Happy 50th Anniversary Deanne
And Be My Valentine?
You and Me Against the World Fifty Years Later
And for all your efforts
You are rewarded with a strange old man,
Getting stranger as he ages,
While you stay forever
After all these decades!
(Among other things)
My favourite peasant worker.
(Post republished from Down Canadian Roads, Part 2)
You and me against the world,
Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world….
Gladys Knight and the Pips
Our relationship would have infringed the democratically established statutes of many parts of the U.S. at this time. It would not be until 1967 that the so-called miscegenation laws would be repealed. We were not unaware of this factor as we became serious about our relationship and contemplated marriage in 1963.
The world was shrinking and whereas our laws differed from those in the U.S., opinions and attitudes of Canadians frequently reflected the same conservative, non progressive values as those of Americans. Segregation and integration were being actively disputed in the media as Blacks in the U.S. began to reject the many limitations to the “freedoms” given them by America the self-professed champions of liberty. Bombs, church burnings, dogs, National Guards, Police, Bull Connor, Orval Faubus, George Wallace, the socially neanderthal defenders of the status quo in the American South, expressed “righteous” indignation at the claims of Blacks and used their democratically derived authority and power against a people impertinent enough to ask for their part of the equal endowment and the inalienable rights promised by their Constitution! The prospects of a continent embroiled in a protracted and divisive racial conflict was sobering enough and the wisdom of bringing biracial children into this unhealthy mix could be judged questionable. Consequently it was not surprising that your parents would express opposition at the outset to our wish to be married. Of course nothing is more useful in cementing the tentative and superficial connections between young lovers as opposition to their divinely inspired union.
The final event which drove two victims of love irrevocably into each others’ arms was the prospect of the end of civilization through nuclear annihilation. The Doomsday Clock which measured how close we were to a Third World War was edging dangerously closer to the midnight drop dead zone which represented the nuclear apocalypse of our collective nightmare. The Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 had the Soviet Union and the U.S. locked in a deadly game of bluff, measuring each others’ arsenal in a resolve to emerge as the dominant force in the global pecking order. The impasse between our desires, parental opposition, the politics and sociology of the southern part of the North American continent and imminent global nuclear destruction were convincing enough evidence that we should eat, drink and be married for tomorrow may never have come, for all we knew. The rupture with parents and an invitation from Sister, June to stay with her, led the offended couple to flee the Toronto area and head to Ottawa. Late in 1963, elated to be starting a life together, my Gal and I hit the road from Oshawa heading east along Highway 401. East of Bowmanville we headed north to Highway #7. We turned east past Peterborough, past Norwood, Havelock and Marmora, past Madoc. Near Actinolite we made a stop which we would repeat many times in the next 4 years at the Realm restaurant. We shared a club sandwich, a chocolate shake and a butter tart and resumed our first road trip to the future: Kaladar… Maberly…Perth… At Carleton Place we were relieved that our ’56 Volkswagen Beetle seemed ready to undertake a new challenge in the trying winter conditions of our Nation’s capital. This next phase of my Canadian adventure would begin, this time I had an ally, an authentic, card carrying, tried and true, gift wrapped, signed, sealed and delivered Canadian to help me navigate the routes of my Canadian adventure. From now on, pit stops, restaurant breaks, open highways and road maps would become integral parts of my journey to deepen my attachments to my adopted country and to the delightful partner with whom I would share the next half century.
Post Scriptum, 2014: This could now sound a bit melodramatic and overstated but recent PBS accounts of 1964, in The American Experience series and the CNN series The Sixties confirm the inflammatory nature of interracial affairs, the social fault lines in the United States and the rampant racism of those times.