(a feel good  story of Christmas Present and Christmas Past)


I have read  many criticisms  of our computer age but the one that
concerned  me the most was the comment that we no longer have
face  on friendships…flesh  and blood contacts…meet people who
we can see and touch.   That comment struck me as true and very

Guess what ?  The anonymity of  Facebook is  just not true.
 Marjorie and I  discovered that the word anonymity was not even part of
the vocabulary of these Facebook  users
…..as Christine’s smile (above)  confirms.

 Marjorie made contact with this  diverse group of Facebook friends
who  meet regularly in the middle of High Park.  They have one thing in
common…their ages and Roncesvales Avenue

This is Carl who organized it all and  supervised the gift giving and provided me with
a huge box which I expected to contain wealth beyond  my dreams.  Instead I received
a  pile of rubber mud  mats “that could be made to fit any car.”

And on Dec. 7, 2018 Carl organized a big Christmas party complete
with gifts (under $15) for everyone.  We became part of this  meeting.
Marjorie made cookies, big butter tarts and  a bright red cowgirl hat.  I wrote a story
about a dinosaur tooth and the mystery of time.  A replica of the dinosaur
tooth was included.   Goofy?   Right.  A lot of the gifts had a goofy
nature.  In my case I got that  huge box of rubber mud  mats that would
fit any car as long as you could use a big scissors.  Just opening the
box was an ordeal  worse than any snowstorm.

John was wearing a bright red  Christmas sweater with a prominent
Christian cross hanging from his neck.  “Are you a priest?”  “Nope, this
was my mother’s necklace.  I put it on 17years ago when vowed to never
touch a  drink again.   Sitting nearby was a man who gave my wife his
Christmas package which was a Moosehead Beer special.   Now who
could not enjoy meeting such people.  Some even had special Christmas
sweaters that were hand knitted.

It was  a grand experience.  Especially so since several of my ex students
from Parkdale Collegiate were present.  And they remembered  me.
One young  lady, Lucy, even confessed  she lied to me back in 1965
about doing her homework.  Confessional?  Seemed so.  I gave her
absolution ‘“but sorry to say I will have to dock you ten marks.”
Silly?   That’s the nice thing about the passage of time.  Being silly.
“Remember Joan, June and Carmen, …sir?”  “Sure  do.  I remember
Carmen set their house on fire by hiding in the closet  smoking a
cigarette.  And  June gave me her old  lawn mower years  ago…cast 
iron push kind…still have it.  Kids…students…became friends but still 
called  me sir.”
Another remembered my odd behaviour when teaching, “You would 
look at me…direct the question to me…but use the name of another
classmate on the other side of the room. “Classes were always fun, sir”

Jerry and Marilyn sat with Marjorie and me.  We have known each
other for sixty years.  Our paths  cross in the most unusual situations.

“Sir! “ Amazing to still be called  sir after nearly half a century.
 I am 80 years old and the students at the meeting must be
close to 70.  Yet they still called  me sir.  Heart warming.  Respected.

There were nearly 20 people at tis Christmas Party.  People from 
the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  As mentioned They were not brought together by schools,
churches,  businesses, sports…no, they got to know each other on
Facebook and they all lived within walking distance of Roncesvales

alan skeoch
Dec. 7, 2018

See  pictures below…and if you really have noting better to do then
read the sequel which has little to do with Facebook but a lot to do
with my memories  of the High Park zoo.

Marjorie Skeoch with Gerry and Marilyn Holmes…our paths have crossed  for more than half a century.  Marjorie touched  base with
this crowd, “Alan, we must go to their Christmas Party…we were Roncesvales people too.”

This  is the Facebook gang having their annual Christmas party in the Grenadier Restaurant in the centre of High Park



Dad was  not exactly the doting parent.  And when he took on a  parenting role it usually led  to
a memorable  adventure.   Some of those adventures involved High Park.  Mom was the real
caregiver of  our family  and  Dad was more like the third child.   He  was no shrinking  violet though.
Quite the reverse.  He seemed  to have been given a double dose of testosterone when compared
to other fathers.   Tough and rough and endearing.  Loved.

THESE PHOTOS are a  little out of period except for the pic os Eric and me in Granddad’s wheelbarrow. 
But the pics will help the two stories  a bit.  Dad  made our lives  one constant adventure.  Mom kept us


As we exited the Grenadier Restaurant two of Dad’s  missteps  as a  parent came to mind because
both of them originated  damn close to the Grenadier Restaurant.

1)  The High Park Zoo is built in a little valley that weaves  southward  through the park.  In 1946 to 1947,
Mom asked dad.  “Why don’t you take the boys  to the High Park zoo?”  He could  find no good excuse
to avoid  the zoo since the horses were not running at either the Dufferin or Woodbine racetracks.
So  we went to the zoo. Most people view the zoo from deep in the valley but dad never did what most
people like to do.  “Let’s see the zoo from the backside…no one goes there.”  Seemed  like a  food idea
except for the fact that in 1946 the maintenance standards were not high.   Just as we reached the
wild  pig  enclosure disaster struck.  Now wild pigs are called  peccaries.  They are small but they are
also  vicious.  And in 1946 they seemed to be breeding like rabbits.  There were dozens of them behind
the wire fence.   Behind the fence be damned.  “Those goddamn pigs are free…and they out to get us.
Alan run like a son of a bitch while I grab Eric.”  And we all ran as fast as  we could with a couple of dozen
peccaries chasing us with their little tusks gleaming.   We survived but Dad was sweating.  Not sure if he
told  us  to “keep your goddamn  mouths  shut” when we got home.


2)  Just west of the Grenadier Restaurant is  the long rather steep hill that runs down to Grenadier Pond
where it was once believed the British Grenadiers drowned  with their cannons  while retreating from the
American troops  who took Fort York in the War of 1812.  Myth of course.  Let’s be fair and call it embellished
truth.   In 1946 to 1947, that long hill was a toboggan run.   Long, steep and fast.  No children romp in the snow.
This toboggan run was serious  business.  That year we got a sleigh for Christmas.  A metal sleight with metal runners
and a wooden steering bar.  Beautiful thing.  Eric  and  I looked forward to using it.  But we never got a chance.
“Red, why don’t you take the kids to High Park to try out their new sleigh?”  Again he was trapped.   So we hopped
on College Street Car that t germinated in High Park.  And there before us was the toboggan run.  Lots  of people
yelling and  screaming as they thundered down the hill and out onto the ice of Grenadier Pond.  We were nervous.
No need to be tough.  “OK, boys, let me test the sleigh first.”  Dad was  a big man…a tough man…a 220 pound 
tire builder at Dunlop Tire Corporation.  The sleigh seemed small when he plopped  his  body on it face down with
hands on the steering bar.  “Boys, you wait here…see how she goes.”  And  away he went.  and  we waited…and
waited.   He did not come back.  Eventually we walked  down the hill where a crowd had gathered.  Dad had  rocketed
his way down the ice covered toboggan run going so fast that the iron runners on the sleigh gave him enough speed
to become airborne.  He flew out of the wood channels, sailed  through the air for a short while and then hit a tree
dead on.  Broke his  ribs as it turned out.  He was badly hurt but managed to get us home holding his rib cage all the while

To us the big disaster was our brand new broken sleigh.  

alan skeoch
Dec. 7, 2018

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