Whenever “Labor Day” rolls around…I like to remember a complex guy who is long dead that I heard about during some household chatter…hey, little MILKSTOOLS in dark corners pay attention to what is important to them…don’t they? Yes they do, friends.
Jack Newbill was what people usually called him, but really he was a just your average “American” in his day, and a Social Justice Warrior. Some have criticized him through family tales for his strong convictions and passions…and frankly he was famously ridiculous…but he had some valid arguments? When humans fight…some furniture just wishes the fight would be OVER….some furniture tends to focus on what the FIGHT is about? Fuss and bother to some furniture, but the reason for the fight is very interesting to those with “Milkstool” values like me. 🙂
As a young man, Jack was apparently SO distressed by his father’s disrespect of him and his plans for the future, that he moved away from the bosom of his family and started his own…in Washington. As the story goes through various retellings over time, Jack didn’t like the life “Dad” had planned for him in and around Grizzly Oregon (gosh what a metaphor…). Jack’s DAD didn’t want his SON to control the plot of land that was promised after many years of patient labor…so Jack said “Goodbye, for I would prefer to live my OWN life as I see fit, regardless of your promised “help” that is not helpful to me and dishonors what I want to DO!” Period. End of conflict, end of family drama. Time for “Walking Shoes”!
For the rest of his life, Jack spoke to only ONE brother who had the capacity to SEE his struggles as a “passionate” human as a valid perspective. He was a bit of a loner to his larger family….but brilliantly fiery in his smaller circle of friends and family? Sometimes it serves no purpose to continue an argument with the larger family in favor of your own “PEACE of MIND!” 🙂 A wise man once said in my humble presence…”Do NOT get in a pissing contest with SKUNKS…never a good idea…”
Oh what a fiery MOTIVATOR Jack was! Let us celebrate him a little, shall we? Average American guy of his day: with a bit of a “Free Thinker” twist you might say? Freedom Fighter for sure, in so many ways…back to the story…
Jack started his OWN quirky family that loved him as a Father…Grandfather…Husband… (his wife was RUMORED to be technically “BLACK” in some US states, by the way…but no matter…just a rumor, and nobody has to KNOW what we don’t even CARE about as humans?…so shut up about that part in favor of what a nice LADY his dear wife was…which was simply a friendly, likeable and attractive woman…perhaps this also may have been a factor is his desire to shun his “family” in favor of one he created…just a guess, really…? Perceptions, perceptions…not important to some, but SO important to others? Anyway….)
Jack was a Union organizer in his time and place, which was the Yakima Valley in the State of Washington. He organized and cared for people whose lives were often impacted by the disrespect they experienced as “migrant/itinerant workers” during the Great Depression. I imagine it might have been sort of like a “Grapes of Wrath-y, Steinbeck-ery” sort of vibe. Some would call his leadership in that struggle “Noble”, which is what the Americanized version of the name is said to represent from the original “Neuble” man/gentleman/rebel that arrived in the early days of this United States of America.
One of the most recounted stories of “Jack the Retired Union Organizer” went something like this:
Jack was the Paymaster for the Migrant/Itinerant workers that showed up to pick fruit on a large orchard during harvest time. There was a man who stepped up and demanded he should be paid, even though the work he did was….um…NOT done…and Jack pointed this out to him. This other man started shouting, cursing, making a “SCENE” in front of solemn people who were there to work and in LINE for their PAY… threatening a 60+ year old gentleman with glasses…who was politely (at first) explaining to him that he was DRUNK, clearly didn’t do any work while he was passed out in a ditch, and didn’t deserve to be paid for work he did not DO. Apparently this drunken guy had the gall to do what he wanted, which was to try to take the money he didn’t earn from a Social Justice Warrior who was there to pay honest people for honest work…ooooo….big mistake. Let us merely state that FOR YEARS…everybody talked about what happened next. It was apparently “EPIC” and inspired everyone who saw it…the conflict of the moment was a battle, my friends! What the drunken bully did not KNOW…was that Jack Newbill was an honest-to-goodness FIGHTER! Famously so…um…a former PUGILIST of some reputation…scrappy like Jack Dempsey, and with some idea of who deserved money in that one orchard at that one time…all the people who WORKED for it? If you think you can STEAL from WORKERS…think again, Mr. Entitled to money because you are in my face? Oh no…not on JACK’s watch…Enter the PAYMASTER…”I’ve got your REALITY check RIGHT HERE, buddy?! Come and TAKE it…just TRY!?”
Sometimes it takes a little old man with glasses to FIGHT a BULLY who just wants to take things they haven’t earned. Sometimes that man’s glasses will get broken, even though they were BRAND NEW and EXPENSIVE during the Great Depression! Sometimes people don’t care about what might get broken when they have to step up and take care of the business at hand, which is important to them in some way.
People have often said that the only time Jack’s eldest son ever showed the emotion anger…or FURY…was after the story was related to him when he returned from town. Jack’s eldest son, a guy named “GUY” was the nicest person many people ever met…he valued his Dad, and his Dad’s unyielding commitment to righteousness in the face of conflict…he was able to contain his concerns privately and mind his own business with grace and good humor…until a drunken poser DARED TO (try) TO BEAT UP HIS DAD, WHO HE HAD HIRED TO BE THE PAYMASTER! Uh oh…the little “retired” gentleman in glasses had WON in front of everyone who witnessed it…but his SON could not BELIEVE the bully had already been beaten down…rather ridiculously? Guy had to be restrained from looking for the drunken “Hobo” as the man was called then…and killing him?! Mild mannered Guy had been inspired to take additional action…. Bleh…Jack had to then fight his son’s idea that the FIGHT was not over…it clearly was…look around, Guy? No more trouble, so lets just see about my glasses… he won’t try that around here again, and all these people who go from orchard to orchard will carry this tale ahead of him and his next attempt to get something he didn’t EARN like these fine migrant workers here…relax son? I can still fight for the time being, so let us focus on my broken glasses…
Maybe this is just a funny story of ridiculous people and their ridiculous passions….maybe the real story is that it IS truly inspiring when someone that a bully doesn’t KNOW personally surprises them with a good “old fashioned” beating? Maybe Jack Newbill cleaned the guy’s “TIME CLOCK” and reset his alarm for another day when he wasn’t drunk and demanded something he didn’t earn!? Maybe it was like David and Goliath to some of those people who saw it? Who KNOWS for sure what they might have been thinking, but we’ve heard what happened from other people, and it was apparently inspiring to all who witnessed it.
Maybe the “Jack Newbills” of the world can take care of themselves…just don’t anger their mild-mannered family? Once the family has to get mad…oh MAN!? It may be famously recounted at their OWN funeral as the only time that INJUSTICE was too much to bear without getting “famously” furious? Anyway, it was a nice story of how a nice man named “Guy” was never angered…except that ONE time…remember? 🙂
Jack Newbill’s ghost or whatever is welcome to sit here and rest on this little Milkstool’s back until I’m once again hidden in a closet…or only fit for firewood? Maybe Jack can still inspire the human family that cares to claim him? Maybe Jack is somewhere in the Universe singing songs…I’d like to think he is with Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, wherever they may be? I think the lot of them might sing “GET UP STAND UP….STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS?” Maybe Jack got out of the “box” in his thinking and did what he thought was RIGHT in the moment? Amazing PEOPLE can amaze us.
Love, understanding and peace my friends, for the struggle on the sacred day of LABOR is LONG! For some of us, it isn’t just a three-day weekend to relax. It is rest (well-deserved) to reflect on the struggles of the LABORERS who might need help? Or their freaking honest wage…let us protect their money like good old JACK? 🙂
I shall forever celebrate you and your humble story on Labor Day, oh Spirit of JACK NEWBILL, for I have heard tell of your inspiring greatness! We remember and recount your glorious example of humanity! As someone who would NOT back down when faced with a bully…a bully who wanted to cheat people that had EARNED something like RESPECT and just wages…. for a job well done… we celebrate your lifelong tenacity!
Harvey J. M. Milkstool