Posts Tagged With: Alameda County

THE IRISH, MORE THAN BLARNEY

 

Being part Irish, I learned more about them from books and history than my own parentage. My father would sometimes say, “Greetuns’, greetuns and salutations,” when  he was in a good mood. And he’d say, “mournin’ boys” to my girl friends, which kind of embarrassed me as a teen. We got the great big “eye”, a television set, when I was about 16 and he didn’t let me watch old British films because they aggrandized the British. (I really understood that after I read Trinity.)
He believed in political debate at the dinner table and never let us forget that the working man had to fight for every right he ever had and if it weren’t for the unions, we’d all be working in sweatshops.
“I’ve worked all my life, and I never had a day of sick leave, and I’ve been plenty sick,”  he would say.
Even so, he was grateful for seniority, the right to organize and ask for pay increases, the right to complain if an individual thought he was fired unfairly. They won pension benefits, and health care, which in my father’s time was simply a nurse on the job to report and treat injuries and provide a record that injuries happened on the job so the union could investigate if any safety rules were ignored.  They won the right to have written evaluations and records of their work so the boss couldn’t lie about a man’s worthiness. Companies didn’t just roll over an capitulate. They fought it tooth and nail, and had other ways of forcing an older man off the job so they wouldn’t have to pay a pension.
In my father’s case, he worked for Pacific States Steel Company. They didn’t like guys who wouldn’t tow the line or complained to their union about infractions of the union rules and safety violations. He suffered through many attacks;  acid in his locker which ate holes in his clothes. Tacks under his tires, which gave him flat tires. His lunch sandwiches filled with sand; midnight phone calls and threats to my mother. (This happened in the 1960’s.) They finally quit the harassment when the bosses had a meeting with the union and my dad appeared with my husband and my brother-in-law, both dressed in suits and ties carrying brief cases looking like lawyers, and holding a tape recorder. My dad got his pension of  $98 a month. When he died, my mother got $76 of that which was considered very generous. 

My husband’s job as a cop was subject to the whim of the Board of Supervisors. In the forties, cops would be fired if they tried to organize into a union and were told so. In fact, at one time you had to be a Republican and join the Masons to become a cop. Later, you had to be a Republican and a Mason to get a promotion. During one bitter strike by a local cannery in Alameda County, CA. cops were instructed to beat back the protesters with their batons even though the cannery workers had the right to protest. Even forming a deputy sheriff”s association was done with trepidation. Deputies served at the whim of the Board of Supervisors. They could not negotiate for better pay. They did not receive overtime pay. Eventually they received compensatory time, but certain bosses wouldn’t sign their comp time cards and refused to give it to them. Other supervisors would come on the job and say, “You-take your vacation this week.” Just like that. You took your time, with no opportunity to plan, and you were grateful that you got vacation at all.

The Irish were very much at the forefront of unions and union organizing in many communities.  They suffered so much from the British, they made sure it wouldn’t happen in their adopted countries, US and Australia. So, Happy St. Patricks day, and here be a Salute To The Irish, by gorrah!

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ON BECOMING A BLOGAMATIC

At one time I worked as a feature writer/journalist, took decent pictures of people and events of interest and enjoyed it very much, plus,  I got paid for it. Now I call myself a “blogamatic”. I photograph everything I do as though the whole world might be interested in my road trip from Mendocino County to Alameda County, the sculpture I saw at the Solar Living Center in Hopland, or that I had lunch at Mimi’s in Dublin. I blame and thank my partner, Jimmy the Rat,  for my addiction to blogging. Life is more fun this way, and I tend to keep in touch with people more than I used to.

I’ve visited the Solar Living Center several times in the past though I didn’t stop this time.  Finding an artistic use for rusty metal  makes an eye-catching attraction on Highway 101 at Hopland. . If you’ve never gone, the center has fascinating features, including prescription bottle bathroom doors, trees growing through cars, a solar fountain that kids can operate, a straw bale building which uses no air conditioning or heating to keep the temperature comfortable. Its all about sustainability, positioning, the sun and breezes. A solar power plant, electric vehicle recharging stations, sewage treatment, natural fertilizers, all organic fruits and vegetables… the whole place is fascinating. Classes in solar installation and other sustainable practices are available. Visitors are always welcome, just drive in. You will never look at the earth in quite the same way.

My friends are a core part of my life. Joan Dailey is just a face to you but to me she is a great mother, grandmother, teacher, and friend. We trade book titles so fast and furiously, I’ll probably never get to read them all.  We fondly share memories of raising kids together. Joan is a cancer survivor and taught me about her appreciation and changed perspective on life after cancer. I hadn’t seen Joan in five years when we went off to see a male strip show in Tahoe, totally out of character for Joan. I guess I was always the wild one.

Faye Gebo, my high school buddy and her wonderful partner, Dave Goodwin,  always welcome me for a nights stay when I’m in the Bay Area. Faye and I lived in the same apartment complex after marriage; we bought houses in the same neighborhood until the military caused our paths to diverge. Dave and I discuss how to make the world a better place as we harangue the banks that borrow money from the Federal Reserve at one-half a percent then buy treasury bonds at 3 percent with OUR money, instead of providing loans to consumers with it.  We learn from each other about dealing with aging parents and the task of becoming the older generation.  Can we reduce lifes inconsequentials, our addiction to materialism  and make our time count? Friends are stimulating.

I left the archive to have lunch with my cousin, Terri Cardoza who is a best friend as well as a cousin. She is, always helping others, neighbors, former in-laws, me, you name it. She volunteers for animal rescue and has taken in, surgically altered, and fed innumerable strays. She taught me that stray cats are territorial. You can’t adopt them all but you can alter them;  they keep and defend their territory preventing new strays from coming in. It provides a more stable population with less disease and less litters in your own neighborhood.

Life is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings. .

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