Pat Blythe – Out with the old…..the roof…..and music

I am starting with a song and lyrics simply because I think everyone should listen to this. It’s evocative. It’s emotive. It’s powerful. It has me weeping uncontrollably. We’re going to be more than okay. We are all shooting stars.

Shooting Star lyrics – ©Rival Sons

My love is stronger than yours
It’s stronger than yours
It’s stronger than yours
My love is stronger than your hate will ever be

And my faith is deeper than yours
It’s deeper than yours
It’s deeper than yours
My faith is deeper than your doubt will ever be

We move through the world like
Shooting stars across the sky
Splitting through the darkness
Putting a light into their eyes

My laughter is louder than yours
It’s louder than yours
It’s louder than yours
My laughter is louder than your shouting will ever be

And my dancing is better than yours
It’s better than yours
It’s better than yours
My dancing is better than your marching will ever be

We move through the world like
Shooting stars across the sky
Splitting through the darkness
Putting a light into their eyes…

Rival Sons, CNE, 2019

What comes to pass…..

All things must come to an end and so it goes for the old CIBC building on the corner of Queen St. E. and Kingston Rd. Actually, an entire swath of land stretching from Orchard Park Blvd. to Kingston Rd. Yep (sigh)… once again. I know they want to cram as many people as they can into one spot but maybe some townhouses with a modicum of a backyard might be worthy of this project. Would actually be a good blend for neighbourhood and surrounding area? Living just up the street from the project, I can hardly contain my excitement for construction to being. It’s never-f%&king-ending around here.

One plus…..Penny Lane remains intact. So named in remembrance of my late mother-in-law, Marion “Penny” Blythe lived above the bank for many years and was quite the fixture in the neighbourhood. People think I’m quirky, you’ve never met Penny. That apartment was also Chris’s first Toronto home when the family moved here from Oshawa. Six months later Chris moved out and had taken over three rooms in the old semi housing Cottingham Sound on Queen St. West. Thus began a 40-year career in photography. Digressing……

Penny collapsed of a brain aneurysm in 1981. At the time Chris and I were living downtown on Sherbourne St. so we decided to move east and take over the apartment. The rent for approximately 1200 sq. ft. (with 12-foot ceilings) was $262 (if memory serves). Chris was right back where he started in Toronto. It was several years later when Chris was heavily involved in local politics, he put forward an application to name the then unnamed lane that runs alongside the bank, joining the corner to Orchard Park Blvd. behind the bank. Assisted by the local Toronto councillor at the time the suggestion was approved by Toronto City Council and it has been Penny Lane or Penny La. for the past 25+ years. The Lane was change to La. as too many signs had been stolen. Quelle surpreez!

Penny Lane – The Beatles

Roof stories……

The potential demolition of that building raises so many memories. Almost 15 years of living and loving. The roof was our backyard. We watched the Ashbridges Bay fireworks while BBQing and entertaining friends. A child’s turtle swimming pool was filled with dirt for my garden of flowers. We had folding chairs and small tables as well as mats covered in blankets for seating or sunbathing.

The old backyard now a rooftop patio

The way up was through an access in the tiny kitchen and a permanently installed ladder. Chris also rigged up a type of pulley we’d tie a large bucket to. Food, utensils, plates, beverages, etc. were all piled into the bucket and whoever was on the roof cranked it up. It was an extremely effective mode of transportation for all sorts of stuff.

Corn plants……

Speaking of the roof….. We moved in November of 1981. The following summer Chris was back out on the road again with the band Shooter (if memory serves) or maybe it was the Lydia Taylor Band. Either way, Chris was no sooner out the door than the bank calls to see if the roof can be inspected. My heart stopped. Normally not a problem but what the bank was unaware of is that Chris had four rather large pot plants he had grown from seed lapping up the sunlight on that roof. In fact, they loved it so much all were over four feet high and BUSHY! What the hell was I going to do??? In 1982 this was not even close to legal. .  It was a flat, tarred roof and I knew the bank had it checked annually….. BUT NOW!!!!

I asked them if they could wait about 30 minutes (which they agreed to) while my totally panicked mind tried to get at least two neurons banging together to figure this out. It was a Cat 6 tornado in there. The only solution…..chop them down. (oh stop groaning) So, with the largest serrated knife I could find I headed up the ladder to effectively chop these babies down. At this point I hadn’t thought about step two…..where to put them. The stalks on these plants were about 1.5 inches in diameter. Healthy buggers. I literally had to saw my way through them, leaving about a half inch stump peaking out of the dirt.

Now, to shove them down through the chute and of course the first plant is upside down so all the branches are catching on every single rung of the ladder all the way down. I try desperately to force it through without losing my footing….there was some gymnastics involved I won’t get into.  I had about 10 minutes left and the panic is rising until I think my head is going to explode. Plants two, three and four go down proper side up and now I have mass of extremely healthy, odiferous marijuana plants covering my entire teeny tiny kitchen floor. First thought, Chris is going to kill me. Second thought, there is no effing way I’m telling him while he’s away. Third thought, where the hell do I put them????

The only place I could think of… clothes closet. They fit, barely. It was the only space large enough to cram them in. The bank called just as I slammed the closet door shut. Deep breath. I waltzed down the big oak spiral staircase, calm on the outside while my insides are a raging tsunami, to let them in. I led him back upstairs to the kitchen (damn I forgot to sweep!!) and hoped he wouldn’t notice a few stray leaves. I stood on them. He was impressed with Chris’s setup to access the roof and proceeded up the ladder. I followed. I think he was relieved he didn’t have to use the outside fire escape. He strolled around the roof, checked all the corners and made sure the sealant between the roof and the small three-foot wall was good. Just as he was about to go back down the ladder he asked what had been growing in the pots as he peered at the little stumps. The only word that passed my lips was “corn”. He nodded, headed back down the ladder and showed himself out. I was shaking so much I barely made it down. I have no memory of the rest of the day.

My clothes smelled like pot for weeks. “Corn” became the code word right up until Chris died. I know, I know, the burning question, was Chris pissed? Actually no, when I told him what had happened I think he laughed until he cried. I, on the other hand, was not impressed! I did have the foresight to hang those damn plants upside down until he got home though.

It’s amazing the memories that come flooding back when something that’s become a fixture in your life is no more (or is about to be). Change is a constant. There are actually three things that are guaranteed in life…..death, taxes and change. None of them exactly uplifting when you put it that way.

I try to look at change as a positive. Change can be a pleasant surprise. Change takes us forward. Change brings new people, new relationships, new experiences and growth. Change is a teacher, a mystic, a mentor, a child, a lover, a friend. Change is our future. Change is hope. As a wise woman once said, “change rids us of boredom….besides, only stupid people are bored.”

All Things Must Pass – The Beatles (full band demo)

All Things Must Pass – George Harrison

Visions – Stevie Wonder

We May Never Pass This Again – Seals and Croft

Dance on a Volcano – Genesis

You Can’t Touch This – M.C. Hammer

Don’t Stand So Close To Me – The Police

Reunion – Collective Soul


Photograph of Rival Sons ©2019 Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera

Marijuana tree ©Raesidecartoon


Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

One Response to “Pat Blythe – Out with the old…..the roof…..and music”

  1. I don't know these days of future past (not xmen, moody blues - Thom) Says:

    Pron. “So dah chay” — Brazilian/ Portuguese

    Saudade is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one cares for and/or loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never be had again.

    “There’s a Brazilian term, saudade. It means sadness for happy memories”

    sat dec19 1987, up in the air on the 2nd floor for a party… Up in the air the memory will float. “Hi Robin, I’m Frank”. Thank you Pat, thank you Chris. In fact – now that I know…thank you Penny.

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