Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Psychedelic 60's Collage

When we were living in Hespeler and i was in grade 8  i made a collage from current  life mag pics and called it Psychic 68.

It was on a card board back 5ft by 5ft. It contained dozens of photos from that years editions.  Here are a few of the cover images. These pictures after being trimmed made it in to the collage along with dozens of other.

 Pictures of both R Kennedy and Martin Luther King's assassination student protests, , more of the  Vietnam war, Timothy Leary and other current topics of the day made there way on to the collage. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Destiny Unfolds in a Photograph

When i was 9 we moved from my fathers parents home in TO to an apartment in Kitchener  on Thaler Rd. and  a year later to Glen Rd.  in Galt (which is now part of Cambridge.)

Moving to Galt was the beginning of a page in my journey that was to transform my destiny.

In the fall of 1971 I brought a girl home to meet my parents.Her name was Mary Patterson. I had seen her in the hall at School and I was smitten. She was a gorgeous creature, and through a set of circumstances as equally mystifying as what I'm about to share we meet.

My father and i were in the kitchen preparing dinner. My mother  and Mary were in the living rooming perusing through old family photo albums. When suddenly  my mother called us into the living. It turned out that while glancing through the photos they had come across one of me taken at River Side park in Preston when i was ten. I was uncomfortably perched on top of a pony.

When Mary saw the picture, she exclaimed to my mom that , that was 'War Paint". It turned out that at one time Mary's Father had a corral in riverside park and on summer weekends used to give pony rides. Mary's job was to lead the little pinto called War Paint around the corral. Chances are very good that she was there the day the picture was taken and very probable  had been leading that pony around.

It proceeded to get even more intriguing. As the conversation carried on, we found out we were both in grade six at Lincoln Public School at the same time. We were in different classes we had  joint history and music together. I remembered people who sat around her and she remembered people who sat around me. but neither of us remembered each other.

To top it all off. I rode my bike passed her house every day to and from school for that year that i went to Lincoln.. Surely our paths must  have crossed on the road to school.

To think this was all revealed by a chance glimpse of a  photograph .

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lessons in the Tapestry.

I grew up not only surrounded by a tapestry of culture but literally woven into it. Our neighborhood was the epi-centre of cosmopolitan Toronto in the 1950's. My neighbors were the McGregors, Lefkawitz's and the Menice's. The aroma of mutza ball soup... candles and sabbath prayers.. tartan's and the lilting drone of pipes, back yards turned into small vine yards are part of childhood memories.

My closest and best pals growing up were Scots,  Jews,  Italians. Our family were WASPs, with Welsh and Eastern European (Celtic and Gypsy i muse, more on that another time) extraction  thrown in the mix. I remember fondly sitting on our neighbor Marco's  freshly cured concrete back porch  / wine cellar scoring the occasional sip of vino while my father  and our host  shared stories on blissfully  warm summer evenings.

I had a crush on the little doe eyed Jewish girl  that lived on the corner, Helena.  Her mother was a death camp survivor. All us  kids used to have these massive neighborhood games of tag that took in  two or three city blocks and a couple dozen of us youngsters. One time Helena's brother Irving was playing and he was hiding in a garage on the corner just around from their house. I guess it was dinner time and her mom was calling her kids in. Any way Irving was pretty wrapped up in the game and wouldn't come out of hiding and she went looking for him. I remember this so clearly cause i was with in ear shot. When she finally found him crouching in the garage. She quarried with horror in her voice. " Irving what for are you acting like your hiding from the Nazi's." At the time the full gravity of her question eluded me.

Eight year old boys can have strange ways of showing their affection for eight year old girls. One day while walking home from school i took hold of Helena's hand and twisted her arm. She immediately began crying and instantly split the scene making a bee line straight home. Sometime later the doorbell rang... a cold chill ran down my spine, as my Dad answered the door and i heard Helena's Mom's rather high pitched voice. "what for would he do a thing like that?"

"Boomer" my dad's pet name for me echoed through the front hall. I sheepishly made my way to his voice. My father was a very fair gracious calm man. He heard her out while I stood some what behind him in his shadow. He called me forward. He re-assuredly placed both his hands on my shoulders. "Mrs. ....... has something she wants to say to you. " if you don't know what to say keep your mouth shut, if you don't know what to do with your hands keep them in your pockets". The simple wisdom of Helena's Mom the death camp survivor words has stayed with me over the years. There have been times I've heeded them and times I wish I had.

Pictures: top left Peter Menice and my younger brother Glenn  Botom  right me in my grandparents  back yard in TO.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Of 4 generations and intentional community

My folks first nine years of married life were passed living in Toronto with his parents, my Nana and Poppa Culver. We all lived in my grandparents three bedroom semi detached in Toronto. My folks my brother and myself lived up stairs turning the bedrooms into a living space complete with a kitchen. Our mom and dad slept on a pull out couch in the "living room". My grand parents occupied the main floor.

We lived with them till i was nine. Some of my fondest childhood memories  were when my grandmothers parents Gram-ma and Grandpa Jakie would come and stay with us, sometimes for three or four months at a time. That made four generations dwelling in that wee town house.

My great grandparents  immigrated from England to Canada with their six children, at the turn of the century, making their home in Toronto. He opened a window and sash company. Apprently they did beautiful stain glass work. Thiertrade mark piece was an iris, by my aunts accounting there are alot of them adoring doors and window in Toronto and the surrounding area.

They settled into a large home on Huntley street. Which my aunt Wynn tells me became a hub of community activity. Besides their children they always had other people living with them. She tells of wonderful evenings passed with everyone in the parlor gathered round the piano.  Of our great grand mother taking in young women who needed help.Our people were used to sharing their home and their lives.

Reflecting on that time in my life in light of the years i have spent in intentional community and raising a family of  seven children, Besides being in my blood, i think those  good experiences and vivid memories laid a foundation for living with others. I actually really enjoy even thrive in that environment.

Mary and i spent our first ten years of our married life in community... and have had people living with us (not including our children) on and off since. This season in our lives is the first time we have ever been on our own.

photo: top left four generations living in TO.
             bottom right my great grand parents and their family landing in Canada

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dad, Johnny and Me

I thought of waiting to post this on what would have been my Da's  80th Birthday,   He was born on a Friday, the 13th day of the 3rd month in the year 1933. The Third son of a Third son. I've decided to go a head and post it early.

I was blessed with a lot of wonderful quirks via my Father. One of them is an eclectic taste in music. Dad was all over the musical hemispheres. It wasn't unusual to hear a "set" containing Nat King Cole, Wells Fargo wagon from the  Music Man Soundtrack , a little Wild Gypsy Guitar, and the Chipmunks singing She Loves Ya Ya Ya.

My love of "World Music"  was first sparked when I received the Zulu soundtrack from my parents for Christmas . My Father's Idea no doubt. Side two of that album contained traditional Zulu Stomp music arranged with a rock flare by composer arranger John Barry. I wore deep grooves in that hot wax.  Replaced it a long while back with the CD, but I still have that record in my humble vinyl collection .

I also recall Dad having  a massive collection of 78's. . I fondly remember  when we lived with His Parents on Atlas Ave in Toronto,  I  would spend  hours in their dimly lite dank, musty old basement parked in front  an old phonograph player spinning those 78's. Wonder where they all got to.. anyway.

This all brings me to the fact that my Dad  loved  Johnny Cash. He wasn't a huge country fan, yet something in Johnny's  voice and music resonated deeply with Him. I'm ever grateful for all the rich memories of the time the three of us spent together. Yet something deeper. There was an integrity and  grace. A what you see is what you get gut wrenching honesty.  A certain way of seeing the world and treating the "other"  i witnessed in my father that was affirmed by Johnny's music

 I cut the eye teeth of my social conscience  listening to Johnny wail about the plight of the poor, the down trodden, the forsaken and the forgotten. He sang boldly and with out apology of the  injustices done to the Native Americans. He went into Folsom and San Quentin prisons and sang for our society's untouchables.  He unceremoniously gave the finger to the suits and establishment types. Yet he was deeply connected to the common every man, the salt of the earth. There was a profound blending of the sacred and the secular. An irreverent yet  vital spirituality that resonated  with in my young heart and still does.

My father wasn't a very political person. As far as that was concerned as i got older, we were more often than not on differing ends of the political  spectrum. But he genuinely cared about people regardless of their racial, political, religious or social stripe.He was the most genuinely gracious and accepting person i've had the privilege of knowing.

 Dad, Johnny and Me... maybe that's why i still prefer dressing in black

Happy Birthday Da...