September Song…In October

By Neil Earle

Neil 1962 – a callow fellow indeed.

There is no doubt about it there is something about late September-early October that lends itself to subdued, vintage reflections. It’s like that Sixties song by the Fantastiks:

“Try to remember, the kind of September…when you were a tender and callow fellow…”

Well these photos I’m sharing here show me as quite callow all right. Those who know me will get a chuckle. September and classes starting makes me think of two things: enrolling at two colleges in 1962 and 1968. I’ve already told about my Ambassador College days in England in 1968. The 1962 story tells of a too young teen at age 15 enrolling at university in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

What makes this memory special is how my wonderful mother accompanied me to St. John’s and even lined up a ride with Doug Chubbs of Carbonear, a sort of cool guy who drove a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle.

The Volkswagens (“the pregnant roller skates”) were all the rage then and my mom arranged a ride for both of us with this young man who since deceased. Funny thing is, my mother forgot this story last time I mentioned it to her back in Canada (she passed on in 2017 at age 90).

Friend in Beetle, Goose Bay 1968

“The Great Adventure”

Coming from a Newfoundland fishing town – Carbonear, population 4500 – to the capital in St. John’s was indeed what my cousin Ron called “the great adventure.” Leaving home for the first time at age 15 was bound to be a marker event. I have emblazoned on my mind another song that seems to bring that September back. It was Carole King’s “It might as well rain until September.”

There were five people in my graduating class from venerable old St. James School in Carbonear. The lineups for registration (1500 of us!) were the biggest crowds I’d ever seen coming from a town of 4500 people. Mom had the sense to leave me to fend for myself and my blood sugar must have dipped waiting in that enormous line as my ID photo showed. But I came through eventually and met friends I still cherish.

Graduation 1966 with mom and dad – made it!

“Marker Events”

I thought I was the youngest Freshman at 15. But one thing you learn in life is your perspective is always shifting through the kaleidoscope of time passing. There were others my age – Rex Murphy for one who went on to achieve fame on “The National” newscast in Canada.

This was a big part of my induction into growing up – marker events the psychologists call them. Later on when George Lucas made the movie “American Graffitti” I could indentify most with a young Richard Dreyfus as Kurt, struggling to leave home and become a journalist himself. When the movie poster asked, “Where were you in ’62?” at least I had an answer.

So, what’s the lesson here?

Simply that it’s OK to be nostalgic sometimes. Deuteronomy says, “Remember the days of old,” and that includes our own. We gain wisdom when we reflect on time passing as Psalm 90:12 says. And if you still have friends you can trace back to that earlier time that is a wonderful blessing in a day and age that lives by something as shallow as… Twitter. Look how important that was for Judge Kavanagh at his moment of truth in Congress this year.

The Volkswagen Beetle, mom, Rex Murphy and George Lucas – all connected to me in the circle of life. Yes, try to remember, and see if it doesn’t work some strange magic.