A long time ago, during the musical birth of Elvis and his Rock and Roll, in the midst of the simplicity of the 50's, we made a move, that was to solidify us as a family, a neighborhood, and a clan, would become known, as Growing Up Guildwood. We were one of the first settlers of the infamous Village. Anyway you look at it, if you grew up Guildwood, you will relate. I am sure many others have found memories of their "Hood".
Here is a little about mine.
The late 1950's brought my mom and dad, the three of us, my sister, my brother, myself, all of whom were a year apart, and, a younger brother 5 years younger than myself, or what you would call a full house, to a place called Guildwood Village. My dad had found a news clipping, advertising this new neighborhood on the Scarborough Bluffs just outside of Toronto.
We had been nestled in a smaller home off Pharmacy and Ellesmere, and I had started my first year of Kindergarten at Terraview Heights Public School. Once we had had a chance to drive down through this place called the Guild, we were spellbound. This move would take place, and we would reside in what was the last model home on Somerdale Square, known as number 7. What a house it was, we all had a bedroom, a finished recreation room and two fireplaces, in the heart of a forest, and on the edge of Lake Ontario, heaven was close by in the form of The Guild Inn and the Scarborough Bluffs, and over the years, I would get to know every inch of it.
The trees, the air, the smell of the lake, and the amount of kids was amazing. We were plunk right in the middle of the neighborhood, where all the kids would walk to get to school, you could take your pick of whom you wanted to walk to school with, and you could get home real quick from school by way of a maze of asphalt paths. My sister entered into kindergarten and would be a student of the well known teacher, known as Mrs. Blackwell, as a matter of fact, that very teacher, would be an icon in that public school, for her work as the Kindergarten teacher for many, in the years that followed.
I entered into a class with a teacher called Miss Brittany, and there, friendships bloomed that today, almost 50 years later, are still treasured.
I was a tom boy back then, there was no mistaken that, and heaven help you if you bugged me, or pulled my hair, I would ensure payback was tenfold, especially when my hair was pulled, or you washed my face in snow. I could run like a deer, so you could not escape, aka Tricky Vicky and I lived up to it. Anything that crawled and I could fit in my pocket was fair game. Spiders and june bugs were a favorite for me to launch at my poor sister, because they stuck to hair and clothes, and snakes well they had a way of just showing up on the floor of the house :-).
Back then you see, we were kids, that went out in the morning, came home for lunch, and disappeared into the day with kick the can hide and seek, double dutch rope, hop scotch, good baseball game, marbles and just about anything else that would keep one busy. I spent hours with a silk nylon stocking with a ball in it, and a good large wall. No cell phones, no computers, no texting, just plain pure fresh air and fun, and you had to find it. Exercise was never an issue. To find your friends, you had to look for their bikes.
Church and crisp Easter bonnets, were a given, I knew exactly how many windows were in that church. Brownies, girl guides, cubs, scouts were weekly, no escape.
You got into a scrap with a new kid on the block, it was a good old fist fight, or a whack with a stick or a kick in the shins, your hair pulled until your eyes watered, but no knives or guns, and no law suits. You fell out of a tree or scraped your knee, it would wait until you got home, cuts and bruises = ice and band aids. No infections, no disinfection, just grin and bear it. You shared your pops, your popsicles with your friends, lunches were packed in brown paper bags, we shared and traded, and bit into each others goodies.
We ate snow, picked things off the ground, drank out of the water hose, and low and behold here today and healthy. Mom cooked full course meals, and our house was always open to anyone that dared enter, and with four kids the selection of those entering was always interesting. NEVER a dull moment.
In summers back then, the hose always kept you cool. Sometimes a mischievous friend may spray you walking by, and turning any corner could present a water bomb balloon to drench you from out of nowhere. If you did not sneak down to the lake through the many hidden paths, or try to climb down the bluffs, the cool lake breeze was an instant chill. The sand and mysteries that were along the beach were an exploration all of their own. Lake Ontario had many sunken treasures, driftwood, skipping stones, climbing cliffs, tons of birds, and a great big bear cave, that I would climb up for many years to come.
There was always a smell of fresh cut grass, and today, it still reminds me of the Guild on those hot summer days. They used to spray for mosquitoes so a fogger truck, would come around every night to spray, and dancing kids would chase the smog for streets away, wonder we did not all die from lung cancer. To end the night the ice cream truck or yummy man as we called him, would deliver the goodies around the street. Mom and dad would always have to cough up for that, or there was simply no peace with four kids. A little man with a bell would walk the street to sharpen knives, and our little cleaner would pick and drop off the cleaning, and yes we had a milkman...WOW!
In the winter we would play until we were soaked to the bone, and then come in and eat, put our wet stuff on the heaters to dry, so that we could grab it and go out again and finish what we started until dusk. Sometimes you could actually skate on the roads from wet rain, and the snow got so high from shoveling and clearing, we could build the best snowmen, and tunnels at the foot of the driveways, and sometimes it would even meet up with the next door neighbors. Snowball fights and not to get caught in a good one, or you would end up getting your face washed with snow from the neighborhood snowballers.
Nearby on top of the famous Guildwood Hill where the gates made you feel like your were entering Fort Knox, there was a big barn, and the hill made a great toboggan run. I remember on those cold nights, the smell in the guild was unbelievable. The aroma of burning logs, throughout the streets, and the muffling of sound from all the snow, made it into a winter wonderland, and the snowflakes twinkled under all the street lights, not to mention the Christmas lights that danced on the trees and homes around the first week of November.
The Guild Inn was magical, a full maze, cottages, pathways, gardens, bluffs that you could see clear across the lake, and just tons of woods, wildlife with an incredible history to it. Little did I know I would someday be married there, as many were.
Halloween, well that was an escapade on its own. Egg throwing, pumpkin smashing and all that kid stuff in good fun, and the biggest bag of candy one would ever want a child to bring home. I loved my candy and did a good job of raiding the other 3 hidden candy bags that my siblings had thought were well hidden. The local dentist loved Halloween.
We saw our friends graduate from the public school to the high school transition. The new and close by Laurier Secondary School would provide the world with many an interesting character. It was a time of the real mccoy, meaning the real thing and what I mean by that, is a full array of cars, the real deal Camaro, Firebird, mach 1, TR7, Austin mini, Mustang, Grand Prix souped up Lemans, Cougar, Carracuda and Challenger, and oh yes who could forget the Volkswagon beetle, and so many more..............CARS that would be still be hot 50 years later.
The boomers ruled, and flower power, bell bottomed pants, shag hairs styles, big rimmed glasses, mini skirts, platform shoes, the Beatles, Monkeys, Eagles, and Beach Boys, BeeGees, Sadie Hawkins dances, the cafeteria fries and gravy, the local plaza hangout for the cool and the gangs, and a fully array of colorful clothing. There were no implants, botox, you were what you were, oh natural, except many of us had to wear those big steel braces that made you look like the transformers, and if that was not bad enough we had to put the round hoop on at night.
Discipline was a given, groundings, spankings, and the school strap really did exist back then, and you did do what you were told. Taught me respect, and to this day grateful for it.
It was a time when there was always helpful neighbors, and a time when I thought my mother would only live 6 months as she was told, as her battle with cancer began. She lived to 84. It was a time when a young friend would die, and really hard to understand why life can be so very short, and one would question life and death, and life after death. It was a great time, but it was our time, and none of us knew what lay ahead, but for that moment, a carefree life was provided in this Guild, in this youth, way back then.
My parents would own the local Village Variety, where we and our friends had an endless supply of candy through public school. My pockets would be full of blackballs and my mouth was evidence. On a hot day the Lola would do the trick, it was a WOW back then.
It was also a time, even though you lived in the Guild, that we had to wear hand me downs, work to buy what you wanted, walk where you had to go, your parents did not just drop everything and drive you, and when you went out, you were out, no phones or contacts. Entertainment was made by you, and electronics meant if you were lucky and could afford an 8 track player, you were cool. Transistor radios were a means to hear some of the now golden oldies, but other than that, the only thing we carried was school books and at that, the old fashioned way, piled up and in the front of your arms, and you got to school with every one.
Bell bottom pants and the shag hair style made your groovy, and my false eyelashes and twiggy make up, made my father shudder at the sight of it. It was a war to watch the Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time in the 60's, and my mother had a full, all out battle with Dad, in order for us to watch it. He called them Animals, little did he know they were on next.
Television, wow, who could forget Howdy Dowdy, Sky King, Gilligins Island, Micky Mouse, Mighty Mouse, graduating to Star Trek, All In The Family, Threes Company, and on to the movie theater where Planet of the Apes, Godzilla and King Kong rocked.
There was really only two places you could of worked, either the Guild Inn or the Guildwood Villa and in those days we ALL worked. I started at 14, because I did want my own car, and I would get it, and more, pay for it all myself.
Remembering the assassination of President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and of course who could forget the walk on the moon, that my grandmother swore was a movie set, and never did happen.
The 60's was colorful, playful, innocent, and time to get ready for the 70's and the real world, as we left high school for our walk of life. I would always remember the golden goal of the Canada Russia game when Paul Henderson scored the final GOAL in the last 34 seconds of Game 8, 1972. Oh Canada.
Dairy Queen, Kentucky Fried, and A + W were it for fast food, but I did take a liking to the Chinese Food that we were treated too once every 3 months.
Drive in movies were plentiful in the 60's and 70's, and we had our pick of many. I liked the Tee Pee and Bay Ridges, and what was cool, was, you could see them back then from the 401, when you were young and pass by in the cars. Later we would experience them first hand.
What went on in the Guild stayed in the Guild, we were our own clan. Our friends would be forever friends, and it would be a place that would be talked about until the day we die. We would watch life long friends battle family tragedies, and the day to day battles of real life.
A generation of strength, innovation and discovery. We paid for our own education, or at least I did, and made our way through the age of what would be the fastest and biggest electronic/digital tsunami, where all you would have to do is press buttons and not even move a muscle. Welcome to today.
My core was formed back there, and here I am in a world of places like Facebook, reunited with the memories and people that created many of them. Who would ever of thought that his communicative Woodstock, would show itself right when you needed it, to rejuvenate ones soul and chuckle about our past, reunite with the past, and touch the soul.
Out with the old and in with the new, the 60's and 70's peace and simplicity, has moved to the year 2017, where many are retiring, but growing up Guildwood left an imprint, that will always bring a smile to my face.
To this day, the sound of The Voice of Hockey, Foster Hewitt and the Hockey Night in Canada Song jingle, takes me back to my dad watching this downstairs, a roasting fire, and us tucked safely in bed knowing tomorrow would be another day in the Guild, and a train horn in the distance would take me into my nights sleep.
Its all good, and I can truly smile as I go back, and where my past meets my present, is truly a gift of remembering.
And a big shout out to good friends, we are all vintage classics now, in good condition, a little rust here and there, but they don't make em the same anymore.
Mom, Dad, and many others have passed now, it is a different day.
To all my friends thanks for the journey so far, and lets get ready for the golden oldies. Heck old ? no way, still way too much energy and as far as my french goes Joie de vivre: Joy of living; zest for life or C’est la vie: That's life, lets enjoy what's left!