The other night we were having a drink before dinner, listening to one of Gordon Lightfootâs first albums âÂ The way I Feel (1968). I started thinking about Yorkville back in the 60âs, when my best friend, Myron, and I, would visit, usually on a Saturday night.
I met Myron during my first week at my new high school, Delta Seconday, Hamilton, in 1967, grade 11. If youâre wondering why I had a ânewâ school for grade 11, itâs because I was âeased outâ of my first secondary school. We met at the extra-ciricular meeting for the camera club and he and I were the only students to show up. The supervising teacher gave us a box of film, chemicals and paper, and the keys to the darkroom. We didnât see him for the rest of the year, unless we needed more supplies.
For 2 years, Myron and I had our own high school private office… the darkroom.
Myron was a big guy with a strange sense of humour and very much a rebel. Probably because he had very strict immigrant parents, who Iâm pretty sure got out of the Ukraine, USSR. I think that says a lot. So Myron being a rebel, was often experimenting with drugs. And we were allowed to smoke in the darkroom.
He had the job of shooting for the yearbook and I did the school newspaper, but we often switched roles, and we often took our cameras along for our other extra-curricular activities, like Yorkville.
He had an old Ford Econoline âshaggin-wagonâ which we would often just drive back and forth through Hamilton at night. From the old A&W drive-in on Queenston Road (yes, the waitresses wore uniforms and put the tray on the car window) to somewhere west of James Street, then back. Oh how I remember those rides up King St. And down Main. Picking up every hippy hitch-hiker, I would be in the passenger seat, reaching back to open the sliding door to load the hippies in. Then the joints would get passed around. This was Hamiltonâs first Hippy Shuttle Service, the HHSS. I remember once, we had about 8 hippies sitting on the floor in the van, like sitting around a fire, passing the peace pipe.
Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell started out in Yorkville in the early 60âs, but that was before my time. Hey, Iâm not that old! But Joni was living in New York City in the late 60âs, even during Woodstock. Strange, she was so close but she missed it. She wrote a song about it though.
This child of God (me) was lucky enough to spend a week in NYC in 1968 when Joni was living there with some guy. This was the grade 12 school field trip. And I had my camera.
Iâm lucky that I still have some old photo prints, which I recently scanned and include below. Itâs often you have nostalgic feelings for the past, but add photos and that trip down memory lane drips with syrup.
And Myron? The drugs eventually caught up to him. A very sad day for me.
[Click on any photo for the slideshow. Please leave comments at the bottom of the page]
February 3, 2021 at 10:48 pm
Len, Man you are young in those pictures. You look like one of the beatles or the monkees or maybe Manfred Mann. The good old days.
In 1968, I was only 15, I remember buying my first two albums from the Cream -Disraeli Gears and White Room. I had to hide them from my mom because they were just noise to her! But the kids in High School thought it was cool. One of my other friends introduced me to Jimmy Hendrix for the first time.
Bringing back memories.
February 3, 2021 at 11:13 pm
The syrup continues to drip.
haha… glad you enjoyed, George. In ’68, I was 19.
February 3, 2021 at 11:22 pm
My Yorkvile experience would have been about 1964. I was in grade 13 and our big Saturday evening was to drive down to Yorkville with a couple of buddies, park on one of the side streets, down a couple of swigs of a mickey of rum we had bought illegally and walk up and down Yorkville looking for the girls, usually with no success. I remember the Riverboat as well as a jazz club on Avenue Road where I heard a young pianist Tony Colacutt who I thought was the next Dave Brubeck.
February 3, 2021 at 11:40 pm
Len, this all sounds very familiar. We were more whisky, though. I’m pretty sure the nightclub in the photos above was the Riverboat. Forgot about that.
I was in a rock band back then, 1966 or so, and we played at the In Crowd nightclub in Yorkville.
February 4, 2021 at 12:48 am
Definitely some coolness to you back in the day Len! Whatâs that saying? âOh if we knew then what we know now!â
A great photo essay – thanks for sending.
February 4, 2021 at 1:00 am
Jennifer, if I knew then what I know now I don’t think I would have had that much fun. (but I didn’t get into tooo much trouble).
February 4, 2021 at 12:16 pm
Amazing pictures Len! I love the old pics of NYC and Yorkville! Like a time capsule. Your own office in high school…what a rock star you were!.
February 4, 2021 at 12:32 pm
Hey Dave, nice to hear from you. Rock star? haha! Hope all is well. Miss you on the slopes.
February 4, 2021 at 6:05 pm
Nice trip down memory lane. I love the B&W look. Especially noted the photo of the Empire State Building. No other buildings around it. Definitely doesn’t look like that now!
February 4, 2021 at 6:19 pm
John, this is not a B&W look, this is Kodak Tri-X film, processed with Kodak chemicals. Real B&W. Must be the digital mentality! haha!
February 4, 2021 at 6:45 pm
Haha. Youâre right, Iâm in a digital pictures mindset right now working on organizing my old photos. Digital ones first. But I was commenting more along the likes of the photos being in BW rather than colour. Gives a different feel to the photo. I used to shoot film and Kodachrome slide film back in the day but never got into the chemical developing. Must have been Quite a experience.
February 4, 2021 at 8:10 pm
I did all my own processing back then, but no colour, just B&W of course. Colour processing is very complex. Oh, and did I mention that, at times, we kept a bottle of whisky in the smoking, er… darkroom?
February 4, 2021 at 11:34 pm
wonderful memories …… enjoyed the post!
February 5, 2021 at 12:05 am
hope all is well, Michelle
February 5, 2021 at 12:32 am
allo Len! On sent bien toute la nostalgie de ces annĂ©es passĂ©es! Un beau voyage dans le temps (avec l’aide d’un bon drink et de Gordon Lightfoot!) đ
I can easily imagine this part of your life….!
See you soon!
February 5, 2021 at 3:00 am
Oui Claire, un bon drink est bon toujours
February 5, 2021 at 12:58 am
February 5, 2021 at 3:02 am
Allo Daniel, je suis content que vous avez apprecie.
February 5, 2021 at 3:14 am
Thanks for the trip down “Memory Lane.” I graduated in 1969 and went on a trip to Ottawa. On the way home I picked up a “hippy” whom I later met in Yorkville. We live in a very small world.
February 5, 2021 at 1:16 pm
Sounds like a nice experience, Don. Hope all is well.
February 5, 2021 at 4:47 pm
Sorry to hear about your friend.
Great pics…..it definitely bring on reflection.
Thanks for sharing…
February 5, 2021 at 4:57 pm
Take care Barry, looks like you sold your sled too soon. Could be fun now.
February 5, 2021 at 5:51 pm
Len – Great Black & Whites – particularly Myron, the girl at Delta High and you leaning out of the window. Looks like we were both a bit too young for the Summer of Love, although just going to San Francisco still makes it feel like it has had a permanent influence.
Folk music was just a bit too mellow for me, which is why the bands I saw when I was young were The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Wings, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Kinks, Nils Lofgren and so many more. The music scene in London was fabulous (The Marquee, 100 Club, Half Moon Putney, Hammersmith Odeon, Wembley). But I’ve got to say that Toronto’s music scene was pretty good with Lees Palace, The Horseshoe, El Mocambo, Sneaky Dees.
Makes you want to go see a band!
February 5, 2021 at 6:13 pm
Hey Peter, yes, a lot of big names came out of Toronto, Yorkville. Gordon and Joni, but also The Band, Steppinwolf, and others. Be safe in Banff. cheers!