James Hillis

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

The Cold Saturday Mornings

In Uncategorized on November 28, 2012 at 12:36 am

Kirk Maltby,Tim Brent, remembering Paul Woods,Kenny Ellacott and Red Laurence, the Hockey heroes of Hespeler. When we are young we are all the future of the NHL or so we thought.

But at twelve years old we don’t know any better and on those Saturday winter mornings in 1969 I like every other lad in Hespeler had a date with destiny.  Rolling out of bed at 6 am and planting my butt on the over sized heating grates in the floor I drank my hot chocolate and slowly got my equipment on, pulling the “Dolson Construction” sweater over my head and getting ready for my Dad to finish his coffee and drive me to the Arena for 7.

On to the ice we poured, Frank Mahovlich’s, all of us, oh those were the better times, our Fathers sitting in the stands drinking their coffee’s spiked with whatever somebody had left over from the night before.  We played the game with no worry’s, there was no screaming at the coaches to “play my kid more”, no yelling at the referees by our parents( in all likelihood the refs were out drinking at the Queens Hotel with our Dad’s) We just played for fun and for each other. There was no fancy Tim Hortons commercial for us in the future, we played and then went home and played some more, just this time on the streets. Somehow memories of those Cold Winter Mornings just cheer me up, because while i wasn’t a great hockey player, to have just been a part of those moments is what is special.  And no matter how hard they try, the new arena in town just doesn’t have the same feel and attitude to me, no ghosts of former Shamrocks or Hespeler MicMacs wandering the halls, no steel mesh around the rink, and no smell of french fry’s will ever beat the old Arena. Call it what you will, I call it Unforgettable.


It’s No longer Mayberry

In Uncategorized on November 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm

For those of us over 50 we remember when Cambridge was smaller and of course 4 separate community’s but time has a way of changing things and like all good things the Times has not always been good to us. And as you look around you realize that We indeed no longer the Mayberry ( for those unsure of the term, Google it) of the area but are a fast growing Cosmopolitan City that no longer resembles what I remember it to be, and I would like to point out just a few of those things.

We have all noticed that the traffic is bad in the City, but there is another traffic that some may not of noticed and that is in the air, planes and helicopters to be exact. With the Breslau Airport,or should I say Region Of Waterloo International Airport getting busier and busier the sky’s over Cambridge are also seeing a huge increase in traffic. The other night  I counted 32 planes either coming in for a landing or taking off in just a 30 minute span and that was just from my backyard, and some of them are getting noisier than ever. I can not remember a time as a youngster seeing more that a few planes over Hespeler.

Another thing that I have noticed, and this has more to do with my aging process than anything, but I now know many of the names that are buried in our Cemetery’s and that is just a little disheartening.

As the city has grown, we seem to have gotten a little meaner and while this has a lot to do with the rise of the Internet, all you have to do is check out a few local sites and read just how cruel people in this City can be to each other.

Have you checked out the City By-Laws?  There are way more than I could ever imagine and I guess as we grow we need more governance in our daily lives, but I have to wonder what would happen today if My Dad and his buddies fired shotguns into the air on New Years eve as they used to back in the day? I think there would be a by-law against that I am sure.

But what started me writing this was an incident that occurred last week.  I work close to where I live and I walk most days too and from work. Now I live in the older section of Hespeler and on my walk home decided to take a trip through a newer section of the town. I was 3/4 of the way home when a police cruiser pulled up and asked me if I live in the area, I let him know that I did not and explained what i was doing, showed him my I.D and he was satisfied but explained that they had a call from a concerned citizen that a stranger was walking THEIR streets and looked suspicious( got me on that one).  I will admit it after 1 am but really? You can’t walk on their streets if you don’t live there?  The irony of it is that I was walking on a street named after my Uncle who died during the Second World War, so I guess we are really not in Mayberry anymore Folks. ( Even though I do tend to look like Otis when I don’t shave for a few day’s)


It’s not what you Think.

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Another of my Woman in Song writings but this time with a twist. Often songs get written and people assume that they are love songs to a woman but in fact just seem that way, and I will present 4 such songs here today.

How Long..Ace 1974

With a romantic beat and lyrics like

“How long has this been going on
But I can’t help but have my suspicions
cause i ain’t quite as dumb as i seem.
But there ain’t any use in pretending
it could happen to us any day”

it would be easy to assume it is a man singing about losing his woman and letting her know that he is aware of her cheating and I am sure many people thought that at the time, but it is not about that. It is in fact about the Bands Bass player working with other bands at the time and possibly leaving ACE,  a situation that was real at the time but he rejoined the band to record this song and they all lived happily after.

Angie..The Rolling Stones 1973

This is another one of those Old wives tales that has grown around the band. It was assumed that the song was about Angela Bowie the then wife of David Bowie whom some say had an affair with Mick Jagger and so he wrote the song for her..again not true. There is no specific Angie that this ditty was written about and according to Jagger at the time he had never even met Angela Bowie and in fact Keith Richards contributed the title to the song as the day before it was written his Daughter Dandelion Angela was born, the only real Angie about this song.

Shannon..Henry Gross 1976

“Finally the tears fill our eyes
And I know somewhere tonight
She knows how much we really miss her

Shannon has gone I’ve heard
She’s drifting out to sea
She always loved to swim away
Maybe she’ll find an island
With a shady tree
Just like the one in our backyard”

With haunting vocals this song became a # 1 song in Canada back in ’76 and had many assuming it was a Paen to a lover that passed on but it was in fact about the death of former Beach boy Carl Wilson’s Irish Setter that has just died, that’s right a love song to a loved pet had all us back then slow dancing with our girl friends.

Along comes Mary..The Association 1966

When I found out the true meaning of this one it really blew me away

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to give me kicks , and be my steady chick
And give me pick of memories
Or maybe rather gather tales of all the fails and tribulations
No one ever sees

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch”

How could a song from he ’60’s that was as sweet sounding as this not be a love song? Well it is but not to a woman, it is about drugs and in particular Marijuana. Now I am not making this up, the writer of the song Tandyn Almer has stated this fact many times as he says he was on the curb stoned when he wrote this little diddy. I don’t know if the Association knew it or not but one of their classic songs is about Drugs, but once you dig into the band themselves you come to find out they probably did and sang it with glee every time. As for Tandyn, he is an inventor of Water Bongs..how appropriate.

So there are 4 songs not what you think and there are more but we will leave that for another time.

Sweet Memory’s

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2012 at 12:17 am

Saturday night my wife and I somehow got a sugar craze and decided to get some chocolate and so off to the local store to get something I went, and after looking over the selection I wound up buying the old reliable Aero bar for myself and a 3 musketeers for my wife, but it got me thinking about some of the old goodies that I grew up with during my formative years in the late 1960’s.

But where do you start? How about with the ultimate 60’s item,  a licorice beatles record, that’s right an edible black licorice record looking item wrapped in a beatles cover, you just had to have one of those, but if records were not for you but you still like licorice you could have had a licorice pipe with sprinkles on it or if you were not sophisticated enough for that, well the licorice cigar would do the trick.

Not everything though was licorice, you could still pretend to smoke by buying the Popeye brand candy cigarettes, they made you look cool without the nagging cough.  There was also bubblegum cigars, you could make your lips look cool with the Wax lips, you could buy your girlfriend a candy necklace or share a pack of sweet tarts or love hearts with the sappy saying on them.

Gum was always a favorite  who could do without the Juicy fruit, Beemans or the gum that tasted like soap, Thrills, and of course there was the fruit stripe gum as well. You could stick a cinnamon toothpick in your mouth and look cool and freshen your breath all at once.  There were BB Bats, black babies(political incorrect, but we didn’t know better back then), candy buttons just to name a few. But as i stood standing looking at all the chocolate bar brands available I had a craving for a few that do not exist anymore, The Neilson Four Flavour and the Rum and butter were two of them that i would have loved to have had last night but the one that i miss the most is the Neilson treasures, a chocolate bar in which the six pieces were all different flavours, it was like eating a box of my Mom’s black magic Chocolates all by myself. And while the Aero bar was good, I think I would have giving it up for almost any of the above goodies. Times do change, but not always the way we want it.

Letter From the War

In Uncategorized on November 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I never met my Uncle Bruce. My Mothers older brother was killed in action in the summer of 1944 but his name and memory still live on in our family and like many of this city’s veterans a street here in Hespeler carries the family name.
And like many of the boy’s that were serving over seas, letters were a very important part of their lives. The following is the contents of a letter that my Mother received from her brother on August 20th 1944 and had been mailed on August 9th 1944. what made this letter poignant was the fact that on August 14th 1944 Uncle Bruce was killed in action, This was the last communication that the family ever received from him. This letter is word for word what was written by him, spelling mistakes and all.

Dear Mary.
Hya squirt,how are yuh? I don’t know why i’m writing, i can’t think of anything to write about but mush. Say hello anyhoo, so here i am sitting nice and comfortable like, in my slit trench, swatting mosquito’s killin ants and things and writing all at the same time, cripes a guy needs about four hands for this job. It’s not a bad sort of a day though-at least it ain’t raining. An enormous big bee just flew in, stopped in mid air like a helicopter somewhere in the vicinity of my schnozzle and stared at me in the face like as if he was trying to make up his mind. However, he apparently didn’t like the looks of my ugly pan so he spread out his four or five inches of wings and flew away. I am still cross eyed from looking down my nose at the brute.
How are all the boy friends, or have you found one steady one? Cripes i haven’t even been out with a gal since about March, Gee soon i’ll be losing my Hespeler technique, what little there is left. Are you still at the same job and still doing the same thing sitting at a desk, writing letters to your boy friends? That must be a pretty fair job. You even use the company paper i notice, you crook. Well yesterday i received letters from Grace,Mother, Alec,George Oliver and a girl and her Mother and Sister in England, and a parcel from Grace as well. So i did okay for one day, didn’t i?All i gotta do now is answer them and boy, thats a job. Well Mim ole dear, must scram for now, so bye for this time, hope to see you soon, but hear from you sooner.
Your Big Brudder Brucie.

B85416 Gnr Bruce McLaughlin
12th Cdn fld regiment
Canadian Army Overseas

A Dear John letter to Tim Horton’s

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Dear Timmies,it pains me to write this but I think we need to spend time away from each other. Your paying attention to those outside in the fancy cars while I wait patiently inside to feel you in my cold morning hands is wearing on me. And I am getting tired of all the Questions every time we are together, would I like a sandwich, a panini, would I care for an ice cream, dammit, no I just want you and it is getting harder and harder for me to be with you and let’s face it I am a simple guy, nothing fancy about me but it seems you want to be like your friend Starbuck, fancy and expensive. But it is not all bad news, after all we still will see each other on occasion after all on my drives up into Northern Ontario it seems that all I see is you and perhaps we can get together occasionally there. So you enjoy your new friends and your rich ice cream and don’t worry about me, I will be alright,as a matter of fact I am currently seeing a few others and I am sure we will both get over each other.  Forever Yours, jimm.

The Bowie Files ( The Outside Albums and the bottom 3)

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2012 at 12:57 am

By the outside albums I am referring to the many albums of the Thin White Duke that I do not have on my top 10 Bowie Albums of all time. My top 5 albums of his were fairly simple but coming up with the bottom 5 proved to be a bit of a battle as at least 10 albums battled for the bottom 5. Not making the list were such albums as Space Oddity, Station to Station, Lodger and Scary Monsters, all good albums with redeeming quality’s but failing to make my list.

So here are my choices for #10-8 of the Bowie Files.

10). Pin Ups(1973)..The Duke’s 7th Album contained no original Bowie Material as he chose to record songs that influenced him from the mid 60’s London Era. He Covered songs by the Pretty Things, The Who,Pink Floyd,Them and The Who among others and was able to make those songs his own. Especially good is his version of the Pretty Things”Don’t Bring me Down”. This album is one the few that most people would not have on a top 10 list but to me his attempts at recreating an era in music was a success.

9)Heroes(1977)..Part of his Berlin Trilogy(the other releases being Low and Lodger) this is often considered to be the best of the 3 and is memorable to me as it is the album that both Brian Eno and Robert Fripp performed on. It is a bit of a more Dark and Moody album with a few Instrumentals on it but on the whole is a very good listen, especially on a cold winters night. And the song Heroes is one of his best a classic story of two lovers who meet at the Berlin Wall.

8).The Man who Sold The World(1970)..Besides being that album that gave Nirvana one of its biggest hits any album that can reference Nietzsche, H.P. Lovecraft and the Vietnam War can’t be all that bad.It is also the first album that brought together the band that would be the backing group for the Ziggy Stardust Album and most likely his first real  Rock and Roll Album, and some critics feel that this is the album that started Glam Rock(Try telling that to the New York Dolls). Obviously the Man who Sold the World is the best know song off the album but 2 other tracks rank up there with his best work, “The Width of a Circle” and “All the Madmen”.

Next up #7 and # 6.

The Bowie Files(prelude)

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2012 at 12:59 am

One of my favorite musical artists is David Bowie. I have made lists before of albums that changed my life lists of my songs about summer and many more lists including my last list of the Top songs of all time.  But nowhere on those lists is David Bowie, so how can he be one of my personal favorites but not list a song? Because to me his albums are what he is about and while he may not have been a factor in my lists, it is time now to do one of just his material. But this is more than a list, this will be a number of post over the next week, as I rank his albums from #10 to #1. It was not an easy decision to rank an artists work but I have done it and I am sure there will be many disagreements among my readers about this, so starting Friday I will begin my countdown of his top 10, and no I am not going to give it away here, but I will give you an idea of what albums did not make my top ten.  Ah, no, I think I will wait for that.

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