Reply Wed 21 Sep, 2011 11:50 am
William the Conqueror, 1066,
Said to his captains, 'I mean to affix
England to Normandy. Go out and borrow
Some bows and some arrows, we're starting tomorrow.'
So William went conquering hither and thither
'Til Angles and Saxons were all of a dither
He conquered so quickly you couldn't keep count
Of the counties he conquered, I think they amount
To ten, or a dozen, or even a score,
And I haven't a doubt he'd have conquered some more,
So full and proud of his conquering tricks
was William the conqueror, 1066.
But death put an end to the tactics, thank Heaven,
Of William the Conqueror, 1087.
by Hugh Chesterman.

My dad used to recite poetry when I was a kid. The earliest poems I can remember was 'Shooting of Dan McGrew' - Dad was a big Robert Service fan was and the above poem, because his wedding day coincided with the beginning of the Battle of Hastings and of the Conquerer. Talk of politics has always been apart of my life. It was common fodder for dinner conversation as a kid.
I was five, I guess, when I really started to pay attention.
It was spring time, the glorious time of year when it sunny and warm and you could run around in rubber boots, jump and smash the melting ice from the snowdrifts and puddles along sidewalks. Everything was mucky, layered with grit, yet peeking out of the grey snow was green, grass, summer...
My mom was in Ireland with my baby brother. I remember sitting in the kitchen, eating breakfast, listening to CBC. A bombing in Belfast and every day after, a reprisal, this faction, that faction, a shooting, ? dead, ? wounded.. Calm voices describing horror, terror. Warfare. Catholic, Protestant, English, Irish... Hatred.?!
I asked my dad if my mom was alright. He didn't understand my urgency, my worry. I didn't understand the details.. I lived in a sleepy little prairie city.
I grew up in an immigrant city. Most of us were there because of some sort of persecution 'back home'. I had friends who had known torture, who had come here to escape. Just as previous generations of my people had done to flee a forced famine.
I read about Anne Frank and how quickly neighbours could turn on another. How I, as a little girl with dark eyes and hair, could have been targeted and later how fellow Canadians had been, in camps set up in my own province... and later still to try and reconcile residential schools et al.
I was eighteen before I knew Vietnam was more than just a country. It would be another 12 years before I found out my uncle had been a soldier. I didn't know he existed, he was a secret. The war made him mad, he tried to end it all but managed only to ruin himself. By that time, I'd seen other homeless vets and realized that there are very few things worth dying or being injured for.

I think my staunch catholic, conservative upbringing led me to no other conclusion but liberalism. Wink
Reply Wed 21 Sep, 2011 02:22 pm
"Estudia, niño, estudia, y no serás, cuando crecido, ni el juguete vulgar de las pasiones, ni el esclavo servil de los tiranos".

This was the phrase my mother repeated once and again: "Study, child, study, and you shall not be, when grown, neither the vulgar toy of passions, nor the servile slave of tyrants".
Reply Wed 21 Sep, 2011 03:46 pm
I'll try this again.

Since I'm given to rambling, I'll just try to pinpoint what got my attention over time and not make this a novella - more like episodes. Pinpoints may gain different weight, looked back on from me now.

- I was born just before Pearl Harbor, but I didn't know that.
- my daddy was around but he wore funny clothes, not like my mother's, stiff.
- then he wasn't around. My mother and I went to Oklahoma to visit her sister and her husband, who worked for Douglas Aircraft, whatever its name then. Her husband, my uncle Charlie, let me help him turn the handle when he made peach ice cream. According to my mother later, I was trouble on the train.
- we lived in Alexandria, Virginia, my father there again, and I had someone to play with. Dabney Carr was her name. There was a drugstore in Fairfax where my parents bought me a wonderful coloring book. I remember my happiness. My father was at the time reporting on the Bikini bomb test photography (delivered the film via the Enola Gay), but I didn't know any of that.
- That meant that I skipped half of kindergarten when we stayed there, and that worried me later, that someone would find out.
- We moved to Los Angeles and that was probably when my dad did the plane fight scenes in Twelve O'Clock High - got the film from whatever gov department and edited it. Again, I didn't know any of that. I was busy being a shy girl at St. Monica's.

(to be continued)

Reply Wed 21 Sep, 2011 04:50 pm
Actually, I became interested in politics, at age 18, when Kennedy/Nixon ran for president. I had a dark foreboding feeling when considering adding Johnson to the mix and never liked Kennedy. I felt that Nixon had served honorably as VP and gotten great experience under Ike. Later, in 1962, I joined the Navy. I read books supposedly authored by Ronald Reagan and other politically minded folks. I began thinking I was a conservative. Even went to Barry Goldwater rallies, in LA. In 1964, I became aware that we were fighting in Vietnam. Only volunteers were getting sent over. I told myself I owed it to my country to re-enlist in the Army, when my hitch ended in Jan. 1965.

Came the end of my hitch and I vowed to take a three month vacation, before talking to the Army. Right away, as a civilian, the information I received on the war became very different. Here is where I became truly politicized, for I went against my government and began protesting Vietnam at every opportunity.

I eventually went to New York City to be closer to the power center with my protests. I went with Jesse Jackson to Washington DC, the day of The Mother's March On Washington, in 1968. We first stopped off at the White House, to pitch a tent, which was to get painted black, on the president's lawn. The police outnumbered us. Jesse declared that we had made our point and we moved on to the Lincoln Memorial - just in time to fall in at the end of the march, as it set out to make the trek to JFK's grave. Later, we stopped off in Floyd McKissick's church.

There was an abortive effort to launch the Peace and Freedom Party. I attended some meetings, but soon saw it was going nowhere.

After my oldest brother got murdered (not a political act), my life changed completely. I did my politics from home. When McGovern ran for president, the rhetoric about him scared me off from voting. I no longer trusted Nixon, so I voted a no name from a third party.

I voted for Carter the first time. As with McGovern, I let myself be scared off from voting for him again. I voted for Reagan. Shoot me. I deserve it.

I have watched as the good will between labor and the corporations of the 50s turned into the beggaring of the working class in the 21ST Century. I blame it on a fundamentalism that grips at least half of the population, that will never learn to think. At the same time, I saw Clinton and Obama turn the Democratic Party into a bunch of saps.

I don't want Obama or Perry for my leader. Somebody give us a real choice for dog's sake.
Reply Wed 21 Sep, 2011 05:10 pm
So then..

- we moved to New York City. My father was a director and editor at RKO Pathe on 106th street. I got to go to a Howdy Doody episode, filmed downstairs in that building. I can't say that I loved Howdy Doody, sorry, Reyn. I had just turned eight. Among the perks, we had a tv, and also, from before, a radio, where there were stories.
- Somewhere in that year, someone under my father showed a secret photo at a party, I presume of the bomb test, but don't know.
- My father got nailed, for not a tight ship. I can understand that, my own ships not always being tight. But it was a big dive and I gathered, over the years, more intricate than at first glance. But this all didn't break until a couple of years later. I think he worked a zillion hours, but wasn't all that vocal.
- When I lived in New York - your basic 1950, I was beginning to watch. John Cameron Swayze was on the tv along with Hopalong Cassidy and baseball games.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2011 09:00 pm
Catching up on the most recent posts here ....

Ceili, a wonderful, thoughtful post (as always).
So many different moments of significance in our lives, so many big & small "turning point" moments ....which collectively shape who we become & what we believe.
I think you've expressed yours beautifully.

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Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2011 09:14 pm
I'm so glad you posted again, osso.
Second (or 3rd?) time lucky. Smile
I've always been really interested in your stories of your father & how what occurred to him impacted on his career & on your family circumstances. Very scary times, those were.
Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2011 09:16 pm
More to come...
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Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2011 09:43 pm
Ah, I just knew you had more to say, edgar! Smile
Thank you for doing it.
I had no idea you were so involved in the political protests in the mid-60s & on... that you were so active!
Reading about your changing political perceptions during all that time till now & about the changes in the nature of your involvement, was really interesting, though it made me feel a little sad, too .... about the way you see things now, after all your past efforts.
Sometimes it must feel rather like pushing boulders up mountains ....
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Reply Thu 22 Sep, 2011 09:46 pm
You were very fortunate indeed to have such a wise woman as your mother, fbaezer.
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Reply Sun 2 Oct, 2011 01:47 pm
plainoldme wrote:
Your story about Clarence was powerful. Thanks for sharing it.

You're welcome. Smile
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