Sunday, November 07, 2004

Son of James William Huxford

Hoping I Don't Fall Far From the Tree

A very wise & dear friend of mine suggested that it may have been a good idea to present a little background about myself before jumping head first into the deep waters of “blogging”. Being such a logical request, I guess I’ll try to do just that. At this point of my life, the best intro to who I am is to tell you about my dad.

My name is Kevin Huxford. I’m the twenty-nine year old son of James William & Margaret Ann Huxford. I grew up in a working class family. I spent the first twenty or so years of my life in Rahway, NJ, a town mostly known for Rahway State Prison…the place that SCARED STRAIGHT was filmed. Ironically, the prison is actually located in Avenel, NJ (a more affluent town that has successfully avoided being identified with the prison even still (renamed to East Jersey State Prison)).

My father (may he rest in peace) was a Teamster truck driver for all of my young life. But that doesn’t fully tell you who my father was. Unfortunate events in his teen years made it necessary for him to drop out of high school to help support his family. He later obtained his equivalency diploma and served in the Air Force, having the luck to serve shortly after the Korean War and completing his service before Vietnam. He was, for the most part, a private man that didn’t spend a lot of time telling you the stories of his past. Instead, he showed you what he was about: he was a get-in-your-face, get-off-your-butt, hardworking provider who would give the shirt off his back to any family member who needed (even if he seemed to hate you intensely).

What he worked hardest at was being a construction truck driver and dues paying union brother. And he was honest about it. When my brother lucked his way into a summer job at one of the sites my dad frequented, my father’s friends figured they’d give my brother an easy time of things: he’d be one of the shameful union workers who gets to clock in, do nothing, and collect a check. My father would have none of that and, much to my brother’s chagrin, his son was given the regular load of work the rest of the summer (sorry, JR).

When my father was laid off during the recession under the 1st President Bush, he became a regular at every union meeting. He became a thorn in the side of the piss-poor union leadership in power at the time. Fortune smiled upon my father, as this truck drive with a GED was noticed for his outspokenness by the government. It seems that the local union had been engaged in some manner of shady dealings, forcing the government to step in, replace the leadership, and put the local under its watchful eye for a few years before allowing them to go back to independence. My father was one of those lucky few chosen to lead as a union business agent.

Much of the years that would follow, sadly, are not really known to me. No human is perfect and, by extrapolation, no human relationships can be perfect; I had a falling out with my father that lasted until a few months after September 11th, 2001. Unfortunately, it was only about a year later (December 2002) that my father was diagnosed with cancer. He worked through his chemotherapy and retired (as previously planned) in August 2003. Unfortunately, he left this world on November 13th, 2003.

In the coming posts, you’ll see me defend the place of unions in just about every workplace. Readers might call me out for being a little idealistic regarding unions. You might think it is just because I believe my father was a great man attempting to perform great works. Personally, I think it is because the union is nothing but a democratic organization that is for its people more than any other. Any argument you can make against a union can be made against any democratic organization, but I doubt that you’d argue vociferously against democracy.

PROUD Son of James William Huxford, who fought for the working man daily while battling cancer
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