I came of age in the 1970s, and my deep childhood connection to the music of The Beatles remains unbroken well into my adult life. This bond goes even deeper because both of my parents were born in the Beatles’ hometown of Liverpool; my father shares a birthday (July 7) with Ringo Starr. Not only were their two birthdays inextricably linked in my mind when I grew up, I can still recall the long-distance phone calls with my aunties and uncles, all of whom spoke with heavy Liverpudlian accents. The Beatles, for me, were family.
The story of Eric Robert Myers, my dad, begins in Liverpool in 1922. Dad grew up in a proud working-class household and bravely answered the call to fight Hitler in World War II before coming back to The Pool, ready to take whatever life would hand him. As it turned out, this wasn’t much. In 1956, after attending night school, he packed in his dead-end job at the Dunlop Tyre factory and ran away with his wife Bunny to America—which, if you were English in the late 1950s, meant Canada.
Post-war Toronto wasn’t exactly a city of gold in those days, and Dad often remarked that parts of Yonge Street weren’t even paved when they stepped off the train in 1956. Still, the relative prosperity of a town that had never been ravaged by Hitler’s rockets, as Liverpool had, and the abundance of like-minded British expats made it feel a little less alien. At least you could get a decent cuppa tea.
In Toronto, Dad was a salesman; at various times, he peddled insurance, encyclopedias, and Better Business Bureau subscriptions. He was a man of few comforts. One, maybe two, warm beers on a hot day, televised sports, and The Goon Show or Bob And Ray on the radio. [...]