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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

boyhood sketch 21. FOR MY BOYS

Dad worked hard. He finished grade eleven in the small Saskatchewan town of Hepburn where he was born. He had owned his own gas station (called service stations then), and he and mom owned and operated a coffee shop. They moved to St. Catharines, Ontario in 1947. Several large manufacturing companies employed thousands and wages were better than anything in the West, and furthermore, my mom's family already lived in the city. Assembly line work was strenuous and often exhaustingly hot. Air conditioning was unheard of in those years. From our Clark Street home, Dad walked thirty long city blocks to work at Anthes Imperial, a furnace assembly factory. Dad tried several jobs, starting on the smelter, a wickedly hot job even in winter. In summer it was intolerable. Ringing wet at the end of a shift, Dad would walk home in the late afternoon humidity and heat. Arriving, he would remove his T-shirt and ring it out. As a child I never thought about this or regarded it seriously. Much later as an adult, having done some hard labour, I understood dad's family investment. When all three sons were adult and dad was nearing retirement after forty years of physical labour on an assembly line, we asked why he stuck at something like that. He replied in a manner that humbled us forever, "I did it for my boys."

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