We would like to thank Ben for
his willingness to share his personal story and his enthusiasm for championing
local concerns. Special thanks also to Andrea
Houg for the transcript of the taped interview and to Clare Willis for the final
revision and processing of Ben’s photos.
Thanks also to Ernie Kaesmodel and the Prince George Oral History Group for their help in producing this transcript. Kathy Plett, Chief Librarian at the College of New Caledonia, was also instrumental in indexing and assembling the final document.
I am Jeanne Anderson, a member of the Heritage Committee, Prince George Branch of the Retired Teachers’ Association and a member of the Prince George Oral History Group. I am here with Clare Willis, also of the above groups, to talk to Ben (Benjimen) Meisner, a local radio talk-show host and columnist, who has generously agreed to let us do an oral history of his life. Today is September 19, 2003.
We’re going to ask you, Ben, to tell us just a bit about where you were born and a bit about your parents.
I start off by saying to you I am humbled that you would ask me and deeply touched by that and I think that the fact that you come by to get some of my history with regard to this Prince George, or for that matter even anybody who has lived in Canada, is a humbling experience. Thank you for asking me.
I was born on June 3, 1938 on a Section 2636 Township 10 Range 33 West 1, which really meant.. I was born on a farm. As the old saying goes “hatched on a stump”, I probably qualified. I believe, and from getting anecdotal evidence of what took place from my birth, was my father and my mother came from Saskatoon to help his brother during the harvest or, get ready to prepare for the harvest during the summer, and I was born on a farm at that time. My father came from eastern Canada. He actually came from eastern Canada with his father. His grandfather was also with him.
Meisners arrived in Canada at Halifax first in 1742. We were brought here from Meisin Germany. We were serfs of King Meisen, who still, I think, has some sort of throne somewhere near Meisen, Germany where the porcelain is made, and that’s where the fancy porcelain, Meisen Porcelain, is made. He was a king in that region. He agreed to give the British two boatloads of his serfs/slaves, whatever you want to call them, in 1462, to come to Canada to fight the French because the French were at war with the British over the eastern part of Canada. We arrived here and indeed did engage in, get in a war with the French. In return for our efforts on behalf of the British we were given first a piece of ground near Halifax and then they moved us to Lunenburg, which was a farming area on the coast of Halifax. The reason being, and the history now says, that we were Zionist Lutherans, very religious evidently, and they didn’t want us hanging around Halifax.
Well it was only a couple of years later when they came along and said, “Hey, listen, we need you boys again. We’ve got a problem with the native population and you’re going to have to go to war over the Indians because the Indians are set to attack somewhere along New Brunswick and the Nova Scotia border.” So we went back to war again for a few more years and then back to Lunenburg. By then Lunenburg had been established. There was a church built, there were a lot of homes built in Lunenburg in 1746; as a matter of fact the church bell from the church there currently, came from that period. In the war with the Americans of 1812 they sent us out again… now that would be subsequent families..and we went and fought the Americans. Evidently we took one of their forts or were instrumental in helping Canada beat the Americans at war.
Shortly after that, that would be my great-great grandfather decided he was going to move west when they were getting ready to open up the railway into western Canada. And they were getting some land grants. And he came west and brought his son and his young family with him. They settled as farmers in the Maryfield, Saskatchewan region and from there that’s where they branched out.
My father was one of the siblings of, I think, five or six people in that family, in the Meisner family, that came to Maryfield. He wanted to be an educator. It’s interesting that you gals would be retired teachers, because he wanted to be an educator, but I think where he was sitting as a farm boy it was very difficult to do that, given the kind of life they lived at that time. But he was able to persevere and he ended up getting his Normal School and then from there was able to get some courses to go back to University where he wanted to teach Law. He began teaching Law in 1937 in the University of Saskatchewan. There is a plaque there dedicated to him.
The war was getting set to go in 1938. My father, I don’t know, perhaps driven by the fact that we were a Meisner and there was a war going on against the Germans and he would be called a German, felt … anyway he felt compelled that he should join up and he did. He would have been exempt because he was an educator but he joined up and went to war. When they landed on the beach in ’39 he was one of a hundred and some people that came off the beach. And I could understand if I have a bit of his personality, a bit of genes, how important it would have been for him to have not left the beach with those men. We have very strong feelings, the Meisners, and we feel sort of obligated always to be there, last guy out. Well, he wasn’t. When he came back to Canada he was shell-shocked. The long and short of it was, he was shell-shocked and he went into deep depression.
My only recollection, as I said before we began this interview (I think now I may be making this up in my mind), of my father when he held me in his arms and put some knives in the door; I would have been perhaps two or three. Now I may be making that up in my mind or it did happen. And he pulled the blinds down and shortly after my mother was out in a garden (we had a large garden) and some guys came along with some white coats and took him away and we never saw him again, nor did I have any association with him.
In those days it was not fashionable to admit to anybody that your father had been taken off to an insane asylum; you just simply divorced them, got rid of them and said they didn’t exist anymore. And I think that’s what happened to my father. So for a long stretch in there we didn’t have any idea what happened to him. My mother hooked up with a man by the name of Reg Morris in 1945 in Maryfield, Saskatchewan, where she had moved following the war. She got $3000.00 from the government for my father. They came and wrote her a cheque. But you must keep in mind, and I’m going to bring you up to date on my mother in a moment, she received $3000.00 and she bought a little farm with it. And that’s where she was raising her kids. She was a charwoman, she cleaned homes around Maryfield.
How many children were there?
There were four kids; I have two brothers and a sister all older than me, I was the youngest one in the family.
My mother came to Canada from Poland in 1907. She came over in a ship. She was 12 years old, shipped off by her mother who feared she was not going to make it over there in Poland. There was a war going on and my mother talked briefly about the Cossacks or something and she said there were men riding through the streets with knives and kids on the end of these spears and stuff. It was a tough time in life. She came over to Canada and was a char girl, a maid, for a number of houses, including a couple of remittance people over in Saskatchewan. And there were remittance men, as you may remember, that were bastard people for the aristocracy of Britain and they sent them over to Canada and gave them a bunch of money if they promised not to go back. So they were all royalty of some fashion, who were illegitimate children usually. She worked for them on and off in Saskatchewan and somewhere along the line hooked up with my father and married him.
Your father’s first name please.
My father’s first name was William. William R. Meisner. My mother hooked up with him somewhere along the line and they were married and the result was kids. I was, as I say, the youngest kid in the family. My mother could speak and write I think it was four.. or else five.. four for sure, languages, but one of the ones she never did master was English. So if you gave her a piece of paper to read she couldn’t read it; she might make it look or appear that she could read it, but she couldn’t. She could speak the language but certainly not well enough. I mean well enough to get by but not well enough to converse and understand what she was writing or reading. So it was a difficult task for her.
In 1945, as I say, she hooked up with a guy and I always thought they were married but it was many years later I discovered they weren’t.. because you couldn’t get a marriage certificate; my father was still alive. But they didn’t say that. In those days they sort of disappeared off the map and relatives never said anything, your mother never said anything, your sister never said anything, because they didn’t know. Nobody talked about him; he just disappeared. As a matter of fact I didn’t know my father was alive until 1967 when I started searching for his grave site in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. I knew he’d gone there, only to discover he’d only died a couple of years before. So it was a really sad situation; I would have loved to have met the man. Even though he may not know who I was, I would have liked to have met him.
My mother married this chap, Reg Morris, and they moved to Treherne, Manitoba, so we sort of flip-flopped around western Canada fairly good.. we went from Walpole to Maryfield over to Treherne, Manitoba, where I went to school. I got to go to school when I was age 4 because, during the period of the Second World War, my mother with four kids was really having a difficult time to make it. They didn’t hand out welfare in those days but they said, “You can send this young guy to school at age 4 so you can take a job all day.” So I went to school at age 4. When I was in Treherne I graduated when I was fourteen from grade 10. My stepfather…we’d had an altercation. I kind of thought he was trying to hit on my sister and we got in a bit of a brawl and I’m sure he was. So they hauled me off to Winnipeg. So here was a little kid who came from a town of 400 hauled off to Winnipeg, with a population of 775,000, put in a boarding house. I had a hundred and sixty bucks that I had got from trapping mink and squirrels over the past previous two years that I was saving up. And he dropped me off.. I remember he dropped me off at 213 Smith Street, probably the toughest section of all of western Canada. Tough street. ‘Killed people routinely there. And said, “I hope you do well” and then he said, “Anybody that has more than a grade four education doesn’t need it.” He was dead set against education. He left and went back to Treherne.
Well it was a catch 22… I couldn’t go back there. My mother I don’t think was either in denial at what had happened to my sister and I (my sister moved out the same time) or else.. or for whatever reason she did that, I don’t know. But I lived at a boarding house with nineteen men for just about a year but I knew I had to get a job so I went down to Central Mortgage and Housing.
What age were you at this time?
Fourteen. And told them I was sixteen. I lied to them and told them I was sixteen so they gave me a job as an office boy and I ran little bits of paper all over the town. But they fired me on about the 80th day of my work, close to the 90th day (the three month probationary period) they fired me and said, “You didn’t tell us you were 14’. I said, “I couldn’t. I couldn’t go home.” So I looked around for a job for just about two months and I was running out of the money I had from trapping. It was just about all gone by the second month and this lady insisted you pay forty dollars a month or she was going to toss you out. I went to United Grain Growers in the Hamilton building in Winnipeg and I said.. (The guy that called me up was a fellow by the name of Chief. I don’t even know his real name now.) Chief was the boss down in the mail room. There were 10 or 12 boys working there.. all young guys and I said, ”I need a job desperately. I got about twenty dollars. I can’t pay for my board and room “and I explained to him, “I can’t go back to my family and I really would like to have a job.” “Well”, he said, “Hang on” and he came down with a guy by the name of P.C. Watt who was the vice-president of United Grain Growers and another guy R.J. MacMillan. And they brought him down and they sat around and talked in another office for a minute and then they came out and said, “We’re gonna give you a job, but on this condition. If you will enroll to go back to school starting in the fall, we will hire you on as a mail boy.” Well, I didn’t know to what extent they had gone, but obviously it was illegal to have me working for them and I wasn’t aware at that time… ‘cause I was too young to hold a job. But they paid me out of petty cash every month. So as I said earlier everybody else got a cheque in the mail room, which was important.. on the middle of the month you got this cheque that said United Grain Growers… and I had to go up to the accounting office and they gave me, (I think I made eighty dollars), they gave me forty dollars cash, out of the petty cash and I took that and went and paid my board and room.
So it went on for that way for a couple of years and there used to be people from that office that would come by constantly and ask me “How are you doing at school?” So I report to them while I was being an office boy as to what I did in school. Not realizing how proud they were of me, that I was getting through school. They liked my grades and I was a bit of a wild kid, always have been, and they accepted that. They sort of accepted the manner I had…as long I got my exam, my school, and I worked hard at my office (and I did work hard at my office), they could accept some of the other things I did. I rode a motorcycle, I was kind of a little hellion, but they liked that. I remember girls used to take me out and buy me clothes. They would take me out and say, “You look like a real bum”. So some of the girls (they would be maybe 30) would take me out and say, “You need this shirt and you have to have this tie because you had to dress up in the office.”
Well when I got sixteen they started giving me a cheque. And then one of them called me in. And it was actually R.J. MacMillan called me in and said, “What do you plan to do with your life?” and I said, “Well, I will probably stay here at United Grain Growers” and he said, “There’s no future here. You are far too clever to stay here and you should look at doing something else.” I said, “Ohh.” He said, “You should take a job doing something else and he said, “I know that you are….(I took some flying lessons at that time and you used to be able to be a pilot for fifty bucks, so I had taken some flying lesson on the side and I already had a pilots license.).. he said, “You could get a job with Canadian Pacific Airlines, this new airline, just as a bum boy working for them, flying airplanes away up on the DEW Line (they were building the DEW Line). You should go up there. You should make your knowledge work for you. Go somewhere. Move on in life. Don’t stay here in Winnipeg as an office boy.”
Well, that really precipitated it. It was a couple of months later I got a job with Canadian Pacific Airlines and they sent me on my first haul way up to …actually up to Uranium City and I flew out of Uranium City. I came to Prince George and I flew into Prince George actually ferrying, (I wasn’t the pilot just the first officer)… ferrying (because I was just a kid)… ferrying lettuce and groceries to Uranium City from Prince George. At one time they used to fly into here because they had a good airport or Fort St. John and then ferry all these groceries over to Uranium City because they had no road in there. Or up to Fort Smith or up further up into the Arctic.
I recall staying in the motel and I can vividly remember staying in a motel in Prince George and it’s still here. Where I stayed in a motel where.. I never have seen anything since or before… where there was a little door, a little mail chute, like on the motel room and in the morning when you got up there was a glass of milk and a glass of tomato juice in it. And it was a little door chute right in your motel room. Well if you go down to South Fort George (because I looked all over and eventually found it.. that place again trying to find it) there’s a little motel there (it’s pretty old now) but it has those chutes sitting in it . They have been covered in, but they are there. So that would be 19’ (I think) ‘57 or ‘58 when I came here. I then was sent out to Prince Rupert as first officer to fly on the Cansul going between Prince Rupert and Sandspit, ‘cause there was no airstrip in Prince Rupert. So I flew back and forth there on a float and wheel plane. And then over to Fort St. John and back to Uranium City, where I flew out of Uranium City in my own plane. It was just a Norseman, a bum plane, but it was a single engine old beater.
Well, as I told you what sort of character I am, earlier… there used to be a bank called the Imperial Bank and the manager was leaving (he’d be a young guy perhaps 35 years old).. in Uranium City (there was about 5000 people living there) and he was going away. He was leaving to move back out.. he was “getting out of the North” as they used to say, “Well, I’m finally getting out of the North. I’m going to be able to leave up here. I won’t be bushed anymore.” So, they wanted to have a barbecue for him but we had no money and nobody up there had any money. So I said, “Listen, I’ve been flying over Wood Buffalo National Park every day hauling bits…. (explorations stuff) over to this mine. If I fly all next week and cheat a little bit on the plane each day- like if I was flying you for Ritz Athabasca or Kazur Athabasca, a couple of companies I can remember now, I would charge you for 4 hours when it actually took me 3½ hours to do the job. So I had a little time on this airplane. On Sunday I grabbed this English guy who was really senior (he might have been 30, maybe a little less than that) , and he was a geologist looking for ore and said, “O. K., we’ll go over to Wood Buffalo National Park, we’ll whack a buffalo and we’ll haul it back and we’ll have a barbecue. That’ll be our contribution towards this big barbecue we’re going to have for this guy. So off we went in the morning. We flew over and shot a buffalo, indeed, and drug it over there and it’s in the middle of nowhere. Got this buffalo back, (he kept the head, by the way). It was a little stupid, but he said, “We’ll never get a buffalo head again” so he brought it back with him. And we landed in St Martin’s Lake and as I taxied up to the dock (I’d never seen a game warden in the north ever before) out of the bush came a guy that said, “I am the game warden. I order everything seized in the name of the Queen.” I went, “Oh-Oh” we have an illegal buffalo shot out of the park. Well, he seized the airplane, which was Canadian Pacific Airlines’ airplane. They were not happy about that, I can tell you, they were very unhappy campers. So when they found out that in addition I had cheated on four hours of flying time, I was a “gone goose” and we were charged with shooting a buffalo. Oh, there were all kinds of charges. There was a real mess.
Well, my life took a change. Here I am fired from the airlines, (they fired me within an hour.. they wanted to get their plane back) and the other guy said, “I’ll take the rap for the buffalo, you take the rap for the flying.” So I said, “What am I going to do?” And he said, “Well, you’ve been practicing.” At Uranium City they had a pirate radio station; I used to go around there in the evening and spin the disks. He said, “You’re very good at it. Why don’t you get a job in the radio business?” Yeah, maybe I could do that. So I had no money… back to Winnipeg I go!
So, I go back to Winnipeg and when I got to Winnipeg then I started working at home, reading the newspaper, trying to be a radio announcer. Well I got good enough to go down to CKEY at the time and a couple of people taped me and said, “Hey listen, I think you’re good enough to get a job. Try Dauphin.” Well I went up to Dauphin, and indeed they hired me on as a radio announcer. ‘Just a junior guy. I might have been 18 years old or so and I started reading news for them as a newsreader. I also wrote editorials, Jeanne, at that time. And I’ve looked back at them, because they were trying to dig them out of the archives to find them when I went back for a reunion a couple of years ago. They said, “Do you realize you were writing editorials for this company nearly 50 years ago? They would let me write anything. The guy that owned the station’s name was Tom Warnock. It was amazing that he would allow me to say what I wanted to say on the radio. Without interfering with what I did say. Which speaks a lot about the media…at least in those days it does. It wasn’t set up by somebody.. how it went.
I left from there a few years later and moved to Winnipeg. I took a job with CJOB and then went to CKEY. When I was at CJOB, I got an offer from my old manager who had moved from CJOB to Toronto, who wanted me to come to work for him. And I went off to Toronto to work for CKEY. I worked in CKEY and, as I was mentioning earlier, I made a lot of money. In those days they would pay an announcer, if you were worth your salt. And here was this young guy (if you can imagine Dan Hamhuis ...he was a hockey player getting signing for $800,000 or so) ..The first year they gave me $115,000.. in 1962. I don’t know what that would be worth today 7-..or 800,000 dollars? The second year he gave me 120 grand. I mean I had more money than you could ever imagine. I was married; I had three children by then. I got married young and ‘cause I was stupid, I didn’t know about birth control pills. Nobody ever told me and quite apart from that I had no discipline. There was no mother figure, my mother didn’t visit with me. I had no father, my stepfather was happy I was gone, so I really didn’t have a father figure in my life and I sort of went on my own.
I had three kids, made a very good salary, and then one Christmas Eve my wife came along and announced.. (She was very young, too. We were married when we were seventeen.) She said, “I am leaving. ‘But I aint taking the kids” and she was gone. And I have never seen … I have never to this day seen her again, which may be really well. But anyway, so here I was with these three kids (I had two girls and a boy) sitting in Toronto wondering, “What in Hell are you gonna do with your life?” I hated the city. If you wonder why I live in Prince George and why I like it so much it’s because I am really a farm boy at heart. I hated Toronto. I could make a lot of money in the radio business and very likely could have gone off to Chicago, Detroit or New York to work. But I couldn’t stand the city. Wasn’t me. So I decided I was going to move back west so I … One of the people I had known had gone to a station in Yorkton, Saskatchewan and said, “Would you consider coming out here?” I said, “If you pay me enough money, I’ll come back out there.” Well, I took a cut in salary.. I don’t know, maybe 70 or 75,000 dollars a year, to come back there. But I had my kids and I figured I’d have to be a mother and a father and I rolled back. I think I had my fondest story remembering my kids. When I left Toronto they gave me a couple of Hudson bay blanket, and you gals would remember, because you’re old enough to remember the little stripes in them. Pretty wool blankets.. they were incredible. When I got to Yorkton, I had rented a house and I thought… (One of my daughters was only 6 or 7 months old, so she peed the bed).. so I thought, “Gee, I have to do these blankets. So I put them in the washing machine and I thought I’ll make these really fresh and I put some soap in on top of them and I’ll put lots of Javex in on top of them. So I did that and then I went back in the kitchen and did something and then I came back and put the water on. When they come out of the washing machine there were these eaten holes right through this wool everywhere. And I remember as I thought, “God, here’s a twenty-four year old man sitting there crying” because I had wrecked these gifts these people had given me. They were just holes burnt through all of them. So it was a bit of a challenge I guess when I was a young guy raising three kids. I look back at it as probably a real experience in my life and probably it gave me a lot of maturity. Maybe it didn’t, but at least it helped.
I left Yorkton and went to Red Deer and in Red Deer I was a news director and then I became a station manager of CKRD in Red Deer. And from there I went to Kamloops. I was Station Manager of CFJC in Kamloops. And in Kamloops I had worked with a guy who came from Saskatchewan, owned 20% of the pie. They had a contract with me, for me to work in a radio station and they hadn’t made any money at that radio station for about 9 or 10 years ( a Radio and T.V. station). Two radios actually. And after I was there about 3 or 4 months it had made 7 or 8,000 dollars a month. It made a lot of money the third year I was there; it made like 600,000 dollars that year. And it had lost money continually ten years before. And they called me down to the office and I thought, “Man, you got gall!” They said, “How could we save some more money in this company?”.. after they were suddenly making $600,000! So I said, “Very simple. You get rid of me, I’m costing you a hundred grand a year and as a matter of fact I think you guys are a bunch of, pardon me, assholes. I don’t like the way you operate, so why don’t you buy my contract out; you can save a hundred grand a year.” Well, they did. They were mad, of course, but I didn’t care. So they said, “Would you take $40,000 cash and two thirties of 30 in 60 days and 30 in 90 days?” “Yeah, I’ll take that.”
That afternoon when I left the station a guy ran into me by the name of George Davies or.. Jim Davies. He was from…. He was from Prince George. But he was living in Kamloops. He said to me, “I have to go home to Prince George to a trailer park I own over beside the Hudson Bay slough tomorrow, but I don’t have another pilot. I have an airplane but I don’t have a pilot to make sure I’m flying properly.” And I said, “I haven’t had a license since they took mine away 20 years ago.” He said, “You know how to fly really well.” and I went “Yeah” and he said, “Just come with me.” “Where’re you goin’?” “Prince George. Fly up with me in case I do something wrong with the controls you could take them over.” I said, “Yeah, o.k.” So that was on May 13, 1973. I flew into Prince George. He went off to do his business. I wandered around the town. I went back and said, “I’m moving to Prince George.”
‘Sold everything and came.. one week later. I had some money and I opened up a business here. And that’s what…so I ended staying in Prince George and I’ve lived here a long time. I don’t know what my accomplishments would be and as I say I am flattered by the fact that you would ask me about my accomplishments because I don’t view them as really being very a lot. I look at … I think I could take some credit in saying that I would help anybody. The little people. I often refer to them as that because I think that they go unnoticed, unhelped in life, and perhaps maybe as a result of my upbringing and the way I was brought up, I have strong feelings for them. Very, very strong feelings for people who don’t have the education. Don’t have the opportunity that I have had in life to be able to get those things. That really says something about where I am.
I know you mentioned before to me about the Alcan thing. I lost it. I fought for the Nechako River and lost. Quite clearly I lost, they won and the people now at Kitimat are even losing and they are now saying, “Gee, we should have listened to you.” But that’s not worth very much. Jeanne, that’s not where it’s at. Because the river’s not going to be there anymore and we lost that. It’s gone, gone forever.
There’s been a lot of things I guess in Prince George that I have worked on.. many projects. My biggest projects were with people behind the scenes. Where I didn’t want to be noticed. Where I wanted to see people get treated in a reasonable manner.
And will I be in Prince George.? You bet! And will I stay in the radio business? You bet! Will I stay as a talk show host? You bet! at least for another few years because I have only a couple of years to go and I’ll have 50 years in this business and there is some satisfaction in that. But moreover than that is there’s a satisfaction of going there and saying maybe I can help somebody. I hate the business from the point of view of being the notoriety it brings with you. I hate people saying hello to me on the street. It may sound strange. I hate people saying “Gee, there’s Ben Meisner.” I absolutely detest that. But I do like to be able to help people. So I am a private person. I like to garden, I like to hunt, I like birds and animals, and I love my dog and I truly love my wife. But I am a private person in many ways.
Are you going to tell us anything about some of your other…..
Oh, Gee, I’ve done some. They had a reunion in Dauphin a couple years ago in the radio business; they had a fifty year reunion for the radio station. And they tell the story Ahh… I’ll have to tell you one of them.
I was doing a talk show host there and they said, “Would you do another hour?” they said, “The phones are just ringing off the wall.” “Oh yeah” I said, “I’ll do another hour.” And so when I picked up the first call when I went back on the air at 10:00 o’clock and this woman said, ”Say, I’ve got a set of bunk beds for sale.” Well, just before I’d quit before the hour they had given me Gary Dewer’s, who was the premier of the province of Manitoba, private number. I was to phone him and put him on the air and he was to congratulate the station for 50 years of service. So I said, I’d done that and here it was ten minutes later [someone called] and she said, ”I’ve got these bunk beds for sale’ and I said, “Do you know who Ben Meisner is?” “Don’t know.” I said, “Do you know who Gary Dewer is?” “I don’t know that guy either.” and I said, “Oh, you don’t know any of these people?” “No.” “Well I’ll tell you what… I’ll tell you a guy who’s looking for a set of bunk beds. Phone 204-274-1338. And ask for Gary Dewer.” I gave her his private number of the Premiers office. Say “Here phone him. Get him to buy these bunk beds off you.” Don’t know why I did that. But the people of Dauphin when they had the reunion they said, “We can come back here tonight at 6:00 o’clock. We’re gonna sell hamburgers for two bucks apiece”. I lived in Dauphin for about 5 years working the radio business and I didn’t know what sort of an impact I’d had in that community. When I came back that night, my wife and I, there were 1100 people in the parking lot. I was reduced to tears. I have to tell you to see that many people who had come to me. Many of them who had dressed up. I t was about 39 degrees above zero. It was terribly hot. Who came there to visit with me!
And I thought, … and they knew I was a bad little shit -they knew - these people knew that. One of them told me one time I went to the Indian Reserve out at Crane Lake and said, “I’d like to go fishing.” Well the chief wasn’t there and some of the other people said, “We’re not gonna let you put it in”. So they said I went back and shot up the transformer for the town; they had no power for a couple of weeks. And that was Meisner!
And another time they said I went to town and I didn’t get back to the station in time so I drove through town with this car, that I was telling you about earlier, at about 120 miles an hour so I could get there to do my news. I guess I was just a bad little guy. But for some reason the community liked me. They must have overlooked all of my faults.
O.K., so my Roland Michener story! Well Roland Michener was the Governor General of Canada… was also brought up near Lacombe, just near Red Deer. One year he wanted to go hunting pheasants so, and I was the resident good hunter of pheasant, so they asked would I take him. So I befriended him at that point because he would come out and go pheasant hunting with me and over a course of several years.. he came every year…we hunted geese and ducks etc. But my best Roland Michener story is this: We were out pheasant hunting one day, and he has a police cruiser that always follows him no matter where he goes. Well, Michener was sitting there in his duck brown all dressed up and he said, “Ben, would you cross that creek… I’ve got to go to the bathroom really bad. And I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Have you got lots of paper?” I said, “Yeah.” “What about those guys behind me?” and I said, “I’ll just drive my 4X4 through the creek. They just have a car and they can’t get on the other side.” So I drove through there and he got out in his khaki pants and lo and behold… (Everybody used to think that Michener was a great fit guy, but he smoked cigars all the time and I had to roll the window down in the truck all the time.. it was stinking with cigars. He was always into them.) ..anyway, he had a cigar and he was crouched over, doing “you know what”. And I was looking at him sitting and, waiting in the truck, I thought, “Well, what an ideal opportunity”. So I got out with my camera and pulled it out of the sheath and I went down and I said… he said, “You know you’re not supposed to take a picture of the Governor General: a) when he’s eating. b) when he’s sleeping. And you’re sure as hell not supposed to take a picture of the Governor General when he’s goin’ to the can out in the field!!!” I took a bunch of pictures of him anyway. I was walking around… He was in no position to argue with me. A couple of weeks later, I got the film developed at the station because I didn’t want anyone to get their hands on this film. And I got the guy to blow up this film and I put it in an envelope and I sent it off to Roland Michener.. for Christmas! Well, I sent it off to him and a copy to another friend of ours.. it was a guy by the name of Esmund Butler, who was a queen’s secretary, who was out hunting with us. And about a week just before Christmas I got another envelope back with the Governor General’s seal with the wax on it and everything so nobody could open it and it came to my office. And I opened it up. And there was one of those foldout pictures it was about a 10X10 picture that you folded out. On one side it had Michener sitting on his throne with all this fancy stuff and braids and swords and stuff. And on the other side of the fold out was Roland Michener squatted down over a tree doing “you –know- what” and signed across the one there was His Excellency, Roland Michener. Well, that was it. He was a great guy. He was a great guy whenever I got to Ottawa for whatever reason. I would go to Ottawa to deal with CRTC or so. He would send me by… I remember as a young guy one time I phoned over to the Governor General’s house and said, “I’m in town” He said, “Really”. He said, “I’ll see if I can fix you up some dinner” and I said, “What?”(I went-“Yeah, he’d fix me up some dinner, all right”) and he said, ”I’ll see if I can find you a bean around here. Just sit tight and I’ll send a car by. “Well, you can imagine the feeling you get when you come out of the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and you’re standing there and all of a sudden this great big stretch pulls up with a royal crown on the side of it and a flag flying on the back of it from Canada. And the chauffeur gets out and opens the door and this 24-year-old kid from Red Deer gets in the back of the car and drives away. They probably thought I was a king. Really all I was… was just this flunky who had come from Red Deer and the Governor General had sent his car around to get me. ‘Fascinating man. ‘Was a fascinating man and we did hunt geese and ducks out on the eastern part around Hamaruka and up for many years. He was a… what I would call a friend, and he would help me.
Similarly Gordon Sinclair, and you’ve all heard Front Page Challenge; Gordon Sinclair was a friend of mine in Toronto and he .. And I thought he always had his wing over me when I worked in the radio industry in Toronto he .. One time somebody went to kick this little dachshund hound when we were in the bar. Everybody went to the bar, Jeanne, when you were in the radio business. And as a young guy, I used to go there when you finished the news at noon and a guy like Sinclair would come in and drop five bucks and you’d buy 50 beers. Beers are 10 cents a glass. And you’d cover the whole table so you had to sit there until they were all drank. Well, somebody went to kick his dog and I got up and told the guy… matter of fact we got in a little altercation over it but, over him trying to kick Sinclair’s dog. After that he looked after me. In Toronto Gordy Sinclair always looked after me; he was a good guy.
Pierre Burton, different kind of guy. Wore a towel around his neck all the time and he was a little bit uhh…he was a bit out of my league. I think he was a city boy and I was more of a country boy, so we didn’t get on. There was some good guys that I met in the media. Often you talk about people in the media. Well, I can go back to Kamloops. I used to hunt in Kamloops, and in Kamloops I was doing a talk show, in addition to being the manager. I would want to get away. So, when I wanted to get away you had to have a fill-in always. So I used to go for lunch with a guy by the name of Rafe Mair, he was a lawyer in Kamloops, and I used to say to Rafe, “Listen, you’re gabby enough. Why don’t you fill in on my show when I go away hunting?” And that is actually is how Rafe Mair started in the business. He ended up filling in for me on talk shows when I would go over hunting to Alberta or so in the fall or go up hunting here around Prince George. And then he moved down to Victoria and he wanted to stay in the radio industry as a talk show host and he hooked on in Vancouver and stayed there. So he and I still converse back and forth.. he’s a few years older than me.. about 7 years older than me but… he got his… gained his roots in the radio industry in Kamloops.
With respect to Prince George… I always think back if I can come forward to Prince George in the year 2003 and I know this will be a historical collection so you have to think. In the year 2003 I predict our population is somewhere around 73’ or 74,000 When you come into the city of Prince George they say its 81,000. I don’t predict the kind of growth that took place from the time I first came here in 1957 or 1958 where I thought there was around perhaps 7 or 8,000 people.. it was a little town… to where it grew to, the second time I came back, when I flew up from Kamloops. I would suggest to you that I think that we have peaked out. That we’re going to have to do some very serious soul searching in order to make this community grow to its former robust self. We’re not going to be the Oshawa of British Columbia any longer, where we made lots of money in the forest industry. The forest industry has shrunk to a point where the big money is gone. Our educators are … we’re not going to have those kind of… that strata of society, as I like to refer to it. The middle part of the society in 2003 is diminishing … diminishing quickly because two things are happening. Our young people are moving away, those that have children. And the second thing is that young people are not having as many children, so it’s a catch 22 and that middle section of society is disappearing in Prince George. At one time when, and you both will remember this, there were more millionaires per capita in Prince George, it was suggested than in any other city in Canada. Driven in large measure by the fact that there were guys operating in Upper Fraser and Newlands. There were mills going everywhere. Two or three hundred mills and each one of those guys over the course of years had made perhaps a million bucks. Some people just hauling with trucks, some people with skidders etc, and other peoples with a little gippo operation. In the year 2003, the industry has shrunk to essentially 2 or 3 very large players in B.C. They control the market to the extent, the woods market, which is the driving feature in Prince George at this time, to a very small area. They can tell the truck drivers what we are going to pay for them. We can tell the secondary contractors, those people that go in the bush, what we are going to give them. So it’s shrunk that industry. That industry is not going to make the same kind of money that it formerly did. So where does that leave us? Well if we are fortunate enough to get some gas and oil industry going and perhaps that might be our next catalyst. And then my predictions in 2003 about our community not growing at any large basis will not come true. But if we don’t get something like that, I fear that the community of Prince George is not going to be the kind of community we knew in the mid-seventies any longer. I think the days of the millionaires and people making a lot of money will be long gone and we’re going be a community, not unlike some of the southern ones in the south eastern part of the province, where they have continued to exist but on a much lesser scale.
Now other areas I guess that you might want to talk from the point of view of the environment. Well, the environment in this region I think will receive much more… much more emphasis in coming years. In large measure because we are running out of environment. Prince George, at least at some point in time, and certainly after you and I are gone Jean, is going to be an area of this province, an area of Canada , an area of the world, where people will want to come to, to be able to recreate because of its wilderness position. It’s already happening in Whitehorse and to a lesser degree in other parts of northern B.C. and I see that as being something that will happen here . We ... we’re likely to sell off a large chunk of our environment before we get there. Sell it off in terms of water and other things in order to get ourselves out of debt. In order to try and make this province something special. So I see that happening.
In terms of education.. in 2003 I think the best thing that we have ever done, and I can say that I took a part of that because actually the health rally for the city of Prince George originated ten feet away from you over on that sofa. Where a few of us and I can now tell you that the catalyst for it, the guy who came to my house and said, “You’ve got to do something; it’s important that you do that.” was Judge Glen Parrot. He was the guy who came to my house and said, “I can’t get involved but you have to do something with health care in this city. You have to start it up.” And I phoned a guy who was a former resident of here, Gord Leighton, who I think had his heart on his sleeve in terms of the city. And we got together and started a group. I always think about Lance Morgan. I phoned Lance Morgan and said, “You’re the man. You’re the cleanest guy in town that I know of so you’re gonna have to be the chairman.”’’ He said, “Chairman of what?” I said, “You’re gonna be chairman of a health rally.” “For what?” he said. So anyway, that’s how that started. Started in our living room and we figured we had four days to make it happen if we were going to convince the government to put some money forward to make this thing happen. It worked… and it worked because, not because of what we did or that group of ten people did, but rather because the people came out in mass to come to the Multiplex, over 7,000, to say they wanted something to happen. I think that is the driving feature of Prince George. And I’ll get into that in just a moment and after I finish up.. a medical facility. I think that the fact that we’re going to have a medical facility that will train doctors is an enormous move forward for us. It is the one area where we’ll have some middle income earners, because we will no doubt, twenty or thirty years from now, have some research along side of that. We have a lot of doctors who are good, very good doctors who will be teaching doctors. And we will have local kids that you taught in school, or may have taught in school, who will graduate and become doctors wanting to live in their own town. And, not unlike my children, live in this town. The reason they live there is because they want to live there. Because they like this town and I think that will happen and you’ll see gradually a change in our medical system. It’ll take two decades, though. 2003 if somebody pulls this out of the file in 2023 they’re either gonna smile and say you were right Meisner, or they’ll say you were up your “you know what”. I think that the University was a great credit.. a couple of people didn’t get credit for it: Charles McCaffery, (when I look back at history I say) who was an educator who actually believed in all his heart that this was going to be a good thing for this community. And he was right. When the dust settled as you have all learnt in politics, there are no friends, and lots of people got accolades and received rewards for getting the university here and Charles was left in the dust somewhere, which was rather sad.
I talked about this community getting behind you and doing things and I think of another one and that is the matter of the B.C. Gas franchise and that was I think in 19.. or maybe it was 2000 where we in order to have a counter petition they needed to have 2000 people sign it because the city was about to enter into an agreement with B.C. Gas /Terasen for 74 million dollars that we borrowed and then borrowed it back in a fancy agreement . What we were going to do was be the bank for these guys. In 5 days they got 4700 signatures to oppose that. That speaks volumes for the community. Here it is September whatever 19th or 18th,.. earlier this week the gas companies, the major gas companies are charging us 85.9; the national average for gas is 77.1 .We launched a boycott . Well its amazing how many people have called me who are in the gas industry saying, “Gee, it just happens to be dropping. It has nothing to do with the boycott.” Because these people in the community have quit buying gas off PetroCan the result is they have had to cut their prices. They’re finally bringing their prices down but it’s being done because the community gets together. So you say what’s the best suit? Well I lived in Winnipeg and you couldn’t get 10 people to stand at a corner. The only reason you do that was if they were mugging somebody. You couldn’t in Toronto unless you lived in Richmond Hill, you were never invited to do anything. I worked in Ottawa for a while, in the press gallery there, and I forgot to mention that. The same thing occurred there. But in Prince George, in Prince George, if you get some people together and you have a decent idea, you get support like you’ve never ever seen. And people who come to this community are frightened about us because of it. I often say this- they think that we in Prince George are a bunch of bush bunnies until they get here. And I hope that at some future date when they look at this we’ll have the same people when they read back through this file will have the same attitude of saying, “Hey listen, we were in the year 2003 a group of doers.” We are not afraid to get off our duff and go and do things.
Thank you very much. I certainly enjoyed this and certainly back what you say. I think that some of us come from the same category as other organizations. You talk about that middle class ……
Just before we get off predictions I do hope that somebody will make an effort in 2004 to get Charles Jago, for the University of UNBC, the fair recognition he deserves with respect to the Medical Facility. I talked earlier and I just didn’t want to lose that.. we talked earlier about having this meeting at my house to get this thing going. But the following morning, we had Chuck Jago over and we met downtown at the Inn of the North. And we were sitting at a round table and I said, “What can we do about medicine because we’re not going to have a College of Medicine here.” and you gals are in the teaching business, you knew that. You know, I mean it was never heard of to have it in such a small campus as here. And he said, “What we’ve got to do is convince government and the people that we should have a medical facility in a town this small.” And I looked at him like - Geez, Charles, have you got two heads? - Well guess what? He didn’t have two heads and he made it happen. And I do hope in 2004, next year, somebody will, because I certainly will..(but I will probably need some support) will get off their duffs and make certain the guy gets a reward for this. He is not likely to go through Prince George without… he should go through Prince George receiving some sort of an accolade for having done that. He’s an academic and that’s important, I think, that in the world of academia he gets some recognition. And that truly is his one.
Now back to the other thing I got to edit me in. In 1960 when I was working in Toronto I … a friend of mine that worked in the press gallery in Ottawa with me said, “Hey, listen. I want you to come by and see this old car.” “Why?” And he said, “It’s just been taken away from John David Eaton Jr. of the T. Eaton family.” “Well, taken away because why?” He said, “Well, haven’t you read the papers.. He got it taken…. he was driving it too fast; they gave him a bunch of tickets and he’s in the news.” I went, “Oh, yeah.” So we went around the T. Eaton lot. My best recollection is I paid 4000 dollars for this car. It was called a Chrysler 300E in 1959, so it was nearly a year old. And I drove it for about 3 or 4 years. When I came back west I had to sell it ‘cause I had no money and three kids so I had to get rid of it. In 2002 my wife said to me, “I’d like to have a car”. We drive pickups… we’re farm kids, remember. She said, “I’d like to drive a car to take people for dinner.” And I said, “I don’t want a car.” She said, “Ahh, you got to get one.” Then she gave me the challenge, because my wife has 18 years in the media in Toronto,, She worked in Prince George. It was the first station she ever worked at in the radio business. She’s a very accomplished writer and reader. She said, “Well, if you are a good investigative reporter like you claim you are, you’d find your old car.” and I went “Oooo, don’t say that to me.” So 2 ½ days later and about 60 calls I found it. It was in a farmer’s field sitting in Manitoba. It had been sitting there for 26 years; I did a lot of tracing to get it. So I bought it and brought it back. Well, I spent a lot of money, queen’s fortune, fixing it up but I now have it and it’s running. When you leave this interview I’ll show it to you and you’ll say, “He did not a bad job!”
That probably was some of the things I did for recreation. I raced motorcycles. I raced boats. My wife said, “Did you ever race a train?” and I said, “No, they never ever let me into a train, but I always wanted to be a CF 104 pilot. I’ve always been a speed demon. I raced boats, raced motorcycles, raced cars, but nobody ever gave me the engineering job of a train so I could race it.” ‘Cause I would have raced it as well. That has been maybe that process of living on the edge. I don’t know.. some people said that I do.
You said that you raced boats too.
I raced boats, oh yeah I raced boats in New Zealand, United States. I’ve taken boats over to New Zealand and raced them. I always say this, you’re going to ask me “Well how many races did I win?” Well, the long and short answer of that is: I have always been a bridesmaid, never a bride! In car races, I won some. I played ball. I said the other day to a young fellow (we were talking about what you do in life).. I said, “If you’re a good broadcaster…( I was giving him hell about him being on the air)… and I said to him if you want to be a good broadcaster you must remember (and you gals would remember this trying to discipline yourselves as teachers.. how important it is to discipline yourself. Some days you don’t feel like teaching, but you got to teach.) Some days you don’t feel like being a radio announcer, a talk show host.. you bloody well better be there! Went to work and I said to him, “You’re a professional. If you’re a professional,, you will do a professional job. You won’t slack ass.. you will do a professional job because what goes out over the mike you can’t take back.. you can’t reach through that microphone and pull it back. So you should be a professional.”
I played really good ball as a young guy and probably could have made a couple three hundred dollars a month playing ball. The reason I didn’t is everybody else, the accomplished players, are like good hockey players… it comes gifted to them. I was one of those hockey players, but I was a ball player who had to work 20 hours while they worked ½ an hour to do the same thing. Nothing came easy for me, but I learned along the way in order to get somewhere, I was going to have to work really really hard. And we see it in all walks of life. If you want to make something out of your life it’s going to be a very difficult task. It doesn’t come easy but the rewards are in your mind. The rewards are in your mind when you look in the mirror in the morning, when you’ve stepped out of the shower and you’ve taken a towel, to sit there and look at yourself and say, “I’m rather proud of what I did yesterday and I hope to do the same today.” Those are the driving features.
I should say something about my wife, if I could. And that is she worked in the radio business here. Her first station was here at CKPG and then she went off to CHED in Edmonton and went off to Toronto. She taught radio. She taught Radio and T.V. Arts as an educator, so she’s a teacher and her best ability, I guess, is her ability to read and write and she’s very quick-witted. So how do we get on? Well, because of that, we bounce off one another and I make this confession in 2003, when I write an article for the paper, (I still write for the papers. I write editorials) she is my ghost writer. Now you didn’t know that and by the time it’s all finished.. so what I do is.. I rip this column off that goes in the newspaper very quickly and leave it on the machine… she comes along and cleans it up , as we call it in the business…cleans it up and edits it. So very often when I’m sitting on the john on Wednesday morning I pick up the paper and read that column and say “My God! That was a good column.”
I’m trying to think when you start back on your interview here when you said that your stepfather said that if you had a grade 4 education you really didn’t need any education. You have been your own educator, I do believe. How anybody could remember all this.
People say to me that I never forget and I guess I don’t because of being in the media. Being in the media for so long and being a reporter.. it’s so important doing a talk show and I have that… I don’t know what it is.. I don’t forget things.. you give them to me and I remember them. I can’t remember a name. I can remember people’s phone numbers. My wife says, “What’s the guy’s phone number in Toronto?” and I give them the number, but I can’t remember his name. It’ll be Joe somebody, I don’t know. But I remember certain things that are important. They say in doing a good interview, and it’s no different than being an educator, and you’re aware of that. In being a good interviewer, you should know a lot about only 2 or 3 things. So when you’re starting to take the lesson.. if you want to teach the kids the lesson.. you want to make sure that the part you’re going to teach them you know something about, so they can’t challenge you. So they’re saying, “Pardon me, Miss Teacher, you’re not all that smart. I just tripped you up.” Because the teacher standing at the front of the class is sitting there saying “Listen, bunko, I know what I’m talking about in this area of this examination” and that’s important. It’s so important in life.
I don’t know very much about cross-stitch nor do I intend to. I don’t know a lot about baking a pie, but the things that I do need to know about I know very well. And that’s really the key to a life isn’t it?
C.W.: Well, thank you again. This is really great and I think that you have given us an excellent picture of yourself.
J.A.: I think that one about “doing what you do, do well” and getting up in the morning and saying, “I did this yesterday.” is very important and I think this is something that probably doesn’t get out to the kids this day. My grandson’s in grade 12 this year and my granddaughter’s in grade 9 and you get the comments back. When I was teaching, I didn’t get the comments back. I’m getting all these things and I can see what they say and it’s just what you said.
When you were a kid you didn’t have a fridge or you didn’t have a deep freeze or a toaster.. you know.. things! And you thought, If we work hard, we’ll have one of those. We’re going to have a telephone. You know what we’re going to have, we’re going to have a ham on Friday. A big ham on Friday. We’re going to roast this big ham. We’re going to have that on Friday. Today none of those… things you could be living on social assistance.. you could have everything I just mentioned. You don’t create that initiative to go out and do things. So what’s a kid got now? Grandma will buy him some new Reeboks. He’s got a car. If he runs short of money Grandma will give him enough dough to drive his car he has. He comes home and opens up the fridge like its always been there.. it’s a frost-free and the milk is really cold, gets a drink of milk. They haven’t had to.. there’s no challenge. So what is the challenge part of life? Where is the challenge in life that we have to move forward to try and achieve? What are our goals? Well, mainly, if you look back through the time of history it was to eat, have some good sleeps, some good sex and whatever. That was it. There wasn’t the accomplishment. First of all, we wanted to have our accommodations to live. We didn’t do the thing. Today it is all handed to us. And you know who did it? You and me. Because we didn’t have it, we worked hard to give it to our kids. So you didn’t have to put the old pail down the well with the milk in it and it kept things cold. I don’t know if you had to do that. I did.
Jeanne: My father put beer down the well.
Yeah, the beer down there to keep it cold. Well, you don’t do that anymore. Can you imagine saying, ”Go get some beer out of the well.” They’d say, “Are you crazy?” So you talk about… there’s a different set of initiatives.
What can we do about that one?
I don’t’ think we’ll ever swing back I don’t think society is ever going to swing back. And I think that the fact that we got them that far was as a result of us not having that. I mean you get people today that say, “I don’t have a PC or a walkman or something” and I’m sure you run into it as a grandma raising young children. You say, and the young kids look at you like “Grandma! If you don’t give me the Reeboks… Geez, what kind of grandma are you anyway?” Kids say that. My grandson says that to me routinely, and he has a mother and father! He’s gone off to college now. Who do you think he taps for the money? He said, “I need a week off before I go to college.” I said, “Well, Grandpa’s gonna work. I’ve got this big load to do and I’ve got a really tough job to do, so I won’t be able to drive you over to Calgary.” “Oh, I’m taking a week off to go fishing to get myself prepared for school.” Something’s wrong!!! I love the guy, I love this kid; he’s a great little boy and I think he’ll actually make it in society. But his set of rules is very, very much different than mine. And you know what I think, the kids of today when they raise their kids are going to be shaking heir heads and saying, “What the hell did I do in raising them?” ‘Cause their values are going to be changed. If you look at what we do today, we say. We have all sorts of break and entries. We have all sorts of…you know it’s not uncommon you say you see someone smoking dope, shooting up on the street. In the old days we’d say, “Gee… that would never happen.” I remember and I know this is wrong ...and please understand me I’m not trying to get away from it… when I was a young guy, they put homosexuals in jail! You had 18 – 20 months for it. I’m not saying that was right. Our society was wrong from that point of view. But you could leave your house open; you hung the key in there. Remember we talk about having gun registration. My God! You left them all hanging above the door as you walked in the house and you’ll remember that, you’ll remember that as kids. You couldn’t do that now the house wouldn’t be there it would be moved off the foundation and gone. We have no respect for… we have no respect for things. As my wife says, for things. We’ve lost the respect for things. Why have we lost the respect for things? Because it’s not so tough to get. We don’t have to have initiative. You want a gas stove, you want me to make you a cup of coffee I make one in two minutes. I throw the gas stove on and it makes it right away. Well, in the old days we didn’t have that. As a matter of fact, if you were a farm kid the only time you got corn flakes was in the fall when they came with the thrashing gang. And you’ll remember as a kid the only time you go really special treats is when somebody came to visit you. You didn’t have good food, you didn’t have good meals, you had to get what Grandma gave you or Mom gave you to eat. Well, can you imagine feeding the kind of food that you ate as a kid to your grandson now? He’d throw you out the door. So you sit there and we say to ourselves, where are we going in society? Well, we’re a society that’s become consumer-driven. We no longer need a family. The family unit as I predict, probably by the year 2050 will have absolutely disintegrated; there will be none. If I look at the down side of what took place in life I’d say, it was a great thing for women, and I don’t want you to think that. And that was the birth control pill. But the birth control pill created its own set of problems. It created its own set of problems. It may have made women… it broke women out, which they needed to be.. they were treated unfairly and still to his day get treated many ways unfairly. But at the same time, it changed the whole concept in terms of how we live.
There’ve been a lot of things happen over the course of my life that I have watched and looked and said… and a good many of them that were not good. A good many things have happened that were not good. And where do we go? Well we’re going to get more of the same. The people that may pull this file out in the year 2050 and pick it up to read it will say to themselves, “My God, that old fossil! But you ought to see my kids now. “Now what do they want? What are they gonna want? A helicopter that takes them down to work?.. to school? What will you accept as being the norm in 2050, if over the past 50 years, Jeanne, you look back and see what you have come to accept as being the norm today? What do you see happening in the next 50 years? And that really is the key if you want to be a futurists and look ahead and say where we’re going. I think… I think we’ll be in for some very real surprises. You often talk about what it would be like to live back a hundred years ago. Well I wouldn’t want to live there because I was a farm kid who lived with a two-holer and it was 40 below and you had to go sit in it. “We’ve come a long way baby!” as they say.