For The Record

Today, I met Carol. What a joy, what a character. She works in ATB's archives and she is somehow the present and the past and the future all at once. Going to see her at work means dropping down an elevator shaft into the concrete hallways and beige paint of the document storage rooms. There, giant, floor-to-ceiling stacks just stand there shoulder to shoulder, holding seven decades of history safe from gravity and forgetfulness.

Lady Managers
You get the sense that Carol's work joy is rooted in the ability to rescue what she calls "points of time," whether in the form of text, film or video, from that oblivion.

Carol is irked when documents are not dated properly, she is saddened by gaps in the company record of, say, the succession of branch managers. She knows the evanescence of digital records is a challenge for her craft.

She has an ear for how the documents tell stories that weren't obvious when they were composed. For instance, that handwritten "List of Lady Managers," started in 1978,  reveals both the growing power of women in the company as society headed for the 1980s, as well as their continued marginalization by category.

The "Record of Revolvers" issued to branch managers paints a picture of Alberta gun culture and speaks of a time before pervasive surveillance technology challenged it.

Spending an hour with Carol can change the way you look at the texts of your own life, those "points of time" that drop in in email boxes, are read, smiled over, maybe forwarded or responded to, but then essentially forgotten because not preserved and unable to be recalled.

Earlier today, Rick Melnychuk sent me and the other Sons of Mitches (our weekend pond hockey team in the University of Alberta tournament) one of those points of time. For the record:

Gentlemen & Lady: 

What a weekend, 3 and 4 but every game we lost was a barnburner to the end.

Worth saving
Thanks Senior Kubi for organizing and the solid 28 second shifts with relentless drives to the net, thanks junior Kubi for stepping in for James who was out with an "upper upper body injury," thanks Mrs. Kubi for the most excellent cheerleading—intel on the Jerks of Hazzard strategy against us and scorekeeping. Great job Kelly for the relentless pressure to get the puck and taking one for the team—at  least twice. Finally, Mitchy, inspiration for the Sons of Mitches and heart and soul of this group—skilled, smooth skater who is always calm, cool and collected, even after total frustration on Saturday afternoon with the ice conditions. It's always fun to watch you play.

Outdoor rick
It was great to see you guys and thanks for thinking of me to play. I had a blast and I am already working on my next hockey "fashion statement" for next year. You laughed but they always laugh at the trendsetters.

Great job Sons of Mitches.



For sure, that email carries a you-had-to-be-there, small-h-historical kind of historical significance. But it's a text worth saving, just the same. It tells the story of a point in time in our oldtimer hockey community, a point worth connecting to and building into a solid line.

And, with Carol in mind, printing it out and putting on a shelf, too.


Popular posts from this blog


Some Late Thoughts Listening To Wheat Kings

Three Things from Edmonton - Episode 46: minding the gap, talking the talk, reading the room