But the memories linger from Montreal 1967
I was at the New Penelope in Montreal when Live at New Penelope Cafe with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee was recorded. I bought the CD as a souvenir.
Montreal in 1967 it was the Summer of Love-In’s at Fletcher’s Field on Sundays at the foot of Mount Royal.
Expo 67 was in full swing.
We spent weekends partying and playing folk songs all night, watching the sun rise under the cross on Mount Royal.
My Honda 50 would scoot and zip around Montreal traffic jams with a girlfriend hugging my back.
It was my first year away from home at 18 years old.
The winter, coffee-house nights at The New Penelope were a prelude of the spring and summer to come. It was Haight Ashbury North in Montreal during the summer of ’67.
The New Penelope was the place to be. They had some of the great blues and folk artists and it was cheap. Junior Wells and James Cotton played the place. Tim Hardin was there for a gig.
The folk scene was buzzing. We went as often as we could afford on $1.25 per hour wages.
You could only get coffee out front. The musicians back stage had a variety of other intoxicants right up to smack.
Hardin was at his peak with “If I were a Carpenter.” He already showed signs of the H addiction that eventually killed him.
Montreal winters are so cold, minus 40 F. windchill all through February. We stayed warm the way young people do at parties and in the clubs on Crescent Street.
When spring came out, the summer of love began.
There never was another year like that one. We discovered life along The Main – Verdi Theatre, Fairmont Bagel, Schwarz’s Delicatessen and I-can-get-it-for-you-wholesale.
On Sunday afternoons, everyone including Montreal’s hippies gathered in Fletcher’s Field for the Love-In. If you weren’t a hippie, you let your hair down and wore colorful clothing.
There were sing-songs, and buskers, drummers and girls selling pretty trinkets. Girls in colored dresses danced on the grass. The air was sweet with marijuana smoke. It was peace, love, and folk music.
Sometimes I wish I’d have done more, gone to more parties, played more places, watched the dawn more often. At least I survived.
In June my brother crashed Suzuki on the raised Metropolitan Boulevard. He flew in the air and was saved from certain death by the guard rail. Traffic didn’t even stop. He almost died and spent the next year in rehab. That October my bike blew up on Decarie Boulevard going 50 miles an hour.
At my Prelco Electronics warehouse job, I learned the fine art of sleeping standing up against a wall or slumped over the can. There was no time for sleeping at night.
I met Steve from Steve’s Music that year and wasted Saturdays sampling his guitar choice. One day he shouted “Are you ever going to buy that guitar?” He gave me low monthly payments and I took the beauty home.
I lost that Gibson J-45 guitar Steve sold me to my first wife in the 1979 divorce. I don’t miss her and the kids are all grown up and married themselves. I do miss the J-45. I hope she’s still playing it.
When I dropped into Steve’s the Christmas we parted, Steve replaced the Gibson with a magnificent 1979 Martin D-35S. It sounded like a bell and had a rare sunburst finish. The new Martin was the cheapest part of the breakup. I still have the Martin.
Rummaging in the basement, I found the birth certificate of my first son who was born two years after the Summer of Love.
In the same box was the letter of recommendation from Prelco. They seemed to ignore my daytime sleeping habit.
Better go find that Sonny Terry CD. This is going to be a long day.