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My Namesake

I grew up in a village, population of about 6oo, in the sixties and whenever anyone asked my name, the next question asked: how do you spell it? I've gotten so used to my name being misspelled and mispronounced that I found myself responding to 'Elaine', 'Eilene', 'Ailene', 'Arlene', 'Darlene', 'Earlynn' or anything that sounded close, because I got tired of saying, "I was named after my father who's name is Earl". At that time in my life I would have given anything to be named 'Jane'.

Now, looking back, I realize that my name was chosen to honour my dad, and I do. I make sure that it is spelled and pronounced correctly and proudly say "I was named after my Dad". He was an amazing man, although he called me "Leaner" more than he used my real name. His nickname for me stuck to the day he died.

My dad, Earl Douglas Hines, was born in Essex, Ontario August 14, 1926, the youngest of four children of Wm. Edgar and Josephine Hines. He grew up during the depression, the son of a railroad worker. He used to tell us stories about his escapades riding the rails in his teens, to go visit his aunts and uncles. He managed a pool hall when he was sixteen and he could 'shoot stick'.

He enlisted in the army when he was eighteen, went through basic training and was sent to California, awaiting orders to be shipped out, when the war ended, so he didn't see battle. He came back home and started looking for a job. He applied for employment as a corrections officer, with a glowing letter of recommedation from a local politican, but wasn't accepted, so he applied to Ford Motor Co. of Canada and was hired. He worked in the foundry for a few years, and was laid off, so he became a bartender at the Aberdeen Hotel in Essex. After he was called back to Ford's he stayed there until he retired after 45 years. The last twenty years he worked
in the crib, handing out tools and doing inventory.

Dad was very witty, he had a come-back for anything. he was also a prankster, and would relate how he got people at work, by putting mustard in a pair of gloves, or he would tell us jokes that he heard at work. He had an elephant joke that he told often, and I still remember his face as he told it. The joke was " How do you catch an elephant? By digging a hole, filling it with ashes, lining the edge with peas, and, when the elephant comes to take a pea, you kick him in the ash hole".

My dad loved his garden and I was his "little helper". Although it took some trial and error handling the hoe when I first started. I remember when I was about six years old, I was out hoeing the weeds in the garden, and there was a stubborn weed and I couldn't get it. so, instead of asking for help I just started swinging the hoe over my head when my brother, who was two at the time, came up behind me. I didn't see him, and I took a swing and caught the top of his head, he had to have ten stitches to his scalp and I never raised a hoe over my head again.

I remember another time, when I was about eight, dad had just brought about a thousand tomato seedling to plant in the garden. He wanted to get them planted before the rain came, in a few hours. Well, everybody started out helping, but after a short while, the rest of the kids wanted to go play, so dad and I finished planting all of the tomato plants. It was raining by the time we finished and that day I earned the honour of him calling me "his little helper". Whenever he would go out in the garden he'd ask "where's my little helper?" and everyone knew who he was talking about.

As I grew up, my dad and I remained close. When my mom was working, I would be the one that made sure his shirt was ironed for work, the way he liked it, and when they seperated, we would go out for coffee, to talk, I was good listener and always had time for him.

We used to go out to bingo a few times a week, if I didn't have any extra money, he'd say "I'll pay for you, and you can pay me back by winning the jackpot", we split our winnings 50/50. The last time we went to bingo, was the last time he was able to go. He had been diagnosed a few weeks earlier with lung cancer and would be undergoing chemotherapy. He wasn't responding well to the chemo and they stopped it after a few treatments.

For the next month I spent as much time as I could with him, we talked and laughed, and cried. He kept his sense of humour and wit right until the end. My youngest son was living with his dad up north, but moved back home the end of January. He went to visit dad with me and dad remarked "Kevin, you're growing into a real handsome young man," and I replied, "well, he should, he gets his looks from you."

The last time I spoke to him, he was worried about me being okay after he was gone, and I assured him that I would miss him, but I would survive. He passed away two days later, on February 7, 1996 and I go to his grave-site every year before Christmas and place a blanket on his grave. he is buried in the family plot, beside his parents and grandparents.

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