend Tony, organized the buying of a beautiful sheltered flat, new appliances, arranged the move and generally got Barbara settled down. He also arranged to invest the balance of the cash to give her some income in addition to her pension. She was nicely settled except for one thing, she hadn't made a will and now as the owner of a very saleable flat as well as some investments it was imperative that she finalized her affairs. Please bear in mind that Tony did all this without me being there as I was back in Canada while all this was going on. Finally I asked Tony if he would be kind enough to buy a standard 'Last Will & Testament' form and take it around to Barbara to complete. He readily agreed and arranged a date to go to her new flat and fill in the details. Here's where fate took a hand, when Tony got to the flat he was told that Barbara had collapsed in the night and had been taken to Brighton General Hospital. She died that night,

It was March 24th 2000, just 6 months after her husband, Lou had died. My theory is that she just gave up. She now had security, a nice place to live a chance to restore her health BUT no one to share it with. The love of her life, Lou had gone so why should she carry on.
  
The consequences of this sudden demise were legion and will be described in the next section.

Next page:  The 2000's
                     Go top