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Just Saying Blog Begins

July 18, 2011 - Austin Porter
This is the first, hopefully not thelast, installment of my blog: Just Saying. My name is Robert Austin Porter. I was always referred to as Austin, except when I was in trouble, “Robert Austin Porter, YOU COME IN HERE right this minute.” I was named after my uncle Robert Babcock who, like my Grandfather Austin Wilmut Porter , was a fisherman who spent most of his life living in Wilson’s Beach, Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada.

Campobello is a small Island off the coast of Maine. If you want to get to another part of Canada, you have to take a boat; else you can cross the bridge to Lubec, Maine, drive about an hour to Calais and cross over another bridge to St. Stephens, New Brunswick. Campobello is also where FDR contracted polio. You may be familiar with the play and movie “Sunrise in Campobello.”

After fighting in WWII, my father Myron Horace Porter returned from Europe, married my mother Elizabeth, and for a very short time, made his home on the island. Then he left. There are three reasons he and my mother headed south. 1) After seeing Europe, he realized that he needed more than a small island could offer. 2) My grandmother was a generally nasty person, and was especially nasty to his wife. And 3) He couldn’t fish. He could have taken over the family boat, but as he told his dad, “I’d starve to death.” When my father dropped a baited hook into the ocean, one thing was certain. The fish would be somewhere else. To be blunt, he couldn’t catch a fish in a fish market.

So he moved to Boston where my mother’s family lived, found work as a car wash attendant, and became a naturalized American.

I’m reminded of a friend I had in college, Joe W. After graduating in 1976, I worked evenings as a desk clerk at an apartment building located on Tremont Street across from Boston Public Garden. It was New Year’s Eve and the town was celebrating. Some friends met me after work. There was a party in Allston. We wanted to arrive while things were still rocking. As we walked to the subway, out of the darkness, people were shouting racial epitaphs, including the “N” word. Joe, who was black, said that this kind of thing never happened to him when he visited Canada. I suggested he, “ move to Canada, "I mean, why live likethis, having to put up with this kind of crap.” To which he replied, “I was born here. This is my country to. Why should I have to leave?” He had a point. After all, my father didn’t leave Canada because someone called him a “herring chocker.” He left because he needed a job that didn’t involve catching fish.... and to get away from his mother.

I have a few friends who occasionally talk about leaving the country and heading for who knows where in order to avoid people they don’t like, and who, they think, don’t like them. I have other friends who wish that the people they don’t like would leave, or be forced to leave or put in jail. And some people, none of my friends, speak of second amendment solutions for fellow Americans they find distasteful. I imagine that on occasion some of my friends would like to see me head to Campobello. And as you get to know me, some of you may pray that one morning I’ll wake up and find myself in Halifax, Nova Scotia where it’s so cold in the winter, you have to melt words after they’re spoken in order to hear them. Though they do sell smelts, and Finnan Haddie at a very reasonable price. And they do have universal health care.

As it turns out, I could easily become a Canadian citizen. An amendment to Canada's Citizenship Act allows the children of former Canadian citizens to get citizenship almost for the asking. At least that’s what my brother told me when he sent me an application and all the other required documentation. I haven’t filled it out, let alone submitted it. Neither has he. After all, we were born here. This is our country. Like Joe, we intend to stay. And as the down easterners say, jaw it up with people. Who knows, if we all start talking with each other, we might solve some of America’s troubles.

Just saying.


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