I've always admired my Dad. He had a hard childhood because his mother was very sick and could not take care of him properly and his father drank. On the good side, his father had many sisters (there were thirteen children in his family) and they filled in the gaps.
When my father, Harry, was sixteen, his mother died. He signed up with the Royal Canadian Air Force and went overseas where he met my mother, also in the RCAF.
They married in France and my sister was born there. She is still a dual citizen because once you're born in France, you never lose your citizenship.
At the time, there was much discrimination against women so my mother was discharged from the RCAF. In 1961, my father resigned from military life and we moved to BC. We had come back from France. My brother was born in Ottawa, ON and I was born in Thunder Bay, ON.
In BC Dad began work for Customs and Immigration and worked at Pacific Highway and Douglas Border Crossing. I can still remember his black pants and white shirt that was the uniform of a customs officer at the time. Now it's blue.
He was a great manager and was soon supervisor. I think he liked that as he could put his foot down when people grew unruly.
Take Bill Cosby. A great comedian, we had all his records. But apparently, he's not such a nice guy. Miserable, is what my father said. He met a lot of celebrities when they came through the border to do a gig.
There was one form to sign. Dad went to Bill Cosby. Just sign here and you'll be on your way, he told him. A signature was needed.
My agent signs for me, was the answer.
This went on until Bill Cosby pulled himself up. Do you know who I am? He asked.
I don't care if you're God almighty, you're not going through until you sign this form.
Bill Cosby signed. It's good to have power. Some people can be difficult, not just celebrities. One hippie guy in the sixties took his clothes off and climbed up a tree. He was on LSD. There was no way to get him down. The officers called and negotiated but to no avail. He wanted to stay up in the tree with his pregnant girlfriend sitting right under him.
Finally the firemen were called and with their ladders, removed him. He was sent back to the USA.
So, my point is, with all the trauma my father suffered, he still became a capable and good man. He always came home. He took us places and let us experience the world.
I've always been happy to know that just because you start out in life in a bad place doesn't mean you have to stay there.
RIP George Harry Michael McLaughlin