“It’s been a long time, Peter”

I had just graduated from a small Okanagan High School from where I went to UBC in 1944, enrolled in first year Arts. One of my courses was Math. 100 given by Professor Gage in a large lecture room in the Arts Building – I think it was Arts 100. Like most of the other students, one of whom was Pat McGeer, I immediately took a liking to Prof. Gage, had no trouble with the course, and did well in it, although I remained an inconspicuous student.

Two year later I was in first year engineering, where the social highlight of the year was the Engineers Ball, usually in February, in the Commodore Ballroom on Granville Street. With two other classmates we arranged to have a table and sit together. I asked a very attractive girl if she would come, which she accepted, thinking then it would just be a formality to get tickets. To my complete astonishment and shock I found out that all the tickets had been sold, none were left!

What was I to do – in desperation I went to Professor Gage, knowing that he taught math to engineering students and was popular with them, and asked him if he could help me out of my dilemma. He said “Leave it to me “ and that was the end of our meeting, and I thought a very long shot at success. To my surprise, a few days later, he saw me in the Quad, as the space between the Arts Building and Auditorium was called, and said “I’ve got something for you”, and handed me an envelope with the prized tickets. I thanked him profusely – probably all the more because he wouldn’t take any money. I went to the ball – had a wonderful evening – the first experience of a small town boy in what to me was a glittering social event – a lovely and attractive girl, a wonderful dance floor, the opportunity to get away from the rigor of long classes and tight assignments – what more could one ask for? The girl I took remained a good friend and married a good friend of mine.

That was in 1947, and three years later I graduated. Twenty one years later, in 1968, with the unstinting support of a dedicated wife and with four children, I returned to UBC, enrolled in the School of Community and Regional Planning, and graduated in 1970. At the ceremony now President Gage was in charge, handing out the degrees to the graduates. As I approached he recognized me and said “It’s been a long time, Peter”, and we had a conversation in the short time that was available. I couldn’t help but be astounded by his remembrance of the incident years before, and be touched by his thoughtfulness to a timid student in helping turning an embarrassing situation into an enjoyable event.

Peter Tassie