Bad Ranger

Harry Drabik

 In the world-of-life (sorry for that, but you’ll see why) we often, through no volition of our own, find ourselves on one side or other. To keep this simple, consider this. Some (God love us) are cheerleaders while others are not. If not constitutionally a Rah-rah you learn to put up with them much as tolerating flies, skeeters and ticks in the outdoor world-of-life. Make sense now, a little, I hope, maybe?  

Trust me, I didn’t know at the time why or even which side of the divide suited me, but after landing one side over other often enough a body gets the message. Yup, that’s me. On average you live with and accept whatever it is. For me, coming from Chicago’s S Side, I had no idea.

You’d suspect a S Side boy would have some street (which were much safer then) savvy, but not if subject lad attended a parochial school devoted to the notion you’d better fly right or end in Hades. My parents agreed with that configuration, doing so, I opine, because some of my early habits spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e.  

The Felician (Nuns) wardens of my grammar school stalag were a bunch of highly focused women who had my sincere sympathy for being heavily bundled despite the weather. I noted days their mustaches dripped sweat, and noted, too, it was wise never to cross them. In terms of expectations I did what was expected, like those saintly gals suffering the heat in corduroys, shirt and tie as an “offering.” Except I didn’t feel saintly and couldn’t wait to shed scholastic uniform for less, as much less as possible in times when no (absolutely none) house was air conditioned. When it was hot we sweated as our lot in the world-of-life.  

Back when the cleaver was dividing one side (path) from another you’d not likely guess a goggled boy wearing shirt, knotted tie and polished shoes as he toted a leather book bag his first day of Grade Seven was Range material. I didn’t know it either and certainly didn’t look or act it. But wrong we all were because what’s in a body is there, not to be denied regardless of appearances. Despite looking like a refuge from parochial prison I had a Ranger’s roughshod mind. I was one of them, a rude and uncomfortable surprise to all of us.  

The difference between functional diversity and its pretend forms can be measured in un-comfortability. Awkward, even pained, a true bond will exhibit despite appearances. My grim First Grade Nun wasn’t all Jesus and soul saving. Seeing me squint she told my parental guards; “Get him to an eye doctor.” Stern looks and no nonsense didn’t keep her from being on my side in the bigger world-of-life picture. Did I want to standout as Harry Four Eyes”? No. Hated it. But did I need glasses? Yes.  

That was a world-of-life lesson amplified by dad saying “Lose those glasses and you won’t sit for a week.” On my very own I decided to take very good care of my glasses, another world-of-life lesson.   Coming back to the Range topic, I’ll wager a lot of you think working-class and dumb fits the Ranger stereotype. Does that mean dirty-hands and no nonsense? If so, I like it because the Ranger mentality doesn’t waste much effort on frittering. “Yeah, yeah, get to it. What’s your point?” Rangers know there’s a hell-uv-a-lot more to mining than a hole in the ground.  

Representing multiple ethnicities they may be functionally (operationally) diverse, not pretend. Maybe they didn’t (many have told me they regret it) listen as carefully to elder tales, but they are personally aware of being Finn, Serb, Italian or whatever.  

Ethnicity however, (along with religion) has been largely scrubbed from the modern citizen. St. Patrick’s Day remains Irish, but the Italians have pretty much lost Columbus, haven’t they? Why is that? Possibly due to working-class folk being too busy to appreciate what’s been and being eroded.  

Take the Ukraine. We know what we’re told, meaning a version, I’d go so far as say fabrication. Most will rightly balk at that. Good. So, tell me, who were or are Ruthenian’s? Less than a century past that name and people were known in the Ukraine. What happened? Why don’t we say Ruthenia instead of Ukraine? Simple answer, politics and religion.  

Soviet socialism wanted standardized workers with less ethnicity. Orthodox churches didn’t favor Ruthenian Catholicism. Simple. Today we can hardly say if a Ruthenian or Ukrainian was deported to remove pesky ethnicities and promote the standard worker. Replacement theory is replacement practice as done by Soviet and National Socialists alike, but only in the past hundred years or so. How many were moved (deported) and how many imported? Tens to hundreds of thousands, whole villages wiped out; populations dispersed in small numbers to eradicate them. Don’t I wish it wasn’t so, but it was, as was the Ottoman genocide of Armenian, Syrian and Greek populations: replacement practice, not theory.  

Sad to say, but clear as a Ranger day when you look at it, an ideal People’s Dictatorship means a dictator. Whether modernistic demagogue or angry old fart, from Stalin to any number of current examples, dictators are known by acts of power. In practice a people-loving commissar is little different from a prince of church or state. Range sense knows it’s what they do not what they say you better watch out for.  

Funny how some things get baked in. Inquisition brings one image, doesn’t it? Society has agreed, I guess, to not recognize the National Socialist inquisition of Jews. And gosh darn if there wasn’t a Soviet Socialist inquisition of Ukrainian Kulaks. Gulags and concentration camps were filled with victims of political inquisition. Gypsies weren’t good worker models, nor was anyone else too ethnic or out of step.   If you’re an artist it will be of a certain style, similar to uniformity of architecture.

Some systems provide complete freedom to conform. I believe grim Nuns and practical-minded Rangers agree on standing your ground. I guess that might make me a bad Ranger.