The People in My Life

One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I lost touch with all of the people who made such a difference in my life. I think this is part of the reason that Facebook is so popular because it allows us to “friend” people and to stay in touch no matter where we go.

If I had it to do all over again I would get the names and addresses and email addresses for everyone I came into contact with. I regret that in a fit of cleaning up and reducing my luggage as much as I could when I returned from Panama I threw out a large file folder I had had for decades, called my “Idea File” in which I had not only umpteen business ideas but also a list of many friends from my married days. No idea why I threw it away.

My parents moved around a lot when I was a youngun and I don’t have any memories until we lived on Hugo Street. I would have been about eight or nine and I went to Perth Avenue public school. I have no memory of anyone I went to school with, which only proves that we do, in fact, only use about three percent of our brains. I do remember my first childhood friend and that was Ralph Schomberg. He lived around the corner and we hung out all the time. His parents didn’t speak a word of English which meant Ralph had to translate every word I said. I also had a crush on a girl who lived a few doors away, I think her name was Sharon. I vaguely remember she was a victim of polio and had a limp. The other person I remember from Hugo was the lovely Miss Penny, an elderly lady who babysat us. I guess she’s long gone now, or she’s a hundred and fifty.

When I was twelve we moved out to the country, to the middle of nowhere and I never forgave my parents. I went everywhere in Toronto, either on my bike or on transit. I would head off in the morning and not come back until dinner time. Those were the days when parents never worried about anything bad happening to their kids. Now I was in the middle of nowhere with no way to get anywhere. It was a tomb. All I had was my brother and sister to play with. I hated leaving the city.

I went to the proverbial three-room schoolhouse, with grades six, seven and eight in one room. Sad but I hardly remember anyone from that school. Roxanne, my first love; Wayne Wilson, the guy she ended up marrying; and a whole lot of kids I’ve long forgotten. Wonder where they all are now? I went to Streetsville Secondary for four years and met probably hundreds of friends, most of whom I don’t remember. I wish I still had my yearbooks to jog my memory. I do remember the guys in my first band, the Tempests. David Kirk, Don Thurston, whose sister Pat I loved to death, and Chris Hayes. We’re all in a picture I still have.

My first job was very transient, in that I moved through nine branches during my career with the TD Bank. Obviously I met and supervised lots of people during that period, but they are just distant memories. I do remember a couple of faces from the branch I worked at that was robbed. Funny how some things burn into your memory. I remember Mr. Murphy, my elderly manager, who was found hiding under his desk after the robbers left. There was also an Italian girl who was pregnant and who the guys from Head Office panicked over after the robbery I guess because they were worried she would lose the baby and the bank would be sued. Spent some time with Steve and Rosemary Vass.

There were many friends during my years in the band. Some were groupies, particularly when we were the house band at the Maple Leaf Ballroom in Toronto. All of us were married but the wives seldom came because they were so sick of the music, so we had four regular girls at the Maple Leaf ballroom who hung out with us between sets. We also met tons of people when we were the house band at the old Club Bluenote. Shawn Jackson. Eric Mercury. Grant Smith. George Oliver. David Clayton Thomas (never liked him) and many more. It’s also where I met Pat, eventually the mother of my other son, Andrew.

About the only famous person I ever met was on the plane coming back from Montreal to Toronto. I sat beside David Lewis and had a most enjoyable conversation with him. There was just something about him. He was incredibly intelligent.

So sad that I have lost contact with every single member of my family. My Dad’s family were all out West so I hardly had anything to do with them. About the only one I even knew at all was Dwight, my uncle Roy’s son, but he was a piece of work and a little crazy. On my mother’s side there was a lot more contact because we got together every Christmas Eve at my Uncle Frank and Aunt Daises place. Their kids were Bobby, Frank Jr and Donna. There was my Uncle Cliff and his daughter Joan (the one who took me in after Panama) and her daughter Cindy. I had cousins in Welland whose names I can’t remember. There must have been a hundred family there over the years and I can hardly remember any of them.

My parents were always very social and we were always surrounded by family and friends, particularly after we moved out to the “farm”. Every one of their friends came out from the city to party. My Dad had corn roasts and winter parties and pool parties. There was always tons of kids around every weekend and we played in the barns and around the house. Their best friends were Stan and Jean Rogers, whose kids were Steven, Daryl, Craig and I forgot. There was Chuck and Chicky Wimbs(?), who had three gorgeous daughters between them – Donna, Margaret and another one I was totally in love with, even though I can’t remember her name. There was Gord and Betty Atwood and I don’t think they had any kids. I think at one point, when my band was going to play for the group, I listed forty adults who were coming, plus a gaggle of kids.

Before I got married to Janice I had friends mainly because of the band. People like Tommy Connors loved to hang with the band. Janice had friends from school, of course and most of them became our married friends. Gary (the guy she eventually married after I left) and Brenda. Dale and Glen Ellis. Lynn and Brian Jamieson. Greg (our Realtor) and Laura Smith. Dave and Bobbi Rogers. Most of our marriage involved hockey with Chris and then soccer with both Chris and Heather. A lot of the kids on the hockey team were the same year after year, so we got to know the parents pretty well. Gerry and Billy, Kevin’s parents. Rolly and Gina. Larry and Anne, his wife, Jay’s parents. Matt. Again, so many I have forgotten. I also belonged to the racquetball club in Brampton and met many many friends there, mostly people I played with.

No question I have had many, many jobs over my lifetime and met hundreds of people, both coworkers and clients. Some stand out more than others. Doug Jamieson, who was my broker and my mentor at Kyle-Jamieson Real Estate. Gerry Waterhouse, my manager and eventual partner in Canada Lift. John Farncomb, the Sales Manager at Emco. Bryan Snider, my manager at Hilti. Earl Lince, Doug Bryant, Morris and Frank Cook, all from Emco. Marie Dearlove, Jon Leheup, Heather Castonguay, Doug, Dave and Frank from Indal Products. Ciro, my manager at Clearview Industries. Grant Diamond, my manager at FBC. Ross Dickie and Jim Condon, the owners of Northern Computer. Brent, my tech at Shaw Fiberlink. During my years consulting I had over fifty clients and wish I remembered every single one of them. For some unknown reason I can remember the names of the companies, but not the people.

The largest group of friends I’ve had in my life I made in the Okanagan. Just after I arrived I joined the Courtplex to play racquetball and squash. My first real friend was the bartender at the club, Laura McKinnon, who I remained friends with for most of my years in the Okanagan. Then I met Linda Lichtaneggar, who also remained a close friend over the years. She even phoned me on my birthday from Turkey. In a very short time I had a group of about forty friends who hung out together. Some of them got together over the years, like Larry and Darleen, Don and Kathy, Mike and Charmaine and others. Wade Silver was my best buddy. There was John Grant, Tom and Debbie (my dance instructors), Brian and Linda, Brian Wall and Doris, Sue and Susan, Norma (my dream girl), Karla (my pretend wife), Stephanie, Tracy, Jackie, Heather, Doris, Bianca, Ron and Suzanne, Val, Crystal, Ans, Trish and SO many dance partners at the Corral (I was a very lucky guy). I know I am forgetting tons of people I met over the years.

I don’t have a lot of people I would consider friends from my time in Panama. The only one who has made any attempt to stay in touch is Jim, the guy I worked for on his sister’s house. The girl who I thought was my best friend, Verushka, ended up ripping me off for everything I owned. There was Terry and Judith. Amilkar, who worked for me but also ripped me off for a drill that he never paid me for. There was Mitzy at Panama travel and her lovely sister. There were acquaintances I met at Amigos all the time and the owners, Mark and Jennifer (great people) and, of course, my darling girlfriend, Magaly, who I miss very much.

London has not been so kind. I knew Sieg Pedde from Panama. I met Denise on the internet, then her daughter, Emily. I’ve met a few people through staying in shelters and working at both a call centre and Home Depot, but no one has become what I would call a friend. London is a very cold town and I can’t get out of here fast enough. It’s a very lonely existence here. How I ended up here is a tragedy in itself and I have no good reason to still be here, but my current circumstances mean I have little choice. I have no money to go anywhere. If that lottery ticket comes in I’ll be on my way out West in a heartbeat!