Sunday, June 17, 2012

For My Dad.



AllTheThanksThatFit
AllMyKids'HopesAndDreamsVille


When I was a kid my Dad took my brothers and me to the beach.

A lot.

To do all kinds of things that came and went, from sand-tag to frisbee-football (before there was Ultimate) to moon-snail diving, and more.

But one thing was always constant...

If there were waves we were in them.

And more often than not our Dad wouldn't come out until his hands turned blue.

Anyway.

My own kids, and my Dad's grandkid's, both have that dominant cold water gene.

Especially the oldest one.

That's them, above.

****

The following is now a bit of a tradition 'round here...


My old man was a Union man.

And the folks in the Union fought like bastards...and they fought constantly, usually for the tiniest of things in each successive contract...things like an extra quarter percent on a COLA clause, or one little add-on like an extra free filling per year on the dental plan.

And when I was a kid, especially during that time when I was a barely no-longer-a-teenager-aged kid, I thought the folks from the Union were just a little bit off their nut....all that energy going into what, exactly?

After all, it was the 80's, and Dave Barrett and the Socialist Hordes were long gone, and the Wild Kelowna boys were rolling along, and Unions were bad, and Expo was coming, and Trudeau was going, and John Turner was hiccupping, and Mulroney was lurking, somewhere off in the distance....

....And if you were a half-bright, apolitical science-geek kind of kid like me, breezing your way through college and thinking about graduate school, you laughed when you saw the boy wonder from Burnaby, Michael J. Fox, shirk his Family Ties and ape the young Republicans while making fun of his willfully neutered Leftie of a Dad on the TV screen...

....And if you were that kid, you thought that you were living in a golden age that was tied, not to the social democratic reforms of the past, but to the coming of Free Trade and the promises of the Reaganites from the South...

...And from that perspective you sure as heck didn't always get the irony of Bruce Springsteen singing about the plight of the working class in 'Born in the USA'.

But now that I have spent a good chunk of time in USA where I started a family of my own before coming home, I do get it.

I understand that my Dad spent his entire adult life hauling logs up and down the West Coast, working his guts out to help keep the robber baron families rich because he had to make a living to support his own family....

....And I get the fact that, because of the Unions, my family's standard of living gradually improved, bit by bit, over the years so that by the time I had grown up to be that callow young man described above my parents had saved enough to help me go to University....

....And I get the fact that I was the first one in my family who got to go to University....Ever.....And it wasn't because I was so damned smart....

....And I get the fact that, while my parents' limited financial help and support was important, it would never have been enough to get me into the same good schools if I had arrived on the scene a single generation earlier or, perhaps, later....

....And I get the fact that those Wild Kelowna Boys, and all the other neo-cons that have come since, have been doing their damndest to destroy the dream of a University education for all, and instead have instituted an elitist education for some and one-trick-pony Technical training for everybody else.....

....And I get the fact that, if it wasn't for folks like my Dad and the other lefties of his time, my current world, one in which I make a living with my eyes and my mind wide open, would not be what it is today.....

....And most of all, I now get the fact that my Dad was, and is, my hero.



OK?

.

10 comments:

West End Bob said...

I love this tradition around your place every year, RossK - Happy Dad's Day to you . . . .

Chuckstraight said...

Good stuff. My Dad was a union man also. I enjoy your blog.
Happy Fathers Day.

Ron said...

My father was a Union rep on Canadian National. He was so respected that when he died they wanted to name a "siding(thats a parallel track where trains can pass one another)" after him. When HQ found out, that was no longer possible. I was a union rep also on the railway. At CN and BC Rail (you remember that railway right?), then I was promoted to a supervisor. I still paid my Union Dues and respected the contract. What amazed me is how the companies always broke the contract to get what they considered more production. Then came the 80's with the Reaganites and the wannabe's here in Canada. Legislation after legislation was passed to give the neocons more power to limit or remove the unions. I hate what Canada has become.

Anonymous said...

I had more than a few members of my family, that worked for the CN and a brother who worked for the BCR.

Harper does not want the middle class Canadians citizens. He only wants the very wealthy and the very poor. That's why he wants to be rid of unions. When the unions are gone, so will be the middle class citizens of Canada.

This is how it is in Communist China. Harper is merging Canada in with Communist China. China owns huge chunks of the tar sands. They are bringing over hordes of their own, to work the tar sands, right down to Chinese cooks. Communist China is bringing swarms over, to build the Enbridge pipeline. Harper loves all of that cheap labor. That ups the huge profits, for himself.

Harper has the same concern for Human Rights, that Communist China has. Child laborers in China, only earn pennies a day.

University educated students in Canada, will only be for the wealthy. The same is true in Communist China.

These days Canadian citizens, can be arrested for reading a book on the subway. Sound familiar?

Kevin Wood said...

Goddamit RossK, you make me cry with that every goddamned year.
I was the president of our tiny little union at the newspaper in Japan for a couple of years and when I moved back to Canada my father advised me not to mention that on my resume.

Kevin Wood said...

and "Bravo" and "Goodonya" and "Solidarity" to your old man and you and all the other Dads out there teaching their kids how to be joyful buskers and strummers and art-makers for the fun of it. Y'all are doing good work.

Chris said...

Sent this to my favourite tug and tow pals. Got back an "it's nice someone remembers the union".

Anyway, where the heck is your kids' musical salute to their dad? I can't believe there isn't a ukele rap cover of some kind that comes to mind when they think of you...

Leah said...

ppfffttttt! I cried again this year...and likely will next year as well.

Beijing York said...

That was beautiful, Ross.

RossK said...

Thanks All!

Sorry about that Kev and Leah.

And thanks to those with the family stories!

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