Saturday, March 24, 2007

Okay, That's It!!

Okay, That’s It!: Look, When I Was a Kid..

The last straw is pocket scientist, Al Bore’s crusade which amounts to nothing more than, ‘Save the Weather’.

I’ve put up with the lead paint, lead solder, mercury fish and fillings, DDT, second hand smoke, thrift store odours and grandma bath-skipping dollar- store fragrant powders, (check that, I’ll give you grandma) shoulder strap, side bag, helmeted head, beach closing, play- ground dismantling, poop scooping, garbage sorting, blah blah blah girly man, fun destroying, job sucking, weasel lawyer- cash-registering, crisis du jour!

I can’t take it anymore, I tell ya! Oh, why couldn’t Kniky the Kommy, Kruschov just have dropped one bomb... ground zero... right there... on my freaking College Hill Public School desk, if this, and oh, so much more..... is all I’ve been spared for?

One thing’s for certain, either I, and legions (somewhat) like me are superhuman supreme or today’s cultures, obsessions and paranoias are all one bad dream of hooey . In fact, nobody would ever believe the new millennium in a nightmare. ...Not, if you sat them down and actually put today’s world to words by foolishly attempting to connect all the dots and especially the dashes.

Toxins? You don’t know squat about toxins!

As a kid in a family with five siblings, we used ‘Raid’ or ‘Black Flag’ like air-freshener... in the same rooms and as we ate Ricearoni or stared endlessly into the old black and white x-ray gun, that is, before solid Vapona no pest air fresheners decorated the ceilings with a sweet lemony smell and a new flesh soft texture (to the squeeze). Neighbours who escaped old Europe for the free life, (and whose children detoured to the border at report card homecomings, if they slipped under the 90's) made their own home-blended concentrations that could roll over an elephant at 100 paces.

Our old man even used Raid on Big Red’s flea infested back in just one of the many family legendary, near- death experiences for one or more, per incident. Big Red was much loved and would take a bullet for us kids. Of course, he was never called upon to do that at least on our behalf though economical doggynasia. Ah well, the Setter was like 105 in human years at that point and never strayed far from equally decrepit Blacky, the last forced- gravity coal shovelled furnace in Oshawa, (aka, General Motors of Can.)

In Oshawa, of that era, anyone who didn’t work at the ‘Motors’ was considered not only second class, but employment, if not mentally, challenged. Dad worked at Duplate (UAW Int. Loc. 222's, bastardy sons.)....God Bless his soul, chock-full of character..... and his pickled heart.

Actually, there were some Global cooling days when we never strayed from the bulb-less basement, and loving pot belly of old Blacky the multi-tentacle and tasking furnace, either. During our occasional hydro ‘house mast cut-offs, as opposed to system outages, caused by between weekly- cheque, Woodbine track, no-lady- luck downturns, you could always micro up a jumbo can of Libby’s baked fatty- thing and beans in a pinch.

Just pre- check the coat hanger hinges and gingerly swing the cast iron door to enter the recesses of the white-hot belly of Blackie. Set the timer anywhere from arm-hair vaporization to carbon monoxide, lightheadedness and presto.

Yup, back to Red....he was only one- half procession lap around the ol’ Gordon house for a final sniff of Black Forrestry type fresh and heady rich top soil, made just so from Red’s animal kin forebearers. It was the one pit, he never dug himself. We never owned a 22, so it was merely a courtesy service for the asking from the neighbourhood, ‘pleasure’s all mine...all the time’.(if you get my drift)... Mr. Helpful.

Toxins? Rain, Snow or Shine, the regular Fuller-Brush travelling sales- guy lugged around a 100 lb/ something kilo., veritable ‘toxic bomb’, enclosed in a odoriferous soft brown leather suitcase you couldn’t pass the Libyan border with, if you had an Arab accent.

A la, (a Canadian) Sheldon Leonard, of the gangster genre, Mr. Fuller Brush, would pull you aside from the boulevard, Red Rover You’ll Be Pushing Up Clover bruise and blood sport. "Psst, hey, kid. Take a whiff of this! There’s a free comb in it for ya, if you can talk mom into cleaning her oven with it. Whatda ya say, eh?."

Toxins? You could always tell when the City Rec. kids opened the outside pool for all comers at Rotary Park by the yellow cloud of dizzying chlorine gas arising from the poor district centre about two miles away. If that wasn’t enough the ever-wet and dripping creosote coated landscape ties and change room benches were a nasal affirmation of one of the kid’s seven summer wonders

After a big sisterly push, and lightening dip in temperatures that never rose above James Bay northerly currents, one stretched out to heal the eyeballs, with the lids set on high speed, while vaporizing the skin on hot asphalt, occasionally flap jacking to stare squint-eyed at worms in fried solidarity.

After a full day of fun in the sun and finally granted door clearance back into the house, one could walk home to the light of heat lamp projected body glow and could always be retraced by the trail of old blistered skin sheets stripped from brag contested peel-offs.

During pool closings, the Oshawa creek served as a warmer source of water where faecal counts were floating ‘visuals’ a kid could quickly submerge under. Neighbourhood teen girls used black-shingled roof slopes no greater than 1:4 slopes as the poor girl’s tanning spas, not to mention neck- strained boy, attention grabbers. Believe me, it was not unusual (at least in my neighbourhood) to play on rooftops and at no greater time than Fire-cracker Day, in traditional fare of lobbing ‘cannon’ crackers on un-suspecting real-life ‘Peanuts’ characters

Lead Poisoning?
Prior to carbon cored pencils, no fibre kept a school- kid more regular than lead cored sweet British Columbian cedar. No boy left grade eight without 3 or four pencil points permanently lodged under the skin, primarily, though not exclusively, self-inflicted as boredom medallions. Ritalin had not been invented. (okay smartalecky bloggers, so sue me if they were graphite cores)

Speaking of narcotics, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone older than forty-five still jingling a set of tonsils. I guess it was the one historical slouch time for surgeons of Canuck Tommy (the Commie) Douglass, socialized health care, still close to the Marxist narrow tip of the pyramid never-never scheme.

Surgeons hard up for easy pocket cash, a la Dentist equivalent of X-Rays (like they ever filled or found cavities under the gums) found brat tonsils the solution to their hobby- day financial woes.
A) They were close...a quick finger walk down the tongue
B) They would never be missed unless of course, they were the logic centre or remote brain sensor. This is a hypothesis that would explain absolutely everything..forget distant planet probes.

The first liquid/gas, the much-vaunted and revered medical field came across that would drop a kid to near death, in his tracks was ether, so they didn’t look any farther. Now, the dosage of ether to be administered to an eight year old male, depended solely on the amount of adrenalin spiked fight he could muster up, or how close it was to surgeon lunch or cocktail time at Oshawa General Hospital, in the year of our Lord, 1962.

The experience of being blindfolded first, mouth and nosed cupped second, and all oxygen replaced with the equivalent of nail polish remover.. third, was a sure procedure to bring on a wild- cat fight from any kid with a ml. of Irish blood left in his veins, even if used a horse tranquillizer suppository to surprise him with, just prior to attempted execution.

All of this, must have been a memory blocking trauma for all kids, because it was the ‘one’ important thing kids should have shared or warned each other of, but didn’t.

I don’t know what parts of the surely mad Doctor I freed a leather strapped hand to grab, but suffice to say, I drank enough ether via my snifter, to wake up two and half nights later from two hour, in and out, day surgery.

Backseat baby encapsulated tots? We all piled into grampa’s Studebaker or whatever it was that didn’t even have a mouldy lap belt. There were eight of us, and gramma, though she didn’t take up much room as a Scottish midget, plus Big Red, and enough supplies for a week’s vacation at a cheap rented cottage on Lake Elbow in the Kingston/ Frontenac wilderness. It took me forty years to retrace the route to that mystery lake and let out a giant....yawn.

Little Johnny was bare butt, backed up against the front windshield as an unintentional, ahead of the curve, pre-blown air bag. Of course, the dashboard was big enough for a man to curl up on, and fronted with a windshield you could hang vertical blinds from.

Smoke detectors?
Apparently, the most precious warm fuzzy Brownie moments, held dearest, of being gathered around old Blacky, with Big Red’s love- seat long, bald and psoriasis- festering back, under our thawing tootsies... the mierky coal bin, to our backs..... were not shared by Blacky.

On more than one occasion, darned, if he didn’t try setting the house alight from the top on down. The Oshawa Fire Dept., Simcoe St. Branch was our late night smoke detector, and the only chimney sweep, albeit watery, that my dad ever gave his business to.
Back to school... The only thing Oshawa Board of Health checked school kids for, (and this would still be too much power if it was all they did today) was for head cooties and hernias, preferably at the same time.... tops and bottoms...

As grade threes, (my first tour of duty...don’t ask) we left such mandatory inspections and forced coughs with today’s equivalent expressions of, What the Hell was that about... a free grope? We didn’t know whether we were being groomed for auto kid sweat shops.... or the next Devil’s Brigade.

For the one school age vaccination, your mom was ordered to present you in the basement of City Hall on the appointed day where you lucked out if you had any sign real (or fake) of a disease or
infection. This I know first hand, and my Doctor to this day still looks, in disbelief, for the shoulder pin cushion scar that looks like someone plugged an audio jack in

By grade seven we were treated to the proverbial black lung biopsy/ smoker’s film, though we were anticipating such on pins and needles, since grade three when the sevens, some sporting whiskers, would communicate with us in assorted and sometimes physical ways.

Yeah, right. Absolutely, anyone in grade seven of my era who thought he could leisurely stroll home, don a Ricardo smoking jacket, and light up a cool refreshing cigarette as a kid- stage/ experimental-thing.... in front of the old man, wouldn’t have to worry about distant smoke related chronic ailments and chance of death.

Paul Gordon
Pickering Ont.

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