A Scholar…chapter one…The Case of the Missing Warts

A Scholar…chapter one…The Case of the Missing Warts

The Case of the Missing Warts!

At some point in time, back then in the very early seventies the thought donned on me that I too could attend university, that, just because I was a grade ten dropout didn’t necessarily mean that my qualifications were much different than those who had attained their grade thirteen graduation certificates. There was a school of thought which supported the broader idea of Mature Student. This was me, had to be me, I was older, therefore wiser by experience. The decision was honed by observation and experience. My buddy, John the Count had taken me to a few lectures at U of T. At one such lecture Father David Belyea was lecturing to an English class numbering in the hundreds in a huge auditorium. The meat of the lecture was his discourse on the priest in the book Diary of a Country Priest written by George Bernanos. His lecture was nothing less than holy, I was impressed with his grasp of matters pertaining to the soul. On another visit to the campus John had me sit in at a small third year Sociology class which was about the lives of negro street people. The professor in that class had the students read a book titled Tally’s Corner which was about a man who worked now and then in a inner city East Coast American City, it may have been Baltimore. Count used me as a current day example of folk who though not pursuing a scholarly future were wise from experience, just like the guy in the book Tally’s Corner. I remember reading the book, enjoying the simplistic narration the writer wrote about, his observations, his respect for the characters in the book. One section described the method by which the shop keeper would pay his staff for unloading a truck full of merchandise. The owner estimated that the going rate for labour was five dollars an hour, this work took place in the sixties when rates of pay were much less than today, but so were the costs of goods. The owner would then subtract his estimate of how much the worker would steal from him per hour, he came up with the figure of two dollars and fifty cents an hour. The owner deducted this sum from the going rate then paid his workers the sum of $2.50 an hour. Surprisingly, the Count would find himself in a similar situation later in life while he ran the big cheese shop Pasquale Brothers on King Street East in downtown Toronto. John would from time to time actually hire, street folks, drunks, drifters, hoboes to help unload his merchandise and I know he applied the knowledge he learned in this social class to his wage structure.

Beside Count taking me to his school he also introduced me to his school friends who were not slouches when it came to scholarly matters. Some of the other guys were attending Universities around the country, one could say that my interest was by osmosis, or simply said, if they can do it, so can I.

Being an ardent writer, I penned letters to a few schools, U of T, U of Guelph and the U of Windsor. I recall having an opportunity to attend Guelph however my application arrived too late for the upcoming fall semester and this left Windsor as the school ready to accept me into a full first year of university studies. The roller coaster ride was about to pick up speed.

As an added bonus to attending school in Windsor my friend John the Count’s brother Pete Kalci was looking for a roommate to share an apartment with as he was entering his second year of studies at Windsor. Using their dad Matts car we drove down to Windsor in late July of 71 to look at a bachelor apartment for the upcoming school year, Pete had gotten the lead from one of the newspapers. The apartment was situated at the back on the second floor in a plain three storey building. A centre stairway cut the building into two sections. The building was situated on University Avenue about a mile or so north of the school itself. An added bonus was that it was situated directly kitty corner to an Ontario Liquor store outlet. Besides that it was walking distance, about ten minutes to the downtown section, clubs/bars etc and a few blocks from a great second hand store. There was a clothing thrift shop in one of the store fronts of the thirty or so unit building. We took the small bachelor apartment without much thought. I believe the rent was around two hundred a month. It was furnished, albeit somewhat sparingly with a green pull out couch, an easy chair, small kitchen table and chairs which fit nicely into the tiny apartment size kitchen, it was the tiniest kitchen, no bigger really than that which a single person could fit into at one time. The eating area was tiny as well, however there was enough room for two to sit at the small rectangular table. Pots and pans and cutlery and dishes were also included. A small bathroom was tucked into the corner of the apt near the kitchen, there was no tub, just a small shower, the tiles were black and white one inch pieces with a black relief every here and there. The floor tiles matched but were a larger size, four inch by four inch. Although the fixtures were ancient, they were of a quality one seldom sees in more modern buildings. Really, everything was just perfect. The large walk in closet was to act as Pete’s bedroom, it was just large enough to accommodate a single bed with a dresser for clothes above which hangers could be hung with shirts and other articles.

Having been built I would think in the late thirties, the building was rock solid, the materials used in its construction were plain but durable. Solid wooden railings led to each floor, heavy steel self closing fire doors were present at each entrance. The building itself had character, there was an unusual stairway between the left and right hand sides of the building which was a great place to have a puff and hang out your laundry as a number of clotheslines were strung up for this purpose. Brenda the lease holder had graduated from Windsor and was taking a year off to live and study in Toronto. The neighbours across the hall were Sam, a balding, intellectual sounding Greek, short, barrel chested, Ouzo drinking Chrysler line worker, about thirty five or so years old and his new bride Mary a bit chubby twenty something, farm raised, locally, organic, dark haired woman, his conquest and love interest.

It was a hot day that July Saturday in Windsor and this is often the case in far southern Ontario as the location of the city is almost as far south as Canada reaches. We visited the school, there were a lot of empty buildings. I’m just estimating but I would think the campus took in about ten or so city acres. There were several older looking school styles, for the most part the construction was that of a late fourties architectural style with some early sixties buildings that contrasted with the older style. Prior to receiving university status the University of Windsor was known as Assumption College. The campus was growing as a new Arts and a fabulous Science facility were being constructed on the outskirts of the current campus.

There was a landscaped buffer zone from the main artery University Ave. A short five minute walk would take you to the central hub of the school, the cafeteria and student affairs building where everyone gathered, ate, attended concerts and generally observed life’s slowly turning pages in the lounges created in the foyer. Across from the cafeteria there was an impressive four storey library, quite new, well landscaped, with elevators to reach the upper floors that housed hundreds of thousands of books in sturdy six foot tall racks made of metal and dark oak wood shelves. Numerous areas had been created for sitting and studying, some had desks with chairs. On each floor there were a number of areas where four modern comfortable easy chairs faced each other. In the basement there was a microfiche department where one could look up information on this predecessor to the computer, computers were still a thing of the future, only large corporations had those newfangled information storage machines at the time. The library also had sound booths with excellent turn tables to play the fine assortment of records from the school library.

Trees graced the grounds, along with weed free trimmed lawns and hedges. On this quiet pre fall Saturday just the odd student could be seen coming and going. At the rear of the campus there was a pair of tall eight or ten storey complexes designed for students to live in, residences, beside these buildings there was a low rise building that housed the student pub.

Pete and I stopped for a few beers at the local watering hole, a place called Sid’s Bridgehouse, named thusly as it was within view of the large steel Ambassador bridge which connects Windsor to Detroit across the murky Detroit River. Draft rooms were not strange places for Pete and I, as frequent bouts of relaxation would often find us sitting at one of the many draft beer hotels in various parts of Toronto. It seems now as if we knew the city by the location of its drinking holes. With a bit of a glow on we headed over to Detroit to get some Ripple wine on my insistence. We happened upon a herd of streetwalkers, black damsels dressed in various manner many were sashaying in black high heels at the sidewalks edge wearing the kind of butt enhancing short tight miniskirt their cleavage propped up by wire hinged push up bras. It was quite obvious what the girls were up to and what we were looking for. We chatted a mother and daughter act up and we met them around the corner at the Chicago Hotel a three storey grey brick dive of a place that was more of a flop house as well as a hub for the prostitution trade. I can still see the black sign with white neon lettering above the entrance. Now why they would call a Detroit hotel the Chicago Hotel is a mystery. Each lady required ten dollars in advance which was a bargain compared to rates in Toronto at the time. The Hotel itself required a dollar fifty from each of us to use the room, I balked at the extra dollar fifty charge. The burly, dark 350 pound gentleman behind the counter didn’t make any fuss over his attempt to overcharge us, it was either pay the extra fee or leave and risk losing the money we had already paid the ladies in advance. The room was very basic, there was a small bed, a toilet, a sink, one worn thin faded green facecloth and a small once white towel. I let Pete go first, he had the daughter, a skinny thing, much less than twenty, whatever they did they did it fast, he came out of the room with his typical reserved grin and a glint in his pale blue grey eyes after his session. It was now my turn. The thirty something year old lady stripped down to her white panties and white brassiere which I found to be quite a contrast to her dark brown skin, she could have been a member of the Supremes, she cleaned herself down there with the facecloth, then rinsed the threadbare cloth in the little sink and cleaned my bulging apparatus. I couldn’t help but notice the contrast in her skin color with that of her clitoris walls, why she was just like a white woman down there! My mind took a permanent snapshot of her anatomy which remains vivid today. She then proceeded to attempt to get me off, it was a while before Henry would cooperate, no amount of lip work or hand persuasion could keep Henry at attention for a very long period. A few attempts at entering her walnut shaped area failed, it was embarrassing. At the time I had a few small genital warts on my pecker that gave me some concern, Mavix jerked me off vigorously for five or so minutes, I finally came. Later that night back in Windsor while having a piss I checked and the warts were gone! She was protesting how long it was taking me to finish but I didn’t remember her saying we were on a time limit! You could say it was not a real touchy feely lovemaking session. Leaving the first floor room I stuck my chest out like a cock in the chicken pen, Pete was sitting with his date on a ratty sofa in the hotel lobby, the girl was chewing gum and primping her hair, the clerk wore a black summer shirt, he had a pencil stuck in his ear, a radio played soul music in the background, the lights were dim. We bought some Ripple wine and slept at the apartment in Windsor as had been arranged with the owner prior to leaving the city, a key was provided beforehand. Indeed life in Windsor was getting off to a very good start.

Tuition for the first year in school was going to be paid for by a grant and student loan, which was to be used for living expenses. Besides that money I had saved almost twelve hundred dollars at a summer job delivering Roll It shelving brackets. The total of the combination grant and loan was the sum of three thousand five hundred dollars. A third of that went directly to the University for tuition. Fortunately the Government issued two separate cheques for the grant portion, one in early September and the other shortly after the Christmas holiday or I surely would have spent it all in no time. Now I was pretty good with dollars, knew how to divvy them up, as I had developed my budget back in the Dyer and Miller and White House days. My habit was to take note of what was coming in and what was needed to go out. I’d been living on my own since the age of seventeen. I would make a list just before paydays and write on a piece of paper in order of necessity, the rent, meals at the Silver Tip, tobacco, bus fare, snacks for the room, beer money, HFC payments, I always owed my mom a few bucks. But this was so different, living in an unexplored town, a big town with a big city just across the bridge. My quest for adventure would drain the account in order to properly explore this new horizon. As mentioned the Liquor outlet was less than fifty steps away, it was hot in Windsor in September, to make matters worse there was a province wide beer strike, Pete and I quickly became fond of a beverage called Lite n Easy Sparkling Cider an apple beverage that was similar to beer in its alcohol content and similar in size of bottle and also satisfaction.

As mentioned the first week back to school is similar on many campuses, the new pupils gets oriented, they forgot to tell Pete and self and thousands of other students that it was not a week for getting disoriented! Check the local sales of booze in school towns during orientation week, they must be over the top. Pete and I lived like kings, we drank daily starting early in the afternoon. For entertainment I would cruise all the new to me second hand shops seeing which one could fill whatever purpose. Buying new shirts, pants etc was out of the question but poverty or near poverty was no excuse for not looking sharp. There were new goldmines of hand me downs to be explored. An early find was a bassy sounding record player AM FM radio combo, a boxy shaped wooden sound system about three feet tall by two feet wide, when you put on Albert Kings Born Under a Bad Sign album particularly that cut When I Lost My Baby, why you’d almost start to cry. The boxy 50s style system was easy to put on my shoulder and carry the few blocks to the apartment, up the stairs and down the hall on a sunny early fall afternoon.

Windsor was divided as are many towns into economical sections, we were living just south of the downtown where there were apartments and shops and side streets with big homes in a neighborhood I would describe as a step up from working class blue collar. Across from the centre of town lay more working class streets where a lot of the plant employees lived. The city’s main employer was Chrysler, they had plants spread out over the area north of the main intersections of Wyandotte and Oulette. While going to the school I was quite unaware of the fact the local economy was spurred by the automobile industry. To me, it was just another working class town, not unlike Toronto, or Hamilton. There was a good size downtown it seemed to have all the usual trappings, bars, clubs, restaurants, Woolworths, Kressges, Eatons, specialty shops, bookstores, curio stores, hospitals, police stations, pizzerias, grocery stores including a new Steinbergs everything one would need including my favourite a handful of second hand stores. One day at a second hand shop run by the St Vincent De Paul organization I found an old black typewriter from the 1920s complete with case. It was in working order I paid five dollars for it, it was a thing of beauty. It had no purpose except to look good, it oozed character but was somewhat dysfunctional as the ribbon that held the ink jammed shortly after I took it home. For assignments, which had to be typewritten and double spaced I used a newer portable electric Smith Corona bought for about seventy five dollars in Toronto complete with an aerodynamic looking plastic case.

The Geranium Tea Garden was a gem of a restaurant ran by a couple of older ladies. It was situated on a secondary street a few blocks from the downtown core. On Tuesdays buisness must have been very slow as a hand scrawled red poster board sign in the window beckoned one and all to come and eat the Tuesday luncheon buffet for .89 cents! After the first months partying Pete and I were getting a bit low on money. When we found the Geranium it became a regular event for us to attend this feast on Tuesdays, mid afternoon. Much of the food was casseroles, hamburger hash, leftover lasagna and meatballs, stick to your ribs goulash and other such fare that was probably left over from the previous weekend. Those items along with soggy mixed vegetables and gravy with a formidable skin on it were served from a stainless steel water heated table. Besides those dishes there was always a big tray of breaded pork chops and pieces of breaded fish, as well as southern fried chicken drumsticks. There were tiny rolls, along with those cold one inch squares of butter and plenty of jugs of water to wash it all down with. The deal was you could have two plates full for the cost of .89 cents. Getting the overloaded plate to your table was a bit tricky, I would often slip a half dozen chops and some breaded fish and drumsticks into my brown tweed sports jacket pocket before arriving at the table, before leaving the serving area I would look around and check that the ladies were busy elsewhere. There was a chilled display case that held homemade rice pudding as well as a variety of brightly coloured jellos with small squirts of whipped topping on top, these were also included in the buffet price.

Orientation week was coming to an end, a few bands played a free concert in the cafeteria, there were other activities as well. Pete encouraged me to check things out, as up to this point we had pretty much avoided the week long festivities on campus as we were to busy drinking at the apartment and gallivanting downtown. We just happened to go into the cafeteria mid afternoon as a beer chugging contest was winding down after a day of preliminaries. We sat down and ordered some cheap draft to watch the goings on. There were four contestants left on the stage sitting behind small desks. The judges would place six draft in front of each contestant and blow a whistle, whichever drinker finished first would advance to the next round with the second place finisher. As I recall quite a few contestants participated in the advertised event, drinks for all contestants were free of charge. No one knew me, I was a sleeper, an import, a high draft pick! Pete egged me on, our eyes meeting each others in knowing ways. Up on the raised stage there sat one last person, his name was Iggy or something like that he was the president of the local motorcycle gang, the Lone Bunch or Satans Breed, he was a big six foot four, long haired son of a bitch, a brute of a man older than me, shit older than most of the teachers. The judges hushed the crowd and asked if there were any challengers, I looked around, no one dared challenge Iggy! No one except me. As Iggy began to go for the trophy I finally stood up and got out of my chair and swaggered up to the stage, chest out like that cock in the chicken coop. I took a seat, in my mind of minds I projected myself to some of the previous victories I had amassed at places like the Embassy Tavern in Toronto on Belmont Street and of course the Place Pigalle on Avenue Road, the bars in Canton New York like Billy’s Lower, no one could beat me at chugging. They poured us each six draft in seven ounce glasses. We waited for the judge to give us the signal to drink. No one knew I had perfected the ‘straight drop’ technique, which allows me to open my throat and pour a full glass of beer down without gulping. As the bell rang I looked my competitor in the eye, it was like a shoot out. An alarm sounded, RRRRRIIIINNNGGG the bell went and I drank the six draft in what must have been world record time, Iggy had three left when I had slammed the sixth glass on the table. There was much applause from the drunken audience, I stood up and non chalantly shook my opponents hand and returned to the table with Peter, there was a small write up in the University newspaper marking the occasion, the prize was more free draft. Mature Student.

#Scholarchapter #oneThe #Case #Missing #Warts

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