Gene Simmons, the blood-spewing, fire-breathing bassist and singer for the band KISS, says that the music boys listened to in their teens, or younger, is most often the music they will gravitate to for the rest of their lives. Following is a blog cataloguing the music on my iPhone.
(To read Blog 1 click on D.S. Mathieson below my picture.)
I Can See Clearly Now
Released in 1972.
I don’t have any song to go with the following story but I choose this song because I loved it when I was a kid, I’ve loved it for all of my life, and I will continue to love it for the rest of my life. The song was number 1 on the Billboard Chart in 1972, and I believe people will still be singing this song hundreds of years from now.
SKIPPPING SCHOOL, STEALING, SMOKING AND EATING TAR
It’s OK to skip school, to steal, and to smoke.
Not really, but that’s what I learned in Grade 1.
A grade fiver named Dave taught me these things.
When I was in Grade 1, this was in the spring of 1971, I went to Dave's house to see if he wanted to walk to school with me and, while standing in his doorway, he asked me if I wanted to skip school?
I made serious inquiries of him as to whether or not this was wise, and he said, “Teachers don’t mind if kids skip school.”
That was good enough for me and we skipped school for the next week.
Three events stand out from that week.
On the first morning of the first day of our truancy we turned into little pyromaniacs.
We had packs of matches and found two garbage cans sitting side-by-side. We started the cans on fire and watched from a block away as the Calgary Fire Department put the fires out.
After they left, we started two more cans on fire and, again, watched as firemen extinguished the flames. To this day l can’t understand why the firemen didn’t call the police to come scoop us up by the tips of our ears and take us off to jail.
Anyway, that day went by without incident, but that night we went behind the Forest Lawn Hotel and started a fire in their big, blue garbage bin. There were lots of flames, and the fire department made another appearance while we watched smoke billow high into the sky. Again, we didn’t get caught.
I put the blame for these fires squarely on Dave’s Grade 5 shoulders, because I would never have started any kind of fire if I weren’t under the influence of his diabolical, Grade 5 ways.
The same goes for stealing. I would never have thought of stealing in a million years if it wasn’t for Dave.
When I explain our next indiscretion I can hardly believe it myself because it seems so improbable.
We went into the supermarket across the street from where I lived, it was called Safeway.
We filled a shopping cart about half way with boxes and boxes of chocolate bars. We then walked out of the store, took the shopping cart to my apartment, and stored the chocolate bars in my parent’s storage room just across the hall from our apartment.
Just like the firemen, I can’t figure out why nobody stopped us.
The third incident brought our truancy to an end.
Dave and me were walking past a warehouse. I remember us stopping and sitting on the dock of one of the bay doors. We noticed boxes of cigarettes and stole one carton each.
Next, we went to the Inglewood Golf Course and dove into the golf pond looking for golf balls. Late in the afternoon we grew tired of the pond and decided to go home.
The golf course had an irrigation canal running beside it, and to get back home we had to cross a bridge that crossed the canal.
The bridge was for water drainage and not meant for pedestrians. There was a metal grate in the centre of the crossing that you had to swing around, hanging your body over the irrigation water while you swung around the grate. I had my runners in my hand and decided to throw them around the grate first. One runner made it, the other fell into the canal.
When we got to the other side Dave and me were soaked and I had only one shoe. We sat on the side of the steep, grassy hill leading out of the canal, and broke open a pack of cigarettes.
We started smoking like crazy and I got really sick.
I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but Dave abandoned me. I lived about five blocks from the irrigation canal and struggled to make it home.
I remember crossing the road from the canal, getting to the sidewalk, and dropping to my knees. I started crawling up hill on the sidewalk on all fours, when I came across some tar.
It was that black, shiny tar they use to fill cracks in the road.
In my delirium, I crawled to the tar, decided it looked a lot like black licorice, scooped some up and stuck it in my mouth. I chewed on it and quickly decided it wasn’t appetizing and spat it out.
I remember crawling onto somebodies lawn and laying there for a while.
After I recuperated I got to my feet and walked home soaking wet, with one runner, and with black teeth.
When I got home my mom blinked at me in wild wonder, staggered in disbelief, grabbed hold of me, and then fired me into the bathtub.
When my dad got home I got a spanking. (No need for concern. Spankings were common in those days. Everybody did it, even teachers. Well, actually, teachers gave kids the strap. It's where they strapped your hand with a leather strap.)
Anyway, the next day my mom gave me a note to give to my teacher to explain why I wasn’t in class.
I don’t remember much about my Grade 1 teacher, not even her name, but I do remember she had shiny, straight black hair and she was pretty, and that I may have been in love with her, but I'm not 100 per cent sure.
Anyway, God bless her sweet, pure, kind, Grade 1 teacher’s heart.
All she did was told me not to do it again, and then told me to go to my desk and put my head down.
I never skipped school again until Grade 5.
Here is the song: