Pat Blythe – Mom is 90!….an autism benefit…..and music

Today… is a very special day. Well, not the day (Monday) but the date (November 4). Today my mom celebrates her 90th birth date. If you ask her, she doesn’t feel any older than yesterday. In fact, she doesn’t feel any older than when she was 16 or 20 or 30. Inside all of us, the years just blend together. The highlights, the lowlights, the surprises and disappointments, past loves, special trips, a glance, a look, a smile, a comment, the colour of your first car…..they are the pictures inside our minds, our “living” stories….they flash before our eyes in a heartbeat….and somehow, we’re not 16 or 20 or 30 anymore.


My mom entered this world ten days after the beginning of the stock market crash in 1929 (it lasted four days). Not the most auspicious timing for her parents to emigrate from Scotland. My grandpa was the 15th of 16 children….my grandmother (Nana) the eldest of two. Between them they raised six children of their own, all born and raised during the Great Depression. I look at my mom and think of all that she has seen, experienced, loved and lost. I wonder what her hopes, aspirations and dreams were as she was growing up and if any of them ever came true.

Blowing out the 21st century candle (wrong direction)

Takeaway Chinese food, a birthday “roll” with a 21st century candle (we’re so prepared….thanks Carrie) and a pot of tea. To mom it was the perfect birthday.

Cutting the birthday “cake”…..

She now has three grown daughters, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She has been the one constant in the lives of four generations (including her siblings). To her daughters she has been our rock, our support, our comfort blanket, our wisdom, our hugs and simply…..our mom. None of us can imagine life without her in it. Happy Birthday Mommy!!!


My sister Chrissie decided to gather all the reading material in mom’s home and park it in the basement. Bookcases, coffee tables, bedrooms all raided of the printed word (although she missed a few). Our  assignment (that would be Carrie and me) and yes, we have assignments… pile the books in various boxes by type (fiction vs. religious/faith-based vs. gardening vs. lifestyle, etc.) in alphabetical order by author. Of course, I come home with a “box-o-books”. Chrissie is a born project manager… follows her wherever she goes. I swear in the next life she’ll come back as a border collie….she’s always planning, scoping the situation out and herding us in one direction or another…..and I love her to bits! She was my two-year birthday present after all.

My dad belonged to the Richmond Drama Society in England so that explains the two theatre books and my interest in theatre….especially photographing ON the stage. I even studied the theatre when I was young, including costume design.

I’ll let you know what that Women and Fatigue is all about. Copyright 1958….this is going be good… report to follow! Key to the Mysteries of Divination….this one is OLD and I have absolutely no clue as to why my dad had this book as part of his collection.

Halloween bash for autism charity…..

I was sick that week with a bad cold and cough. Recovering quite nicely by the end of the week…..a stuffed up head and a very slight, occasional cough was all that remained… I decided to stay in. Wrong! I got a last minute message from friend Kirk Reed (The Reed Effect) looking for a photographer for a friend of his. A benefit costume event, hosted by Charity for Autism, the original photographer canceled without a whole lot of notice so I agreed to fill in.

According to Autism Speaks, Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.”

All set up and ready to go…..

According to Wikipedia “Autism affects information processing in the brain and how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood…a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior…globally, autism is estimated to affect 24.8 million people as of 2015…It has long been presumed that there is a common cause at the genetic, cognitive, and neural levels for autism’s characteristic triad of symptoms. However, there is increasing suspicion that autism is instead a complex disorder whose core aspects have distinct causes that often co-occur.”

(l-r) Yojna Gupta, three volunteers and Anil Puri

However, this column is not about the autism debate, it’s about a super fun night with three excellent bands and a jam-packed club….all to support those individuals who work with, and struggle, with this disorder.

I had a blast. Surprise!!! The first person I run into is my lovely friend singer Marysia Gonzalez. We both agreed we keep running into each other in the most unexpected places. Oddly enough we had just cancelled a lunch date due to other commitments that had cropped up so it was fabulous to see her at the party.

All decked out in its Halloween finery, the event was held at the Pilot Tavern, upstairs “on” the Flight Deck.  This is the fourth year the event has been held here and if the crowds were any indication, the place might be getting a tad too small. I arrived at 7:30pm and by 9pm you couldn’t squeeze another blade of grass in there. The costumes were creative, fun and some simply amazing….the dance floor was non-stop shimmy, shimmy shake 1980s music. Every band was fantastic….Some Girls & Boys, Sonic Boom and Boogie Tilt. Everyone, including myself, had an amazing time…even the bartenders who were kept on their toes all night.

Many thanks to Kirk for reaching out, Douglas Nowlan, Anil Puri and Yojna Gupta for the opportunity. Come to think of it, that’s my first Halloween soiree in exactly 40 years. The last one…..I was dressed as a pussycat and the bash was held the Dream Factory on Queen St. E. (now Vistek)…..but that’s a whole other story.

Now you just know there are a few party pics to follow:

Your local ticket takers and door people….

Some Girls & Boys

Sonic Boom

Boogie Tilt

Crowded dance floor

Today’s set list courtesy of Sonic Boom…..

Gold on the Ceiling – Black Keys

867 5309 Jenny Jenny – Tommy Tutone

Message in a Bottle – The Police

Gimme Some Lovin’ – Spencer Davis Group

Hold the Line – Toto

Let’s Dance – David Bowie

Disco Inferno – The Trammps

Two Princes – Spin Doctors

Suffragette City – David Bowie

Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones

Every Breath You Take – The Police

Happy – Pharrell Williams

One final note….the entire Halloween-themed benefit was put together by volunteers. I don’t have their names (as every good journalist should) but I do want to say, “THANK YOU! You all did an incredibly fantastic job. The evening was an enormous success….you should all be proud….and to the bands….I know your support was immeasurable.”


All photographs ©2019 Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-buttonIn “real” life Pat Blythe has spent the past 32 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry. After an extended absence Pat is now heading back to the GTA clubs, immersing herself in the local music scene, tasting what’s on offer, talking to people and writing once again — sharing her passions and her deep love of music. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who shot much  of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda Little Red-headed dancing girland the Imps, Plateau, Buzzsaw, Hellfield….) as well as national and international acts,  Currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, Pat is currently compiling a photographic history of the local GTA music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES  to dance!

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