Jim Furlong: Oh Captain, My Captain

Jim Furlong: Oh Captain, My Captain

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The legalization of marijuana has come upon us and the world didn’t collapse. There aren’t wandering gangs of wild-eyed potheads roaming the streets looking to overthrow the government. 

This is a good opportunity to tell you a story from the good old days and a road not taken. In the early 1970s, I was part of an entrepreneurial counterculture. Me and a couple of friends had opened the Afterwords Bookstore on Duckworth Street. The times were free and easy, and it was good to be alive. Weed was new to St. John’s at the time but it was here if you knew the right people and we certainly did. 

Long-haired Mainlander

One thing I say about the book business is that you meet a wonderful class of people. Readers are a decent folk. They talk lots and they like reading books. Into our store one day came a long-haired fellow from the mainland with an interest in Hemingway. 

We talked a bit and he bought a couple of books. A few days later he was back, and we had ourselves a customer. He was well read and interesting and he knew what he was talking about. Eventually he became one of our ‘crowd.’ Now in those days, people sometimes had ‘street’ names. We had one fellow called ‘The Prophet’ who was half mad and talked religion all the time. My new Hemingway fan called himself ‘Captain,’ although he had no nautical background. 

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Anyway, one day over coffee at the store he asked me if I knew where he might find a little bit of weed in St. John’s. I wasn’t a city ambassador but I’m a helpful fellow. Now I thought he might be looking for a ‘matchbox dime.’

In those days that was a matchbox full of weed that went for 10 bucks. Marijuana wasn’t as good then. There were stalks and seeds and some weed wouldn’t get a fly off. It’s way better today (so I am told). I digress. 

Sound Thinking

Captain seemed like a nice Hemingway lovin’ guy to me, so I asked him how much he was looking for. He said a pound!!! Well, Holy Mary Mother of God. I didn’t come into town on a load of turnips, so I wisely said that it was way out of my league. I did know where there was weed on that scale, but it wasn’t in my circle, so I said I couldn’t help. That turned out to be sound thinking. 

About a week later a young mailman named Gerry, who was a good customer, asked me if I was acquainted with a guy known as ‘Captain.’ I said yes, I knew him well. Gerry told me to be careful that he was a ‘narc’ and was an undercover RCMP officer asking all around about buying dope. 

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I never saw the Captain again. He vanished from the St. John’s scene which was good. In those days when everything was bright and beautiful, there was nothing worse than a narc except maybe selling weed to one.  

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: jfurlong@ntv.ca

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