Convict Kane

In 1967, when I was 16, I told my mother that I was going to Los Angeles. Great things were happening on the Sunset Strip at the time, I really want to be part of it all, and for some reason she said fine.

I’ve wondered about this last part quite a bit over the years.

So with almost no money and a bag of sandwiches, I sat in a seat on a train from Orillia to Vancouver and then caught a bus to the border where the customs guy accused me of running away.

I told him to phone collect to my mother in Orillia and she would confirm that I was simply on my way to LA and not running away, which he did, and shortly after I was on the side of the highway in northern Washington with my thumb stuck out, heading south.

All it took to get to LA was a handful of nights sleeping in ditches and a bunch of rides, including a long and sleepy one with a farmer bringing potatoes from Idaho to either Watsonville or Salinas. We hardly talked the whole time, which was good. I was tired, and I wasn’t all that interested in potatoes.

Closer to LA I got on a bus and sat beside a nice female college student who felt sorry for me, and at some point when the bus stopped at a restaurant, she called her folks in the city to see if I could stay there for a few days. They said no.

From the downtown L.A. bus station I went directly to the Strip which was the scene of not only young people everywhere milling about, but also bands like the Doors and the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield playing at Pandora’s Box and all the other cool clubs. None of these bands I saw then, but whatever.

But one night I went to Whisky A Go Go (it’s still there), and saw not only the Youngbloods but also the Paupers, a great Toronto band who would play at the dance hall in my hometown Orillia from time to time. I also thought that maybe I’d meet a nice California girl at the Whisky and possibly get laid, but again, whatever.

I was on the Strip for about a week, staying in various dumps far from the good parts of West Hollywood, and being careful not to be out and about after 10 pm because Sunset was under curfew to those under 18 after huge riots had taken place there less than a year before. They made some sort of movie about this riot, called, aptly enough, “Riots on Sunset Strip”.

But one night, I think after the Youngbloods/Paupers show, I got sloppy, and while walking down the street around midnight, a cop pulled up and asked for ID. He saw that I was only 16, and the next thing I knew, I was in handcuffs that were way too tight, and hauled off to the cop shop.

At the station I asked the cops if they would phone Orillia, just like at the border, and have my folks take care of business. One of them phoned my mother, collect of course, and told her that I was arrested for breaking curfew and would be sent to a juvenile hall the following morning.

At juvenile hall, with big and impressive penitentiary-style walls, I turned over my clothes and wallet, which was all I had, and put on my new prison clothes. Then I was taken to a dormitory, given a bed and blankets, told the rules, and settled in.

It all kind of sucked of course, because I didn’t know how long I’d be there. Myself and a bunch of guys who were there for better reasons than breaking curfew, played cards and baseball, and I even had to take classes in a school room where I learned almost nothing about American history.

Then one morning, after about seven days, I was eating breakfast in the big hall when I heard my name called, and an official told me my parents had sent a plane ticket and I was leaving right away. So I left breakfast, got my clothes and wallet back, and was escorted to not only the airport, but right to my seat on the plane. They took curfew breakers seriously back then.

I got to Toronto, grabbed a bus to Orillia, and the first thing my mother said to me was that they weren’t mad, although they probably weren’t thrilled about having to buy a plane ticket because they were pretty broke I think.

I told a friend of mine who’s an LA cop about this a few years ago and he said that nowadays there’s no way they’d put a kid in juvenile for such a minor thing as curfew breaking. There’s way too many real criminals, and I’d just be taking up space.

Which is what I kinda thought at the time.

June 16 1967 – Monterey International Pop Festival, Monterey, California
July 14 1967 – Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood with The Youngbloods


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7 thoughts on “Convict Kane”

  1. Thanks Brian. Some friends here in Powell River have been bugging me about doing that. But I have reservations.

  2. Hey Dennis, I think you should write a book about your experiences, you could be the Mark Twain of the north. I think it would go over really well.

  3. In a way I kind of consider your adventures as a book done in mini chapters.

    Dennis you have had one whale of a life it appears. I envy you. I was a traveler also by times ( mostly work related ) but you have really experienced a great deal and that is what life ought to be about.

  4. What a pile of donkey dung commin’ outta Bergeron’s verbal shoot!!!! Got Andrew Shaw from Hawks to add some grit to 3rd line—-in essence at replacement for Ellar—-who is in line for not- too- engaged Plekanec’s role as shut-down centre. TOO ADD SOME GRIT!!!!!Kassian, Smith- Pelly, Bunny Larock, my man Wiesse, and a few others—–more than a few were added to add some grit. Who of those ever showed grit once they wore the CH sweaters!!!!!Who comes to Gallegar’s aid while he gets hacked and whacked, or Price when he gets run? or each others aid. Managment must forbid a gritty game. I’m NOT talking about goons, just some guys who can hit ya off de puck. They’re the softest team on ice, not big enuff to play Thornbush’s dump and chase the other guys who stole yer puck in the corner. I like most of our guys BUT they are not used to their potential.Numb Nuts coach may “look better” this year if Captain Kirk can ignite a spark but it won’t be cause of de head coach. Sorry to take up space on your gracious page. I can’t take the crap from our team’s office much longer! Regardless of who your favorite was to take the Cup, that series showed me how Le Glory COULD play with a coach who’d motivate the boys to play with their strengths and ability instead of coach’s passe- no-brain- no creativity -no nuttin’ “system” Happy Birthday to all who had or will have one in 2016.

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