A little tidbit: Randy Bachman and the rest of The Guess Who occasionally
came through our Basement Housewares department for chocolate malts
at the Bay Malt Shop in the late sixties. This was when they were
already famous and popular.
Particle –Hooked, Hat and All
On a visit home from Winnipeg, my father and I went fishing at the
Waterhen, north of Dauphin, where he had a trailer and often spent
his leisure time fishing. I was seated in the boat behind my father.
As we were casting for pickerel and perch, my father’s hook
flew within inches of my head, more than once or twice. I warned
him and even protested, but he paid no attention. Suddenly, there
it was, a hook lodged firmly in my scalp, through my hat. Thankfully,
it was not in my eye.
While there was very little pain or blood, my father panicked and
sped off with me down a gravel road to the nearest clinic in Ste.
Rose du Lac.
Walking into the doctor’s office, he asked me how he could
help me. “I can’t get my hat off,” I replied. I
pointed to the fish hook; he smiled, gave me a local anesthetic,
cut the hook, pushed the remainder on through my scalp (you can’t
pull a hook out against the barb), gave me some painkillers (which
I didn’t use), and we were off.
They say sons should listen to their fathers. Just as the direction
of a hook needs to be reversed at times, so fathers need to listen
to their sons.
Particle –Shaky Shelter for a Shattered Woman
One day, a woman came frantically knocking on my Martello apartment
door, begging me to let her in. I knew her - she was the wife of
the caretaker for the block, Bert Paling. She was urgently seeking
shelter. I let her in and locked the door behind her. She warned
me that Bert could be entirely irrational and violent. She told me
he had once or twice deliberately broken her fingers and taken a
knife to her luxurious fur coat he bought her as a gift.
What does one do in such a situation? I knew that getting in the
middle of a squabble could be unwise. I knew that in trying to help
her, Bert’s jealousy and rage might know no bounds, to the
point of murder. And I didn’t know if he was jealous for a
good reason or not.
He came banging on the door, shouting a demand for her to come out.
He was about to break down the door. She didn’t want to call
the police. I advised her that she needed to get away from him. While
I don’t recall what happened, I believe he realized that with
others involved, he had better change his ways, at least temporarily.
She consented to leave, he was friendly later, though sheepish, and
I heard of no more trouble.
Gift to the Kives Brothers
Bert had been a carnie (one who travels and works with a carnival).
He once held in his hands an invention, the Veg-O-Matic food slicer,
which was a winner at carnivals. I don’t know why, but he gave
it to the Kives Brothers, Phil and Ted, one of whom, he said, had
also been a carnie. They promoted it on television nationwide under
the name K-Tel, and thus began creating their fortune. They were
known for their fast-talking record promotions.
They bought the Westminster Hotel, among several other investments,
and Bert took me down to meet them. They thanked him, as they had
done at other times, saying they were indebted to him for their success,
and asked him again if they could do something for him. He refused
Bert later explained to me that a code of conduct among carnies
was that they did not accept favors or payments if there was no deal
made for something they did for someone (something like that; may
a carnie correct me if I am wrong).
Perhaps the Kives brothers felt safe in asking, or is that too cynical
of me? I understand they later suffered huge losses due to inexperience
Particle –Wealth Does Not Breed Generosity
Phil’s riches did not make him generous. He gave Bert nothing,
and he would not even pay for the single drink I had with them, though
they owned the place. I always marvel at the fact that more coin
seldom loosens the purse string, unless the coin is entering the
purse. Indeed, the weight of the moneybag seems to tighten the string.
Grass Is Greener
Gerry McClintock, Don McLeod (his cousin), Dave Miller, Dave Adams,
and a supplier of marijuana gathered with me in my apartment to smoke;
it was my first time. Girls came to the door, smelled the smoke,
and wondered what we were doing. I sent them away with some phony
explanation, afraid we would get reported.
Don McLeod was divorced and of a rather tough countenance. He was
often rather sarcastic with, and ignored, me. This night while high,
however, he was absolutely sincere, if not genuinely interested.
As we smoked, he asked me questions about how the pot made me feel.
I was pleasantly surprised. It almost made me wonder if it would
not be a much happier and more peaceful world if everyone did weed.
I was at great peace. Nobody seemed to want to fight or argue or
be sarcastic. I found everyone unpretentious and considerate. It
It seems many have found grass greener on the dry side.
I was surprised how it affected my sense of time.
I looked at my watch and it was 8:30. What seemed like an hour later,
again, and it was 8:32! What was wrong with my watch? I asked others
what time it was and, sure enough, my watch was fine. Maybe I red
it wrong the first time. I checked it an “hour” later
to find it had progressed only a few minutes more.
We went to the bar and loved everybody there. No wonder pot, flowers,
love, and cynicism of the establishment that demands a “respectable” lifestyle
go together. I enjoyed the experience, but I also knew that I didn’t
want to make myself at home there. I sensed it would lead me deeper,
into places I didn’t wish to go; places from which, perhaps,
there might be no return? I might have done pot one other time, and
that was it. I have never used any other drugs. Alcohol was my pleasure,
Particle –“Red” (Past) Versus “Read” (Passé)
This is an “aside” particle, likely the only one you
will find here. Using the word “red” instead of “read” in
the past tense was deliberate. At some point, logic dictated to me
that if one has “lead” and “led,” or “feed” and “fed,” or “meet” and “met,” then
we ought to have “read” and “red.” After
all, does one say, “Yesterday, I meet the new neighbors,” or, “Yesterday,
she feed the kids,” or, “Last year, they lead the parade”?
So, yesterday, I “red” a book.
Of course, I am being somewhat silly because the English language
is full of incongruity and contradiction. Sew, Latin wuzz knot
maid inn a dey, and English is an evolving peace of art.
Particle –Bar Hopping and Beer Sopping
We visited the pubs and bars many nights (we didn’t wait for
weekends), and we pursued the entertainment around town – Dianne
Heatherington, Wayne Walker, Pat Riordon, and many others.
Beer was a big part of our lives, a substance most people hate at
first taste, like smoking or chewing tobacco. Why do they persist
until they get to enjoy that which once contorted their faces?
Brand recognition played a big role. My preference was Labatt’s
Blue. In the US, Dave’s preference was Schlitz, a joke with
us. Why? Was it better? If one served me in a blind test, I wouldn’t
know the difference, especially after having one or two. In the pubs,
we drank draught beer from the tap. Who knew what went into those
dispensers? More to the point, who cared?
Particle –Smoking Addiction
I now smoked a large pack of cigarettes a day. Many times I tried
to quit and failed. I tried cutting down on numbers gradually; I
tried smoking at only certain times; I tried smoking the cigarettes
halfway and snuffing them; I tried cigars to wean myself from cigarettes;
I tried smoking a pipe for a while. None of these partial measures
seemed to help. I finally succeeded in breaking away by quitting
It was not easy by any means. I had to replace the habit with something.
I tried chewing gum or candy, but I had a weight problem and didn’t
want to do that continuously. I resorted to toothpicks, and I realized
they helped because I had something in my hand; addiction associates
with many things, even the hand that serves the body’s cravings.
While toothpicks were rather crude for me, seeing I was managing
staff and dealing with the public, they did help me quit.
Within days of quitting, I felt better. I didn’t wake up with
a yucky throat and cough in the morning, my head was clearer, I had
more energy, I didn’t stink as much, and others were not annoyed
with the secondhand smoke.
I quit, but not without some backlash. I could now taste my food
and enjoy it that much more - which was a problem because I liked
food and began to put on the pounds. I also had nightmares of having
started smoking again. I felt awful, thinking, “I was on my
way to recovery – clean for a week, a month, a year! Why was
I so stupid as to start again?” Then I would wake up, realizing
it was only a dream and feeling so relieved that I had not caved
to the addiction.
This went on for about three years. In those days, smokers often
offered one a cigarette when they were lighting up. I stalwartly
refused. “No thanks, I quit,” I responded.
“Good for you,” they would say, sometimes adding, “I
should, too, but I can’t seem to kick the habit.” Seldom
did they ask how I did it, and seldom would they insist that I join
them, unlike with alcohol. (Curiously, I don’t recall saying, “No
thanks, I don’t smoke”!)
One day, sad to say, I did accept a cigarette from someone. I deliberately
did not inhale, not on that one or the next, but soon I was taking
it in, wondering if I might not get sick as I did the first time
ever. I didn’t, but I was hooked again.
Soon, I was smoking OP’s (other people’s). I still resisted
going back to my bondage (as though I wasn’t there already),
so at first I only smoked what was offered, but it wasn’t long
before I was bumming a smoke. I resisted buying my own, thinking
I still had a chance to win the battle, until people began to get
annoyed with me, and it became embarrassing to ask. I recall the
time I took change from my pocket, walked over to a cigarette dispenser,
slotted the coins, pulled up a pack, broke the seal, borrowed a light,
and lit up. I was back at it.
Did I feel badly at that moment? Not really. I think it was more
like a war of attrition I had been conditioned to lose for some time.
I had enjoyed about three years of victory, waking from many nightmares
with relief that my victory was intact. Then, as a dog, I went back
to my vomit. Red-faced, they saw I was back at it (though in the
sixties it was not as repugnant to smoke as it is today). It was
now a nightmare from which I could not awaken. I recalled kissing
girls that smoked while I was abstaining. It was awful. Now those
kissing me that didn’t smoke would get the same taste. “Kissing
a smoker is like licking a dirty ashtray,” the saying goes,
not overly far from the truth - depending on how one kisses!
Particle –Smoking an Only Pleasure
In one of these years, I recall talking with my mother because I
was concerned about Dad smoking and wanted him to quit. Her reply: “Don’t
take smoking away from Dad. It’s the only pleasure he has.”
“What?” I thought, with the same kind of shock I had
when Uncle Fred Hafichuk spoke of the little that could be expected
from life, only he was talking about a lot more than what my mother
was now declaring. “Is she telling me that life wouldn’t
be worth living for him without smoking? How miserable an existence!
Surely, she can’t mean it.”
What about her? Was she no pleasure to him? What about children,
friends, religion, food – anything? Was she his reason for
being reduced to seeking pleasure in some miserable smoke? I really
could not believe my ears. I also thought that if it was true that
all he had left in the whole wide world was smoking, surely it must
have some kind of value after all, above so many things.
Particle –Drunkenness and Foolishness
Gerry McClintock, Dave Miller, Dave Adams, Merv Onyshko, one or
two other fellows, and I tried to take our annual fishing derby in
some remote place on May long weekend. We got drunk and stayed that
way for the whole time. We did very foolish things that make me shake
my head in shame and wonder that we did not kill ourselves.
Particle –Bumble Beer
One day, we got to the town near the lake (near Kenora, Ontario),
bought the beer, brought it into the car, opened the case, and the
police were right there to confiscate the beer and fine us, having
been watching for that very kind of long weekend activity. Did that
stop us? Of course not; we didn’t drive that far for nothing!
I recall driving drunk through winding rocky passes on wet pavement
in the Lake of the Woods area near the Manitoba/Ontario border at
about 50 miles an hour, in the rain, rushing to get to our cabins
On another occasion, we were out on the lake with two boats, and
we were drunk. Now this is a lake with ice cold water at this time
of year. We were splashing each other with our oars and gently ramming
each other on the lake. We were fooling around, and anything could
have happened. Do I deserve to be alive?
While we were out on the lake, Gerry had to pee. He knelt at the
edge of the boat and began. I don’t know what possessed me,
but I gave him a slight nudge on the back, not expecting it would
affect him. I suppose I, being drunk, didn’t know my strength,
and he, being drunk, wasn’t very stable. He went head first
into the icy waters.
He came right back up, freshly sobered, and out – out of the
water and out for bear. Your guess is as good as mine as to where
he was going to find a bear in the middle of the lake. In his inebriation,
I must have looked like one, because he came straight for me. He
grabbed me to throw me in, while I grabbed the seat of the boat with
all my might, instinctively knowing that if I remained upright and
defended myself, we could all soon be goners. Fortunately, Dave Miller
had a cool head and brusquely hauled Gerry off of me, hollering that
we would capsize and all perish, being far from shore in frigid waters.
It was so true.
We got Gerry to shore immediately, and he was much chilled, but
he forgave me. Gerry did not seem to hold grudges, even if he did
develop a W. C. Fields nose for days afterwards.
One evening, I picked Pat Dennis (Bob Southam’s ex-fiancée)
up at her parents’ cabin at West Hawk Lake in my ‘65
Ford. On our way to the bar at Falcon Lake, I turned to kiss her,
and the car left the road and entered a deep reedy, boggy ditch.
We had some difficulty opening the doors, but we got out, wet, and
hitched a ride to town where I got the guys to come and help me get
the car out.
We knocked on a farmer’s door, asking for a chain with which
we could pull out my car. The farmer brusquely dismissed us and threatened
to call the police. We left, but we were offended that he would not
help us in a time of need, so we went back to his shop, stole the
chain, and headed out, intending to return the chain when done.
It wasn’t long before the police caught us with the goods.
We explained our situation. They didn’t charge us, but took
the chain back, informing us we would not succeed with it. They sent
us on our way, advising us to get a tow truck the next day. So we
went to the bar and laughed about what had happened.
The next day when we returned to get the car, we couldn’t
find it. Had someone stolen it? Did we have the right road? We drove
farther up the road to be sure we had gone far enough, but saw nothing.
Turning around and returning, we spotted the car. It was so embedded
in water and reeds in the deep ditch that we could only see it through
the trail it had made when Pat and I veered off the road.
A special tow truck with a good winch and long cable did the job.
My car was soaked halfway up the base of the seats with swamp water,
but we somehow got it running. Such a fool I was, yet we all laughed
about it, even Pat. Strangely, I seemed to impress her.
Particle –Taunting Death
On another occasion, Rick Pinchen, Merv Onyshko, and I were driving
south from Winnipeg to the Morris Stampede. We were already drunk.
Rick pulled out into the oncoming traffic lane of a two-lane highway
to pass a car. An oncoming vehicle was fast approaching. The car
we were passing was not slowing down, passing was not likely, and
it seemed too late to slow down and get behind the car we were trying
to pass, so Rick took us on the left graveled shoulder.
Even while drunk, we could see the consternation of the driver in
the oncoming vehicle, indecisively wavering, not knowing what to
do or expect. As it happened, we remained on the shoulder, the oncoming
driver remained steadfast in his proper lane, and we all survived.
Rick and I laughed nervously about it, but as drunk as Merv was,
he was white as a bedsheet (when they were still commonly white)
and quite shaken. He found another ride on the way back. Obviously,
it left an impression on me, too.
Particle –Dancing with Death
One day there was a carload of us, drunk, with Ron (Ken) Ksionzyk
driving down Portage Avenue at nearly 50 miles an hour, screeching
to a halt at several lights in fairly active traffic, with the rear
end of the car fishtailing upon breaking so as to nearly hit the
cars on either side. We did so many things that make me wonder how
we survived or escaped the law.
Particle –Families without Unity
Throughout much of my life, one part of me wanted to be free to
do whatever I chose, not being told what to do. That is human nature.
But another part of me wished to be advised, taken care of, guided,
and protected. I had friends, yet I was on my own. I had a physical
family, yet I was on my own.
Why could there not be a true social, communal (of sorts), harmonious
existence with others, those with whom I could be a beneficiary,
as well as a benefactor? Why are so many of us on our own? The Bible
has these words:
“A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows,
is God in his holy habitation. God sets the lonely in families. He
brings out the prisoners with singing, but the rebellious dwell in
a sun-scorched land” (Psalms 68:5-6 HNV).
According to those words, we are on our own because we are stubborn,
independent, proud, distrusting rebels. So how are we to live in
harmony with anyone that way?
Subconsciously, I wanted to belong somewhere safe and secure. I
would not have that for many years to come...but I would have it.
A barrier within me would be removed, and I would meet others who
experienced the same thing, paving the way to true family status
Particle –A Shameful Sham of a Son
I recall only one time in the four plus years I worked at the Bay
that my parents visited me there. Visiting me at work wasn’t
the greatest of their desires or interests, and it was inconvenient
for them, living 200 miles away, to set up a time to come downtown,
when they would most likely have found me busy at work.
But I report this incident with chagrin. I was such a jerk. I think
I introduced Mom and Dad to some of my staff, as those happened along,
and then led them to my office. I was proud I was a manager, with
an office and desk, though the plain office was no more than 12 feet
by 12 feet and the desk a plain one. My office was one of eight or
nine in the Basement Division. I recall proudly sitting down behind
my desk, to what – show off my status, as my parents stood
in front of me? I remember their silent embarrassment. I was suddenly
sorry for the way I was, yet didn’t have it in me to correct
myself or apologize. My nature was what it was in every aspect, cast
in cement. I look back and hang my head in shame.
I also remember a sudden realization of how little I had to be proud
of. So I was a manager. Of what? A small retail operation with a
few staff members? Was I proud because I was a Bay executive? And
what kind of executive? And my office – a tiny room not much
greater than a cubical, one of many? What did I have to revel in?
I suddenly realized I really had nothing to be proud of, whether
of my status or, especially, of myself. In my pride, I was embarrassed
and so were my parents, but neither of us said anything. They soon
left as planned, and I went back to the work I was deceived into
being proud of, and which now had an aspect of emptiness I hadn’t
I wasn’t happy at the Bay, yet I seemed powerless to do anything
about it. I was so small, fearful, insecure, uninspired, and unimaginative.
Hell has its occupants in chains, yet they, in their darkness, take
pride in every link, which appears shiny to them and rusty to others.
Particle –My First Car
When I thought to buy my first car, I could have bought one from
my Uncle Bill Hafichuk, a car salesman in Dauphin, but I didn’t
trust him. I didn’t know where to turn, so I went out on my
own. The car I bought was a good one, a ‘65 Ford Galaxy, though
I paid more than a skilled buyer would have paid.
Many things I did on my own, frustrated that I didn’t know
what I was doing, didn’t know how to avail myself of help,
and didn’t have willing helpers to assert themselves for my
sake. Consequently, I paid for it, re-inventing the wheel, time and
Particle –Unscrupulous Dealers for Chintzy People
I tell this story as another example of my life of desolation. Still
on my own, and feeling the pressures of debt, I decided to trade
in my car for a more fuel-efficient one. I narrowed my attention
to two dealers on Portage Avenue who sold imports. One sold Datsuns,
the other was an Isuzu Bellet dealer.
I dickered with the two dealers. The Datsun dealer appeared frustrated
that I was trying to get his car for as low a price as the Isuzu
dealer was offering his. There was probably better value with the
Datsun, but I didn’t know it. I bought the Isuzu from Bill
Gershom, who sweet-talked me into it. He took my car on trade, dickering
me down considerably.
And that was the good news. Once he had me, he would service my
vehicle, because it was a new product and he was the only dealer
in town. That is fine while one needs no parts or service, which
doesn’t happen; not so fine if not.
One night, being drunk and driving home from the Fort Garry Hotel
where I had been visiting and drinking with my father and a delegation
from the Dauphin General Hospital, I hit the curb on one side of
the street and then the other. My wheels folded inward at the bottom.
Particle –Taken For an Expensive Ride
My car was towed to the dealership and parked there during the night.
The next day I called them for servicing. When I saw Bill, he asked
me if I had insurance. I said I didn’t. The service manager
was going to charge me what the true costs were, but Bill intercepted,
insisting I pay an inflated bill. This added up to a third the value
of the car, for the wheels only. The service manager protested (apparently
seeing I was being raped), but Bill ignored him and charged me. Knowing
I was being robbed, yet not knowing what else to do, I paid it.
Jew Who Didn’t Help Me, or Did He?
This was just another of those woeful experiences where I had no
understanding and no heart for instruction, and I suffered the consequences
of my foolish ways. I had no direction and was not ready for any.
Bill’s dealership was not there much longer. It seems I saw
it gone after only a few short years, if that. His ways do not prosper
anyone. I have spoken of Jews that helped me in my life. This was
one that hurt, but I needed it. I eventually sold my Isuzu privately
at quite a discounted price and rushed headlong to more folly.
David Miller and I decided to purchase a new home at 4810 Eldridge
Avenue in Charleswood. My father strongly advised against a partnership,
having had at least one bitter experience in his past with Henry
Broccanier partnering with him in a bulldozer business, clearing
land. Broccanier absconded, leaving my father with liability. As
usual, I did not listen.
I now realize that Dad deserved what he got. He was forever breaking
promises to his own children, and who knows what else he did? We
only reap what we sow, and get what we need and deserve.
Particle –Lesbian Entertainment
My friends and I decided to hire a lesbian couple to perform for
us. Why the perverse entertainment?
And why do I write about it? So that you will know how I lived and
the kind of person I have been. Furthermore, if I condemn homosexuals,
then I must, of necessity, condemn myself, for I was there with them,
paying them. The Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination
to God, and though I was never a homosexual, I was still there with
them. Therefore, I am no better, though I should have every right
to say it is wrong, if nature, reason, and the Bible serve as credible
Particle –Oral Sex
I also indulged in oral sex. People speak of it today as though
it is normal, and I realize that passion at the height of sexual
excitement can momentarily drive one to do many things. I think,
however, that oral sex is disgusting and a filthy bestial act that
altogether degrades our Maker. I was there, I did it, I am ashamed
of it, and I want everyone to know that no one will be able to stand
before God with innocence, having done such things without repentance.
Plainly, it is sodomy.