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Down at the Low Dive Cafe, Part 3

By Arthur J Miller

Next to sit down at the table with Dil was a middle age woman with dark brown skin and long black braided hair. Dil then spoke, "We call this good sister Eagle-Eye Sue. We call her that because she has the eyes of an eagle, she never misses a thing; so be careful what you say to her. She also is a full blooded Winnebago."

"What do you think is the social impact on you of being both poor and Indian (he did not want to risk calling her Native American after the comments of Fred) in this society?"

"The European invaders came to this land and carried out an act of genocidal holocaust upon my people. Those that they did not outright murder, they forced upon land that they viewed was worthless. This land they called reservations. They outlawed our religion and kidnaped our children and placed them in Christian residential schools. In those schools our children were taught to hate themselves and the only way to salvation was to give up their language, heritage, customs, religion and identity and become nice Christian drones."

"When this country became more energy and mineral dependent, they found that much of what they needed was on the land that they once viewed as worthless. So they set about to steal that land as well through the used of corruption, death squads, high unemployment, forced 'relocation', extreme poverty, termination of tribes and some times just by going in a taking it. Through all that my people have had to endured, we still have survived and we still resist the invaders."

"I was born on Winnebago land but I lost my identity for a while. I wandered aimlessly across this nation for a number of years. When my brother was murdered in a racist border town, I returned home to find that the 'authorities' would not even investigate his murder. I became even more disillusioned and sought to drown out reality in a bottle. After I was beaten by some nice white kids, Sally found me and took me in."

"Sally was unlike any white person I had ever met. She was not out to win my soul for some white God, nor was she some bleeding heart liberal that wanted to use me to try to cleanse their guilty conscience and justify their self-righteous image. She just treated me as a sister in need."

"I have learn that the white rulers don't even care about their own people. And so I have found common cause and struggle among what you call "the disadvantaged poor". In finding this new spirit I have also found myself and I have been working on reclaiming my heritage and spirituality."

"I now stand in defiance of the world that sees the only good Indian is a mascot for their teams or tokens to justify their ways. The white world rapes our Mother Earth for the profit of a few. The white world enslaves the people to the bondage of exploitation. The white world desecrates everything it touches. For ransacking Mother Earth and the people, the white world must die!"

The professor wanted to hide his skin color, for he was fearful of such rage. Little did he understand that white is not one's skin color, but rather a state of mind.

Dil walked over to the door leading into the kitchen and after a few minutes came out with an older man walking with a cane. "This old man we call Monkey-Wrench Harry. The story goes that he was injured at a shipyard and the bosses lied and said he was injured off the job and was trying to fake a claim. Later, Harry broke back into the yard and gave the place a fine working over so that many things wouldn't function the next day. Some call this monkey wrenching. Harry will neither confirm nor deny this story; he will only give you his sinister smile when asked about it."

Professor Armchair thought for a moment about what he could ask this old guy, he then asked; "How does having a disability and being poor effect your life?"

In a voice coarse from age, hard living and too many cigarettes, Harry began to speak. "I left home when I was 16 . . . too many mouths to feed and one less meant more for the others. I was a boomer for a while, riding the rattlers, sometimes freezing my ass off on the bumpers; taking odd jobs as I could find them, mostly slaving as a straw cat. I made my way out to the coast where I was making a stake as a pearl diver in a skid road palace. A man came into the joint lookin' for some jacks to fill a camp up in the high hills. So I quit the waterworks and headed out with him. Since I was still rather young they put me on as a whistle punk."

"Over time, floating from camp to camp, I learned how to climb and I was topping the sticks. I fell in with the Wobs and became a rebel. After a few years of shooting off my trap, I got run out of the woods by the block heads of the 4 L's, that is the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen, who were company finks."

"Then I made my way to the Gulf coast where some Wobs took me in and I shipped out with a bunch from the MTW. After a number of years the Wobs were on the decline, but the spirit and the dream never left me. Every time I would hit Houston port I would go down to the Sea Courts and pay up my dues to old Blackie Vaughan. The pie-cards always kept an eye out for MTW men, so after some fink sold me out I got blacklisted."

"After I got my landlegs back a workin', I became a yardbird tin snipper and sometimes a rigger. In the last yard I worked the bosses were too cheap to clear up the ice down in front of the yard in the wintertime. One day after pullin' a double I slipped on that ice and busted up my hip. The bossman said that since I was not on the clock I had no workmen's comp coming. And the union would give me no support. That left me living on my stake. Once I got where I could get around enough old sabcat paid the yard a visit."

"The word got around that I was lookin' for something where I did not have to walk much, and the folks here at the Low Dive took me in panning the grease."

"The old Wobs knew about the common interests of all workin' folks. They knew that we cannot depend on sky pilots, political hustlers, union pie-cards nor anyone but ourselves. We knew that the only action that would do us any good was the direct action that we took on our own."

"Even though I worked hard all my life and been a union-man since my younger days, once I could not slave as I had done and pay dues to the fakers, both the bosses and the masters of the AFof Hell-CIA highballed me out as if they were boiling up a bed bug. There are many stiffs like me, some become rummies or mission stiffs living off angel food. But me, I'll never lower my head down like some beaten dog. I will die as I have live a full blooded rebel through and through."

The professor pulled out his book, trying to look up some of the terms he did not understand, and realized that the linguist's work had missed a lot of lower class jargon. He then said to Harry; "I could not understand many of the things you said because you used too much slang."

Harry laughed a bit then said; "That's the problem with you highbrow uptown folks. You work at a high-class joint of higher miseducation. You go out to the world talking your big shot shop talk and if folks can't understand your yapping then you talk down to them as if'n they be your inferiors. But when a real workin' stiff speaks to you with their shoptalk you call it slang and think it is the rumblings of an illiterate. But the fact of the matter is that it ain't no different than you using your shoptalk. And now you want me to talk down to you. Well Professor Armchair I just cannot talk that low."

The professor knew that he had just been insulted, but he did have enough sense to realize that responding to the insult was not a good idea.