Little boys have a natural affinity for their fathers and I was no exception. I vividly remember desperately wanting to see where my dad worked and what he did there that was so top secret that I couldn’t go along with him. Finally, I came up with a brilliant plan to solve this intriguing mystery once and for all.
On a clear and hot July day, I set out for the Sherrit Gordon plant, located less than a mile east of Fort Saskatchewan. Though I had some idea of where the plant was, and how to get there, I had no concept of how hot I’d get and how long of a walk it would be.
The glaring sun beat down on my head and made the recently poured tar on the highway stick to my feet. I persevered, keeping the goal of reaching that mysterious place called “work” in my mind.
After what seemed like hours, I arrived at the main gate of the plant. A man in a toll booth sort of thing asked where I was going. “To see my dad,” I innocently said. I was told that I couldn’t and, after I begged him to let me in, he told me to wait until he called his boss about it.
I was escorted by one of the workers to his house while the booth attendant tried to find where my father worked in that large industrial complex. While I waited for my father, the man’s wife washed the hardened tar and dirt from my tired feet and gave me some orange juice to drink. Later they took me to the police station for my dad to collect.
I felt quite fascinated, and a little frightened, as I sat on a chair by the desk officer. Having never seen a real police station before, I asked him a bunch of questions about prisoners and what the jail looked like inside. Thankfully the officer resisted the temptation to lock me in there.
Dad finally arrived, gave me a well-deserved swat on my bottom, and sent me to the car as he apologized for the inconvenience which I caused. I was heartbroken. I knew I’d done something wrong and yet I couldn’t reconcile that with my desire to visit my father at work.
Once my dad got in the car and backed out of the police parking lot, I asked him, “We’re still pals aren’t we?” He chuckled and said, “Yes, we’re still pals but I didn’t like what you did.” He then explained how dangerous such an industrial work place, such as his, was and that he couldn’t get much work done if I was there. Though I couldn’t understand much of what he told me, I was reassured that he still cared for me.
That cheered me up until we arrived home. Then I had to face the wrath of my mom who was highly displeased with my running off without telling her.
I’m hoping to write a memoir of those early years of my life for my family members and anybody else interested. The years I spent in a distant school for the blind are chronicled in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. Visit the Bruce Atchison’s bookspage to read more about it.