DMAC Story from
Percy Ford-Smith

I joined DMAC in the spring of 1957 along with two friends Pete Spencer and Bruce Hill. The three of us were riding our bikes and came across the clubhouse. As I remember, they had just completed the shell and were about to put in some steps. We all joined and started to build under the guidance of Wilf. Later that year, we were joined by other friends Tymen Edelkoort, Alfred ( Fred ) Westermann and his younger brother Klaus Westermann. Wilf was in truly a mentor and taught all of us many life skills. At that time, every student had to start with an A1 glider called ‘Golden Wings” designed by Vic Smeed. It had a wing span of 44-1/2" and since every student had one, it was a natural to have contests.

I have fond memories of dying paper in which to cover the planed. We had yellow, blue and red. We would have a galvanized wash tub filled with water which we had heated on the kerosene stove and later added the dye. The clubhouse was adorned with many lines on which we dried the paper. As usual, everyone got involved.

When I joined, there was just a counter around the circumference of the clubhouse on which to build. Bruce Hill’s father was getting out of the duck raising business, so were able to salvage numerous sheets of 3/8" plywood from the old barn. I can remember sliding two sheets at a time all the way from his farm ( which now is University Plaza ) to the clubhouse. That had to be more than a mile. Later we got some sheet steel and scraped off the white wash used in the duck pens. Later Wilf sawed the plywood ( by hand ) to make doors for our lockers. The drawers were also made by Wilf from wood that he had been able so salvage from where he worked at Valley City Manufacturing. Wilf made the doors on a jig on one of the tables. As it turned out the table wasn't square, so all the doors were out of square. Wilf promptly took them all apart and made them right.

The clubhouse was heated by a kerosene stove. We would take 8-10m one gallon tine that Wilf had collected, put then in a wagon and walked the whole length of town to the only gas station that still sols kerosene. It was just west of the armouries. We would fill the tine and walk the 1 ½ mile back to the club. To start the stove, one would open a valve, wait about 30 seconds, then though in a small piece of paper that you lit with a match. On one occasion, I opened the valve and forgot about it for quite some time. By the time I lit it, there had to be about 1/2" of kerosene in the bottom. The fire quickly rose to an inferno and I had to keep opening and closing the lid to stop it getting too hot. I had visions of the whole place going up in flames. Luckily it burnt itself out and no harm was done.

When I look at the floor plan of the clubhouse, I see that as you enter the door, Wilf's bench was on the right and my locker was fourth from the door on the right. I remember on one occasion, in order to get more heat from the stove, we strung stovepipe the whole length of the clubhouse and back out the port. There wasn't enough draft created, so we had to put it back the way it was.

We went to numerous competitions, the most memorable one at Hamilton Airport. It was called the Tiger Town Model Meet. As I remember, they shut half the airport down for the whole day. I can't put my finger on it now, but I do have a picture of Wilf and his wife at Tiger Town.

At this time of year I always remember Wilf taking a few of us chosen ones into his house. He had a Christmas tree that was decorated in candles and he lit them for us. A sight I'll never forget.