I received some very sad news yesterday.. a childhood friend had died.
Let me preface this by saying that there appears to have been many deaths in the last year.. but, after all, death is a part of life. I’m at that age. *sigh* Forty freakin’ five after all.
Stevie Gillie (as I knew him most of my life..) lived a court over. I lived in a court that had a little pathway between the next court.. he lived on the street at the end. On Robroy Ave.
Due to the close proximity (it was the 60’s.. yes I’m old.. and I was a wanderer as a child.) Somehow we became friends before kindergarten. He was five days younger than me.
Stevie, Brian Larson and I hung out.. played .. and had fun. Stevie had a tree house. In that tree house were Playboy magazines which he stole from his Dad.. comic books…among other things.. Like, licorice. We’d ride our bikes up to Gold Door, the local variety store and I would spend all the money I had on string licorice, pop rocks, fun dip, mojos and the like and we’d take it back to the treehouse, read comics and pig out.
Memories of Stevie Gillie… holy. He was my first “boyfriend”.. we were five. He gave me a ring from a gum machine and told me he wanted to marry me. Mind you, previous to this he had wanted to marry Julie Deumo .. a “girly girl” (no offence Julie..) but she had long hair, wore dresses and didn’t like to get dirty. I played dinky cars, had a bowl cut and could beat the crap out of any boy in the neighbourhood. Sorry. I’m still proud of that. And, given the right motivation.. I still could.
His mom told him that I was a “better catch” than the “pretty” girls because I was fun and had a good personality (hopefully that doesn’t mean she thought I was ugly. LOL). I always remember him telling me that.
For my sixth birthday .. he gave me a tambourine. I have a picture of me with it.. but it’s in a storage unit in Cambridge.. I’m in a red velvet dress with a lace collar that my mom made… paper crown on my head, holding up my tambourine as if I’m a gypsy and Stevie is watching me…
I remember hanging in his basement listening to Frank Zappa and Cheech and Chong (he had an older sister.. yes.. totally inappropriate for younguns).. “DAVE’S NOT HERE!”… we were young and we still kinda got it.
He had hamsters. They creeped me out at the time.. maybe they were gerbils…
One time he and Brian and I dared each other to streak (thank you Ray Stevens..) We hid in the bushes in his front yard.. took off our bathing suits.. and would take turns running through the yard (it was not a big yard.) Yeah. We got caught. And all got grounded.
Stevie and Brian and I would play “Flintstones”.. we had these crazy pillars at the each end of the path between the courts.. a couple were falling apart. So we’d bang rocks together and we’d fight over who got to be Fred (did I tell you I was a Tomboy?)
Stevie, Brian and I got in a lot of trouble together.. but it was fun. I vividly remember playing “dinky cars” (most people call them hotwheels now, but I’m old) at Bryan’s house.. in sand…
Another time, Brian was getting beat up by a neighbourhood boy.. Walter (who apparently later went to jail, so he likely deserved this..) on Stevie’s front lawn. I jumped on Walters back and pulled out hunks of his hair till he got off Brian.. then I RAN home.. Walter never retaliated thankfully.. he was a lot bigger than me.
Steve always knew when it was time for him to go home because his father would come outside and emit this very loud whistle. As someone who’s never learned to do the “hockey whistle” (apparently this is a thing they teach you at hockey camp…) I am envious of those who can do this.. but I digress..
Hi dad would come outside and whistle.. LOUDLY .. I’m not sure I can describe it in words, but at this moment, I can still hear it in my head.. “ooooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo” I am really not sure how to type out a whistle.. Long, lower register note, long higher register note.. long lower register note.
Stevie knew that if he didn’t get home in a timely manner, he’d be in HUGE trouble. As I recall, his dad was not a man to trifle with.. LOL. I’m sure that this had to do with Steve being the youngest of five… wouldn’t your patience be a little worn by then?
He was a very good friend to me when we were young.. he stuck up for me, stuck by me.. another time 2 boys from “outside the hood” cornered the aforementioned Julie and I in the “prickle bushes” … Steve came along and got angry at them for picking on his friends.. and they ran away.
Oh!! this is a bad story.. when we were, of course, five.. Steve and I were playing with another boy in the neighbourhood.. Markie. (please note that in the Hammer, all young boys names had to end in “ie”.. some sort of city ordinance methinks)
Stevie and Markie pissed me right off and I went home. They followed me to try to placate me .. or perhaps tease me.. can’t recall.. so.. they wouldn’t leave. AND they were STANDING ON MY FENCE!!! (we had a white picket fence across the end of the driveway, yes, it was the 60s.) So, I went into the house and brought out one of my dad’s shotguns. Thank freakin’ God, Jesus, Allah and Buddha.. my father never kept ammo in the house.
I was like one of the Beverly Hillbillies telling them to get off my land. They laughed at me. Then they left. I am eternally grateful that that instance did not end in tragedy.
When we were older, we’d play crazy hide and seek games that spanned several blocks… good times.
Grade 3. I skipped.. so. Dynamics change. You hang out with different people. Stevie and I were still friends.. but we didn’t hang out as much anymore.
One time Brian’s family was having a party and Stevie, Brian and I hung out in the court and drank Coke with aspirin because older kids told us it would make you high.. yeah, not so much.
Long story short (that is a warning that it may not get shorter..) we didn’t see each other much in high school. We’d say hi and all but.. we hung out with different people.
After a while, we lost touch. Only reconnected about 6 months ago on Facebook. We used the chat feature to catch up with one another.. he was going through a separation, had 3 great kids and had been living in British Columbia for years. It was great getting to know him again.
And then last Friday, he died of a heart attack. Poor guy.
At least we reconnected and shared some great stories. He was an important part of my childhood. But he’s left many people with a lot of great memories. He was a good guy. And for a 5 year old, he was a pretty good boyfriend. In fact, few have been able to measure up to him.
Goodbye Stevie Gillie. You’ll be missed.