Friday, October 27, 2006

Group Tagged

Okay, I was part of a group tag by Dale. It's Five things you don't know about me.

1. I have a tattoo. The words on it are "Pan y Rosas Tambien." It's the Spanish translation of "Bread and Roses Too." It's the banner the workers in the successful 1912 Lawrence, Massachussets textile strike marched under. The mill owners tried to divide them by race and ethnicity, but with the help of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), or "Wobblies" they unified and won every one of their demands. I'm a big fan of their history. I got the tattoo in 1992.

I've since found out in recent years that my great-grandfather on my father's side and my grandfather on my mother's side were Wobblies. Very cool.

My students discovered that I have a tattoo. I think it bumped me up a notch on the "cool teacher" scale.

2. I have been arrested Me and a co-worker were rooming together for a couple of months while I looked for a new apartment. We decided to share an el pass. We got caught. We had to call our boss (this was bad--we were clerks in a law office) to come bail us out.

Our big boss came to court with us a few weeks later; charges were dropped. That was the end of my criminal career, but my days as an outlaw live on.

3. My great-grandfather spent the majority of his life on the lam, living under a pseudonym. My great-grandfather, the Wobblie, came here in the early 1900's, through Ellis Island, probably just a year or two after the Wobs formed (they started here in Chicago). He was a baker, and apparently, if a bakery would not allow his union in, he would drive through the front door on a motorcycle, drop a molotov cocktail on the floor and drive out. The New York authorities took a dim view of this, and indicted him. He changed his name (we still don't know his real name for sure), went underground, and ironically ended up owning bakeries here in Chicago.

I wonder if he allowed the unions into his bakeries.

4. I like country music. This drives my wife nuts. On a recent trip to the Dells with our kids, I caught her serrepticiously-- or so she thought-- clicking past Ricky Skaggs' "Highway 40 Blues" on the ipod. Obviously, I caught her. Her punishment was having to hear it again, this time all the way through.

5. I love tabloids. I am the worst gossip in the world, and that includes celebrities. I want to know all the dirt.


Beth said...

Great Wobblies stories! You should write more about your grandfather; sounds like quite the character.

p.s. I enjoy the tabloids, too. My brother-in-law always has the Enquirer lying around, and I read it cover-to-cover when I'm there.

Johnny Yen said...

Thanks. I am actually working on a family history, starting with him. I'm stalled, though, because he was so mysterious. I tried starting with his remains, but it turned out they were not in the columbarium they were supposed to be in. In fact, no one knows where his ashes are.

My father and I both think that he may have been Jewish, but hid it because he abhorred religion of all kinds. He was quite a character.

Bubs said...

Hey Comrade! MizBubs' dad was a wob briefly in the 60's (she's got a family full of reds)

Great tattoo! And good for you, for your love of country music. I used to have some friends that thought I was being ironic when I'd play Willie's Red Headed Stranger record and get all sentimental.

lulu said...

Funny, I just had the annual sighting of my tattoo this week. I have a viking ship on my lower back, and inevitably I kirfet about it and bend over to pick up a pen or something and my tattoo peeks out. For some reason the kids are always horrifed. "You have a tattoo? there?!"

I guess we are not supposed to be cool. I want to tell them that one of their history teachers has the word "Beer" tattooed inside his lower lip, but he would be pissed off.

Yours is very cool though. I like tats with some sort of personal history behind them.

Dale said...

Really interesting answers Johnny Yen and I love the family and tattoo history.

Really Lulu? Beer on his inner lip?