At 21, Rudy found himself dreaming of a life beyond the confines of his sleepy town. He had a taste, a nibble really, of big city life when he attended the Olympic Boxing trials in Toronto the year before and what that small bite tasted like was more. There was a great big world out there and he wanted to see it.
He didn’t have any specific complaints about life. It was okay. There was never a shortage of work. He had good friends. He had a comfortable home with Granny. She gave him all the freedom he needed, as long as he came in at a respectable hour and went to church with her every Sunday. But after living with her for 10 years, he felt it was time to move on. It wasn’t that he was ungrateful, in fact he was very thankful that she took him in all those years ago. It was something deeper, something he just couldn’t deny, a fact of life everyone has to face at some point. Rudy had entered Granny’s home a boy, but he was now a man.
There were no words to express what he was feeling, and if there were, he didn’t have them, but it felt like Woodstock was slowly suffocating him. It was silently squeezing the life from his soul with its stagnant familiarity. The same streets, the same people, the same jobs; nothing ever changed. Nothing. It was 1951 and he could feel the world changing, spinning faster somehow, fueled by post-war optimism and if he didn’t act fast, he knew it would leave him behind.
He pondered the possibilities. Maybe he’d move to Saint John, or even Nova Scotia. He mulled his options over time and time again with his rival turned best friend, Nelson, a pudgy former bully with shocking red hair and pinkish skin.
Commiserating over Cokes one evening, Nelson straightened his chubby body, slammed his hand on the table and announced triumphantly, “brother, we’re joinin’ the Army!”
Rudy looked at his pal quizzically, wondering if maybe he had a little rum in his cola, they were sitting in a pub after all, “whadda ya mean, we’re joining the Army?”
Nelson rolled his reddened eyes, “ Army”” he slurred slightly, making the rum question clear, “boots, uniforms, guns, Army.”
Rudy sighed loudly. He had very little patience for alcohol and even less for those that drank it, “okay, Nelson, let’s join the Army,” he placated…