Memoirs, Or Shadows Of What Has Been
By Peter Landry

Chapter Eighteen, St. Catherines, 1967

Expo 67

This is the year that Canadians, beyond a certain age, remember well. In 1967 there was a year-long celebration of Canada's 100th anniversary. As part of the celebration a World's Fair, named Expo 67, took place at Montreal. I remember that during an official state visit to Canada, French President Charles de Gaulle declared to a crowd of over 100,000 at Montreal: Vive le Québec libre! (Long live free Quebec!). The statement, interpreted as support for Quebec independence, delighted many Quebecers but angered the Canadian government and many English Canadians. One of the effects left in de Gaulle's wake was a ratcheting-up of Quebec Nationalism. Another was that the notable Quebec politician, René Lévesque, left the Liberal Party. This was in October, just as Expo 67 closed after a successful run which had seen 50 million visitors go through the pavilions which the countries all over the world had set up. I and Louise were among those millions when we with another couple from St. Catherines went to Montreal for a few days.


At the first of the year, in keeping with President John Kennedy's promise to get a man on the moon before the decade was over, Apollo 1 was undergoing a launch pad test. The astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward Higgins White, and Roger Chaffee were in the spacecraft when a fire broke out; the three were killed. In April, the first Boeing 737 took its maiden flight. As of February, 2011, I see from Wikipedia, 6,687 were built. Though I was never much of a hockey fan, I should relate that on May 2nd, 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. It was their last Stanley Cup and last finals appearance to date. It would turn out to be the last game in the original six era. Six more teams would be added in that fall. In June, the People's Republic of China tested its first hydrogen bomb. In July, the British Parliament decriminalized homosexuality. That October, Castro's fellow revolutionary, Che Guevara was caught and executed in Bolivia. In December, Christiaan Barnard carried out the world's first heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. Also in December, the Supersonic airliner Concorde was unveiled in Toulouse, France. That year Desmond Morris had his work, The Naked Ape published.

The Vietnam War was still raging on, supported only, it seems, by the executive of the American government. Antiwar and race riots were ongoing in the major cities of the U.S. During April, large demonstrations were held against the Vietnam War in New York City and San Francisco. On July 23rd, at Detroit, one of the worst riots in the history of the United States tore things up in the inner city: 43 were killed, 342 injured and 1,400 buildings were burned.

In June of 1967, the Six-Day War between Israel and her neighbours caused more death and destruction. The war saw Israel add considerable territory to its rule. The forces led by the one eyed general, Moshe Dayan, captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Sinai from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria. It unfolded this way: On April 7th, Israeli fighters -- on account of superior equipment and "good Shooting," shot down 7 Syrian MIG-21s; On May 23rd, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, blockading Israel's southern port of Eilat, and Israel's entire Red Sea coastline. On June 5th, in lightening strikes that impressed the world, the territories of Israel's neighbours as previously noted, were invaded and conquered.

The summer of 1967 has become to be known as The Summer of Love. It was a cultural and political rebellion with its geographical center point being the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Hippies also gathered in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, Washington, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and across Europe. The adherents believed in the power of music, psychoactive drugs and sexual freedom. Alternative lifestyles were becoming common and continued during the subsequent years. Communal living was being promoted, where everything was to be shared including one another's bodies: free sex. As for me, the Hippie culture was just something on TV. I was totally involved in the old culture: taking care of my little family and working hard at it. Later on in life, I heard it expressed that people of my age were a little too old to get involved in a culture that espoused free love; so, it seems I missed out there. After a number of years, in 1984, when Louise and I separated, I thought, well, now it's time to have some "free love," except by then people were concerned about STDs, particularly HIV.

It was while I was at St. Catherines that I began to lose interest in a retailing career. The federal government must of had a programme to assist people in finding new jobs. For I see where, in the summer of 1967, I sent a detailed letter to Canada Manpower setting out my work career to date. I listed under activities that I was a Member St. Catherines and District Chamber of Commerce and the President of the Pen Centre Merchants Association. Also I listed myself as being a stamp collector, a model ship builder and a reader with a particular interest in biographies and the sciences. Listed too, are a couple of subscriptions: "Time" and "Life." I also mention my photographic interests with "my family my main subject." I see also that I expressed an interest in obtaining a pilot's license (never followed through on that one).

In addition to seeking some help from a government department, as just mentioned, I also was thinking of writing potential employers back in Nova Scotia. On one application it was necessary to include an essay, "As to what I would like to be." Here it is in part:

"... a curious and investigative nature leads me to look into and find out about existing situations, as to why they came about, and what impact they may have on me, now and in the future. These situations could be anything; but I find them in connection with historic and scientific events and always with people. ... I think I would pursue a complete and thorough education in history. After which I would like to travel and explore extensively and then to settle into teaching and writing .. to communicate through manner and vocal expression -- loyalty and honesty to family, self and just cause. ... Many times when tackling a problem I come up against difficult avenues or levels, if one aspect seems difficult or hard I'll switch to another aspect of that problem then return to the first aspect and usually then I am better able to solve it. Industry, time lapses quickly for me and I am generally always pressed for a minute. ... preorganization, positive attitude coupled with persistence and industry. Persistence -- to hang on and to improve my grip regardless of how tired my fingers are; but when the situation tells me the course is truly dead I quickly bury it. The ability to bare-up in the face of adversity, to come out smiling in spite of it all. New and different interests must be continually coming at me. Tend to act without sufficient counsel. Not terribly conscience of any weaknesses I may have and while I most likely have a few I have not spent much time reflecting on them. I do now see something in every person I meet. That something may not be necessarily enjoyable; but certainly it is always informative. I suppose that every person you meet can leave you a little richer if you are receptive. An amiable person is one who can discourse on a subject of interest or rather on subjects that I find interesting. I strive always to be a person who is a pleasure to work or play with. I am usually uneasy with a person if he is conceited, boisterous or indecisive. I generally like pleasantness, exactness, truthfulness, tact and thoughtfulness. I enjoy taking the initiative in meeting people; but generally will not persist too long if I don't see some response. I do like to bring people around to my point of view; but if a point has been logically made I will give in."
Well, there you go. The essay was surely put together to impress a prospective employer; it was meant to only address the question, "As to what I would like to be," but I did, and do, see myself as matching most of the description.

Among the movies in 1967, the most memorable was "The Graduate." Shortly after graduating from college, Benjamin begins a secret affair with an older woman. It starred Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. "Bonnie and Clyde" is the next picture that comes to mind. It starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. It is a story that is set in the early 1930s. Clyde was a car thief. The daughter of one of his intended victims teamed up with him, and they both went on to become America's most wanted criminals. Then this was the year, 1967, that "A Fistful of Dollars" starring Clint Eastwood was released in America. It was the first significant "spaghetti Western" film; they were great; when one of those guys got shot -- well, it was a marvel of cinematographic technology.

Then there were the songs of 1967: A number were from that phenomenal group, The Beatles. It was the year that their album, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" came to music history; it was to be called "The Soundtrack of the Summer of Love"; it would be number one on the albums charts throughout the summer of 1967. The fabulous Aretha Franklin had four top-ten hits in the year, the leading one being Respect. Then there was Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, 59th Street Bridge Song by Feeling Groovy, and, finally, Ode to Billie Joe by Bobby Gentry.

[Pictures, 1967 (1)]

[Pictures, 1967 (2)]

[Pictures, 1967 (3)]

[Pictures, 1967 (4) -- Christmas]

NEXT: [Chapter Nineteen, Cobourg, 1968]



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2011 (2020)

Peter Landry