<!-- insert links here for people using browsers without frames capability -->
Former Daily staffers in strategic McGill sit-in
In a surprise move former McGill Daily staff occupied offices and the hall of a commercial establishment near campus for several hours. The reasons for the occupation and threats to "tell it like it was" are unclear. Some protestors threatened to remain indefinitely unless their demands were met.
See p.6 Hell No, we won't go! for editorial opinion.

In today's issue of the Dailyite:

Plumber's Pot reprieve now certain says ESU

In a related story, the Engineering Student's Union threatened to reinstate their notorious Plumber's Pot organ "if Student's Union goes ahead with its outrageous plan to bring back senile Daily hackers to reinvigorate the obsolete crypto-Trotskyite non-Daily."

Letters to the Editor

Inquiring minds want to know - post your comments here:

Former McGill Daily staff tensely await eviction by riot police. See the people page mug shots to ID any fly picketers, agents provocateurs, terrorists or drama critics. - photo by Harold Rosenberg.

Honorary Editor Award Presentation to Proof Reader Emeritus Ron Fleischman
by Jack Kapica, photos by Harold Rosenberg and Jack Kapica

This morning, Saturday March 4, Harold Rosenberg and I presented the scroll and photo album to Ron Fleischman at the Sunnybrook Hospital, where he is staying. The visit proved successful, and Ron was Ron, though sadly diminished. But diminished only physically. The mind is still alert and just as lively as ever.

Sunnybrook Hospital is a sprawling complex in North Toronto noted for both its trauma unit and its veterans wing, which a modern, spacious and well-designed affair, except of course that you need a road map to find any Ron and Jack check photo album - photo by Harold Rosenberg specific room.

Which is to explain why Harold and I managed to get a bit of a tour of the place before we found Ron. We passed a terrific professional-quality pool table, a barber shop, a museum of First and Second World War artifacts, several pianos, electric organs and such for musical shindigs and a series of workshops, where patients can make things out of ceramics, wood and other things that they sell in the local shop.

We pressed our noses to the window of the closed woodworking shop and saw a series of baskets with patients' names on them, one of which said "Ron Fleischman" that contained a piece of plywood cut out and painted to look like a pigeon. Or perhaps a seagull. Or a hawk.

Harold said how impressed we were with Sunnybrook when we found Ron, to which he snapped, "Not when you have to be here." Not a great way to start a visit, so we spent the next few minutes watching as an Amazon nurse with Mike Tyson's biceps arranged Ron in his wheelchair.

We introduced ourselves to Ron in case he might have trouble recognizing us, which turned out to be unnecessary. Ron knows Harold well enough not to be surprised by Harold's visit, and to me he said, "You're in Toronto now, right?" which is what I'd expect if we were at a cocktail party and he were untouched by the effects of his stroke. Come to think of it, that's the first thing he said to me at the Daily reunion, which is a good thing, I guess.

We wheeled Ron out of his four-bed bedroom to the cafeteria, past ancient veterans staring vacantly into space, and through a long lounge area called Warriors' Hall. "Every single person here is in a wheelchair," Ron said. From what we could see, he was right.

Ron didn't smile much either as he greeted us or as we talked, and I noticed his left arm lay limp in his lap, his hand twisted terribly as the result of Ron and Jack - photo by Harold Rosenberg the paralysis, and his left foot was strapped to the wheelchair so it wouldn't fall off. Aside from looking a little pale - well, I never knew him when he wasn't pale - he looked pretty good, and even had more hair on him than I had ever seen - a little white halo, the product of benign neglect, by the looks of it. He was dressed in a blue checked flannel shirt and a hideous acid-pink baseball cap with a flattened bill just in case he found himself in the sun. He never goes without ID tags dangling on a chain around his neck with a card listing diet restrictions and allergy alerts. He was also quite crumpled as he sat, looking a little defeated, I think, a prisoner of a body that after years of careful care had nevertheless still betrayed him.

He noted that during the time he had been at Sunnybrook, four roommates had died, the most recent one being particularly sad because Ron had pressed the nurse's call-button when he heard the death rattle, but she and the doctor came too late to save the old boy. Ron seemed to be a little pissed at the hospital's slowness, and we were ready to agree until Ron said the old fellow had been close to a hundred years old, and may have in fact been a vet of the First World War. But he wasn't sure.

When we got to the cafeteria I jokingly offered Ron a scotch, which was in poor taste because I'd momentarily forgotten he rarely drank. But it triggered a rant about how alcohol was what got him to Sunnybrook in the first place.

He blames it all on the Daily reunion. He said that against all doctor's orders he had some drinks at the reunion, and a few weeks later he was at home, up a stepladder and drilling a hole in the wall (we didn't ask why), when he suddenly fell backward, smashing his head on the floor ("You can still probably see the scar on my left side," he said, but Harold and I couldn't see anything). Ron and Jack - photo by Harold Rosenberg He said a week had passed before his sister, worried he hadn't answered his calls, crashed through his front door with a crowbar. When she found him he had somehow pulled himself upstairs and was sitting at his desk, rummaging through memorabilia from the Daily reunion. After all these years of living carefully and properly, he said, "I made that one mistake of having a drink."

Over a bottle of apple juice in the sleepy Saturday hospital cafeteria Ron sat under a skylight, which bounced a glare off the part of his head he didnít normally shave and which wreaked hell with the pre-adjusted settings on my digital camera. He started talking and was voluble about everything and nothing, perfectly lucid but always on his own agenda, and seemed uninterested in the fact that 70 Dailyites had, over the past three years, been exchanging concerned e-mail about the state of his health and swapping yarns about him. Harold said these e-mails constituted something we called the "Ronicles."

Bonanza! Ron smiled at that one

But Harold was rebuffed when he tried to suggest Ron join the Sunnybrook veterans' computer club and get an e-mail account. Ron protested he was at best a one-fingered typist and, even when Harold and I said that was just fine for e-mail, Ron just wouldn't entertain the idea. So we dropped it.

"Who's going to cover it for the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette and the CBC? It really doesn't matter. What matters is that Ron, a guy who has just inimitably BEEN THERE for generaltions of dailyites, is receiving a recognition which can help to give shape to his life in its last years." -- Barbara Scales

So Harold decided to hell with it, let's get to the presentation, and whipped out the scroll, Presentation scrolla handsome piece of calligraphy which was fixed to the inside of a photo album containing dozens of pictures from the Daily and the reunion.

Strange Gleam

Okay, so Ron may have been making it difficult for us to tell him about how we all felt, but there was a strong gleam in his eye as Harold turned the pages of the album, talking about everyone in the pictures, and on several occasions Ron laughed out loud enough times to convince us that he was having a good time despite his grumpy posturing. He was genuinely interested Ron and Jack - photo by Harold Rosenberg in the album, and when we came to a negative of an old Daily banner, the flattened oval one with the "ears" from the early and mid-1960s, he grabbed it, squinted at it, and said, "Good quality film, that."

Ron was most interested in the large colour print of the group shot taken in the upstairs ballroom after the Daily reunion banquet. He peered at it closely, but instead of talking about the people in it, he and Harold launched into a discussion of the fact that the lens the photographer used was cheap, and there was some fuzziness in the focus in the middle of the frame, but not so much at the edges. Ron seemed not to be very interested in the reunion coffee mugs and the commemorative McGill Daily pin Harold also brought, though he gave himself away at one point when he spent a lot of effort trying to open the spring-loaded cover of the velvet-covered jewelry box containing the pin - it's impossible to open those things with one hand. So I opened it for him and he gave it a long, hard look.

Our conversations rambled all over the place, and Ron talked about some of the characters who had made campus so exciting in the 28 years he spent there, and how he had brought an ancient army-issue six-shot .32-calibre Smith & Wesson revolver to the Daily offices when Zionist students had threatened the life of Joan Mandel, editor at the time (1973), though it was really about something Ron had written, and he couldn't remember what it had been exactly, but he figured it must have been a matter of vital importance.

I hid the hideous pink baseball cap and grabbed my little Fuji digital camera and snapped off a half-dozen shots, Harold and Ron - photo by Jack Kapica failing every time to get Ron to smile for me. Harold then took a few with his Nikon, and was a little more successful getting Ron to smile, and then Ron said, "Did you get my missing tooth?" So that was why he hates to smile for the camera.
Then Harold mugged a passing stranger and, pressing a zillion dollarsí worth of camera and flash equipment into the poor sodís hands, got him to take a picture of the three of us together.

Harold, off from work this week, canít use the police photo labs and will process the film at a local lab and pass on the results a few days from now.
Harold and Ron -photo by Jack Kapica Ron Fleischman - photo by Jack Kapica

Before we left, Ron wanted to tell two more stories.

Montreal Herald Sports Story

The first was about why he quit as photographer for the old Montreal Herald,

back in the late 1940s, a story that had been told wrong so often (but once fairly accurately on this mailing list). It was at a Triple-A game between the old Royals and Baltimore. He was standing near third base, he said, when the second-base runner tried to steal third, and the third baseman, a Baltimore player called Frank Shaff, missed the throw, and the ball hit Shaff in the head.

Ron said that later, the picture clearly showed the ball as it was coming off Shaffís contorted face, but the fans saw it differently, as did Shaff, who later claimed he had been blinded by Ron's flash. The fans started throwing bottle caps at Ron, when the Herald sportswriter, Sammy Melton, urged Ron to get the hell out of Delorimier Stadium because the fans were soon going to start throwing bottles at him. Ron never went back. And Frank Shaughnessy, then the commissioner of Triple-A ball, banned all photography from night games as a result of the incident.

At the Daily

The other yarn was about how he started at the Daily. In the late 1940s, Ron was working for Brink's Security He still has the badge, which he keeps inside a small clear-plastic change purse that he pulled out of his blue check flannel shirt ("Itís pure tin," he said. "It's now a collector's item"). His best memories of that time was the heat of the Brink's trucks ("We called them rolling ovens") and the time he forgot his cap and gun on a counter in Eatonís (he got both back, but was terrified of being found out by Brink's). Ron and Jack - photo by Harold Rosenberg

Every day, Ron would cut across campus from his home on Park Avenue on his way to work. His cousin Hershel Steinfeld once said if he crossed that campus often enough, "maybe you'll get educated." Ron thought about what his cousin had said as he went to work, and one day he enrolled in some extension courses at McGill, where he studied psychology and public relations at night.

"I noticed there were some newspapers on campus, so I checked out the Daily and hung out there until they noticed me. Peter Rehak was there then. They asked me to do some writing, which I did, and then they gave me some copy to check for errors. I discovered I could do it. So I stayed."

Before we left, I asked him a question that had been burning for a long time: "Do you still have that web bag you always carried?" The answer, I thought, was very sad. "Yes," he said, "I guess it's somewhere back home."

Ron and Harold - photo by anonymous volunteer

Daily Centennial

As Harold and I pushed him back to his room, Ron got a very distant look in his eye. "You know," he said, "the Daily is going to celebrate its 100th birthday soon. We should do something to celebrate it."

And when would that be?

"Oh, in 2011," he answered.

"Great," said Harold. "If we're still around weíll drive you to the reunion."

"You do that," said Ron.

--- *** 30 *** ---