I have always enjoyed a good party.

Last fall, my friend Margi McKay interviewed me as part of a Kingston Public Library project to have people select an old photo from their past and talk about it.  You might enjoy listening to the 22 minute interview.  I am happy to have it preserved.  Some day my grandchildren or great grandchildren will be able to hear me talk about my childhood.

And how things have changed in my lifetime.  I feel like a bit of a pioneer.  The TV set in the photo was the latest technology.  Now everyone has this in their pocket.

There is a link below to an edited version of the interview but if you have the 20 minutes, the longer interview is better as it is more thoughtful and complete.  You can access it by clicking on the photo below or here.


For the shorter edited version you can click here.  It is a bit more rushed and the editing sounds like I have had about 4 cups of coffee prior to the interview.  But in these days of shorter attention span, this works well.  Click here for the abbreviated version.

I talk about 448 Mornington Ave, London in the interview.  It is where the party took place. Here is my brother Bob and I on the front porch of that house about the same time.


Surprise. I do have a spiritual side.

I have spent the past few days on what has turned out to be a Reminiscence Tour of Huron and Bruce counties, visiting longstanding friends and familiar locations from my past.
I have camped out for a couple of nights at my brother’s cottage just south of Kincardine and on the wall in the living room is a painting that was done by my late mother sometime in the 1960s. This morning when I looked at the painting, I decided to go there, to sit on that beach and see if that rock was still in the water.
For years, our family had a cottage at the top of the hill in the community known as Bluewater Beach. I spent many summers there from about age 5 on. My kids also remember Grandma and Grampa’s cottage well.   
I picked up a coffee in Goderich and a Danish at Culbert’s bakery. I parked at the top of he hill across the street from where Vasiloff’s had their cottage and walked along the road past Hartman’s and Haskett’s and Footwinkler’s and Halpin’s. None of those people are there – most of them are dead. The buildings, most of them drastically changed are there but with different owners they feel empty and foreign.

No one was home at the cottage that used to belong to my family – we had called it Tip Toe Inn –so I went out onto the front yard, sat down and had my coffee there looking out over Lake Huron. The cottage was built by my Dad starting in 1952. The structure remains the same although it is now brown, not white with red trim.

I then took the well-worn path and steps down to the beach.

At the bottom of the hill I could see the rocks in my mom’s painting. It’s true, she did take some artistic license with the size and perspective but the rocks are still there with waves crashing over them just as in the painting.

While I was on the beach, I met a fellow who was wandering along with his dog. He had a beard and long hair pulled back with an elastic. I know he would not call it a man-bun.  He said he had a place at the top of the hill that sounded like it was where Art Johnson, the local woodsman, used to live fifty years ago. He said he spent a lot of his time wandering the beach and kayaking, – a bit like a Robinson Crusoe.  He has built a little hideaway up against the cliff under some trees. His kayak was there, some places to sit and a painting of a whales tail in the water. We talked at some length about the beach, the way the lake changes from year to year but also the way that certain things stay the same. I told him about Benny Daer, the local bootlegger, and Miss Salkeld’s blue cottage tea room. I may have bored him but he listened politely. For me it was a flood of memories. 

This year the water level in Lake Huron is high. Everyone thinks this is an anomaly. But I remember this beach in many years past exactly as it is today. We would have to clear rocks away to make a sandy spot to put our beach towels. Some years there was sand in the water and some years there was not. Some years the shore was polluted with seaweed, other years it was clean.  Some years we would have to walk a couple of kilometers along the beach to Black’s Point to have a good swimming. Along the way we would stop at “the big rock”, another large flat table-like rock 100 m from shore. My new-found friend assured me he knows that rock well. And yet another  “big” rock –in the picture below– at the base of the stairway to the beach was sometimes almost out of the water. But I also remember it exactly as it is now. When I was 10 we would go out to that rock and jump off of it into the water. All the rocks seemed bigger then.
As I stood there, I  reflected how the rocks in my Mom’s painting will be there 100 years or 200 years from now as well. But I won’t. There is something both comforting and disturbing about that thought. How small and temporary we are in the grand scheme of things.
I’m not religious but sometimes I do have a spiritual side. These rocks are as close to God that I can get. They are steadfast, immovable, reliable and enduring. And there is something reassuring about knowing that, although we are only on this planet for a very short time, there is something greater that lasts… and lasts…and lasts.
Addendum: As I stood taking the photo above, looking toward Goderich, beyond the point in the distance,  it reminded me of the time when my “cousins”, my 7 year old brother and I decided on the spur of the moment to walk along the beach to Goderich, maybe 5 km away.  We neglected to tell our parents and, needless to say it took us longer than we anticipated. It was before the days of mobile phones or even a phone at the cottage.  Our parents were frantic and at 4 pm found us walking along the highway in an attempt to head home.  Brother Bob was exhausted. Parents were relieved to find us safely but were pretty angry with us.  As a kid, this just seemed like a reasonable adventure.  As a parent and grandparent I can understand our parents’ panic.

My Christmas – 55 years ago -1959

While cleaning out a closet I found a treasure. Old movies of my family that my Dad must have had transcribed from the little 8mm 3 minute films that were popular in the late ’60’s. The movies are grainy and dark but what a treat it is to see and remember Christmases from 55 years ago.

My Vardon grandparents in this film are younger than I am now.  My Dad in 1959 was younger than my eldest daughter is today.  I have a granddaughter as old as I was then.

My brother and I were lucky to have both sets of grandparents living fairly close by so we would all get together at one home or another for Christmas, taking turns as to who cooked the turkey. How wonderful it is to hear my mother’s laughter and to see my grandparents images again. All of us having fun.

There was always music.  One grandmother played the piano, the other the accordion. My Dad and Grandfather played the fiddle. We had a bass drum, flutes and when he got a bit older my brother played the trumpet. I could play the ukulele and the piano (not at the same time). My mother sang and danced. And laughed.

Rudolph as brightened a family yard now for almost 60 years!

Rudolph as brightened a family yard now for almost 60 years!

My Dad had made a plywood Rudolph with a red lightbulb nose that always was strapped to the railing of the front porch.  My brother Bob still has that Rudolph and posted a picture last week of it in his Hamilton yard.

In 1960 my mom’s cousin and her family came from Montreal to spend Christmas with us.  Always fun to get together with “cousins”.

In 1960, John F Kennedy was elected President of the U.S., John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister of Canada, Spartacus and Psycho were on at the movies and Elvis Presley and Chubby Checker (The Twist) were at the top of the music charts. A new group formed that year but not yet known to the world was The Beatles.

Gathering rosebuds

In some ways, my visit to the island of Lopud, a 50 minute ferry ride from the Dubrovnik port, was a bit of a pilgrimage.

With Sue and Jim on Lopud, May 2005

With Sue and Jim on Lopud, May 2005

I was last there nine years ago with my friends Sue and Jim.  We walked a lot, drank a lot of cheap red wine, ate seafood and laughed.  I was younger and Jim was healthy.

Today when I visited the island it seemed not to have changed much. But I was aware that I was nine years older and ten pounds heavier and Jim …well, Jim is gone.

Pretty much the same spot, May 2014

Pretty much the same spot, May 2014. I was likely standing on the rocks we were sitting on in 2005 to get this photo in 2014.


I spent six hours walking around the island, on familiar paths up hills, to the beach and past the ruins of centuries-old churches. I took lots of photos but probably didn’t need to since not much has changed and I suspect I have all the same photos from previous trips to the island.

All along the pathways were wildflowers of different colours but the most prominent ones were wild roses.  As I walked, I kept thinking “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”

The 1909 John Williams Waterhouse painting, "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may"

The 1909 John Williams Waterhouse painting, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”



Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

I wondered as I left on the ferry if I will ever come back to Lopud.  I have visited the island several times, always with friends.  Good times past. The island is the same but time has rushed on and those good times are now fond memories.

I also know that there is still time to create some new ones – but on some other island.


Note to self, and to everyone else as well  – Get out the shears and keep gathering those memories.



Bosnia reflections, Part 2 … People

Earlier this week I posted photos of how the buildings and streetscapes changed during the time I worked in Bosnia from 1998 to 2009. Over those years I also got to know and become friends with many people, Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks alike – Muslims and Catholics and Orthodox and agnostics.

I watched them recover slowly from the trauma of war.

I heard horrendous stories and visited places that made me weep.

I shared lots of smiles, laughs and good food Bosnian beer with the people I worked with, Bosnians and Canadians and other internationals.

But I also got to know some of the people in the neighborhood. There was a bakery at the base of the hill where we lived and every Saturday morning I looked forward to walking down the hill and buying a freshly baked apple (jabuka) turnover to eat with my coffee and the Globe and Mail crossword I could download onto my laptop. The young man who was behind the counter was always there. Always. He spoke little English and I knew only enough Bosnian to say good morning and ask for my bread. Over the years I watched him grow up, covered in flour and serving up bread at the bakery. We exchanged greetings in the store. He, no doubt, was watching me age as well.

hljeb then and now

There were also two little waifs who lived in a house just below ours. My understanding was that their family were refugees, squatting in a house that had been abandoned by people who fled during the war.

Semir and Kiko with toques that I brought for them from Canada.

Semir and Kiko with toques that I brought for them from Canada.

I am proud to say that kids generally like me. And these two little fellows were no exception. They would come together early in the morning and ring the buzzer at my door. I would take them to the market and sometimes buy them something small. Once I took them to a restaurant and bought them each a slice of pizza and a coke. I remember them sitting there like they were princes and thinking that they may never have eaten in a restaurant like this.

Once I was cooking on our barbecue and realized that I and no flipper for the burgers. The kids were hanging around and they saw that I had no utensil to turn the burgers.  They disappeared and within about five minutes returned with a nice new barbecue spatula. I suspect that they swiped it from somewhere. They reminded me of the Artful Dodger.

One of the neighbourhood photos that the kids took with my camera.

One of the neighbourhood photos that the kids took with my camera.

One winter I loaned them my digital camera to take a few photos. I would see the neighborhood through their eyes. When I got the camera back I found they had taken it inside their house. There was their mother sitting under a blanket in bed beside an oven door open for heat, and smoking a cigarette with an ashtray of butts on the floor beside the bed. Out of respect for her privacy I have never printed that photo but I look at it and smile.

One year when I returned the family had moved away. Occasionally I would see the mother at a bus stop or the kids in the schoolyard. A few years later I chanced upon one of them, a teenager now, working in a local garden.

I wonder what became of those kids. I hope they are doing OK but they may be part of the large proportion of young Bosnians who are unemployed, disgruntled and fed up with their lot.  There is growing unrest among the unemployed and disadvantaged in Bosnia and last week it boiled over into anti-government protests in several Bosnian cities.

Semir grown up. Where is he now. He would be about 21 now.

Semir grows up. Where is he now? He would be about 21 now.

Grandma Vardon’s Shortbread

Grandma Vardon was born in 1902.  She was so much fun.

My grandparents Vardon as I remember them on the porch of their house at 504 Grosvenor St.  1958

My grandparents Vardon as I remember them on the porch of their house in London at              504 Grosvenor St.  1958

When she was younger she played the piano in silent movies.  There is a story about the movie house catching fire during a showing and Grandma played the piano as patrons filed out until she gradually was overcome by smoke and fell off the piano stool.  In her later years she took up the accordion which she would tote to family gatherings and serenade us with Tennessee Waltz or any number of polkas.

I always waited at Christmas for her shortbread and have a recipe that I scribbled down as she told it to me in about 1970.  I am happy to share it with you and you can share it too. But if you do, please call it Grandma Vardon’s Shortbread.

It is so simple, but so good. And even better after it has aged a few days. I am going to make some this weekend and take them this Christmas to give to her great-great grandchildren!

Grandma Vardon’s Shortbread.Grandma Vardon's Shortbread

1 cup Brown Sugar

1 lb softened Butter

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp Vanilla extract

Cream well with a wooden spoon.

Add 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

and 4 cups of flour (not more)

Keep mixing until you have a soft ball. Turn out on a board and knead. Roll out flat and cut out cookies.

Cook at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes, watching closely as they brown quickly and it is easy to burn them.

We used to make these in circles and bells and Christmas trees and decorate them with sugar sprinkles or one of those little silver sugar balls.

This is a great way to remember my long-gone Grandma Vardon (1902-1973) at Christmas. It seems like yesterday.



A dinner I will always remember…

I now have thousands of digital photos. I have selected the “best” of them to post on my Flickr site or use as a screen saver but most of them remain poorly catalogued on my computer’s hard drive.

Every once in a while I get searching for one that I remember from years past and in the process end up scanning others that bring back memories.

I took this photo in 2001 in the kitchen of my ageing parents when I went for dinner one autumn evening not too long before they moved from their house into a senior’s apartment.  My mom was in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease and my Dad’s vision was failing badly.  They actually helped each other. Mom could read signs and labels and mail and Dad could then process information in a way that my Mom could not.  Symbiosis.after dinner drinks

Before dinner, Dad offered me a glass of wine.  He asked if I would like white or red and I responded that I would prefer red. He went over to the kitchen counter and fiddled for a few minutes with bottles and glasses, soon returning to me with an absolutely empty wine glass.  He looked at it and then said ” I guess I poured you white by mistake”.  Judging what you are pouring and into what are a challenge when you are visually handicapped.

Dad then headed out to the back yard with matches and some barbecue lighter fluid to start the barbecue. I offered to help but he discouraged me, saying he could do just fine himself. I crossed my fingers that the poof as the barbecue flamed up would not cause third degree burns.  Five minutes passed and no charred father returned so that, apparently, went OK. The meat did not fare as well.

About 20 minutes later Dad arrived back into the kitchen with three little black nuggets that were the remains of the M&M’s filet mignon he had “cooked”.  Mom, in the meantime, had burned some frozen peas and carrots onto the bottom of a saucepan on the kitchen stove and was, for the third time, reheating buns in the microwave.

The meal was … memorable.

Mom was disgusted with the quality of the meat and was convinced they should take the rest of the package back to the store for a refund.   I discouraged that, knowing that the flames shooting up from the barbecue with a visually impaired cook was more the problem.

After dinner – there would certainly be dessert and tea – Dad asked if I would like some Port. I declined but he got out a bottle and poured a glass for himself as Mom looked on. He had a bit of trouble knowing when the glass was full. Then there was the problem of picking this overflowing glass up with a hand that has a bit of tremor.  As you can see, he found a solution.

My parents both enjoyed a great sense of humour. We all ended up laughing, along with  Betty Boop and Jean Chretien who are looking back from the fridge door.

Mom has since passed away. Her Alzheimer’s disease gradually robbed her of all recollection and significant interaction. A sad decline for someone who was very social. Here is another blog page I wrote about Mom last fall. http://wp.me/p2wvIq-i7

Dad has become more handicapped with his vision but still goes strong at 93. Earlier this year he upgraded to a faster internet connection so he could join “the Facebook”.  This is proving to be a challenge, though, as he has problems seeing posts and navigating on his 25x expanded desktop screen where the mouse arrow is often nowhere to be found.

In August, he is heading to the East Coast with my daughter and two of his great-grandchildren for a beach holiday.  And likely a gin and tonic or two.  More memories in the making, no doubt.

Fifty Years ago – 1963

It’s strange how the mind can wander. Or at least mine can.

I had a brief Facebook interaction yesterday with friends in which I referenced Mohammed Ali with his well known “floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee” comment. It immediately called up a memory of being on holiday with my family in Western Canada in July 1963. I was a month away from turning 16 and Sonny Liston had just beaten Floyd Patterson to become heavyweight champion of the world. But Cassius Clay (he changed his name to Muhammed Ali a couple of years later) was able to immediately upstage Liston with a challenge and prophesy, “Liston’s not great, he’ll fall in eight.” I was not at all interested in heavyweight boxing at the time but I still remember being in the car and hearing this on the radio as we travelled through Manitoba. I also remember watching a solar eclipse through exposed film two days earlier and having vivid recollections of listening to 13 year old “Little Stevie Wonder” singing Fingertips Part 2. I bought the record – a “45” – when we got home.

Rehearsing for my role as Mr. Spettigue in Girl Crazy-1963

Rehearsing for my role as Mr. Spettigue in Girl Crazy-1963

I started wondering what else was going on in 1963. I was going into Grade 12 at London Central Collegiate Institute. I was a nerd. I wore corduroy flood pants and sweaters with designs on them. I was into many extracurricular activities, including playing the role of Mr Spettigue in Girl Crazy and dressing up as Quack version of Bess the Landlord’s Daughter in an election skit for my friend Daphne Ward (now Bice). Her campaign theme was centred around Daffy Duck. She didn’t win. The Daffy Duck approach has not been used by politicians since.

I remember sock hops in the gym. I wonder what became of teachers like Hunk Wyatt, Miss Wyanko and Mr Webb who all seemed absolutely ancient (they taught my mom, in fact) but who were all likely younger than I am now.

imageThe Beatles released their first hit, Please Please Me in early 1963 and this was followed by other singles and an album…in stereo. They had not yet appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show but Beatlemania was sweeping the UK in 1963. Their long hair verged on scandalous.

Gasoline cost 29 cents a gallon (not litre) and a loaf of bread was 22 cents.

Alfred Hitchock’s “The Birds” was a popular movie along with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra. Ron Howard was Opie on the Andy Griffith’s Show.

You will be familiar with Bob Dylan’s song, “Blowin’ in the Wind” made popular by Peter Paul and Mary in 1963 but you may not have heard Eydie Gorme’s “Blame it on the Bossa Nova.” Does any body do the bossa nova any more? Blame that on Eydie Gorme.

By far the most memorable event of 1963 was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I remember the moment that news broke. I recall where I was sitting, the teacher and in the classroom I was in when the principal of the school broke into the lesson over the PA system. I spent the rest of the dreary November weekend glued to the black and white TV that was in the corner of my grandparents’ living room as the rest of the drama, including the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, unfolded.

imageEarlier in the year, Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech and racism and civil rights were paramount in the news. Civil rights movements were being met with violent opposition and it took policemen to allow two black students admission to the University at Birmingham Alabama. Fifty years later the President of the United States is African American. A significant change for the good within my adult lifetime.

It is weirdly wonderful to me that I can remember these events from 50 years ago so vividly. Lots of images and experiences filed in there somewhere.

Oh, and just in case you think I am showing my age, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt were both born in 1963 which makes them 50 this year. Time marches on.

My grade 12 class in 1963. I am in the top right with the V-neck sweater.  Over the years, my head has grown into my ears.   At the far right in the first row is Lorna Harris . Lorna and I are still great friends after these 50 years, corresponding regularly by Facebook and email.  An enduring friendship. Could we ever imagine what the next 50 years would bring?

My grade 12 class in 1963. I am in the top right with the V-neck sweater. Over the years, my head has grown into my ears.
At the far right in the first row is Lorna Harris . Lorna and I are still great friends after these 50 years, corresponding regularly by Facebook and email. An enduring friendship. Could we ever imagine what the next 50 years would bring?

Where were you when….

Neil Armstrong, first man to plant a foot on the surface of the moon, died today. I got to thinking about where I was on July 20, 1969 when that event was taking place. In many ways it was the equivalent of Christopher Columbus landing in North America. An historical voyage of exploration.

That afternoon I was at a family gathering that was honouring my upcoming marriage three weeks later. I had been Best Man at the wedding of friends the day before. We were all 21 years old. So young when I think about it now. But unmarried young couples didn’t openly live together back in the sixties. If you wanted to live together and be socially accepted you were obliged to get married. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

It was a summery afternoon and we were all sitting on webbed lawn chairs in the back yard of my future wife’s Aunt Una, drinking beer and preparing a barbecue. We shared with the rest of the world as Neil Armstrong gave his “One small step for man“** sentence and later that night marvelled as we looked up at the moon and thought that there was indeed a man up there.

One of the other powerful things about that event was that it was broadcast live on television. Bear in mind this is long before the days of the Internet and even home computers. Transmission of a live TV signal from the moon so everyone could watch this historic happening was remarkable in itself.

I wrote last week about “turning” 65. Part of my reflections around that birthday were also centred on all the things that had happened in my 65 years – the first step on the moon being one of them.

What were some of the others and where was I when they happened?

November 22, 1963. That afternoon as I sat in the row next to the inner wall in the upstairs classroom of my high school, Jackie Kennedy was leaning over her assassinated husband in the back seat of a limo in Dallas.

I remember exactly where I was sitting in Miss Allison’s French class at London Central Collegiate Institute when news came over the intercom that President John F. Kennedy had been fatally shot. I remember walking home from school in a daze and spending the weekend in front of my grandparent’s TV as the rest of the weekend happened, including seeing Jack Ruby emerge from the crowd shoot Lee Harvey Oswald as he was being transferred somewhere.

I remember where I was when I learned that Elvis Presley had died. It was the day before my 30th birthday. I was feeling like part of my past had disappeared and I remember sharing that thought with a young woman who was in the hospital with metastatic breast cancer. “He was so young“, she said. She was less than 40 with three kids and was dead within the month.

Even earlier I remember the day that Marilyn Monroe was found dead. I know it was a Sunday. I was a teenager then, spending the summer at Bluewater Beach near Goderich, Ontario. A friend and I had a job peeling potatoes for french fries in a local restaurant (that is a story in itself) and the news happened to come on the restaurant radio as the owner of the restaurant scraped fat off the big iron grill to make fried eggs for the patrons…and for him and his wife who sat in the back booth smoking and eating between customers.

It is intriguing to me that many of the triggers for these very distinct memories are around the deaths – Elvis, Princess Diana, JFK, Martin Luther King, the Challenger Astronauts, 9-11. They all call forth distinct pictures of where I was exactly when I heard the news. Perhaps the passing of someone famous triggers a landslide of thoughts and reflections that are all bound up in one moment of information. Death events mark a finite irreversible transition point in history.

In contrast, the Moon Landing was one of celebration and achievement. And to be a witness to it with the rest of the world was pretty special.

My experience of the inauguration of Barack Obama was also influenced by memories of race riots in the U.S., Martin Luther King and segregated drinking fountains.

More recently, I shared watching the inauguration of Barack Obama with a bunch of students all gathered around a television in Nairobi, Kenya. It was a very special way to experience that historical event given that Obama’s family hailed from Kenya. Downtown in Nairobi the students at the University gathered to watch. They all stood up when the Oath of Office was administered in Washington. Respectful and touching. I did wonder, however, if my take on the first African-American President of the U.S.A. being sworn into office was different from the young students with whom I watched it. I remembered apartheid and segregated washrooms in the U.S. and Martin Luther King as well.

Do you have some moments that had so much impact that you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when they happened? Want to share them with me? Enter your significant historical moments in a comment, I’d love to hear about them.

**Apparently Neil Armstrong was supposed to say “One small step for a man” but he left the “a” out when he made his step off the ladder onto the moon surface. Imagine the excitement for him of that moment.

Looking back at 1966

This week I had a friend, Lorna Harris, send me photos that were taken in June 1966 at my family’s cottage near Goderich, Ontario. She found them tucked between the pages of an old book she was preparing for a garage sale this week. We were both 18 at the time and had just completed first year at UWO. While hippies were smoking dope and drinking coffee in the Yorkville District of Toronto, here I was, a skinny teenager, shivering in the river; she, a coy young woman blowing bubbles on the lawn.

Looking at these photos, I wondered what else was happening in 1966? Not that the bubbles and the rapids weren’t enough to keep me intrigued.

Prime Minister of Canada in 1966.

Lester B. Pearson was the Prime Minister of Canada and Lyndon B. Johnston was President of the United States – a good year to have the middle name “B.”. We gradually went downhill to “W.” as a middle name over the next 40 years.

Obviously in 1966, smoking was thought to make you look “with it”.

The Montreal Canadians beat the Detroit Red Wings in overtime on April 29 win the Stanley Cup – the best of six NHL teams. Gump Worsley and Jean Belliveau were on the team. No helmets, no goalie masks. Now, with 30 teams in the league and a season that stretches to June it is less hockey and more big business.

Before the donutsThe Toronto Maple Leafs had Johnny Bower, Frank Mahovolich and Tim Horton. They won the Stanley cup in 1967 but have not come up drinking champagne since. Tim Horton was still known for hockey, not donuts. Imagine a Canada with no Timbits or line-ups for double doubles. Hockey player Horton had one store in Hamilton in 1966. Today there are over 4000 Tim Horton’s Donut shops in Canada.

Revolver Album cover

Album Cover for the Beatles “Revolver” album

The Beatles released the Revolver Album (Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine) in August of 1966. Other musical hits that year included “Monday Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas, “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by the Supremes. Simon and Garfunkel released their “Sounds of Silence” album in 1966. They were little-enough known that I saw them perform at a free concert at UWO that fall.

The average cost of a house was $14,200 ( I bought my first house in 1971 for $17,500) and gasoline cost 32 cents a gallon. (Gallon not Litre).

The War in Viet Nam was going strong but protests against the war were escalating.

The Mini Skirt was a popular “fashion” trend for women. For men it was the paisley shirt. I had one. Black with red and yellow paisleys on it.

The first episode of Star Trek aired on television. And the first broadcast in Canada in colour was made by the CBC. I remember the first colour TV I saw – a big monstrosity in a cabinet with colour that was anything but subtle. But then I also remember my grandparents first Admiral TV in the mid ’50’s. We would sit and watch the test pattern – the one with the Indian on it – waiting for Howdy Doody to come on.

And what was happening in Africa in 1966? The Republic of Kenya was less than two years old, having achieved independence in December 1964. Jomo Kenyatta was the president. The Kenyan, Ugandan and Tanzanian Shillings were introduced as the currency for those countries. Botswana achieved independence in 1966.

Now the cool thing about all this is that the Supremes are long gone, Lester B. Pearson and Jomo Kenyatta are historical figures, the war in Viet Nam is over (but has been replaced by a similar one in Iraq and Afghanistan), the Leafs…well, we won’t go there. But Lorna and I, 46 years later, are still friends. We live in different parts of Ontario but we correspond regularly by email to share ideas and memories and we meet periodically for a catch up dinner. We still learn from each other – she has recently introduced me to the em-dash. Our friendship seems to be like the Eveready bunny – it just keeps going; and that makes me feel very fortunate.

And what did Lorna think about when she found those photos….check it out on her blog “Forever Blowing Bubbles” here.