On the Nickel

The mystical Nickel (5 Cents) CANADA 1962 – I found on the Promenade in White Rock, BC

A few weeks ago, I found a nickel during my morning walk at the Promenade, in White Rock.  However, I didn’t realize the significance of that five-cent coin, until today.

It has awakened a quiet voice from within – which has been silent for too many months.  And it’s not that I’ve been sulking or feeling sorry for myself – it’s just that I had given up on a beautiful dream, and couldn’t imagine anything that would excite or inspire me enough to want to write again.  I haven’t written a blog since my cousin Ruthie passed, in November 2016, although I did post a few photos of an exciting day walking on the edge of the CN Tower in Toronto, this past April.

But back to the nickel.

After finding the coin and almost dismissing it as of little value, I suddenly remembered a saying my Grandma Puffer used to tell me:  “A penny can be the difference in your ability to pay a bill on time.”  I’ve never forgotten that or the many other words of wisdom that came from her lips.  But that was back in the ‘60’s – we don’t even have pennies anymore – here, in Canada! 

And yet, as I stood there, beside the totem poles, I had a pressing urge to leave the coin there, on the bench, in the hope that a child, might find the nickel and be filled with the excitement of their sudden good fortune! 

When you’re a kid, with nothing in your pants pockets but holes, finding a coin –  of any denomination – is like finding sunken treasure!  And for a brief moment in time, you’d hold it tightly, in the palm of your hand, for fear of losing it before you could share the news of your good fortune, with family and friends.  But greatest of all, was the fact, that a nickel could buy a lot of candy at Pop Taylor’s store on Mary Street when I was a kid.

Little Danny (1952)

So, in an impulsive urge of shameless, self-promotion on various social media sites, I grabbed my cell phone and shot a short video clip of me leaving the nickel on a bench by the totem poles – stating that I hoped a kid might find the coin.

I remember smiling at those thoughts as I continued my daily walk along the Promenade.

After walking for another thirty minutes or so, I reached the halfway mark of my walk and turned to head back to my starting point, 1 ½ miles down the walkway.   It wasn’t particularly busy, so I wondered if the coin would still be on the bench.  And the more that I wondered, the more I became worried that the coin would be gone!

“Danny, why would you be so worried?” I asked myself.

“I don’t know,” I answered to myself, “but my worries are now becoming panic!” 

But as I approached the totem poles and saw the bench, I noticed the coin basking in the sunlight!  My heart was racing, and I was almost gasping with excitement, as I picked up the nickel.  I was excited but didn’t know why?  I studied the coin carefully – the usual beaver on one side and the Queen on the other.  It was one of the older designs, with the octagon shape, and dated 1962.  It was in good shape, so I shrugged my shoulders and put it in my pocket.  Later, I put the coin in my wallet – as a good luck charm.  Who knows what drew me to the nickel?  But finding it sure made me feel like little Danny, again!

This morning, I was having a coffee and emptying junk from my wallet and noticed the coin.  And when I held it in my hand, my eyes were drawing my attention to the date – 1962.  And that’s when it all made sense!

Danny’s first bike (used) at age 9.


Chapter 2 – ’55 Pontiac, Camp Samac, Duck Lake, Violet  & Public Hair

A penny for your thoughts…. a nickel for your memories… and a dime for a coke!  

I began to smile as my mind raced back to the year 1962.  I was twelve years old and full of piss and vinegar!  Or as one of my uncles used to say, “loaded for bear,” although I never knew what the term meant.  Nevertheless, it became one of my favorite sayings, at the time.

Most of the mornings in 1962 were pretty hectic – especially, with six kids in the house!  But my Ma was well-organized, and she would have made us our breakfast and then packed a lunch for the four oldest of us, and we headed out the door for the bike ride up Simcoe Street to Camp Samac for our swimming lessons.  And inside our bag, Ma would put a dime for the Coca-Cola machine beside the pool area.  And we would be there for the entire day: a lesson in the morning, followed by paddling the canoes during the two-hour lunch break and then back to the pool with our swim classmates for the afternoon.

And if we were lucky, and Ma had given us each a quarter (twenty-five cents), we could stop by the Tastee Freeze across the street from Camp Samac, for the long, exhausting ride home.  

I also remember some mornings, when Ma would drive us, I would get the car keys from the counter and within a minute, I would be sitting in the driver seat of our ’55 Pontiac, with the radio on, listening to Dave Mickie, the AM jock from CKEY – which was the most popular radio station in Toronto in the early 60’s.  Of course, I didn’t know how to drive – I was only twelve years old.  But I would hold the steering wheel with both hands and pretend I was driving – complete with simulating high-speed racing along dangerous, mountainside roads and then faking a head-on crash but jumping from the car – just in time, as the car rolls off the cliff and down the mountainside, into Lake Ontario – at the same time that my two older, and infinitely more mature sisters, stood in the driveway, shaking their heads and waiting to tattle tale (rat on me).

1955 Pontiac Chieftain

But I loved that car. And I loved listening to the songs on the hit parade.  I knew the words to every song – and would even perform them if I was alone.  And one of my first major purchases with money from my paper route tips was a $6.00 Sanyo portable radio – complete with a blue leather case and a shiny, pop-up antennae.  I remember laying in bed, every night, listening to CKEY until I fell asleep.  

But Danny, this was supposed to be about 1962…

Relax, Spanky…

We were at a turning point in our life, anxiously awaiting becoming teenagers and having that almost-grown-up ‘teen’ word added to our age; we would be thirteen years old!  And that, was “Cool, Daddy-O,” as Maynard the beatnik used to say on the Dobbie Gillis Show.

Camp Samac was also the place that I learned that teenagers had everything that grownups had and they got to do grown-up things, too!  But the most shocking thing I learned at camp that summer, was that teenagers, like my swimming instructor, had hair growing in places that you only got to see if you were in a change room or nudist colony, and as far as I can remember, there weren’t any nudist colonies in the Shwa in ’62.


Camp Samac Pool (the 1960’s)

When I wasn’t swimming at Camp Samac, I would be playing sports at Connaught Park, but I was also beginning to notice girls.  My cheeks are turning red, as I write this – I remember that feeling – of seeing someone special for the first time.  Our eyes would meet, and a sudden spark or flash of interest would be exchanged – without a word spoken!

Her name was Violet M., and she was from Toronto.  

But I met her at my uncle’s cottage on Duck Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario.  The grownups were all gathered in the cottage, drinking beer and enjoying their holidays and suddenly they decided to become ‘match makers, ‘ and then, there we were – face-to-face in front of adults who endlessly tried to embarrass us.  We’d leave and take a walk along the lakeshore.  And we would talk – which was a first, for me.  The only time I ever spoke to girls before then, was with my sisters and then ONLY if I had to.  But talking to Violet was like talking to a grown up and being treated like I was a grownup, too!  Afterall, she was already a teenager – and a very mature, thirteen-year-old, at that!

I still remember one of her questions – which at the time, I didn’t have an answer.  She asked me whom I thought childbirth was the most difficult for – the mother or father?  At the time, I didn’t know anything about the birds and bees; I just remember when my Ma was expecting my youngest brothers, that she had a big stomach.  So of course, I answered that childbirth was most difficult for the father.

Violet simply shook her head and explained the complete birth process to me.  It was obvious she had been told the facts of life (I still prefer the babies are delivered by a stork theory).  And I remember feeling like a five-year-old.  But she was a sweet person and made me feel… kinda… like a teenager!

Violet and I were together for the rest of our time at the lake that summer, and she was my first kiss.  And I guess that it’s okay to kiss and tell now, these many years later.   So here goes:

We were sitting at the end of the dock, with our legs dangling in the water, holding hands and I was fumbling at trying to kiss her without being too forward.  There may have been a full moon that night because I have this image in my mind, of the moon’s reflection in her dark eyes.  And then she quickly kissed me.  And then we kissed again and again.  

And that was also the last summer that I played sports or took swimming lessons.  I achieved my Bronze Medallion which qualified me to be a lifeguard the next year after I turned thirteen years old.  And little Danny’s mind was already thinking about the many, many girls that will surround him, as he sits high above the water, on a lifeguard tower, with a whistle on a rope necklace, hanging around his tanned neck and hairless chest.  

Hairless?  I thought back to the boys’ change room at Camp Samac and the teenage boys with armpit hair and hair around their you-know-what.  At the time, I probably wondered if they’d still be able to make the farting noise with their hand under their hairy armpit, while the other arm moves up and down on the hand, resulting in an almost perfect duplication of the sound?  (By the way, you can!)

I wondered if girls grew hair in their armpits and the other place(s), too?  But I was very shy and awkward, in those days, so I never thought to ask Violet.  But she would have been happy to tell me, in detail.  So instead, I asked my Ma and learned that the hair that grows in that hidden area of the body is called ‘pubic hair.’  But that word didn’t make sense to me, so I figured that she must have meant to say ‘public.’  And for many years, it’s how I referred to it, although it wasn’t a subject that came up too often.  And one last thing – why are public washrooms, not called Pubic Washrooms?

Anyways, after that summer, Violet and I used to write each other letters, but our worlds were far apart.  She lived in Toronto, and although Oshawa is just 40 miles east, it might as well have been 5,000 miles when you’re a twelve-year-old kid with holes in your pockets.  She was my first girlfriend and my first kiss.  And up to that point, our talks were the closest I ever got to learn about the ‘birds ‘n bees.’   I used to hear my Ma arguing with my Dad about him not wanting to tell me the facts of life.  And every time my Ma tried to tell me, I’d be too embarrassed to hear that kind of stuff from my mom, and I’d run out the door.  I don’t think anyone ever told me the facts of life.

And although Violet and I never saw each other again in future summers at the lake, I never forgot her.  And believe it or not – many years later, when I was in my twenties, I was in a store in Parry Sound and bumped into her at the checkout.  Our eyes met, and for a brief moment, we stared at each other.   The child in the stroller she was pushing began to cry, and that’s when I noticed that she was a mother and probably married.  And at the time, so was I.  So, I quickly glanced away and pretended not to recognize her.  But as I passed her and opened the door to leave the store, I heard a faint… “Hi, Danny!” 

I never turned around to answer and kept walking, but I wanted to take her in my arms and tell her that I still remember our first kiss.  It was my first kiss – I’m not sure if it was hers or not.  In baseball terms, I had finally made it to first base – with her as my coach – in the summer of ’62.


Chapter 3 – 8th Oshawa Sea Scouts, First Date, Football, Crutches & Amy 

I can’t remember why I joined the 8th Oshawa Sea Scouts because none of the kids in the neighborhood were in Cubs or Scouts.  And although the scout hall, where we had our meetings, was located next to the church that my family attended on Hillcroft Street, it wasn’t  associated with any particular church or faith.   But I remember that I liked the fact that the sea scout uniform was very different than what the regular boy scouts wore.  Our shirt, shorts, and knee socks were all dark blue, and our neck scarf (tie) was black and white.  And the white hat we wore was the same as the Sea Cadets and sailors in the Navy.

I don’t think that any of my classmates at North Simcoe school belonged to the 8th, but many of them were in regular scouts.  And the 8th was the only sea scout troop in Oshawa, at the time.    

The scout hall building where we met every Wednesday evening (during the school year), was torn down in the 70’s and the 8th was disbanded at the same time.  I don’t remember why but I’m sure that it had to do with money.  The 8th also had a small fleet of wooden rowboats (each held 6-8 scouts) that were kept in a lockup at the Oshawa harbor.  We used to go there for some of our meetings in the summer and were taught how to row together, as a team. 

The leader of sea scouts was known as the skipper or skip, and his assistants were called troop leaders.  And within the 8th, there were smaller groups that each had a leader and assistant leader.  The skipper and troop leaders were usually grown-ups – some married, some single, some who had kids in either the 8th Oshawa Cubs, Sea Scouts or Rovers.  And one last thing about the 8th Oshawa Sea Scouts – we had two separate and distinct troops, namely Port and Starboard.  I belonged to the Port troop, and our meetings were on Wednesday nights.  The Starboard troop met on Thursday nights.

My greatest joys as a kid came during my years in the 8th Oshawa.  There was only one low point – my Dad decided to get involved in scouting but became a troop leader into the Starboard troop!  Their skipper’s name was Derek.  I remember my Ma questioning my Dad’s decision to be in the Starboard troop and not my Port troop.  I never heard his reasons, and I never asked my Ma, but I remember how hurt I was.  But I kept the hurt hidden – maybe I was too proud to reveal my feelings.  But it was just one more reason to feel rejected – the last boy to get picked on a team in the neighborhood.  But there was one joy in having my dad being a scout leader in a different group – many of the ‘cool’ guys at school – none of whom, ever had time for me – suddenly became friendly.  The reason for their sudden interest was my Dad.  They were in the Starboard troop, and they would ask me what it was like to have such a cool dad!  My Dad was a lot of things, but at the time, to me, he wasn’t so cool.  I wonder if it ever bothered him that Skipper Derek’s son was in Starboard and it wasn’t a problem for father or son.  But Dad’s reasons went to the grave with him.  My dad wasn’t a bad person – he just wasn’t the type of father that little Danny needed.  And if you don’t have an older brother to teach you things or to look out for you – who do you have?  

And although I seldom mention people’s last name in my stories, I want to mention the Skipper of my Port troop.  His name was Don Thompson, and he lived across the street from the scout hall.  His mom and dad were very friendly, and they would be sitting on their front porch every Wednesday night and waved to us as we arrived for our meetings.  He had a greater influence on me than any other person in my youth, and I know that he is probably in his late 70’s now and still involved in scouting.

My first date was also to an 8th Oshawa Sea Scout Christmas Party at Camp Samac that year.  There was a girl at school that I was crazy over but although I was somewhat financially secure from my paper route, grass cutting and snow shoveling revenues – I wouldn’t have any means of transportation to get to her house in North Oshawa and from there, to Camp Samac.  I don’t remember the girl’s name or much else about her except that it was my Ma who chauffeured me on my first date.  But at least she didn’t see me holding the girl’s hand, much less, witnessing us kissing.  But I remember the joy on my Ma’s face as she drove the car and tutored me on the “do’s and don’ts of dating.”  My track record was beginning to improve – two girlfriends and lots of kisses in 1962.

North Simcoe Public School (now Dr. SJ Phillips School)


But I also broke my leg playing football at my school that year and had to wear a cast for two months.  It left me with a slight limp, which I still have to this day.  I mention it because it meant that I couldn’t go outside for recess with the rest of the kids.  I had to stay at my desk, with my teacher – the feared Mrs. Trotter.  Most of the students referred to her by her first name, which was ‘Amy,’ but never to her face.  But I became very close to this grade-eight teacher, and I owe her for an amazing lesson she taught me.

Mrs. Trotter’s appearance could be quite intimidating.  But not because of her stature – she was shorter than most of her students.  She also appeared to be very old.  At the time, she seemed to be much older than my Ma and she may have even been older than both of my grandmothers.  But that wasn’t why she was intimidating to me – it was because she never seemed to smile.   And as a rambunctious, twelve-year-old boy, there were lots of things in life worth smiling about: namely, weekends, scouts, sports, Summers, candy etc. 

But after a few days of silent and boring recesses spent sitting in the classroom alone with the ancient Mrs. Trotter, the silence was broken by her sudden outburst:  “Danny!”  

The school year had recently started, so I really didn’t know her at all – other than the rumors about her mean spirit.  I don’t remember if all of the kids were afraid of her, but I was!

“Yes, Mrs. Trotter!” I stuttered, wide-eyed and surprised by her sudden interest in me.  

But she didn’t say anything at first.  She just stared at me and then it happened!  Her stern face suddenly softened and a smile appeared on her face.  It wasn’t the kind of ‘ear-to-ear’ smile that people get when they’re eating candy or doing neat stuff – but it was a smile, just the same!

Mrs. Trotter then began asking me about my family and what I did during the summer recess.  Suddenly, I felt the warm glow of making a friendship with no boundaries.  Yes, she was much older than me and there certainly wasn’t any physical attraction involved – although, she may have been the only woman teacher that I didn’t have a crush on.  But after one of two recesses, I’d told her all that there was to know about ‘me’.  And although I don’t remember her ever talking about her personal life, I felt like she was my first grown-up friend.

During subsequent recesses, I would amuse myself by walking around the classroom on my crutches; going to the boy’s washroom and/or by staring out the classroom windows.  But our grade eight classroom was on the third floor and the windows didn’t face the playground – my line of vision was limited to Simcoe Street, which was one of the main streets in Oshawa.  The other main street in Oshawa worth noting is King Street, which ran east to west.  And the intersection of Simcoe and King Streets was known as the ‘Four Corners’ which was a popular landmark.  But that’s another story.  

I spent much of my youth on or around a ‘Simcoe’  either Simcoe Street, Lake Simcoe or Simcoe, Ontario.  And in the Shwa, if you had lots of coins, you probably lived on Simcoe Street between Adelaide Street and Rossland Road.  And if you were really affluent, and your backyard bordered on Alexandra Park, you could get into the Oshawa Fair and other neat events for free!  You just had to climb your fence and then sneak into the park.  Some of these wealthy tycoons even had gates that opened into the park!

The other thing you should know about Simcoe Street is that one of the prettiest and most popular girls at North Simcoe School was Beth R., the daughter of a prominent doctor, and they lived in a beautiful house on Simcoe Street.  And although I was getting interested in girls, I didn’t have a girlfriend at school and Violet lived in Toronto, which although only thirty miles from the Shwa, it might as well have been 1,000 miles to a twelve-year-old, socially-awkward and insecure in the ways of love.  And although Beth R., wasn’t in my class, she might as well have been at a private school because she had a boyfriend, who was also the most popular boy in school.  

His name was Grant O., and I knew him fairly well, although we never hung out together.  He lived down the street from me on Jarvis Street.  Grant was very athletic and was interested in running.  I used to see him running all of the time but can’t remember if he pursued it after leaving school.  What I do remember about him is that he sold me his Oshawa Times newspaper route.  And that paper route was an improvement over the Toronto Star newspaper route that I had had for a couple of years – because the Times was much lighter and the customers were more numerous, so your route wasn’t as large as the less-populated Star subscribers.  I had that route until I started high school and then got a paper route at the Oshawa General Hospital.  

Grant was in my grade nine class at OCVI but that was in 1963 when I was a grown-up teenager!  The last that I saw of him was on a city bus, during my senior year at high school.  He was working full-time and we chatted about stuff but I don’t remember what else we talked about.

But back to Beth R., the prettiest and most popular girl at Dr. SJ Philips elementary school (formerly North Simcoe School).  

I didn’t know Beth, any more than I knew Grant because we traveled in different social circles.  I don’t even recall ever having a conversation with Beth, although I think that she was in my sister’s class in high school.  But I remember delivering newspapers to Beth’s family home on Simcoe Street.  I wonder if she ever saw my buddies and I sneaking into the Oshawa Fair at Alexandra Park by cutting through her family’s backyard and jumping over their fence?   If she did, at least she never ‘ratted’ me out!  Because even in 1962, nobody liked a tattle-tale!

The next thing that I remember about Beth is crashing one of her parties when I was in high school.  I was with a couple of my buddies and we were hoping to find where the good doctor’s booze was hidden.  We were in the downstairs billiards room which had been locked and ‘off-limits’.  One of the guys had used his comb to open the door (credit cards weren’t invented yet) but there wasn’t any booze.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing Beth or Grant for that matter – perhaps they were hiding in a secret room guarding the good doctor’s booze?

The next time I saw Beth was in the 70’s at the nurse’s office at the General Motors Truck Plant.  I was both surprised and pleased that she recognized me and I asked if she and Grant ever got married?  We exchanged family updates and said our goodbyes.  She was still very pretty and married at the time but not to Grant.  I asked who the lucky guy was?  I’m not sure but I think it may have Bill H., who had been one of my fellow 8th Oshawa Sea Scouts.  

My next Beth sighting was ‘virtual’.  I had joined an internet social media group called Classmates, in hopes of connecting with some of my friends from the area.  I hadn’t lived in Ontario since my move to Vancouver in 1982 but was getting more proficient on the internet.  We became friends on Classmates and then our virtual friendship migrated to MySpace and then later to Facebook.  We’re still friends on Facebook and we keep in touch and I think she’s read some of my blogs.  I’m hoping to meet up with her for a plate of ‘shoestrings and a Coke’ at the Globe Restaurant on King Street, if and when I ever get to Ontario again.

As for the title of this blog – On The Nickel.  Its meaning is also tied to the Tom Waits song by the same name.  When he wrote the song, the title referred to a street where the homeless, alcoholics would gather.  The street was 5th Street and when you were on it – you were ‘on the nickel.’  

Not all of the homeless, alcoholic people On The Nickel, are strangers, though.  

Because I have a younger brother who’s been battling addiction his entire adult life.  He probably doesn’t remember much about Oshawa or North Simcoe School and I haven’t had any contact with him in almost two years.  But I hope that there is still a little boy inside of him that has a lingering memory of what it used to be to like to have family, friends, love, and dreams.  Having me as an older brother didn’t help him much and for that, I will always have regrets.  

Brothers Ricky and Danny (2015)

And finally, I know that this story began with a nickel that someone lost – and so now, I’m going to be searching for a ‘penny’ – because we no longer have pennies in Canada.  And if I find one dated 1969, I’ll save it because that was the year of my first broken heart.  But then again, I probably won’t write about it because the wounds are still deep, almost 5o years later.

Correction:  I know of one penny that might still be in circulation in Canada. – and that penny is the former Mrs. Vitale of Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding fame – my dear friend Penny D., a gal actually from the Jersey Shore!  I haven’t seen her for several years – I wonder how she’s doing?  If you see her, tell her that Nunzio says hello!

Nunzio (Danny) and Mrs. Vitale (Penny) at a Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding show (2008)






Walking and Living on the EDGE


On April 11, 2017, at 2:00 PM, I walked on the edge of the CN Tower EDGE WALK in Toronto, Ontario.  It was almost the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life!   Almost! 

I had traveled to Toronto to attend the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer – Innovative Approaches to Optimal Cancer Care in Canada conference (April 7 & 8th) at the Harbour Castle Hotel (as a patient advocate) and had extended my trip a few days to do this, as it was the second last item on my Bucket List of things to do.  

The adventure took ninety minutes – with thirty minutes actually walking around the outside of the tower and doing various poses for the camera.  There were two staff members accompanying us at all times – one giving instructions and the other taking pictures and a video – which were included in the price of the package.  It was definitely, one of the most exciting things that I have ever done in my life.

UPDATE  June 1, 2017:  Here is a link to the four video clips of my walk.


“Living with Cancer isn’t a death sentence – but giving up on Living is.  Never stop chasing your Dreams and you’ll live Forever!” ~ Danny 




Snowflakes and Ice Cream

Danny’s place February 6, 2017


Nobody knows when it happened – but everyone knew that it had snowed during the night.  It’s an excellent example of the legal term ‘circumstantial evidence’ – although you didn’t see it actually snowing during the night – when you awoke and looked out the window – you accepted it as a ‘fact.’

But it seldom snows in Vancouver.  At least not like it has in the past three days!  In Seattle, yesterday was the second largest snowfall ever recorded in the past seventy years!  I’ve used my snowblower four times in the past two days – and now another five to six centimeters of snow this morning!  

I’ve been waiting for the ‘right’ time to resume my writing.  I can’t remember a year in my life when I had more hurt and disappointment than the past year (2016).  Usually, I bounce right back from setbacks but lately, I’ve found it takes much longer.  Life can sometimes seem to be like trying to put toothpaste back into its tube or feathers back into a pillow.

I recently returned from Montreal, where I had attended a meeting of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Measurement Steering Committee – Person-Centred-Perspective.  Our committee’s five-year term ends in March 2017 but the mandate of CPAC has just been renewed for another five years by the Government of Canada.  I am hoping to be invited to serve as a patient advocate on one of the new committees.

So, now that I am back at the keyboard – and anxious to reveal all of my ‘uppers and downers’ of last year – where should I begin?

To be continued…




My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn: A Love Story

Dear Reader,

Although I have been writing a blog (a journal of my stories) for several years, they haven’t always been with the same web-hosting company.  I have changed hosting companies several times but a few years ago, during the transition to the new site, I lost a blog that I had initially posted as a 3-part series titled My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn (April 2012).

Well, today I was going through some files on my old desktop computer and found it hidden in an archive folder titled My Holly.

Now I’m not very superstitious, but it’s interesting to note, that I will be traveling to Toronto, Ontario next month on the same day as that magical trip I took there several years ago.  So what better way of celebrating an anniversary than to re-post the series again!  

So if you’ve already read this story – you might want to refresh your memory.  If you haven’t read this series – well, hold on to your toupee – things are going to get weird!  

Hugs, Danny

My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 1 of 3  (Originally published April 2012)

Last night, during a deep and peaceful sleep, I suddenly awoke to the most bizarre sight ever.  I sat upright on my bed and began hugging my pillow in terror.  There on my bed was

But first, let me give you a little background.

My Holly Golightly - she's a Coton de Tulear

My Holly Golightly 

Holly Golightly is a Coton de Tulear.  I named her after the character Audrey Hepburn played in the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s  (my favorite actress and movie).

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) in Breakfast at Tiffany's (my fav movie)

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn)

Audrey and my dog Holly have two things in common – they both have beautiful eyes, and they both have a magical connection to me.

But Danny, Audrey Hepburn passed away several years ago – and Holly, your dog, is just a dog.  What magical connection could you possibly have with either?

Patience, dear reader – patience!

A few years ago, I spent a month in the Land of Toronto – on a highly-classified and very secret mission.  The organization that contracted me cannot be named – I signed a non-disclosure agreement – and I am, if nothing else, a man of my word.  Let’s just say they have a significant influence on global entertainment matters.

I rented a furnished condo in the downtown (Yonge St & College St) area under the assumed name of  I.P. Knightly.  The condo building was very secure – with a security guard stationed at the front door – 24/7.

I also chose the condo because the Metropolitan Toronto Police Headquarters is right next door.  I scanned the surrounding area and noticed the SWAT snipers on the rooftops of adjacent buildings.    Naturally, there was a Donut Shop on the same block.  However, I have already mentioned too much – so I’ll just get to the part about the Audrey Hepburn and Holly Golightly connection.

About two weeks into my mission, I decided to take a day off.  I had been working long hours in a very dangerous part of the city known as Yorkville.  It is a corridor of trendy boutiques, galleries,  and restaurants – where the rich and famous would gather to shop, dine and giggle.  But these people don’t live in the city – they come from the surrounding suburbs such as Mr. and Mrs. Auga, Niagara Falls And Sometimes It Doesn’t, Union and NonUnion Ville, Dorothy Hamil-ton, Bow Man Ville, and Oshawa (birthplace of the Kardashian Sisters).   But I wasn’t going to spend my day off in Yorkville – I needed a change – some place different.

I was walking on Bloor Street, just west of Yonge, when suddenly I noticed the ghostly image of a beautiful woman – and she appeared to be staring at me.  I took off my mirrored sunglasses and began rubbing my eyes.  Was I having a drug flashback from the ‘60’s?  Nope, there she was – as real as real could be.  As our eyes met, she waved for me to come closer – but I stood there – frozen in fear.  She smiled, and it was at that moment that I became sure of her identity – it was Holly Golightly – the character I had worshiped since the ’60’s!

And there she was – about to open the door to a store.  As she entered the store, she briefly turned and looked at me.  Her eyes seemed to be telling me to follow her.  I quickly glanced at the sign above the shop window – Tiffany & Co.  Could this be possible?

I entered the store and was immediately captured by a beautiful scent of perfume – coming from this mysterious woman.  No, it couldn’t be Audrey Hepburn – heck, she died several years ago.  Who was this woman?

She stopped at the elevator and turned to see if I was still following – I was.  We entered the elevator together – and then the door closed.  Neither of us reached for the “floor buttons” – we just quietly looked at each other.  She smiled.  My body started to shake and tremble with an excitement I hadn’t felt since my first day of High School.  Who was this woman?  She pressed the 3rd Floor button – and then continued to smile at me.  I took a couple of steps closer to her – close enough to hear and feel her breathing.  But before I could say anything, the elevator door opened.  The mysterious woman then motioned for me to follow her.   I was in shock – she appeared to be Holly Golightly – but how could this be possible?   Who was this woman?

She was standing by a glass display case – with an assortment of rings.  She looked at me and pointed at one ring in particular.  “This one,” she whispered.  And then she vanished.  My heart stopped – and so did the time.  I just stood there – numb and in shock.

“Would you like to try it on?’, asked a salesclerk.

“Yes,” I replied, “but first tell me who that lady was!”

“What lady?” he answered.

To be continued




My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 2 of 3  (Originally published April 24, 2012)

“The lady that was…. that was just… ” I stuttered,  “she was just here … a few seconds ago!”

“I am very sorry sir, but I’m the only sales clerk working on this floor today” he replied.   “Are you feeling alright?  Would you like me to bring you a glass of water?”

He appeared to be genuinely concerned.  I knew (based on my many years of sales experience) that I was dealing with a real professional.   He was well-dressed – Brooks Brother suit and patent leather shoes – probably from an exclusive haberdashery in Yorkville.  He also appeared to be “edgy” and somewhat “needy”, as most salespeople paid on a “commission basis” tend to be.

No thanks.  Maybe I’ll just try on the ring.”

The ring was very unusual – it was flexible, comprising of many small, interlocking-silver chains.   Inside the ring was a small plate with the inscription “T&Co.”

Danny's Tiffany Ring

Danny’s Tiffany Ring

The salesclerk carefully took the ring from the display case and gently handed it to me.  He then stood back (as per the Tiffany & Co. protocol) and allowed me to try on the ring.  He began smiling – which was his way of telling me that he knew he was dealing with a customer from a foreign land.

“Forgive me for asking, but you don’t appear to be from the Land of Toronto – are you here for a visit?” he asked.

My body stiffened – questions began “racing” through my mind.  How did he know I was an outsider?  Was it because I had licked my finger several times, before trying on the ring?  Or was it the “Eagles – Hell Freezes Over Tour” t-shirt that I was wearing?   (Torontonians are die-hard fans of Hank Snow, and rock ‘n roll hasn’t gone over there yet).

“Yes,” I answered, “I’m from Rochester, New York – on a bus charter to see the CN Tower and Ontario Place.”  I felt a bit guilty for lying – but only for about 3 seconds.

“I’ll take the ring,” I told him.  “Don’t bother to wrap it; I’m going to wear it.”

Later that afternoon I returned to the condo.  As I walked through the lobby towards the elevator, I noticed one of the doors closing – I shouted – “Please wait for me!”  The door suddenly stopped and then opened.  I was surprised to see that the elevator was empty.  “Hmmm, must be high tech voice-sensors” I muttered to myself.  I pressed the 33rd-floor button and waited as the elevator started moving.

Suddenly I felt someone’s presence behind me – I quickly turned – and there she was –  Holly Golightly – or Audrey Hepburn – or her ghost!   She stared at my hand – and when she saw the ring, her eyes started to twinkle.  She held out her hand – and the ring that Fred had given her (from the Cracker Jack box) suddenly and miraculously changed and became identical to the ring I had just purchased.  Our eyes met, and it was at that moment that I noticed the tears running down her cheeks.  And before I could say anything – she vanished!

As I left the elevator, I noticed a couple leaving their condo and walking down the corridor towards the elevator.  With them was a small white, shaggy dog – who started running to me.  It had the most beautiful eyes, and it was very friendly.  I introduced myself to the couple (using my alias) and asked them what their dog’s name was and what breed.  They told me it was a Coton de Tulear, and his name was Buddy.  The woman reached into her purse and wrote the name of the breeder on a piece of paper.

“Are you in town long?” they asked.

“No, I will be leaving in a week or two” I replied.

“Maybe you can join us for dinner or drinks?” they shouted as they entered the elevator.  Buddy, the dog, turned and stared at me – with the same sad expression as the Holly Golightly mysterious woman I had just seen (or hadn’t?) in the elevator.

There was something oddly familiar about that dog – but I wasn’t sure what it was.

To be continued 




My Holly Golightly & Audrey Hepburn – Part 3 of 3  (Originally published April 26, 2012)

“Why not join us for drinks sometime?” they shouted as they entered the elevator.  Buddy, the dog, turned and stared at me – with the same sad expression as the Holly Golightly mysterious woman I had just seen (or hadn’t?) in the elevator.  There was something oddly familiar about that dog – but I wasn’t sure what it was.

I saw Buddy several times before leaving the Land of Toronto – he was such a friendly and lovable dog.   Being with him made me miss having a dog – Beau (my Pomeranian) had passed away the year before, and I was still grieving his loss.   However, I decided that if I was to ever get another dog, it would be a Coton de Tulear – just like Buddy.

Fast forward to the next year.  I returned to the Land of Ontario to house sit for Linda (my sister) and Brian at their home in Ajax.   They were vacationing in the Land of the Free and had tickets to attend a live taping of the Jerry Springer Show.  Each day I would visit with my Mom at the Parkway Retirement  Home in Pickering – and we would faithfully and eagerly watch the Jerry Springer Show in the hopes of seeing Linda and Brian in the audience.  Although we never actually saw them in the audience, we were pretty certain that we heard my sister’s distinctive voice screaming of “Jerrrrreeeee – Jerrrrreeeee!”

One day while visiting my Mom – we were talking about Beau (who was named after my Mom) and how much I missed him.   We were watching television and the Wheel of Fortune show had just ended (my Mom’s favourite program).  We flipped through the channels – when suddenly – there she was!  No, not my sister, silly!  It was Audrey Hepburn (Holly Golightly) being featured on the Biography channel.  I went numb with excitement and could barely speak.  “Mom, that’s my favourite actress of all time” I explained.  I then told her about my visit to the Tiffany & Co. store in Toronto and buying a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ring.    I didn’t mention the Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn sightings – she wouldn’t have believed me – in fact, who would?

But seeing Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn reminded me of that dog Buddy – and that was the connection!  They both had dark and mysterious eyes.  I quickly checked my address book and found the listing for Buddy’s breeder.  It was long distance – a western Ontario area code.  I dialed the number and a man answered.  I asked him if he had any pups available and he indicated that he had just one left – and it was a 4 month-old female.  I told him that I was very interested and would it be possible to go there the next day to see the dog?  He agreed and then proceeded to give me directions to his farm – it was in the Land of the Mennonites (which explains his rather odd accent).

Early the next morning I headed out on the “401” – which at that time of the morning, was a continuous 50 mile traffic jam.  I finally reached the breeder’s farm and saw the pup.  She was beautiful – and had eyes just like Buddy!  The breeder told me that she was the last in the litter – and had an issue with her hip – but she was otherwise healthy.  The kennel was a building beside the barn – the dog had never been in a house.   I paid for the dog and as soon as I got her in the car, I called her by her new name “Holly Golightly”.  A few days later we were on our way back to Vancouver – with Holly in a soft pet carrier, under the seat in front of me.  She never made a sound and despite being confined for several hours – she didn’t “mess” the carrier.

But Danny, what about that mysterious Holly Golightly/Audrey Hepburn woman or ghost?

Well, it’s like this….

Not long after getting Holly, I saw another Audrey Hepburn movie “Two For The Road” for the first time – and was “crushed” by the character she played.  She was having an affair – and not being faithful is the one thing that neither Fred or I would ever be able to forgive – regardless of how much we loved her.   It shattered my attraction for Holly Golightly although I  am sure that Audrey Hepburn was in fact, a  beautiful woman/person – and nothing like the character(s) she played.

As for Tiffany & Co. – it lost it’s wow factor for me when I learned that Newt Gingrich had a $500,000 line of credit there.  I haven’t worn my Tiffany & Co. ring since.

But Danny, what about the terror you mentioned in Part 1?

Well as I stated, I was in a deep and peaceful sleep when suddenly I awoke – frozen in terror.  The TV in my room was on (I always leave it on during the night – it helps me sleep) and Holly was awake and staring at me.  At first it was the music – and then I saw the TV screen – it was the scene in the movie where Holly Golightly is on the outside of Fred’s  bedroom window in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!  What are the odds?  Spooky!!!

And at the same time, my dog Holly Golightly was staring at me – with the saddest expression – as if she was trying to say “Don’t give up the dream”.  I got up from the bed and went to the dresser and got my Tiffany & Co. ring.  Holly watched as I put it on my finger – and then she laid her head back down and went to sleep.  And as I laid there beside her I thought about the mysterious woman from that day, five years ago, on the elevator at Tiffany & Co. in the Land of Toronto.

Hopefully, Fred will never see that Two For The Road movie…… it would probably break his heart too!

NOTE!The part about the Jerry Springer Show is not true – my sister Linda would never watch that show… but my brother Freddy might…… I’m just sayin’……

Holly Golightly hiding behind Danny

Holly Golightly hiding behind Danny at sister Linda’s place in Ajax, Ontario (2007)

UPDATE: March 14th – I’ll be wearing the ring when I visit Toronto in April – and who knows?  Maybe I’ll see her ghost again… 



Route 66


The 12 clowns had just climbed out of the tiny VW Beetle and the crowd of screaming kids yelled out for more.  I looked at the time – it was exactly 4:58 AM and Holly was curled up at the foot of the bed.  I turned off the television and excitedly took my first step on Route 66 – as a sixty-sixer.  But I almost fell in the hallway as Holly raced past me to get to the patio door – a fiercely competitive race that I endure several times a day.

Yes, January 8th was my birthday but as usual, I had nothing planned for the day.  I had left a couple of messages with Norm to see if he wanted to meet for coffee at the Whitby Coffee Shop at the beach in White Rock but hadn’t heard back from him yet.

I was having my coffee and suddenly remembered that January 8th was also David Bowie’s birthday and that he was releasing a new album today (which I had pre-ordered from iTunes last Summer).  The album was called ‘Black Star’ – which sounded kind of ‘mystical’, but it was probably just a sign that David was re-inventing himself – yet again!

I logged on to iTunes and there it was – the ‘Blackstar’ cd by David Bowie.  I  began listening to each of the songs, and it wasn’t long before realizing that this was an album about death.  I posted a few of the tunes here on my blog page – which seemed kind of fitting – Danny the birthday boy listening to David the birthday boy’s new album.  But I  was puzzled as to why he was writing about such a dark topic – on our birthday.

I quickly got dressed and drove to the beach.  I still hadn’t heard back from Norm but figured that I would have a coffee and check my emails on my laptop.  We usually met at 8:30 in the morning and it was already 8:45 when I arrived at the coffee shop.  I scanned the surroundings for him, but the place was almost empty.  I turned on my laptop and started to check messages, while listening to Blackstar.

At 9:30 I was just starting to pack up my laptop when I suddenly noticed Norm standing in front of my table.  We hugged and wished each other Happy New Year.  Norm and Dorean had been on Vancouver Island for both Christmas and Norm’s birthday (which was on Christmas Eve).  And as we hugged, I asked him if his that his birthday gift had also to be his Christmas gift – because the dates were so close.  But I never cared much about getting presents – it’s always been something I’ve felt uncomfortable with and would prefer to be the ‘giver.’  I don’t know why but it always feels better to give than it does to receive something.  And besides, my only birthday wish these days is to have another birthday next year.

Norm and I had our coffees, and he brought me up-to-date on the Cancer Centre.  He told me that a new volunteer had already replaced me and that many people missed seeing me.  We walked each other to the parking lot and said our goodbyes.  I told Norm that the day was special because it was Elvis Presley’s, David Bowie’s and my birthday.  The thought of being mentioned in the same sentence as those famous men made us both laugh.  But I did share something in common with both – a love of music.

So when I awoke two days later to the news that David Bowie had just passed away – after an 18 month battle with Cancer – I just couldn’t believe it.  He was just 69 years old!  I later learned that he had written all of the material on the album after he found out that he had Cancer and that he wanted the cd released on his birthday.

‘What a fitting way to leave this life’ I thought.  But the news of his passing saddened me.  Hopefully, he has joined Elvis and George Harrison on their heavenly tour – somewhere out there on the Astral Plane.

Today, I return to the Cancer Centre for an appointment with my radiation oncologist.  It will be the first stop on my journey along Route 66.  Destination: Route 67.

Maybe we’ll pass each other along the way.

Dedicated to Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust, Captain Tom, and of course, cancer patients.



Yesterday in Montreal

Outside Danny’s hotel – October 28th

I arrived in Montreal on Saturday night and had an early evening.  This was the first time that I have been in Montreal since the early ’70’s – with the exception of some business trips – but they were all airport to hotel – meetings in Pointe Claire – and then back to hotel – and then back to the airport.  So I was really excited about being here and looked forward to re-discovering all of the sights and sounds and maybe being able to meet with some old friends.

In the early ’70’s I was a self-employed manufacturer’s agent – representing a number of textile companies – one of which was located in Montreal.  The owner of the company would always take me out to an expensive restaurant every time I came to town.  His name was Jack W. and he was probably in his 60’s at the time.  And although Jack was married, he always had his girlfriend with him.

At the time, I was living in downtown Toronto, divorced and very single.  I became friends with one of Jack’s partners – who was also named Jack – although he was about 10 years older (mid 30’s) than me.   I can remember that this Jack – who was also divorced – used to also bring his girlfriend with him when we dined out.  Her name was Molly G., and she was Jack W’s lawyer’s secretary (now known as administrative assistant).  Now I have seen a lot of funny people in the world but Molly was the funniest – by far!  She and Jack split several months after I met her and we remained friends – mostly so she could check up and see what Jack was doing and if he was seeing anyone.  Of course I had to do a lot of lying and to this day, I know that she never believed me.

So as I sat in my hotel room yesterday morning, I decided to give her a call.  I didn’t have her number and I couldn’t remember the name of the street that she lived on but I knew approximately the area of Montreal where she used to live.  After about 5 minutes of searching online – I thought that I had found her.  But as I began to dial her number, I wondered if she was married – and if so, what would I say if her husband answered?  I even wondered if she was married to Jack – whom I haven’t seen or heard from since our partnership in a textile business ended in 1974.

The phone rang about 3 or 4 times before someone answered – and it was a man’s voice.

There was a pause and then I asked “Is this the residence of Molly G.?”

“Yes why – who’s asking?” the man replied suspiciously and he didn’t sound very friendly.  And I could tell by his accent that it wasn’t Jack.

It’s at times like this – when most normal people would simply hang up – to avoid any conflict – but these are not normal times and I have never ever been even  remotely close to being ‘normal’.

I pulled the telephone away from my ear and suddenly realised that my cell phone number would display on Molly’s phone’s call display.  The cautious part of my brain asked the rational part of my brain the following:

  • Would her husband now have a way of tracing who I am and where I live?
  • Is the guy a jealous nut case?
  • Does he own a gun(s)?
  • Should I give my real name – or make one up?
  • Or even worse yet – will my call result in a case of domestic abuse?

A voice in my head answered ‘probably’ to all of the above.  I could feel the “fear” inside of me – and it was just a matter of time before it bloomed into something more desperate.  But I didn’t want this gorilla to think that I was afraid, so I continued.

“My name is Dan St. Andrews, and I am an old friend of Molly.”  I hoped he wouldn’t pick up the tremble in my voice.

“Never heard of you!” the man angrily replied.

Another pause – as my mind stumbled – and then the ‘fear’ began to creep up my spine.  I was just about to hang up when I heard her distinctive voice in the background…

“Who the hell is on the phone?’ she screamed.

“I dunno, some jerk named Don Andrews” he replied.  His hand was covering the phone but I could still hear their muffled voices.

“I don’t know anyone by that name – ask him what he wants!”

“Tell her that I just want to say hello to her” I shouted excitedly.

“Well she no wanna talk to ya!” he screamed.  I could tell by his accent that he was not French – but regardless, he sounded like he was a ‘mobster’.

“Tell her that I was a friend of Jack A. and Jack W., and I used to work with both of them in the early ’70’s.  She probably knew me as Danny back then” I pleaded.  Most of the people that I’ve known prior to the late ’70’s called me Danny.  Those friends (and family) still call me Danny (which I like).

“Now he gonna changa he name to Donny!” he yelled.

I was starting to get annoyed with this guy and was trying to think of something nasty to say to him if he kept yelling at me – when suddenly I heard her voice in the background – but I couldn’t make out what she was saying to the gorilla.

Suddenly she was on the phone with me.

“Jack A. died a few weeks ago – but who are you?” she asked sternly.

“I am Danny St. Andrews, and I used to come to Montreal a lot in the early ’70’s.  I worked for Jack W. when you were his lawyer’s secretary.”

“How old are you?” she asked.

“Well, back then I was in my twenties and my friend Jack A. was about 7 years older” I replied.

“You didn’t answer my question – are you deaf or stupid or both?” she yelled.

I now knew where the mobster got his attitude!

I told her my exact age.

Now I know that she was older than Jack but I couldn’t remember by how much.  And I had no intention of asking her or any other woman how old she is now.  (NOTE:  Men should never, ever, ever ask a woman their age or weight).

“I just turned 83 last week and I had back surgery last year that I am still trying to deal with.  Where do you live?”

“You are how old?!”, I asked.

“Eighty-three years – are you deaf?  What did you say your name is?”

“It’s Danny – Danny St. Andrews… originally from Ontario but I’ve been living in various provinces over the last 40 years – which is when I last spoke with you”, I quickly replied.

There was another pause and then I could hear the muffled voices – again.  I regretted calling her and was thinking about hanging up when suddenly I heard the gorilla’s voice…

“She no gonna talk to you no more Denny.  You don’t call here no more!”

I hung up the phone and put on my coat.

I had one other thing that I wanted to do while here and that was to see if one of my favourite watering holes was still there on Crescent Street – between De Maisonneuve Blvd. and Ste. Catherine Street.  Back in the day (70’s), Crescent Street was where all of the English speaking people hung out.  And the best bar on the block was one that was located in the basement and was called the Sir Winston Churchill Pub.  The layout of the bar was very similar to the Cheers bar – with the actual bar in the middle of the room – surrounded by tables and a small but always jammed, dance floor.

I got to the front door of my hotel and asked the doorman if Crescent Street was within walking distance of the hotel.

He smiled, and said “It’s the next street over from the hotel.”

I quickly handed him a couple of loonies ($1 coins) and thanked him for allowing me to feel so incredibly stupid.  I had walked pass this street three times in the past couple of days but hadn’t noticed a Rue Crescent sign.

I walked along Boulevard de Maisonneuve and within a minute I was standing on the corner of Crescent Street.  My eyes immediately started searching down the left side of the street – the pub used to be right about where the people in the picture (below) are standing.  I began walking towards them…

Looking down Rue Crescent towards Rue Ste. Catherine

Looking down Rue Crescent towards Rue Ste. Catherine on the left side and where people are standing


and my heart started to race as I read the sign:


The original entrance to the pub in the basement. That’s my brown shoes in the reflection…


But when I opened the door I couldn’t believe how the pub had changed!  It was several times larger and now had 3 floors – including a dining lounge.  Here’s a few more pics of the outside of the pub:

20151027_163215 (1)

Main entrance to the other floors


The pub's dining lounge and outside deck with flowers

The pub’s dining lounge and outside deck with flowers


I was tempted to order a beer and get up enough nerve to call Molly G. back.  Or maybe I would order a couple of shooters and then call Molly G.’s place and ask to speak to the gorilla and then say something brilliant such as…

But I went back to my hotel, finished packing and then took a cab to the airport instead.

And they say “you can never go back”.




The Tush Man – Part 1 of 2


The earliest reference to the word ‘tush’ can be traced back to the earliest known traces of civilization – in the cave drawings found on the mountain side of Grouse Mountain, in North Vancouver, BC. Some historians have postulated that the original name of the mountain was Tush Mountain, and that it was changed when the first Prime Minister of British Columbia swept the Morality Party (a.k.a. Conservative) into power in the year 1491 AD.  A year later Christopher Columbus discovered the eastern shores of what is now known as New England. Nobody seems to know why the earliest inhabitants named the mountain Tush Mountain but after months of research, I have determined that it was because the mountain resembled a human’s tush (aka backside, bum, ass) when it is viewed at dusk from the shores of Tushview Village, (now known as White Rock).

However, my story has nothing to do with those interesting bits of trivia but it does have everything to do with ‘tushes’.

Let me explain.

It all began several months ago when my youngest brother Randy in MisterandMissesAuga, Ontario phoned to tell me that he had just had a colonoscopy procedure done as an outpatient at the local hospital. He explained that his family doctor had a practice of always giving him a ‘finger probe’ into the deepest regions of his tush whenever he had a physical examination.

Me: But why would a doctor stick his finger in there?

Randy: Because it’s the only way they can tell if there is anything growing inside your body. For goodness sake Danny, haven’t you seen the documentary film The Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver?

Me: Yes, I remember seeing that film but I thought it was just a work of science fiction.

Randy: That’s exactly what the government wants you to believe – that aliens from outer space can enter your body only in make-believe. But they’re for real and the sooner you realize this, the healthier you’ll be.

NOTE: Randy is the only one in our family who graduated from university, so it is understandable that he knows so much more than his oldest brother (and much, much more than our two, much older sisters).

Me: And that’s how you get rid of the aliens hiding in your body – by a doctor sticking his finger in your ‘tush’?

Randy: No, silly! He only sticks his finger in there to count how many of them are residing there. Once the doctor confirms that you have aliens in your body, he sends you to a proctologist.

Me: A what?

Randy: A tush doctor. Didn’t you ever see the Seinfeld episode – about the tush doctor who had a ‘The Ass Man’ vanity license plate?

Me: Jerry Seinfeld had a television show?

Randy spent the next hour explaining the procedure and why it was important for me to have it done.

Randy: My proctologist found several aliens living inside of me and he was able to cut them out. He also explained that the aliens had a name – they are known as ‘Polyps’.

Me: What do they do with the ‘Polyps’ once they’ve removed them from your.., uh… duh.. tush?

Randy: They put them in a box – so you can take them home with you. Alice knitted some tiny scarfs for each of them and we put them on the fireplace mantle during the winter holiday season (a.k.a. Christmas).

Me: So why are you telling me all of this?

Randy: Because my tush doctor told me that I should tell my brothers to have the procedure done too. I think it has something to do with the fact that we were born and raised in Oshawa – a city known to be favoured by the earliest Polyps invaders. Please promise that you’ll get the procedure done!

Me: Okay. I’ll call my family doctor today.

Several days later at my family doctor’s office…

Dr. W.: – Hi Danny, what can we do for you today?

Me: My baby brother told me that I should get you to… stick one of your fingers… er, uh, duh… into my…

But before I could say ‘tush’ the good doctor had already started applying axle grease – to the tips of his fingers all the way up to his elbow.

Dr. W.: This might hurt a little…

Several minutes later my doctor finished the examination and declared that although he couldn’t detect any aliens (Polyps) he was referring me to a proctologist anyway. He said that these Polyps are very sneaky and not always detectable by ‘the finger/arm probe’.

A day or so later, I got a phone message from the office of a Dr. such and such and that I had an appointment for a consultation.

Several weeks later, I arrived at the tush doctor’s office. However, I forgot the name of the doctor I was supposed to see and there were at least 50 doctor names on the door of the office.

Receptionist: Hello, can I help you?

Me: Yes, I have an appointment with a doctor at this address but I can’t remember his name.

Receptionist: We have over 50 doctors in this office – what were you seeing him for?

Me: Uh.. er… duh… it’s about having my… uh.. duh… um… it’s about having the aliens removed from my… uh… duh…

Receptionist: Your tush?

Me: Uh, yeah.

Receptionist: Go down the hall and it’s the third door on your left.

When I entered the office of the Tush Man I noticed that there were other patients there – both men and women, children and adults.

‘Gee whiz’, I thought to myself, ‘these Polyps must be everywhere!’

Suddenly, a young man in a white coat came into the waiting room and asked for Danny St. Andrews. I was amazed at how young the doctor appeared. The second thing I noticed was the length of his fingers (and arm) – and then I cringed at the thought of another examination.

Tush Man: When did you first notice that you had aliens living in your body?

Me: Shortly after my family doctor removed his arm from my… tush.

Tush Man: Take off your shirt and lay on this table.

He then started pressing his hands against my stomach. He did this for a couple of seconds and then declared…

Tush Man: Okay, you can open your eyes now and put your shirt back on – my office will call you with your appointment date.

Me: Forgive me for asking… but how old are you? You look very young to be a doctor – when did you graduate?

But what I really wanted to know was why the examination hadn’t included the Tush Man inserting his arm into my tush.

Tush Man: Don’t worry, I’ve done thousands of these exorcisms.

Me:  Did you know that Jerry Seinfeld had had a television show that had an episode about the Ass Doctor?

Tush Man:  Who is Jerry Seinfeld?

The very next day I got a call from the Tush Man’s office advising me that my exorcism (colonoscopy) was scheduled for Thursday, July 16th.  They also gave me instructions on the medications that I needed to purchase and that I would have to fast – and have nothing to eat for a day before the procedure.  And as I hung the phone up, I could swear that I felt the aliens burrowing further into my colon and that’s when The Fear began…

To be continued…




Forever & Ever

Valentine's Day

Originally published February 14, 2012

Several of my previous blogs have been stories that included either my Mom, Dad or both.  Although they are no longer living (Dad passed in 2001 & Mom passed in 2010) they are still very much alive in both my heart and mind.  The heartache never goes away – and it shouldn’t.  This is also true for other people and even pets that you have loved with all of your heart – you never stop loving them.  Memories of a loved one are the link from your heart to your soul and they will never fade with time – they remain with you Forever & Ever.

Although I loved both of my parents very much – I was always closer to my Mom.   During my teenage years, I caused my parents a lot of grief and worry – but my Mom was always there for me.  My Dad and I were always at loggerheads – and I gave up trying to please him at an early age.  Over the years, my Mom would always tell me that she loved me very much – and I always told her that I loved her very much.  I don’t recall ever hearing my Dad tell me that he loved me – and I never told him that I loved him until the night he died.  

My Dad wasn’t conscious when I last saw him – I had flown into Toronto from Vancouver and rushed directly to the hospital in Oshawa to see him.  At the time, I was more concerned about just “being there” for my Mom, as a comfort, when my Dad passed.   The family were gathered in my Dad’s hospital room – he wasn’t conscious but the nurses said he could still hear us and knew that we were there.  I approached his bed, put my hand on his forehead and told him that I loved him.  It was the first time that I can remember ever saying it to him.

Mom loved Dad more than anything in the world – despite his “imperfections” – and she was devastated at his passing.  Every time that I spoke to my Mom – either on the phone or during one of my visits – she mentioned my Dad and how she missed him.  She often told me how proud he was of me – and that he really, really loved me.  I remember crying, the first time she told me.  “Why couldn’t he ever just tell me?”, I would ask. 

“Because your Dad wasn’t brought up that way”, she replied.  “He seldom ever told me that he loved me – but I could always feel his love.”  Mom not only loved my Dad – he was her hero.

I really miss my Dad now.  I miss my Mom too, but she passed knowing how much I loved her. She knew that I would love her Forever & Ever.  I hope my Dad passed knowing that I loved him….

Happy Valentine’s Day Mom & Dad!

All My Love,

Forever and Ever,




Favourite Record Stores on Yonge Street

Originally published December 8, 2012

Sam the Record Man store on Yonge Street

Sam the Record Man store on Yonge Street

A&A Records on Yonge Street

A&A Records on Yonge Street

 In the mid-70’s, my buddies and I would drive to Yonge Street in Toronto – just to buy record albums.  We would go every couple of months (when we were “flush with cash”) and would spend most of the day checking out LPs at both Sam The Record Man and A & A Records, which at the time were the biggest record stores in Canada.

 First, we would go to Sam’s and check out their featured albums – there would always be a couple of dozen of the latest LPs on display – and all at great prices.  We would spend hours searching out the best LPs from our favourite singers/bands and then we’d see what A & A had on sale. Then we would go for lunch, have a few beers and compare notes on what albums to buy.  Usually, we would buy about 10 LPs but always at a fraction of the cost had we shopped at Eatons, Simpsons-Sears or at any of the smaller music stores.  I still have most of the LPs that  I bought from that era – all stored in protective sleeves – to keep them in pristine playing condition.

I remember one particular trek when I discovered that Eric Carmen – former lead singer in the group The Raspberries – had just released his first solo album.  They were playing it in the store and I really liked it – so I bought it.  About 30 years later, I noticed a copy of the album on CD (from Japan) being offered on eBay.  It was at a time when many of the older albums or cassettes were not yet available on CDs – so I immediately bought it (after a frenzied bidding war).

A friend of mine and I were recently discussing music and both agreed that it was always great listening to music via records played on a record player.  And that’s kinda funny because when we were teenagers, we had these small record players – and the records were mono not stereo.  We would usually only buy singles (45 RPM) because most LPs only had one or two good songs.  We didn’t take much care in how we handled our records – and the noises created by the scratches, dust and grease from our fingers were just part of the listening experience.  In fact, it was normal to stack several 45’s on top of each other on the player.   I remember going to one of my friend’s house to listen to his record collection.  We would lay on the floor listening to music by the hour.  But that was a different time – before the internet, YouTube, Amazon, eBay and iTunes.

I still love music and have a large collection of records, cassettes, cds and MP3 downloads.  But I have never downloaded free music – ever.  I have bought some through iTunes but most of my music purchases are on CD.  I have transferred them all on both my iTunes library and Windows Media Player.  I currently have over 10,500 songs.  And although I enjoy listening to music from my iPod – I still prefer to have the CD in my hand – to look at the picture and/or read the album notes or lyrics.  The best LPs or CDs always include the lyrics.

And I still like to lay on the floor while listening to music.

BTW, if you’re ever in Toronto looking for a good place to buy records – you won’t be able to find Sam The Record Man or A & A Records – they both went bankrupt.

Too bad – too sad, because shopping for music on the Internet is so lame!




Flashback to the 60’s: Loblaws & The House of the Rising Sun

Originally published February 15, 2013

Loblaws Grocery Stores

Loblaws Grocery Stores

It was sometime during 1964 and I was desperate for a part-time job.  I had given up my newspaper job at the Oshawa General Hospital (see My Best Newspaper Job blog) and I wasn’t interested in any more paper routes, shoveling snow or cutting lawns – been there, done that.  I needed (wanted) to get a “grown-up job”.  As previously mentioned, I didn’t get a weekly allowance, so I had to find a job to pay for my new pastime – GIRLS!  After all, everybody knows that girls aren’t interested in dating “paper boys”.

I was in high school and there were lots of dances – but you had to pay for admission.  I don’t recall how much it cost to get in, but even if it was just $1.00 – it was a dollar more than I usually had in my pocket.  Oh sure, I was able to scrounge up enough money to go to the odd dance but that isn’t where the need for money ended.  Because if you danced with a girl and you wanted to walk her home after the dance, you had to stop at one of the restaurants downtown for chips and coke – and that cost about 25 cents per person – and the boy always paid for the girl’s meal.  It’s one thing to want to date a girl but without money – well, I was probably doomed to be single for the rest of my life!

So I started looking for a part-time job at the Oshawa Shopping Centre.  At the time it wasn’t an enclosed mall but it did have two large stores, namely Loblaw’s (grocery store) and Eaton’s (department store).  I was wearing a white shirt and tie, my hair was neatly brushed and my shoes were nice and shiny.  I didn’t have any experience in asking for a job but didn’t think it would be too difficult.  So immediately after school had finished for the day, I started walking to the shopping centre.  I rehearsed what I would say and how I would say it.  I arrived at Loblaw’s and asked one of the cashiers for a job.  I remember her smiling at me and then telling me I would have to speak to Mr. A., the store manager.  She called for him and within a few moments I was face-to-face with the meanest looking person I had ever seen.  He was very abrupt and direct when he asked “You have to be able to work until 10:00PM on Thursdays and Fridays and then work all day Saturday until 6:00PM”

“That’s no problem, sir” I answered.

“You also need to be 15 years old” he stated.  He was staring me up and down.

“Yes sir, I’m 15 years old” I replied – even though I had just turned 14 a few weeks earlier.  But sometimes a guy has to tell a fib to get what he wants – and the ends always justify the means, right?

“Okay, you can start tomorrow.  Make sure that you’re here at 5:00 o’clock and don’t be late!” he barked.

“Yes sir… I mean, no sir…” I replied nervously.  I then held out my hand to shake his hand but he just turned and walked away.

I was really happy that I had gotten the job.  But I would have to break the news to my parents that I would be working until 10:00 o’clock on a school night.  Oh well, I’ll just forget to mention the hours – after all, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness, than it is to ask for permission.  I guess that that was sort of like telling a lie – but like I said, the ends justify the means.

On Thursday, I wore my white dress shirt to school and told all of my buddies about my new job – but they weren’t impressed.  After all, most of them were getting huge allowances – why would they want to work?  Why would they want to give up their Saturdays?  It suddenly dawned on me that I was probably one of the poorest teenagers attending O’Neil Collegiate & Vocational Institute (OCVI).

After class, I headed for the Oshawa Shopping Centre – I didn’t have bus fare, so I had to walk.  But I walked fast because I didn’t want to be late for my first day at the job – who knows, Mr. A. seemed mean – he would probably fire me for being late – but not until he hit me or something first.  So my walk turned into a run – I didn’t own a wrist watch, so I had no way of knowing if I was going to be on time or not.  I can’t recall how long it took me to get to Loblaws, but I know that I wasn’t late.

Mr. A. met me and took me for a tour of the backroom, where all of the back up inventory was stored.  He then took me to his office and gave me a white apron, a black bow tie and a pricing gun.  He then introduced me to one of the part time clerks who would be teaching me the job.  His name was Danny, too.  Every grocery clerk had an aisle of the store that they were responsible for and Danny L. took me to my aisle: the canned vegetable and fruit aisle.  He explained that the first thing that you do is make a list of the empty spots on the shelves.  He then took me to the backroom where all of the boxes of canned vegetables and fruits were stored.  Depending on the size of the cans, the box would contain 12 or 24 cans.  You would then fill a cart with the boxes that you needed and then went back to your aisle to price each of the cans with the pricing gun.  The pricing gun was really neat – you turned the wheels to the correct numbers for the price and then you stamped each of the cans in the box.  Danny explained that you had to then put the cans on the shelf with the English label facing outward.  Canada is officially bilingual but not at Loblaws!  He exlained that if Mr. A. saw any products showing a French label – well, let’s just say that you’d be doomed!

Then Danny told me about single facing and double facing the cans at the end of the night.  At about 9:30 PM, you had to move the cans to the front of the shelf to make the shelf appear full.  On Thursday and Friday nights it would be only a single row of cans at the front of the shelf.  On Saturdays, you would have to put a double row of cans in front of the shelf.  I guess this was a way to make the store always appear that it had lots of food.

At break time, Danny introduced me to some of the other part time clerks.  One of them was Bob Simpson.  Four years later, when my parents moved to Georgetown, I stayed in Oshawa on my own – to finish my last year of high school.  And for much of that year, I had a basement room (no board) that I rented at Bob’s house.  During the break, I also remember talking about music – that’s all we ever talked about – except for maybe girls.  One of the guys asked me how many records I had.  I only owned one – it was a Meet Bobby Curtola lp that I got from the Wilson & Lee Music Store.  Actually, I won a “spot dance” at my first school dance and my first dance with a girl (Marie P.) and we both got gift certificates for any record album at Wilson & Lee Music Store.  I picked Bobby Curtola’s album, which I still have to this day.  Danny L. told me that I had to get The Animals’ new 45 rpm record – The House of the Rising Sun.  He said that it was the perfect song for dancing really, really slow with a girl.

I only worked at Loblaws for one week.  My Mom freaked out when I didn’t get home until almost 11:00 o’clock – on a school night and made me quit my job.  But she did let me finish the week, so I could at least make a few bucks.  And I remember going to Wilson & Lee Music Store and buying the House of the Rising Sun record.  It was my first blues/rock record and I really loved it (and all of the future Eric Burdon & The Animals songs).  A few weeks ago, I  bought Eric Burdon’s latest album ‘Til Your River Runs Dry, which was just released.  Nice to see that he’s still performing after all of these years.



oshawa_times_loblawsI used to go shopping here with Ma in the ’50’s – Oshawa had several of these stores