The Tush Man – Part 2 of 2

Note:  Please read Part 1 before reading this…

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…

Monday, July 13th

I tried pinching myself to see if I’d been dreaming – and that’s when the doorbell rang.  Holly started to bark – as she always does when people come to the door.  I quickly put her into the den and then I rushed to open the front door. 

“Hello, I am from the Township of Langley Licence Department” the lady said as she smiled at me. I noticed that she was holding a receipt book in one hand and a handful of what looked like dog tags in her other hand. 

Although I’ve had dogs for most of my adult life, I have never believed in getting a dog licence for any of them.  And it’s not because I’m too cheap, or that I’m some kind of radical anti-government anarchist or something.  It’s just that all good dog owners believe that their dogs are members of their family – and consider their dogs as children.  And because no kind, decent, law-abiding person would ever licence a child – why would I ever want to licence my Holly Golightly?  She’s not a car or a truck for heaven’s sake!

“Hello” I replied. 

“May I call you Dan or would you prefer Daniel?” she asked politely as she began to write in her receipt book.

“Whatever is fine” I answered.  (Actually, I prefer Danny but most people call me Dan or Daniel – but that’s for another story.)

“And you have just the one dog?” she asked.

“Dog? What do you mean?”  I was lying through my teeth and was just about to deny having one when Holly started to bark.

“Is Holly Golightly your only dog?” she asked.  She appeared to be losing patience with me.  But how did she know my dog’s name was Holly Golightly?  Maybe one of my neighbours ‘ratted me out’.  Or maybe someone in the Township of Langley reads my blog and has read about Holly… or…

“Oh, you mean my little gal Holly!” I laughed, “it’s just that I’ve never considered her as a dog.  And she knows me as her Daddy.”  I was stuttering and my face was turning a very deep, dark shade of red.  I felt like the little kid who got caught with his hand in the candy jar.

The drone from the Township proceeded to lecture me on the need to be a ‘good citizen’ and a ‘good dog owner’ just like everyone else does.  She made me feel very guilty and foolish.  I guess that’s why you should never lie – because chances are the person that you’re lying to is actually smarter than you – which makes you ‘dumb and dumber’.  And all of the while that she’s lecturing me, Holly is barking loudly and non-stop in the den!

I paid the license fee and sheepishly closed the front door.

Anyways, back to my tush.

I started taking the medication 3 days before the colonoscopy – which meant never being more than 20 steps away from the washroom.  On the day before the procedure I wasn’t supposed to have anything to eat but I was supposed to drink plenty of clear fluids right up to 2 hours prior to the examination.  The pharmacist also explained that I could expect to pass a lot of gas for a few hours after the colonoscopy.

Thursday, July 16th

10:00AMArrived in the Langley hospital lobby but wasn’t sure where I was supposed to go for the procedure.  I studied the various signs but none of them gave directions to where ‘tushes’ are examined.  I decided to ask someone but hospital staff are difficult to identify because they don’t wear the traditional white uniforms anymore.  I noticed a smiling face in a uniform staring at me, so I approached her.

Me:  Can you help me?  I am here for a colonoscopy but I don’t know where I am supposed to go.

Smiling Lady:  Sorry sir, but this is the Starbucks kiosk.  But could I tempt you into trying one of our triple chocolate, triple cream, high fibre, non-gluten, watermelon-chai latte?

Me:  No thank you – but can you tell me where the washroom is located?

Several minutes later I finally found my way to the Ambulatory Daycare section.  A nurse greeted me and gave me a clipboard with a number of forms to complete.  She asked me to return the copies to her once they were all completed, signed and dated.  The only part of the form that I wasn’t able to complete was the part that asked my height (in cm’s) and weight (in kg’s) – ’cause I’m still trying to learn the metric system, which I hate with a passion. 

The nurse gave me a gown and told me to change – and then to add insult to injury – the nurse told me to make sure that I put the gown on correctly – with the opening on the back.  I quickly got changed and then opened the curtain to the cubicle that I was in and noticed that the nurse was still standing there.

Nurse:  How tall are you and how much do you weigh? 

Me:  Sorry, but I only know my height in feet and inches (5′ 11″) and my weight in pounds (190  lbs). 

I laid on the bed in that cubicle for almost an hour – waiting for my turn.  It was obvious that all of the other people were there for the same procedure – because I could overhear all of the conversations between the patients and the nursing staff.  And part of what the nurses were saying made me smile – the part where they said that you will have a lot of gas after the procedure but that it is normal and okay.  In fact, the nurses all mentioned that they encouraged everyone to ‘fart’ whenever you get the urge.  And that made me smile – ’cause everyone knows that all boys like to ‘fart’.   It was at that same moment that I suddenly heard an outburst of ‘farts’ from a number of the cubicles in the room.  One in particular seemed to be in three different notes/decibels and it lasted for at least 8 seconds! 

And as I laid there in the bed – waiting for my turn to go into the Operating Room – I thought back to when I was a boy scout at camp.  We would all be in our sleeping bags trying desperately to fart – in order to make our friends laugh – and one of my friends asked if anyone had ever seen a ‘flaming fart’?  We all shrugged our heads and collectively answered ‘no’.  It was at that point that my friend grabbed a wooden match and after grunting and groaning for a few seconds he was able to muster up a ‘fart’.  And just as he began to fart he lit the match, held it close to his tush and suddenly there was a fairly loud ‘Pooooooooooof’ noise – accompanied by a large blue flame!  Everyone in the tent laughed and shouted our approval and then each of us grabbed a handful of matches.  

The nurse suddenly appeared at my cubicle and announced that it was my turn.  And as they wheeled me out of the room and down the hall, I gave the other patients a ‘thumbs up’ as a form of encouragement to continue with the ‘passing gas melodies’ during my absence.

The Procedure

For those readers not aware of the colonoscopy procedure – it may sound scary but it really isn’t painful or uncomfortable.  But it is a very important diagnostic tool and I don’t want the humour of my blog to minimize the importance of having regular checkups – for men and women – as your best defence against cancer.  Colorectal Cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect and the mortality rate is one of the highest of all cancers.  And it doesn’t matter your age, sex or lifestyle. 

Within twenty minutes of entering the operating room – the procedure was over.  And it was painless – easier than having your teeth cleaned at the dentist.  As they wheeled me back to the recovery area, one of the nurses told me that everything looked fine and they only found one small alien (polyp) which they removed.  She said that the results of the biopsy will be sent to my family doctor in a couple of weeks.  She also reminded me that I would be passing a lot of gas for the next 24 hours.

And just as we entered the recovery ward I noticed another patient being wheeled down the hall towards the operating room.  And as we passed each other in the hall, I held up my hand with my ‘thumbs up” as a sign of solidarity and encouragement – and then I noticed who the other patient was – and I was shocked!

It was none other than the drone lady from the Township’s Dog Licensing Department. 

‘Karma’, I thought to myself. 

I only made one stop on my way home from the hospital – at the corner smoke shop to buy a pack of wooden matches.


Dedicated to my friend Lui Pasaglia and all other Colorectal Cancer Patients/Survivors




Danny and Lui Passaglia (Colorectal Cancer Survivor)

Danny and Lui Passaglia (Colorectal Cancer Survivor) at the 2015 PUSH FOR YOUR TUSH WALK at Jericho.  Danny is registered for the 2016 Walk in the Fall.

A Wonderful Surprise!

This morning I got a wonderful surprise – a comment from one of the readers of my blog.  And although I am always thrilled to receive comments about my stories (good or bad), they usually only come from friends or family members.  I mean, who else reads my blog?  Who else would even be interested in what I write about?  I ask myself those same questions every time I sit down to write another short story (blog).  After all, the Internet covers the whole planet, so it’s conceivable that there are many people from all around the world who read my blogs – but then again, it’s more probable that it’s limited to only a few diehard friends and/or family.

So when I received a comment from Nancy C. (nee Walsh) this morning it brought tears to my eyes.  Nancy is one of the daughters of the late Ma Walsh whom I wrote about in my 4-part blog The Summer of ’66 and the first contact that I’ve had with anyone in her family in over 40 years.  Here is the link to the first part of that series:

When I wrote about that summer, it brought back so many memories of that magical time in my life.  But I never dreamed that anyone from that tiny village in Southern Ontario would ever read my blog, much less a member of the Walsh family.  But Nancy did and I am so thrilled to have read her comment this morning.  Her comment and my reply can be viewed on the Dog Days of Summer blog or by clicking on this link:

Thanks Nancy for opening the floodgates of memories of those summers that I spent in Vittoria;  I can now go back to believing in magic…

And speaking of living in a ‘small world’ – my sister Linda and her husband Brian are currently on a river cruise in Europe and she just emailed that they had bumped into a girl that she went to school with in Oshawa many, many years ago!  (Linda is my much older sister).  What are the odds of bumping into someone you hadn’t seen or heard from in years?




But I Couldn’t

Hi Ma,

It’s your 91st birthday today and I wanted to buy you something really special – but I couldn’t.

I was also going to send you 2 Birthday Cards – one loving and one humourous – but I couldn’t.

And I also wanted to give you a call and wish you a Happy Birthday and tell you how much I love you – but I couldn’t.

I was going to book a flight to Ontario to visit with you – but I couldn’t.

However, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about you.

I really, really miss you and love you very much.

My Ma on her 85th birthday - she passed 2 years later

My Ma on her 85th birthday – she passed 2 years later


Hugs & Kisses Forever & Ever,


PS – Say hi to Dad for me


Phood Phor Thought


Phor years I’ve tried to phigure the difference between words beginning with the letter ‘F’ and those beginning with ‘Ph’.  I mean, how drunk was the person who invented the English language when they got to the phork in the road where they had to decide between ‘F’ or ‘Ph’?  And what exactly were they doing at the phork in the road in the phirst place?

Phor example:

phone (fone); phase (fase or faze); phrase (frase or fraze); physical (fysical or fizical); photo (foto); physician (fysician or doctor); phlegm (flem or spit) and hundreds of other examples including phallus (fallus or peepee).

But wait, there’s more to this disturbing issue….

What kind of sick person would ever name their newborn daughter ‘Phoebe‘ (Feebee), unless of course they lived in ‘Phoenix‘ (Feenix).

I phor one, have decided that I am going to phorget that the letter ‘F’ ever existed.  There will never be a time that I write or say ‘WTF’ anymore – it’ll now be ‘WTPH’.  And if I ever get my screenplay finished, I’ll be sure that the gangster characters always use the phrase ‘phugget about it’.  And the acronym BFF (Best Friends Forever) will now be BPHPH.

And yes, I’ll never ever, ever, ever use the phorbidden ‘F’ word again – it’ll now be the more polite ‘phuck’.

Your Phriend Phorever,



Terror on 8th Avenue

Originally published June 24, 2012

Mountie on horse patrol in Langley

On my drive from Langley to White Rock this morning, I noticed several bright flares on both sides of the road ahead.  As cars passed me from the opposite direction, I could see by the look of terror on their faces that something terrible must have just happened – but what?  As I got closer, I noticed an RCMP officer, sitting on his horse, frantically waving his arms for me to stop.  Langley (Horse Capital of British Columbia) is where Mounties learn to ride horses.  In fact, it is the only place in Canada where Mounties still patrol on horseback – there are no police cars (Mountie Cars).  There are no sirens or police lights on RCMP horses – just flares and a Mountie whistle, which is tied to the end of a long white cord (so they don’t lose it).

I immediately pulled my car to the side of the road, in front of Hall’s Prairie School and quickly got out and started walking towards the Mountie.

 “Yes Officer, what’s the problem?” I asked.

 “Are you familiar with farming?” the Mountie asked somewhat desperately.

 “Why yes, I spent several summer holidays working on farms as a teenager back in the ‘60’s”, I quickly replied.  (See my previous blog post Summer of ’66)

 “Good!  I am a rookie Mountie – on my first patrol and I have a bit of a problem.  You see, I’m from the city – born and raised in Toronto – and the only time I’ve ever been in the country was on weekends with my parents, when we would go on picnics to places like Markham, Etobicoke and even Scarborough.”

 “I see, (although I really didn’t)  what seems to be the problem?  I noticed several flares burning – is there a problem at the school?” I asked. 

 We both turned and looked at the school.

 “Yes, I think so, but I’m not certain.” he replied.  “May I use the hood of your car?  I need to dismount from the horse but I’ve never done it without a step ladder,” he added – his face turning a bright red – the color of  his uniform. 

 I grabbed the reins of the horse as the embarrassed Mountie stepped onto the roof of my car – then started tumbling backwards, down the back window, across the trunk and then onto the ground, where he landed sitting in an upright position.  I immediately sat down beside him – to save him any further embarrassment.  I could tell that he was all choked up with emotion – his eyes began filling with tears.

“Did you know that this is a very historic school?” I asked – hoping that the change of subject might allow the Mountie a few moments to compose himself.

Halls Prairie School

 NOTE to readers:  Hall’s Prairie Elementary School is located on 8th Avenue – between 176th Street and 184th Street and directly across the street from Hazelmere Golf & Country Club, in South Surrey, BC. 

“This school has been teaching farm kids for more than 125 years.  Horse-drawn wagons pick up the kids from the numerous farms in south Surrey and drop them off at the school each weekday morning.  Most of them arrive barefoot – because of both declining farm incomes (government subsidies) and the recent crackdown on illegal “moonshine stills” by the government “revenooers”.  The teacher stands on the school porch ringing a hand-held bell – which can be heard for miles.”  I looked at the Mountie and was relieved to see him smiling again.

“So Officer, what seems to be the problem?” I asked.

“Follow me but please be cautious” the Mountie warned. 

We walked down the road about 100 feet and then we stopped.  He pointed to a spot between the road and a farm’s wire fence.  I could see the terror on his face – he was struggling to be brave. 

“They are the biggest and meanest looking Dalmatians that I’ve ever seen!” he whispered.  “I was going to shoot them but there are three of them – and I probably would only be able to get one shot off before the other two got to me!” 

dalmatian dog

Dalmatian Dog

 “Don’t say another word!” I cautioned, “And don’t look them in the eye – just turn and face the other way – NOW!” 

I put my arm around his shoulder – as sort of a “fatherly” gesture and explained that the three animals were not Dalmatian dogs – they were Holstein cows.  Actually, one was a cow and the other two were calves.  They were just laying on the ground – and staring at us.  Obviously, they had followed some of the kids to school and then got tired and decided to take a nap on the side of the road.

holstein cow

Holstein Cow

Once again, the Mountie’s eyes started filling with tears – and he began shaking – so that’s when I decided to take charge of the situation.

“These may be just cows, but we still need to exercise extreme caution” I warned.  “If you make eye contact with them, they will come right over to you.  They are extremely curious animals.  And 8th Avenue is a busy road – if the drivers passing by make direct eye contact with the cows – we will be doomed!”  I handed the Mountie a tissue for his eyes. 

I quickly thought of a plan – and began explaining it to the Mountie. The Mountie was to go up the road a few hundred yards – while I went back the other way, a few yards.  We would stop each of the oncoming cars and explain to them that they must not make direct eye contact with the cows.   Meanwhile, I would use my mobile phone to contact the farmer – whose name Orwell MacDonald was hand-painted on the mailbox located nearby.  But there was just one thing – I would need to have the Mountie swear me in as a “Deputy” and then give me something to wear to make me look official.  He nodded in agreement and tried to remove his hat but couldn’t loosen the chin straps.  As he fumbled with it, I quickly grabbed his service-whistle-on-a-rope and slipped it around my neck.  He didn’t object – it was clear to him that he was in the presence of a fearless patriot – a natural born leader.  We then took up our positions on the road.

As I called Directory Assistance for the number of O. MacDonald’s farm, I noticed the tags on the right ear of each cow.  The two calves had tags that read “Ei” and the large cow had a tag that read “Oh”.  It was obviously some form of classification system that farmers now used instead of the previous cruel practice of “branding with a hot iron”.

I quickly dialed the number. 

Meanwhile, vehicles were lined up for miles in both directions.  Many drivers were honking their horns – things were deteriorating quickly.  It became so noisy I had to grab the mountie whistle and started to blow several very loud blasts towards the angry drivers.  It was after the last whistle blast that I got an answer on the phone.


“Yes, this is Deputy Danny speaking.  Is this the O. MacDonald farm?” I asked in a very loud and official-sounding voice. 

“Yes, I’m O. MacDonald” he replied nervously,  “is there something wrong?” 

“Yes!” I replied, “we have Ei-Ei-Oh on the side of the road and everyone knows that O. MacDonald has a farm, Ei, Ei, Oh!”



Dear Ma,

May 2, 1923 - September 26, 2013

May 2, 1923 – September 26, 2013

Dear Ma,

It’s been three years and it still hurts.  They say that time heals a broken heart – but that’s not true, because I still miss and love you very much.  I wish that I could have seen you before you passed – to be with you and holding your hand one last time.

I miss talking to you on the phone.  I miss telling you how much I love you and I really, really, really miss hearing you tell me how much you loved me. 

All my love,

Forever and Ever,


My first photo with my Ma

                            My first photo with my Ma





The Beach Boys concert at the PNE

I remember first hearing The Beach Boys on the radio when I was 12 years old (1962) and they instantly became my favourite band.  Their sound was totally different than existing bands and the lyrics to their songs made you want to move to California, or at the very least learn how to surf.  Unfortunately, I didn’t live anywhere near an ocean and Lake Ontario wasn’t exactly a place to go surfing.  In fact, not many people even swam in Lake Ontario in those days – probably because of the polution. 

And although I have listened to a variety of music over the years, I have never tired of hearing the Beach Boys.  As a teenager, their songs always made me dream about exciting things including:

  • Girls
  • Beach
  • Surfing
  • Hot rods
  • Girls
  • School
  • Dancing
  • California
  • Love
  • Girls

I have been to many concerts over the years but for some reason I had never been to a Beach Boys concert.  When I read that they would be playing at the PNE in Vancouver this summer, I decided that I had better go because who knows how long they would still be touring?  And although the concerts at the PNE are free with admission, you could purchase an advance ticket for reserved seating, which only cost $20.  It turned out that it was probably the best $20 that I had ever spent.  The Amphitheatre was already full when I arrived at 8:00 PM and they were turning people away from the gate if you didn’t have a reserved seat ticket.  I got to my seat and was looking at the dark clouds in the sky – rain was in the forecast and it was only a matter of time before the heavens opened up.  But I had my umbrella and was going to stick it out regardless. 

The concert started at 8:30 PM and for 90 minutes they created the same excitement that I experienced as a teenager 50 years ago.  It was magical and I was thrilled to have finally seen them perform in a live concert.

And immediately after their last song it started to rain. 

It’s now Saturday afternoon and I am going to the beach in White Rock (pictured above).  I’ll probably be listening to The Beach Boys on my iPod and dreaming about one day becoming a surfer….






The Summer of ’66 – Part 4 of 4

Originally published March 25, 2012


Danny 1967-68

My high school picture


NOTE:  Please read Part 3 before reading this post – thanks!

As we sat in Ma Jacobits’ restaurant, a couple of the guys suggested that Dude and I should try to get work “hoeing” tobacco on one of the farms directly across the road from the restaurant.  I can’t remember the farmer’s name but he was very friendly and agreed to hire us, soon after Dude mentioned his Aunt and Uncles’ names (probably the first time I heard the expression “It’s not what you know – it’s who you know!”).   The great thing about this job was the fact that it was just a short walk – no hitch hiking!

Now it’s important to note that “hoeing” has nothing to do with prostitution – it refers to a “hoe” (gardening tool) – which is used for removing weeds from gardens or in this case, to hoe weeds from around the recently-planted tobacco plants.  I’m not sure but I think that “Hoedowns” (country music festivals) probably got their origin from “hoeing”.

On our first day of the job I was happy to see that the work wasn’t difficult – but by the end of a very hot day in the field – I had a bad sunburn – not to mention the numerous blisters on both hands.  There’s one thing about living in the country – none of the guys wore shorts – just blue jeans and t-shirts.  And when it got hot, you just took off your shirt – a simple (but painful) practice.   Dude and I went to the Hardware Store in the village and bought work gloves and an engineer’s hat – a grey, thinly striped hat that railway workers wore.  Dude called them “Clapper Hats” – and although he never mentioned why they were called “Clappers”, we always wore them – except when we went into Simcoe – and definitely never when we were on or near the beach at Turkey Point.

Another thing about the hoeing – our “field boss” was the farmer’s wife – who was nice but she never stopped talking.  The more that she talked, the quicker Dude and I hoed our rows of tobacco plants – to get well-out-of-hearing distance from her.  It wasn’t like we were being mean to her – there were other workers hoeing – and they were all women – who seemed to enjoy listening to her.

The hoeing job lasted for a couple of weeks and then we did a number of other short-term jobs including: picking corn, picking strawberries and “drawing in hay”.  I remember working all day picking strawberries and only getting paid $4.00!  When Dude and I got a job picking corn for Norfolk Farm Company (a large agricultural conglomerate that leased farm land to grow corn), it was the first time that I had ever eaten raw corn.  Dude and I had to be on the “pick” location very early in the morning, before either of us could have breakfast – so he suggested that we eat a cob or two of fresh-picked corn.  Actually it tasted pretty good – especially when you were hungry (luckily, I haven’t eaten raw corn since).

It was during the corn picking job that the guys gathered at the restaurant (our hangout), decided to throw a “corn roast and beer-drinking party” at  “Blueberry” – which was a deserted and over-grown cemetery in the middle of a wooded area, next to my friend John Walsh’s family’s farm.  His family were direct descendents of the original pioneers of the area and there is a small village called “Walsh” a few miles from Vittoria, named after them.  “Blueberry” had been that area’s first cemetery – although nobody ever explained to me why it was called “Blueberry”.

When I was younger, my Mom used to take me with her, to the Union Cemetery, where my Grandpa St. Andrews was buried.  She taught me to always respect graveyards, by always talking in a whisper and to never, ever walk on anyone’s actual grave – for fear of disturbing the dead.  That visit was probably the first time I got “the Fear” – and to this day, I do not walk on graves.  And now, I was supposed to get all excited about having a corn roast/beer-drinking party in a graveyard?!  I shuddered at the thought of being “doomed” – to be haunted and tormented by angry dead people – just like the ghouls in the movie “Night of the Living Dead”!

The plans for the party included several of the guys taking their pickup trucks to Turkey Point Provincial Park and “borrowing” a few picnic tables.  Ontario’s provincial parks have the best-built picnic tables in the world but they were very heavy (made from logs) – so there wasn’t a plan to return them, once we had them in the graveyard.  While the guys were away getting the tables, a bunch of us took a tractor with a trailer that contained lawnmowers, saws, hatchets, rakes and other implements to clear the overgrown site.   After a few hours of hard work, we were finally finished.  Blueberry now looked less spooky – especially with several beautiful log picnic tables, strategically placed around the site.

The next step in our action plan was to get several old laundry tubs – and fill them with ice and beer – lots of beer! A couple of the guys brought their guitars and one had a banjo – so we had great entertainment.  There were probably 30 to 40 guys there that night – even some of the guys’ fathers came to the party.  Everyone was drinking, laughing, and singing their favourite songs or just talking – it was better than any party I had ever been.

As soon as it started to get dark, a fire was built to cook the corn and provide light.  Dude and I took several of the guys with us to the field that we had been picking corn earlier in the day – and we “snatched” several armfuls of fresh corn.  When we got back, we started to shuck the cobs and then placed them in a laundry tub of boiling water.  To this day, I have never been able to find corn that tasted as good as the corn that night – probably because “snatched” corn always tasted better than store bought!  By the way, we didn’t “steal”   the corn from any farmer – that would have been a big NO-NO.  The Norfolk Farm Company had a bad name – and was disliked by most  farmers.  So we simply “snatched” the corn as you would snatch a falling leaf from a tree – no crime, no time!

Drawing in the hay was a job that we did for about a week – at a different farm each day.  All of the farmers helped each other to gather the hay and put it into their barns.  It was very hard work – throwing 40 lb. bales of hay on a wagon, especially when the stack of bales on the wagon got higher.  We would then take the loaded wagon to the barn and then unloaded the bales onto a conveyer belt which sent the bales inside the barn, where they were stacked yet again.   We repeated this process until all of the bales had been “drawn”.  At lunch each day, the farmers’ wives would work together to prepare a huge meal – which we ate outdoors.  And there would always be cold beer at the end of day.  However, I was always too tired to stay, so I would go back to my room and go to bed.  Early the next morning one of the guys would pick me up and we’d head off to another farm.

It was sometime in late July that John Walsh picked me up at the restaurant and told me that he and his family wanted me to stay at their place – instead of Ma Jacobits.  I guess they felt sorry for me – always trying to find work to pay for my room and meals.  I had already met John’s parents – his dad was retired and his mother, a hard-working housewife, had raised 10 children.  Their farmhouse was very old and large and without an indoor washroom or plumbing.  In fact, the only running water was in the kitchen sink – an old hand pump that you had to pump to get the water to flow.  The water drained into a pail under the sink, which then had to be emptied – and often.  There was always a large pot of water on the stove – for hot water – which we used in a wash basin like they did in old movies.  I marveled that people could live like that – but they didn’t seem to mind – and they were happy.

Mrs. Walsh was originally fromVirginia and still had a southern accent.  When she spoke, it almost sounded like she was singing – she was one of the nicest persons I have ever known.  She told me that she didn’t want me staying at Ma Jacobits’ place any longer and wanted me to stay at their place – room and board – and I could pay whatever I could afford.  She also insisted that I call her “Ma”.  I felt very awkward and said that it would be too much bother but she insisted that I move in that day.  And despite sharing a room with John and his younger brother Jimmy “Cooner”, I now felt like I had a home again.

The hardest part of leaving Ma Jacobits’ place was leaving my dear friend Jasper the dog.  However, every time he saw me coming to the restaurant (which was often, as it was the place we all hung out) he would rush across the yard to greet me – tail wagging.  He seemed to miss me as much as I missed him!

In closing…..

When I first decided to write about the Summer of ’66, the goal was to include some of my experiences, as a sixteen year old kid, on that first summer away from home.  I don’t know why I chose to write a four-part blog on the subject – I wasn’t sure if I could remember enough “interesting” memories to justify one part – let alone – four parts!  But as I started to write Part 1, the “memory vault” suddenly burst open – with memories that had been “hidden” in my mind for years.  When I completed Part 1, I knew that it would be impossible to capture all of what happened during that great summer, in only a four-part blog.

So I’ve decided to end the series – here.  However, I will be writing future blogs about the rest of that wonderful summer – about getting my 90 Day Beginner Driver’s Licence; my first car; my job at Green’s Food Booth (the bootlegger); the Drive-In Movie in Simcoe; the tobacco harvest; working for “Pie” in Pontypool; and of course, my return home in September.

I hope that you have enjoyed this series.  And although our life experiences probably differ – I’m sure that you too, have memories anxious to be “freed from the vault“.

Dedicated to the memory of Leighton and  Francis “Ma” Walsh






The Summer of ’66 – Part 3 of 4

Originally published March 22, 2012


My high school picture

My high school picture


NOTE:  Please read Part 2 before reading this post – thanks! 

On our way to Turkey Point, we stopped to pick up Dude at his Uncle’s farm – which was about a mile down the road from the village.  Dude’s Aunt and Uncle were sitting on the front porch, so everyone jumped out of the cars to say hello and chat.  I was surprised at how friendly everyone seemed – they all appeared genuinely happy to see each other.  Dude introduced me to them – as Saint – and mentioned that I was staying at Ma Jacobits’ place.  As we said our goodbyes, Dude’s Uncle winked and told us to behave ourselves – his wink was not only an acknowledgement that he knew what our plans were – it was also a “wish I was joining you fellas!” kind of wink.

Although it has been more than 45 years since first driving the several miles from Vittoria to Turkey Point but I can still picture the route in my mind. 

In the car with me that night, was John, Ernie, Buzz, Bobby and Dude.  Dude and I were the only students – the other guys had all quit school when they turned sixteen.  They all had full-time jobs but I can’t remember where or what they did for a living.  I do remember that they all hated their jobs and seemed to prefer partying to working.

We drove west a few hundred yards, and then John stopped the car.  Ernie jumped out of the passenger side and ran to open the trunk.  Seconds later, he climbed back in – all smiles – with a 12 pack of cold beer.  He started opening the bottles and passing them around – it was the first time that I had ever seen a bottle opened with a Zippo cigarette lighter! 

As John drove the car, he mentioned that he was in the process of converting his car from an automatic to a standard transmission – with a “Hurst ” floor shift – and would I want to help?  Although I loved cars – and knew the names and models of every car built by each of the Big Three automakers – I didn’t know anything about engines, transmissions, brakes or for that matter – how cars “worked”.  I quickly agreed to help John and we all “toasted” the project by hitting our bottles together.  It didn’t matter that I would be of little or no assistance to the project – I was thrilled to be included as one of the guys!

After driving west on Charlotteville Road 4 for a few miles, we turned south when we reached Turkey Point Road.  A few minutes later we entered Turkey Point Provincial Park and continued driving until we came to a “secret side road”.  John slowed the car while the rest of the guys searched to ensure that there were no vehicles behind or in front of us – and when the coast was clear, he drove down the side road until we could no longer see the main road. We all jumped out of the car – and joined our buddies from the other car, who had arrived a few minutes before us – and continued drinking our beer.  Ernie opened the trunk and pulled out another “case of 12” and we sat around listening to the C&W music blaring from John’s car radio.  The guys explained that this secret side road was actually one of several fire routes built within the Park.  And aside from the odd maintenance crew – the road was primarily used for “drinking and/or parking (romancing)”.

After drinking a few more beers, we got back into the cars and continued driving south through the Provincial Park until we reached Lake Erie.  We turned right and there is was –Turkey Point Beach!  It was an exciting sight – the sun was still shining – and as we headed west, there was a beautiful beach on the one side of the road and numerous cottages, motels and food/refreshment stands on the other.  There were hundreds of young people walking down both sides of the road – most of them wearing swimsuits – and although it wasn’t the 10 girls to every guy ratio that I had previously been promised – it was definitely the place to be! 

We parked the cars and started a walking tour of the beach and then later, we crossed the busy road and walked back until we reached “Green’s Booth” – a large food/refreshment stand.  The guys explained that this stand had the best food on the beach.  They also indicated that Ted Green, the guy that owned the place, was also a bootlegger.  And although I had certainly heard of bootleggers, I had never seen one before, let alone ever bought beer from one.  This fact made the beach even more exciting – buying beer from a bootlegger became another goal of mine.  There was a large crowd of people, in several lineups to get food – but I didn’t see anyone getting beer.  The guys told me that you had to go behind the refreshment booth to Ted’s trailer if you wanted beer – and he only sold to people he knew and/or trusted.

After having an excellent hotdog and French fries, we walked down the road until we came to the next famous spot on the beach – The Willows Dance Hall.  It was an old building – that was used for Bingo during the week and dances on the weekend – and usually with live bands from Simcoe and/or Brantford.  On the door was a very large and muscular bouncer – he was rumored to have won several Golden Gloves (boxing) titles and was from Buffalo, NY.

The rest of the night was a blur…………

When I awoke, it was morning.  I was lying on my bed – in my clothes, without the slightest idea of when or how I’d gotten there.  I got up and went to use the washroom.  As I stared into the mirror, I was shocked to see my face and shirt covered in dried blood.  “What the hell happened last night?” I asked myself.  It was also at that point that I started to feel the pain of my first “hangover” and “the Fear” of not being able to remember who or what had done this to me.  Was it one of my new buddies?  Or was it the big bouncer at The Willows?

A few minutes later, I walked into Ma’s restaurant and there at one of the tables sat Dude, John and Ernie.  They all started to laugh as I pulled up a chair – and I started to feel my cheeks and ears turning red with embarrassment – still not aware of what had happened the night before. 

Bobby, the driver of the other car with us last night, got up from the table he was seated at and came over to me.  “Hey Saint, I’m sorry about last night” he said, with a concerned look on his face.  And then everyone in the restaurants started laughing – which seemed to make him even more uncomfortable.  He then went on to explain that I had “passed out or went to sleep” on the beach, so he and one of the other guys carried me back to his car and put me in the back seat.  Later in the night, on our way home, Bobby lost control of the car and hit an embankment on the side of the road.  I was flung against the back of the front seat – with my face – and that’s where the bleeding nose came from.  When they got back to Vittoria, they carried me to my room and put me to bed.

I started to smile – relieved that everything had turned out okay or at least reasonably so.  Although there was considerable damage to the front of Bobby’s car, nobody else was injured.  And as scary as the whole incident could have been, I, in typical teenager fashion, was happy to have “passed” yet another, rite of passage on my journey to adulthood. 

However, the feeling of happiness was soon replaced with a much darker feeling of  “the Fear” – of being unemployed – and with no source of income.  I walked over to the jukebox, put in a quarter and picked 3 songs – knowing that music would at least make me feel better – as it always has……..

To be continued…..