Who can not like Dave Silverbrand?
He’s personable, witty and down to earth. Compare him with others the Times Standard publishes and he’s head and shoulders obove them all. Ever wonder I why? I did. — Do.
For one thing, he’s not always overtly trying to tell everyone how to think or what to believe in. Life is an experience and Dave Silverbrand is an “experience.” He talkes about things we all think about, even if we don’t want to and he seems to make it all right.
Personally, I am an old logger. I never left my driveway without one last kiss and as I went down the street before going out of sight giving one last wave good-bye. My job was dangerous and I never knew from one day to the next that I might not drive back down the street to my home and those that meant more to me than life. While we never talked about it, we all knew it was a sacrifice “I” believed necessary. I loved what I did and made good money. On retrospect, as I look back on these few times I barely survived and grant God’s protection — for I must have been crazy to put myself in that position. That is why I spend every day trying to make it up — make my time as valuable as life itself to the one’s I love.
When I read Dave’s “Home for the holidays” in the Thursday, December 24, 2009, Times-Standard I was reminded how timely he is in what he says about something so irrelevant and obscure as how people live in a barrio in the Dominican Republic. Timely? Yes, just take a good look at what’s happened in America since Barack Obama became President. The looting of American and the working class in unprecidented in all times. Our futer is the reality of the Gomez family — make no mistake.
Until you’ve walked the length of a favela or it’s equivelant as Dave did, you have no idea what the so-called religious, culteral and “red-neck” ELITE will do to their fellow man. Absolutely nothing is sacred to them. They’ll shoot you dead in front of your family, rape your wife and daughters and cut all your children’s throats in a heart beat all, in the name of “freedom.”
I remembered the first time I came home for the holidays after years of being away — living in the same conditions Dave wrote about. A lifetime ago I had traveled to a South American country to live and to teach. The first thing my contemporaries did was introduce me to the “real” people. I spent a week living with a family in their favela home. One of those nights there was a rains storm and I remember waking up to the rain pouring down on me right through the tile roof. No one got any sleep that night. That was the beginning of my respect for those people – the mulatto. That was the begininning of a people that took me in and accepted me as their equal.
I didn’t appreciate that gift until much later. I was reminded of my efforts to secure a permanent visa. From where I lived to the government offices required an hours bus ride. We’re not talking about a bus where everyone sat and enjoyed the ride. We’re talking about a bus that was a sardine can, so cramned full of people there was no room to actually breath in tropical temperatures. I did everything I was legally supposed to do until I reached the desk of the one administrator that was to sign and issue me my permanent visa. I was only in country a month or so and spoke nothing of the native language and this government official spoke absolutely no english. He would write down what he wanted me to do and promptly dismiss me. When I got his instructions translated I was directed to do something extreme, but for very little value. It took me nearly six months to complete everything he wanted, but to no avail. I could not get his signature.
Finally, in desparation I went to a man I knew that was an attorney. Only I didn’t know he was an attorney. By this time I was beginning to speak the native language. He looked at what I showed him and laughed. He then asked me if I had a certain monetary note, the equivilent of about $20.00. He then told me to include that note in the paperwork and submit it to the officer on my next appointment. To my amazement, the government official in perfect English said: “Welcome to “***” Mr. “***.” You will do well here.” He then handed me my signed and stamped Permanent Visa. Inside that Permanent Visa, I found later, was the monetary note I had given him.
He could have given me my Permanent Visa at any time. Instead he first wanted to see if I would learn and appreciate his customs and try to fit in. He wanted to see if giving me the right to live permanently in his country was justified. In due course I left that country and found a mate in my country that justified my existence. I thought to return many times, but could never deny my own heritage.
For that gift, I thank those at the Times-Standard for offering “Dave’s People.” In that, I thank Dave for helping me remember the gift given me a lifetime ago.