September 27, 2019
In 1968, I was wearing out the grooves of Simon & Garfunkel’s LP Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. And Scarborough Fair/Canticle was my favorite cut on the album.
are you going to scarborough fair
parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
remember me to one who lives there
she once was a true love of mine
And a series of coincidences, surrounding the Scarborough Fair/Canticle track, will always be linked in my brain:
- At the end of June, 1968, I left Sault Ste Marie for Toronto to meet up with the group that was going down to the Brothers’ Novitiate in Narragansett. We met at the Toronto Brothers’ headquarters in Scarborough, Ontario. (That’s were the Toronto Brothers’ Motherhouse was back then.)
- The next day, we piled into a beige van for the trip. There were 6 of us – Jimmy, Nelson, Ray, Brother Lucian, Brother Phillip and me – in a boxy vehicle driving into the unknown. (My experience of the U. S. was crossing the bridge into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and I certainly had no idea what Rhode Island, let alone this strange place called Narragansett was. I remember looking it up on a map and still had no reference for what I’d find.)
- I can still see the green highway sign on the 401, pointing us back to Scarborough, but we kept west, making our way towards the US border at Buffalo, New York. ( Scarborough Fair/Canticle playing in my head.)
- We must have stopped throughout the 9-hour drive, but the only stop I remember was in Providence. We got there late afternoon and went looking for someplace to eat and I couldn’t get over the fact that the place looked deserted. It was the weekend, but I knew nothing of American cities and their work-week rhythms. So, it was strange to see this empty city.
- The last leg of the trip took us south, probably on I-95, I again saw a green sign announcing Scarborough Beach; we took that exit. Talk about surreal.
- Days later, after some settling in, a group of us walked down to Scarborough Beach. It was like I had come full circle.