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The voice of Baby Boomers from a woman's perspective


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We’ve come a long way baby

Willard Hall at 20 Gerrard Street East in Toronto, home sweet home for two years.

Willard Hall, 20 Gerrard Street East, home sweet home for two years. My room was the upper right front corner.

Fifty years ago (July 4, 1965) my parents let their daughter loose on the streets of Toronto at the age of seventeen, for good. That’s when I began life as a grownup. My parents made the two-hour drive to Toronto and dropped me and my little white suitcase off on the front steps of Willard Hall at 20 Gerrard Street East. It was a bright, warm Sunday afternoon and the following day I began my first full-time job as a clerk-typist with The Bell Telephone Company of Canada, as it was called then. Willard Hall was a ladies residence for working girls and students run by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and recommended as accommodation by the nice lady who hired me at the Bell. It housed about two hundred girls my age who, like me had left their homes in small towns to begin life in the big city. We could look out the front windows of our rooms facing south and watch the tower cranes rising above the skyline dominated by the CIBC Tower and Royal York Hotel as the new Toronto-Dominion Centre was being built.

When I arrived in 1965, the Toronto skyline was dominated by The Royal York Hotel and The Bank of Commerce tower.

When I arrived in 1965, the Toronto skyline was dominated by The Royal York Hotel and The Bank of Commerce tower.

Toronto in 1965 was very different from today, with a total population of around one million people (less than half its current size). Most of the girls living at Willard Hall walked to work at downtown office jobs and on weekends we took the ferry to Toronto Island, shopped at newly-discovered stores in the big city or trooped up to The Village, the burgeoning hippie haven on Yorkville Avenue north of Bloor Street. Care to stroll down Yonge Street and memory lane with me circa 1965?

Walking out the door of Willard Hall, Gorrie Motors was to our left on Gerrard Street and Ryerson Polytechnical Institute across the road. We turn right and walk a few hundred feet to Yonge Street. The Cornet Theatre on the northeast corner screened mainly foreign films and required we show I.D. for admission. Across the road, on the northwest corner was a little artisan shop called African Modern where they sold a variety of imported merchandise like carved statues and jewelry where I once bought a tiny jar with three little Mexican jumping beans for three dollars. A boring bank was located on the southwest corner and on the southeast corner was the famous Bassel’s Restaurant where all the girls used to go at night for coffee and a cigarette (forbidden in residence) or to meet a date.

samStrolling south on Yonge Street, we’d pass the Zanzibar Tavern (far too racy for us) and Ford Drugs where a faded sign in the window offered pregnancy tests, a shocking prospect at that time. There were a few tables in the back where you could grab a snack and the place was always full of cigarette smoke. We liked to speculate about what other nefarious activities took place behind the counter at Ford Drugs. Further south we encounter A&A Records, then Sam The Record Man with his giant neon LP record sign flashing above the storefront. We frequently witnessed a strange, dirty old man with plugs up his nostrils holding onto the fire hydrant in front of Sam’s, having some kind of fit. Sad, in retrospect.

Toronto's first cocktail lounge opened in 1923.

Toronto’s first cocktail lounge opened in 1923.

American country singer Johnny Paycheck regularly sang his famous “Take This Job and Shove it” at the Edison Hotel at Yonge and Gould. Then we pass the open door of the C’oq d’or  with smoke and loud music from Ronnie Hawkins and his band pouring out onto the sidewalk. Before we reach Dundas Square, we could pop into Steak ‘n Burger with a date for a cheap cut of grilled steak with fries, canned peas and half a toasted bun. South of that we have the Friar’s Club, a little more upscale but equally noisy and busy or if we were old enough, the famous Silver Rail at Shuter Street, Toronto’s first licensed cocktail lounge.

If the thrills of all the shopping at Yonge & Queen weren't enough, we could visit Toronto's new City Hall just west of Simpson's and Eaton's on Queen Street.

If the thrills of all the shopping at Yonge & Queen weren’t enough excitement, we could visit Toronto’s new City Hall just west of Simpson’s and Eaton’s on Queen Street.

The last movie I saw at the Pantages when it was still a movie theatre was This Property is Condemned with Natalie Wood in 1966. Strolling down to Yonge Street in our nylons and high heels to Queen Street, we approached the heart of Toronto’s shopping mecca. Or we could drop into the wonderful Diana Sweets for lunch or a cup of tea. On the east side we have the retail trifecta of Town & Country, Braemar and Fair Lady, three nearly identical stores owned by Dylex offering affordable and attractive clothing for working girls and the Elgin Theatre which was also still a movie theatre in the sixties. On the west side of the street with Eaton’s and Simpsons located a block apart, we could also shop at Woolworth’s, Zeller’s and Kresge’s. Birks’ main store at Yonge and Temperance still had the old-fashioned pneumatic brass tubes that took cash from the sales person behind the ancient wooden and glass display cases to the upstairs cash office to make change. The original Fairweather store and The May Company were located here as well so the entire area contained everything any young working girl would wish for in the realm of retail destinations.

Your Boomer Broadcaster in front of Marilyn Brookes' original Unicorn Boutique in the the old Gerrard Street Village, July 1965, the same month I arrived i the big city to seek my fortune.

Your Boomer Broadcaster in front of Marilyn Brookes’ original Unicorn Boutique in the the old Gerrard Street Village, July 1965, the same month I arrived in the big city to seek my fortune.

Returning to Yonge and Gerrard, I remember walking through the old Gerrard Street Village on the south side (where the Chelsea Inn now stands and predating the Yorkville era) and across from Elgin Motors, past Marilyn Brookes’ original Unicorn shop, Prince of Serendip Antiques and various other colourful little shops to my job with Ma Bell on the fifth floor of the (former) Maclean Hunter building at 481 University Avenue and Dundas. At that time the gay bath houses were still flourishing on Bay Street alongside “The Hungarian Village” restaurant.  It was from my office at the Bell in the summer of 1965 that I experienced so-called Chinese food for the first time. Growing up in a small town of 3,200 people in the fifties and early sixties, we had nothing as exotic as Chinese food or pizza, so I’d tasted neither until I was eighteen years old. Chinatown at that time covered the area on Dundas Street between Bay Street and University Avenue and I was always horrified to see dead ducks and chickens hanging in the windows of  Chinese grocery stores. When my co-worker and girlfriend, also named Linda accompanied me for my first meal of Chinese food at lunch one day, we ordered the simple “dinner for two” not realizing we would be served enough fried rice, chicken balls, chow mein and sweet and sour pork to feed most of greater Canton.

Eaton's College Street store represented sophisticated shopping in the sixties.

Eaton’s College Street store offered a sophisticated shopping experience in the sixties.

Turning north on Yonge Street from Gerrard was just as exciting as the southern stretch. Next to the Cornet movie theatre on the east side we had Lindy’s Restaurant, another late-night haunt for Willard Hall girls and downtown dwellers. One block north and across the road we had the famous Eaton’s College Street store where my roommate toiled in the new data processing department in a corner of the basement. The College Street store was Eaton’s carriage trade location. The stunning Georgian Room on the upper floor catered to sophisticated ladies’ lunches and the Eaton Auditorium (now the Carluke) hosted a variety of theatre events. Later, in 1970 I worked for a year behind the cosmetics counter at Eaton’s College Street for Yardley of London. That experience was remarkably similar to the scenes depicted in the old British comedy Are You Being Served shown frequently on Vision TV and PBS.

On the northeast corner of Yonge and Carlton, there was a little lingerie shop called Evangeline with entrances on both Yonge and Carlton. They carried sweet little frilly things that working girls who were now earning their own money liked to buy, such as the demi-slip (a bra and slip combination) like the one worn by Charlotte Rampling in the movie Georgie Girl. We also loved to go to the Carlton Theatre just east of Yonge Street. Before the movie started in the ornate grand old theatre we were treated to music played on a giant organ that ascended from below the stage.

Yorkville Village in sixties was a far cry from the posh landing pad for the rich and famous it has become.

Yorkville Village in sixties was a far cry from the posh landing pad for the rich and famous it has become.

Friday and Saturday nights were on-the-town events for Willard Hall girls and we loved to trek up to Yorkville Avenue to witness the burgeoning hippie scene in the days before the area became gentrified. Old storefronts and rag-tag shops carried Indian hookah pipes, gauzy blouses and assorted avant-garde fashions. I wasn’t old enough to drink (legal drinking age at that time was twenty-one and fake I.D. never occurred to me) but a date once took me to the Riverboat where we heard Gordon Lightfoot perform to the tiny capacity crowd. Further along, toward Avenue Road was The Purple Onion but I never did gain entrance there.

Rochdale College students mingled with the hippies and the squares (me and my friends) who strolled back and forth along Yorkville Avenue at night. Where Teatro Verde (an upscale housewares shop) is now located, the original structure housed an old folks’ home (as we called them then).

The seniors who lived on Yorkville Avenue in the sixties got quite an education watching the world pass by.

The seniors who lived on Yorkville Avenue in the sixties got quite an education watching the world pass by.

The exterior bricks were painted white and the front lawn accommodated the residents who enjoyed sitting outside in the evening on webbed lawn chairs watching the colourful pedestrians pass by.

Shopping on Bloor Street in the mid to late sixties wasn’t the high-priced monument to exclusive branding it is today. There was a modest old department store called Morgan’s where Holt Renfrew now stands and where the Chanel boutique now stands on the south side near The Colonnade, I once purchased a long yellow evening dress for the Ryerson Blue and Gold prom at a classy store called Harridges (a hybrid name selected for its inferred combination of famous London store Harrods and Claridges).

In my lovely Harridges long gown for the Ryerson Blue and Gold Ball. My date spent most of the evening dancing with another girl!!

In my lovely Harridges long gown for the Ryerson Blue and Gold Ball. My date spent most of the evening dancing with another girl!!

Those were the days my friend. Even though we thought they’d never end, they did. Yorkville real estate is now only for the elite classes. Rochdale College is a distant memory. Willard Hall is now Covenant House, refuting the rumours nearly fifty years ago that it was to be torn down due to fire regulations. All the bars and restaurants we knew, even the seemingly invincible  department stores like Eaton’s and Simpson’s have disappeared. Toronto is nearly three times the size it was in 1965, much like my waistline. Back then, the subway line ran from Union Station to Eglinton Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway stopped at Lawrence Avenue East where we exited and headed up Victoria Park Avenue to get to Highway 401.

I never dreamed the changes that have taken place would be my future fifty years later, including the Leafs’ never winning a Stanley Cup again. Like most young people, back then we didn’t look much beyond what we were going to be doing on the weekend. As John Lennon requoted from someone else, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I never had a plan but I’m pretty happy with the way life happened to me. And I wouldn’t want to go back a day. How about you?

fiftyyears

 

 

 

 


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Buy it now. Hot off the press, literally!

The ninety-three-year-old supermodel (the one on the left. . .)

The ninety-three-year-old supermodel Iris Apfel (the one on the left. . .) shown in current ads for Kate Spade.

When I opened this morning’s Globe and Mail (Saturday, July 4, 2015) and started browsing the various sections, my heart lifted when I saw the full-page picture of the intelligent and frankly-spoken Iris Apfel on the cover of Globe Style. I’ve long been an admirer of the ninety-three-year-old’s fashion sensibilities and overall opinions. (Click here for previous blog postings: Iris Rocks.)

This week’s articles tickled my fancy like no other in a while. For those of you who care about how you look and have even a passing interest in fashion, you’ll enjoy reading this section today. It focuses on fashion in relation to aging, and I could hardly find a word I didn’t agree with—which as you know if you read my blogs is most unusual. You’ll love Apfel’s comments, such as, “If they don’t like my style, it’s their problem, not mine”. The HotDoc film about her that recently played in Toronto was thoroughly enjoyable. I left the theatre with a big smile on my face and feeling very inspired.

The Globe Style centrefold has a piece titled #OWN YOURAGE which clearly and accurately depicts our evolving views on fashion expressed by real women aged 29, 37, 47, 55 and 70. Even Jeanne Beker’s column on page 10 about underwear for millennials was relatable for an old Boomer like myself. Two young feminist women have launched their own business Me and You because “Our friends don’t shop at lingerie stores . . . most lingerie stores don’t cater to women. A lot of women pick their lingerie based on what they think men will think, which is not our approach.” Gotta love that, eh!

If you’re not a subscriber, pick up today’s Globe and Mail while you can still get a copy in the store.

P.S. This is not a paid endorsement. My opinions are my own and not for sale.

 


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HOV from my POV

hov1Being a good, law-abiding Canadian citizen can be very stressful at times. As a fairly typical Canadian I take pride in playing by the rules and obeying the law. I never drive in the outside lane unless overtaking another car; I never unlawfully rip the tags off mattresses; I waited until I was a bona-fide senior citizen before buying seniors’ movie tickets, and I never photocopy money. So you can understand how difficult it is for me to witness the blatant disregard for the rules of the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) driving lanes in the Greater Toronto Area for the time around the Pan Am Games.

You'll never convince me that HOV lanes improve traffic flow. It's an elitist system that favours the deceivers.

You’ll never convince me that HOV lanes improve traffic flow. It’s an elitist system that favours the deceivers and rewards the cheaters.

Today, I made my last trip into the City of Toronto until after the games are over and the visitors have left town. Toronto traffic is a nightmare at the best of times and now that the Games’ people have thoughtfully requisitioned one lane of traffic on most major arteries dedicated to their own vehicles (so the rest of the world won’t see what a disaster Toronto’s transportation networks really are), it will be impossible to get anywhere in less than two or three times the dead-slow times normally allotted.  I experienced it first hand today, and because of my advanced age and fragile mental health, I’m not going anywhere near the city for the next six weeks.

If you would like to see the top of my head blow off from volcanic blood pressure levels, simply plant yourself in the passenger seat of my car as I’m heading east on the Queen Elizabeth Way and Gardiner “Expressway” into the city. The regular three jammed lanes of traffic are reduced to two lanes with the outside third lane now dedicated to Games’ traffic which includes taxis, buses, vehicles with at least three people inside and vehicles with special Games permits.

There must be some law that allows me to ram guys like this in the HOV lane. Law enforcement doesn't seem to be doing the job.

There should be a law that allows me to ram guys like this in the HOV lane. Law enforcement isn’t doing the job.

The truly galling part of this exercise is that while thousands of law-abiding citizens sit sipping their Timmies in the two right lanes obeying the law and barely moving, hundreds of other vehicles are breaking the law and blowing past us in the HOV lane. Sitting in the lane next to the HOV lane, I observed fully sixty percent of the vehicles with only one person in the car (a large portion of them being BMWs, Mercedes or Lexus—I guess money brings special privileges), about thirty percent had two people and the remaining ten percent were taxis, buses or people with the legally allowed three people in the vehicle. One BMW convertible driving illegally in the HOV lane had only a single 20-something driver in the vehicle and he was talking on his hand-held cell phone enjoying the breezes at a high speed with the top down. During the entire fifteen kilometer drive I saw only one police car and he was pulled over checking out an accident blocking the lane.

Why don’t the authorities install cameras similar to the ones at intersections that catch red-light runners, along the left HOV medians to catch cheaters? They’d make a fortune and that money would finance updating our subway system. Ka-ching, ka-ching.

If only our subway system weren't fifty years behind the times.

If only our subway system weren’t fifty years behind the times.

Downtown Toronto will suffer greatly by not being favoured with my patronage over the next six weeks. I’m confident the economic impact on retailers alone will cause our city’s leaders to reconsider bidding on any future debacles like this again. In the meantime, if you live east of Highway 427, don’t expect to see me any time soon. I’m cranky, disillusioned and generally pissed off with the whole fiasco. Public transit in the GTA is about fifty years behind where it should be in 2015, so I can’t even rely on that.  So until mid-August my life is restricted to the west end and I’m not happy about it. It’s getting harder and harder to be a good citizen when so many of my fellow drivers are breaking the law and getting away with it. It’s just not the Canadian way.

P.S. canadaday

 

 

 

 


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Chick flick worth the trip – and not just for chicks

blythe1If you’re a Boomer Broad I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love the movie I’ll See You In My Dreams starring Blythe Danner (real-life mother of Gwyneth Paltrow as well as TV mom to Will of Will & Grace), Mary Kay Place (remember her as the Boomer looking for an inseminator in The Big Chill?), Rhea Perlman (formerly of Cheers and Taxi and ex-wife of Danny DeVito), June Squibb (who starred in the movie Nebraska, HBO’s Getting On and the wife of Jack Nicholson’s character in Something About Schmidt) and Sam Elliott as the object of their affections. This movie was a virtual Baby Boomer love-fest.

Carol (played by Blythe Danner) is a widow living alone with her old dog and a close circle of Boomer girlfriends in a nearby retirement community. Sounds good so far, eh! The plot is incidental to the dialogue between the characters which is so rich and relevant to our experiences and stage in life. The role of Lloyd the pool boy (a rather anachronistic name for a young man these days) seems a bit odd but perhaps he was intended as a catalyst in bringing out a side of Carole which I doubt was ever truly missing. His character also reinforces the value in having friends who are not always in our age group. Carol is an intelligent, confident and engaging individual. But she’s no cougar and is a totally relatable Boomer-aged woman who has lived a life much like our own, dealing with the challenges associated with aging, loss of loved ones and a philosophical outlook that we can all identify with.

girlfriends5My biggest takeaway from this movie is the power and importance of our relationships with girlfriends. Our generation has elevated female friendships to a level beyond what our mothers enjoyed even a generation ago. They were more circumspect in their intimacies with friends. Now, if one of us even has the “vag” everyone in the circle knows about it. No filters; no embarrassment; no secrets; just support, encouragement and validation. The movie also reminded us of the importance of simply having something to look forward to. When we’re retired or have lost someone important in our lives, it’s easy to retreat into memories. What keeps us going is having plans; perhaps a golf game with a girlfriend; looking forward to a weekly book club meeting or card game or meeting a friend for lunch at an outdoor patio.

The movie will induce laughter, tears, empathy and sympathy as Carole lives her everyday life. The writing is intelligent and relevant. Early in the movie, I turned to my girlfriend sitting next to me as we were munching our buckets of warm popcorn and slurping icy Diet Coke (also our lunch and an essential part of moving-going) and said, “I’m loving this movie.”. I think you will too. And take your honey if you have one; he’ll enjoy it too.


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The prohibitive cost of keeping in touch . . . and other things

When Boomers were growing up in the fifties and sixties, there were a number of inventions still off waiting in the future and therefore the family budget was not encumbered by the cost of such items as:

  • There's still nothing better than a personal, handwritten thankyou note.

    There’s still nothing better than a personal, handwritten thank you note.

    Internet service. We composed lovely handwritten letters and cards that we put into an envelope, affixed a stamp and walked to the corner of the street to drop into the mailbox. This is also how we paid bills.

  • Cable or satellite television service. We had rooftop aerials or rabbit ears that involved no monthly charge. We picked up two channels most of the time and sometimes we could get CBC in Toronto which brought our selection up to three channels. When the weather was particularly cooperative we could also pull in Rochester, New York at night. The dial only allowed for eleven channels (remember there was no “Channel one”, just two to twelve).
  • Party lines were an early version of social networking.

    Party lines were an early version of social networking.

    Cell phones. We actually managed with only land lines—one per household and for the affluent homes, perhaps an extension in the parents’ bedroom. In rural areas party-lines shared by several families were common. Imagine running that one past your teenager today.

  • Electronic home security systems. We never even locked our doors unless we went away on vacation. We didn’t really have a lot worth stealing (remember? – no electronics) and everyone watched out for everyone anyway.
  • Extra telephone services. There were no such frills as a touch-tone surcharge (rip-off; who doesn’t have touch-tone now?), call answer, call forwarding, long distance bundling and data packages that make our bills go ka-ching.

The cost of personal telecom alone adds up to a shocking amount of money each month. Our dependency on electronic devices has made us slaves to the media companies. Not including capital investment in the devices, it can cost an average family as much as $350.00 per month to keep in touch. The expense generated by these items didn’t exist when we were growing up but now we couldn’t imagine living without the benefits they bring so it’s not a total downer.

My friend Keith sent me this piece about a few more differences in lifestyle that we need to be reminded of from time to time to help us rein in our excessive lifestyles.

We didn’t have “the Green Thing” then!!

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment. The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations. The older lady said that she was right — our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. The older lady went on to explain:

  • Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.
  • Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable, besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.
  • We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building.
  • We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. 
  • Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.
  • Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
  • Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house—not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.
  • In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.
  • When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
  • Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.
  • We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
  • We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.
  • We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen.
  • We replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
  • Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the”green thing.”
  • We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then? Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off… Especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much. Bah, humbug!

Hello? Are you paying attention?

Hello? Are you paying attention?

Fortunately, thanks to telecommunications and despite its high cost, it has given me a platform to vent my joys, frustrations, questions and concerns with my Boomer readers. Blogging has kept this old lady off the soapbox on the street corner and prevents me from making a fool of myself venting my personal opinions to questionable audiences in public places. And that can only be a good thing.

 


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Caitlyn Jenner is a poor example of womanhood

Caitlyn Jenner’s change of gender from a man known as Bruce to a woman is a subject just too ripe for comment to ignore. Let me state up front that my views on LGBT issues are extremely liberal. I was one of those individuals born thoroughly female and heterosexual so I can only imagine how painful and confusing it must be for those who are born with a more ambiguous gender identity. When I was in my early twenties I read the story of Christine Jorgensen, the Danish man who finally put an end to his painful gender identity and transitioned into a woman. Her articulate and honest autobiography made me aware of an issue I’d previously given little thought to.

caitlinThen, along comes Caitlyn Jenner. There are many aspects to this story that I find confusing, starting with the fact she has stated she will continue dating women. Does that make her a lesbian (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or just a man who likes to wear women’s clothes. Looking at the cover photo of Caitlyn on Vanity Fair gave me a creepy feeling similar to the one I experienced seeing the pictures of convicted murderer and former military Colonel Russell Williams wearing women’s underwear stolen from his victims. I’m certainly not suggesting Jenner is a murderer or criminally-inclined deviant in any way, but despite proclaiming her life-long struggle to release the woman within, Jenner has chosen to present as the kind of woman most of us who are born with the XX chromosome do not identify with, while acknowledging we’re not all alike and we’re quite imperfect.

For starters, how many sixty-five-year-old Boomer women do you know who go by the name Caitlyn? I’m surprised she didn’t spell it with a “K”. It’s a girlie Gen X name, certainly not one associated with someone who attended high school in the sixties and is the product of parents who grew up during the Depression. With all the hair extensions, Photoshopping, makeup and wardrobe styling required to produce the plastic-looking image on the cover of Vanity Fair, I think the name “Barbie” would have been more appropriate. And what Boomer broad do you know who would tart herself up in a satin merry widow and suck in her crotch for a photo shoot?

Jenner would have had so much more credibility and support if she’d presented herself as a Diane Keaton-type representing the pretty side of the Boomer broad spectrum or as someone with actual substance such as authors Catherine Gildiner and Jeannette Walls or Canada’s own Mary Walsh, not another Khardashian spin-off. Our generation and our gender are working hard to undo the stereotypes that depict women as empty-headed narcissists who spend our days shopping, going to the salon and binge-watching Real Housewives. We’re a generation of Janet Yellens, Angela Merkels and Oprah Winfreys.

Hey Caitlyn! Try this look on for size. This is what real Boomer women look like.

Hey Caitlyn! Try this look on for size. This is what real Boomer women look like.

Regretfully, Caitlyn Jenner does not and never will truly incorporate the qualities required to be a real woman. She has never endured monthly periods or enjoyed the perils of menopause, worked for seventy-six cents on the dollar for a chauvinistic boss or tried to get back into her jeans after giving birth. She has never struggled as a single mother to feed her three children by herself because her worthless husband eschewed his responsibility. She has never had to get up at 5:30 in the morning to go to a minimum wage job after getting her family ready for school, helping with homework in the evening after working all day on her feet and trying to raise children with positive values.

I’ll never earn a place on the cover of Vanity Fair because as a real Boomer Broad I have substance, experience and the vital street cred earned during sixty-seven years of living life as real woman not one who’s surgically enhanced and enjoyed a privileged, elitist life of superficial self-indulgence. It’s not too late for Jenner to rise above life as a Khardashian Barbie doll (to read my earlier blog about them, click here) but the money’s so good I doubt she’ll change. So, let’s be clear. Caitlyn Jenner’s take on being a women is from an oddly male perspective. She merely bought into the commercially-generated visual stereotype and that’s not what being a woman is about. And I find that hard to characterize as courageous. Am I right or am I wrong?


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Road work? Git ‘er done!

Doesn't the slow pace of road and highway construction just make 'ya crazy!

Doesn’t the slow pace of road and highway construction just make ‘ya crazy! There has to be a better way.

Those who follow my blog know there’s a constant and festering burr under my saddle about the exorbitant lengths of time it takes to complete road construction, anywhere. I’ve already vented about the two-year fiasco called maintaining the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto (Gardiner Expressway problem solved) and just last week about the subway versus above-ground transportation networks (More fiddle faddle on infrastructure). After working for thirty years in the construction industry, it always amazed me that it takes three times longer to modify three kilometers of highway than it does to erect and completely finish a thirty-story office building. The contractors altering the relatively short span of Queen’s Quay West in Toronto took three (3!!!) years.

Today my little old Boomer heart sang with joy when I viewed a video sent to me by my friend Perry at KMA Contracting Inc. in Guelph, Ontario. The time-lapse video showed a concrete bridge spanning ten lanes of traffic over Highway 401 at Fountain Street in Cambridge being demolished in a mere 9.5 hours by Priestly Demolition Inc. See guys. It can be done. All it takes is some brains and a bit of smart planning. Bring in all the labour and equipment you can muster and get the job done—fast.

Congratulations to Priestly Demolition. Maybe we should put their engineers and planners to work on the Gardiner and Toronto’s transit system. It can be done. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  Click here to see Priestly Demolition’s approach to civil work.

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