Uxbridge 64ish


Uxbridge 64ish

After getting out of the navy I wanted to be an Artist but since I was rejected by OCA I was unsure what to do. I was working with my buddy Hodge in his sign business he started in Uxbridge while I worked for a multi millionaire German Baron as a shepherd. he was a family friend and had 5000 acres around Uxbridge and a large herd of sheep. There was a pack of wild dogs attacking the sheep and brutally killing them. So he hired me to patrol the fields with a .22 rifle and see if I could shoot any.(Fortunately I never had to)
By now Hodge had rented part of large barn behind a house on Albert St He lived there all of the time and I lived there a lot of the time. We called 'The Pad' and it was pretty well a continuous party broken only by bursts of really hard work. I helped Hodge with his signs and did some silkscreen and I even got some paintings done. I remember selling one called 'Black on Black' It was a gift and I tracked it down a dozen years ago but the original owners had died and the kids burnt it.
We found that the parties were a great way to pick up girls but kind of expensive since we always seemed to be supplying most of the booze. We would have guys that would drink on us all week and then show up Friday night with a mickey (pint) Then we had Peter Day rent the little garage beside us. he had some old 32 chev towed in there and started to work on it. Only he seemed to spend most of his time boring us to death and drinking our beer.  We were really into Joseph Heller's book Catch 22. And one drunken night THE SYNDICATE arose. We created this mythical syndicate that we all belonged to an we set up the fridge with a jar and sold the beer back to ourselves (and everybody else) for 25 cents. This was a great idea and we had loads of money every week to resupply the booze and the party went on and on.  Hodge and I had an ongoing battle about whom was actually the head of the syndicate. This was a friendly battle and it led to even crazy battle that went on for years of us upping the other in creative and sometimes subtle ways.
I had set up a target to throw my 3 Malayan  throwing knives at. This developed into sort of a dart game and went further when I turned the knives into spears. Then one evening I heaved a spear at the target and missed the spear went right through the wall into Peter Day's garage. We ran out the door to see Peter running down the driveway and we retrieved the spear from the opposite wall of his garage. We never ever  saw Peter Day again.
Sometimes the parties got a little crazy and it was not unusual to find people already occupying my bed. They lost me one morning and found that I had somehow wandered into the Sally Ann garage and crashed  in their xmas parade float titled "Christ The Savior Is Born" and as they come in the door I arise to gales of laughter. I think my nickname LeGroin was born about the same time.
I was a member of the legion through all this. It was a full membership back then and difficult to join or even visit. We had a large complement of WWI vets . Some great characters and some real heroes.  Our Ontario Regiment WW!! vets had seen some real action and we had a large influx of British vets too.
One of the characters was John Grieg he was the son of a prominent local lawyer  Willard Greg (My father worked for him for a couple of years painting houses) Quite often would do church parade with him and we would tour the local bootleggers for the day. Not long before  the towns OPP policeman had counted 33 bootleggers in Uxbridge so proud of still being a dry town.  Each bootlegger sort of had a specialty of cards or darts or wild food and sort of made the rounds. Allan Miller's was always high on the list good for a feed of morels and smelts or whatever was in season (or available) On one of these trips John told me this story.
How Willard Grieg got to Uxbridge
Willard Grieg  was a determined young man with ambition to become a lawyer.He lived in Nestorville (now a ghost town near Thessalon around Thunder Bay) as a teenager he was an accomplished trapper and woodsman.
In the spring of 1909(circa) he told his sister Florrie to pack her bags they were going to Toronto. He had a dogsled heaped high with the furs he had trapped all winter pulled by his 2 huskies 'Grit and Tory' He said after he sold the furs he would have enough money to go to law school and also to pay for Florrie's tuition at the Royal Conservatory of Music. So they got on the train with the sled, dogs and all and headed for Toronto.
From Union Station they headed up Bay Street sled and again dogs and all and as they approached Gold's Furriers the dogs who had not eaten for a couple of days broke lose and chased down the furriers cat and killed it and ate it. When the Furrier saw the furs he forgot about the cat. He bought the sled full of furs. He also noticed Florrie and a few years later after she graduated from The Royal Conservatory of Music He (Bert Gold to become Gould) married her.
And they were to become Glenn Gould's parents.
John Grieg was Glenn Gould’s first cousin
Furthermore no sooner than Willard Grieg  graduated law school than WWI started up. He joined The Ontario Regiment's Uxbridge Battalion under Major Sharpe. regiment formed up at Niagara on the Lake but it was found that Willard had flat feet and was being discharged. Before he got on the train Major Sharpe took him aside and told him he needed somebody to run his law practise in Uxbridge and offered him a partnership in Law firm  for $2.00.
Major Sharpe had promised the people of Uxbridge he would bring his soldiers home safe and sound. That was not to be. Uxbridge had a tragic number of casualties and the despondent Major Sharpe committed suicide by jumping out a window in Ottawa rather than face the town. This left Willard with a Law practice for $2.00
Another character and friend was Bill Conren , Bill was an Artist with an engineering background. He had been a  Captain in the British Army, he had been a caricaturist for the NY times and an engineer at Ford. But he ended up in Uxbridge living with a very rich but demanding aunt for years and years. When she died he took an apartment on Brock St. over the drugstore on Brock St. Bill was very accommodating and late night drunks and card games were often inflicted on him. he had a strange quiet little man Harvey as a roommate.  Come to think of they might have been gay, we never really thought of things like that. Bill had a most amazing  ability: he could say fuck without upsetting anybody. I mean this was a time if you said fuck in front of a lady at the legion you would be suspended for at least 3 months. Bill was always half in the bag and as he would tell his stories  a fuck would always slip in and he would snicker and say "excuse my French" and that was that, everybody thought it was charming.
Hodge was going to buy a 1/2 ton truck from Dean Watson. It was a Saturday night and he had gone off somewhere and left it in the driveway. I think in never-ending bit about playing pranks I found the keys and took the truck and went to the legion.  I had a few drinks went off to a party and forgot about the truck. I got really smashed and was staggering home about 2 or 3  when I remembered the truck so I headed up to the legion and picked up the truck. It is a bit of a blur but  Hodge woke me up asking about the truck. I arose to see that the truck had been dinged up pretty good. I refused to admit anything I pleaded ignorance . I was called to the Police Station stuck to my story and the Legion refused to press the matter and all was forgotten. Dean Watson moved to Uxbridge and set up a little used car lot at the Fina Station beside the Bank of Commerce. Dean would often enlist my services to go buy cars with him. this mostly consisted of driving North to Mount Albert, Sutton etc. and drinking with used car dealers. My job was to keep driving to Liquor store until these guys were ready to sell what Dean wanted. Dean was a pretty astute car buyer and built himself up into a dealership. I spent a lot of time driving back roads with Dean and drinking beer. I always enjoyed his company. He was a good natural story teller funny and self enfacing.
So Hodge and I went through a period of roughing it. We had no water at the pad and we got into a routine of bathing in the pond and this turns into a bet for a case of beer of who last the longest this year the last one in the pond would collect. I had it all planned  New Year's Eve I had a friend  John Hockley  that would keep his car warm for me I was going to jump in near the dam run back to the warm car and towels etc. and win the bet.  So it is Like nine o clock on New Year's Eve, it is perfect  we have a mild spell it is like 50 degrees, there is no ice on the pond to speak of and the snow is melting and I have my swimming trunks on and a bag of towels but I can't find John. I phone his house and I make the rounds of the usual places including the legion. It is like nearly eleven o clock and I am walking back to the pad when I see John's car. he is up at Bill Conren's so I head up to his apartment and there is John and Bill drunk as lords. I remind him he was going to help me win the bet. Okay he says "let's go" Bill insists on hearing the bet and then tells us to wait he is coming. He goes in the bedroom puts on his swimming trunks and comes out putting his clothes on over them.
Both of them were really drunk and there was no stopping him and time was a wasting and he was another witness.  I was sure when we got to the pond he would come to his senses. Off we go with a bottle of whiskey to keep us warm  but John says "Hell if Bill is going in I am too" and he heads to his house to get his swimming trunks. Now John was sort of a momma's boy he was well into his thirties and still lived at home.  So we wait in the car in his driveway while John goes and asks his mother where his bathing suit is. So John's father never did like me and I guess he had been sitting around drinking all evening and the next thing I know the door opens and Bruce grabs me "You son ofa bitch what the fuck have you started now" He goes to hit me and I duck and I run and he chases me round and round the car until I finally got in the car and locked the doors John is on the steps killing himself laughing. Bruce limps back into the house near a heat attack. I roll down the window and plead with John "C'mon hurry"But then I hear the library clock strikes twelve and the bet is over. There is nothing to do but head back to Bill's to drink the whiskey.
Then one night Wild Bill Thompson shows up and we go back to his place a little farm outside of town and how a crazy person gets a pistol license I don't know but Bill had a half a dozen guns and holsters and  soon we were outside very drunk and with live ammo shooting clothes line poles and beer bottles and doing quick draws on each other. How somebody didn't get killed I don't know.
Then there was the 45, a friend ran a restaurant owned by his father in law. he once showed me an 45 automatic  he had hidden his office it was a war trophy he had obtained. It was of course unregistered. Well he got himself in a jam and left town in a hurry and his father in law came back to run the restaurant. I walked into the restaurant one day and the office was open and nobody around  and in a moment of madness I walked in flipped open the hiding place put the gun under my coat and walked out. I hid it up at the pad.
Mostly the pad scene was peaceful music and beer friends and girls etc. but every once in a while things got crazy and I pulled the gun on somebody (no bullets but he didn't know that) Unsure of what he might do we decided it wasn't a good idea to have it hanging around. So I decided to hide it in my mother's basement.  So there I am walking down main street at 2 in the morning. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and a vest and I just had the gun tucked in my jeans hidden by the vest. Beep beep, it's Shirley. "I got a case of beer want to fool around?" How can I refuse? We head out to a gravel pit and return a couple hours later. Shirley is going to drop me off but as we turn on to the main street she goes through a stop sign. No No! Stop I tell her. What for, nobody around? . Cop car appears out of nowhere. I am shitting I move the gun to the small of my back. 2 cops get out of the car and come one on each side. I roll down the window. Sergeant Nickling. "Hey sarge how's it going? "Gary get out of the car. I get out . "Go Home he says I will fix it with the other officer. I have no idea why he did that but he saved my ass, I got a hold of Shirley later she was just escorted home and all was well.
Back to the Restaurant Owner
When I  was sometime in my early teens I often worked at the restaurant sorting pop bottles for the father in law what I didn't know at the time was he had spent time in jail for child molesting. (Dirty D'arcy) So one time I am shuffling bottles and he comes up behind me and talking very softly with the usual shit he hugs me from behind and gently grabs the jewels. 'What's that "I say," pretending to hear a noise. I slipped away and continued to sort bottles for him all the time. I just never let him get that close to me again.
So another drunken night many years later. I was going with Joanne . We had an interesting but sometimes stormy relationship. So one night we are down at said restaurant for a late snack. JoAnne and I are arguing and I have had enough.  I picked her up and dropped her into the pop cooler. Pop coolers then where big  boxes filled with cold water and the pop bottles stood upright in them. It straighten Joanne right out and she laughed and laughed and Hodge and Liz thought it was pretty funny too . Well D'Arcy went crazy said It was the most disgusting thing he ever saw. That did it for me I roared at him "how about diddling little kids? I never forgot the time you grabbed my parts you pervert." Needless to say I wasn't allowed in that restaurant anymore.
The gun I loaned to a guy and he refused to give it back to me. When he died a few years back he left his guns to a friend with a note to give me back the 45. I said I didn't want it.
I was very much footloose in these days and still shepherding and farm working until the Baron offered me the job of managing all his farms. This was much too much like work and I worked more with Hodge.
So Hodge and I  were in Toronto on some sign biz and stopped into the Morrissey Tavern for a few beers. I had read the paper and mentioned that 'Eros 65' the erotic art show everybody was talking about was just across the street and we should have a look-see. So with few beers in us we wander over to the Cameron Gallery to find chaos. Dorothy was cowering in a corner as this idiot was grabbing pictures off the wall and throwing them on the floor screaming religious stuff. So Hodge and I are big strong guys we grab the guy and throw him out the door. We tried to help with the mess but she just thanked us profusely and closed the gallery so we went back to the Morrissey.
In the fall I had a bad motorcycle accident with Hodge's beautiful girlfriend Liz Ploeger . coming in the reach road with her on the back and hit a pothole wrong and hit a culvert. Shge went flying over my head and flew about 30 ft into a huge pile of leaves that Gary Jackson had just raked. She walked away without a scratch I swung on the handlebars and broke my hip.
So Hodge and Liz and Jack Todd went on to California. Hodge and Liz were on Jack's Harley Davidson when they were hit by a drunk driver and Liz was killed and Hodge had his leg cut off. The doctors sewed it back on and Gary was written up in Time Magazine as the first successful reattachment.  Hodge got  a 50 thousand dollar settlement which gave him enough money to build a large trimaran sailboat.
I bought an old car and boarded with a Legion friend Jack Mackey and his wife and 2 daughters and his in-laws in a huge rebuilt farmhouse near Stouffville. I applied at a factory in Markham where Jack Mackey worked. It was a nice spring and I found some huge Sumac trees with trunks like 8 or 10 inches in diameter. The wood was wonderful it had 3 colours in it and I made several wood sculptures with it while I was waiting for the job to start.
MING THE MIGHTY GANDER
Ming was a huge Chinese gander, he had a flock of a dozen geese and he ruled the farm. He was big and  mean and if you came anyway near his flock he would attack with beak and wings.  Every movement depended if you were a safe distance from Ming. It was almost always a quick run from the car. A further problem was the nests nobody go near them and more geese were coming at a great rate.
So one night I was sitting around drinking beer waiting for Jack to get home from his shift and have a few beers with him.  It was a nice night with a full moon I wandered outside and stood looking at the moon and sipping my beer when I felt something touch my leg.  I looked down and to my horror it was Ming he just stood there. I stood there afraid to move.
I slowly sipped my beer and in a moment of madness reached down and tapped his beak with the bottle. he opened his beak and I poured in some beer. I took a sip and gave him a sip and we finished the beer and he staggered off and I went in the house.  Jack came bursting through the door a bit later. "Jezus" he swore that bloody gander is something else tonight he came staggering at me like he was drunk. I told him about the beer and we laughed  and laughed.
What was really strange from then on Ming and I were best friends. I never had to run and he would come over to get petted or get the odd sip of beer. What's more I could go into the nests and cull the eggs with no problem at all.
Later when I got a job in Markham in stainless tubing I moved to Downsview. I still desperately wanted to be an Artist but was unsure how to go about it. I started at the artist workshop. This was great you could go once a week in the evening on Markham St. and draw naked nude women for a $1.50 Some times we would get swept into New School of Art classes. This happened a couple of time with Dennis Burton so we could draw 2 models. I swear Dennis had us look up a models skirt one time she stood on 2 chairs and we all took turns laying down and looking up her skirt.(Dennis says this isn't true) This was a much better way to look at naked women than a strip club. (well except for the music)
I had stacks of drawings and even had a neighbour couple in Downsview model nude for me. The Artist workshop classes led to secret erotic posing, someone would pass out messages For $5.00 we could draw 2 models in erotic poses. This was heady stuff. We could take turns posing the models how we liked. I remember this one rather timid guy who took far too long setting up a really stupid pose and Paul Young snapped at him."For fucks sake they are not even touching!" It is hard to believe now but the erotic classes were very secretive and probably illegal and they were hot and exciting.

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