Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 9, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Saturday, October 9, 1971 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 5 Margaret Luckhurst How strange the influence people have Focus on the University TJNCLE DUD wasn't any- one'L uncle as far as I know. Ho just somehow wan- dered into our little community a few years after the First World War and fur reasons known only to himself, decided to stay. Now as a rule, new people didn't settle in our tiny hamlet. They were bora there, lived out their lives convention- ally and quietly, died and wero buried in the little churchyard. Many of them never got more than fifty miles from their homes in their entire lives. So it was a unique experience to have a complete stranger come in and settle down and lake an all the appearances of becom- ing a permanent resident. Uncle Dud's idea of "settling down" didn't meet with the ap- proval of his conservative and staunchly Presbyterian neigh- bors but there was little they could do about it. He picked a sheltered plot of land in a bluff on the riverbank, called it his property and set up housekeep- ing. Well, sort of. He lacked together a few bits ot iarpaper and boards which he hauled in from deserted barns and build- ings in tiie surrounding area, begged a few utensils from the Missionary Society, built some rough furniture out of logs and as far as he was concerned his Ufe was complete. For people who had known all about each other for abso- lutely generations this man was an enigma and he intended to remain so. He didn't do a tap of work if he could help it at least as far as anyone knew, and this went against good Scottish industry and enter- prise. He didn't get any mail, nor did he ever admit his age. mention his real name, dscuss his background or boast of any particular achievements, and naturally this drove the people, particularly the into all sorts of fanciful speculation. Because he slouched aiound in a worn army officer's jacket and a pair of tweed plus-lours some housewives wove a rom- antic legend ot him being he son of an English carl, perhaps a ne'er-do-well banished forever to Canada to repent for his in- discretions, subsisting on a small remittance. Others be- lieved him to be a war hero, gassed and shell-shocked, who sought ont the peace of a rural hamlet to recover his health. A few, including our minister, de- clared without any regretful note of Christian charily that lie was merely a bum on the lam, or a fugitive from justice, faking advantage of a gullible community which was kind enough or stupid enough 'de- pending on the individual senti- ment) to be taken in. Even his hound-dog who followed at his heels exhibited little dignity, eoliciling handouts at even' door, muscling in on oUier (log's daily dishes and occasionally limning down a hapless chicken and enjoying a finger-lickin meal. 1 think it was our minister, thoroughly disapproving of the man and his obviously eccentric approach to life, who labelled him a complete and utter 'So- cial and the name stuck. But our particular social strata had its standards after all, and we kids were ordered to ad- dress him as Uncle Dud, and treat him with respect due adults. Typically we assumed anyone over 20 to be over the hill so we thought Uncle Dud pretty old, but when he first arrived, now that I look back on it, he couldn't have been more than about thirty. Uncle Dud stuck to himself and minded his own business, but his apparent indolence bothered the hard worker? around and about and they were always offering him odd jobs. Occasionally he'd help with the harvest, dig potatoes or join a few men in building a barn or fence but these signs of "normal activity" were few and far between. The HCMP were suspicious of him, calling around at intervals and rooting about his shack for signs of a still but they always went away either disappointed or satisfied, according to the progress of their day. The women fussed continual- ly about his shifllessnesi, nis loneliness, his shabby living quarters and most of all, his diet. We kids would see him fishing, picking berries and oc- casionally strolling along with a rabbit slung over his shoulders. He never at any time bothered to plant a garden, instead lo glean produce Ic.'t after Ihe neighbors had taken all they needed from their own abundance. He certainly didn't starve. Mum was always sending me down with a dish of this o.' that when we had extra. "Here Mar- garet, run down with this bowl of slew to Uncle Dud, I haven't seen him around for a time, so you'd better check, the poor man may be starving lo But Uncle Dud was never gracious or appreciative. "Your Mother makes terrible he'd grumble, "never puts enough carrots in it and it's too watery mind you her pies arc quite good but for good slew the teacher's wife gels top marks. Your Mother should get her recipe." In time Ihe community found lhat Uncle Dud was not without his talents. He could fix almost anything, which shifted some of the opinions of him from that of an earl's son to perhaps a civil engineer who had bilked his company and then had to dis- appear. At any rale when the minister's car broke down Uncle Dud would be sent for, and grousing as he always did when he was distracted from what- ever he did all day, he'd poke around in the car's inside? and eventually get it running. He could fix a combine or any other complicated piece of farm machinery, and he was con- stantly at the beck and call of housewives who had trouble with their elementary house- hold equipment. "Run down and tell Uncle Dud that my washer isn't Mother said lo me time after time, as our old machine broke down with annoyin" regularly, "toll him to get up hero ami fix it if he knows what's good for him or won't send liim down a pie for a month." Well, sometimes he'd come, sometimes he when he did he always got the machine rui- ning. I don't think any of the adults in the community ever were in his shack but we kids liked to visit him. In winter, when the weather dropped down to forty below he'd always let us in for "a warm." In summer quite often when I was sent down on some message or other I'd sit and visit with him while he smoothed out a hand-crafted chair. He'd get the thing so smooth and shiny it was almost soft lo the touch, then he'd caive intricate designs on it to "fancy k up" as he said. From time to lime when the iruod suited him. Uncle Dud would take part in the com- munity's regular activities. He disliked the minister, calling him a pompous old windbag but occasionally both he and his dog would go to church. He had his own raling system of letting the minister know if he ap- proved of the sermon. If it was passable he'd drop SI on the piale (a lot in those days) if it was terrible he'd put in a quar- ter. A couple of times a year Uicle Dud and his dog just up ana disappeared. Where they went nobody would know and only the fact that we couldn't see smoke coming from his shanty did we know that he'd left. But he'd return after an interval and in spite of the dig- gings and questionings from the Missionary Society and even scjme of the men, where he went and what he did remained a mystery. Book Review Witty observations by J. K. Galbraith "E c o n o m i c s Peace and Laughter" try John Kenneth Gaihraith (Iloughton Mifflin Company, 382 pages, rpHAT very solemn disci- pline, economics, has been much enlivened in recent years by the witty observations of John Kenneth Galbraith. To the wit, Galbraith adds wisdom. From where I stand, at least, he makes sense. There are four sections in this book despite the title. Nine esays deal with econom- ics; six examine world condi- tions; eight are about well- known persons; tliree are about places. The volume begins with a sermonic essay on the priority of quality of life over mere eco- nomic growth. It ought to have a strong appeal for all those who have become concerned about tiie possibility lhat tech- nology may Ire pointing man and his environment toward doom. An essay that is bound to make conservatives ever y- where uncomfortable is the one about the "great new thrust to socialism" under the Nixon ad- ministration about which those same conservatives have been sensationally s i 1 e n t. Leading His thrust were "the agents and instruments of the capitalist themselves" executives of the Pen Central railroad. In dealing with poverty Gal- braith makes this observation: "The first and most elementary effect of poverty is to enforce the very altitudes and behavior that makes it self-perpetuating. Similarly the first effect of wealth is to allow the freedom that permits of the creation of more wealth." As a conse- quence the poor lend to be conservative and the rich, ven- turesome no matter what their professed politics. The perpetuation of poverty is en- sured by excessive population which defies control because "sexual intercourse plays a larger recreational role in the poor community than in the rich. For the couple who come from the field to a hut devoid of newspapers, radio, light, even a comfortable chair, it is all there is." That is an ob- vious although generally overlooked fact which has to be depressing to those who sense the catastrophe inherent in the population explosion. Same of the comments Gal- braith makes aboul Ihe need for radical change in underde- veloped countries makes him sound like a soul brother to the now-d e a d Columbian priest Camilo Torres (whose collect- ed writings were recently drawn to Ihe attention of read- eis of this "The incon- venient says Galbraith, "is that the disestablishment of non-functional groups (land- lords. Ihe army) is a task not of reform but. of revolution It. may not be Ihe task of the United States to encourage rev- olution. It must not be its task to prevent it." U.S. President Richard Nixon has increasingly shown signs of being an apostle of John Ken- neth Galbraith, according to Galbrailh. There would be even more justification for that claim now than when the essay on Mr. Nixon was written, be- cause lately a Galbraithian measure wage and price con- trol has been adopted. Gal- braith says UK apostleship springs' from Nixon having been his protege. In 1941 Nix- on's first job in Washington was under Gafbraith in the Office of Price Administration. Over the years Mr. Nixon has carefully avoided admitting his associa- tion with such an un-Republi- can thing as price control "In official biographies he said that his service was in the Of- fice of Emergency Manage- ment, the administrative hold- ing company for the war agen- cies. Tins was even more obli- que than being in the Marines but saying that you worked for the Departmenl of Defence." Well, lhat ought to be enough to whet the appelies of some readers or lo make others bilious at the mere thought. As for me and my kind, Ihe book is a delight. DOUG WALKER. Gathering in the harvest 4 >Slt. Kids liked Uncle Dud and il was mutual. When 1 was in my teens and entertaining the opin- ion lhat perhaps I could write poetry I shyly invited Uncle Imd's adjudication of some of my work. "It's not this sluff you should be he ad- vised me, not unkindly, "you have a way with words, but don't try lo make them rhyme you have something to say, and so far you haven't, say it in uncomplicated English so peo- ple, ordinary people can under- stand whal you arc getting at. And don't use big preacher of yours is an idiot- he thinks God will give him a gold star every Sunday if he talks in four syllable words. I don't believe he's saved a single soul in the twenty years he's been here because he can't talk in simple English." When young men of the com- munily wenl off to University or to seek their fortune in the world they always went along to say goodbye to Uncle Dud who would wish them luck but shake his head sadly. "You're just after money and pos- sessions" he'd venture, "but you'll learn; they'll bring you as much trouble as they will pleasure, and you'll have to make up your mind which is most important io you." Although he'd sometime at- tend church and school picnics and Ihe occasional family cele- bration, Uncle Dud never would atlend any Christmas or Thanksgiving function, and of course, in a rural community these were major events. At Thanksgiving we decorated the church wilh the usual agricul- tural trappings; sheaves of wheat, pumpkin and other vegetables and the traditional loaf of bread. Then following tiie service we'd sit down to a hug-3 banquet with tables groan- ing with food. "That old Dud doesn't know what he's miss- ing" the minister would point out year after year, "it's one time he can really load up without being beholden to any- body, even if he didn't help with the harvest." Uncle Dud disagreed. "Thanksgiving is an excellent idea and it should be an every day he told me one time when I'd run down with a basket; of Mother's preserves, "but if we must make it a big celebration we should hold it at the proper time of the year. We should be thankful in (lie spring that we have a rich land to work and freedom and oppor- tunity to do so as we wish. Being thankful after the crop Li in strikes me as being just a little bit proud as if we're in control and that's just not so." I was rather impressed with that idea and passed this in- formation on to Mother who in lurn passed il on lo Ihe Mis- sionary Society. They apparent- ly discussed it thoughtfully and decided that yes, we did per- haps put too much emphasis on beuig thankful for our own ef- forts without giving any credit lo anybody but ourselves. The next year we had two Thanks- in the spring and one at the regular time and Uncle Dud came to Iliem bolh. He also changed our concepl of Christmas. When I was head of the Sunday School I tried to coax him to atlend the Christ- mas pageant bul he refused point blank. "If you have your pageanl in June or July I'll come, bul not when everyone is caught up in tinsel and silly cheer so that the real Christ- mas meaning becomes secon- dary or even lost. Have your fun on Dec. 25 but if you want lu get your message across try having the pageant at another time, after all does it really make any Well of coirse it" didn't really, so we had Christmas in June, wlricn, strange as it seems became an accepted par1 "r our way of life. When the Second World War broke out Uncle Dud disap- peared without a goodbye and never relumed. He took his old dog and left everything, what little there was, behind. The Missionary- Society put the scraps of pretty hand-made furniture in the church hall, and the shanty eventually blew down. A lot of prople have long for- gotten about Uncle Dud but I've always tried to remember what he said lo me about "big aboul Christinas end about Thanksgiving. Now I'm older and wiser, I wish I'd got friendlier with him perhaps, he'd have told me more about himself, lie just an early hippie, alirnd of his ti'iir. vt> ict'tiiic! false discount- ing the importance of posses- sions and conformity, anorexia ting instead the freedom of simplicity? Or was he a kind of Thorcau with his own peculiar Waldcn? No one will ever know of course, and perhaps it's not important. Whatever he was be had an imparl on a solid, but .stolid conuiHinily and his quiet influence gave up all .something to think about. By J. W. FISHBOURNH Ah, youth! A COUPLE of years ago, 1 laboriously ground out a column for this corner in which I expressed some views on the involvement of university people in the lo- cal political situation, and the editor would not allow it to be printed on Ihe grounds that it violated the newspaper's policy of neutrality in civic politics. I quite under- stand that policy, and sincerely commend it; it Is eminently proper, especially in a town in which there is only one daily pa- per. Tin's year, I would like to make a few comments on the local electoral scene, and I trust they will pass scrutiny. I am total- ly neutral as to the affairs of the city, and neither wish nor expect to influence how anyone vote next week. I do not have an axe grind, but it is one I've carried around for a long time, and which has nothing to do with any particular candidate. Ever since I was a youth myself. I have belonged to groups; I am a slow learner, and only recently recognized the futility of most organizations. While 1 have not kept an accurate record, and the years have been long, I suppose that counting clubs, leagues, orders, unions, churches, commit- tees, societies, associations and all the rest, I would have to place the grand to- tal at somewhere near 100. Not all at the same time, of course, or in the same city; moving about probably accounts for much of the length of the list. But truly, there have been an awful lot of meetings. Thinking back, I can identify only two characteristics lhat all of these organiza- tions had in common; all of them greatly preferred talking to either thinking or act- ing, and all of them sloully proclaimed a .deep and abiding interest in youth. They all wanted young members, all had to get "new they all "needed" .xnmpcr ex- ecutives. To a man they recognized that youth must be served, that youth Irolds tlw key to the future, I am sure you know all the cliches. Well, Ihe oilier nighl I was at a meet- ing attended by two or three hundred peo- ple, who were assembled lo decide which candidate for public office merged ttieir support. Speeches were made, by for various candidates, and votes by sscret ballot were taken. It was well, perhaps 1 should just say for a comparative stranger in town, to see that things here ary just about ss they are elsewhere. In one particular contest, the ages of the candidates varied quite widely, ranging, I should say, from early twenties to late sixties. Each spoke, and I was in- terested to note that the most prolonged applause was given the speech delivered by the youngest candidate. The audience seemed to be quite impressed by. and thoroughly sympathetic with, the young man and what he had to say. But did they vole to support him? NW bn your life. Which is just what young peo- a few of us oldsters who still prefer facts to come to ex- pect. What tins snys to young people, and what they hear veiy clearly, is this: "You can have all the cheers, all the fine words, that we can Ihink of; but when it comes to responsibi'ity, not to mention authority, that's a different story." So, if tire editor will allow it. I would like to make a prediction as to the outcome of next week's election. I do nol propose to name winners or losers, but rather to pre- dict that candidates will receive votes in direct proportion to their ages, proving once again that we are all in favor of youth, providing it keeps Us bands off mat- ters which ws consider important. The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORLFY Thanksgiving-life's best tonic T ORD GREY in one of his letters tells of going to church "unintentionally" and discovering with delight that it was Harvest Festival. He says that the hymns made him "wriggle and purr with enjoy- and when they sang Now Thank we all our God, he wanted to kiss Ihe whole choir! This tells a great deal about Lord Grey. Some people go through life and even attend church just to complain. After a great service in a certain church a young woman waited for a considerable time for an appointment with the minister and to Iris astonishment she wanted to see him to cbmplah about i'lf- new carpets in the vestibule. C. S. Lewis in the Screwtape Letters has the devil giving advice to his nephew on how to break up a church or discourage a soul, and tells lum that he should get the new Christian to concentrate on the squeak in the usher's shoes or some oilier fault in the fixtures or service of the building and keep him away from the es- sentials. St. Jude says, grumbling is the first sign of the backslider, or in other words when the people of God begin back- sliding they begin backbiting. In the story of Mary and Martha the chief fault of Martha was that she was a grumbler. Judas was a grumbler too, complaining about the waste of the ointment that Mary poured on Jesus' feet. St. Clement said, "You can always know a pagan by the ugly pleasures in which he indulges, a heretic by his bickering and quarrelsome- ness, and a Christian by his grateful spirit." Thanksgiving is the secret of a generous heart. Critical carping people are always the stingiest and most selfish of people. Self-centred and calculating, they have neither peace nor joy. Alfred Adler, the famous psychologist, says that the key to a healthy mind lies in the statement of Jesus that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." The thankful man is the thought- ful man, for think and thank come from the same root. Thus Arnold Toynbee traced his debt of gratitude to all the great souls of past, writers, teachers, and friends who had helped him with their thought or inspiration. He must have been reading thai grcal Stoic, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who in Ills first bojk of Meditations recalls his indebtedness: "The example of my grandfather, Verus, gave me a good dispo- sition, nol prone to anger. By Ihe recollec- tion of my lather's character, I learned lo be modest and manly. My mother taught me to have regard for religion, lo be gen- erous and open handed. The philosopher, Sextus, recommended good-humor lo me. 1 learned from Caliilus not to slight a friend for making a remonstrance 1 have lo thank tlio Gods thai my grand- fathers, parent, si.ster, teachers, relations, friends and servants for almost ,ill of them persons of probity." Now sopio of tlicse were very questionable in character and Homan Sixicty at the time of Aurolius was unspeakably wicked. Consequently only a very noble soul would so dclilwrately select the good as divine purpose for him. Only a noble soul would be so humble and acknowledge his indebtedness. 'Hie thank- ful soul is filled with hope for lie looks back on UK way God has brought him, and says, here and here God helped me and certainly God will help me in the future. So thanksgiving leads to trust. The thankful soul is always an optimist for he believes aboul Hie future whal he believed about the past. Strangely enough the most thankful peo- ple are the greatest sufferers. Thanks- giving Day itself was founded by the Pil- grim Fathers who were forced to leave their homes to settle in the new land. They survived the sixty-llnee day voyage in a little boat. Only half of them survived Jie first winter and only seven were well. For years afterward they would place five grains of com on the table at each plate on Thanksgiving Day to recall the lime when their ration was reduced to five grains of corn each. That great thanks- giving hymn, Now thank all our God, was written by Martin Rinckart after the frightful ravages of the Thirty Years War had ruined Germany so that Ihe only women left alive were camp followers. Rmckart's native town of Ellenburg was brutally crushed. A plague swept the city and Kinckart had to bury fifty people daily or a total of over four thousand, one of whom was his own wile. Famine fol- lowed the plague. And yet he wrote lhat marvellous hymn of praise and joy. No man suffered more than St. Paul, yet ha is emphatic on the need for thanksgiving: "In everything give thanks." In every- thing? He really meant it! He believed that through all the terrible torment the of God was certain and his pur- poses would be fulfilled. St. Francis of Assisi suffered dreadfully, dispossessed, penniless, and hounded by hard men, no man was more radiant than Francis and no hymn more full of praise than "All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and let us sing Thanksgiving is Ihe heroic virtue. Chan- ticleer claimed the kingship of the birds because, "the resl of you sing when the sun is high, bul I grcel Ihe sin while il is yel dark. While it is yet dark 1 call the sun, because 1 kr.ow lhat acUiinc can stop ils arising." Frederick Ozanam, the great French jurist, when told of his approaching death, wrote in his diary, "Oh God. if shouidst chain me lo a bed for the rest ot my life, il would nol suffice lo thank thee for the days I have lived. If these nurds are the last that I shall let Iliem by a hymn to Ihy goodness." S o St. Paul wrote from prison his wonderful letter to the Philippians telling them, "Re- joice in Ihe Lord always; and again I say, rejoice." Thanksgiving is a key to char- acter. The thankful person is creative, hopeful, generous, and courageous. The ungrateful person lives in a shell of ego- tism and self-ccnlrcdness, a dreadful dun- geon of darkness, greedy hating even himself. No wonder Shakespeare said, "I halo ingratitude more h: a man Than lying, vainness, babbling drunken- ne.ss, Or any taint of vice whose strong corruption Inhabits our frail blood."