I had only one real friend from my boyhood days. He was Harold Morrison. Both of us grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, where I was born. I don’t remember much of our early days, but from talking to Harold over the years I know we shared experiences in coal-and-steel town.
I guess my first conscious awareness of Harold was when we both went to work for The Canadian Press at 55 University Avenue, Toronto. We shared paper-bag lunches, incredible bosses (including Bill Boss, one of Canada’s greatest war correspondents) and the rattle of the newsroom from the Ontario Desk where Boss reigned supreme.
We went separate ways from there, but strangely caught up again at CN where we both worked in Public Relations. We shared similar interests and began to take lunch together. Mostly I remember laughing at those lunches. Harold was a great fan of jokes and puns, and I remember waiters and waitresses alike always wondering who the two bufoons were that were always laughing aloud.
Those lunches became a lifelong habit. We’d meet every couple of weeks or so try new places, visit old favorites and share laughs over beer or Seven-Up, whichever we fancied. And we always laughed. Harold always had new stories and puns, and I loved to comment on the human condition and its many ridiculous customs. With Harold gone, the world has suddenly become a less friendly place.
I could ramble on and on about our eccentricities, but I think I’ll just end this by saying we avoided what Gary Lautens used to call TOTS disease (Taking Ourselves To Seriously). I’m sure Harold’s family will feel I’m not taking his death seriously enough, but I’m certain Harold went out laughing–and with a joke ready for St. Peter. I’m still laughing, my friend, and my time is coming soon enough!