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!
Dorothy Adele has published a very comprehensive article on her blog, The Places She Goes, about a recent visit to Bequia … and she mentions my novels at the end! Dorothy sent me a further comment by tweet: “I enjoyed your book, and I mentioned it in my post because, though it’s fiction, I felt that people would enjoy the story and would get a good feel for the Island.”
Following is an excerpt and link to the entire blog post.
Thanks again, Dorothy, for the shout-out!
Why We Love Bequia, SVG, Caribbean
Bequia St.Vincent and the Grenadines
The beauty of Bequia (BECK-way), SVG, or St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is the peaceful pace and the beautiful beaches like Princess Margaret Beach and Lower Bay Beach. The island is colorfully uncommercialized, and some of the best things to do on Bequia is in Port Elizabeth and along the Belmont Walkway.
You won’t find a highrise, casino, high-end designer shop, or jewelry store chain. Instead, you can select from Caribbean artwork, brightly colored clothing, handmade jewelry, handcrafted wooden boats, and scrimshaw. Most importantly, no one peddles their wares on the beach.
In addition to shopping, you have your choice among several seaside restaurants that serve excellent food.
(Continue reading here.)
And here are my links to the two Bequia Perspectives Novels …