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Regel

The Summer of 1975

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Laughin' Boy, guitar Johnny's playing the blues so low

Laughin' Boy, don't it make you want to cry

you know, I can't imagine you were the magic boy so long ago

your life and dreams are broken, you hate the world but you can't

live alone

Ain't that fine?

I'm your friend that knows you and I'd like to tell you

that I think your laugh's a lie

 

Laughin' Boy, that's you layin' in the meadow

Laughin' Boy, memories ought to make you cry

Don't let your mind surrender, 'cause I can't imagine days without

you no one wants to be without you

you'll find a way to help you play on

You won't pass the time alone

I'm your friend that knows you and I'd like to tell you

that I think your laugh's a lie

 

At twenty one several of Hall and Oats songs from their Abandoned Luncheonette album had a certain resonance in me. The music but more importantly the lyrics spoke to me and my life. Certainly there have been others that have hidden their heart and their true feelings behind a smile or a laugh.

 

In the summer that I turned twenty one I was a young man with all promise and no direction. I had no steady girlfriend (couldn't really afford one) and I was in between my B.Sc. and about to begin my B.Ed. The summer job the year before in Victoria Hospital had turned into a full time job as I lived at home and waited for the money to accumulate to the point where I could afford to go on and become a teacher.

 

The year was a course on reality for me. My co-workers many of them older with no possibility of rising higher and others younger with no interest in making this a career. A porter in the main kitchen had many duties. Delivering food, cleaning up behind the cooks, basically the dirty grunt work that needs to be done in order for the kitchen to deliver its services.

 

My uniform was as I referred to it was standard issue for the Lebanese Army. I hated the job but loved the pay. I laughed out loud the first time I heard these lyrics from Abandoned Luncheonette:

 

"She was twenty when the diner was a baby

He was the dishwasher, busy in the back, his hands covered with

Gravy

Hair black and wavy

Brilliantine slick, a pot - cleaning dandy,

He was young and randy"

 

That was me alright I was a dishwasher invisible to all but the people at my station or my immediate supervisors. It annoyed me to think I was more educated than most of them but they treated me like I was some sort of a moron. I had actually worked there several summers leaving each time in September to go back to school and then University but after I graduated from Western the money was not there in my account. I could have asked my mom and dad but I decided to try and finance my own way through Teachers College. Windsor being a two hour drive from London I would also need accommodations food and some basic furnishing. All of that would cost money, money I didn't have and truth be told money my parents didn't have. So I would take the year off and work.

Edited by Regel

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Wow....great to think back on all the things you had to go thru and do to make days go by. Back in '75, I was a bit younger than you. In the summer, the songs that spoke to me were a little faster than H & O too (tho I REALLY like Rich Girl), instead the songs that stuck with me were Queen's Night at the Opera album (Mostly Bohemian Rhapsody and Death on Two Legs, and also The Prophet's Song) and Bad Company Ten from Six (Shooting Star, Rock and Roll Fantasy and most especially Burning Sky) as I was playing the Surfer pinball machine or turning it up on the radio in my bedroom with the windows wide open while my friends and I would jump our bikes over home made ramps. I was heading off to 8th grade after the summer, but THAT summer was REALLY interesting for me, as I met a girl visiting her grandmother. She was there from Joshua, TX. Wow...what a summer! She left a week before school started.....and a week after, I got my first STEADY girlfriend. But Julie will ALWAYS stay in my heart and old memories. I was also the local paperboy in my neighborhood. I met one of my heroes that year too....Neil Armstrong came and spoke at our school in Sept of that year....and we broke 4 consecutive record temps my first week of school...122 degrees F for 4 days in a row. Of course, I lived in Yuma Az at that time.

 

I really had a great part of my life then, especially for a 13 yr old. I had gotten my first guitar the year before, and was already playing many contemporary tunes (I taught myself how to play and my first BIG song was Stairway to Heaven).

 

The following year was when things changed for me....in some good ways and in some bad ones. But overall, I would not change ANYTHING from that part of my life tho....the memories are burned in my mind forever.

Edited by GeldrinHor

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The Uniform

 

 

It is very much a part of the hospitals culture for various departments to wear their own distinct uniform. That way they could segregate people more easily into clichés. In the hospital hierarchy the porter uniform was as low a status as there was. Hospital Administrators, Doctors, Nurses, House Keeping, Maintence, Supervisors, Dietitians, Chefs, Bakers, and Candy Stripers alike sat with each other. No one dared to cross the color line between departments in the cafeteria. Knowing your station was very important unless you wanted to start an international incident like I did when arriving late to a crowded cafeteria I asked if I could join a table of electricians and was quickly rebuffed. I never even bothered to ask the table full Lab technicians in lab coats (even though my degree was in Nature Science) the microbes that I would be carrying would have been too much for them. My cap, the collar of my white shirt, and my baggy pants were all a drab green. Almost military in appearance it was often soiled from the nature of the work I did. Social order was (and probably still is) just the norm of this work place.

 

Being a porter in the main kitchen was one of those jobs that you could send your body to work and check your brain at the door. In fact having an agile mind was not an asset but more of a determent if you worked here long term. The perfect case in point was my fellow porter Dave. Dave was a strapping young man in his early thirties or late twenties about six foot tall and near two hundred pounds. He wore black horned rimmed glasses and kept his light brown hair closely cropped. He was not a bad person but best described as simple, or uncomplicated, ah hell he was stupid as a bag of hammers. No use candy coating it the man was dumb. He would arrive every morning to work with a cheerful countenance on his face every week except for his two week cycle as pot washer. Two weeks delivering carts, two weeks mopping floors and returning pots and pans to the stainless steel sinks and then two weeks of soggy shoes, rubber aprons, rubber gloves and muttering under his breath. When Dave was delivering food carts he was in his glory. The trouble with Dave was for some reason when you were on pot washing duty he was always smiling. He would come by shortly after 8:30 am and say “Good morning Joe, how are you?” I would lie and tell him I was fine and he would be on his way. An hour later at 9:30 am he would greet me again, almost as if the first encounter had not happened. Again I would respond in a similar fashion. Thirty minutes later yet another “Good morning Joe, how are you?” would come out of his grinning face. I would sigh and hear him talk to himself as he walked away saying “Joe’s in a bad mood, must not like washing pots.” and then chuckle. Dave was like this with everyone and most everyone supervisors and co-workers alike tolerated Dave. Everyone that is but Ali a small olive skinned Lebanese fellow with dark wavy hair and a permanent five o’clock shadow. Ali was usually a good natured hard worker and at five feet six inches he barely came up to Dave’s shoulder. I was on pot washing duty when the two had their incident. Dave greeted Ali for the third time that morning and Ali had cautioned Dave that he had greeted him that way for the third time and if he did not stop that he would take a heavy fry pan and part his hair with it. Dave walked away with a quizzical look on his face almost to say “What the heck is he talking about?” Although I knew Ali was a serious man I had thought the threat was a hollow one. It wasn’t. Dave greeted Ali for the fourth time while I was on break. I came back to find a dazed and confused Dave sitting against the tiled wall with a trickle of blood coming down his forehead. The goose egg was rising quickly and I screamed out for some assistance. I helped Dave to his feet got him cleaned up. Dave was sent home and Ali was fired on the spot. I finished my shift and after having had enough time to digest what had transpired I broke up laughing all by myself on the drive home.

Edited by Regel

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It was a strange time in my life. Barely aware of the political currents swirling around me I was on my way in to work one morning, listening to the car radio hearing for the first time about a small break in that was being described as the Watergate Scandal. I was barely paying attention. Another late night partying with friends. A couple of beers and quite a few joints later it was 1:45 in the morning. The thirty minute drive home left me with about four hours sleep. I was on carts this week (thank god!) and so work would be relatively easy. I walked in and found Dave muttering to myself in front of three steel sinks and greeted him sweetly "Good morning Dave."

Dave was not amused "Screw you!" He hissed. I was ready to start riding the elevators up to the various floors and pushing carts to the east and west wings. Each floor would have at least two kitchens where the food carts would be dispensed in meals that would be carried to each individual patient. Something happened to the food somewhere between the main kitchen and the floors. The flavour seemed to leach away, the texture changed and even the colour seemed to fade. Could never figure out how it left the basement smelling wonderful and by the time it reached people no one could eat it. I was on my third floor run waiting in front of "Emerg" for an elevator. A patient that had been involved in a very serious accident was being taken into surgery which was on the sixth floor. I remember thinking to myself, poor bastard is fucked. He was bandaged from head to toe in bandages like a mummy you would see at a Saturday matinée. We rode up together and as I stood there I felt the patients eyes on me. I smiled weakly and suddenly the patient spoke my name, my full name. "You know me?" I asked. "Ya I know you its me Terry." I recognized that voice it was a boy from my old neighbourhood from the east end. "Terry Robinson? What the hell happened to you bud?" I said in total disbelief. "Motorcycle accident. I fractured my skull and my brain is swelling. I am on my way into surgery. They tell me I have a fifty fifty chance of pulling through." He said it in such a matter of fact fashion that I stood dumbfounded and couldn't respond. "My chances are zero if they don't get the swelling down." he continued. The elevator had reached my floor and I wished him luck and watched as the door closed. I finished my shift and decided to see how he made out. I was heading out the front door and stopped to ask the front desk. She looked up Terry Robinson and her features slackened. "He a friend of yours?" she asked. I nodded and she carried on "I am sorry, he died in surgery."

 

I turned and walked out the door. Lit a smoke and took a long drag. He had never been a close friend of mine, more of an acquaintance really. Dam it why were my hands shaking? I felt tears welling as I walked to the parking lot and got into my car. I hadn't seen or heard from Terry in over ten years. He was always a tall blond daredevil that took crazy chances on his bike. It didn't surprise me to hear motorcycle accident. It fit the personality I knew as a boy. He was three months older than me and already twenty one. As I started my car it was just becoming aware of the fact that he wouldn't be celebrating twenty two.

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Thanks for these glimpses into your life Regel. :) It's nice to get to know the members of the Pen better. I can certainly relate to the first post, being 21 myself. I don't know the specific band you're referring to, but there are certainly lyrics, which I can relate to. Seems that there is a fitting lyric for every mood I might have.

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Patrick...in the US, Hall & Oates was a duo who sang what, by todays standards, might be considered Easy Listening (ala James Taylor, Sawyer Brown, or maybe more eclectic british groups...softer music than say Derrek and the Dominoes (Eric Clapton was AWESOME then) but along the lines of Abba, Heart, or their peers).

 

AND....in the US, while DISCO was dying, we got some GREAT music out of the strangest places.

 

Think about Wild Cherry (Play that Funky Music, White Boy). And then there were solo artists like the great Billy Joel, Elton John.....Music at nearly it's purist....great music by a great many artists.

 

Great Rock bands of the Era included Kansas, Journey, Foreigner, Queen.

 

 

 

Lots of great Music.

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Oh great, now I have that song stuck in my head (Play that Funky Music, White Boy)... thanks GeldrinHor :P

 

Good song. And even though Disco was a scary time, it keeps on comming back so there must be something appealing to it, right? ;)

 

Regel.. you are a great auto-biographer. Thank you for sharing. *huggles tight*

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Appy, LilacFlame says "How do you think I feel" in reference to an old favorite song of mine...**Hey....Gary had a RIGHTEOUS Afro going on...for a tall skinny white kid from Chicago**. Too bad that song was pretty his WHOLE career...LOL.

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The Road Trip

 

Routine had set in, and was quickly learning to hate my job. After eight months of the life of a porter, eight months of a mundane job, eight months of putting my life basically on hold, my cousin approached me and asked "How would you like to drive to California with me?"

 

"What's in California?" I smirked as I took a long toke off his joint. My cousin Don (or Domenic depending on my mood) and I were close. Close in the sense that we grew up together, cared and looked out for each other, and bickered and argued like an old married couple. "This chick I met that is really cool is down in SanDiego visiting a friend and asked me to check her out if I made it down." he responded.

I handed him the jointed coughed a bit and then continued. "You want to go all the way to California to see a girl from Ontario?" I smiled a half smile and looked for his reaction, it was obvious he had the hots for her. "She terrific. She is 24 and a school teacher."

 

"And she's hot." I finished the thought for him and he laughed as I took the words right out his mouth.

We laughed a lot when we were together and both high. Mostly we laughed at stupid things. Only occasionally it occurred to me that I was not nearly as funny without the marijuana but we liked each other in spite of our never ending desire to one up each other.

"And she's hot!" he continued after he had recovered from the giggling fit I had set off.

"My dad has offered to pay for gas, if and only if you come with me." My uncle Paul was a strict, over bearing, over protective father that thought that while the trip would be a great growth experience for his son it would be to risky for Domenic to go it alone. "What?!" I asked. "Your father thinks I'm an idiot..." more fits of laughter this time from both of us "... and why would it comfort him to know that I was with you?"

 

Domenic paused and then continued "I don't know and I don't care but if you don't come I doubt I will be able to afford it alone, and besides we will have the time of our lives!"

"When would this trip start and for how long will we be away?" I asked. "The last two weeks of August about a week after your birthday and we would be back September 1st." Don said in a more relaxed and matter of fact way. After I brief pause he asked "So you want to come?"

 

I wanted to say "Hell ya! Sounds great!" but the reality was I would have a hard time selling the idea to my parents.

"We will have to see." I said rather flatly.

"See what!" Domenic persisted "Don't you want to go?"

"Yes, but..." I started

"But what?" he jumped in.

"I doubt my parents will let me go." I finished

Domenic stared at me in disbelief. "You're kidding me right? You are twenty fricking one years old! Just tell them your going!" He was practically screaming at me now. "You have your own money, just tell them your going."

 

"You're right." I answered"... but they are not going to like it." The joint finished and I lit up a cigarette. I drew a long sweet drag off my cigarette and pondered the scene in my head. Nope they weren't going to like it, of that I was certain.

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The first one you approach will be mom I thought to myself. If Mom hates the idea then Dad is going to flip. I worked all this time just so I could afford tuition and board at Teacher's college in Windsor. Months of coming home smelling of pots and pans and being treated like I was a moron, Dam it I thought to myself I deserve this break.

 

Mom was in the kitchen prepare a meal and cleaning up a few dishes. She was always very good about keeping her work area from clutter, I trait that I would adopt later in life but in this house the kitchen was Mom's domain.

"Mom, Don asked me if I would take a trip out west with him just before I go back to school." She looked like I just blasphemed and quickly answered " You can't go you have a job."

 

"I know ma, but I was going to quit anyway to go back to school, I will just quit a couple of weeks earlier." I was trying to keep calm. To speak in a matter of fact way and not to make in confrontational.

 

"I don't think thats a very good idea?" she chirped. I could see she was getting upset flushing a bit in the cheeks.

 

"Why ma, why do you say that?" again as quiet a voice as I could manage.

 

"Where do you want to go and for how long?" she asked.

 

Now your talking ma, don't knee jerk until you hear me out.

 

"California, and the whole trip will be two weeks." I said with a smile.

 

Brace yourself I said to myself here she comes.

 

"California!! You crazy? You know how far is California.?" yes she was screaming now. "Where you going to stay, what are you going to eat? Two weeks on the road!!? What if something happens, mamma mia ma questo christiano e mato."

 

 

"Mum, slow down, and calm down. One question at a time and I will try and answer all of them." She had not even stopped ranting while I was speaking those words but eventually she did.

 

While she allowed me to speak her body language was closed. I thought it was going to be a hard sell but I kept calm until she had heard me out and said this. "Well that's all well and good but your father is never going to allow it!"

I took what she said as she would never allow him to allow it and became very anger.

 

"He won't allow it?! I asked it like a question. My face was burning and I continued in an ever increasing volume. "I'm twenty one almost twenty two years old ma! I am not a kid you know. Dad came to Canada at the same age. I don't believe you are acting this way. Listen to me and get this in your head. I am going, understand?"

 

At 5'9" and 179 pounds I dwarfed my mother. She saw the resolve on my face and heard my anger. " You are going to have to talk to your father, not me."

 

"Fine." I snarled "I will!" and I turned and stormed off.

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"Well that didn't go well." I said to myself. In fact it was terrible.

Mom would be an emotional mess and my father would have to be blind, deaf and absent to miss her clues.

I was committed and my confidence was high that I would make her come around. In my own mind I seriously thought Dad would be more reasonable. I know from the stories he told me that he an my uncle Paul chummed around as young men, after all they were first cousins as well. Their relationship paralleled my relationship with Don.

 

I came home and waited. Waited for supper and my father. Supper had been ready for over an hour but dad had taken a late walk-in and so the delay. He finally walked in through the back door and say his hello's. Dinner was very quiet and for our family that was extremely odd. Supper was finished and my mom and sister began clearing away plates, Dad turned to me and asked "So, what's going one here?"

"Don wants to go to California and has asked me to go along. I told Mom I was going." I said flatly.

 

I have seen my Dad angry many times but what happened next I hadn't ever seen.

 

"So now you think you're going to tell me! The answer is NO! You can't go.! Your car will never make it, and what do you think you will use for money?

 

My voice rose as well "I've been working for 13 months Dad, I saved more than enough to pay for school and go on this trip!"

 

With that my Dad slammed his fist and flew into a rage "And I've been working all my life to put bread on the table and a roof over our heads and the answer is still no!"

 

I will spare you the Italian tirade but with that he took off and went for a drive. I heard the screen door crash, and a few seconds later I hear the Ford XL fire up.

 

"I told you." my mom said.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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This demanding stuff just never was my style. Even if I felt I was right and justified in just telling them I was going on holiday it just didn't work that way. My relationship with both my parents had always been good. Perhaps if it had not been it might have been easier to just pick up and leave. I couldn't do that so in the end of our exchange I felt extremely down. Depressed might have been closer but in any case I was living under their roof and so I had to live under their rules.

 

There would be no further point in discussing the trip further that night so I didn't. The next day I found my father alone and decided I would speak to him.

 

Hey Dad? Can we talk? I asked

"Sure" he said "... we can talk."

"Look I said if you are so dead set against me going to California then I won't go. Out of respect for you I will not go against your wishes but..." I gathered my thoughts up here and then continued "...I have to be honest with you. I will not go but I will always resent the decision."

The silence was a killer and after what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes I was about to turn away when he finally spoke. "Then go."

My face lit up with a smile. "Do you mean it? I asked. He simply nodded.

Something had changed his mind and so on the only occasion that I can every remember my father reversed his decision. I had not hugged my father in a very long time but I hugged him that day.

 

I had to start packing almost immediately. The trip would start Saturday night, immediately following my cousins wedding.

Edited by Regel

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The day had finally arrived. The bags were pack and our plans were made. We would leave from London shortly after 1:30 am and drive due north to Tobermory. We would wait for the six o'clock ferry and then cross over to Espinola. The Trans Canada highway (aka Hwy #1) is a magnificent piece of road that would take us across Canada to Vancouver were we move veer south and cross into the US. I couldn't wait for the journey to start.

 

My italian born cousin of the same name was getting married that day to a girl named Anna. I had known Anna and many of her friends for years. Actually for a lot longer than my cousin did. I liked her. She was cute and had always found me very funny, perhaps too funny. Our relationship developed only into friendship. I believe I was, simply put, too goofy for her. She used to say I reminded her of Jerry Lewis. "Oh Lady!" I would say to her with my best nutty professor voice and a pair of borrowed glasses. She would howl with laughter but there was no spark there for me either. When my cousin dropped into my highschool in grade 13 that was quite a different story. They met and quickly became inseparable. The classic Italian wedding is what we were having that day. Vows and service in a Catholic Church followed by an open bar, shots in the greeting line and more food then anyone could consume. We had a blast. The speeches were far too long or I was far too hammered. Really not sure which one it was but it could have been both. We danced with pretty girls, fat girls, old aunts, male cousins, uncles and both my mom and my dad. The evening was memorable but finally around ten to one we decided to sober up and start saying our goodbyes.

 

We changed quickly in to our jeans and gave my suit to my mom and kissed them goodbye. My dad slipped me an extra hundred dollars on the way out and whispered "..keep that in your shoe." I didn't bother to ask I already knew why, instead I just beamed a huge smile at them and waved goodbye. "See you in a few weeks!" I said and like the midnight buffet we were soon ....gone.

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Don had taken the first shift driving. The drive to Tobermory would be completed in the dark. It was Domenic's new Fiat we were driving and like the boy in the park with the ball and the ball it was his rules. So I had decided to try and catch a few hours sleep before we arrived. We would get there around 6am but the ferry would not leave for Espinola until 8:00am. Don had baked a Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix with a quarter pound of marijuana powder in it. The idea was to have a small piece and get high to pass the long stretches of boredom. It was 2:30 in the morning and I couldn't sleep. I was too excited so we both had a couple of puffs off a joint and the monotony of the broken white line in the pitch black country side was getting to me. "Can I have a piece of that cake?" Dom half sneered and half smiled " Sure but better make it a small piece. It has a lot of shit in it."

'Chocolate cake is chocolate cake' I thought, and for me a small piece of an 8"x8" pan was a piece just under 4"x4". I ate it and man it was good. "You pig!" cursed my cousin and then he laughed. The tunes had softened and I soon fell asleep.

 

 

It might have been minutes or it might have hours later, I wasn't sure but I knew the sound of tires on loose gravel. I woke up in a panic from a deep sleep and shouted "What the fuck! Don are you alright!"

 

I was bracing for an impact and then I heard a thump and then a familiar pungent smell. Domenic had tried to dodge a skunk unfortunately the skunks own attempts put him under the front tire. We had to drive the rest of the night with the windows down. After my heart had left my throat I fell back asleep.

Edited by Regel

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We had arrived at Tobermory. Sitting there in line Domenic had parked and turned off the engine. My window was still open and I could smell the water. The smell was an interesting mix of water, fish and commerce. The cry of a single Seagull and the absence of motion started to rouse me, but suddenly the sun peaked over in the east and the warmth of its rays caressed my face. Sunlight bounced of the surface of the rippled water and glittered in a way I had never seen before. The gull that sang his sad song was on a post not ten feet from me in a direct line to the water. I marveled at how good I felt and how beautiful a morning God had created on this first morning of our trip. "What a glorious morning" I said as I stretched and yawned "and man am I hungry."

 

My cousin face looked drawn and heavy from the road. In a very Stephen Wright tone he simply said "Of course, your stoned."

 

I laughed and so did he. "Give me a piece of that cake before you mow down the rest." I handed him the pan and got out to stretch my legs. The Chi-Cheemaun was already docked and the line of vehicles it would carry to Espinola was forming. We had arrived early enough to be first in line. Northern Ontario was beautiful but this ferry ride would shave a day of travel. A lot of twisting and turning road that would rise and fall through the parts engineers had blasted through Canadian Shield. Besides I had always loved boats and this one was a beauty. The largest I had ever been on. Domenic was wiping the crumbs off his face as he got out of the car. "The Big Canoe" was in it's first full year of service. It had the capacity to carry over 600 passengers and 143 vehicles. Domenic finally spoke "My Dad was right, it's a good thing we got here early or we would have been waiting for it to get back." That would have been a 4 hour delay. " When we get to Espinola I'll drive but for right now I am going to go crash on the boat for two hours."

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There were a lot of strange happenings on this journey. The incident with the skunk seemed days ago, as did the wedding.

The crossing was largely uneventful, if not for the newness of the experience I would have said some what boring. Domenic slept and I was alone on a ship full of strangers. The engines droned and the sights and smells of the big lake kept my interest for the two hours and then it came time to disembark.

 

"I have a surprise waiting for us in Espinola." Domenic said with his eyes still closed.

"Yah. what?" I answered.

"You'll see, just get us to Espinola and wake me up when we get close." was all he said.

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Dan was a musician friend of Domenic's. I had met him once or twice and he was a nice (but very quiet) guy.

Light brown hair with a slight build and an easy smile Dan was considerably smaller than either of us and he was the surprise waiting for us in Espinola. Home for the summer he had hear Don was planing a trip out west and thought he would travel with us as far a Jasper Albert. "What's in Jasper Dan?" I asked with a smile. He quietly responded "Not what but who, I thought I would surprise my girl friend. She is working out west this summer. "

 

We didn't stay long at the modest home of Dan's parents. He grabbed up his backpack and his guitar and got into the back. Domenic was back behind the wheel and speaking, "This is great we can all do two hours shifts driving now and share the load." "Ya, what ever." I chimed.

 

The drive was deep into Northern Ontario heading west along the north shore of Superior. Spectacular scenery that begged us to stop and take a closer look. Unfortunately Dom was in a hurry and refused to stop for photos. Rocks and trees and long stretches of isolation bisected only by two lanes of asphalt the followed the rises and falls of the Trans Canada. We made camp late that day in a provincial park between Wawa and Marathon.

The next day we would travel down a very special piece of Highway

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

It would be only a few years later that a young Canadian would attempted to cross this same stretch of highway on foot. Terry Fox would hop-jog-run on one good leg and an artificial limb right across Canada on his Marathon of Hope. Starting in St. John's Newfoundland he dipped his foot in the Atlantic in an attempt to raise money to find a cure for Cancer. The disease that took his leg in March of 1977. On September 1, 1980 – After 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles) Terry stopped running outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario; his primary cancer had spread to his lungs. Before returning to BC for treatment Terry said, “I’m gonna do my very best. I’ll fight. I promise I won’t give up.”

 

Several years later this same stretch of highway would be renamed "Terry Fox Courage Highway" in Terry’s honour.

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"Bickering is just something we do, there is no malice in it. We enjoy it."

This was the response to a very confused and tired Dan when he asked if we ever stopped arguing?

 

Stretches of this trip were very quiet, so many miles of two sleepers and one driver. The only good thing was you got to pick the music. Steely Dan, Gerry Rafferty, Paul Simon, hell even a little Phoebe Snow with out comment. I loved these times where I could revist and think about her lyrics while listening to the sweet melody.

 

I'd like to be a willow

A lover, a mountain or a soft refrain

But I'd hate to be a grown-up

And have to try to bear my life in pain

 

 

I wish I was a soft refrain

When the lights were out I'd play

and be your friend

I strut and fret my hour upon the stage

The hour is up

I have to run and hide my rage

I'm lost again

I think I'm really scared

I won't be back at all this time

And have my deepest secrets shared

 

I'd like to be a willow

A lover, a mountain or a soft refrain

But I'd hate to be a grown-up

And have to try to bear my life in pain

 

As I think about those times and the meaning that eluded me as a younger man sinks in now. Funny how that works.

Edited by Regel

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While my friends from Saskatchewan will hate me for saying this, man that place is flat. The drive was both amazing and so mind numbing. Now I know why a Saskatchewan farmer can watch his dog run away for three days. The drive across Manitoba was bad but Saskatchewan was way worse because the scenery really never changed. We kept the shifts to four hours and under my cousin Dom's watchful eye and constant nagging we finally saw the landscape starting to change. We acrossed the Alberta border and had dinner. Jasper was another few hours away but eating was more important just now and besides we were road weary. We all needed a stretch as well.

Edited by Regel

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Jasper turned out to be more than a few hours away. My shift had ended just before dinner and between the meal and the day long drive I was beat. I had stretched out as best as I could in the back seat. Domenic drove with his friend beside him up front. When we finally arrived I was awake with my eyelids shut. The lack of road noise and motion had awoken me. I listened as Dan opened the door and got out to call his girlfriend. My cousin was watching and commenting as the scene unfolded."What's goin' on?" I asked in a sleepy voice. My body was saying it was 12:45 but the local time was 10:45pm. "Dan has gone to call his girlfriend."

Dan was standing in a lit pay phone booth while flies and mothes swirled above him. He fished out a small crumpled piece of paper, dropped a dime in and started dialing.

After a few minutes he began to speak. It was obvious to my cousin Domenic that things were not going well for his friend. A keen observer and wise beyond his years Domenic had seen this coming.

"Oh no." he said flatly. "Oh no." he repeated. "Oh no what?" I said. I was laying down in the back and could not see Dan but in my minds eye I did as my cousin went on " His girlfriend doesn't want to see him. Oh no." I interrupted his commentary with "What the fuck are you talking about! How do you know that? Are you a lip reader?"

Domenic sighed and spoke "They were having problems before she left for out west....oh no.....and based on his posture and the expression on his face....she's dumped him....oh no."

 

Domenic was right on the money. A few moments later Dan was back in the car dejected explaining that would not be staying with his girlfriend and that she was living with someone else. Domenic suggested that he should travel with us to California but Dan's heart was broken. To be honest I don't think he could have lasted another day travelling with us and our constant bickering so we stayed in a youth hostel that night had breakfast the next morning early and said our goodbyes. Dan would hitch hike home to Ontario with his backpack and guitar case looking every inch the flower child.

Edited by Regel

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Travelling now had become largely a solitairy activity. We had brought several hundred hours of music on cassette tapes and it was often the only time we got to be alone. The directions were simple stay on the Trans Canada until we see the ocean then head south. As Domenic explained it even I should be able dollow those directions. I lit a cigarette as Domenic slept away my shift and a song suddenly came on that immediately made me smile. We had heard it in a Calagary bar the night before. The locals (all dressed up as urban cowboys) were not quite ready for us and we were definately not ready for them. There was some sort of subtle get-the-fuck-out-of-my-town game going on in this bar. Every time I left my beer unattended (for even a minute) I would find a cigarette in the mug or bottle I was drinking out of. After a couple of unfinished beers I nudged my cousin with my elbow and suggested we leave. The cowgirls weren't treating him all that kindly so we got up to leave and this song came on. The lyrics were already too familiar to us both and we just about laughed are way out singing along to it.

 

 

Well I don't know why I came here tonight,

I got the feeling that something ain't right,

I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,

And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,

Clowns to the left of me,

Jokers to the right, here I am,

Stuck in the middle with you.

 

Yes I'm stuck in the middle with you,

And I'm wondering what it is I should do,

It's so hard to keep this smile from my face,

Losing control, yeah, I'm all over the place,

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you......

 

The music always helped while away the hours and so it did that day

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With the Rockies behind us we rolled into (what I think anyway) one of Canada's most beautiful cities. Vancouver was like no other city I had visited.We found a youth hostile and I believe for five dollars each got a bunk and a roof over our head. A lot of young people in there mixed in with a great many foreign visitors. It was a people watchers paradise and yet my cousin was on a mission. He was such a driven person back then and that hot chick would soon be leaving California so while I wanted to linger a day or two we would be leaving in the morning. The real shame was I was having a really interesting talk with this Swedish couple amd they wanted us to see Vancouver Island with them. They were two free spirits and free thinkers the kind of people that I had never really gotten the opportunity to met before. After a few hours of conversation and coffee it was soon twelve midnight and I had to say my goodbyes. The wake up call was 6:00 am. I was never a morning person and my grump was on as we pulled out and started heading for the border crossing. "I need a coffee." I said to Domenic. It was not so much conversational as much as it was a statement of fact. "Ok, right after that we go to the car wash." I lit a cigarette, took a drag and exhaled, "Why? You need a shower?" I blew the smoke at him because I knew how much it irritated him. "No! You dumb fuck! We need to vacuum the Fiat and make sure there are no marijuana seeds in the carpet or seats. The ashtrays are full of butts and spliffs and these US border guards are ball busters!" I loved setting him off. The first smile of the day crossed my face and he knew when he saw it, I got him.

Edited by Regel

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Domenic was right. The border guards decided to flag our vehicle for closer inspection. The line up of cars with families inside them were quickly waved through but when our turn came the Guard decided we looked like pot smokers (which we were) and torn apart the car. Everything we had brought was strewn across the parking area. After they went through every bag, piece of luggage, camping equipment and found nothing they could hold us on they simple said "Your free to go." My cousin was looking at the devastated vehicle and was about to say something stupid when I quickly blurted out "Thank you." and commenced to quickly gather up the mess as quickly as I could. My cousin soon followed my lead and withing 15 minutes we were on our way. Angry and pissed off we crossed into Washington State and started heading to Seattle. The drive was specularly beautiful but there was not very much conversation. One of many life lessons had just been taught to us.

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As I think back to that leg of our trip I can't believe how incredibily naive I was. "Stupid" is the word my cousin would use not just inexperienced but thick, slow, unable to grasp the big picture. For reasons I wouldn't want to get into (a 63 in geography) I was thinking that we would be staying in Seattle or Portland Oregon and this would be a short drive today. When I saw the city limits sign to Seattle at shortly after 10:45 am I realized we would not be staying in there so I assumed Portland would be where we would spend the night. I offered it up like a shallow lob in tennis, "So we are spending the night then in Portland I take it?" Domenic looked at me sideways and half laughed half sneered. "You joking! Portland! Ha! We are not stopping until we get to San Fran man." At first blush I thought I had miscalulated the distance so I didn't say anything I just went back to looking at the map and estimating the distance at 55 mph and a few stops and it still added up to like 22 hours of straight driving. After a few more minutes I folded the map up neatly and fired up a cigarette. This time it was me with the sneer looking at him side ways. "Your fucking nuts...that is a 22 hour drive non stop to get to San Fran. Considering washroom breaks, gas fill ups the occasional stop for food it will be at least that." He shrugged his shoulders and said "So? You're not man enough to drive that far? Poor baby." "Fuck you you horny prick!" I am not driving day and night just so you can get layed for one night!" I was not smiling. Let me remind you gentle reader we are in a Fiat 128. A car small enough to touch both windowsfrom either seat I glared at him and he started smiling. I wanted to punch him, he was always ordering me around or trying to manipulate me into doing what ever he wanted me to do. "Look the idea of driving four hour shifts is ok but after 15 hours of driving we will both be done in. We will have to stop." Unrelenty Domenic continued with "So look just get some sleep I will drive 8 hours in a row and you can drive the next four." The last drag on my cigarette was hot but not as hot as me. I flicked it out the window and before I could say anything Domenic said " Only you can prevent forest fires." Another couple of minutes and I would have butted out on his head and crushed it with my clenched fist. "Screw you, we will shift every four hours like we have always done, besides it's like 11:00am your shift is over and I am hungry. Pull over and lets find somewhere to eat."

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In spite of the love hate relationship we had Domenic (Don back then) and I had a unique bond. We were more brothers than just first cousins and brothers especially those close in age often defined boundaries and staked out territory. As long as we were in Don's car he would ultimately have the final say. This leg of our trip would be a first for both of us. The trip would be a 24 hour drive which neither of us had ever done. During the day as much as I tried sleep was dam near impossible. The state of Oregon was beautiful country. Country I had never seen and at the time I thought I probably would never see again so in spite of my cousins advice I watched the thick forest and dramatic scenery roll by. The tunes in the fiat really never stopped while we drove. It seemed to keep our spirits up and reduced our bickering. Roundabout by Yes was playing on the cassette player and my speed crept up over the speed limit to 65 mph. My cousin came out of his road induced coma and started circling his right index finger and then accompanied it with "BLIP...BLIP...BLIP". His attempts to simulate a siren just made me smile and slow down.

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