The Moved and The Dead

My electronic address book, which I have been keeping, in one form or another, for almost a decade needed some serious cleaning out, and tonight was the night. When I started, there were 729 people on file.

Cleaning out an address book is always filled with pathos, for the people that get removed are people who have moved or people who have died. Unless they were enemies (which is unlikely, as who puts enemies in their address book?), this means that the deletion is sort of a “final farewell.”

It’s also an interesting bird’s eye view of my work life over the last decade.

The oldest addresses I deleted were for staff at PEINet, the Island’s erstwhile Internet Service Provider. So Berni Gardiner and John Cunningham, along with their email addresses, are gone.

I had lots of technical contact people from the first summer we ran the Vacancy Information Service — lots of entries like “the guy who runs the exchange in Wellington” and “friendly ISDN installer from St. Peters.” And the number for Sandra Perry, who used to be the woman who you had to call for anything related to data at Island Tel. They’re all gone now.

There were a collection of names associated with my work in the mid-1990s on the project that become Avonlea Village: addresses for historic villages all over North America, the name of the guy who used to store his boat in the Belmont School House (since purchased, moved from Belmont to Cavendish and renovated magnificently), and all sort of contacts at Parks Canada. There was also the number for the “Broom Squire” at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto, perhaps the most interesting job title of the deleted bunch.

I had the modem dial-up number for “BATE — Line 9” on file, which is something only diehard veterans of the data wars will know the meaning or importance of.

A couple of numbers for staff at Marine Atlantic and Strait Crossing from when we had the IslandCam based on the ferry, and at the staging yard.

Some names I didn’t recognize at all: a “Roger Kitson” at a company called Cintek, a “John Lauener” in Toronto, a “Neil Mackinnon” identified only as “Government of Scotland,” a couple only identified as “Marc and Melissa,” and an entry for “Opus” with just an email address. There was my contact at “Worldwide Food Distributor” — I think that was a possible source for xanthan gum (don’t ask). Gone.

Lots of people are still here, but in different jobs. I still had Kevin Lewis on file at Enterprise PEI; he’s since moved on to Island Tel, and then UPEI. Brenda Gallant used to work for Tourism PEI, then went to Island Tel, and is now at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. David Mackenzie was at CADC, then the Capital Commission, now the Confederation Centre. David Malahoff when he worked on a CBC Newsworld programme called The Richler Scale (did that ever air?).

Elmer Stavert and Elmer Stafford were in there twice — I was never sure how to spell his name. I solved the problem by removing both entries.

Some old projects: our contact at the now-defunct Island Way Vacations, the number of a guy in the U.S. who wanted us to help him distribute music to adult contemporary radio stations on the Internet, Joe Sherman’s phone number at Arts Atlantic when we were going to put the magazine on the web. The phone and email for the guy who founded Delrina (the makers of WinFax) from an aborted attempt to prospect his new company. The President of the New England Innkeeper’s Association from when my friend Steve and I responded to their website RFP almost a decade ago.

Inexplicably, I had the phone number of the woman responsble for landscaping at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, the email address for Brock Meeks, former Chief Washington Correspondent for WIRED magazine, Robertson Davies’ daughter’s mailing address, the number of the man who runs the transmitter for Global Television in Halifax, and the address for the President of the Island Grain and Protein Council on file. They’re gone now.

Sandy Griswold died last year, and I had a tear in my eye when I removed his entry. I couldn’t bring myself to take my father’s mother, or Catherine’s mother’s mother out of the book yet — always hope for miracles, I guess.

The end result? I’ve pared myself down to 398 entries. The first entry is now my old friend from Peterborough, Jill Abson, and the last entry is the man known universally as “Dave Z” (pronounced ‘zee’) at Yankee.

Next update scheduled for 2013. Oliver will be just about to get his drivers license.


Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on June 11, 2003 - 18:21 Permalink

I tried building a digital address book but I can’t find any programs I am comfortable with. I’ve tried getting use to Outlook’s address book but I don’t like how it categorizes. Do you have any PC address book apps you would recommend?

stephen good's picture
stephen good on June 11, 2003 - 18:56 Permalink

peter — that’s one of the best things you have written for reinvented. it speaks not only of life and how things change but also how the Internet is so intense, so “of the moment” but also so fleeting. This would make a perfect New Yorker “Notes and Comments” entry — except I guess you would have to know more people in New York — does Yankee magazine count?

Charlie's picture
Charlie on June 11, 2003 - 20:24 Permalink

Ah BATE…that one line brought back a lot of memories…downloading BBS shareware…ordering up a 19.2 (way better than 14.4!) modem from future shop in moncton and having them send it over on the bus…good times!

3's picture
3 on October 7, 2003 - 20:12 Permalink

Marc and Melissa were a couple from your first year or so at Trent. He was from Terrace Bay, Ontario and I’m not sure where she was from. I think they took off together in a beat-up car for B.C. sometime around 1985…