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Friday, October 23, 2009

The Autobiography of Irish Catholic Rasta Punk Joe College

I was born in Hamilton in 1958, and I will always be one day older than Prince. We moved to Stoney Creek, then to Kitchener when I was four, before settling in Burlington a few years later. Let's start in Kitchener.

It was late spring 1963, a beautiful warm sunny day, and Jah asked I to face North, and then said unto me: This is yours; All of this is yours.

Some of my best memories of Nottingham Road include swimming in the pool in the courtyard of the townhouses (and once seeing the same pool from the air when my dad arranged for us to go up in an airplane and view Kitchener from above). I also remember walking along the green way to the variety store for candy and ice cream, and playing hockey and skating on the outdoor rink in the winter.

Our family (father Ralph, mom Noreen and sister Debbie) had a Studebaker with a sliding roof, and I remember going to the Dairy Queen for a chocolate dipped frozen banana, and then standing in the back with our heads and shoulders above the sunroof, this being before the era of seat belts. We used to go everywhere in the car with our parents, even to drive-in movies.

One day Satisfaction came on the radio, and though I had already grown up with Elvis, the Beatles and the Everly Brothers, it was the riff and the vocal in Satisfaction that led me to Stairway to Heaven, Anarchy in the UK, Smells Like Teen Spirit and Creep. The guiding hands of Dylan, Lennon and Marley were to come later, but i was already feeling the vibe of the Beatles, Everlys, and most especially, the Stones.

In grade one there was a kid in my class (St. Anne's school) who was an expert in astronomy, a flippin genius. In some ways i credit this kid for my later brilliant marks in geography, for after learning about the Universe in grade one, earth seemed so easy. This six year old kid would literally get up in front of his classmates (and the other grade one class also) and for forty-five minutes show us brilliants photos, charts and illustrations to teach us about the Solar System, the Milky Way galaxy, and the wider Universe beyond our corner. I think our teachers and principal were wise to let this student educate us, for it was by far my favorite time of the week.

My dad was a VP of the Kitchener Rangers (Uncle Bucko Wes Trainor had played in the New York Rangers system (including one season with the big club), and the Aud (Kitchener Memorial Auditorium) was right beside my path from our Nottingham Road townhouse to St. Anne's. Several players often lived at our house, including Billy Hway, who later played many years for Galt Hornets, and Gary Sabourin, who went on to play for the St. Louis Blues and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In a buzzed homecoming a dozen years later, I got to see my favorite band Rush perform there, and spoke with their sound men about how the tour was going. Most of the Rush gigs in that era featured Max Webster as the opening act, and that may also have been the case that night. Another great Rush gig was opening for Nazareth at the old Hamilton Forum, and the Mohawk College gig after Fly By Night was released.

My parents built something that was a foreunner of today's courier industry, a service called Crown Mail and Delivery. We sold it so my dad could launch Trainor Trophy Company, and as he was going to be working from Spadina Road in Toronto, we moved to 640 Guelph Line in Burlington when I was about seven years old, towards the end of grade two.

It was 1965.

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