SCHARF: How cousin Dave sometimes kept me out of trouble

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When my grandsons start running amok, my exasperated daughter is known to say, “Those boys are definitely Scharfs!”

I take some twisted pride in their rowdiness, yet it’s not entirely accurate, as my cousins in the Maritimes balanced the family scales by becoming Mounties, much to the chagrin of great-great uncle George McKenna.

Both Phil and Dave put in 35 years with the Mounties, and while Phil became an investigator for cases like the Cape Breton murders, Dave liked to stay under the wire. Dave had a gift – what cops in Southern California call a command presence. Dave had that in spades. He had no overtone of aggression. It was just very evident that it would be a bad idea to give him any problems. He served in Bridgeton, Regina, Sydney, and Tatamagouche.

A former LAPD officer told me that in the sixties and seventies, Los Angeles Police Department considered themselves an occupying force. Another told me that cops divided the world between citizens and dirtbags, and as time went on, the proportion of citizens diminished.


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Granted, Los Angeles is not the Maritimes, but when Dave came to a new community, he would start ball leagues and other community programs. He was a guardian, not an oppressor.

It’s tough to get to know someone when they’re 3,500 miles away. We’d hung out at grandma’s house a little bit when we were kids. Like all of us, the long-closed Berry Box was certainly a favoured destination. But while staying with grandma I’d got wind that a new movie called “To Cast A Giant Shadow” was coming to Sarnia and it was for adults only. I was looking for something seamy, but once I’d weaseled our way in, the movie was about the founding of Israel. “Adults only” meant something different in LA. Turned out Dave was there to keep me from getting in trouble. He did that more than a few times.

He took his job very seriously, but his priority was his family and friends. I’m told he was a wonderful grandpa and loved to have Nerf battles with the grandkids, or play in the pool, or telling ghost stories by the campfire.

One Halloween, Dave and his wife held a costume party, which was interrupted by their office in need of backup. I can’t imagine how strange it would be to get arrested by Corp. Jack Sparrow.

I called him on his last birthday, expressing how proud I was of the pastor in Calgary who gave the bum’s rush to some intrusive health officials and cops. I had no idea that the Maritimes were shut down severely. I caught myself recognizing that he had a different perspective – while protecting people’s rights was important, his career was dedicated to public safety. We moved on quickly to discussing a forthcoming family reunion.

When Prince Phillip died, I thought of a photograph of my cousin as a cadet standing at attention saluting the Prince.

I got word that Dave passed away a few days later.

I’ve heard that the Prince was the real deal, and perhaps, somewhere in Valhalla, I like to think he and Dave are having a beer.

David Michael Scharf

Born: April 9, 1953, Sarnia

End of Watch: April 27, 2021 Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia


Greg Scharf was born in Sarnia and lives in Southern California

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