A DAY WITH WIL HUDSON
I LANSTON TYPE COMPANY I GERALD GIAMPA I
¶ WE WHERE BOTH pretty squeezed up in the booth with his American chums. Later we mozzied back to his printing shop, later yet we decided to watch the sunset. We hoofed down and lounged around the beach leering at the ladies on English Bay while drinking Zip from a brown paper bag. A really cheap bitter red wine they kept calling goof. The wine disappeared so the next thing we knew we found our feet taking us to the old Sylvia for drinks. That's the old ivy covered hotel down the street overlooking the bay next to Stanley Park. Wil Hudson ordered me a tumbler of Canada Dry because of my age and all. After the waiter brought the beverages ol' Wil poured half his double Black Label Scotch into my glass. Black Label Scotch, after drinking Zip, cough, cough?
There were lights shining bright as pixies from the old tramp steamships rocking gently at their anchors that evening. I suddenly understood why ships are female. There is nothing intellectual about them, something gentle, something exotic and something black and deadly about them, all of them. Both women and ships. That evening sitting at the table looking at those ships lying at anchor in the bay I decided to run away to sea. I think every young man dreams of running away to sea at one time or the other.
At least that's what I tell my kids.
CAPTAINS WON'T HIRE YOU
¶ AFTER BECOMING a run-a-way I now had the opportunity of becoming a stow-a-way. That's how my Italian grandfather got to the land of broken promises in the first place. He was only nine years of age, and alone, making passage from Italy to the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia. They had told him the streets were paved in gold but when he got there the streets weren't even paved.
So, I would have come by this honestly. There I was, age thirteen, intending the reverse, heading home to the motherland. For all it matters, I still am, forty years after the fact.
Anyway, after landing my grandfather became a shoe shine boy, "rode the rails", clattering through the prairies destined to British Columbia where he settled down and gained respectable dignity. You know, when I was growing up, I actually believed I came from a family of wealthy butchers.
But rather than taking up my grandfather's vocation I chose the more humble trade of printing. This caused my grandfather to worry I was going to wind up printing counterfeit bills like his "rotten cousin Pasquali". Apparently the greatest sin in my grandfather's view was getting caught. Nothing could be more lowly. It would bring disrespect to the family name. He was big on respect and got plenty of it, not that he gave anyone a choice in the matter.
Francesco Giampa, my stow-a-way grandfather, was a devout family man, everyone, and I mean everyone, called him "Pops". He could have saved the both of us a whole lot of dang trouble if he had just stayed in Italy, but he didn't. Not him! So today I find myself in Finland.
Needless to say, I am anything but a wealthy butcher!