Category Archives: People

James Douglass: “JFK And The Unspeakable” (part 1 of 3)

Jim Douglass, author of"JFK And The Unspeakable"
Jim Douglass, author of”JFK And The Unspeakable”

James (Jim) Douglass was born in Princeton, B.C., lived in what later became known as “the Hedley Pub”, and spent time in jail for participating in a number of high profile protests against the US war effort. He also wrote “JFK And The Unspeakable”, a best seller detailing the reasons and cover-up of the Kennedy assassination. With that on his resume, he isn’t likely to get a government job. Fortunately, he has no plans or desire to apply.

In a two hour phone interview with him from his home in Birmingham, Alabama, Douglass spoke freely about the early years in Hedley, his work on behalf of the Peace Movement and his 6 books, including the best seller.

Initially his father was Manager of the Nickel Plate Mine in Hedley, and they lived in what was then the Mine Manager’s residence. In 1942, when Jim was 5, the family moved to New York where his father became Vice President of the Kelowna Exploration Company. The family continued to value its connection to Hedley, however, and frequently returned in summer. Jim recalls playing tennis on the court across from the Colonial Inn.

As a young man, Jim’s life began moving in quite a different direction from that of his father. “We had a good relationship,” he says, “but in discussions we were always at opposite ends of the spectrum.”

Hedley View "It's the most beautiful place in the world."  Jim Douglass
Hedley View “It’s the most beautiful place in the world.”
Jim Douglass

In 1966 he bought a house in Hedley so he and his family would have a place to stay, while he wrote his first book. “I still consider Hedley my home,” he told me, “it’s the most beautiful place in the world”. His daughter, Jennifer, now lives in the house.

One summer he coached the Hedley youth baseball team and remembers a tied game in which longtime local, Derek Lilly was on third in the 9th inning. “I told him not to steal”, he said, “but there was a wild pitch and Derek stole home, scoring the game winning run. He was a splendid athlete.” Jennifer remembers with evident pride that he was an organizer of the May Day parade one year. This later became the Stamp Mill celebration.

Douglass prepared diligently for his far ranging and unusual career. After receiving a BA from Santa Clara University, he completed an MA in Theology at Notre Dame. He also studied theology in Rome. While there, he lobbied Bishops attending the 2nd Vatican Council, asking them for a statement condemning total war and supporting conscientious objection.

It was while he was teaching theology at the University of Hawaii that the trajectory of his life took a dramatic turn. “It started when Martin Luther King was assassinated. In response to his death, several students in my class refused to be drafted for the Vietnam War. They burned their draft cards and they challenged me to live the theology of peace I was teaching. I joined the Hawaii Resistance and shortly after, I was sitting on the pavement in front of a convoy of trucks carrying National Guardsmen going to Vietnam.”

In 1977, Jim and his wife Shelley cofounded the Ground Zero Centre for Nonviolent Action adjacent to the Trident Nuclear Submarine Base near Seattle. According to his daughter Jennifer, “the cloak of leadership in these protests was placed on him.” His acts of civil disobedience concerning the Trident protest netted him some 15 months in prison. He was also jailed for resisting the Persian Gulf War.

In the midst of various protests he returned to Hedley to write three books and most of a fourth. “There were fewer distractions,” he said.

James Douglass: “JFK And The Unspeakable” (part 2 of 3)

Insightful Bestseller About JFK Assassination
Insightful Bestseller About JFK Assassination

In “JFK And The Unspeakable”, Douglass takes us step by step through the thinking, motivation and actions of John Kennedy. “The president’s inaugural address,” Douglass says, “reflected his horror of war, (which came from personal experience), and his passionate resistance to a totalitarian enemy.” Douglass also explains the reasoning, motivation and culture of the CIA and Pentagon which led them to the conclusion that the President of their nation must be eliminated.

Using declassified documents from the Warren Commission hearings, interviews with some employed in the security agencies at that time (including Abraham Bolden, a black former Secret Service agent), plus a variety of other sources, Douglass has unravelled a web of intrigue that is unfortunately still being ignored by the media.

The CIA and the Pentagon began to seriously turn against their President when he refused to commit American forces to an attempted invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles in April, 1961. The attempt was sponsored, planned and backed by the CIA, and Kennedy had reluctantly sanctioned it. However, he had informed Allen Dulles, head of the CIA, that if things turned out badly, American troops would not be deployed to ensure success.

Douglass says the CIA overlords schemed to entrap Kennedy so he would have to support the invasion if it floundered. However, even though Fidel Castro’s forces over powered the invaders, JFK remained adamant in his refusal to send in troops. “That was the first instance in which Kennedy refused to do what his military advisors wanted,” Douglass suggests. “There would be many more.”

Kennedy understood that the CIA bosses had attempted to deceive and ensnare him. The conflict between him and the Agency deepened when he began to redefine and reduce its power and budget. According to Douglass, the President’s determination to deal with the CIA placed him in direct conflict with a Cold War institution that had come to hold itself accountable to no one. His later firing of Dulles, Bissell and Cabell would intensify his conflict with the Agency.

“In the Cuban Missile Crisis” Douglass says, “Kennedy took a step that the military considered an act of treason. He turned for help to his Communist enemy, Soviet Nikita Khrushchev. He asked him to withdraw the Soviet missiles from Cuba in exchange for his secret commitment to withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey, alongside the Soviet border. He also promised publicly not to invade Cuba. The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were furious. Kennedy and Khrushchev were becoming partners in peace making.”

A further crisis with his Cold War advisors resulted from the President’s address to the graduates at the Commencement Ceremonies of the American University in Washington, D.C. JFK called for World Peace and an end to the Cold War. This further incensed the CIA and Pentagon chiefs. “In their minds,” Douglass says, “Kennedy’s views placed him on the side of the enemy.”

Another issue in the minds of the CIA and Pentagon was the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed by Kennedy and Khrushchev. This development angered the Military Industrial Complex.

Finally, there was the President’s move to initiate a dialogue with the despised Fidel Castro. Also, National Security Memorandum 263 to end the Vietnam War.
“Those were the final nails in the President’s coffin,” Douglass says.

 

 

James Douglass: “JFK And The Unspeakable”

JFK’s progressive turning from a Cold War mentality to a desire

James Douglass talking about "JFK & the Unspeakable"
James Douglass talking about “JFK & the Unspeakable”

for peace had made him a serious threat to what Douglass refers to as “the most powerful military/ economic coalition in history.” At Kennedy’s earlier (July 20, 1961) meeting of the National Security Council, Dulles and the Chiefs of Staff had actually called for a preemptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. Kennedy had walked out of the meeting.

The coalition of Dulles and the Chiefs of Staff had for some time been conniving and strategizing against JFK, knowing they could escape culpability under the cover of what Trappist monk and author, Thomas Merton, called “the Unspeakable.”

“The Unspeakable” was the government’s covert action doctrine of “plausible deniability”. Allen Dulles interpreted “plausible deniability” as a green light to assassinate national leaders…, and lie to cover up any trace of accountability. The concept of plausible deniability had been enshrined in law under President Harry Truman. It is this lack of accountability, Douglass contends, that made possible the JFK assassination and cover up.

And what about the role of Lee Harvey Oswald, supposedly the only shooter responsible for the assassination of JFK? Douglass traces his movements with meticulous care, pointing out that even after Oswald renounced his American citizenship in Moscow, the CIA cleared the path for him to return to America without being charged for aiding the enemy . He says “Oswald was clearly under the control of CIA handlers”. According to Judge James Botelho of California, formerly Oswald’s Marine room mate, “Oswald’s defection was nothing but a U.S. intelligence ploy.”

To conclude, Douglass’ grasp and recording of detail is quite phenomenal, well beyond my ability to represent adequately. I certainly agree with Oliver Stone who held up “JFK And The Unspeakable” at the end of an interview on the Bill Maher television show “Real Time”. “Everyone should read this book,” he urged. The following month, ten thousand copies were sold. Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, said the same on her blogsite. And before passing away, his father, who had always been at the opposite end of the spectrum in their discussions said, “Jim, I think you are on the right path.”

Hedley can be proud of Jim Douglass, its native son!

 

Bill Day: A Force in Adult Education (part 1 of 2)

Bill Day & Nellie, his 1930 Model A
Bill Day & Nellie, his 1930 Model A

It isn’t likely you will hear Bill Day talk about his MA in Adult Education, his years as President of Douglas College, the Order of Canada Award he received, or his service as a Citizenship Judge.  After visiting with him and his partner Lynn Wells for an hour, I came away with the distinct impression that at age 80, he’s just too busy and goal oriented to focus on past accomplishments.

From the beginning, he received very little without effort on his part. “We were depression babies,” he says.  “Things were ok until my alcoholic father was fired from his position as a prof at UBC. The next 5 years were terrible. We were hungry a lot.  I remember card boarding my shoes. Work was scarce in those days so we considered it a stroke of good fortunate when my mother was hired by Finning Tractor. Her pay wasn’t great but at least the family had a steady income and stability.”

 

Necessity made it essential for him to be proactive and creative. “To pay my camp fees at YMCA’s Camp Elphinstone,” he remembers, “I cleaned out-houses.  It was something no one else wanted to do. I was my own boss. I liked it. I learned that if you do work others don’t want to do, you get respect.”

He developed the habit of doing whatever it takes. To pay for his UBC tuition, he worked at the paper mill at Ocean Falls. “I learned on the job and became a millwright,” he says. “I loved the work and I loved Ocean Falls.  It was there that I started teaching English to immigrant men in the evening in the bunkhouse.” Helping those men put him onto a path he was to walk on the rest of his working life.

One day his foreman came to him and said “Bill, I’ve been authorized to offer you a job in administration. However, I don’t think you should accept it. In a few years you would be bored.  My advice is go back to school and train for a career in teaching. You have a gift for it.”
(continued in part 2)

Bill Day: A Force in Adult Education (part 2 of 2)

 

Bill Day & Lynn Wells at Hedley Farmers Market
Bill Day & Lynn Wells at Hedley Farmers Market

Bill had the good sense to accept the advice of his mill foreman and returned to university. After completing his training, he began his teaching career in Quesnel.  Here he taught during the day and tutored Italian railroad workers in English four evenings a week. Subsequently he taught in Maple Ridge, continuing to teach English at night, and then accepted a role in Surrey as one of the first full-time Adult Education administrators in B.C.

His growing experience and expertise in Adult Education brought an invitation to go to India for a year, to advise the Rajasthan State government in this field. “They didn’t really need me,” he says, “I learned from them and it was a wonderful experience. I loved India.”

Upon returning to Canada, he was asked to plan the development of Douglas College. He subsequently became Dean of Continuing Education and then served as President for 15 years. He also wrote feasibility studies for two other Community Colleges.

Bill considers himself very fortunate. “Until I retired,” he says, “I was always in the right place at the right time. I served under people for whom I had great admiration.”

Observing him participate in the community organizations of Hedley, it quickly becomes evident that Bill’s good fortune had less to do with luck than with preparation and the willingness to do what is needed.  Undoubtedly, a positive outlook and a touch of charm helped too. His partner Lynn Wells describes him as “a hard worker, very bright, personable and proactive.”

Understanding that everyone appreciates recognition, he gives it quickly and enthusiastically. He is convinced that by working collaboratively, a community can accomplish what seems impossible. This positive, proactive thinking has many times attracted the attention of people in authority and power. For his work in Adult and International Education, Bill was awarded the Order of Canada.  Then, after official retirement, to his great amazement, he received a call from Ottawa offering him a position as Citizenship Judge.

“I was certain at first they had the wrong Bill Day,” he recalls.  “When they assured me they didn’t, I was thunderstruck.”  Pausing as though reliving that moment he says, “it was very affirming. It told me I had actually done a good job.” “I loved the work and carried on for ten more years until I reached mandatory retirement at 76.”

Bill is still doing a good job, even if he doesn’t get paid for it now.  At the Hedley Museum he said to the Directors, “tell me what you need done and I’ll do it.”  Last year he spoke at Hedley’s Canada Day celebration and also at the Remembrance Day ceremony.  He is currently spearheading the development of Unity Park in Hedley.  He and Lynn are “devoted” volunteers at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival. This morning, before our visit, he painted woodwork and washed windows at the Seniors’ Centre.

After sitting across the table with Bill and Lynn for over an hour, I realized that his mind hadn’t lost its focus even for a moment.  He is optimistic, bright, high octane, apparently healthy, and community minded.  I wasn’t surprised when he said at the end of our time together, “it’s being a great life.”

Life and Times of Carrie Allison (Part 1 of 2)

Although as a child Carrie Allison completed only the fourth Carrie has a green thumbgrade, I came away from a two hour visit with her feeling I’d been educated in history and wisdom. She was sent from her home in the Merritt area where she was born, to a residential school in Kamloops at age 8 and was educated there until age 12.

Carrie is now 83 and even though her experience in the residential school wasn’t as horrific as what we often hear about in the media, the memories still haunt her. A note of sadness creeps into her voice when she says, “my dreams about it are always bad. In one dream I hearing a baby crying at night, but it is dark and I can’t find it.”

She pauses a moment to reflect, then continues. “I was away from home 10 months at a time. There wasn’t enough to eat and I was always hungry. We ate in the same room as the staff, and we could see they had meat on their plates. We were given only vegetable soup and one slice of bread. At Easter they gave us one egg with our meal. I knew mostly the language of my people, but I was punished if I spoke it. In winter they made us walk to town. My hands and feet got really cold. We weren’t allowed to talk to the boys or even look at them. We were in the classroom half a day, the rest of the day we had to work. The girls cleaned up the dormitories, the priest’s room, the hallways, play room and dining hall.”

Knowing she looks after the diminutive white chapel situated on a bluff overlooking the Similkameen Valley, not far from Hedley going toward Keremeos, I ask why she is still involved with the Catholic faith. Many would have turned their backs on the faith because of the pain caused by the school experiences.

“People sometimes ask me that,” she answers. “I tell them God didn’t do that to me. It was people. I never look back. I tell the kids to always look ahead and try to make something of themselves.”

Carrie never knew her father. Fortunately her mother was deeply committed to her family and Carrie speaks of her as a wonderful role model. “She was very small,” she says. “She tanned hides and traded them in town. She also made gloves and moccasins.”

Carrie recalls clearly the injunction of her mother to “take care of yourself. No drinking. Before you go away, do the dishes and clean the house.”

Now a mother and grandmother herself, she does all she can to pass on the values of the older generation. “Young kids don’t know what we went through,” she says with a perceptible hint of disappointment. “Sometimes I think we should take them back to our time. No electricity, no indoor bathroom. We had to pack water from the river. Mom didn’t have a washing machine so she carried her laundry to the river. She heated water in a tub there and after she washed the clothes, she hung them on branches.”

I sense now that in her mind she is reliving those times. “Sometimes we bathed in the river. In winter we heated water in the tub and bathed there. Those were happy days. I was with my family.”

 

Life and Times of Carrie Allison (part 2 of 2)

In 1942 Carrie’s mother married a member of the Upper Carrie in her homeSimilkameen Band and they moved to Hedley. “The town looked new to me then,” she says. “People dressed up.
I saw ladies wearing hats and white gloves.” She recalls they could flag down the Great Northern train and catch a ride to Oroville.

When she was 12, her stepfather took her to the home of Charlie Allison, at that time band chief. Here she met Edward (Slim) Allison, her future husband. Slim was told by the Indian Agent, “you should be on the band council. You can read and write.” In time, Slim became band chief. When he was in this role, she worried about him. “You can’t please everybody,” she says, again experiencing the concern she had for her husband at that time.

“Slim always gave me the pay from his work at the sawmill in Princeton.” I sense her pride as she remembers how responsible he was about finances. “He told me to pay the bills and if there was anything left, I could give him some.”

At age 40, Carrie attended 3 semesters of academic upgrading. Someone at the school suggested she enter a hair styling course. She accepted this advice and registered for a course in Vernon. For the last two weeks of the course she made the long trip from Hedley to Vernon every day. Having had my hair cut by her many years ago, I still recall her cheery attitude and words as she clipped.

Now at an age when no one would be critical if she retired to a rocking chair, Carrie gives little indication she is ready to slow her pace. In addition to cleaning the little chapel, once a year she hires boys to harvest the weeds from the adjacent cemetery. Records indicate the chapel was likely built in 1901 and she feels a responsibility to those who made it a reality at a time when remoteness of the area made this difficult. “I think of the old people who worked so hard to bring the lumber and windows and other supplies here to build it,” she says. “We should keep it up in their honour.” When there are 5 Sundays in a month, the priest comes and she attends the service. In winter she often invites the people to meet in her home, due to lack of adequate heat in the chapel.

“It is important to preserve the Indian culture and ways,” Carrie says. “I’m learning a prayer in the band language. I don’t want the language to be lost. Not many can speak it anymore.”

On the first Wednesday of each month she attends an elders lunch in Keremeos. She still sews quilts. “I tried making moccasins, but I’m not good at it.”

Carrie is a committed fan of early Country and Western music. “When I was in Nashville,” she tells me, “I saw Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Earnest Tubb and Kitty Wells.” When I ask if she likes Jerry Lee Lewis, famous for his Great Balls of Fire hit, her response is enthusiastic. “Oh yes. I like him.”

Carrie has experience, wisdom and an enthusiasm for life that many with a Masters Degree would envy.

 

View Looking West From Carrie's House
View Looking West From Carrie’s House

 

The Lesson Of Leona’s Commitment

 free_18764562Several years ago my cousin Leona was told that her husband Vic showed early indications of Parkinson’s, plus another equally debilitating condition for which as yet there is no cure. Vic had worked for BC Hydro and had also built a number of homes after retirement.  They are now living in the most recent home, a well designed structure that speaks of a master builder’s wonderful attention to detail.

With her buoyant personality, sense of humor and  capacity to commit, Leona has also experienced a good deal of success.  In an earlier career as a realtor, she was easily in the top ten percent in listings and in sales.  To help their sons get started in business, she entered into a partnership with them and they opened an eye glass outlet.  Based on a bedrock of integrity and excellent service, the business did well. Before long they expanded to other centers and into the hearing aid field.

Then came the diagnosis that caused Vic to lay down his hammer and saw and hang up the ladder in his garage for the last time.  Leona’s participation in the business venture with their sons didn’t cease entirely, but she resolved to make Vic her #1 priority.                                                                                                                                

 Under her fun loving, quick to laugh exterior,  there abides a deep commitment to her husband.  He isn’t someone to be discarded when difficult circumstances arise.  She thinks of him as her life partner.  “We are going to ride this out together,” she says.                                                                                                                          

“I’m going to keep him at home as long as I can manage.  If it becomes necessary, I’ll mortgage our house to keep him here.”  Vic’s condition presents some difficult challenges and she has already hired live in help.

When we visited at their home recently, Linda and I were impressed by Leona’s total commitment to him.  “I won’t sell his pickup truck or his work trailer,” she said.  “And I won’t get rid of his tools.  That is all part of who he has always been.  I won’t take them away from him.”

Leona’s determination to maintain a comfortable, undisturbed atmosphere in the home is proving to be helpful to Vic.  When we were there, he appeared relaxed and seemed to be enjoying life.

A week before Leona’s recent birthday, he began each day by wishing her a happy birthday.  Each day she said, “no, it’s not my birthday yet.”  When her birthday did arrive, she responded to his happy birthday wish by saying, “yes Vic, today is my birthday.”  He said, “I just didn’t want to forget.”

For Linda and me there is a valuable lesson in Leona’s unswerving commitment to Vic. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popular Abbotsford Blogger Inspired Many

 

A stranger might have assumed that a recent Celebration of Life at Abbotsford Pentecostal Assembly was for a political or entertainment celebrity. The spacious main floor of the sanctuary was crowded to capacity In a sense, popular Abbotsford blogger Kristin Erickson was a celebrity, but not for the usual reasons. She was a 41 year old wife, and the mother of 4 children.

On October 29, 2012 she was told she had cancer, and began writing in a wonderfully engaging and poignant manner about her battle against the illness. She wrote of excruciating pain, of radiation and chemotherapy, of surgery to remove a kidney, of her love for her husband and children and the joyous moments with them, of her trust in God, and much more.

Like thousands of her readers, I never met Kristin, but came to feel I knew her.  In the relatively brief time of her illness, there were approximately 150,000 visits to her blog, ( which you can find at canadiankristinconnected.blogspot.ca). In spite of the tests, many days lying in a hospital bed, the numbing pain, her diminishing strength, she had a powerful desire to communicate with readers.

To the end, she was determined to spend quality time with her husband and children. She expressed deep appreciation for the support of family and friends. She praised doctors and nurses for their attention and care. Repeatedly, her trust in God and her love for people crept into her writing.

She battled on courageously to the end, always clinging to hope, never allowing bitterness to overshadow her predominantly positive message. Kristin’s love of life and people, her humour and courage inspired readers around the globe. Many responded with notes of appreciation and encouragement.

She leaves behind a legacy that many celebrities would envy.

 

My Friend John

For about 2 years I’ve been observing an 85 year old man at Menno Hospital where my father is a resident. This man, John, is not a resident but a visitor. He comes in at 10 am to spend time with his wife Teresa 7 days a week. The fact that Teresa has Alzheimers and does not recognize him seems not to deter him. “I still recognize her,” he told me. John feeds Teresa lunch and dinner, addressing her lovingly as “sweetie”.

When he was told to come in for a minor surgical procedure at the General Hospital, he said,”you’ll have to give me a different time, that is when I feed my wife.” At mealtimes he puts aprons on the other residents and has a cheery word for each one. Sometimes he comes to my Dad and gives him a quick back rub. Often I hear him whistling, as though to give expression to an inner delight.

Inspite of his age and some personal health challenges, John is absolutely and wonderfully committed to Teresa and to the other residents. When I see him leave sometime after 6 in the evening, I often notice that his feet seem a little heavier, and his expression is more serious. Even so, there is an aura about him that suggests he feels fulfilled at having once again lived up to his commitment to the woman he still loves deeply.

Observing John, I have decided that he has learned to live with a sense of abundance and joy. Without realizing it, he has become a mentor to myself and also to many of the workers at Menno Hospital.