I might not have become Johnny Maraca without Durham

I didn’t want to go back.
It was the Christmas of 1985 and I had returned home to Scarborough after spending three weeks at my first job at an art & collectibles magazine in Durham, Ontario. Sounds like an oxymoron but the Canadian trade magazine devoted to such topics had its base in and old farmhouse on Highway 6, two hours north of Toronto.
My parents convinced me to stick it out.
The job had been advertised in the Globe & Mail and I thought the location was Durham Region, just east of Scarborough.
Nope.
It was a town of 2,000 or so, a 30-minute drive south of Owen Sound, where I chose to relocate.
My first apartment in Owen Sound depressed the hell out of me. A third-floor attic that literally had no kitchen sink. I had to wash my dishes in the bathtub. And then….
The landlord informed me that her husband was going to bring his van home from work so I would have to park in the lane way behind the house. On many a snowy morning, my Sunbird would be stuck in a foot of snow until the plow finally arrived.
I was greeted every night by a snarly, one-eyed dog that regarded the porch as her territory. It was just a brave front. Either that or she couldn’t see well enough, but once you got close the dog would settle down as if to say, “Oh, it’s you. Sorry about that.”
I only stayed there for two months before finding a better place.
My employers sensed my lack of enthusiasm for the world of collector plates and Royal Doulton figurines.
I was a journalism grad. I wanted to write for Rolling Stone, not type stories about Norman Rockwell plates. But it was a journalism job and I figured it would eventually lead to Rolling Stone….or something that really inspired me to pound the typewriter (computers were just being introduced to our trade).
And ultimately it’s Khanson Wong’s fault.
I’m kidding. Khanson’s company handled the typesetting and pre-press work for the magazine. He was living in Wiarton and we carpooled to Durham. The Wongs….Khanson, Roberta, Khanisa, Khandra and (later) Tim became my second family and made it easier to resist running back to the big city.
In a nutshell , I hit the ceiling on that job. A guy with an impressive resume was ready to launch a weekly newspaper in Owen Sound. I quit the collectibles mag to join the new venture. The paper never got off the ground. The local radio station needed a copywriter and here I am.
So imagine if I had insisted on staying home during that Christmas break nearly 30 years ago.
Landing a newspaper job in Toronto and eventually writing a book about Rob Ford! That could have been me chatting with Jon Stewart and Seth Meyers.
Probably not.
Robyn Doolittle is a terrific reporter and a talented writer. She’s earned it.
I may have struggled finding a newspaper or magazine job and chosen a different career path.
It’s one of those forks in the road that gives me a feeling of “what if” but I ended up in Wasaga Beach (the summers friggin’ rock!) researching, voicing and producing a radio show I love.
Maybe things worked out in the long run.

About johnnymaraca

host of Johnny Maraca's Rock & Roll Riot, the rockingest show on the radio. 60 years of rockin' rhythm and blues, from the late '40s pioneers like Louis Jordan to Elvis, Chuck Berry, CCR, Stray Cats, Ramones and tons more. Friday and Saturday nights at 7 on 97.7 the Beach, listen live at http://977thebeach.ca, and WRSG in Middlebourne, West Virginia, Tuesdays 6-8 pm.
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