Saturday, March 17, 2012

What goes around...comes back around for St. Patrick's Day

There are times when you just have a feeling you have to either make that phone call to the local radio station or in my case it was simply filling in a form and clicking submit. Why was it that at the end of last week or the beginning of this one that I had a hankering to do so? Not really sure why I entered the St. Patrick's breakfast at Hurley's Irish Pub contest on CJAD but I did. I guess it was the Irish side of me yearning to get out, or maybe it was just a chance to see Bill Hurley the owner of the fine establishment and congratulate him for being Irishman of the Year. Or maybe there was something else that was not so explicable.

A few years before Bill Hurley opened his establishment on Crescent Street in Montreal, I was often approached by fellow frequenters of The Old Dublin Pub in Montreal, asking me when I was going to be opening Hurley's. There was some strange reason that there were individuals out there that thought Bill Hurley and I were the same individual. Years later, when I finally met Bill in person through a common acquaintance I was to find out that his wife was Ukrainian. Some years later I met up with both Bill and his wife during one of my short visits home to Montreal from Kyiv. When I met her with Bill we were both to learn that we had a number of Ukrainian acquaintances in common from Lachine, though we grew up at opposing ends of the island of Montreal.

Though I have digressed, as I usually do, but such is part of telling stories. Something which apparently I have been gifted with since high school, as in my graduating year of Lachine High School, now called Lakeside Academy, a classmate and good friend Scott Pittman, whom we all amicably knew as “Moose” wrote: “Tell us another story uncle Bill!” I must confess, to some degree or less I have been doing so ever since; either formally or informally, based on my life experiences and those of the thousands of people I know and have met throughout my studies and travels.

Now let's get back to the whole contest thing. No big deal breakfast at Hurley's, it may not be a million bucks but it turns out to be a bit of a story. During the middle of this past week I receive a phone call and I'm told that I have won breakfast for myself and three friends at Hurley's during the Andrew Carter Morning Show on CJAD being broadcast live from the said venue.

Andrew and I attended CEGEP together, and are mere acquaintances, but there are other broadcast professionals on that same station that went to high school with and are a little closer: Trudy Mason and Rick Moffat. Though I figured that Trudy would not be on location, but in the newsroom back at the studio a few short blocks away, it would be nice to see Andrew and Rick.

The show starts at the crack of dawn and I went through the list of the three others who I would invite. Naturally, my Mother was first on the list. She is more Irish than I, and while still very active at the fresh young age of 82, such an event would be a nice change for her, even if it meant getting up nearly two hours earlier than she usually rises. I, for the most part, am up by five in the morning so it was not big deal, or so I thought. A text message to my brother who was out of town on business, determined that that he was not going to be able to make it because of early Friday morning coaching commitment, and then, off to meet clients, an arm's length long. Good for him, I say!

I decided to invite one of two of my last remaining uncles and his wife on my mother's side. You do remember that's the side with Celtic blood so for something along the lines of a pre-St. Patrick's Day breakfast at one of the best Irish pub's in town, would be something he would enjoy. While he accepted, my aunt denied, and I was stuck with one seat to fill.

Then I said to myself, hey why not Ed Doro!

Ed Doro as he is commonly known in the non-Ukrainian community of Montreal, or Edward Dorozhowsky, is someone I have met less than a dozen times in my life. He is old enough to be my father and he is someone who probably knows the St. Patrick's Day Parade better than anyone in Montreal's Ukrainian community. In addition Ed, is responsible for “Ukraine on Parade” and the Ukrainian community's presence in Montreal's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Though, after writing an article about Ed last year, somehow our common roots in Point St. Charles, a working class district of Montreal during the last century, and for a number of other reasons we seemed to hit it off.

On Wednesday after speaking to my uncle Henry and Ed, I promised to give them a call confirming our meeting time on Thursday.

That evening I agreed to pick my uncle up on our way into town. Go figure, my uncle with Celtic roots living on Shevchenko Boulevard the borough of Ville LaSalle. Though when I spoke to Ed, about our meeting it was kind of an odd conversation. In my mind at least!

“Bill thanks for inviting me tomorrow for breakfast it is my honour, but I really hope you can do something for me on Parade Day?” I paused and replied.

“Ed, what would that be?”

He said, it like it was but it still left some questions in my mind.

“Bill, I want you to be at the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday and I want you to sit in the same seat as James Slobodian, was sitting last year,” he emphatically stated and concluded with, “You make sure you are ready to smile, and make sure you brush your teeth you will be kissing a lot of girls on parade day!'

For the most part I was little surprised with his comments. James Slobodian was Ukrainian of the Year last year for the Ukraine on Parade float in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and for him to want me to be sitting in the lead car were James had earlier sat left me room for question.

So I asked Ed.

“What does this mean?” There was a pause and then he says to me.

“I'll tell you in the morning, Vasyl.”

Ed really had me perplexed and after a few phone calls to a number of people who may have been a key to the answer, and to which some stated, “I'm not saying, but wait for the surprise and I'm not saying anything more,” I decided to wait until morning.

So here was a man whom I had given a gift to earlier, and now it seemed to be going full circle.

To some degree maybe it was!

On Friday morning, Ed Doro was oddly enough late. During our wait for him and and a couple of coffees I had had the time to say hello to Andrew, and spent some time talking to Rick Moffat. It was actually a nice little reunion.

As always, I found it kind of odd to witness my mother's reaction to crowds and traffic. For some reason she felt that Hurley's was extremely packed. Clearly she had not experienced the venue on a Thursday or Friday evening. Having lived through traffic in Kyiv, and demonstrations which make those in Montreal look very amateurish and without any particular focus and even unjust reason for demonstration, I look at things very differently.

So when Ed Doro finally showed up at Hurley's, more than an hour later than he had promised to be there, I was itching to understand why he wanted me in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. He had a valid reason for being late, and from him I could accept it. Had it been anyone one in my peer category I would have had some very serious questions as to their excuse for being so late.

What was his reasoning for me to be sitting in the same spot of last year's Ukrainian of the Year? I didn't sleep very well the night before and it was time for me to understand why.

I asked him straight out. “Ed what gives that you want me sitting in the seat where James Slobodian, sat last year during the Parade? Are you trying to surprise me that somehow I for some unknown reason to me have been chosen Ukrainian of the Year, or you simply need to fill a seat, and I kind of fitting the both Ukrainian and Irish is someone you want there?”

“Vasyl, don't get me wrong it is an honor to have you in the parade and it is too difficult for Father Lev Chayka who is this year's Ukrainian of the Year to make the eight hour trip one way for him to be here with us, and I'm honoured that you have agreed to be sitting in that place!” While many would think that maybe my ego was a little hurt, I wasn't! It was an honest approach between one man and another, and if Ed wants me there I consider it an honour. If we had such honest approaches in the Ukrainian community at large over the last twenty years, maybe we would be a lot further forward? Simply the opinion of a story teller! But think about it?

So here we have it. Last year I wrote about Ed Doro who is one man who do really does an incredible job of public relations for more for the Ukrainian community in Montreal; in one of the greatest public displays known as the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which this year is in it's one hundred and eighty-eighth year. I am not turning him Ed down and on on Sunday March 18, 2012, I will be sitting where he wants me to be sitting. It is in fact for me an honour to be chosen by Ed Doro to not simple come out to the parade to watch but to be part of it. The parade starts at noon on Sunday March 18, and will be following the route below. Hope to see you there, they are promising beautiful weather for parade day tomorrow!

You can click on the map to get it full size or better yet visit the official Montreal St. Patrick's Day Parade website for more information.

Vasyl Pawlowsky Independent Consultant

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