Tag Archives: 1970’s

FORTY-EIGHT

Posted: August 1, 2021

In the spring of 1973 I graduated from Champlain High School in Ottawa, Canada. That was forty-eight years ago. And about a week ago I received a note from my longtime buddy (and classmate) Jim H. who still lives in the Ottawa area, letting me know there was a movement afoot to have a reunion on October 2nd , the first for our year.

Wow.  A high school reunion. There are few things that conjure up such a mix of emotions. I know that for some the nine weeks from hearing of this until the actual event will be the period to: lose 40 pounds, get a facelift and win a Nobel prize for physics. Well, I never was much good at physics. Physics and a few of the other sciences did various cameo appearances on my high school F column with the regulars Math and French. Yeah French, and I have a French heritage. I am kind of squeamish when it comes to surgery so that puts the face lift out of the question for me as well. Forty pounds? I think it might be easier to get that Nobel prize in the nine weeks.

Now while high school is a pretty crazy time in the evolution of teenagers it was particularly strange in that period when I was there – 1968 to 1973. Yes, that is a five year period because at the time Ontario Canada offered a four year high school diploma for anyone wanting to pursue the trades or community college and a five year diploma for most people who aspired to go to university or had parents with such aspirations for their offspring. I had such parents.

And what was happening in that 1968 to 1973 period? Well at the beginning of that period the Cold War was still hot, the war in Viet Nam was heating up as both a war and effectively a civil war in the United States as well, and  Martin Luther King had just been murdered in April of ’68.  In 1969 gay rights in Canada were opened up, the Americans put a man on the moon, and by October 1970 the War Measures Act was used in Canada to try to manage the FLQ,  a Quebec liberation group. Women were fighting for their liberation, race relations were poor, particularly in the U.S., and as we now know, the Canadian Government with the Roman Catholic Church ramped up both the Residential Schools and the forced assimilation of our indigenous peoples with the sixties scoop. Shameful. It really was a very screwed up time on most fronts and many of us had parents who had no idea how to cope with the perspectives their teenagers were developing regarding many of these issues.

In contrast to those turbulent times the soundtrack for our high school life was amazing. It started with The Beatles releasing The White Album and then Abbey Road and the Stones releasing   Beggars Banquet and Let it Bleed. Led Zeppelin was formed.  By the summer between grade 9 and 10 we had Woodstock. If you are new to this website you may want to look back in the archives ( MY VERY FIRST POST,  posted December 14, 2013) to Jim C’s Woodstock experience and the recent follow up to that  (WOODSTOCK: 50 YEARS LATER, posted August 15, 2019). Every week a new album would come out that today would be considered epic. And as if to celebrate our graduation in 1973, Pink Floyd released The Dark Side Of The Moon.

Of course, that flood of new music was also reflecting growth on some amazing music from before and I have great memories of sitting at Jim H’s living room listening to Gene Vincent Rock and the Blue Caps Roll, or his fathers Dave Brubeck albums.

And that’s the really fun part of memories. It is not just the music but the link of that music to what we were doing at the time.  I have fond recollections of lounging in the dark listening to the Moody Blues in Myles C.’s basement after a warmup joint outside, and singing along to The Who, Rush  and Black Sabbath  while riding in Bo M’s amazing Datson 240Z with the music just loud enough to have the whole city turn to listen.

Ahh, the cars. Bo always had a nice ride, as his dad was in that business and Bo would clean the cars and sometimes bring them home. Jim H’s parents had the ’66 corvette stingray fastback, and Steve Z. got a brand-new Corvette for graduation. The rest of us mortals, rode bikes, motorcycles, took transit, walked, borrowed our parents’ cars or had really old junkers. I had an 80 cc Yamaha motorbike, that spit and coughed and farted all the way to wherever I was going. My main man Jim C. had saved a lot  so that in January 1970 when we both turned sixteen, he had bought a three-year-old Volks Beetle  and drove it to the driving test – Yeah, don’t ask.  He delivered pizza with it part time and loved that thing. But one sunny Sunday morning in August  of that year on a tight bend near his parents’ cottage he rolled it.  That turned him on to doing autobody and worked on a lot of other guys cars over the rest of High school.

For some of us we did not do high school well. At the time, what we now call Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was in its early stages of identification and treatment,  and the confusion for most practitioners was that some inflicted with this had  a big attention deficit while others had not as much but a lot of hyperactivity. For most of us with it , the identification only came much later than high school, after some seriously disastrous experiences. I have ADHD but unlike my buddy Jim C. who was given an extra dollop of the H part I got an extra dollop of the AD part. It meant that I was laid back and identified as “mentally lazy”  and he was identified as “overwound”. I just cruised through high school failing stuff and for him the behaviors are as if you took  a regular kid, gave him a bunch of amphetamines, a couple of double espressos and send him off to school each day.

He channeled it into track and field – literally to run it off. I, on the other hand, would self medicate. Both of these techniques work to a degree but only partially. Each of us only figured out we had this later in life and much too late to have a very positive high school experience – at least academically.

Our high school  was a little weird as well. We had a real range on the socioeconomic front – some not very well off, some exceedingly well off and most of us in the middle. When we were in grade 10 the school board decided to turn our school into a Francophone school and the English school would be phased out. We were the second last graduating class as the year behind us was the last intake of the English students.  I think it was a Canadian application of the U.S. bussing program that had been so successful. LOL.

The result of this phase out of the school’s intake was that each year the scale of the student body dwindled, and as normal attrition was also occurring with some families who would move away, the number of students in our year also went down in size, as no new families moving to the area  could have their kids join us as this strange orphaned school.  There were positives to this small size of course in that we were a tighter group and could do some things that at the time were unique like moving the whole bunch of us (students, teachers, admin people)  to camp together, but in general we could not put together a football team or have as many extra curricular clubs etc.

Looking back over almost half a century is also scary. We look at the choices we have made, the experiences we have had since high school and how we might have done things differently. I spend a lot of time writing on this website  reflecting on life, looking back and looking forward. I think if this reunion happened twenty years ago I would have been pretty uptight about it,  but now it has been so long it is just a novelty that we have made it this far and will be fun to get reacquainted. But it has taken me this long to get to that point that I can see my high school years more  objectively and pull out those positive memories. It is as if over the years I have gone through a set of slides and year after year thrown out one or two of the bad memories only to be left with mainly slides of the good times and the positives that have come out.

Forty-eight years is a long time. That number has significance for Jim as he retired on his forty-eighth birthday and significance for me as the trip we did in June 2004  was En Plein Airs forty-eighth trip moving people to safe points as I described  in THE NEW MILLENIUM, posted March 26, 2017.

My buddy Jim C. has a lot of travel points and has got me a ticket to come over, see my doctor, dentist, and go to the reunion. The flight is by way of Ireland so Ciara is joining me for that leg as both of us need to sign statements at the police station regarding the death of her ex husband and then she is staying on for a few weeks as she needs to do something to keep up her medical accreditation. I will be in Ireland for just a day and then off to Canada for a few days of quality time with my doctor, dentist, and people I have not seen in about five decades.

I am now off to the library to sign out a bunch of physics texts.

Django

High School Django

P.S. As regular readers know I don’t usually put in pictures of myself as I like to keep a low profile but here is one of me from my high school days in grade twelve or grade thirteen. I am going to spend some time trying to find some images of my classmates and if they are cool with it, I will post them here as well.

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE 1970’S

Posted: April 3, 2014

I am new to this website business and not familiar with the best way to relate some of the ideas and stories that Jim and Janice and I want to get down, so I am just going to jump in. If you have read the ABOUT section, you will know how this site came to be and why it covers the topics it does. If you haven’t read that you should probably do that, or you will be a bit lost and it might be helpful to read the first post as well.

Today I am going to look back to the 1970’s as a bit of a way for me to get warmed up and a way to introduce you to some of the characters you will be reading about here.

That ten-year span was a time of massive change for Jim and me. I started it in early high school and finished it as a full-time drifter. He started it in high school and ended up with a few degrees.

The first part was with Jim in high school. Neither of us was very good at the high school thing in Ottawa but enjoyed music, partying, fighting with parents, trying to figure out why the world was so screwed up. Jim had a pretty tight string on him for a while coming into high school after that summer incident.

In the summer of 69 before this decade began he was involved in – well caused – a nasty incident and it sort of scarred him and certainly did not help his relationship with his parents.  In an earlier post I wrote about it so check out the piece here or in the PROSE & POETRY section called My First Post and you will find the piece “Summers End”.

He was an average to bad student and I was a worse one. It’s not that I wasn’t any good at it, but I was just always screwing up. So, there was always a bit of summer school involved for me and sometimes for him as well. We had a great group of friends and I don’t know if any of us appreciated just how good we had it then.

Now for anyone who has read the ABOUT section they will know that I am also to be reporting on Janice. I did not know Janice until Jim met her many years later, so I can only relate what I understand her life was like. She was a very good student, liked sewing and music and art and skiing both in the winter and water skiing as well. Her dad had been in the Canadian military, so they had moved around a lot until he left that and went into business and they settled down in Ottawa and had a cottage near Perth. Jim’s family had a cottage in that area as well. In the summers I would usually just go to summer school and hang out.  Janice had a brother who was only a year older and a sister a few years younger – still does.

None of this sounds very memorable, does it? Well, where the plot thickens is when Jim and I and our friends finished high school in 1973. Jim had been the school track star and ran for a club in Ottawa as well. He did not make the team for the 1972 Olympics and realized he was never going to amount to anything. It put him kind of adrift for the next year as we finished grade 13. Yes, for those Americans, Europeans or millennials reading there was once a grade 13! It was a year for the female students to mature some more and for most of the male students start to mature and focus on getting their grades up.  The universities were all gearing up for us – we were this mass of humanity all about the same age – the baby boom and colleges and universities were expanding like mad and if you had a pulse and a blood type you could get in and get some level of scholarship or financial aid. Even with that Jim, another buddy, and I decided that we would go to Europe with no particular idea of returning. With that said our other buddy was fully expecting to come back to go to university at the end of the summer but Jim and I were open-ended about our plans.

We had been touring around Europe, splitting up for a few days and then meeting up at rendezvous point and traveling together for a while and then splitting up again. It worked well, and we had some great times together – getting kicked out of Ibiza, arrested in Monaco, staying in hostels and making friends. It seemed everyone was traveling then, and we met people from everywhere.

But near the end of August Jim had another life-changing event. He had a job in Munich being the photographer for an Israeli doctor who was writing a book on the Holocaust. Touring around Dachau on a rainy day in August he learned some things that set his thinking on risk and life for good. How he relates it is that while the Holocaust itself was unique, the survivors share a common set of ideas with others who have been through such traumas. The Armenian slaughter by the Turks for example. Someone can take all your possessions, your titles and dignity, and even your family and your health but if you have your memories you keep yourself intact. Life is a collection of memories. Memories are depression proof, inflation proof, portable and your own. So, the trick is to have as many experiences as you can and put them in your memory bank. Don’t fear failure, fear not trying. Keep moving forward. It all adds to your memory bank.

I am probably not doing justice to this, and while some of this sounds self – evident it certainly was a life changer for him. Coming out of that experience he called his parents from Europe (quite a costly endeavor in 1973) told them to accept a spot at Carleton University if there was still space and to choose some courses if he did not make it back in time. They were a bit taken aback as the relationship with them was mixed and it did not sound like the son who left for Europe just months before.

At that point, my relationship with Jim took a big departure. While we both went to university, for me it was an extension of high school and never really stuck. By what would have been second-year university I was roaming around the U.S. and fell into a job working on a cruise ship in the kitchen. By the end of first year he was a top student always in the top ten of his classes. He had worked as a security guard all through first year working midnight shifts then going to school during the day. Driven. I mean really driven.

During this time Janice (who is a year younger than Jim and me) finished high school and after a false start at college ended up in Fashion Design College where she excelled. Jim and Janice met when she had about one more year of college to go and he had about one more year of his first degree to finish. A year later they were married in ’78.

Now at this point and through the back half of the 70’s I really did not know Jim at all. There was no internet, I was working the cruise ships and he and Janice were blasting away on their life together. He did a graduate program then more graduate work then went into a doctoral program. She finished her fashion design program and after working some jobs in that industry set up a clothing line in Toronto.

On new years eve of 1979 they were living in Toronto and were poor with a fledgling clothing line, Jim’s doctoral program had been discontinued and I was with a group of fine young creatures throwing up on the side of a ship.