GETTING MORE TALE #833: Postcards From the Solo Summer of ’86
(Part Four of the 1986 Saga)
While we definitely had our fun in the summer of 1986, there was one person missing from all of it: Bob Schipper. I really missed my best friend. Bob was spending the summer in Calgary, Alberta with his older brother Martin. I was so used to doing…well…everything with Bob! It was really quiet around the neighbourhood without him. I had to come up with my own games and schemes without my partner in crime.
I spent a lot of afternoons watching TV in the basement, recording music videos and watching WWF wrestling. I wanted to update my buddy on all the latest songs I’ve been hearing, and the newest wrestling plots and turns. I was bored! But one day, I received a postcard from him. The first contact in weeks! I was so excited to hear from my friend again. Even in this brief postcard, he talked about music. We were both so into rock bands, it was already dominating our interests.
“Hey Mike, it’s me Bob, writing a post card to you to tell you that I’m still living. I hope everything is okay over there, because it’s great here. I got this awesome poster of Gene Simmons you’ve got to see. Well, see you soon.”
My mom got his address in Calgary from his mother, and I wrote him back a letter. I had to update him on all the gossip and goings-on in the world.
A short while later I got a letter back and jumped in glee. I read it twice through. One of the biggest pieces of news that I had to update him on, was that my parents had finally agreed to get a dog. “Boy, Katy finally got what she wanted,” Bob said. It was definitely my sister that wanted the dog most. I was not sure how I felt about it yet. Big changes, big adjustments!
Bob had news of his own. I had heard he was going to be seeing a concert, but didn’t know who.
“You know what, the concert I was going to see, well it was cancelled. The group I was going to see was OZZY OSBOURNE, and I was looking so forward to it, but now he’s coming back in October instead.” That would obviously not do, since Bob would be coming back home in August. The opening act was a group neither of us knew: Metallica.
“P.S. – Have you seen the commercial for Friday the 13th Part 6? I’m going to see it.” Bob loved his horror movies a lot more than I did.
The next letter from him arrived a couple weeks later.
“I can hardly wait to show you the two albums I bought. They’s both rare KISS albums! The first one I bought is a mint condition Killers album with the new KIZZ logo.” This is the very copy of Killers that I own today, acquired from Bob all those years ago. No longer mint condition, far from it in fact. I remember doing things like playing it backwards, and tracing the West German logo with the backwards Z’s. You can see the indentation from my pen. A shame, really.
“If you think that’s great,” he continued, “wait till you see my other one! It’s a picture-disc album, with a Kiss interview on it! On one side it has a picture of the unmasked Kiss, and the other side Gene with his axe guitar! The amazing thing was it was only twenty dollars! Also, I got two cassette tapes, Alive II and Love Gun. I also might be getting Dressed to Kill.” I recall the Kiss interview disc was from the Lick It Up era because they were talking about Vinnie Vincent and taking off the makeup. In fact I still have this interview on a cassette, because I taped everything from Bob.
We were getting closer to getting our new dog in August. Bob remarked, “I can hardly wait to see Katy’s new dog.” Funny how we always referred to it as her new dog. That does bring back memories though, of the way things seemed before we knew what it was like to actually have a family dog. It really did seem to me like it was Kathryn’s dog. And she is definitely the dog person of the family today. She always has multiple pets in the house.
In our letters back and forth, we took shots at the neighbour George, who was a bit of a punching bag for us. It was well deserved though, George earned every bit mockery we poured into our letters. He crossed the line when he tried to steal Bob’s brother’s bike. He stole Lego from us. He was, honestly kind of a dick back then. So Bob ended his letters with some drawings of himself, me, his new nephew Mike, and George.
Reading these letters today, it’s clear how important our friendship was to both of us back then. For me personally, I looked up to him and needed him by my side as I embarked onto my next journey: highschool! It was too bad that I didn’t have my best friend around for that last summer before highschool, but at least I still have the letters.