This is dedicated to my special friend Margarete who had resolved during a flight to Germany to read this my tale of rural childhood...and later suggested that when a new player stepped on stage, a little more context might aid comprehension. So for her and for you, here is a brief timeline of life events and significant players.*
1933-1951: On the Farm. Born to Edgar Stych and Mary Morton in the province of Ontario, Canada. Two older siblings Jean and Austin. Attend local grade school, bussed to Orangeville High School.
1951-1952: Transition. Two summer employments with sister Jean and brother-in-law Victor Scull on a Jordan, Ontario fruit farm. Orchard work and truck driver. Winter job as secretary/typist in Niagara Falls with Ontario Hydro Construction, Sir Adam Beck Generating Station Number Two. Meet farmerette Marlene Strehlow of Geraldton, Ontario.
1952-1956: Training. Chemical Engineering, University of Toronto. Engaged to Marlene Strehlow, nurse trainee (psychiatric) at Ontario Hospital, Whitby, Ontario.
1956-1963: Waiting for Godot. Work as engineer with agricultural chemical firm in Niagara area. Wed Marlene Strehlow in 1956. Son Douglas born in 1957, son Graham in 1961. Reside in rental accommodation in St. Catharines and later Niagara Falls.
1963-1968: Mad Man. Accept sales job on Madison Avenue in NYC with engineered equipment supplier headquartered in Utah. Relocate family to Pearl River, New York and later to Westfield, New Jersey where we purchase our first home. Mother dies in 1964. Daughter Jill born in 1967.
1968-1970: Transition. Promoted to mid-west sales manager located in Chicago suburb. Purchase home in Crystal Lake, Illinois and relocate family.
1970-1975: Launch. Land first executive position as president of Envirotech's new municipal marketing division. Move family to California and purchase home in Los Altos. Son Douglas graduates high school.
1975-1977: Turbulence. Appointed President of Envirotech's Canadian subsidiary headquartered in a Toronto suburb. Family relocates to Ontario...oldest son Douglas remains in California. Separation and divorce from Marlene Strehlow in 1976. Wed USAF nurse Ursula Cebelinski of Szczecin, Poland in October 1977 who then begins her undergraduate psychology studies at York University, Toronto.
1978-1982: Growth. In 1978, management extended to include Envirotech companies in Alabama, California, and Pennsylvania. Son Andrew born same year. Purchase home in Brampton, Ontario in 1981. Ursula graduates York University and begins Masters studies at U of T.
1982-1994: Consolidation. Baker Hughes purchases Envirotech in 1982 so responsibility downsized to president of Canadian company...resign at age 60 in 1994. Ursula graduates with Doctorate degree from the University of Toronto and contracts with Corrections Services Canada. She and I form Stych International Inc. Son Douglas enlists in US Marines. Daughter Jill graduates high school and begins York U. Birth of my fine art avocation.
1994-Present: Evolution. Father dies in 1994. Purchase country property and relocate to Jordan, Ontario in 1996. Purchase townhouse and relocate to Virgil, Ontario in 2006. Son Andrew graduates high school, later Dalhousie University. Sister Jean dies in 2009. Ursula dies in 2010. Brother Austin dies in 2012. Move to condo apartment in Niagara Falls in 2014. Death of my fine art avocation. Purchase wine cooler.
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My adult children's questions regarding my relatively spartan rural childhood prompted this project and throughout I have attempted to accurately describe rural tasks and their context. But context dictates the mention of the imprint of family and friends and you may rightly question why there's so little negativity. The simple answer is that I was blessed with kindly kin...but we also suffered through all the usual family conflicts and yearnings. It was never nirvana.
It was my intent, though, to be as kind as possible. This world is too prompt to judge and loathe to forgive so why be complicit? As to verity, my non-fiction-writing professor stressed one principle: don't make things up. So I tried to accurately paint circumstance and correctly depict players but ego and age color memory...mine is no exception. So please forgive flawed recall.
In conclusion, I quote you Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex): "Everyone struggles against despair, but it always wins in the end. It has to. It's the thing that let's us say goodbye." So until then, just know it's been a rich ride, with much contrition for thoughtlessness but with few regrets.
And to those of you who nurtured my passion for narrative, be it ballad or book or theater, my sincere gratitude.
Stan Stych 2019