As a 1970s Trudeau Liberal in Montreal, and now a voting Republican in the States, I enjoy sharing my point of view. I’m not concerned how these views are received from any side of the aisle, or any school of ideology for that matter.
I was astonished with the results of the 2016 election. Actually, scratch that. I was astonished that the GregsList I wrote in July 2015 (Donald Trump would be elected President) was coming to be. I watched it unfold on Election Night, my jaw dropping early and often. To me, It was akin to a moon landing — it was that surreal. My Democrat buddies freaked of course, and did not accept the election results, to this day.
History will record the fallout from the election of Donald Trump as an unprecedented game changer, and not the way many of today’s experts would surely predict. In my life, including the turbulent 1960s Quebec, the LA Riots and Rodney King race wars, and other societal tragedies, never have I seen such a chasm of division, and rabid uncontrolled rage, as I have watched unfold since the election. The anger coming from the left, and yes, the mainstream media, is something I have never witnessed. I’ll leave it at that for now.
As most of my readers know, I’ve been following Donald Trump’s career since the early 80s. I was not a Trump fan by any means, I didn’t like his confrontational style and braggadocio, but I was fascinated by his quantifiable career success, his outlandish controversies, and his daily approach to American business.
Thanks to our founding fathers, and those who have protected our freedoms through the years, virtually anyone is permitted to criticize the president. And, thanks to social media, critics have a public platform. Whether you have multiple college degrees, or live in your mother’s basement, you can speak freely, and criticize endlessly.
What’s amazing is you don’t even need skin-in-the-game to be a critic. I have noticed a huge number of critics of the president don’t vote, aren’t allowed to vote, or don’t live in the US. They just talk. They are just critics.
For you true Trump Haters who virtue signal your superiority to him, or personal disdain for him, I put together a quick GregsList of why…you ain’t no Donald Trump.
1. He works twenty hours a day If you work less than 20 hours a day, or don’t work at all, you ain’t no Donald Trump.
2. He has donated 100% of his salary I love hearing people say he can afford it. Many politicians are independently wealthy, so why don’t they donate their salary too? If you don’t donate your entire paycheck, or a portion of your paycheck to your government…you ain’t no Donald Trump. 3. He is abstinent, as is his family If you have ever had a drink, or ever had a cigarette…you ain’t no Donald Trump. (I’m still amazed with his abstinence and discipline). 4. He is a billionaire So what if it’s 3 Bil, 5 Bil, whatever. If you’re not a billionaire…you ain’t no Donald Trump.
5. He became President of the United States And you didn’t.
6. He has the gift of Daily Reset and Compartmentalizing This is rare. No matter what has happened the day before, he wakes up, resets, and tackles the day fresh. If you don’t do this…you ain’t no Donald Trump. 7. He’s a really smart businessman If you actually debate this, you are delusional…and you ain’t no Donald Trump. 8. His brand is the most well-known in the world today If your name is not a household word…you ain’t no Donald Trump. 9. He has a genuine and affable side Ask anyone who has actually met him, like the queen.
10. He fights back and never quits In this category, believe me…you ain’t no Donald Trump! (Any other human being would have folded like a cheap suit rather than fight off the daily attacks coming from the left).
For the first time in American history, there soon will be SIX generations in the workplace. Seniors, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, Millennials, Generation Z.
And goodness, depending on life expectancy, we might even have SEVEN one day soon, with the baby Alpha Generation now arriving on the scene.
While working with Toyota, I attended a fascinating workshop entitled Managing the Generations. The course broke down each Generation’s history, behavior traits, and most importantly, how managers should direct and motivate these completely different groups.
A fun example is reward. For Baby Boomers, the best reward a manager can give is recognition — a plaque, trophy, or other forms of formal kudos.
Millennials are completely different. Effective rewards for Ms are TIME to be with their friends, and the latest “fashion” of technology or gadgets. Millennials respond much less to things like bonuses and symbolic rewards. Give Millennials the afternoon off to be with friends, or the latest iPhone with the newest technology, and they will love you as a manager.
I so look forward to further discussing this fascinating subject, especially in today’s fast moving world, and in an today’s age where workplaces are so diverse.
War heroes come in many shapes and sizes. In America’s young history, there is an ages-old tradition of honoring those who served our country, fought for our country, were wounded for our country – or sadly, gave their lives for our country.
Most U.S. citizens have not had to experience war first-hand. Whether we acknowledge it or not, most of us simply go about our daily lives during wartime. Our participation is limited to watching the evening news updates, listening to politicians decry its nobility, or newscasters decrying its folly. Otherwise, it’s business as usual for most of us.
During Viet Nam, for the first time ever, the Usher-of-Technology guided us to our seats – brand new seats of a brand new era. Front-row center, nice and comfy in our living rooms, we were able to actually witness the horror of war. Albeit through a small, sometimes flickering television screen.
The daily carnage we watched in nightly news reports in the 1960s and 70s – and the gruesome photos and film footage in full color display of a deadly truth – shed a new light on war for most of us.
War became real.
Some Americans fought with guns. Some, like Captain Ronald Reagan, fought with movie cameras. Brand icon Rosie the Riveter fought with a wrench.
Gary Sinise fights with a guitar.
A guitar, a big heart, and a packed schedule of devotion to our men and women in uniform.
Sinise, like most of us civilians, did not serve in the military. Even today, according to Gary himself, only one-in-fifty Americans serve. Although my own family has a rich and long history of military service – in the American, Canadian, and British armies, navies and air forces dating back to the 1700s – I have not worn the uniform. The closest I got was Sea Scouts when I was 14. We wore blue uniforms with sailor hats. We were cool.
NOTE: – In 1974, when I was 15, my Canadian mother in Montreal marched me and my brother down to the Canadian Embassy. Bob and I were born in the U.S. My mom wanted to guard against us ever being drafted, so she insisted on Canadian Citizenship for us – on the spot. We were entitled to immediate citizenship, being Landed Immigrants from the late 1950s. In my 20s, I was drawn to return to the states, to live the American Dream – and was much more interested in business, sports, and women (in that order) than enlisting in any military for any country! In retirement, I have committed to serve the military with pen in hand (aka keyboard) – and fundraising as a personal mission!
Of all the non-veterans out there, Gary Sinise could be easily mistaken for a military man – especially since playing the memorable role of the legless Lieutenant Dan, of Forrest Gump lore.
With a marauding commitment to give back to our beloved soldiers, Gary Sinise is a globetrotting ambassador of love and care. A lifelong musician, he formed a band in 2003 which is an official program of his Gary Sinise Foundation.
Not coincidentally, the band is called the Lt. Dan Band – and the rock group and its Leader trek tirelessly throughout the year – to stateside military bases and hospitals, and frequent overseas voyages to visit and entertain his beloved troops.
And boy, do the troops love Gary. Just peek at YouTube sometime and you’ll see.
Sinise has close ties with the USO, and makes dedicated USO appearances. In this way, Gary Sinise is a Bob Hope of today’s generation of warriors. (This comparison is only for us old folks who remember Bob Hope!).
The USO office in Seattle is a non-descript area at Sea-Tac Airport, on the second floor. It serves as a rest stop, layover haven, travel assistant, and other services of comfort for our traveling military members.
A few years ago, during a business visit, I glanced at the reception area of the USO office. There sat a lone guitar, casually leaning up against one of the couches. It sits there, with a sort of silent dignity. It quietly awaits a weary soldier who wants a normal, peaceful moment, just strumming a guitar.
The guitar belongs to Gary Sinise. He left it at the Seattle USO years ago – for the troops. The Executive Director of this USO branch is Commander Donald Leingang, a retired Navy helicopter pilot, and nice guy. After visiting with the commander years ago, it occurred to me that if I ever directed a movie, I would have Don play himself. That kind of guy.
When asked last week about the guitar by telephone, he said “It’s just there for anyone to use. Gary wanted it that way.”
Without being asked, Don Leingang confirms it’s still there. “I’m looking right at it.” he declared. Having met and spoken with Leingang a number of times over the years, his tone of voice seemed a little more serious than usual. A little more, well, formal.
I wasn’t sure if he was looking at the guitar, or guarding it.
The guitar sits quietly, to this day. It doesn’t expect to be asked for autographs. Doesn’t even make a sound, really. It just patiently waits to serve a traveling soldier. It knows that even a little strumming comfort can go a long way in a weary warrior’s journey to yet another next destination – home, deployment, rehabilitation for emotional or physical injury, or other ports of call.
That guitar is Gary Sinise. I can just see him sitting there. Maybe reading a military magazine, or maybe Rolling Stone mag. Or just watching the soldiers come and go. The epitome of humility, the man on the couch seeks not fame, or even attention.
Sinise just sits (a bit like Andy Dufresne of Shawshank Redemption) with that little Gary smile of his. It verges on a smirk – but Sinise has always been charming enough to get away with it. He’s one of those guys, like we’ve all known, who’s tough to dislike.
But there he sits, ready and eager to comfort a traveling soldier; to help a wounded soldier; to honor a soldier who has paid the ultimate price for our country – or to recognize our angel First Responders who have saved countless American lives over the years.
I am looking forward to writing more about Sinise. He is far more enriched a character, and accomplished a man, than a mere 1400 words or so can portray. In the near future, I will be writing a full profile, and presenting him with my symbolic Maslow Award.
The more I learn about this actor I’ve only known on a big (and little) screen – the more I feel compelled to recognize his amazing career, his endless awards and accomplishments, and especially his role-model humility and class.
In the meantime, I personally wish to thank not only Gary Sinise, but also Commander Leingang, and all the other wonderful folks who devote so much time and energy to such a priceless cause – and to such a worthy group; our men and women in uniform.
I urge readers to visit Gary’s websites, GarySinise.com, and his wonderful Foundation, GarySiniseFoudation.org.
I encourage everyone to contribute in any way possible – your time, your money, or just a loving heart – to Gary’s foundation, to the USO, and to other organizations who fill key voids in the often fragile world of a soldier.
Thank you, Gary. Thank you for your tireless efforts, your endless commitment to our troops, and your boundless energy delivering the message. The message of love from deep in the hearts of the American People.
Attention all military personnel, and Gary Sinise: You are truly loved and appreciated.
February 16, 2018
Exclusive to Secrets from the Inside _____________________________________________________
Greg Meakin is a retired businessman, author and publisher who grew up in Montreal, and has lived in the Seattle area since 1983. Smartest and funniest guy you’ll ever meet, and is versed in seemingly all subject matters.
He now lives in Castle Rock, WA – a happy Empty Nester, with his wife Deborah, their two dogs, and four cats.
I’ve been best friends with Greg for more than 50 years. He’s an amazing writer– the best I’ve ever known. See his full Bio and Published Works at GregMeakin.com, or check out his new Online eMagazine, SecretsFromTheInside.com.
Auctions can be so cool. There are many these days; eBay, fundraisers. Seems there’s an auction for every appetite. With the internet, one can find an online auction at the click of a mouse. The ones I like are the old fashioned ones; an auctioneer, bidders jockeying; the drama.
I attended one of these live auctions on December 15th 2006. I registered as a bidder, which made me a little nervous. The Sheriff’s Deputy signed me in, verified my funds and gave me a bidder’s card displaying a big number ONE. After a time, the sale started. The Deputy made a few announcements and asked if there was an opening bid. I held up my bidder’s card, pointing it at the Deputy and then the attorney. Just to clarify, I said, “I think this means I’m number one.”
All eyes were on me as I scanned the balance of my checkbook. After deducting the check I wrote earlier for the family Christmas tree, I had my number:
“I bid $463.40”.
Although there was an odd pause at that point, the auctioneer Deputy acknowledged my bid with direct eye contact and a slight smile. He appeared to take a deep breath, and asked if there were any other bids. The well-dressed lawyer took a step forward. Although he didn’t have a numbered card, it appeared he was a serious bidder. In a formal and deliberate manner, he announced his client’s bid of 6.9 million dollars. After recognizing the latest bid, the auctioneer looked back to me asking if there were any other bids. I reviewed my checkbook one more time, but realized I didn’t have 6.9 million dollars as an available balance. Disappointed, I shook my head.
And that was that.
I took a moment to thank the auctioneer, and to congratulate the attorney on his victory. I said goodbye to the two other observers in the empty building. As I headed towards the ice arena exit, I reflected on the events of the past decade that led to this day. A warm peace surrounded me knowing I had kept a promise, but I will talk about that later. Only the day before, a tidy report in the local newspaper announced the ice arena I built and opened to skaters and hockey players a few years earlier was being sold at public auction. In a neat 268 words – about the length of a standard Letter to the Editor – the reporter appeared to provide a summary of the rise and fall of a local developer, a pretty common occurrence in today’s business world.
Even with the story buried in the bowels of the paper, I assumed this would be a big event. How could it not be of interest to the locals? After all, my ice arena was one of the largest public-private projects in the region’s history. It was the first commercial building erected in Bremerton in over thirty years. It was the first domino in what became a sweeping revitalization makeover for the city. And heck, the place had been enjoyed by literally thousands of residents since it opened. So many happy kids I couldn’t possibly count. For these reasons alone, I thought the auction would attract major attention – or at least some curiosity – from the community. But there was an even larger reason for it being a big deal, which is best explained by a conversation I had with a journalist from the very same newspaper three years earlier.
In the early going of the ice arena development, all the way through my departure in the summer of 2004, the newspaper was a barrage of well, news. The printed word was flying with in-depth reports, letters, opinions, and healthy doses of everyone’s two cents. When I asked Eric Williams, beat reporter for the Kitsap Sun, why all the coverage, he carefully explained it was necessary to cover the arena because it was a public interest issue. Even though the building and business were privately owned (by me and my wife) the rink was located on public land, and the city had contributed taxpayer funds towards construction. This core reason caused the story to be in the interest of the taxpayers and constituents.
Made sense to me, yet I did protest to the reporter that the stories often carried key omissions and edits which I believed were hurting my business, which, in the end, means lost revenue to pay the bills. At the time, I believed the secret to success in this and any business was income. I was convinced that the most challenging part of business – especially a brand new enterprise – was the revenue factor. I was taught that if the revenue is there, any accounting type can oversee and control costs. A business consultant I highly respect once told me that an entrepreneur can find a “bean-counter” out of the Yellow Pages who can reel in and manage costs in a snap. The type of business doesn’t even matter; accounting is accounting. The rare bird is the passionate revenue creator – the one who can produce a powerful and consistent income stream from scratch.
Sure enough, my Yellow Pages contained hundreds of Accountants and Bookkeepers, but not one Passionate Revenue Creator.
Leaving the rink and strolling through the parking lot, I looked back. There stood the familiar and friendly Bremerton Ice Arena façade, and there also stood the deepest regret and sorrow of my forty-eight years. For the multi-thousandth time over the past three years, the newsreel headline played over and over in my head: Had I not risked it all to build this rink, I wouldn’t have lost it all for Deb and the boys.
A broken man is indeed a haunted soul.
The three-hour drive to my new home seemed like a forgotten minute by the time I walked in the front door. As was typical, one of my 17 year-old twin boys ignored me as he played a video game. I interrupted him during the zinging and zapping chaos and once again pulled out my checkbook. The teenager finally looked up and I saw him when he was 10, playing with his twin brother in my back yard in August of 2000. The epiphany that hit me back then
– Could one regular guy build an ice arena for the kids? – caused me to promise my boys that I’d
do it, somehow. I’d build an ice arena in Kitsap County. Not just talk about it; do it. After I lost the rink to foreclosure a few years later, I promised them I’d do everything I could to get it back.
I proudly held up my checkbook, and showed him the available balance. I announced I finally fulfilled my promise to him. I tried to buy back our arena with everything I had. I gave it everything I had – to the penny.
He chuckled at the amount, but there was a glance of seriousness in him as he looked me in the eye. He seemed to be reflecting on the past few years in our family’s life, before quietly resuming his game.
In 2003 I wrote a sports column about Jean Béliveau, entitled Humbled by a Hockey Hero. I was doing so because, to my surprise, few in my local area had ever heard of him. To me, having been raised in Canada, it was comparable to nobody knowing the name Elvis Presley or Arnold Palmer.
I heard Mr. Béliveau was recently hospitalized after suffering a stroke. My understanding is he is in stable condition and hopefully on his way to recovery. Times like these cause me to reflect, and in the case of this irreplaceable icon to hockey, sports and mankind, the reflection is more like reverie than simple memories.
And today’s technology allows more Jean Béliveau admirers to be heard than ever possible in his era. The only Forum in the old days of Montreal had ice. Browse an internet forum today and you will be amazed at the outpouring of well-wishes. In an age where even the nicest people can be castigated, critiqued or worse, I have yet to read a negative word about this great man.
Even Toronto Maple Leaf fans have only nice things to say about Béliveau, and that my friends, is saying a lot!
As ever, I wish to celebrate Jean Béliveau and his life while he is thankfully still with us.
And then again, there will never be a day in this Montreal kid’s life where he is not.
Godspeed, Jean Béliveau. À la prochaine…
Vancouver, Washington, USA
Good morning everyone! My name is Greg Meakin. I am Nancy Meakin’s youngest, if you can believe that. I got a haircut yesterday because I knew my mother would be annoyed at me if I looked scruffy today. I flew in from the Seattle area the minute I heard of my mom’s passing last Saturday. Together with my older brother Bob, his wonderful wife Carol, and my awesome niece Cassidy, we have spent the past week preparing for today, and preparing for life without my mother.
Before I begin, I want to extend my deepest thanks to all here today, and elsewhere, who have reached out to my brother and me this week. The outpouring of condolences and warm wishes from so many people has been astonishing. The Montreal Gazette Guest Book was full of tributes from my mother’s past students, and past friends. To say my mother touched many lives is the biggest understatement of the century.
To Reverend Steve and the entire group here at Strathmore, my brother and I are deeply thankful for you opening your doors, and opening your hearts to us this week. Thank you very, very much.
I am very sad that my wife and family out west cannot be here today. Here in spirit today are my wife Deborah, my twin boys Carson and Colton who are now 24, my eldest son Tanner and his wife Catherine, and of course my beautiful grandson Adrian Meakin who is now 2 years old. He’s not terrible yet, but like all boys, he’s working on it!!! .
All of the West Coast Meakins reach out to everyone here today, and offer their love and prayers for my mother. We have a dual citizen, multi-cultural type of family, and my American boys fondly called my mother, Nana in Canada.
Also, I have to take a moment to relay a message to everyone here from a friend of mine in Montreal who I spoke with on the phone. This gentleman wanted me to relay the following message to you:
“I have not been in the public for more than a year, due to my health. I cannot be there, but I express my condolences to your family. Please say hello to everyone at the church tomorrow.”
This message is from Jean Beliveau, retired Montreal Canadien. My mother was a crazy Habs fan since the 1950s, and she would LOVE to hear that Mr. Beliveau paid his respects to her today.
I have been wondering all week what my mother would think of all this. All this fuss about her. I think she would think it is silly — especially the cost!!! I believe she would say, “Just throw a little party. Maybe a Pot Luck. I’ll make some squares”.
I struggled this week with what I would say here today. A Eulogy is an important thing, but at the same time, my mother would only want me to share stories, and maybe have a laugh or two along the way. At times, I felt like this message today was a homework assignment from my mother! I could hear her voice all week, believe me.
So, what I did was put together a one page biography of my mom, copies of which are on the table in the back. There you will also see the beautiful photo collage put together by Cassidy Meakin. Feel free to take a copy of the biography home. It gives you a brief yet descriptive chronology of my mom’s life.
And for now, I would like to take a few minutes to share a few stories I know my mother would want you to hear today.
Unlike most young people, my mother knew hardship, especially financial hardship. Like many here today, Nancy was born in the Great Depression, a few years after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. The Depression was a difficult time, and my mother told me often about the hardship. One Christmas, her mother asked her what she’d like for a present. My mother, only 4 years old at the time, said, “BONCA DO I GUESS”.
BONCA, to my 4 year old mother, was BANANA. So, my mother was telling my grandmother that for her Christmas present this year, a banana would do just fine. A banana. Can you imagine young people today being that humble, or considering a Christmas present of less than $300?! My mother would tell me that story often, because she had no problem letting young people know how spoiled they were.
My mother was the hardest worker I ever knew. She was a single mom before it was cool. She was a Hockey-Mom, a full-time teacher, a student at night getting her Degree, and a great cook and homemaker. she would clean house whenever she could find time in her crazy schedule. I remember vividly, at about 20 years old (maybe after I had a few cocktails the night before) being woken up by a loud vacuuming in my bedroom. Right at my head. It was probably 5:30 or 6 in the morning, and mom was doing her housework because that’s was the only time she had time
She taught my brother and me the work ethic, that’s for sure. She taught by example, not by words. She taught morals, and ethics, and manners. She insisted on pleases and thank-yous, on opening doors, on keeping elbows off the table, and all that Greatest Generation etiquette. Cards and letters and gifts and baking and anything that would make anyone feel good, came pouring out from my mother her entire life. And unfortunately, there seems to be less and less manners like that in the world today.
There is always someone in the neighborhood who is everyone’s mom. That was my mother. Mrs. Meakin was a second mom to my best friend Derek Gatehouse, who is here today. Derek and I have been best friends since we were 5, almost 50 years mow, oh my God. Derek would come to our back door, walk in, go to the fridge and get something to drink. He’d help himself to Hello Dollies, a treat my mother would keep on the kitchen table for guests. Then he would walk over to my mother’s To-Do List on the fridge door, and write, PRESENT FOR DEREK. He would do that EVERY time he came by, for years. My mother LOVED Derek as a son, and would giggle and pretend to be annoyed at him for his manners.
Despite being 3,000 miles away, my mother was the most awesome grandmother to my kids when they were growing up. My boys knew Nana in Canada like she lived next door. She flew out to visit us a few times, and always brought tidings of joy, and Canadian money, and fun things with her. I remember when my twin boys were little, my mother reading a bedtime story book, Brown Bear Brown Bear, and my kids just adoring her.
Imagine having the Nancy Meakin as your grandmother?!
One visit, my mother opened her big red suitcase in the middle of the living room, and began doling out gifts, as she always did after a trip. A bit later, one of my twins, Colton, who was not even two, walked over to my mother’s suitcase, opened it, and looked in. He was looking to see if there was more of that great stuff that came out of that suitcase!
Nancy Meakin would do anything for her boys. Bob and I had the best Christmases, fun summers at the cottage in Plattsburg, anything that would make our lives better — more fun — more memorable. Mom bought us 10-speed bicycles. I can’t remember how many times she had to cart me to Lachine General Hospital for stitches, or X-rays, or sports injuries.
She taught me the power of Faith. She would later share how tough it was raising two boys alone on a teacher’s salary, and she endured stress she would never share with us, of course. So often, when she was in a bind, or might not have made her rent, she always told me SOMETHING miraculous would happen. A money surprise would come from nowhere, or something would happen that fixed her situation. She was a very faithful and spiritual women that way, and I’m thankful to have inherited this from her.
I won’t take any time on her incredible teaching career here. Those stories have been circulating, and will continue. What I will say to everyone who she ever taught, or ever worked with on staff, that my mother remembered everyone, and kept everything. She loved her students — often multi-siblings and even multi-generations over the years. And she loved the camaraderie of her coworkers. Sorting through her vast amount of keepsakes this past week, I was amazed that she kept every class photo, every staff photo, every newspaper article, even assignments from students through the decades.
Although funerals can be somber affairs, my mother would say “That’s the way life goes. Don’t be sad — be joyful for a fait accompli“. Ever pragmatic, ever “with it” as she would say, ever modern in her thinking and in her teaching, Nancy Meakin would tell us to have a great day, and off to work on Monday everyone.
I know with all my heart my mother is with us right now, and with her family. I believe she is with her father, her mother, her sister, and her departed relatives and friends. I really do.
And one thing I know for sure: She’s organizing everyone up there, and writing thank you cards to everyone here today.
As a Canadian boy growing up in northern Alberta, I was always involved with hockey. My father wanted to experience a different way of life, so we moved to Washington State.
Playing youth hockey in Canada almost every day is what kept me busy and on track. I didn’t have the greatest grades but I was responsible – no drugs or alcohol – which helped me later in life, especially with my career.
But at our new home in Bremerton, hockey came to a halt. There were no local arenas. In Canada, we had a rink on every block, as the saying goes. Not having hockey actually caused a bit of upset in my family. My dad played hockey, my two older brothers played hockey, and my sister played hockey.
Then something amazing happened.
In 2001, my father somehow got involved in helping a local builder, Greg Meakin, who was developing an ice arena. I remember Dad spending long nights and crazy days, working around his job schedule to help Greg.
Not knowing it at the time, I was only 11, we had been given a blessing when Bremerton Ice Arena opened its doors in 2003.
For a Canadian family, it was a blessing. The whole arena project, and the community involvement that came along with it, kept us all busy…and happy! It was not just being able to play hockey again, it was something bigger.
I still call Greg “the myth, the man, the legend”, and the kids all knew him as “Ice man”. With the help of volunteers like my dad, and so many others, he brought the rink dream to reality.
The arena helped a lot of kids stay active and out of trouble – and also gave the local community something brand new; hockey. I look back and realize that my involvement with the arena, including volunteering to help with youth hockey and spending all of my after school time there, had a positive effect on where I am today.
As I look back, I remember being a “Rink Rat”. A Rink Rat is a kid who virtually lives at the rink, doing everything, from helping with skates, assisting the staff, even sweeping the lobby floor! Or just hanging out with buddies.
We became part of the Meakin family in those days. Greg’s eldest son Tanner managed the Ice Cafe, which had a old-style Soda Fountain. In addition to great food, Tanner made the best milkshakes in town!
I remember one afternoon, I was running around with my new pals, Greg’s twins Carson and Colton, who were then 14. Greg stopped us, calmly but firmly saying, “Slow down gentlemen.” He treated us like adults, but kept us in line. In many ways, he was a second dad to me and the others. So many local kids spent all of their free time just hanging around the rink, causing fun trouble!
The coaches and people involved with the youth hockey league were also a positive influence, and helped us stay in the right direction. The rink later changed hands, but that first year created the core of the fun atmosphere, and feeling of community, that remains today.
In reflection, that experience taught me to be mentally strong, physically fit, and gave me self-confidence. Greg helped put a fire in my life, and inspired so many kids to follow their own dreams.
All this helped me through the ups and downs of life. Now 27, I am a grateful husband and father. I am blessed with an amazing wife, and two beautiful children, a son and daughter.
I have had so much fun pursuing my life goals, the first being starting a family. Although some of my family still lives in Bremerton, I relocated back to Grand Prairie, Canada, to pursue a career as a firefighter. I do frequent 12-hour on-call shifts with a great Fire Department here. I also started a coffee company.
The beauty of firefighting is not only that its cool – you get to drive baddass fire trucks, climb buildings, and respond to calls where you help people. Just like the rink days, there is a sense of community, being part of something bigger than yourself, and the satisfaction of truly helping people.
Firefighting is a hard job, but to me, it’s the most amazing job in the world.
I encourage young people to consider firefighting, or other community-service and public safety jobs. Like any career, there are no promises of success, but it is totally worth the effort and experience to try.
It feels good every time I step into those boots. I can’t get enough of it.
Even if my coffee company becomes big some day and it’s a full time career, I will still serve as a volunteer firefighter.
With True Heroes Coffee Company (TrueHeroesCoffee.com), my mission is to give a portion of all proceeds to First Responders and military causes, with focus on treating PTSD. I also supply coffee products to schools and non-profits for fundraising programs.
“Building the community one sip at a time” is my company’s motto.
To anyone looking to become a firefighter, police officer, EMS, or even a business owner, my advice to young people is to not give up. No matter how difficult the challenge, don’t give up.
If it is truly in your blood, it could be the career of a lifetime.
When you work protecting the public every day, you often serve many people who are having the worst day of their lives. It is a great feeling knowing you are often the difference in making that terrible day a little better for them. Even if it is only providing comfort.
“Others worst day is my everyday” is a saying I live by now that I have served the public as a firefighter.
Just keep moving forward. Embrace failure as a leaning experience. We only get one life to live.