Friday, July 8, 2016

Memories of the 70's and Metro Toronto Zoo

After a year or two of working at my career, some debt, and a serious lack of savings, then-hubby (as opposed to now-hubby), and I moved into a brand new, almost completed, high rise. There was an Otis strike, so the elevating device had not yet been installed. We were fine with it because we lived on the tenth floor and it saved us ten dollars per flight a month in rent rebate for what ended up being quite a length of months or so if I recall correctly. 

We received moving help from the superintendant and a couple of other apartment employees. It amused us to see many of our second hand furnishings hauled  by a rope up the outside of the building. Thankfully, the dresser containing our drawers of undergarments, or just our drawers as it were, made it. I didn't think I needed to empty the unit, just as it didn't occur to me that my scanty panties could possibly end up parachuting into a parking full of cars, or worse....passersby. Of course this activity always attracted oglers. A few items were carried up to the apartment. My glass coffee table was one of the choices. It however, met its fate around the seventh floor when the superintendent squeezed the ends of the unit a bit too hard. He needed stitches. It needed the trash compactor. 

As I mentioned, our rental was on the tenth floor so we not only saved money, but became physically fit, and experts in planning. After all, who wanted to make that trek several times when something was forgotten? We soon got to know most people in the building, nodding our heads or grunting in passing while panting (this "pant"ing having nothing to do with aforementioned drawers) on our way up the stairs. When the fire alarm went off, (thankfully not too frequently), everyone perspired as they hustled down the stairwell, keeping their small, illegal pets, mostly cats, hidden under their coats. The coats were a must for this feline deception, even in the summer. And yes, we had a cat too.

Before long, we met our immediate neighbours. They were a lovely couple, our age... with a cat. They invited us to join them at their place for drinks. As it turned out, we were not only neighbours, but she and I were going to be work colleagues. At some point they introduced us to more friends and told us about their upcoming vacation to the Bahamas.

This pronouncement made me not only envious, but restless. Because of years of education, our holidays to this point had consisted of either working in the summer or, after I was married to then-hubby,  going to visit the in-laws in Kitchener. They in turn treated us to delicious home cooked Mennonite meals...capon (not to be confused with Capone), pigtails, or pot roast. Sometimes we went to a steakhouse and that was even more special even though I still ordered the pigtails. 

I was fortunate to be gainfully employed...for ten months of the year. The details surrounding the acquisition of this much coveted job, will require another blog in which I will surely elaborate on one of my current pet peeves, youth entitlement. Alas, I digress. On with the story.

It seemed to me that we too should be able to formulate a plan to earn extra funds during our two months of financial drought. We had the time. We had no cash. Unfortunately, then-hubby was tied up with summer courses, a promise he made to advance his unemployed state to that of small income earner. I on the other hand, had no such obligation, so when I heard about the opening of the Metro Toronto Zoo, I decided to apply. 

On August 15. 1974, when The Metropolitan Toronto Zoo opened its doors, I was a proud member of the original staff. The job had actually begun earlier because of visiting dignitaries and the like, but this was the official start date.                              
The uniform requirement was brown shirt and khaki pants...any brown shirt and pants. Fashion gurus would have been appalled. Brown was simply not a colour of choice in 1974, and whenever I asked, sales clerks thumbed their noses at me. So much for shopping at fancy department stores like Biway. 

Tilley Endurables was still six years into Alex Tilley's future...not that I could have afforded it anyhow, and thrift stores sadly, not yet part of my repertoire. Eventually, I somehow assembled an outfit that was passable for about...gulp...$12.

I was already in deficit mode...deduct $ for zoo clothes. Next, there was the transportation. Fortunately, I had been forced to learn to drive when acquiring and accepting my first  job in the village of Uxbridge. The trip to the zoo wasn't far, but nonetheless there was cost involved.  Minimum wage $2.25 ...gas 53 cents..probably per gallon at the time. So the elephant and I were working for peanuts, We both had a goal in mind. We wanted to find somewhere nice and warm to relax. (The elephant found his way to California some 25 years later). I managed eventually to save enough  to get on a cheap flight to the Bahamas with then-hubby.

At this point I'm not certain whether to continue with my zoo adventures or describe our fabulous $99 Night Flight vacation to the Bahamas so I'll give my muddled brain a rest until I can remember where I was going with this story.

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