It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Friday, November 02, 2007

My Uncle Eddie

My grandfather was an Irish dockworker. Every time one of his kids turned 16 he marched into the school and took them out to work at the Northern Electric factory, where they made telephones. In those days people were paid in cash and every payday my grandfather stood in line and put his kid's paypackets in his back pocket and drank it.
To escape this lack of cash my mom used to sing in bars for spare change. There was a guy called, 'The Angel'. He was a quiet mobster who cooled people for a living. He looked after my mom and made sure she got some stosh from the cheapscates. Now for Uncle Eddie. I only met him a few times, but his story has some pinnache. He lied about his age and joined the army and was parachuted into Arnheim during the war. My grandmother read about it in the newspaper and called the Member of Parliament. Eddie was sixteen, so he was sent home.
Eddie was a kind of Robin Hood. He used to steal beer trucks, park them in Verdun, Montreal and invite all and sundry to help themselves. He also stole Eaton's trucks, full of clothes and park them on the street, acting as a sales clerk. He never asked for money. He would just say, "Alice, this is just your fit."
Uncle Eddie served a lot of time in jail for his predispositions, but he always had a smile on his face. The last I heard, he was living in Calgary, married, and happy. A life lived is better than none.

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