Morgue in the Rear View Mirror
17 octobre 1970
MONTREAL (Boulevard de Maisonneuve)
aised within our 2solitudes and 2 cultures,
prodigy child (OK, maybe not) of English parents
and French step-parents; only, but not spoiled, child;
bounced from one culture to another on a weekly basis.
I soon learned that my suitcase in hand was the way to travel.
But being too young to even go to the grocery store,
I travelled in mind and in my writing.
Which I've pursued, on and off for years, in both languages, with little success, beyond typing for other authors.
My knowledge of our 2solitudes was a rude awakening.
On the evening of my 11th birthday, coming home from dinner
with my Mother and Step-father, we were pulled over by a cavalcade of police
on motorcycles, on de Maisonneuve boulevard.
This was the fall of 1970, and those of you old enough to remember
will recall that we were in the midst of what was called "the October Crisis." Nice name for a movie, perhaps - but this was in our neighborhood and on our news and in our lives.
This was the first time I saw a grown man cry, turning on the radio
to yet another emergency broadcast, we heard that Pierre Laporte's body was being transported to Parthenais, as he hung his head on the steering wheel and asked out loud, as though for answer, 'what is our world coming to?'
We sat for what seemed like hours on the side of the street, watching motorcycles, police cars and finally the big black morgue pass us by...
A French-Canadian restauranteur who had bricks thrown through his window for displaying a Liberal poster in the next election, crying in our car.
We listened as often to Harmonium as to Carole King, driving and signing along with my french stepbrother who taught me words I won't repeat.
So that was my political awakening, so to speak, along with a great knowledge of the chasms that define our 2solitudes.