My Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Cook's Clubhouse - Sudbury, Ontario, 1970.

9/21/20233 min read

Captain Cook and My 15 Minutes of Fame

I was a little reluctant to post my picture because I describe Jack Butler as looking like an ageing Tyrone Power. I, on the other hand, look more like Tommy Chong (who I love, regardless). Trust me though, if I shaved the beard I would look just like Tyrone Power. Anyway, I figured since CBC and the local news requested this photo, the truth was out, so I might as well share it with my readers (if you're reading this, you've been abducted ... resistance is futile). Are authors supposed to look like their heroes? Hemingway did. James Jones kind of did. Danielle Steele ... pretty good-lookin'. To the point though: today I enjoyed 3 more minutes of fame, which means I have around 10 minutes left if Andy Warhol was correct.

Does anybody out there remember Cook’s Clubhouse from the 1960s and 70s in Sudbury, Ontario? Well, I mention it because I have been shamelessly (and gratefully), doing interviews to promote my book today. It reminded me that my last taste of fame was in 1970, when I appeared along with my class, on the local television station, CKSO. It was the only English-language t.v. station in Sudbury, so it was a very big deal.

It was aired in the evenings at around 5:00 p.m., if memory serves me, and kids from around Sudbury would get a chance to see themselves and their classmates on television, albeit briefly. You cannot imagine what an exhilarating experience that was unless you are from that era. I remember it like it was yesterday.

My friend and classmate at the time was Gary Beech. Local folks will remember that Gary went on to a long and distinguished career in Sudbury, on the radio. Gary was born for radio, and even in grade 4 had the voice. His hero was the announcer on “Laugh-In,” remember him? Gary Owens. Well, our Gary used to put a hand to his ear and boom out in his already formed 9-year-old voice.

When our moment of fame came, we sat eagerly in the studio. Gary had come up with a sketch involving a school bus driver who hears people sneezing (he may have borrowed this), and as he questions each passenger, and they deny it, he throws them off the bus. As a friend, I was chosen for the starring role: the honest passenger. A sneeze was heard, the angry bus driver approached, and I admitted honestly that I was the offender. The bus driver’s response was to say, “Oh, well have a Kleenex then!” It was brilliant and went off flawlessly. A morality tale for the ages. My line was simple, but I nailed it!

Then, came the moment we were all waiting for. Captain Jim Cook came up to us each individually, and we were allowed a brief moment of fame to say hello to our siblings at home. I knew them all: Kirsty, Jenny and Debby. They were all older and had been with me since birth. They were the only sisters I knew! Nonetheless, I practiced it over and over again in my mind so I would nail that too. I had a sense of professional superiority over my childish classmates, who mumbled their words, in fairness, in accordance with their abilities.

Captain Cook approached slowly, stopping and placing the mike in front of everyone before me. That old man (he was probably in his 30s), sure moved slowly! As he drew near, I cleared my young voice and prepared to speak. The moment arrived, and I introduced myself, and said I wanted to say hello to my sisters: Jenny, Kirsty and Jenny (I think it was them). Aaaaargh!!! What about Debby? Well, Captain Cook kept moving past, probably eager to finish with us and spend a little time with an adult.

Nobody from my class said anything. Gary Beech pulled Captain Cook aside, shared a little professional chit-chat with him, and we all piled on the yellow school bus and headed home. That was that, and unless you saw the show, you were none the wiser until now.

Of course, when I got home, my transgression was mentioned. C’est la vie, and no offence intended. I only hope I haven’t erred too badly during my latest venture in the media. If so, and if you read this one day, be kind.

So, and I did look for the source of this philosophy and couldn’t find one I liked, I simply say I will write as if nobody will read what I have written. If you do, and you either do or do not like what I have written, you will nonetheless prove me wrong. You’ve already won. I’m still going to write.