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Morley Jacobs/Harriet Zaidman
By MYRON LOVE

The date was September 3, 2002. Morley and Bev Jacobs were doing some painting in their new house in River Heights.
“I looked at Morley and I didn’t think he looked well,” recalls Bev, a former triage nurse. “We phoned an ambulance and he was taken to Victoria Hospital.”

 

The news was not good. The biochemistry teacher and former Seven Oaks School Division school trustee – who was 61 at the time - had an almost complete blockage of all of the arteries leading to his heart.
“I was in shock,” he recalls. “I had easily passed annual treadmill stress tests. I had no cholesterol issue imbalances and, except for mildly elevated blood pressure, nothing in my yearly physicals ever aroused any concerns. I exercised regularly, was trim and fit. What had saved my life was that I was a lifelong runner and jogger. As a result, I had developed collateral circulation which had in part compensated for the blocked arteries.”
Jacobs underwent an emergency quintuple by-pass. He recovered quickly and was back at work two months later.
Following the usual practice after heart surgery, Jacobs was prescribed medication to keep his repaired heart healthy. “I didn’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life,” he says. “So I began doing research at the Medical School library into food and nutrition as an alternative to medication.”


From that research has come Jacobs’ “The Guide: To Understanding Nutrition and the Body’s Response to Food”, a roughly 200-page volume which the author describes as the first comprehensive manual of the effects of different foods on your body.
Jacobs will be introducing his “Guide” at a book launch at McNally Robinson on Wednesday, April 10, at 7:30 pm and is looking forward to a good turnout.
As he points out in the introduction to the book, there are numerous recipe and diet books out there, as well as books on how to cope with stress. His, he says, is the first book that covers all the bases.
“I have tried to explain in layman’s terms how the food we eat affects physiological and biochemical events in our body,” he says.


The book includes chapters explaining how the different organs, the digestive system, and the endocrine system operate. There are also chapters on vitamins, minerals, herbs and spices, chronic disease and shorter passages on certain diets, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, and nutrition specifically as it relates to seniors.
“I would especially like to get the word out to seniors,” he says. “I don’t believe that seniors eat as well as we could. It doesn’t cost that much if you know what to buy.”
He singles out carbohydrates for special consideration – especially where seniors are concerned. ‘When you are older, you really have to watch out for carbs,” he notes. “I believe - as do many others on this subject - that carbs should not be sugared, fried, or further fattened with dairy, all of which is the descriptor of delicious. I ate that stuff. I thought I could afford to do so, because I was running it off. For a lot of us, it just doesn’t work out that neatly.
“When I buy bread, I make sure to buy bread that has been fortified with a lot of added nutrients.”
“Food, he notes, “is either medicine and fuel for repair, growth, and maintenance of healthy functions, or it is a toxic problem of disposal or storage management for the human body.
“Our cells will either recognize with ‘programmed’ efficiency, food that is useful fuel for repair, growth and maintenance, or go ‘hungry’ for lack of proper nutrition, while the body will have to expend energy, dealing with food that did not make the cell’s approval list.”


He observes that even as we are uniquely different from one another, we commonly share the same food relationship glitches. “We have an emotionally complicated interaction with tastes, mouth satisfaction, familiarity of cultural cuisine, childhood bonding with family love and food, and most critically, the deliberate, but delicious use of processed umami,” he says.
Umami, he explains, is the Holy Grail of taste sensations, defined often as indescribable deliciousness, savory, rich, that gives a long-lasting reaction on the ‘major general’ of all taste sensations, our tongue. He cites ketchup as one of the first products produced to maximize that reaction of an Umami sensation.
But, if we regularly eat a diet characterized by a mega umami intake combination, a flavour bomb of high caloric carbs, bad fats, fried food in combination with sugars and cheeses, there are going to be serious consequences down the road.
“Aging as well as it is possible to do so, in as healthy a version of us as possible, I am guessing with some humour, does go to the core of our collective desire, no matter how old we are at the time we begin to think about it’ he comments. “Here I am, many years later, still running, doing weight training and isometric exercises as well as watching what I eat. You add a good night’s sleep on a regular basis and you have the ingredients for healthy living.”

*****

By MARTIN ZEILIG

City on Strike: A Novel (Red Deer Press 191 pg. $14.95), the new young adult novel by Winnipeg author Harriet Zaidman, is set during the time of the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919 when workers and soldiers returning from the First World War demanded jobs, decent wages and the right to organize.
“Many politicians and business leaders condemned strike organizers and, backed up by police, unleashed deadly violence against them on a day now known as Bloody Sunday,” says the advance publicity. “City on Strike focusses on a 13-year-old boy and his younger sister who are part of a poor but hard-working immigrant family. Together with their neighbours, these siblings get drawn into the chaos that changed the city, and the country, forever.”
The official launch of City on Strike will take place on April 14 at 2:00 pm at McNally Robinson Booksellers.
Zaidman, a retired teacher-librarian who writes for the Winnipeg Free Press and CM: Review of Materials, was recently interviewed by The Jewish Post & News.
A review of City on Strike will appear in a subsequent issue of this newspaper.
 
The Jewish Post & News: What prompted you to write this novel?
Harriet Zaidman: I set myself the goal of writing a novel in my first year of retirement. I was working on another idea when my husband reminded me about the anniversary of the strike.
 
JP&N: How long did it take you to do the research and writing?
HZ: I began researching on January 1, 2018. I read for a few weeks, then developed a first chapter and an outline. I grew up listening to stories about life in the North End in the 1920s from my parents and relatives, so I had a lot of the background in my consciousness. I kept researching as I wrote and finished the first draft in mid-March, 2018. I heard back from Peter Carver at Red Deer Press in early February. I kept reading and writing at the same time, making changes in my outline and developing the characters and the plot. My second draft was done in June. Most novels take much longer. I was very focused on this project.
 
JP&N: What sources did you use during the research phase?
HZ: Some of the sources I used were When the State Trembled: How A.J. Andrews and the Committee of 1000 Broke the Winnipeg General Strike (University of Toronto, 2010), Winnipeg’s General Strike - Reports from the Front Lines by Michael Dupuis (History Press, 2104), Influenza 1918 - Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg by Essylt W. Jones (University of Toronto 2007) and many more. Memoirs such as The Boy from Winnipeg by James H. Gray and Read All About It by Joesph Wilder were valuable to find out how the strike affected ordinary people. Profiles in Dissent by Harry Gutkin and Mildred Gutkin (Newest 1997) gave me the background of the strike leaders. I visited the Manitoba Museum, the Archives of Manitoba and spoke with historians. I read newspaper accounts from the time and many more books to get a rounded picture of the events and attitudes.
 
JP&N: Would you call this a novel for young adults? If so, would you like to see it become part of the educational curriculum in Manitoba?
HZ: The novel is written to appeal to children between 10 and 14 years old. It fits in with the curriculum through teaching children about history, human rights and critical thinking. I do think teaching about our local history is important for children whose families have been here for generations and for newer Canadians to understand why our city is the way it is, but mostly because of the issues the strike exposed, that racism, stereotyping and fake news are toxic tools wielded by those with their own interests - power and profit. They were used by the Committee of 1000 to divide people then, as alt-right groups are using them are now. The strike impacted people’s ability to advance economically and socially, especially from the immigrant communities. Today, the faces of the targets are different, but the goal of racism and fake news are the same.
 
JP&N: Are the central characters based on actual individuals?
HZ: I’ve taken bits and pieces of people I’ve known and bits and pieces from the memoirs to create the characters. I’ve named the characters after my relatives and other friends, but ultimately, each of the characters is a unique individual. I think each of them is representative of a type of person who would have lived at that time.
 
JP&N: What else you would like to share with readers of The JP&N?
HZ: The story is set in the North End, on Flora and Andrews Street. I’ve created two protagonists - a 13-year-old boy who delivers newspapers and his 11-year-old sister. He sees a lot as he travels through the city and suffers a crisis over loyalties when the effects of the strike deepen. His sister’s friendships are strained by the strike. No one is certain how it will turn out and what will happen after. The story brings out the best and the worst of the characters - the way real life events do.
Right after the strike, a commission concluded that the strike was about working people’s discontent with poverty, poor working conditions and efforts to keep them unorganized. All the research since has confirmed that, although the Committee of 1000 spread hysteria that the strikers wanted to overthrow the state and impose a Bolshevist dictatorship. They made up fake news about babies dying, mysterious people (“aliens”) infiltrating the city, etc. and distributed their newspaper free to create divisions and confusion among the population. Their objective was to keep working people poor and divided so they could maintain their profits and social structure.
Wages had been frozen since the beginning of World War I, but costs had risen over 60% during that time and unemployment soared when the war ended. There was a lot of war profiteering by manufacturers and industrialists, but workers lived in very poor conditions with few social supports. The Spanish flu had claimed about 1200 lives in Winnipeg in a 6-week period in November 1918, most of them in the North End.
Strikes and disruptions had been occurring all over North America in response to the same difficulties working people everywhere were experiencing. There had been a general strike in San Diego in 1918, in February, 1919, 65000 workers in Seattle walked out for five days, Vancouver had a one-day strike, etc. etc. The October 1918 Revolution in Russia overthrew the Czar and the established order was threatened in Germany. The ruling elites in Europe and North America worried their grip on society might slip, hence the “Bolshevik scare” propaganda. There were many ideas and philosophies bandied around before and during the strike, but ultimately it was a struggle for the right to organize.
The secretive Committee of 1000 refused all negotiations despite entreaties by the Strike Committee and the mayor, too. Bloody Saturday was an attack on spectators who had gathered to watch a march of returning soldiers who were demanding jobs. The Minister of Labour was in town, staying at the Royal Alexander Hotel, and they hoped to appeal to him. The spectators were attacked before the march took place.
The strike prompted working people to join unions and the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation–the forerunner of the NDP) resulted from it. There were a lot of strikes and disruptions in the years that followed to accomplish any advances. The strike leaders were prosecuted for sedition and other crimes and seven were sent to prison for six months to two years, but two of them were elected to the legislature even while they were in jail. The Committee held an opulent victory banquet after the strike to celebrate maintaining their control on workers’ lives, while working people continued to struggle.
Racism and stereotyping are similarly used today to sow fear about anyone who is “different,” whether they’re a different colour, religion or gender. The Committee of 1000 talked about “British values” and today we have people talking about “Canadian values” and “free speech” - which are codewords to make overt racism acceptable.
Antisemitism is rearing its ugly head again, not to mention the racism indigenous people, non-whites, Muslims and other groups experience. The fake news about refugees “invading” or coming here to terrorize us is another example. The issue is: who benefits? The history of the strike and many other examples show us who benefits, and how these weapons damage the lives of ordinary people and damage society.

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