After completing thirty-nine years in hospital administration (in both California and Alaska) in 2003, I decided to retire. As a divorced man and having been a workaholic most of my life, I wondered what the prospects would be of having to throw in the towel devoid of further plans or goals. In pondering this (in limbo) situation, I decided to write a story regarding my growing up years during the Great Depression in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
I had an interesting but somewhat hectic childhood. However, during the difficult Depression from the age of seven-years-old through eleven, I ironically experienced the most wonderful part of my life. Prior to my retirement, to assist their working parents, I had been very actively involved in helping to take care of my two great nephews, Kyle, age eleven and Grant, age eight. These lads were so close in age to my happy growing up life span. I definitely decided to share those years with them.
When I completed this draft, my nephew, Paul – the lads’ father stated that I needed to continue to write my total life experiences. He firmly stated that I had had an interesting and successful life worthwhile reviewing and telling others. As a somewhat rather private person, who had actually, apart from those years, experienced a rather hectic and unorthodox background, I wasn’t certain I wanted to expose myself by uncovering those events. However, beyond the sad memories, as a mature adult, I decided it would be both constructive and feasibly cathartic to continue the story.
Waiving the childhood chaotic events, at age three, I was raised by my father, along with my sister, Laura, age 6 and Marjorie, an infant. Referring to those four happy years, we had united with the Inglehart family, a father with five children, whose marital status and circumstances were similar to those of my father. Both fathers came from farming families. After WW II started in Canada in 1939 our families parted when I reached age eleven. At age fourteen, after repeating the seventh grade twice – due to an unfortunate incident, I dropped out of school.
At seventeen, I was working in a sawmill, tossing lumber ends from a conveyor belt. At home, my father who was an outside foreman for a large oil and coal company, was a great partygoer. Our home was like a mini Grand Central Station with either parties or poker games weekly and in both cases lasting all night.
One evening, a theological student from the University of British Columbia (UBC) joined a group at my father’s pub club – who all thereafter arrived it our home for a party. The student, George started to attend our parties regularly. Apart from his university studies, he was also very active and president of the largest teen town center in Vancouver. He stopped by one evening and delivered a Dutch uncle speech to me. He informed this grade-school dropout and complete failure to get off of my ass and get moving. He suggested that I enroll in a local high school and take evening classes in both accounting and typing to acquire some basic skills. Further, to seek a white-collar entrance position in a company that would offer future promotional considerations. I countered by saying what a failure I had been and that I had no basic skills and nothing to offer. He quickly responded that he was certain I had above average intelligence with a great potential and to stop dwelling on circumstances. I immediately started taking evening classes as he suggested and started working for the T. Eaton Company in an entrance position.
My story continues moving up the ladder starting from the lowest rung. I became very success, despite my very limited beginnings. I spent nine years in the petroleum business and I was scheduled for a junior executive position in their home office. I decided to change careers and entered into hospital administration. I was very successful and spent thirty-nine years in healthcare as a director with staffing complements ranging from fifty-five to seventy employees.
I was so grateful to my theological student friend, George, who opened the door for me. Apart from George, the crux of my story, is the wonderful knowledge and goodness that I received from my somewhat rebellious father who taught me by example his wonderful attributes and basic people skills. He always said, “Do the right thing, regardless of the circumstances!” And further to those sagacious and profound thoughts, my motto has been, “Whatever you do, follow through!”