The Woods And the Other Side.


It was dark, it was dangerous and evil waited on the other side and it sat there inviting the mischievousness side of us all and for an 8-year-old it sure as hell was scary. As I entered grade 3 at Our Lady of Fatima school, the woods that sat behind the school were enticing but we were warned by the Nuns of a new menace that lurked on the other side A PUBLIC SCHOOL  that went by the name of Hillcrest and early that fall we all were warned about the dangers of going into that woodland that separated us from the heathens that ran that place, and worse the creatures that roamed the dark spaces of the woods.  The Nuns told us about the woodelves, and about the trees that could take on human form and eat the less than Pious among us, hell my older sister told me about a boy that ran into the woods during a lunch hour and was never seen again and that was enough for me as I swore I would never take the path that was inviting us all to enter., I sure as heck didn’t want my lifeless body to be discovered by the protestants and hung like a squirrel in their playground for all to see.  And for the rest of grade 3 we resisted the urge to go into the Woods and would live to enjoy our lives, but that changed the next school year, for we were a little older and one of us( I don’t remember who) had made a friend during the summer that was going to attend That Other School  and as curious 9 year olds will do we snuck off during a lunch period, gathered our wits and our liquid courage( okay, it was chocolate milk, but you get the point) we sharpened some sticks into what we assumed would become our weapons against the protestant menace and headed off into the path of the unknown, and the nuns were right, it was dark and smelly and scary but we soldiered on like the Holy Catholic Warriors that we were and after what seemed like an eternity,and perhaps a few stained underwear along the way, we came upon an opening to the other side and we stared dumbfounded  There were no Centaurs, no Bray Road beast, no Hydras and no Ogres, hell we didn’t even come across a snake during our great trek and there sure where none in the playground of the school that sat in-front of us, all we could see where children playing and laughing and ordinary looking teaches watching over them, heck they were just like us except that there teachers weren’t as scary looking and were not carrying rulers ready to hand slap the first person to act up, we all seemed to let out a big sigh of disappointment  at the sight. As a matter of fact the scariest things we ran into was on the trek back to our side of the woods when we ran into two Nuns that had been dispatched to retrieve us.

Our lives went on after that and of course we all wound up finding friends on that side of the woods, but never went though there while the Nuns were overlooking the site.  The woods are still there and the path is still the same but a lot else has changed there, a walkway is now running through the middle of it, house are being built around it and for some reason I can’t figure out why it took us so long to walk through there on that day as on Saturday I went for a walk out there and entered the woods and emerged 2 minutes later on the Hillcrest side, I guess it is all how you perceive it.

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MacLean And MacLean


The Coronet Hotel had a long history of entertaining us on Saturday nights with top-notch music acts, but occasionally there was an act that was, well, different and they were(Gary) MacLean and (Blair)MacLean. Originally from Glace bay Nova Scotia the boys moved to Winnipeg and became Canadian Comedy superstars with their combination of music, folksy story’s and outrageous humour that was not family oriented at all.  They were nominated for Juno Awards and performed from coast to Coast from 1972 till 1998 and managed to record 7 albums of material as well, with the only instruments being the banjo, Guitar and Bongo Drums and even appeared at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.

Their blend of humour and music just mixed well with my generation, they were unafraid of anything and in fact were once arrested and jailed after performing in Kingston, there they were charged with Public Indecency. The song titles were never politically correct and had such names as “I’ve Seen Pubic Hair” (based upon the well-known “I’ve Been Everywhere”) and an original song, “Dolly Parton’s Tits”, which made the British music charts after it was used as the theme music for a British TV show, they even managed to get Burton Cummings and Skip Prokop to help out on their albums and in the 1980’s created a radio character called’The Champ” that some of you may remember “Brother” Jake Edwards doing. But the highlight of their show was the closing, it was a sight that had to be seen to be believed( And i saw it many Times) they did a song called Fuck ya that involved a”mutual heckling” routine in which the audience and performers jokingly shouted abuse at each other; the song would then be performed as a “sing-along” with the audience.  Again it had to be seen. Unfortunately neither brother is with us anymore as Gary Died in 2001 and Blair in 2008, but they have left us with many memory s and if you can stand the vulgarity I suggest you head to your local record store( Millpond Records and Books may have a copy or two) and pick up some of their material and give it a listen, after all, it’s only music, Right?

A list of Albums from MacLean and MacLean

  • Toilet Rock (live at the Chimney, Toronto)
  • Bitter Reality (1976, mixture of studio, and live at the Chimney, Toronto)
  • Locked Up for Laughs (studio recording)
  • MacLean & MacLean Suck Their Way to the Top / MacLean & MacLean Take the “O” Out of Country (split album: side 1 is live at the El Mocambo, Toronto; side 2 is a studio recording simulating a country music radio broadcast)
  • Go to Hell (studio recording, title can also be read as MacLean & MacLean Go to Hell)
  • Cruel Cuts (1986, studio recording)
  • The Dirty Thirty (compilation)
  • 2 in 1 (1992, re-issue of first and second albums on one CD; omits some tracks to make it fit)
  • 2 in 1 (1992, re-issue of third and fourth albums on one CD)
  • Live (2003, live at Watts, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, 1996)

Who Was Candy Darling? And Why is she remembered today?


If you are trying to figure out where you have heard that name before, you are not alone, for Candy Darling was a real person who was a seminal figure in the music and arts world of the 1960’s and early 70’s, even though she never wrote a song.  But where have you heard her name? Well Lou Reed’s Walk on The Wild Side was most likely where her name first came into your memory banks”Candy came from out on the island,In the backroom she was everybody’s darling”.

But Candy’s story is not a simple one, for you see she was truly more than just a women, she was actually considered a muse for Lou Reeds 1960’s  classic group The Velvet Underground, the song Candy say’s  from their début album was about her,and as well the classic Kinks Song LOLA was, according to rumour was written about her as well. The Rolling Stones song Citadel has Candy Mentioned in the Lyrics as well. She starred in Andy Warhol’s films Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971) as well as appearing in the mainstream movies Klute with Jane Fonda and Lady Liberty with Sophia Loren and  appeared as herself in a number of movies chronicling the Andy Warhol era and she also appeared on Broadway in her short life. Beside her musical connections she has also been portrayed in both film and Broadway, a bust was made of her,Candy Darling’s letters, sketches and journal entries were compiled into a book titled My Face for the World to See by Hardy Marks publications. Both the English rock Group The Smith’s And Antony and The Johnsons  have used images of Candy for Record Album covers, and in 2010 a Documentary called Beautiful Darling was released about her. However, she had a short life for in 1974 at the age of 29 she died of Lymphoma, a picture of her on her deathbed by artist Peter Hujar became a famous photograph that is still haunting to this day.Candy Darling on her Deathbed.jpg

Her funeral, while low key did have the usual suspects attending and is remembered by those who were there for Gloria Swanson  Saluting Candy’s Coffin. So, why is Candy remembered so fondly, perhaps the answer is in her birth name,James Lawrence Slattery. You see Candy was born a Man but became a male to female Transsexual, and in an era where it was usually not promoted, she let everyone know who and what she was.

Candy Darling

{Sort of} A Ghost Story


I grew up in a big old house in Hespeler, that to me was haunted. And

this is one of those story’s that could have been a great Ghost
Story, but since that would spoil the ending I will start a the
beginning.

It was a warm spring Sunday evening in 1967 and I had just finished
watching my Television programs in the living room with my family,
Gentle Ben,Ed Sullivan and Bonanza were the programs of choice. Off to
bed I went for a relaxing sleep, or so I thought. At around 3 am I
awoke to take a whizz when I caught out of the corner of my eye the
rocking chair under the window in my room was moving and a white-clad
figure was occupying the chair. Frozen in bed and now unable to pee I
pulled up the sheets on my bed over my head and shivered, hoping that
the ghost would leave soon. No such luck. Every 1/2 hour it seemed I
checked and that ghost was still there and rocking the chair back and
forth. Unable to scream or even mouth “HELP” i waited for
morning and eventually dozed off thankfully.
As dawn arrived and I opened my eyes my fear of the ghost turned to embarrassment and then shame at what I had gone through the night before.

You see, what had happened was this. Being that it was a warm evening
my Mother had opened the bedroom window before laying a freshly cleaned
white bed sheet over the rocking chair, that just happened to have an
arched back, that created a head like shape. That and the wind nicely
blowing in the window kept the chair moving and the newly dried sheet
flowing. So it was not a ghost at all and I made it clear to my Mother
that she should never do that again. Her only comment on the
situation…how did you hold your pee so long? And now that I
think about it..how did I? Amazing the things you can do at 10 years
old.

Getting Away with It.


Sometimes in life you get away with little things that stick in your mind, like the time I got pulled over and the Police Officer had some fun with me. It was back in 1977 and life was a little different then, the world was not as uptight and paranoid as it is now and occasionally you got away with little things and on that evening I did just that.

I was a college student working nights at Artex Woolens to get my spending money and that is when this story gets good. There had been a flood in the plant from a broken pipe and my father as boss had volunteered me to help clean up, and as this was a Sunday and after a weekend of partying  I was very tired as the shift ended at 1:30 Monday morning. So I fired up the Dodge,headed up Guelph ave, turned on to Queen street and quickly sped up to turn onto Cooper street. Suddenly in my rear view mirror I saw the Cop Car lights flashing and so I pulled over not more that 300 yards from my driveway. He got out and walked up to the car and asked me ‘what the hell are you driving so fast for”, I really had no reason so I explained what had happened and that I just wanted to get some sleep before school in the morning. He seemed to understand and let me know after a little lecture on safe driving that he would let me go with just a warning but drive safe from now on, I thanked him and assured him that I would indeed drive a little more cautiously from now on.   He started to walk back to the cruiser when he stopped, spun around and started to walk back to my car, and that grin on his face made my heart rise into my mouth as I was sure something bad was about to happen, and then he spoke these words.” Son, if I were you, when you get home take that bag on your dashboard out of the car and hide it”, so I looked and saw what made me go white, for sitting between the sloped dashboard and the window was a small baggie containing several rolled joints, the good old wacky tabbacky. The officer turned and walked away and I could hear him laughing thru the still summer nights air, hell I think he almost pissed himself he was laughing so hard. As for me,well, I drove those 300 yards slowly home,parked the car, got the bag out from the dash, went inside and changed my underwear. And for the longest time afterwords I always double checked my rides before going anywhere.

Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow


TV Cops have always been in fashion and during the seventies there were plenty to go around, but one of the best and a personal favorite of mine was Robert Blakes Baretta.

While the premise of a lone cop with a few friends in the underworld had been done before and has been done many times since ,Baretta stood out for me, whether it was the language “You can take dat to da bank” and “And dat‘s the name of dat tune.” or that he drove  an old rusted Chevy Impala I don’t know, but the biggest gimmick was his sidekick Fred, A  Triton Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, a predecessor  perhaps to Sonny Crocketts Pet Alligator Elvis in the 1980’s show Miami Vice.  The show only ran for 4 seasons 1975-1978, but it’s combination of humour and violence caught my attention anyway.

Jack and the Chestnut Incident


In 1968 Hespeler was a small quaint little town with its own personality and we all existed peacefully together and there was always an air of calmness over our little piece of heaven, however in October of that year everything changed for me because that is when a stranger entered our lives and The Chestnut Incident happened.

Let me start at the beginning( makes sense don’t it?), as an 11-year-old lad one of my interests was the game of Kingers, a game that involved Horse Chestnuts and was played by almost all young boys and girls and dated back to the 1800’s and since Hespeler had many chestnut trees almost all of us played at one time or another and I was no different, and in my yard were two of the most magnificent chestnut trees in Hespeler and I used them to my full advantage. I always had a good sack of nuts ready to go in the fall and spent many hours baking , polishing and varnishing my nuts till they shone like the hub caps on my Dad’s prized Pontiac. I always made sure that the hole in the center was just the right size so it would not interfere with the molecular structure of my nuts.  And I had some good nuts indeed, I actually had one nut that became a 12 kinger, for those unsure, that means it won 12 times before being beaten. Most of us never lost more than a few nuts to each other and that is the way we enjoyed it until the new kid showed up with his hulking sack of nuts. None of us were sure where Jack came from but one day like hair showing up in the oddest places he appeared and wanted into our floating Chestnut games and even bragged about how his nuts could take down any old Hespeler boys nuts with just one swing, and the challenge was on. I am not sure who challenged him first but the battle did not take long and jack had his first victim and another piles of nuts to add to his collection, and this went on for over an hour until it was my turn. I reached into my sack and pulled out the biggest and shiniest nut in my bag and stared at Jack like we were mortal enemy’s and when the dust settled my chestnut lay beaten and battered as Jack did his grinning victory dance over my sack. As we all sat stunned, not believing that this had happened, Jack took his winnings, filled his bag with all the best nuts from Hespeler and slowly started to walk away, back to wherever he had come from and we all agreed never again to talk about the Chestnut Incident of 1968 and the mysterious kid named Jack.