Today I am going to set sail on a new adventure. Many years ago, Dr. Doug Brown produced an unauthorized biography which was published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. While the contents are true, it may be somewhat wanting in all of the juicy and untold stories that run throughout the dissertation concerning my life. As such, I thought it would be interesting to put pen to paper (or whatever they call computer production) and use the process for confessional purposes.
Anyway, here I go!
Born in May of 1949 I have the privilege of indicating I was born in the 40's which sometimes comes in handy. It may be an exaggeration, but like most exaggerations it hopefully has a light touch to it.
For the first ten years of my life, I was raised in a different part of Toronto than where most of my racialized ancestors were living. Most were around Spadina and College while I was at Broadview and Dundas. Not a very welcoming place for Jews, Catholics or persons of any colour other than white. But I survived and actually did quite well in school - which was amazing considering what was to come.
At the very young age, I recall and have a picture of myself on a pony wearing a cowboy outfit with a Daniel Boone raccoon hat. Very cool. I also recall being tethered to a fire hydrant to make sure that I didn't run into the street. Again very cool.
One of my favourite memories involved going to the YMCA right across the street from where I lived. It was interesting that it had separate entrances for boys and girls -- just like the Dundas Pub down the street with the separate entrances for men and women. I learned how to swim at the Y in a very short time. My recollection or memory is that the swim class of 5 or 6 year olds (all boys) were told to take off our swim trunks and jump in the water. As soon as we could swim we could put our bathing suits back on. I was quick to learn. Try that now and it would lead to serious jail time.
I went to day camp for what seemed like a long day. I hated it because I was always thirsty. The experience may have lasted one or two days. After that I entertained myself with going to Riverdale Park before the Don Valley Parkway was built, going to Riverdale Park before the Toronto Zoo was built and going to the show to see two movies and a cartoon besides getting a comic book and box of popcorn all for 25 cents. If I didn't have the money, I spent time collecting pop bottles and returning them to stores for 2 cents a bottle. Life seemed good.
From my bedroom window I could see towards the west and one summer I spent a few nights watching a major fire of a tire factory burn at what must have been Eastern Avenue. It was quite entertaining.
And then there was the CNE. Just a day of delight, riding the rides, eating all the free food and thinking that it was the best day of the year.
Our family spent religious holidays together. My mother had four sisters and I had lot of cousins. When we had meals at my mother's parents it would become a veritable feast and among the children an out and out fun fair. My grandparent's house, at that time, seemed like a castle in the Spadina and College area across from a park on Kendal Avenue. It was also quite spooky for a child.
I recall the Passover Seders where every word of the Haggadah was read by my Grandfather, every part of the event took place and we would get to eat the meal at about 10 pm.. If I was born with any "patience" in my DNA, I lost all if during those events. It was just an ordeal to which I became accustomed to for many, many years.
And during this first ten years of my life, I would walk to the barber on Queen Street and with I am sure unrealistic memories have a bowl put on my head and receive the customary haircut. I am told that I very quickly found a dislike of dentists and actually caused injury to one of the first of many dentists that I was required to visit.
At age 6 or 7 while walking to school I was at Dundas and Broadview crossing the road (on a green light) when a truck made an improper turn. The story is told that I purchased a young girl out of the way and I was struck by the truck that carried me through the air until I hit a curb. I badly broke my leg and had sever concussion and large bump on my forehead. The cast went from my toes to my crotch and lasted three months. I ended up with a home tutor but stayed in a wheelchair during that entire time. I expect that my long lasting back problems and initial left eye problems resulted from that event.
The next trip to the hospital involved appendicitis. Since the hospitals didn't like removing that useless portion of the human body until absolutely required, I had to visit the hospital a few times before the final run to the emergency ward and immediate surgery. The hospital stay lasted a few days. Except for having my tonsils removed at a doctor's office my parents were able to avoid future trips to the emergency department while we lived downtown. My mother wasn't so lucky once we moved to the northern part of Toronto.