I did not know a boy named Keith Black when I was growing up in The Beach neighbourhood of Toronto. I had never even heard his name, in fact, until I saw the listing for his new book on the Beach Metro News Facebook page. Then I read his bio in that article and realized that, while Keith is six years older (nearly a lifetime difference when you’re kids!), we had a lot in common, having grown up in the same east-end Toronto neighbourhood at approximately the same time. We are both Boomers, after all!
We were born in the same hospital (East General) and had both attended the same schools (Williamson Road Public and Malvern Collegiate). Plus we did a lot of the same things kids at that time did in The Beach. I was primarily interested though in the fact that Keith had written this book but had not yet published it in print or eBook format.
So I contacted him directly to ask about his plans for publication, and we quickly discovered that our families had lived only two blocks away from each other (almost just round the corner, in fact), and we both had older brothers named Rick who were the same age – and were, indeed, friends of one another during the 50s!
So I offered to help Keith get the word out about his book to my blog readers. I know there won’t be a great deal of interest out there in the wide world in a book about a specific neghbourhood in Toronto, let alone one that takes place during the 50s, but I am still in contact with many old friends from that time – some of whom still live in the old ‘hood! I trust they will all find Keith’s stories very nostalgic and a wonderful reminder of days gone by.
On a personal note, I have written several short stories set in The Beach based on my time growing up there, which was in the 60s. My need to write about this neighbourhood was very strong, so I understand Keith’s desire to write down his own experiences. It’s amazing though how universal all these stories are, especially to us Boomers!
For the complete story about Keith Black and his book, as well as links to weekly reprints of the book’s chapters, please see the article Former resident’s book looks back on growing up in the Beach in the Fifties by Alan Shakleton that ran in the Beach Metro News on July 14, 2020.
“Everyone has to grow up sometime and everyone has to grow up
somewhere and I am delighted that I did it in the Fifties and in the Beach.”
Keith Black, who was born in 1947 provides a sparkling narrative about
what it was like to be a child during the 50’s in the Beach area of Toronto
at a time when the streets teemed with children.
As we watch the children play and roam far from home, we also meet
some of the residents, shop in some of the long-forgotten stores, dine in
the restaurants, and remember some surprising events such as a blazing
gun battle on Queen Street and the year everyone received updated
Even if you are not familiar with the neighbourhood, there is something
here for you. As Keith says in the Introduction, “if you remember mello
rolls and Murray Westgate, it doesn’t really matter where you lived”. Or
Chum Charts, or The Yummy Man, or Al Boliska, or Nash Metropolitans,
or cap pistols, or The Happy Gang. And the list goes on.
BOOM. A book not just for Baby Boomers, but also for their kids and
grandkids as they try to understand what it was that molded this
fascinating but often peculiar generation.
The printed form of the book is now in stock at Great Escape Books on Kingston Road, and the stock has been re-supplied at City Books on Queen St. and on the Danforth. A copy can also be ordered directly from the author at kandjomemee (at) gmail.com.
Here’s a guest post from one of my favourite authors, Seumas Gallacher, published here on the occasion of the release of his new autobiography, STRANGELY I’M STILL HERE! I purchased and read a copy immediately upon its being listed, and I include my review here of the book, as well as an original piece that Seumas has provided to me for this guest blog post. (Links to purchase a copy of this book and all others written and published by him will be found at his own blogsite: Seumas Gallacher – Author
This is my review of Strangely, I’m Still Here: An Autobiography …
What A Life!
I previously read everything Seumas Gallacher had written and published – fiction, non-fiction, poetry. So I was very motivated to purchase and read his autobiography and to find out more about this author whose work I had enjoyed so much. I thought I already knew quite a bit about the man, having followed him for many years on Facebook and through reading his blog. But this new book proved to be so much more, and gave me great insight into the life path and experiences, around the world as it turned out, that led to Gallacher becoming such an accomplished and engaging author.
If you have read anything previously published by Seumas Gallacher then you will definitely be interested in this autobiography. If you are new to his writing though and read Strangely, I’m Still Here first, and enjoy it as I’m sure you will, I’m positive you will want to read all his other books, too!
Seumas Gallacher’s Guest Blog Post:
Just over six weeks ago, I self-published my life story, STRANGELY, I’M STILL HERE, on Amazon Kindle. As with my other writing exploits, the Jack Calder crime thriller series, my book of poetry, and my author’s guide to publishing, an immense sense of pleasure engulfed me when I had finished the manuscript. However, the aftermath has been decidedly different with the memoir.
The ‘pink cloud’ sensation of elation has yielded to a much stronger feeling of having written something truly for myself and it is having a profound effect on me. When I broached the thought of penning my own experiences, I had no inkling of the cascading torrent of ‘after-light’ that has followed.
I find my mind rummaging back though many of the passages in the book, with powerful re-visitations of feelings and memories which had all but disappeared. Some of the people involved have long since passed away, but I have a deeper sense of how much gratitude I owe to their presence in my story.
Even the apparently negative episodes provided marvellous life lessons, which I only now have come to appreciate and respect at this distance in time. I also understand how much impact certain events and interludes with others have had on shaping my thinking and my attitude to living.
Although all of it was, and still remains, highly personal to me, it has been said many times before that nothing in this universe is absolutely brand new. It has all been seen, done and felt before. I am but a tiny speck on the planet, amongst billions of ‘fellow-specks’, whom I regard in a much different way than when I was a young man.
I have grown up. Older? Yes. Wiser? Who knows. Certainly, more experienced. Writing the memoir was the best therapy for life that I could ever have imagined, and I heartily recommend the exercise to anyone, writer or non-writer – I think they will much the richer for it.
I can never resist a man in a kilt!
HUGE THANKS to Allan Hudson for hosting me once again on his blog, South Branch Scribbler!
Following is much of that original post. Please visit Allan’s link to read in its entirety.
I am a reader and I read a lot of books! No matter how many I read however I never seem to catch up with my ginormous to-be-read stack/list of books. Even though I try to follow Dr. Seuss’s advice:
I never manage to come even close to catching up.
But then that’s part of the fun in reading, isn’t it? The search for new books to read, test-driving new authors’ writing, the joy in “discovering” a new-to-you book or even a genre that you’ve never read before. I’ve spent my entire life reading and working with books and authors and am an author now myself, yet I never tire of reading, thinking about, discussing, recommending and discovering new books!
I know there are many others out there just like me, too, so that’s why I say to you now – Make it your New Year’s resolution to read even more in 2019! You don’t need to count the books you do read, or compare numbers you’ve read with others. We are all different, we readers, not only in how fast we can read, but also in when and where we like to read, how we approach our reading, and even why or what we read in the first place. So no judgement calls here at all, folks! Just the suggestion that if you enjoy reading, you might want to make it a priority in your life to read even more. I won’t go into the many ways that you can make more time to read. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.
To help other readers along a little bit with suggestions as to what they might consider reading, I recently created a Facebook Group Your next great read … suggestions for readers and authors that I hope will not only generate lists of books and authors for other readers to enjoy reading, but also some discussion about books and reading in general. It’s an open group and anyone may join – authors too, because authors are (or should be!!) readers themselves. Self-promotion is allowed, but authors are requested to contribute information on other books and authors, as well. I would love to see – eventually – a large membership of readers from all around the world (and we already have the beginnings of an international group) who benefit from the reading experience of everyone. I’m particularly interested in world literature (although only what is available in English, in my case) so I would love to hear about authors in other countries, especially non-English-speaking, who are publishing books that are available in English translation. I know other members already contributing to the site are also interested in particular genres or types of writing. Why not join us and see if you find something new-to-you that becomes Your Next Great Read!
So, Readers, are you ready to resolve to read more in 2019? I hope so, and that you will consider joining us. And, if you’re not on Facebook but are still looking for ways to encourage yourself to stick with this resolution of reading more, I suggest you consider following these blogs …
(This one, of course!) Allan Hudson’s South Branch Scribbler
And my own blog, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing (I’m planning on writing a series, actually, about all the How, When, Why, Where, What, and Who on reading – subscribe to my blog and Stay Tuned!)
I mention these blogs primarily because we three authors make a habit of promoting other authors and their books. We also all write or have written about writing and publishing as self-published authors and we reblog interesting articles and blog posts written by other authors as well. As my personal interest has swayed from selling books to finding more readers for writing in general, I’ve written a number of posts aimed at readers (as well as addressing directly authors who continue to promote their own work too much!). You might find something interesting in one of these articles: