Friday, September 10, 2010

My Friend Pam

I went to my 40th High School Reunion a few years ago. Many old friendships were rekindled and it was very interesting to find out what happened to the old gang. It was a very fun weekend!

One of my friends was always the life of the party. Tim was the MC and DJ at all the school dances and sang a very memorable rendition of "The Monster Mash" at a grade 12 Halloween dance of the same name. He was always one of the "popular" guys even though he did not participate in sports. After graduating he became a popular DJ on some of Vancouver's best Rock & Roll stations. This would have been in 1963. I lost touch with Tim and he was one of the guys I wanted to make a point of catching up with. It was only at the reunion early on the Friday night that I began to hear of the private Hell Tim has gone through.

Tim finally made a late entrance into the social. He did not make the usual loud, boisterous entrance that everyone remembered him for but rather made his way quietly in the door and along the wall, silently looking for a friendly face to sit with. You see Tim was no longer Tim but was now Pamela. All eyes snapped over in her direction as everyone tried to process this new information in their minds. The word had gone around before she arrived but there is a difference between "knowing" and "seeing". I waved to her and pointed to an empty chair at our table which she quickly took. As soon as the ice was broken she became the same "Tim" as everyone remembered except in a different "Pam" package. She had had the plumbing changed (got rid of the mic stand as one of her DJ friends put it) but not the voice. She still had a fairly masculine voice, she was still in the process. She told us of the terrible time she had in school, first knowing only that there was something seriously wrong and then by grade ten or so, knowing exactly what was wrong and that she had been issued the wrong body. She said she had to hang around with the guys talking about cars and girls while all the time wanting to hang out with the girls talking about clothes, makeup and hair. Nobody ever caught on, she was very good at forcing "herself" to do what "he" was expected to do, including getting married.

The turmoil she was going through lead to drugs and who knows what else. I can only imagine the frustration, anger and confusion. It was only later in life that she decided to do something about it and make the change. She started the process and cleaned up her life. I have great admiration for her.

Everything soon loosened up and at one point I was over at the bar getting a drink when across the room echoed the old booming voice we had grown up with: "This is the Tim ___ Show on LG 73!. Lets Rock and Roll"! We were suddenly back in the 60's and everyone was looking at the woman this wall vibrating voice had come out of!

Another friend at the table was Lance. He was always a quiet guy in school, easy not to notice. He ended up moving to Los Angeles where he became an LAPD detective and later a crime scene investigator. He was retired but had stayed in California. Deso, one of the two Indo-Canadians in the graduating class came over to the table for a chat. She was and still is a very beautiful East Indian woman. While we were talking Lance confessed, "All the way through high school I had the biggest crush on you"! "Oh my God" she said. "Why didn't you ask me out? I would have gone out with you in a second. I never thought a white guy would be interested in me". File under missed opportunities, Lance....

We are approaching the time for a fifty year reunion. I don't know if there will be one but if there is, I will go. Who knows what else is out there to find out?

Here is Pam last year with fellow 1960's Vancouver DJ's John Tanner, Terry David Mulligan and JB Shane at announcer Al Jordan's memorial:

Photo by Jack Bennest of BC Radio History

Talk about coincidences!

A few minutes after I posted this I got an email telling me about the upcoming 50th Reunion for My Kitsilano Secondary School 1963 Graduating Class! I must be psychic or something!

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