Harold Town (not Harry, it's Harold)
I met Harold at the Pilot Tavern he was not a regular there.
we got into some long discussion and he invited me back to his place.
We go to the den and he takes 2 quarts of Scotch out of the cupboard and
he hands me one and a glass. We tour around the house looking at works of Art.
Mostly his, really impressive. We end up in the basement sitting on carasol horses which he collects.
He also shows me a old xray machine he was experimenting with. (I think it might of killed him)
And so we shot the shit til the scotch was gone. he got me some blankets and a couch to crash on.
Not much to talk about next morning heavy hangovers coffee and gone.
"Toronto is a one Town town".
I dropped in on Harold several times after midnight always welcomed with a bottle of Scotch.
I remember some people being there the next morning like wife kids ? I was never introduced.
One night after the Pilot had closed I dropped in with Duke Rebird. he went ballistic. He told be not bring any friends . Then he took a look at Duke. Hey aren't you Redbird that guy trying to smarten up ACTRA.
I'd like to talk to you.
So I was forgiven. he gives Duke and I each a bottle of Scotch and we take the tour.
Only after most of the Scotch. Harold is somhow become a native and is Duke's ally against the whiteman Me?
Harold described one of favorite moments paddling a canoe on a very foggy night in a friend's swimming pool in Claremont.
I liked Harold a lot he was creative and quite brilliant. he was difficult to be friends with. he was slighted easily and always critical. One night he did a sketch of me (I wish I had it) So I grabbed his drawing stuff and did one of him. "Hey that isn't bad." he said which is about as close to a compliment as you got.
I went his studio a few times it had been owned by AY Jackson at one time. it was full paintings everywhere he had bought an adjacent studio just for storage and that was full.
One night I was going to a party and I stopped by his place and asked if wanted to go. It was basically an Artist's party and they were usually pretty good back then. It took some prodding but he finally agreed. He was concerned that all Artists seemed to be taking verbal shots at him. He grabbed a bottle of Scotch and a bottle of Vodka and away we went. it was at a studio on Spadina. We got there about 11 and lasted an hour everybody was taking verbal shots at him and he wanted to go. I was driving so we grabbed the bottle of Vodka and took off up Spadina.
He swore he would never go to another "artist" party. Then he said Doesn't Iskowitz live around here?
I pulled over sure right here. I pointed up to a window. It was a hot summer night and Gershon's studio window was open and the light was on. So there is Town and screaming at the 3rd story window, GERSHON! ISKOWITZ! over and over. Gershon comes to the window and looks down at us and closes the window. We leave laughing.
I started doing a lot of sailing around then.
One night Harold said I could have his sailboat. He says it had been sitting at boatyard in Kingston for a couple of years, He couldn'r sail it himself and he was afraid it would rot away. He owned it with his dentist and Jack McLellland. He got their permission to give it to me. I was excited
It was a beauty from the photos a 40 ft yawl of some famous design. I gather some sailing buddies and went down to Kingston to see it. It was beyond repair. it had sat outside uncovered for 3 years with the hatches open. It was a real shame.
I went sailing for 15 months in the Caribbean and sort of lost touch with Harold and he really never forgave me.
I ran into him at the 22 once a few months before he died of cancer. He kind a gave me a hard time. Like some friend you are. he was as contempuous of cancer as he was of anything but he wasn't the same it was wearing him down. I think of Harold often especially when I am being too critical.
Hi I am Gary LeDrew
And I am writing a book
I was lucky enough to be in the middle of most things in sixties and seventies and got to hang out with some of the greats and near greats and characters of that time.
I was involved in the Art scene and was friends and hung out with Jack Bush, Harold Town, Gord Rayner Robert markle, Mickey Handy, Gerry Gladstone, Gershon Iskowitz etc. etc. and I have stories about all of them.
I was in the music biz and managed a few bands like Kid Bastien and hung out with most of them. I was a close friend of Murray McLachlan for years, and hung out with Mike McDonald, Danny Marks, Praire Oyster, Irish Rebels, Downchilds, Ian Tyson, Tom Cochrane, Burton Cummins etc. etc. of course I was the Lobsterman and sang with McLean and Mclean. I hung out with Cannonball and Nat Adderly whenever they came to town.
I was Toronto's leading bootlegger for 5 years everybody came to my afterhours club from the Rolling Stones to the premier of New Brunswick. And Joanie Mitchell sang there.
I won an Actress in a poker game, Helen shaver cooked me supper and I went out with a bunch of models and actresses.
Lesley McDonnell introduced me to Leonard Cohen , Rod Steward and Paul Shaffer for a few. I hung out with Leonard for a while. I survived a night hanging out with Hunter S. Thompson (sitting with tom Waites)I basically had backstage passes to Maple Leaf Gardens and Massey hall whenever i wanted and Bonnie Rait kicked me out of her dressing room.
In the Movie biz I was friends with Mike Ironside for years and Winston Reckert, Catherine O'Hara, Michael Sarrazin,I have lain on Elizabeth Ashely's belly while she shoved coke up my nose. I showed Johnny Hart and Jack Caprio a good time. I took Howard Duff to Lunch everyday for a six weeks and was on his xmas card list until he died. I drank with Richard Burton at least a couple of times a week for 3 months and he told me everything.
I lived on a lighthouse as a kid and took off sailing in the caribbean for 15 months. I took and sold all manners of drugs and in the seventies I was The guy to know in Toronto.
I was one of the few white guys go to the Elephant walk club. If there is one thing I hope to dispel is Toronto as a dull place.
To business I am getting old and not in great health, I am living on a basic pension and I have to Hustle with my art and web sites most of the month to get by. I am afraid I might die before I get all these stories down
My friend Richard Flohil is also raising money to write his book so far over ten thousand and well deserved Richard was instrumental to the folk and blues and jazz scenes in Toronto and tells a good story too. In my own way I was too, I helped a lot of people along the way and I never really cared about money , you wouldn't believe the people that never paid their bar tabs for starters. i just might be a little more fearless in my admissions. For I am not ashamed of anything I did there is lots I wish I had never done.