(When and where?)
My experiences with Tooker and Angela were brief on a personal element, but long-term in terms of feeling the wake of their energy.
I first met Tooker and Angela when I was starting grade five and we subletted their coop house while they went on a world-wide tour, only on their bikes. This was pretty radical to me at the time, so I automatically knew they were cool.
When Tooker Gomberg and Angela Bischoff got married, they dubbed themselves Tookela Bischberg. From then on we referred to them almost solely as that fond name because we always talked about both of them together.
Their house had amazing energy, and I discovered so many new, liberal ideas and perceptions. For example, I can remember a sticker on their door that showed a picture of Ralph Klein showing his middle finger, and underneath it said, “Tory is a four-letter word.”… Their posters said, “Drop bikes not bombs”, or “Free Nicaragua”. All of these images and phrases affected my childhood as I grew up in their wonderful house…
What surprises me now is finding out about all the great stuff Tooker fought to bring into existence, that I didn’t know Tooker influenced. For example, I was reading in the paper about him recently, and I discovered that he created the Buslink automated bus information system. I use it all the time, and have been for the past couple years. It works very efficiently, and helps to keep me from waiting out in the cold at the bus stop for prolonged periods of time. I wish that I had known that Tooker had created this before he died, because I would have liked to congratulate him. I also found out that he organised the situation of bicycle racks on the fronts of buses. Although I never used my bike enough to need one, I was just pleased by their presence, because it showed that Edmonton cared about the environment.
The great thing about my relationship with Tooker is that it was not explicitly political. Not only was I too young to understand politics all that much, but I just didn’t have an interest in it. Tooker’s political impact was not direct, but it implicitly affected me, through non-political means. Politics came through in his passion for green and earth. I did not think twice about Tooker and Ange riding their bikes around the world — it seemed normal and fun. I saw a playful, childlike side of Tooker that didn’t hinge on politics. I appreciated his creative energy, exuberance for the protection of the planet, and ambition to foment revolution.
Thanks Tookela Bischberg, for influencing me in such a positive way. And extra thanks to Tooker, because without him, Edmonton would be a much different place.