ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

1972: The Apocalyptic Banana Incident

Updated on October 7, 2012
Pierre E. Trudeau & Richard M. Nixon
Pierre E. Trudeau & Richard M. Nixon

Background Info

Most of what follows is true. Some names have been changed or rearranged to protect the innocent, though with the wisdom gleaned in long-gone years and miles, is any one of us truly not guilty?

Picture it: February 1972. Winter Carnival at E. L. Crossley Secondary School in Fonthill, Ontario. For geographically impaired friends and neighbors that’s in Canada.

1972. Pierre Elliot Trudeau happily occupied 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of the Prime Minister of Canada since 1951. Trudeau was a charismatic character, whose personal motto—“Reason before passion.”—appeared to be at odds with the divergent and polarizing responses his policies or mere presence could stir up. He had a touch of arrogance, which could roll off his tongue with a natural ease.

The image of Trudeau that sticks with me comes from the FLQ Crisis of October 1970 when he invoked the War Measures Act, which amounted to martial law. Troops were deployed throughout the province of Quebec and the right of habeas corpus was removed from all Canadians. When pressed in a scrum with reporters on how far he was willing to go, Prime Minister Trudeau took a gunslinger’s stance and said, “Watch me.”

He was seriously one of a kind and though his shadow stretches across the years, it’s doubtful that a man or woman of his flamboyant personality and intense intellect could rise to power and dominate the scene as he managed to do. Today we’ve been disillusioned and conditioned to accept cookie-cutter tweedledum or tweedledee ballot choices.

Meanwhile in 1972, south of the 49th Parallel, Richard Milhous Nixon was brooding in the White House. The President’s relationship with Trudeau was iffy at best, which made great fodder for cartoonists. Nixon seemed unruffled by those specific representations because he was embroiled in domestic concerns. He was preparing for a reelection campaign that promised to be combative and divisive. An array of potential candidates was jockeying their way through the primaries to take him on, but he had a sizable war-chest and a phalanx of some of the most ruthlessly loyal operatives ever assembled.

The Vietnam War raged on and on, with opposition to it ripping its way across university campuses. Nixon would soon take on an extreme bunker-mentality as a “third-rate burglary” went cosmically haywire because neither seasoned hatchet-men nor slick-talking plumbers could seal up or plug all the leaks. A new word was soon to become an integral part of our lexicon and its aftershocks would unsettle the political landscape for a generation or more—Watergate.

In mid-February 1972 Neil Young’s Harvest was hot off the press so there was much chatter about it. At E. L. Crossley the vinyl disc was destined to have a major impact on many of us and became something of a touchstone for our high school days. For the 1972 yearbook, the Student Council photograph did a notable job of replicating the style and setting of the album artwork.

Sculptures & Snowballs

Winter Carnival day dawned bright and blue. There was a bit of a thaw in the air, but it was still crisp. By noon a fortress of gray clouds was slowly gathering strength and fortitude. Good times and laughter was everywhere to be found. The grounds were buzzing with activity. Students and faculty alike were manning stations inside and out while participants rushed to and fro.

I was doing my best to hang out with girls, which bred angst and insecurity, but was an obsession nonetheless. Being a world-class klutz with pimples and the social graces of an orangutan definitely hindered me. I ham-handedly flirted with any girl who gave me half a minute, but was particularly taken by Bonnie, Judy, Sylvia, Tanya, and Sara—all had blossoming curves and sweet smiles, and mostly tolerated me in a pleasant manner.

There were competitions and games set up in every available nook and cranny. The smoking area at a back corner of the property, which experienced a high volume of traffic throughout the day, even had an ongoing ad hoc recreational pursuit. It had to do with the formation of the perfect iceball—word from various swaggering blowhards was that when completed it would be used to nail a teacher in the head.

The biggest rivalry was the snow sculptures. Class-teams were scattered on and around the football field laboring away amidst varying degrees of urgency. Our class, as I recall, was fashioning a dinosaur of some sort. My vital contribution to the project was lugging buckets of water to be used to freeze up a section of the tail, which was to have a snaky curl in it.

I remember being somewhat amazed by the earnest determination of some of my classmates. It was likely then that I began discovering that I had a latent and insistent inability to give frivolity any weight or gravitas, which likely grinds others the wrong way, but what can I say? We’re all stuck inside our own peculiar foibles and idiosyncrasies, aren’t we?

Lucky for me a snowball fight broke out. In the days before political correctness banished such spontaneous acts or regulated them to the point of destroying the fun of it all, it quickly escalated to a full-blown war. Soon the whole area designated for snow sculptures was engulfed by shouts and strategic maneuvers.

The sky was filled with tracers of snowballs being tossed back and forth, with the combatants entirely unsure of who to target next. A cluster of pedestrians wandered onto the battlefield. In the midst of them was Mr. Rivers, a teacher of history and mathematics and generally speaking one of the good guys.

A hurried volley of snowballs went arcing at the interlopers. One handmade projectile, however, took a much more direct trajectory. Afterwards there was much confusion and ambiguity, with no one able to accurately ascertain who had thrown it. In some circles, the fact that it hit its mark and resulted in a good-sized welt would be the topic of speculation and gossip for years.

The straight-line bullet struck Mr. Rivers in the forehead, causing a twitchy jerk that knocked his military style hat off. He momentarily staggered, but held his balance. It had been a solid sucker of an iceball. Evidently someone had won the prize in the ad hoc competition initiated in the smoking area.

Gone Bananas

When the uproar of the snowball escapades ran its course, there was a challenge in the cafeteria that I’d been conned into entering—a banana eating contest. Since I most definitely enjoyed bananas and they were easy enough to wolf down, it figured to be a no-brainer deal.

Little did I know that in a matter of a handful of moments my entire outlook would be radically altered. The object was to eat as many bananas as possible in one minute, which on its sheer merits had hilarity written all over it, but there ought to have been a warning: Attempting to rapidly devour bananas could be hazardous to one’s health and well-being. Alas, there was no such caveat so we proceeded onward and upward. A stack of the yellow fruit was placed on the table in front of each contestant. Spectators were lined up six and eight deep cracking wise and yelling laugh-riddled encouragement.

When the signal to start was given, I grabbed my first one, peeled it and rammed it down my throat in one motion. Onto number two. At the four and a half banana junction, a buddy in the clamoring throng bellowed my name and got my attention. Let’s call him Jack, which is an outright lie, but I did inform you of the certainty of some names being changed or rearranged, didn’t I?

He had been a friend and companion since second grade at the White Elephant School on Burnaby Road in the backwoods of Wainfleet Township. As I gobbled bananas he was standing on a chair in the midst of the gawking swarm—grinning ear to ear with his eyes lit up and cheeks blushing rosy pink.

Jack made a rather ludicrous hand gesture and whipped off a snappy one-liner, which caused an unwanted attack of the chuckles in me. What happened next occurred in seconds, but had the feeling of minutes, hours—what occurred in that slow-motion timeframe seared itself into memory and forever changed my perspective on and attitude toward bananas.

I started laughing, then choking on a mouthful of partially chewed gunk. My throat was clogged—what was in there decided it would be best to come up instead of continuing its descent to my stomach. I clenched my teeth tight and put a hand over my mouth, not having any desire to spew gobs of crud across the room.

It was then, at that instant, when I was holding my breath and forcing down a swallow that I began gagging. When I say I began gagging I do not mean the stifled suppressing of a cough or sneeze done in polite society—no, not at all.

I was a heaving, retching, red-faced mess, shuddering and suffocating. Do you have any idea where semi-solid gunk goes when it can’t escape the mouth or go down the gullet? The exact same place liquid goes—out the nostrils.

It was horrid. Embarrassing. Sickening. Squishy chunks of whitish-yellow goo came shooting out my nose accompanied and no doubt lubricated by a greasy slick lathering of nasal mucous—which in olden days was simply known as snot.

I recovered, eventually. I was picking or blowing fragments of banana-encrusted snot out of my nasal passages for days. The distinct aroma of bananas became a stench that lingered with me for weeks, perhaps even months.

The 1972 Winter Carnival at E. L. Crossley Secondary School likely produced better recollections for others. For me, it will ceaselessly be known as the locale for a humorous bit of humiliation that still generates a self-effacing smile.

Once upon a time banana bread was a comfort food that my mother would bake special for me, but not since that seemingly harmless yet fateful February afternoon. Nowadays, decades removed from the apocalyptic banana incident, the slightest sniff of a banana or the telltale scent of banana bread in the oven can make my stomach do a slow, queasy roll.

And so the story goes.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      5 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you, writinglover

    • writinglover profile image


      5 years ago from Lost...In Video Games

      Wow...this was hilarious! Voted it up!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you, CyberShelley.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the great laugh, my imagination ran riot. Sorry you can not longer enjoy the simple fruit ha ha Up, interesting and fuuuuny! Sharing with my followers !

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      sheilanewton - You are very kind. Your encouragement is much appreciated. Blessings.

    • sheilanewton profile image


      6 years ago from North Shields, UK

      What a brilliant writer you are, Ken. And what an amazing story of a piece of unforgettable history. Thanks.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you, breakfastpop. Hope all is well.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      6 years ago

      Now, I can't ever look at a banana again!!! Up and funny!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, Janice. Yeah, I finally did many years after the fact. She was not impressed.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hilarious Ken The good old days are so much fun to remember. Did you ever tell Mom you did not like Bananna

      Bread anymore. I finally fessed up and told her I sold it for a good price. She just laughed!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      6 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Paradise7 - Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated. And for sharing your memories. It really was a different time, seemingly a whole other world. Blessings.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      You're a lovely writer. How'd I miss you? I remember both Nixon and Trudeau, and the cartoons, and the Vietnam war, and Watergate, so you are speaking to my generation. "Heart of Gold" was a great pick, too.

      The banana incident could have been serious. You very well could have choked for real, so I'm glad it was just a terrible social gaffe which is, no doubt, remember by most of your classmates with heartless laughter!

      I had a poster of Nixon as a used car salesman. It fit so well. I can't help bursting into chuckles remembering that.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)