• By Kirk Gaw

Looking Beyond The Distance

For decades I have devoted attention to my passion for the town I grew up in. It left an impression that I am proud of. I am fascinated by the Walkerton characters who left behind the will and strength that endures. It wasn't until, recently, in February of 2016 that I was inspired to create the Walkerton Facebook group. It is a positive source to share photos and stories about the people who enjoy the subject of their hometown. It didn't matter where people live? So, many lives continue to express interest about the community from all over the world.

I grew up as a child on the westside of town at 317 Roosevelt Rd. That modest 4 bedroom home was across the street from the Urey Middle School / Place Park on one side and in front of the Heinz plant along the other side. The Nickel Plate railroad was beyond the backyard. It was an active home with plenty of noise. I could not imagine being home alone. If it did happen it was rare and infrequent.

There was always plenty to do and explore outside. I had many babysitters and friends in the neighborhood who looked out for me. When I was 13 what remained of the family who took care of me up and decided to move to LaPorte. I was forced to finish school there and was not happy to leave the familiarity of Walkerton. I felt like I was ripped from my life. I tried to keep up with my Walkerton friends I had after I left. I wrote letters and we visited.

I went to college after 1987. While at IUSB I began working for Alt & Witzig Engineering as a geotechnician and studied Public Administration at the School Of Public And Environmental Affairs. I ended up becoming friends with Walkerton actor / video caster, Doug Campbell during that time. He is the one who recognized the need to collaborate for a platform that would capture the historic photographs and architecture of Walkerton. He wanted to work together with me to create a DVD that would reveal much of the early Walkerton Area Historic Society collection kept in its early stages in Amy Wardman's house.

I went to visit her for interviews when she was the only person known to have what was close to a history society collection. She started the Walkerton Area Historic Society and coordinated it with Charles Sherland. I wanted to help her find a building to create the museum. At the time I was interested in the old brown brick Electric Station - Water Works building on 23. It seemed like a perfect location? It had a large industrial open space and those arched windows with Romanesque brick design.

After I discussed the idea with Charles Sherland and the Town of Walkerton Engineer they felt the building would not be safe without a sizable investment. I was young and at the time was not prepared for a million dollar plan. They also, felt they wanted to handle their plans without me. As far as I knew the WAHS did not exist yet, officially? That was 1990. Doug worked on the video of historic photographs and locations though. And, I coordinated my notes from Amy Wardman. We intended to make the DVD available for what was then the early Fall Festival predating "Falloween." Unfortunately, there was not enough interest at the time since the WAHS was in early formation.

I ended up living in Chicago for a while. After a year there I was quickly whisked off to California where I began a job in restaurant management. It was an opportunity I could not refuse. I also, worked for ARC a state program in California for disabled people. I applied my management skills there too.

My heart was set on returning to Walkerton at some point to start a restaurant. But, as life would have it I ended up working for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Assessment Appeals Board as an Assistant to the Hearing Scheduler. They kept me busy, and I could not leave.

In my spare time I got into acting with a few theater groups at the Celebration Theater on Santa Monica Blvd. and worked on the staging of "Deporting The Diva's" and "Cyberqueer." I became involved with Project Angel Food, APLA, PAWS, and the Necessities Of Life Program Food Bank. I also, worked for 2 years as a Personal Assistant for Hollywood R & B Singer, "Hosea."

My partner, financial planner, Frank Nunez, and I, worked on fundraising for charity. He and I, along with our 3rd amigo, Jim Fragmin, appeared at as many functions as we could to help cloth the needy, feed the hungry, and cure the ill. Frank, and I were together for over 23 years. Jim and I too. We did AIDSwalk LA, beer festivals, and AHF luncheons in the name of creating awareness of the plights of the sick and needy.

Frank, and I ended up helping David Bakhshi run LA Cafe a popular, hipster, 24 hour restaurant in Los Angeles under the Spring Lofts Tower Music Studios. We served the likes of Robert Plant, Slash, 50 Cent, Kourtney Kardashian, Nicole Kidman, Kanye West, Eddie Murphy, and Adam Levine who recorded in the studios there. I left LA Cafe in 2012 to join Oneone77 Creative Studio where I have worked in marketing and sales since. Some of our customers included AEG Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and the LA Kings Hockey team.

Spending time with the Walkerton Facebook group is a joy to me. Sometimes, I am sick and writing the Walkerton Page helps to improve my suffering. Writing can be a healing power through discovery. Originally, I was gonna return to Walkerton last year to start a business there. Sadly, I continue to battle many threats to my life including depression, pancreatitis, severe bone loss, and a leaky heart.It is keeping me from getting there like I want.

At the "Oneone 77 Creative Studio" I worked with fashion icons and experts where we provide business solutions and branding icons. I hope I can help with entrpreneurship in Walkerton. And help inaugurate brick and mortar business there?

I got Walkerton in my heart! I am so grateful with all of the support from the medical experts who treat me here in LA. I am so thankful for my many, many, friends too. Visiting the Walkerton group through the internet and writing for The Walkerton Page has kept me in touch. Thank You! For participating! And for enjoying the illuminating articles. There are many more to ahead. You the readers are the inspiration. I still keep my plans and dreams for me in Walkerton too.

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