How lovely is youth -
Yet it slips away;
If you would be happy, be so.
There is no certainty about tomorrow.
- Lorenzo de’Medici
Background to January 1971:
I was born in Kitwe, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), on October 18, 1956, and have lived in Canada since 1957. I lived in Ontario until 1960, and Roxboro (a suburb of Montreal) from 1960 to 1965.
Though gay for all my life (I had had crushes on boys in 1963 and ‘67) it was at 12 (in 1969) that I found out what it was.
I was a Cub and Boy Scout from February 1966 to the fall of 1969 (when I quit).
I was a fan of the Monkees in 1966 and ‘67. Later (late 1968 to 1970) it was the Beatles.
Reading material in 1967 was mainly ‘Mad’ (especially Don Martin).
‘Laugh-In’ was my favourite TV show in 1968 and ‘69, along with ‘Star Trek.'
In the summer of 1969 my friends were Sheila Robinson (who I’d met in Grade 6), Robert Fenouhlet (his parents and mine had been friends in Africa), Fred Parnell and his brother Bob, and the Gribbin Brothers (Mike and ?). My first 8mm films were made that summer (but do not survive). One portrayed an L.S.D. trip...
During that summer I would go to the old Expo ‘67 site (Man and His World) by myself.
Drawing for me began seriously that summer, and the earliest that survive in any number date from that fall (though some from c. 1965, and a handfull from late 1968 also survive).
John Rennie High School was first built in the mid 1950's. In the late 1960's an addition was added, more that doubling its size. These included a large gymnasium, an auditorium and the focus of the school's structure, the Great Hall.
High school began on or about September 3rd, 1969. Due to a restructuring of the school system, Grade 7 (Cycle 1) became the first year of high school (as a result, we in Grade 6 never got to be the oldest kids in the school, and had to wait another five years). For the first time I had to wear a 'uniform' (navy blue jacket, grey pants, white shirt and a plain tie..oh yes, black shoes. (In Cedar Park only the girls had a uniform). The uniforms were abolished by vote for the school year beginning September 1970.
Classes were grouped alphabetical, so almost all my friend's names from this year end in R or S.
There were Sheila Robinson and her friend Diana Rundans, Kenny Reich, Robert Read and Robert Rea (the last there were friends with each other before high school). David Scott started briefly as a friend, but soon turned to the opposite.
We were warned that students would try to sell you 'elevator tickets' (the elevator was nothing but a painted door).
I turned 13 on October 18th, 1969.
That October Paul McCartney 'died,' It was nuts, for a few days I searched record covers for clues and played records backward.
This was the last time I went out for Hallowe'en. I (as John Lennon) went with Sheila (as Yoko) and Annie Cappuccino (as the Maharishi, whose beard kept falling off in the street). Annie was part of a large adopted family who lived in a big house near the Edgewater Hotel. She was the best artist I remember in Grade 6. Her brother Pierre would appear briefly in the fall of 1971.
Sheila and I were at a sock-off at school, supplying the music (such danceable tunes as the pre-punk wonder 'Don't Worry Kyoto' by the Plastic Ono Band).
That Christmas I was given my first stereo, and a cassette recorder.
Robert Rea, Robert Read, Ken Reich,
Alan Rhodes, Sheila Robinson, Liz Haden,
Diana Rundans, David Scott, Laine Scott