Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Pictures from my childhood
These three sketches are my recollection of three of the men that lived with my grandfather in Medicine Hat, Alberta. They were all tenants of the boarding house that housed the bachelor generation of Chinese immigrant workers. Most of these men, including my grandfather came to Canada/ America without much hope of ever heading back to their homeland. They came here to eke out a better living and send money home to their families. Many of these men were married, had families but had no chance of ever seeing them again due to the restrictive immigrant laws of their time. They didn't have phones, Skype, internet nor did they have any of the communication immediacy we're used to having now. An airmailed letter back then nearly took two weeks to arrive at their destination.
The top gentleman I vaguely remember being very short, had gold teeth, a straw hat and constantly wore a vest to keep him warm. I played dominoes with him and would supposedly be better than him at certain card games. He outside, of my godfather was probably the friendliest of the older gentlemen that would play with me.
The second larger gentleman was the shorter gentleman's room mate. I always remembered that he wore light blue overalls. The two had been farmers and had plow horses that understood Chinese commands in the field.
The third gentleman I remember having a room in the basement. He always scowled quite a bit, read the newspapers often when I would come over and play. Supposedly he was a school teacher of some sort back in China before coming to North America.
Being a young lad, I was nearly everyone's adopted grandchild. Even when my grandfather was in the hospital the last years of his life- I was never without a guiding hand and social influence of these men. They're long gone now, buried in a foreign country away from their families in China- but I'll never forget their influence on me.