I try and tie my blog posts to something of a loosely new media nature, but yesterday was an anniversary for me and it got me to reminiscing. It was 30 years ago I returned to Toronto from my misadventures in Calgary and settled into the Beach neighbourhood of Toronto. Well, technically Danforth & Coxwell is the Upper Beaches …
I ended up in Calgary in 1980 after a string of bad luck that sounds like a really bad country and western song. In the space of the time between Christmas of 1979 and the first week of January in 1980:
a) I lost everything I owned including my beloved cat “Heidi” in a devastating fire
b) I got fired from my job for being absent without permission, they thought I should come back to work immediately after my fire
c) my girlfriend dumped me
I bumped into an old friend from high school just after my apartment burned down who told me he was heading to Calgary in January to go skiing and see what the work situation was like. After the final straw of getting dumped by my girlfriend I decided it was time for a change of scenery and headed out west to meet up with my buddy Gord in January of 1980.
I arrived in Calgary with a small suitcase with some new clothes and my skis. After a weekend of skiing I started looking around for work. Jobs were plentiful at that time, I remember seeing billboards everywhere declaring “Help Wanted”. It was boomtime in Calgary. My first apartment in Calgary was a basement bachelor and my landlord who lived upstairs was a saddlemaker. Worked out of the Burns Building, one of the oldest buildings in Calgary. Yep, my first landlord turned out to be a true native multi generation Calgarian. He was not too impressed with the young easterner living in his basement. Not that I was doing anything wrong. It was just that I was one of those damn Easterners or as Ralph Klein would call us a few years later – “Eastern Bums and Creeps”.
For the two and a bit years that I lived in Calgary my life was one mis adventure after another. I alluded to some of the shenanigans in my blog post on my food truck connection as one of the jobs I had out there was driving a coffee truck. I got into several brawls with rival coffee truck drivers. I also saw my first mobile phone. A radio phone in a suitcase when I was out shooting several oil industry and cattle related videos. It was an actual suitcase, it was massive! Expensive too at several dollars a minute.
I worked for U Haul as the area field manager for Southern Alberta and met the founder of U Haul on my first day on the job. That day alone is worth a chapter in a book. My job entailed driving a rig something like the one pictured above around Southern Alberta from town to town setting up UHaul dealers. I also worked as a satellite TV installer for the old K band dishes. I remember watching the Italian team win the World Cup in 82. We were watching Toronto TV on the K Band Satellite and I got homesick for Hogtown as I watched the crowds on TV. So I packed up a broken down U-Haul, assigned it to a repair shop in Scarborough and set off for home.
I arrived in the Beach on the Civic Holiday Monday, and ended my adventure out west. In hindsight, my life out west was definitely akin to my favourite Canadian movie of all times “Goin’ Down the Road”. Except I didn’t get anyone pregnant or rob a Loblaws. If you haven’t seen the movie (why not? shame on you!) sorry for the spoilers. But my misadventures are enough that I started on my “Great Canadian Novel” a semi-autobiographical novel called appropriately enough Eastern Bums and Creeps. Who knows I may even finish it some day and self publish.
3 thoughts on “Eastern Bums and Creeps”
Sounds like a great time in the history of your life and Canada. Times certainly have changed. Keep writing Mike, i hope the next post about us eastern bums is telling us the book is done. … i know many people who have done the same kinda thing but maybe 10 years later, it would be interesting to compile a collection of short stories / tales. My brother moved west to be an engineer in the oil patch (right after university) he lived in a minivan with his mountain bike, skis, and windsurfing gear 12 months a year…. and moved back. Calgary certainly had a ‘flavour’…
Thanks for the story, life is full of possibilities, don’t want to grow old thinking about the ‘what ifs’
Thanks Scott, I debated whether or not to publish something so personal, then realized … It’s my blog and I can write what I want! I like the idea of the short stories or in my verbose case a novella.
Would love to read the novel – i remember your apartment. i remember the fire. i remember your cat! Didn’t visit you in Galgary, but the U-Haul adventures must be a whole other novel! Can provide some notes for such. Happy to help. Look forward to adding “Eastern Bums and Creeps” to my reading list!