Beautiful Scars at the Waterford Old Town Hall
Tom Wilson may be most familiar to Canadians for his role in musical acts like Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and LeE HARVeY OsMOND, but he is leaving his imprint now as a writer, too. His memoir, Beautiful Scars, was published in 2017 by DoubleDay Canada, and his frank style and evocative storytelling have drawn in scores of readers.
The pulse in his story is provided by the initial mystery of his own origins, as he recalls asking his mother, perhaps as early as age four, “How come I don’t look anything like you and George? How come you are old and the other moms are young?” For a long time, Wilson was stuck with the response that his mother, Bunny, provided: “There are secrets I know about you that I’ll take to the grave.”
On Saturday, October 20th, Wilson is making a stop at the Old Town Hall in Waterford, Ontario, for a literary recital followed by a wine and cheese reception and book signing. The start-time is 7:30pm and tickets are $40 (general admission) or $65 (admission plus a copy of Beautiful Scars.) Find tickets here: https://bit.ly/2NKuTJA
For those who attend the event from anywhere in the vicinity of Highway 6, specifically the stretch from Hamilton to Port Dover, it is worth noting that Wilson has referred to this road in the past as the ‘Mystic Highway’ and the area plays a significant role in his imagination. Highlights of the book include his recollections of his upbringing in working-class Hamilton, where he learned early on that he was one of the ‘The Needy’ in the community, and his memory of an early trip with his parents from Hamilton down to Port Dover through tobacco country. This section of the book is worth quoting in full and should act as a good primer for the show, given that Waterford is just a short distance off Highway 6:
“We continued on down to Lake Erie through Hagersville, Dogs Nest and Jarvis until the lift bridge to Port Dover opened its arms to the summer paradise of Hamiltonians, or more so, East Mountaineers. Crossing that bridge into Port Dover was almost like popping the cork off a magic genie bottle. The girls all looked like Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics, or better still the centrefolds from my next-door neighbour’s Playboy magazines, and they walked arm-in-arm with long-haired hippie boys past bearded Satan’s Choice members gathering beside the midway, sucking on bottles of beer, smoking joints and lying in the sun, surrounded by the overwhelming sound of the Port Dover beach bumper cars, the roller coaster and bowling alley.
The Band, or the Hawks as they were known before 1968, did six nights in a row, all year long, up and down the 401 and above and below it too. To me they were the sound of Highway 6 South, Lake Erie, tobacco fields, migrant workers and the Summer Garden dance hall. The first sound of freedom.”
Now, travellers down Highway 6 from Hamilton to Port Dover may have the music of The Band in mind, as well as the words of Tom Wilson from Beautiful Scars. The event in Waterford should be a memorable one.
Final note: along with my young & free press colleague, Jenn Klassen, I host a show called ‘Books on the Street’ on our Instagram page. Recently, in front of the Old Town Hall in Waterford, Jenn highlighted The Home for Unwanted Girls by author Joanna Goodman and I talked about Beautiful Scars. Click the link below to watch the video: