Samaritans ……… Prologue

21/12/2013

This ‘incident’ took place in April of 1970, recently after the passing of my step-father from cancer, our mother’s second husband and love of her life. The events leading up to, and affecting subsequent events, began some years prior.

One Sunday morning, after I turned eighteen, my mother entered my bedroom with her usual, ‘Wake it it’s time to get ready for church’, announcement. For some odd reason, and out-of-the blue, I turned and uttered, ‘No, I’m not going to church’, and turned over to return to sleep fully expecting a discussion or argument. To my amazement she simply turned and walked out the door, shutting it behind her and saying, ‘Okay’. My amazement didn’t last long, for I was off-to-unconsciousness without further consideration, at that moment.

Times passed, my life resumed its regularities of school, after-school team sports, after-school/weekend-and-evening jobs. We were living around St. Clair and Christie, but that didn’t last long for before the second year had ended we’d moved to the Bathurst and Eglinton neighbourhood for my final year in high school. The year was 1967 and the school was Central Tech. Curiously, we moved in on a Friday evening/night, and while in the lobby of this fine establishment, I might add our first ever apartment-dwelling, our presence was questioned.

It turned out we were the pioneering people-of-colour to get into this building. It seemed our mother had once again scored lodging in a better-than-average neighbourhood through her light-complexioned appearance, blended with easy British-like speech pattern. Our response, ‘We live here’, to which an odd expression was served but being teens the matter would be addressed elsewhere. Nothing further was made of the encounter and, as the weeks passed, we’d not given any reasons for our alarming presence and we became like furniture after a time. We were greeted whenever encountered and a peaceful calm ensued in spite of our social gatherings engineered by my loving and socialite sister, possibly because we’d engaged a mixed group of well-behaved young people, which fit quite nicely with the building’s usual demographics.

I graduated high school and went off to university on a probational acceptance, a student-loan with part-time jobs financing, acquired for weekends in that university town. On odd occasions, during holiday season, I’d find myself back in Toronto attempting to salvage what I considered a budding romance. It was just my imagination getting the best of me.

Nearing the end of the first year of university, at which I was unsuccessful, I learned that our mother had fallen in love with an Englishman and had wed while I was in school. Upon my return, I was no longer to reside at that first apartment, which I quite enjoyed, but to reside in the basement apartment of the house of my new step-father. It was cozy, as well as self-contained with its own entrance with dining a family occurrence in the upstairs. There was also a ‘family’ room, a new construct for me, while my life continued on its quest-for-independence path. In my failed attempt at post-secondary education, I was now out-of-school for a minimum of one year, the probationary condition of the university.

I was standing at yet another crossroad: failure-at-university; a new step-father; new residence in another ‘new’ neighbourhood; a loss of friendships due to the aforementioned; and, being a person-of-colour in need of a job, in 1969, with a student loan to repay until I resume university, if ever. Interesting times, to say the least! Things were in the offing for which I was unprepared, unsuspecting, to say the least.

The following year had incidents which involved jobs based on the connections of my late step-father, prior to his passing, which I was too restless to appreciate due to overlooked unknown factors in my upbringing. This will be for another tale’s telling.

One job offering was as an accountant for the Consumer’s Gas Company, which I departed to utilize my high school training as a surveyor with the Department of Highways. Now, this particular job could’ve been a longstanding vocation had I not taken the tales of the experienced surveyors, and subsequent occurrences, to heart. Namely, the job being subject to being outdoors anywhere in Ontario, in all kinds of weather. Well, the summer and autumn months were manageable, come rain or shine. However, as the chill began to emerge I found myself on a survey crew taking measurements at the top of the Don Valley, the path to become the Highway 404 extension. A decision had to be made. So, on December 31st 1969, I became unemployed, and was looking out on freshly fallen snow in 0 celsius weather ,in the New Year.

It was during this time I became aware of my step-father’s health condition. At that time I had intended to become more social, primarily with people I’d been meeting in my expanded job circle, which included accounting, parking attendant and surveying contacts. It was during this period I was introduced to hashish and marijuana, only to discover my altered-state experiences was outside the realm to the others who’d made the introduction. It was a brief love affair as I had other things developing, which was to keep me occupied for some time.

One night I was out with some fellows and encountered a conflict situation which resulted in me being punched on the chin three times. The incident drew a crowd whereupon the attending police officer chose to take the assailant’s side in spite of witnesses accounts to the contrary. I was still becoming aware of the 2nd-class citizenship based in ethnicity when it came to ‘serve and protect’ situations of which I was unfamiliar, since I came from a police family in the islands. The fellows accompanying me were Jewish, and surprisingly, backed into and blended with the gathering crowd for their own protection, which they later explained and I didn’t hold it against them, too much.

Yet, another lesson in social constructs I had yet to comprehend and connect to my person.

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