A Beaver Tale

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Growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s was a difficult period for me, but not because I grew up in Canada – the land of the Beaver.

I have always loved being Canadian, but not always in love with living here.

There were many times, as a teenager, I wished that I lived in the United States; because America was a place where dreams come true – maybe, even my dreams!

But as I got older, I realized that appearances could be deceiving, and sometimes, the grass is not greener on the other side of the hill.

Our neighbors in the States have the Stars and Stripes on their flag and the majestic, Bald Eagle – a symbol of their strength.

Here in Canada, we have a Maple Leaf on our flag but divide our symbol among three things: a beaver, a moose, and a schooner.

But why, of all of the animals associated with Canada, did we choose the furry rodent?

I know!  I know!  Ask me!  Ask me!

Put your hand down, Spanky.

And don’t say it was because of the ‘beaver scene’ made famous by Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley in the 1988 movie A Naked Gun.

No, Spanky.  You are not even close!

Okay, but my second guess is the Beavers and Butthead cartoon characters.

Wrong again, Spanky!

And it’s not Beavers and Butthead – it is Beavis and Butt-Head.

Hold on, don’t I get a third guess?  What about the Leave It to Beaver Show?

Nope, Spanky!  You’re out of guesses.

The beaver I am referring to is the one on our nickel.

The beaver on our nickel was introduced on the coin in 1937 when you were just a sparkle in the eye of your grandfather, Spanky!

For those who are not familiar with Canadian currency, our lowest coin denomination is now the 5-cent coin known as the ‘nickel.’

The lowest denomination used to be the 1-cent coin known as a ‘penny,’ but our government stopped producing it in 2012.

Our 5-cent coin is called a ‘Nickel’ because the original coin was 99.8% nickel when it was introduced in 1858.

But today, there is more copper in a 5-cent coin than there is nickel!

Our nickel is composed of 94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, and only 2% nickel.

And the discontinued Canadian Penny was composed of 94% steel, 1.5% nickel, and 4.5% copper.

The nickel is shiny because of the nickel plating, and copper plating is used on the penny.

But Danny, that means we have been getting ripped off!

No Spanky, it just means that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

I guess what I am trying to convey is that not all things are what they appear to be.

Take, for example, people.

My dad was a Canadian Customs Officer at the Toronto International Airport.

Back in the day, customs officers’ uniforms were almost identical to the airline pilots’ uniforms.

Dad used to tell me that he often got confused with being a pilot by passersby, in the terminal, with many travelers thanking him for a pleasant flight!

The uniform design was changed when Pierre Elliott Trudeau became prime minister of Canada.

In 1968, the Trudeau government combined all of our armed forces’ uniforms into one rifle green color and style.

Imagine seeing a sailor dressed in green or airforce pilots wearing green!  Many of us considered it unconscionable, especially the veterans,

Fortunately, we came to our senses in 1980, when the government reversed the military uniforms back to their original style and color.

But not the customs officers’ uniform.

You are probably wondering what I am babbling on about?

And I don’t blame you.

Things are not what they appear to be – is the point I am trying to convey.

********

Back in the ’60s, things were much different than they are today.

There were many silly rules, and strict observance was necessary to prevent being ostracized in the community.

For instance, when the Beatles came to North America for the first time and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, they created a new look for boys: long hair!

And I remember that evening, watching the show with my family, as most families did on Sunday nights,  and being blown away by their music!

Their songs were very different than the rock and roll music we were accustomed to, and so was their appearance!

The next day at school, the auditorium was filled with the giggles of young girls.

Elvis, The Platters, and The Beach Boys were all replaced overnight with these long-haired musicians from England!

And although I loved their music, I remained a fan of the blues and traditional rock and roll music.

That was in 1963, but I did not wear my hair long until the early 1970s.

Danny (1976) at the cottage

None of my buddies were growing their hair long, and my dad would never have approved of it anyway.

My dad did not like rock and roll music.  He preferred classical music and operas.

Although he played the guitar and loved music, my dad preferred listening to Les Paul and Mary Ford strumming and picking, then guitar legends like Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton.

And although I do not care for opera or some of the heavy, classical music that dad enjoyed, I would never dismiss or claim that it wasn’t music.

My dad also disapproved of long hair and associated it with hippies, protesters, and drug addicts!

I remember one hot summer day in the ’70s; I visited my folks at their home in Georgetown, Ontario.  A teenager walked by our house, and I noticed the boy was wearing a long-sleeve shirt.

I remarked that it was too hot to wear a long sleeve shirt.

But dad said the kid was probably a drug addict and wore long sleeve shirts to cover his arms’ needle marks!

And my dad was a supervisor at Canada Customs!

He once bragged that he gave Sonny and Cher a comprehensive check when they came to Canada.

He didn’t find any drugs or other contraband in their suitcases.  But dad would not admit he was prejudice.

Dad also disapproved of tattoos.

However, I don’t know if he ever saw my tattoos until I was much older, unless my mom told him.

But my three younger brothers grew their hair long, and dad softened his position on long hair and rock music.

However, I doubt dad would ever have approved them getting a tattoo.

********

Last week, I got one of my tattoos completely redone.

I updated  The Warwick Hotel, Hookers & Tattoos story accordingly.  It would be best if you read that story before continuing with this one.

Three months ago, when I decided to finally put a name in the blank banner of my tattoo, I couldn’t find a tattoo shop that was open for business because of the pandemic.

I called or emailed each of the shops in the Langley and Surrey area but couldn’t find anyone interested in doing such a small job.

But Mike, the tattoo artist at White Rock Tattoos on Marine Drive in White Rock, replied to my email and mentioned that he had read my tattoo story and was willing to redo the tattoo for me!

I was shocked to learn that he is from Oshawa, Ontario, my hometown!

What are the odds of that happening?

Here’s the tattoo I got at Sailor Pete’s in 1966, when I was sixteen years old:

I got this in 1966, at Sailor Pete’s in Toronto.

I was with Eleanor Kirkpatrick, my girlfriend at the time.

She wanted me to include her name in the tattoo, but Sailor Pete advised me to wait until I got married before including a girl’s name on a tattoo.

I have had several girlfriends and two wives since.

Initially, I told Mike that I wanted to put my mom’s name on the banner.

My first tattoo in 1965, at 15 years old

But my other tattoo already had Mom and Dad on it – although it is impossible to decipher what it is.

Last week, I wrote about my decision to put a name in the blank banner – finally.

And although I was going to put MOM or MOTHER, a silent voice from within said NO!

When I arrived at White Rock Tattoo that afternoon, a week ago, I still hadn’t decided on which of the following names I would choose:

  • MOM or BEULAH (Mom’s name)
  • CLARA (Grandma Puffer)
  • POOCH (First love)
  • ANNETTE  (Second wife)
  • ROBIN (daughter)

But I didn’t choose any of the above.

When I sat down in the chair, Mike asked me to confirm the name.

HOLLY.  I want to use my dog’s name.  She’s got cancer, too.

During the next couple of hours, Mike and I reminisced about living in Oshawa.

He and I attended the same public school and high school.

We lived within seven or eight blocks of each other and probably knew many of the same people, although he is thirteen years younger than me.

We’ve lived in various places in Canada but chose the left coast as our final place to live.

Great minds think alike!

I was tempted to look at the tattoo while Mike was working on it, but I wanted to wait until he was finished.

The shop’s atmosphere was magical, and I loved the music videos playing on the screen.

I also had a chance to meet and chat with Cass, who is Mike’s daughter.  She is also an accomplished tattoo artist.

Travis is the other artist in the shop, and he, too, was very nice.

And they each had lots of tattoos on their bodies.

Some people mistakenly believe that tattoos are only for bikers or gang members.

Fifty-five years ago, when I got my first tattoo – a heart with two banners that read Mom and Dad – and yet, people judged me as some freak or bad guy.

I was the only kid in my school who had a tattoo and the first of my friends to get one.

And now, I was getting Holly’s name put on my tattoo.

My original (1966)

Getting excited...

Mike, artist extraordinaire!

Relatively painless...

Again, here's the original

part way through...

Taking a breather...

and then the final...

reveal... AWESOME!

One more to refresh

It is Mom & Dad but impossible to tell what it is!

Shortly before Mike finished my tattoo, his daughter Cass came over to say goodbye to her dad.

They kissed, and Mike told her he loved her.

And that choked me up.

I told Mike I now knew all there was to know about him.

He had not been shy about telling Cass that he loved her, and it was a beautiful display of love.

I thanked him for giving me the happiest day to remember.

I told him I would call him after I get the results from my recent CT scan.

Because if the results are okay, I will get Mike to redo the tattoo on my right arm.

I then got in my vehicle and drove home to my Holly Golightly.

14845 Marine Dr, White Rock, BC

If you are going to get a tattoo – I highly recommend Mike, Cass, and Travis at White Rock Tattoo.

Don’t waste your time going anywhere else – this is the best tattoo shop (in my opinion)!

Oh, and by the way, tell ’em, Danny sent you!

Dedicated to Mike, Cass, and Travis.

I hope my stories are a gift to your head and heart.

Hugs,

Danny

Click on this Index to view my 210+ stories.

Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):

My Back Pages – lyrics

Crimson flames tied through my ears, rollin’ high and mighty traps
Countless fires on flaming roads using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon, ” said I, proud ‘neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth, “rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white spoke from my skull, I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

Girls’ faces formed the forward path from phony jealousy
To memorizing politics of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists, unthought of, though somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now

A self-ordained professor’s tongue too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty is equality at school
“Equality,” I spoke the word as if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand at the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy in the instant that I preach
My existence led by confusion boats, mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now

Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now

Songwriters: Bob Dylan
My Back Pages lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

About Post Author

Daniel (Danny) St. Andrews

An almost famous Film, Television & Stage Actor (as in almost pregnant) living in Vancouver, BC His other passions include cancer patient advocate (he had stage 3 throat cancer), walking with the Vancouver 'Venturers Walking Club, and of course, spoiling his dog, Holly Golightly. If you like the stuff he writes about - please leave a hug (or a comment).
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By Daniel (Danny) St. Andrews

An almost famous Film, Television & Stage Actor (as in almost pregnant) living in Vancouver, BC His other passions include cancer patient advocate (he had stage 3 throat cancer), walking with the Vancouver 'Venturers Walking Club, and of course, spoiling his dog, Holly Golightly. If you like the stuff he writes about - please leave a hug (or a comment).

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