Chapter Three - The Sixties Vicky’s Story
In early 1960, Vicky decided she wanted to move in with me. For a whole year we were just platonic buddies and I didn’t think much about it so I agreed. We had moved to Hamilton, Ontario because I had a job there with a painting contractor. Now she wanted to have sex even though she knew all along that I wanted men. Being the people pleaser that I was, I agreed and she got pregnant.
She gave birth to a boy and we called him August. Shortly after the boy was born, Vicky became schizophrenic. She went out of control and I had no idea what to do. A neighbor called the police. Two squad cars arrived and they tried to put Vicky in one of the cars. She was determined not to go. I guess she got an adrenaline rush, grabbed two cops and through them up in the air. The cops called for back up. It took five cops to get her into the police car. They took her to the mental hospital and I was left holding the baby. I had no idea what to do with my baby son. A blind girl from next door picked him up and said that she would look after him. Within two hours, the Children’s Aid Society came and took him away. They put him up for adoption. Vicky was in the hospital for two months.
When Vicky came out of the hospital, she told me of her horrendous past, something she had never spoken of before. I knew she was married before but that was all I knew. She told me about her husband. He was a bank robber, an alcoholic, and extremely abusive. (Vicky was about 15 years older than I was). She had previously given birth to five kids, which I never knew about. Her husband used to torture her and the kids. He would hang the kids by their feet from the rafters of a barn and beat them with a baseball bat. Three of her kids went insane and were permanently institutionalized. He used to beat Vicky until she was unconscious. No one was ever allowed to see a doctor. When he went on drinking binges for a week or two at a time he locked everyone in the house. Sometimes they ran out of food. He was jailed several times and Vicky and the kids were often starving. Finally he ran away and one of Vicky’s sisters had her committed to the mental hospital in Toronto.
Here she was tortured again. The “doctors” gave her electric shock treatment several times. On one of those, she had a heart attack and almost died. Another form of “treatment” they gave her was to put her naked in a tub half filled with cold water and the rest ice. I guess giving birth brought back memories and she went psychotic again. She was o.k. for almost a year and then she got pregnant again. During her pregnancy she relapsed and went back to the mental hospital. Our second son was born there. We named him Edgar. He was born in 1961, and the Children’s Aid took him right out of the hospital.
More Rejections of My Creations
That year a headline in the Hamilton Spectator said that three garbage dumps had to be removed and it would cost the taxpayers five million dollars. I studied the situation and figured out a more economical solution. I checked the cost of renting railway hopper cars, engines, amount of hours it would take and concluded that I could move all three dumps for $175,000. Not only that, but my plan included building a recycling plant that I could actually make money on. I went to City Hall and talked to some of the councilors. They were in favor of my proposition. Then I talked to the mayor. He screamed at me telling me to get to hell out of his sight and he was not interested. Well, that’s politics.
Then, between `60 and `61, I started writing poetry. This was classical poetry with complex rhyming systems and intricate meter balancing. I wrote over 100 poems. I submitted them to every publisher that ever published poetry. Every single one of them rejected me.
Vicky got out shortly after this and we moved back to Toronto. I was driving back in the old Chevy and for some reason, I forgot to check the oil. I ran out of oil half way to Toronto and the engine seized up. I managed to get the car onto the grass median before it stopped. We left most of our stuff in the car and hitchhiked to Toronto. I just left the car there. We rented a room with a kitchen in a large old house near downtown. It turned out to be haunted, with what seemed to be poltergeists.
It was rather disturbing there because lights would go on and off any time of the day or night. Doors would open and slam shut. A small TV would turn itself on and off. The radio would come on with the volume full blast. Pictures I had on the walls would be ripped off by an unseen hand. Sometimes candles would start gently floating through the air and then smash onto the floor. We accepted them and refused to move out. They finally became less mischievous.
By now I was a bookworm, studying everything. One evening, I was sitting in an overstuffed chair reading and I got very tired. I put the book down and relaxed. I was almost dozing off. Then I felt myself rising up out of my body. From just below the ceiling, I could see my body sitting in the chair. I rose up through the roof and stopped about 100 feet in the air. Then I floated at high speed and found myself hovering over the Ford plant in Oakville, Ontario. I believe they call this astral traveling. Over a period of about three months, I had quite a few of these trips. Some were floating over Europe and some were into outer space.
In 1962, I turned to inventing. I came up with over 100 inventions A few were more like the Rube Goldberg type, but most were good and practical. Some were good enough to steal. I had naively made a deal with the Ontario Government’s Department of Trade and Industry. They would publish a hint of my inventions in their journal. If manufacturers were interested, the government would contact me and I could sell them manufacturing rights and possibly get residuals from the sale of the products. Well, quite a few of them came out on the market (like an adjustable stepladder to fit on stairs) and I never saw a penny, and no one contacted me. When I contacted the government, they told me to get lost. When I complained, they said they have the best lawyers in the city and asked what I’ve got.
That year, I was working at the Toronto General Hospital. I worked in the kitchen and one of my jobs was taking trays of food to the patients. I lied on my application to get the job, and later when they found out, they fired me. The job required no skill, but if I hadn’t lied I would have appeared over-qualified and I wouldn’t have been offered the job. One morning, I decided not to go to work. Vicky was with me the whole time. I went back to bed and slept until noon. When I went to work the next morning, I got hell from everyone in the kitchen for leaving at noon yesterday. I told them I wasn’t there yesterday. They claimed I worked all morning but I was in kind of a daze and wouldn’t talk to anyone. Half of my work was done and there was no one else to do it. I was actually in two places at the same time.
Godfreed and I were still meeting in restaurants for coffee and discussions. One day he told me there was someone I just had to meet. His name was Ivan and he would be here soon. We were sitting in a booth and Ivan arrived and sat next to me. I was sitting against the wall. Ivan said he had to go to the washroom. He went, came back and sat beside me again. Soon, he began to look funny and he started to stiffen up. He asked someone to call an ambulance. While he was in the washroom, he swallowed a whole box of rat poison. I was trapped against the wall. The ambulance attendants had a tough job getting him out of the booth because he was so stiff. They scraped his stomach in the process. They took him to the Toronto General Hospital and I ended up serving him his meals. We kept in touch and hung out with Godfreed.
In the meantime, Vicky was in and out of the mental hospital. I didn’t see as much of her anymore.
In 1963, monthly Greyhound bus passes for Canada and the US were available for $36. I got one and traveled all around the US. This was the year I met Bill K. He was an older gay guy and we would often have sessions together. He was about the friendliest person I knew. I was still doing artwork although nobody ever recognized it. I gave most of my artwork away because nobody would pay me a nickel for it. I wrote a book on futuristic architectural designs and a book on restaurants. These all disappeared along with my books on poetry, inventions, and a lot of my artwork. They just seemed to vanish into thin air. I started a course in upholstery at a local college because I had been upholstering my own furniture and it looked perfect. I used to make my own furniture. After two months, they kicked me out because I was five minutes late.
Through 1963, I studied the eastern philosophies, various religions, and the paranormal. I got involved with the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, the bishop to the King of Sweden and a Christian philosopher. What fascinated me about him was that he claimed to live in two worlds at the same time - this physical one and the spiritual world. He talked to angels and visited their worlds. My favorite of his books was Heaven and Hell. I disagreed with most of what he said, but his writings were the launching pad into what I later came to believe was my purpose in life.
In January of 1964, I became a trance medium. I didn’t choose this. It just happened to me. I started having visions of strange people who were not from this planet. No, I wasn’t going schizophrenic; these were entities who wanted to use my body as a medium to get a message across. I would feel a sensation of someone being there. Usually it would happen in a restaurant while Godfreed was there. He lugged around a big reel-to-reel tape recorder. He could tell when a “visitor” as I called them was coming. I would become semi-conscious but still aware of the visitor. Godfreed would turn on the recorder. A voice would come through me and it wasn’t mine. The “voice” might identify him/herself as from the spirit world, someone who passed on, someone from another planet, or even another part of the universe. This went on for a year. There were well over 100 visitors and the theme running through all this was that the universe was a macro human organism. I had thought about this idea years ago, but I never put any validity on what the visitors said.
That year, I wrote a book on parapsychology called Dawn of the New Age. I sent copies of the manuscript to at least a dozen publishing companies. They all sent me rejection slips except one. That editor said that my manuscript was exactly what they were looking for, but they lost their company a week before. Then somehow the book vanished into thin air just like the others did. I also took my second month-long Greyhound bus trip that year. By now I had been in most of the states.
Early in 1965, I moved into a rooming house on Sherbourne Street. My next door neighbor was Victor M, an old man with heart problems but a radical just like me. We had endless hours of productive conversation.
Dancers Ivan and I hung out a lot together often with Godfreed. Ivan loved dancing and so did I. We often crashed parties and became popular as a dance team in free style dance, although we could do all the popular dances of the day. We would go to dance parties and be the stars of the night because we invented new and wild dance moves. For some unknown reason, I joined the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. My job there had little to do with dancing. The focus was to sell lifetime memberships to lonely old ladies for an outrageous price. One of the members was Mrs. Craing. She was a multi-millionair because she owned the Craing Plaza in Toronto. There were lots of rich old ladies there, but the money never impressed me.
This ballroom dancing had endless rules and precise moves; it was quite different from the free-style dancing I was used to. The process was that an advanced teacher would teach me basic moves at the bronze level in waltz, tango, cha cha, rumba, and so on. What I learned, I would teach to my students. But there were endless hours of practice. I had to earn my bronze certificate, work then on my silver, and also learn some gold. In a short time, I had my silver and part of my gold. I had to wear a suit and a tie when I started. This felt very weird and strange because I was used to dressing unisex, usually jeans and a t-shirt.
One night the Studio dancers performed at the prestigious Massey Hall. I had to wear a black tuxedo with a red sash. I have never had any stage fright. I felt that I could speak with ease before thousands, although I never did. In spite of my confidence, the performance was a disaster. First, my dance partner was a young girl who was a new student and didn’t know any moves. Secondly, the orchestra was late and we had no rehearsal time. Then the orchestra bungled the numbers and were playing a waltz while we were doing a cha cha. They never got any of the numbers right.
One of my first students was Morna D. She was a delightful lady of 63 years and bouncing with energy and life. She didn’t come to learn dancing. She came to find a man, and for some strange reason she picked me. I told her right up front that I was looking for the same thing she was, and she was fully accepting of that. We hung out together for about seven years until she suddenly died of cancer. She already had three boyfriends. We had sex a couple of times when I first knew her, and her personality made it all right. She was very open-minded. I even brought a couple of guys to her place and had sex with them while she watched. I once watched her having sex with one of her boyfriends.
Morna had a 1957 Chrysler New Yorker, which she used to let me drive. It was a monstrous and powerful car. I once drove it up Highway 400 north of Toronto at 130 miles per hour.
1965 was also the year Bill K introduced me to Alvin B. Bill didn’t think I would like him, but told me to come over for a threesome anyway. I did. I liked Alvin and he became the greatest sex partner I ever had. He became my main boyfriend for 12 years and he wasn’t jealous of all the other men I went with.
Alvin was from the Austrian aristocracy. His father was one of the richest men in Europe. He controlled the European prescription drug market. Alvin was a snob even though he had little money compared to his family. His family rejected him because he was gay. He worked as a hairdresser but he had some of the wealthiest clients in Toronto. He had just bought a condo when I met him. His place was immaculate. You could eat off the floor. He had a lot of antiques (you couldn’t sit on most of his furniture), and good works of art on his walls. He had two nightingales and three strawberry finches. I would visit him one night a week and that was enough. He could not be more opinionated. If you didn’t agree with every word he said you would be lambasted to the fullest extent. I learned to agree with everything he said to keep the peace. I could never have lived with a man like that.
Alvin’s family hung out with all the European royalty, but when his father died, he never left him a penny in his will. Alvin was pretty upset with that because he wanted to be wealthy too. He had an obnoxious and stingy aunt in the city who he would suck up to. He would always do her hair but never got anything for it. He took me there once. She lived in a secluded stone castle on the banks of the Humber River. Her place was filled with priceless antiques. Nothing was under 300 years old. When she died, she didn’t leave him a penny either. His other aunt owned a huge ancient spice plantation in Jamaica. She was eventually forced off the island. Once while visiting her, he found ancient dungeons where slaves were kept. He smuggled out some leg irons and torture devices, then got in trouble with the Jamaican government.
Whipped Cream Anyone?
During this year I worked awhile at Marina’s Coffee Shop on Yonge Street south of Eglinton. Lunchtime was the busiest time of the day for customers and one day I was behind the counter at noon serving someone apple pie with whipped cream. Every seat at the counter was full and so I was rushed serving them all. I put the pie on a plate and went to put the whipped cream on top of it. We stored the whipped cream in a metal cylinder with a rubber nozzle in the cooler. It had to be shaken first to build the pressure to foam the cream and squirt it out through the nozzle. I shook it well and pressed the nozzle over the piece of pie. Nothing happened. I shook it again and again and still there was no whipped cream coming out of the nozzle. On my last vigorous shake the nozzle came off and the whipped cream shot out. I didn’t know what to do with this uncontrolled gush so I was waving it back and forth in desperation until I realized what I was doing. I was covering everyone who was sitting at the counter with whipped cream. Then I recovered my wits enough to toss the canister into the sink. Someone at a nearby table burst out laughing and soon everyone at the counter was laughing. I was embarrassed but all the customers with the free topping of whipped cream on their faces took it well and we all cleaned up amid the knowledge that we had a tale to tell that night when we got home from work. I think my customer ate the pie ungarnished.
Omniequilibrium In 1965, I wrote most of a series of books called The Omniequilibrium. It consisted of the Book of Creation, the Book of Symbols, the Book of Humanity, the Book of Life, the Book of Death, the Book of Law, and the Book of Infinity. The Book of Humanity was the record of the “visitors”, and was fully illustrated. The Book of Law was never finished. The Book of Infinity was never written, and the Book of Symbols got destroyed. For some reason, Godfreed freaked out and was flushing all the pages down the toilet until he plugged up the toilet. Then he ripped the rest of the pages into shreds. I caught him doing this and he had no explanation. I sent copies of the other books to publishers all across North America. Everyone rejected them. I still have the Book of Humanity, but all the rest have vanished.
I think Godfreed got jealous of me and started hearing his own voices. He started writing voluminous pages of gobbledygook. Once he said some space people were going to pick him up in Allen Gardens and they would be disguised as police officers. They would take him to their space ship and give him a trip in space. I watched from a safe distance while he approached two cops in the park, then I saw them booting him in the ass.
By late 1965, I was becoming increasingly frustrated about my gender. I felt I was cursed by God. I started cross-dressing. In early 1966, I joined a group of about ten people. They called themselves “the family”. Alex was sort of the group leader. She had rented the second floor of a warehouse downtown. It was a big space but there was no kitchen, no toilet or bathroom or no running water. There was a toilet down the hall. There were about eight mattresses scattered on the floor and tie-died sheets draped from pillars and walls. Lots of pot was smoked, but I never got into it. I would tell them that I got high on life. The Hippie days were here. Alex, her girl friend and some of the others were bisexual, so they had no problem with me. We used to have lots of orgies there. Alex had welding equipment in the warehouse and used to make metal jewelry. Half the time about half the people were running around in the nude.
Unusual Power One day Ivan introduced me to a very strange man. He was a very short, very hyperactive old man that looked like Einstein. When I went to his house he said he was possessed by the spirit of John Philip Sousa, the famous composer for military marching bands. Shortly after I got there, he jumped up, ran to the piano and started playing typical Sousa numbers. One wall was covered with hundreds of recording tapes. The other walls were covered with star charts and maps. A few years earlier there had been a massive East Coast blackout. He claimed responsibility for it. Then he brought out a taped up shoebox and handed it to me. I could tell by the weight there was something inside. Protruding from one end was an electrical cord. From the other end a speaker cord emerged. On the end of it was a flat crystal. I was instructed to put the crystal against my forehead and put my thumb on one of the prongs of the electrical cord. Then I was told to touch the other prong with my finger. When I did that all the lights dimmed. When I let it go, the lights were bright again. The second time I touched them, all the power went off. As I released it the power came back on. He said I had turned all the power off in a ten-block radius.
He told me that he had a flying saucer and that he could travel to distant stars. Then, he brought out a small platform about an inch and a half thick. A pole rose from the platform with short handlebars on it. He stepped on the platform, turned one of the handles and he rose about four and a half feet in the air. It was completely silent. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. He wouldn’t let me try it. Ivan also introduced me to a strange but very normal looking couple. They said they were from another planet. The interesting thing about them was that they were completely telepathic. They would project sentences into my mind and read every word I was thinking. I have met a lot of strange people in my life.
In 1966, I worked for the Ramsey Wright zoological laboratories at the University of Toronto as an animal lab technician. My job was primarily cleaning out animal cages. There were rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, lemmings, fish, and so on. I hated it there. They were doing experiments on animals and I thought it was very cruel. They would test cosmetics in the eyes of rabbits. They would induce cancer in rats. They would cut off the heads of frogs just to see how long they could live without a brain. Coming to work one day I found an injured sparrow on the street. I took it into the lab, nursed it back to health and we became good friends. It followed me on all my rounds and I had a good communication with it. I just couldn’t stand to see the animals tortured like that so I had to quit.
Enter Ruth Before I quit I went to an African dance at the university. I met a black girl by the name of Ruth C. She wasn’t African but she was born in Panama and grew up in Jamaica. We got along pretty good and I was fascinated with her culture. She had just arrived in Canada and we started hanging out. She had a brother already here and a few cousins and other Jamaican friends.
Ruth’s skin was as black as could be. Normally that would be a setback in her culture because the lightest skin was most acceptable. But she was from the Jamaican elite. One of her brothers was the Minister of Education in the Michael Manley government (in power at the time). He had a luxury home in Montego Bay. Her sister ran a government school camp in the jungle. Each year they were given a new car and with the condition of the roads there you probably needed one.
Over Efficient I had worked in restaurants and other places but I was always a perfectionist and an efficiency expert. I did myself out of a lot of jobs that way. Once I worked for a major insurance company who served a dinner to a staff of about 200. My job was to wash the dishes after everyone ate. Normally this would take at least two hours. I worked out a system to do it more efficiently and I had the job down to 20 minutes. For this I got fired. I wasn’t playing the system.
I was accumulating piles of rejection slips for my work in books, artwork, cartoons, and other things. Then I met a Jewish guy who was the agent for an Olympic gold figure skater. He wanted to be my agent. He got me set up at a political-business convention at the major convention center in the city.
On the guest list was Pierre Trudeau (Prime minister at the time), Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York then, publishers, business CEOs, politicians, and other dignitaries. They had set aside a booth foe me to show my work and draw caricatures of the dignitaries. I received a gold-embossed invitation in the mail. The day before I was to show up, I got a call from someone telling me I better not dare to show up, and if I try they will have security guards posted to spot me and I will go to jail. The call was very threatening and this was something I got used to.
A well-known author of children’s books was looking for a cartoonist to illustrate a book she had almost finished. My agent knew her and set up an interview with her. She came to my place and asked if I could make cartoons of vegetables. I did some rough sketches for her and she was thrilled with them. When I showed her cartoons I had done (in color), she told me right away I was hired. She said she would write up a contract and bring it over for me to sign tomorrow. The following day she phoned me and she was completely insane. She yelled, screamed and cursed at me and how dare I come into her life. That sort of thing seemed to happen a lot.
I noticed that a publishing company was looking for an illustrator for some of the books they were publishing. I took my portfolio down and had an interview. I was hired on the spot. It was a Friday and they told me to start Monday morning. On Saturday, the publishing company burned to the ground. Somehow I felt it was my fault and I caused a lot of people to loose their jobs. About a month later, another publisher was looking for the same thing. Again I was hired to join the staff of artists. The next day, the parent company in the States cut out the art department and farmed it out to someone in the States.
Hippie Life I was still hanging out with Ruth, Ivan, Godfreed, Morna, Alvin, Bill K, and the “family”. I was still dressing as a woman most of the time and still having orgies. We often hung out in the Yorkville district of Toronto because that was the Haight-Ashbury of Canada. There were lots of basement cafes with posters that shone under black light. People were wearing tie-dyed tops and skirts, Indian and Hudson Bay blankets (for coats). All the guys had long hair and most had beards. There were a lot of American draft dodgers and refuges from the Viet Nam war. The hippie era was a state of mind and a unique mind set. Even though there was lots of drugs (mostly pot but also acid), the main mind set was antiestablishment. The young no longer believed in authority. They questioned it. Admired authors were Buckminster Fuller (creator of geodesic dome structures) and Marshall McLuhan (“the medium is the message”). The greatest part of the Hippie mindset was that you were always accepted no matter who or what you were. That never happened before or since. I was lucky to have experienced that phase of our history.
I was also hanging out at gay and lesbian clubs. There was a lesbian club called the Spoken Cycle where I was accepted, but the main club was the 511 Club at 511 Yonge St. This was a dance club with a stage where female impersonators would perform, usually lip syncing to a record. They would do all the glamour queens of the past and some current ones like Barbara Striesand. But the #1 drag queen was Craig Russel. He used his own voice and always got rave reviews. I got to know him for a while. We used to go for coffee and he would invite me to his room where he had the most elaborate assortment of gowns and wigs. Craig became famous and starred as himself in a Hollywood movie called Outrageous. I used to see him on the talk show circuits like with Johnny Carson. Eventually Craig died of AIDS.
Another gay guy I used to hang out with in restaurants was trying to be a fashion designer but with no luck. Then he wrote a play called Fortune in Men’s Eyes. It was loosely based on a Shakespearean play. The play was a hit. It ended up playing Off-Broadway in New York for eight years. Hollywood was after him for years to do a movie of it. He kept putting them off but eventually gave in. The movie was filmed in a prison in Quebec. It was about gay prison life, drag queens, and strip teases. I thought it was rather violent.
I had been in plays myself with a theater group. The longest play I did was an Erskine Caldwell play set in the American Deep South. I acted in other plays and really enjoyed it. I was a good actress and loved doing heavy drama. The only reason I didn’t continue was that I was doing so many other things and potential opportunities kept arising.
Ruth Again In 1967, I bought a black 1960 Volkswagen Beetle. It was the best car I ever had. I was hanging out more with Ruth because I was trying to learn more about the Jamaican culture. I would go to a lot of Jamaican parties. The main thing they would cook was curried goat with rice and black-eyed peas (which were really beans), They always had Jamaican rum - the real stuff brought over from Jamaica. It was 150% proof. Ruth wanted to marry me, primarily so she wouldn’t have to wait five years to get Canadian citizenship, and also because she thought I would become rich and famous. She knew I liked men and she wasn’t looking for any normal marriage. I had a lot of marriage proposals before and since and managed to turn them all down. This was always difficult with my disease to please and my difficulty in saying no. I’ve had a lot of women fall in love with me and every time it happened I felt so guilty that I let it get that far. Often it was a surprise though. Once an Italian girl picked me out of a group of six men, called me over to talk to her, and within twenty minutes she proposed to me. If I had been a normal man, I could have had all the females I wanted.
Somehow, Ruth was different from all the rest, not that there was any love or anything like that there. I saw her more as a challenge or an adventure. We were so drastically different. Often walking down the street she would run into discrimination. I agreed to marry her as a favor so she could get her immigration status (the disease to please). We set a date for September 9.
That summer we joined a nudist colony (I had been a nudist for most of my adult life). One day they held the Miss Nude World Pageant, and the (non-nudist) public was invited. It was quite an adventure especially to see the girls in stands freak out as I often walked by them.
Animals, Efficiency, and Danger
In the summer of 1967, I got a job with the Centennial Center for Science and Technology, later to become the Ontario Science Center. I was in charge of the life sciences department. It was like one huge massive warehouse with no rooms. I found it fascinating to work there. My department had electric eels, piranha fish, fresh water aquariums, weird bug-eyed goldfish, birds, plants and so on. Once an electric eel escaped. I had to catch it with insulated rubber gloves, and that was a challenge because they are so slippery. They had a tall tank of goldfish. They would slowly increase the water temperature to near the boiling point, and as long as they did it slow enough the fish were all right. They would also slowly bring it to near freezing with the same results. They also had a couple of tanks of guppies and they would change the sexes of the fish by feeding them the opposite hormones.
My job was scheduled to be an eight-hour shift. But always the efficiency expert, I created a series of living biomes. These were self-sustaining and I reduced my work time to ten minutes a day. They didn’t like that, but then what can you expect from the government? Efficiency is a dirty word to them. Their motto seemed to be waste. There were carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and so on, but they never talked to one another. A carpenter would be given a design for an exhibit that I was supposed to eventually get. The electrician might or might not be able to wire it. If not, it went in the garbage. Sometimes it got to the plumber, and usually he couldn’t do anything with it. It went into the garbage. Sometimes it got to me and often I couldn’t use it. Once I got an elaborate aquarium but it was hermetically sealed and I couldn’t put any fish in it. Out in the garbage it went. I estimated the amount of taxpayers dollars wasted at about $10,000 a day.
Since I had nothing to do most of the day, I fooled around with other people. They had laser guns that cast a beam of red light when you pulled the trigger. It wasn’t strong enough to burn, so we played space pirates shooting at each other and ducking behind support beams. In the area right next to mine was a medical museum. There were old doctor’s bags, outdated medical and dental instruments, and lots of chemicals. Right beside that was a cobalt bomb. It was about 10 feet high, 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep. I have always had a serious obsession with order (neat, tidy, organized), and I set out to clean up the medical museum. Everything had been thrown and scattered haphazardly on shelves that reached the ceiling about 20 feet from the floor. The shelves were dusty and dirty and I had to clean everything up.
On the very top shelf, there was a big bag of white powder. I had no idea what it was and kept tossing it to shelves below until I could find a place for it. As I got the bag of powder down to the third shelf, a scientist saw me with it and yelled “What’s that?” He took the bag away from me to have it tested. It turned out to be a tremendously high explosive. He said I didn’t know how lucky I was. He took a tiny pinch from the bag, put it on the floor and hit it with a hammer. There was a loud explosion and a brilliant flash of light. He said that if I had dropped the bag on the floor, it would have produced an explosion strong enough to set off the cobalt bomb. It was a nuclear device. He said we would all have been vaporized and there would be a crater 30 feet deep and 10 blocks wide. I would have killed hundreds of people and injured thousands. Imagine that. I could easily have detonated a nuclear bomb. Openings came up in design and research but they would not allow me to apply.
I had built a huge refracting telescope from a huge lens I got other lenses, a prism, a huge long cardboard cylinder, and hardware and a tripod. We would drive a hundred or so miles out into the country where there was the least amount of ambient light to study the stars and planets. The telescope was almost too powerful. The slightest vibration and the star was out of range. We did get a good look at the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter. I liked viewing things like the belt of Orion, the Pleiades, and the Horsehead Nebula.
I decided I was going to have to take the scientific approach so I could prove the theme of the Book of Humanity. I had been doing scientific research at libraries, universities, medical schools, etc. for about twenty years. I studied biochemistry, general chemistry, physics, astrophysics, astronomy, cosmology, cosmogony, quantum and particle physics, botany, biology, molecular biology, geology, geophysics, evolution, politics, paleontology, sociology, anatomy and physiology, religions, spirituality, history, and so on. I feel that I mastered most of these.
Marrying Ruth I married Ruth on September 9, 1967. It certainly was no typical marriage. She had a Russian boyfriend, Nick B, who would frequently come to see her. I had Alvin and she would often invite him over. I used to watch her and Nick having sex. After about three months, Ruth wanted to have sex with me to consummate the marriage. We did and that was the one and only time. We got along great. We went to lots of parties and threw lots of them too. For a while we got into wife swapping. Ruth’s mother had flown up from Jamaica to attend our wedding. She stayed with us for a while. Ruth told me she was a diabetic and gave me strict instructions if I ever saw her passed out. One morning I found her lying on the floor in the nude. I was able to pick her up and place her on the bed. I poked her finger with a sterilized pin to draw some blood. I tested it with some litmus paper to see what color it turned. Fortunately it showed she needed sugar, otherwise I would have had to give her an insulin shot. I poured a spoonful of sugar down her throat, and she was soon revived. This apparently saved her life.
Enter Ted About a month after I married Ruth, Ivan introduced me to Ted F. It was at a hippie party. Ted was playing bongo drums and had long black hair and a full beard. Ted became a part of my life for 30 years. Ted was well educated especially in the sciences and theology. We got into great conversations. He was a radical and rebel just like me (of course, that was part of the essence of the hippie movement). Ted lived primarily off student loans and government grants. He always seemed to be taking something at the university. And he always seemed to be broke or had little money.
Ted quickly introduced me to Rochdale College. It had taken over from the Yorkville district as the center for the hippie lifestyle (although remained popular for a few more years). Rochdale was an eighteen-story building set up as a “free school”. For a while Bob Dylan used to come there. In fact there were several famous people showed up there because Rochdale was unique in North America. Instead of apartments, the floors were divided up into what they called ashrams of varying sizes. A lot of them would accommodate up to eighteen or more people. There were lots of seminars, especially on alternative ways of thinking. Eastern philosophies were popular. Ted had a small ashram and we set up the Utopian Research Institute there. It was a failure.
There were coed washrooms and showers, none of which had any doors. And this was perfectly acceptable because nobody bothered anyone. Everyone was respected. And everyone seemed to be on their own trip whether it was music, poetry, painting, making flowers, singing, dropping acid, making clothes, knowledge of some particular subject, or whatever. Nudity was very common, and sex was considered no different from eating or sleeping. It was natural. People would often be having sex on the floor or on a mattress in front of maybe 20 people. It was no big deal. Often there were orgies, a few of which I participated in. Unfortunately, two years later a biker gang took it over. They were after sex more than drugs. I saw them throw girls aver their shoulders, take them somewhere and rape them. The bikers were violent and destructive. Rochdale closed and later, after some modification, it was turned into a nursing home.
In 1969, I bought a ‘64 Plymouth Savoy with push-button drive. Ruth and I used to take trips out into the country. I had kept sending excerpts from manuscripts to publishers all over everywhere. At that time I still had my book of poetry -- “Exercises in Imagination”, the Book of Death, the Book of Life, and a cartoon book called the Spaceman’s Christmas (and other works). The rejection slips kept piling up. I was still hanging out at Rochdale, still wearing women’s clothes, hanging with the “family”, Ted, Morna, Ivan, Bill, Alvin, Godfreed, Ruth, and was still picking up men.
By now, I had probably been with hundreds of men of every race and nationality you could think of. I had been with white people, black people, Asians, Europeans, Jews, Arabs, Hindus, Mexicans, South Americans, Africans, and so on. Toronto was a very cosmopolitan city housing people from almost every country in the world. I never had a prejudice bone in my body. But this was also partly due to my need to please. These encounters were completely absent of any love or affection. They were just sex, and the only satisfaction I got was a psychological feeling of momentary acceptance and the closest I could act as a woman. Even with Alvin, there was no love or affection.
When Rochdale closed, most of the hippies moved to a district known as the “annex” just north of the college. It was about ten blocks of old rooming houses north of Boor Street between Spadina and University Avenue. The houses were usually three stories with two collective kitchens. The kitchens were usually always dirty because nobody seemed to do any cleaning. Ted had a room on Huron Street. Some of the rooms were huge with mattresses thrown on the floor, girls and guys lying around in the nude, and sometimes people were just having sex. Nudity, sex and orgies still went on in the annex. Streaking was also popular then. One cute guy I had been after for about a week was streaking and cut his foot badly on some broken glass. I nursed him as much as I could. I finally got him too. I visited that house a lot and had lots of sex there while others were watching. Ted loved to eat and would often raid the fridge. There was never a clean dish so I got into the habit of cleaning the dishes and the filthy kitchen. People were calling me things like “little miss wifey”, or “the maid” and so on. I was already going by the name of Janis. It just wasn’t official.
Woodstock By the summer of 1969, everyone was talking about the upcoming Woodstock festival in a farmer’s field in upstate New York. Everyone wanted to go and some did. After all, Jimmy Hendricks and Janis Joplin were going to be there. They were the true symbols of the hippie movement. The third would be Jim Morrison of the Doors. Isn’t it strange that they all died shortly after from an alleged drug overdose?
Woodstock had a crowd of about 400,000 people, the largest gathering of its kind in history. It lasted four days. People came in cars, trucks and Volkswagen vans painted in psychedelic colors. People slept in tents, on the ground, under tarps (it rained a lot), in cars or wherever they could. The festival went on 24 hours a day. Lots of people were in the nude. Some wore only flowers in their hair. Everything went peacefully and everyone had a great time.
Unfortunately, this festival marked the end of an era. The curtain came down. The hippie era, flower power and everything that mindset stood for came to an end. A lot of hippies became yuppies and got jobs and careers in the early `70s. The die-hard hippies tried to hang on, but their time was up.