Miramichi Nighthawks International

Posted on September 21, 2007
Filed Under Commentary, Night Hawks International | Leave a Comment

           Many, many years ago, my father, a morning person, called at seven a.m. on a Saturday to tell me a great idea he had had for a story I could do in the paper.

          I had just got in at five. He insisted that it was a wonderful day and I should be up.

          As you can imagine, it was quite painful to try to listen and understand what he was trying to tell me. What I was able to grasp was that it had to do with something I wouldn’t be doing until Monday at the earliest.

          “#$%^ Dad!” I groaned. “You got me up at the crack of dawn after I was out all night to tell me THAT!?”

          So, the next week I wrote a blistering column about morning people who feel morally justified in torturing poor nighthawks. I pointed out that a morning person would have no compunction about mowing his lawn at seven a.m. but would call the law if I mowed mine at say three a.m. when I am wide awake.

          I thundered that morning people have no right to feel morally superior to nighthawks which they obviously do.

          I pointed out that all the great meals, concerts, romances and mischief take place at night and that members of the opposite sex always look their best viewed through a wine glass by candle light.

          The only things that happen at dawn, I wrote, are executions and military attacks.

          I wrote a wonderful rant.

          Nighthawks responded enthusiastically and one suggested we form an organization and rebel.

          So, I had 1,000 membership cards printed up and published a manifesto in the paper.

          The idea was Miramichi Night Hawks International would be people who like to see the dawn but would rather stay up for it than get up for it.

          We would call the meetings after they were held so attendance would always be perfect. How that worked was that a group of people would be sitting around talking, eating pizza, playing music, drinking wine and smoking who-knows-what and someone would notice that it was getting light out. If a Nighthawk member was present, he or she would announce that that was a meeting.

          Anyone who wanted to join would write an account of the meeting, the member would send it to me and I would issue membership cards.

          I appointed myself High Hawk, a suitably ambiguous title, and issued the cards all to expire December 31, 1999. At the time, most people realized that was the end of a century but almost no one immediately realized it was the end of a millennium. I had the cards expire then with the theory that none of us would survive that party anyway.

          There was always at least one Nighthawk meeting at every CCNA convention. The organization took off like a rocket. Applications came in from everywhere. Ships officers visiting the Miramichi would attend a meeting and join. Actors passing through with Theatre New Brunswick would party with me and join. Some of them mentioned that on TV and Arthur Black interviewed the High Hawk a couple of times on his CBC radio network show, “Basic Black.”

          At first I kept track of all the members but then, some nights, when the meeting was called I was in no shape to take names so I would just sign the cards and hand them out.

          Soon the first thousand were gone and I had to have them reprinted. I got some great stories with the applications. One member wanted her card issued in the name of Delta Dawn. She was the wife of a member of a rich, well-known family in town. She was a nighthawk. One night she was up and thought she may as well do a wash. She was loading the washer and decided to toss in her nightie. When the wash was done, she went out on the back porch to hang it on the line. The door snapped shut behind her and left her naked on the porch. Her husband was not the type to be amused by this so she had to get back in without him knowing. She wound up shinnying up a tree, getting onto the porch roof and in through an upstairs window.

          Applications came in on wine labels, pizza box covers and rock concert programs.

          It was great fun.  

          Our first international member was, I believe, Norwegian, Finn David Dahl, Captain of the Dania, a beautiful, new, ship visiting the Port of Miramichi.

          In those days, Miramichi was the venue for Theatre New Brunswick on the night before their only day off. Many of the performers enthusiastically earned their memberships at post-show parties at the home of the High Hawk. One name that springs to mind is Lally Cadeau.

         Our official painting is Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”                                                                              hopper_nighthawks1.jpg 

                                                                                                                                                                              Our official song is, of course, Willie Nelson’s “Nightlife.”                                                                      When Y2K came and went and many of us did survive, I didn’t know what to do. We issued a nationwide appeal for a new High Hawk.

          In May, 2006, at the CCNA convention in Quebec City, the organization seemed to be trying to come back to life. A meeting happened. I’m thinking of printing more cards and starting over. This time they wouldn’t expire until December 31, 2999. By that time, what to do next should be someone else’s problem.


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