A day that changed my life forever

August 16th, 1969, the day I got married.

How I met my soon to be bride was funny. I was at a house party with my then girlfriend, Bev Jackson when Janice and her friend Lynn came walking down the stairs. At the time I did not know that Lynn had already warned Janice about me, saying I was a “sucker for blondes” and Janice had beautiful long blonde hair.

As soon as I saw Janice I jumped up and went over to her and said, “Hi. I’m Gary. Will you marry me?” She replied by telling me to f*ck off. I told her that we were going to get married and that she might as well accept it now. I don’t think I got much further that night. No surprise there. She no doubt thought I was a lunatic.

What I didn’t know and never really thought or cared about was that she had a pretty steady boyfriend, Doug. It didn’t sound like a great relationship as he was a control freak. She seemed terrified of him which I didn’t like. Somehow Janice and I ended up going out somewhere and when we came home to her parent’s place Doug came screaming up in his hot car. Janice was just getting out of my car and, true to form, he went for her and not me. Just then her mother came out of the house, sensing trouble, and tried to calm things down. That’s when, shocking as it was, Doug split in Janice’s face and stormed off. Both her mother and I could not believe he just did that but it was what it was. Pretty demeaning, not to mention gross.

In all honesty Doug was a pretty big boy and, if he couldn’t have Janice I figured some day he would go after me. I’m a lover, not a fighter, so I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I knew no matter what I would fight for Janice.

We were at a school dance in Bramalea and I was dancing with different girls I knew when all of sudden these arms are flailing away at me trying to punch me. I had no clue who it was but I just tried to keep him bent over towards me so he couldn’t get a good shot in. I assumed it was Doug but something wasn’t right. When they broke us up and I was outside someone finally told me it was Brent, a friend of mine, who, for some unknown reason, thought I was hitting on his girlfriend, which I wasn’t. It was my one and only fist fight and it sure was a weird one.

The fall before I met Janice my parents were planning to sell their place and move to BC, but they couldn’t sell and my Dad decided they would wait until the following spring. At the time I was working at the bank and playing in the band, so I doubt I would have gone with them anyway, but the decision became easy after I met Janice. Doug had eventually given up and Janice and I were together. We had a ball doing all kinds of things together and I was in love with her from the moment I first saw her. She got along great with my parents and my family, which was important to me. One thing led to another and she got pregnant. There was never any question about us getting married so the plan was on to get married as quickly as possible.

We got married in what was Streetsville at the time by the Reverend David Busby, who was more known for buzzing around town on his Harley than his sermons. After the pictures we headed to her parent’s place, planning on having an outdoor reception, but as we got closer the heavens opened up and it poured rain. We were terrified at the thought of all her Scottish relatives and my English ones being trapped together in the house. No doubt chaos would rein supreme and there was a good chance of a fight or two once they started drinking.

Our fears were for nothing. They all got along famously and didn’t seem to care if Janice and I were there or not. My favorite moment was when her cousin Billy fell all the way down the stairs with a case of beer he was carrying and after he landed at the bottom all he asked was if he had broken any beers. He was quite the character.

As we got ready to leave because we were heading off early on our honeymoon to Cape Cod my Dad gave me the room keys for what was the Thunderbird Motel at the time, not the classiest place in town. We had been planning to just stay at my apartment and leave from there, but Dad seemed so tickled that he got us the room for our wedding night so off we went. When we got in the room and sat on the bed we heard a tinkle sound. My crazy father had ripped open the box spring and put a child’s tinkle toy in, no doubt expecting we would discover it as we made love. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and it was the first sign I got that this marriage might not be what I was expecting. Janice slept soundly in the bed while I sat at the foot of the bed on the floor wondering what happened.

The next morning we were in a bit of a rush because we had a long trip ahead of us and we now had to go home first to grab our bags. We checked out and got in the car and then Janice remembered the tinkle toy still in the bed. She worried that if they discovered it they would probably go after Dad for the cost of replacing the box spring. So I had to go back in and ask for the key, pretending that we had forgotten something in the bathroom. After I managed to dislodge the fairly large toy I realized I had nothing to put it in so I got to walk through the lobby carrying the toy, to some very strange looks from the staff who knew it was our wedding night.

Despite the horrible wedding night we did manage to have a good trip to Cape Cod, well, maybe except for one incident. We had checked into a nice motel on the Western Summit in Massachusetts and Janice was feeling the romance of the place I guess. We were both naked and just getting up to put our clothes back on when the door flung open and in walked a member of the staff with an elderly couple, showing them the room they obviously thought was vacant. I was just outside the bathroom so I ducked in and I think Janice jumped back in the bed. The next morning when we went down for breakfast who should be sitting at the next table? Yup. The elderly couple who had barged into our room.

The rest of the trip was good except we overstayed our welcome in Cape Cod because it was so cold and we hoped the next day would be warmer. It wasn’t and I ended up driving straight back fourteen hundred miles in one very long day because I had to be back at work.

Our marriage lasted twenty-three years but there weren’t a lot of happy ones.