Friday, June 29, 2012

Post 2036 - 1973 In Review

I turned 9 in 1973.

I completed Grade Three and went into Grade Four in September.  My teacher in Grade Four was Mrs. Levy, and I have an interesting story to tell about her.

It was sometime during the academic year when she told a story about when she was a little girl.  As a very young girl, in 1910, she told of the time when she went to bed one night convinced by her family members that the world would end that evening.  1910 was the first time in the 20th century when Halley's Comet came to visit.  In 1910, knowledge of science was such that many average people did not understand that this comet would not harm the earth.  Many people apparently believed that we were in the end of days.

She went to bed.  The next morning, the earth was still there, so she got up and went downstairs to face the rest of her life.  I am guessing her parents were a little sheepish.  Oddly enough, Mark Twain was born in 1835, the previous appearance of the comet, and died the day after it came back in 1910.

It turns out that there was a bit of hysteria about the 1910 comet.  Here is a link to one article about it and other appearances of Halley's Comet.   Here is another one that captures the times very well.  No wonder my one-day teacher felt the way she did!  You can do a simple google search and find many more webpages that discuss the great panic of 1910.

Before I started Grade 4, I became friends with some friends named Hill who lived on a hill.  They lived pretty close to my home, so I could call them up and go visit them.  They read comics back then just like I did, and we would read them and discuss them the way little kids did.  I remember reading some issues of Werewolf by Night.  I remember hearing from my friend Howard Hill about a character named the Ghost Rider (featured in 2 Nicolas Cage movies in recent  years).  The character got his own comic, and I found issue #1 on sale at the same drug store where my sister had bought that issue of Captain America the previous year.  I was hooked.  The book came out every 2 months, so I could squeeze it in to my reading budget.

(Which leads me to the following.  I could only afford to buy so many comics.  There were many more I wanted to buy but couldn't.  The only thing I could do was read these comics on the sly in the drugstore every week.  I would read them as quickly as I could so that I could get an idea of the storyline.  This became a habit for me, so that even today, I can remember parts of those storylines and things like dates.  It has been a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it has enabled me to write these blog posts.  On the other, it has meant I'm unable to forget every stupid thing I have ever done in my life.)

The Hills lived in a house that was next door to one of the biggest homes, estates really, in Port Williams.  They lived on Sutton Road, named after the family of Mrs. Sutton, who lived in that house, I think by herself.  She graciously allowed us kids to ride our bikes on her long drive way.  We would ride our bikes up the hill to her house, dart around by her home as fast as we could, and then boot 'er down the driveway toward the road.  More than once, I wiped out my bike on her drive way.  It was paved, so it was more painful than wiping out on Sutton Road itself, which was still a dirt road back then.

The barn next to her was haunted, or at least we convinced ourselves that it was.  We would explore this old barn, easily more than 100 years old.  We would find trap doors everywhere and leap from the top of one hay pile onto another one, naively thinking that we would land in hay and not on something harder.  It was a good time.

Sometime in the summer of 1973, my father took me out to Murphy Lake where he was doing some work.  I was given some comic books to read at one point.  I noticed some kids swimming on the lake and joined them in my trunks.  I did not feel confident in my swimming so I used a flutter board to "swim" out to where they were.  We ended up on someone's boat.

The owner yelled at us to get off his boat, so the kids jumped off and swam back to shore.  I was with my flutterboard, remember.  I jumped off the boat and found myself sinking to the bottom.  The flutterboard tried to get away from me, but even then, I knew that if I let go, I would continue sinking and likely drown.  I held on for dear life.  The board floated me back to the surface and I "swam" to shore, scared crapless by the experience.

What else?

My mother would get a cab to go to town every week, usually Thursdays.  To keep us happy, she would give my sister and me money to buy some lunch at a diner in Kentville.  I remember the diner in question quite well.  It was just past the railway tracks before the Royal Bank building.  In that same space, there was a hair place and some kind of temp hiring agency.  In future years, there would be a place that repaired vacuum cleaners and sold used books and had plenty of pornographic materials in another room.  The owners of the place were sleazy.

Anyway, we would have a decent lunch and meet up with Mom at one of the 3 grocery stores that existed in Kentville back then.  We would get a few comics and go back home, and Mom would find a way to stretch her food purchases until the next time we would go to town.  That would go on until we planted a garden (a tale for another day).  Not much point to this story.  I just remember that restaurant and wonder how many others from Kentville do.

A bookstore in the mall where my sister worked in New Minas opened up.  She worked for a store called Discount Shoeland, which was across the hall from this bookstore.  I think it was that year, but it may have been the year before.  It was called Reader's Delight.  I remember wandering in there many a time during those early years.  I would buy a book as my budget permitted.  I bought a book featuring the characters from the Brady Bunch.  I read it, of course, but was surprised by the foul language in it.  It was a kid's book, but characters were saying "Hell" and "Damn", shocking for a little kid.  I still see that book in used bookstores from time to time.  I wonder if some kid reading that book today would feel the same way I did back then?

Other comics I would have read that year would have included reprints of Uncle Scrooge.  A friend at work enjoys the tv show "Duck Tales".  I have kept meaning to tell him, and I guess I am now, that many of the stories in that series were adaptations of these stories I read as a child.  Those reprints were 20 and 30 years old even then.  They were mostly written and drawn by a man named Carl Barks, but he was not allowed to sign his work.  He retired from producing new comics around 1967.  These stories, as far as I know, are still in print.

When I began grade 3, in '72, I met many new people.  One fellow in particular, I went to university with.  I haven't seen him in several years.  But I met one girl that year whom I developed a crush on.  I will supply her first name, Kathy.  We were from different worlds.  Her dad was some mucky muck in the Valley, but I did not know that until 1977, and I will write about that in due course.  She mentioned that she and her family had been to Disneyland.  Not me!

Another girl I liked was named Michelle Hart.  I thought she was a real cutie.  Long, dark hair and protruding teeth.  I used to chase her around the class room.  She never chased after me.  Unrequited love!

I am pretty sure it was 1973 when I was injured, and the injury wasn't repaired until  many years later.  I was playing soccer.  I was the goalie.  I took my job pretty seriously.  I will never forget the time I was in goal and the ball came toward me and hit me directly in the face.  I can still taste the mud from the ball.  I am pretty sure that was what caused my deviated septum in my nose.  I would not get that set straight until I was 33 years old in 1997.

It was either 1973 or '74 when a guy who didn't like me walked up to me while we were all playing some sport and told me I couldn't play any more.  "You can't play any more. OK?"  I said OK and left.  I have never forgotten that because this guy, Clifford Condron, never liked me.  This was but the first time he had treated me like that.  There would be more incidents, and I will tell you about them in upcoming posts.

1973 drew to a close.  '74 was on its way.  Something would happen to me that would affect my life in a fundamental way.  Also, I would lend a guy 10 cents and not be reimbursed.  And The Beachcombers was in full gear.  It's all coming up on your next amazing chapter of Bevboy's Blog!

See you then.


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