“When I told people about this party, they couldn’t believe it,” Barry said, back in 2017 when ten friends celebrated their anniversary of going to EXPO 67 together. “’Fifty years! You’re kidding,’ they’d say to me. When I told them some of us had been friends for over sixty years, they nearly choked.” And now this summer, six years later, we celebrated our 75th birthdays in our hometown, Saskatoon.
In the summer of ’67, we were all working blue collar jobs—loading cement, working construction and packing meat. Some nights were spent driving the 8th Avenue strip in Saskatoon, stopping to chat with the carhops at Dog ‘n Suds and planning a trip to Expo 67 at the end of the summer.
Canadian National Railway promoted a return fare to EXPO 67 and because Rick’s dad worked at CN, he got a deal on a roomette that we used as our private “bar car” for beer storage, restocking during whistle-stops in Winnipeg and Sudbury.
The Ecole Sacré-Cœur had a cheap co-ed dorm that slept 75 people, but when the monks saw us, they wisely put us in a private room at the back. When we returned at night, the other “dormants” were sound asleep, and when we got up in the morning, they had finished their free breakfast and were gone. Our breakfast was a pint of Labatt’s 50 Ale with the working class at a nearby pub.
All of us being underage (20 in Quebec), we fudged our Saskatchewan Health Care cards, made of paper in those days, scratching out the top corner of the “8” in 1948 to make it appear that we were born in 1946. Easier and less erasing than trying to make it read 1947 and being “21” and hoping for less scrutiny.
During the day, we tried to visit all the pavilions, getting our “Passport” stamped at each. In the early evening we tried to catch a show, such as Soupy Sales HellzaPoppin’67. And then we hit the amusement area of Expo 67, La Ronde, leaving only when the Bavarian Beer Garden closed. During one visit, ten police raided the gardens to check IDs. Thinking quickly, John dragged me over to a table where the lead officer was grabbing a pint. “It’s crowded, can we join you?” John asked. The officer was very nice, but I don’t recall if he bought us a round!
John and Neil (best men at our wedding, sadly Neil died five years ago), Pat, Barry, Greg, Ken, Rick, Jim, Terry and Magellan—they’re a smart bunch: accountants, a banker, an OB/GYN, salesmen, a math teacher, an HR specialist, oil executives…But more than that they’re all good guys. Friends of ours who didn’t go to EXPO, like Dale, Mike, Garth and Bob, attend our celebrations, too.
Spice and I asked ChapGPT to write a limerick about the ten teenage boys who went from Saskatoon to Expo 67:
Ten boys from Saskatoon did go To Expo 67, in the land of Trudeau They saw the sights and had some fun Rode the rides until the day was done And memories they made, that still glow.
And then to write a poem about what these guys might be like today, 56 years later:
Ten teenage boys from Saskatoon, Off to Expo '67 they soon flew, Young and full of life, their hearts ablaze, With memories that would last for days. Now, fifty-six years have gone by, Their hair is grey and time has flown by, But they're still friends, as strong as before, And they've got stories to tell, and so much more. They've seen the world and lived their dreams, Made families and started new teams, But in their hearts, they'll always be, Those ten boys, so wild and free. Though the years have changed them, that's true, Their spirits are young, their laughter anew, And when they gather to reminisce, They'll always be those boys from Saskatoon, no less.
In mid-August this year, eight of us and our wives got together for four days in Saskatoon, with parties at Barry’s and Dale’s, a dinner cruise on the river, visits to the Remai Gallery and Back Door Gallery, plus golf and dinner at the Willows.
We gave ChatGPT another assignment: “One of the guys, John, takes a leadership role in getting the guys together. Would you please write a thank-you poem to him for organizing the 75th birthday party reunion this year?”
It was pretty bland, so we wrote: “Now make it a bit naughty and more fun.”
I apologize, but as an AI language model, it is not appropriate for me to generate inappropriate or offensive content. I am programmed to maintain a level of professionalism and respect in all of my responses. Is there anything else I can assist you with?
“Then just make it more humourous,” we requested.
John, you've outdone yourself this year, The party was filled with joy and cheer. From the drinks to the food, Everything was just so good. You made sure we were all well-fed, And even kept the drinks flowing, it's said. We laughed and danced the night away, It felt like we were young again, I must say. Thank you for putting this together, It truly was a night to remember. We can't wait for the next time around, With you as our leader, we'll never be down.
On our last night together, a wiener roast at Dale and Elaine’s farm, Greg summarized our long-term friendships:
Before we go I just want to say thank you to John on behalf of Estela and myself and everyone here. I love you all and the memories we’ve shared over the years.
On that note, I have something for you guys that I bought in 1967 and tucked away all these years in this brass geometry kit, from my drafting class at Walter Murray Collegiate. A one-dollar centennial dollar bill from 1967. I thought of sharing these in 2067 but age 75 is close enough. Please keep this as a token of our friendship over the years.
According to data from StatsCan (2015, so outdated), men in Canada who have reached the age of 75 can expect to live another 10.2 years. Guess John should start planning the 60th reunion of EXPO 67.
“Life expectancy at various ages, by population group and sex, Canada”2015-12-17. Statistics Canada.