Tag Archives: Woodstock


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.


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.


Posted: August 15, 2019

Those of you who are devout readers of my dispatches and ramblings know that in my first post I wrote a piece about my buddy Jim and a life-changing event in his life. It occurred fifty years ago this weekend, August 15th to August 18th, 1969. If are a reader who has not read that piece, well SPOILER ALERT – you should go back and read it before you read on now!

So the essence of that experience was that Jim not only did not get to go to Woodstock, but he also shot this poor girl in the arm with an arrow. While I don’t get a lot of emails the shocking nature of this true story really got a few people to respond to me. This post is not a long one but the topic deserves more of a response than I usually do at the year-end Question & Answer posting I do.

The first important part of this story follow up is “what happened to that poor young woman who was shot?” I don’t know, and Jim does not know. At several points, Jim has reached out to try to find out who she was and how she made out in her life but has yet to connect with her. So if anyone you know from New Castle, or Scranton Pennsylvania who is probably in the back half of her 60’s today who cottaged in the lake country north of Brockville and Kingston Ontario in the late summer of 1969 please have her contact me at django@bell.net and I will connect her with Jim.

The second issue is what happened to Jim based on this terrible thing he did. Well, that’s kind of complicated – nothing, and lots.  At the time it was viewed as a terrible, stupid mistake. There were no legal charges, no real consequences in some respects but he never got to apologize. The family of the victim did not want anything to do with him, his parents were overwhelmingly embarrassed by his behavior and it was within days of the young woman and her family going back to the United States and them all going back to school.  So nothing happened in legal terms or even any direct consequences but from that point on he not only had the memory of this terrible error in judgment but was reminded of it regularly when he would add more bad decisions to the growing pile.

So that’s what I know of what happened to the two of them regarding this incident. What is crazy however is a strange turn of events that occurred later in Jim’s life relating to Woodstock, the event that his parents did not allow him to go to that weekend. While he had a lot of fun playing music himself he was very much a recreational musician but did enjoy photographing bands for a press service in the mid-’70  at the end of high school. It was probably that experience and that his son Jason, a musician and music production student at the time, as well as a friend Adrian (see links we love), a lead guitarist with some known bands, that Jim and Janice started to fund some emerging artists for their first albums and then eventually became partners in an indie record label.

Jim did not bring any musical talent to the partnership, just some business experience but one project his partner in that company, Brian did with the label was a tribute album to THE BAND, who of course had played at Woodstock. Garth Hudson from The Band was the key figure in putting this together and brought in a bunch of musical friends to play a number of songs. One of those artists was Neil Young who also played Woodstock of course with Crosby Stills Nash and Young.  So while he did not make it to Woodstock that weekend in 1969, he eventually had a slice of that memory many decades later.



The album, as well as a two-volume extended version, is available through Curve Music. Just go to our LINKS WE LOVE section and you can find more details there.



Posted: Dec 14, 2013

Other than the content in ABOUT and what is on my home page this is my first real entry.

Over time I am going to add different parts to this website but that is all offshoots to this category really. This is the part where you get up close and personal with Django. YUMMY.

What you will find here are notes from my travels, personal rants, some of my writing and poetry, recipes I have developed or shamelessly stolen etc. As they start to appear here I will add categories to start to organize them.

So, sit in and enjoy. Because of not always being in port where I have internet the timing of my dispatches is lumpy – nothing for a while in periods I have been blown off course (figuratively and literally) and then several at once.

Why is it called Dispatches and Ramblings? Well the way I see it, DISPATCHES are important factual bits of info that are timely and important and need to make it to the recipient. There are a few of these sprinkled about my various posts. For the most part, the writing I do here are RAMBLINGS, both in the travel sense and in the disjointed literary sense.

The spark for this all starts with this idea that each of Jim and I need to be more like the other if we are going to control more of our deep stresses. He needs to lose control of things and let what happens…. well, happen. I need to put more discipline into my life, so I can let my mind not be constantly worrying about my precarious living situation. I don’t think either of us really thought about what we did in our subconscious as being a problem, but we both have evidence that it is and need to be more like the other – he is a controlling planner (he even studied Urban Planning) and I am an undisciplined party lad.

So, to get warmed up and to test how Jim is going to be with this I am going to do my first few posts on our lives when we were younger, so you can get a feel for Jim, myself and Jim’s wife Janice too.

I am going to do a series of pieces organized by decade and start in the 1970’s. But before doing that I am going to dive into a story I wrote about Jim and his mother surrounding an event that happened in the summer of 1969 which was instrumental in setting him up for some of his challenges in high school.

Writing it in the first person from Jim’s perspective may test his tolerance of this project but that’s what it’s for. So, if you see this website end next week you will know that “radio free Django” has been pulled from the airwaves. LOL.



“The Who will probably be there.  And The Band too, I think – you know, Ronnie Hawkins’ backup band ” I said, knowing she and my dad had once seen Ronnie Hawkins.

“We’ve had this conversation before,” she said stepping out from behind the kitchen island in her shorts and tired pale green and yellow flowered cottage apron and wielding her wooden stir stick.  “Your dad knows that there won’t be enough toilets at a makeshift music festival.”

As I stormed outside I was shouting “Arlo Guthrie, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin – they are all on the line up”.

What a way to end the summer and the prospect of going back to school.  Going back to failing math, failing science and my all-time favorite – failing French, with a French heritage.  The thought of going back to school was particularly upsetting because this could have been such a good weekend. I had been offered the last spot in my cousins’ car for a trip to a music festival in upper New York State. My parents had said I couldn’t go because David and his friends were five years older, might get into mischief, and there wouldn’t be enough toilets at a three-day music festival.

Toilets. It would have to be on my tombstone: HERE LIES THE BOY WHOSE LIFE WAS RUINED BY A SHORTAGE OF TOILETS!

Other than summer school, the summer had been pretty good. The two things I had enjoyed most were my summer job and just hanging out and swimming with other cottage kids when the weather was good – especially with The Americans in the bay.

My parents’ cottage sat on a point at the edge of a large bay and there were three properties in the bay. The furthest one was a cottage for a local family from the nearby town. The closest one was also a local farming family, the McGregor’s. They used to arrive at night for a swim after working at the farm and would come often on Sunday afternoons after church. They rarely stayed overnight and only one of the kids was my age. I never played with him, because the McGregor boy had accidentally shot another student and he pretty well kept to himself after that. It had happened at a ‘show and tell’ at school. He had taken in an old gun from one of the barns to show the class and when fooling around pressed the trigger. It was loaded and had nails in the barrel. It killed his classmate almost instantly. It was an accident but the kid and his whole family sort of wandered around like ghosts after that.

Next to the McGregor’s and in the middle of the bay were The Americans.  Everyone just called them The Americans, instead of their names because there were so many of them. It had started as a fishing camp for five fishermen from Newcastle Pennsylvania, and after a number of years their families start coming up as well and it went from a fishing camp to a family cottage for the five families, with each of them getting two weeks during the summer.

I enjoyed the change of cottage friends every two weeks. Some only had older kids, but three of them had kids that were, if not my age, the right age to play together at the cottage. The experience of “cottage friends” being a range of ages I looked forward to each summer.  Kids spanning several years will find common interests at a cottage.  Sometimes the older kids, of driving age, would even take some my age or even the younger ones into one of the towns like Smiths Falls or Kingston to watch a movie on a rainy day.

The American kids were all so confident. It didn’t matter their age; they seemed to know more and had so strong a sense of everything that was American.  None of them thought of Canada as anything but the wilderness and didn’t think of Canadians as very sophisticated and worse – cool. By grade eight I had a very good sense of foreign policy, particularly American and Canadian foreign policy. The war in Vietnam was ripping America apart and I was proud of Canada’s position of not being in the war and allowing draft dodgers to come to Canada. I knew the Americans had no legitimate reason to be in Vietnam, other than their passion for fighting communism wherever they found it.

One of the coolest older Americans was named Jeep, like the car. That was so cool, it wasn’t even a nickname. Right on his driver’s license – JEEP. That was so cool.  He had been up earlier that summer and for some reason, he and his family were back for a second vacation.  He had finished High School and his girlfriend came up as well. One rainy day they wanted to shop for some things and asked where to go, so they took me into Brockville, so I could show them how to get to the Canadian Tire. At Canadian Tire, I had brought the money I had saved up from my summer job.

My summer job had been great.  I would catch frogs in a field for about an hour and sell them to the marina as bait for fishermen.  I had been saving for a bow and arrow set.

I hoped they would have one in stock- the last time they didn’t. Sure enough, they were out of stock, but a much better one was on sale, but even with the sale, it was still more than I had.  It was a PROFESSIONAL HUNTING SET and said so right on the package. The bow came up to my nose when the other tip was on the ground, and the arrows had GENUINE HUNTING TIPS.

Jeep had bought a lot of stuff and paid the extra money I needed for my bow and arrow set with the Canadian Tire Money he got back. Americans were so generous. It was really confusing – they were generous, but they were also so rude and in world politics, it seemed their country was the playground bully.

At one point on the trip back, an anti-war song came on the radio and Jeep started to cry. His girlfriend explained that his best friend had been drafted and they had just received the news that he had died in Vietnam. Jeep was a big guy but had cried several times over the two weeks at the cottage and his mom had as well, especially when they were leaving. Jeep wasn’t with them when his girlfriend and his parents packed up the Buick station wagon to go back to Pennsylvania. My parents explained that he was going to be studying abroad at the end of their vacation, so he wouldn’t be going back with them. I was pretty sure the stuff Jeep was bought at Canadian Tire was not for the cottage but for him and that he would stay in Canada and avoid the draft.

Jeeps family and one other were my favourites and the Americans staying at the cottage in this last two week stretch of the summer were not much fun. One of the girls was about sixteen and had brought up a friend and they pretty much stuck to themselves, sunbathing, and playing badminton.  They were nice looking, sort of like California Girls on the Beach Boys albums but treated me like a kid.

I was a bit drained from fighting with my mom, and the day was hot and really still- eerie, like Alfred Hitchcock and a good time to practice with the bow and arrow. The cicadas were the only sound. It was hard to imagine that the summer would soon be over, school would start, and I would go back to failing French and Math and getting in trouble. It was never my goal to get into trouble at school and be disruptive, but it just seemed to happen sometimes. About once a week during the summer I would remember what my principal had said last year “a bit of a waste of a human, aren’t you”?  He might have been right, but it really hurt to hear it said right out loud. This year I would have to try harder.

My parents had made some strict rules for using the bow and arrow especially because of the higher quality bow and hunting arrow tips I had ended up getting, so I had a careful ritual before using it. Sandy, my dog was inside the cottage, I had told my mom what I was doing, and was shooting at a target where I could see anyone coming into the area.

After shooting at the target for a while I was getting bored and the day was so still I started shooting up in the air, and watching it land on the grass beside the water, after a spectacular trip up and then back down.

Some time passed, and I wasn’t as angry about the music festival and went in for a Popsicle. My mom had a Popsicle maker that she would freeze juice or Kool-Aid on the sticks. I liked the cherry ones best. I had two and then a big round homemade donut my mom had just made and sprinkled with big pieces of sugar.

My mom made great donuts. I liked the big round ones and odd shaped ones the best. She was a good mom when she didn’t have to deal with me doing something wrong. I sensed she dreaded the upcoming school year as much as I did. As I ate the second donut I asked if I had not gotten into as much trouble during the school year would they have let me go to the music festival this weekend. My mom thought about it for a minute before reassuring me the bigger issue was the toilettes but that perhaps if I had acted more responsibly generally, yes, they might have considered it. On the weekend, my dad would be back from the city, but it would be too late to talk to them both about the festival and she had already talked to him about it on the phone the night before.  He was in the city working.

I didn’t comment further but thanked my mom for letting me know and told her it was going to be a better year. I wasn’t sure if she heard me. The radio was on and she was listening to the description of a hippie cult that had just killed some people in Hollywood the weekend before.

It’s all that was on the radio and while there was no T.V. at our cottage I suspected it would be the main thing on the T.V. as well.  She wasn’t even listening to me.

“Grateful Dead, Richie Havens, Santana” I blurted.

“No toilets, no toilets, no toilets” was her rapid-fire response as she stepped out from behind the counter with her apron covered in flour and looking tired and disappointed at my outburst.

There was no reasoning with her on this. I was a bad kid who would get into more trouble if allowed to do anything fun and despite my good intentions to not fight with her I just couldn’t leave it alone. “You were never young!” I screamed, taking another donut with me as I went back outside.

“Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix” I was muttering to myself through my clenched teeth and wet cheeks. I cranked back the bowline as far as I could and shot it straight up.  This one was going to be really high. As the arrow left the bow, I felt a breeze off my left shoulder.  It took a few seconds to register- a wind had come up while I was inside, and the arrow was going to be pushed by the wind toward the bay and go through the roof of our boathouse. Shit, was I going to be in trouble.

I stood there with the bow and my heart in my hand. I had been in trouble a lot this summer and done badly in school last year and didn’t need this.  The arrow had amazing height and was still climbing and wobbling a bit as it was being pushed by the wind even further than the boathouse.

I dropped the bow.

“Shit, it’s going over the bay!”   I said aloud.

I started to run and tried to hurdle the old farm type fence between my parents and the McGregor’s and fell. It was a bad cut and bleeding, but I was back up and running again but couldn’t run fast enough in sandals and was screaming “get away from the beach” to the people who were swimming and on the docks in the bay.

I was out of breath, crying and still screaming to get off the beach as I made it to the Americans dock.  One of the girls was walking from the cottage to the dock and looked puzzled at my screaming and running, and bleeding leg from the fence. I was hoping I had made it in time when I saw the arrow.

I was too late. The arrow with the barbed hunting tip had pierced one of the American girls’ upper arms who was sunbathing on the dock, went right through and had pinned her to the dock. She was screaming, the bottom half of her body was flopping like a fish and there was blood everywhere.  I knew right then my life would be changed forever.