HART’s 1996 European Trip



This is the story of HART’s Jacket…. Pictures will follow


Hello … this is my story … My name is Hart … I first heard about the “internet” in January 1995
and have been online since March 1995 .. if you can call having an account with CompuServe as “being online” …
In the summer of 1995, i signed up with GATEWEST.NET and have been here ever since. The internet greatly
impacted upon my life .. I believe this to be so .. specifically, in the way I viewed life, the people and
the situations around me. I have learned much since 1995 … I have met many wonderful people …
and a few not so wonderful people ..


I was always curious about those talk shows .. YOU KNOW the ones .. Jenny Jones, Donahue, that new-guy (at the time)..
Jerry Springer? A psychologist will probably suggest that my fascination arrived as a result of failing my final
university course three times, due to lack of “participation” (aka – chatting in public) back in the early to mid-1980’s)
Perhaps that is why I was so fascinated by the fact that one can actually chat with people around the world in semi-“real-time” ..
Well – I am a fast typist! (thank-you piano lessons) .. and I liked to chat with other people. I could finally have the last
word – or, type something I should’ve said earlier. Yup – I liked to chat online .. I soon discovered that … well …
guys never chatted with other guys and gals never chatted with other gals .. Yes, it’s a big world out there but also a
lot of lonely people everywhere!! Me? Oh sure .. I am friendly … I wanted friends .. girl friends of course.. but ..
I ALSO WANTED TO MAKE MONEY!!! In November 1995, HART’s HomePage first came online ….


The first page of HART’s HomePage was the hardest. But, once you have an idea for a homepage, all you need is “content” ..
My provider loved me … I was on a budgeted 30 hour per month plan and averaging approximately 280 hours per month
online .. Did I mention that after midnite was for free and additional hours were extra??? I would scour the internet
for ideas how to get rich .. for ideas how to entertain people .. for neat little gimmicks that were totally unique
to the mass public … to having the most useful and coolest links that one could find … I would sign guestbooks
for hours on end and get reciprocal links on “friends” pages in order to increase traffic to my website .. I wanted
people to come and BOOKMARK my site!


Get-Rich-Quick … SEND HART MONEY!!!! Why wouldn’t people send HART money? Well, sure – I had no great product
or service to offer .. I didn’t want to rip people off .. I am not dishonest, nor would I want to cheat people ..
All I wanted was their money .. Not a lot of money, any amount of money!! Any amount would do .. I decided that I was
also going to accept coins from around the world. It didn’t have to be those shiny new coins, but could be those “older”
coins too 🙂 .. Perhaps this was my “in” to getting-rich on the internet, recriprocating with trading of coins with
other collectors .. For those that didn’t want to offer me money, they could offer some suggestions! .. I would post
every suggestion, and thought that one day, perhaps I could even publish a book about my exploits and all these
people’s get-rich-quick suggestions.. oh well


Yes – I was going to be rich now, and open my mail every morning and make a deposit every day – So I thought! ..
But, the ca$h wasn’t coming in as fast I had planned. I even tried “fooling” people by creating a Send-Hart-Money Page
with the link referenced as XXX – Hart’s Porn Site… Unfortunately, all this attracted were the younger teenage and
university students, and you can imagine my load of hate emails I received every day when they discovered the truth
about my ruse on that page.. It was spring 1996 and I had lots of time to chat now, and I wanted to be a regular ..
I wanted to belong .. I didn’t want to be ~The New Guy~ .. I wanted a chat HOME where, everybody knows my name …


My philosophy on the ‘net was simple. Be myself .. be HART. Let’s face it – my home address was there for all to see ..
(I was asking people to send me money!) I had nothing to hide .. A lot of people seem to be afraid that they will
stalked or harrassed if they *gasp* revealed their true identity – like their name – in chat rooms. I worry more about
REVENUE CANADA pulling up my Social Insurance Number and freezing my bank accounts, garnishing my wages, keeping track
of me from my credit card receipts, etc … . No, I’m not afraid of being “me” .. Add the fact that, well although I might
like to ’embellish’, it’s much easier telling the truth about oneself than remembering all the lies – or worse – going
through an identity crisis remembering all the characters and names one can create … If people want to really chat ..
to HART .. they should know who Hart really is. I honestly believe that actions speaks louder than words, and if you
ACT like an asshole, you ARE an asshole .. ~YES-EVEN YOU Mr. “ImaNiceGuy” ….


I used to hang out at regular semi-“real time” chat sites, and certain “real time” chat channels in IRC (Internet Relay Chat
programs) and found myself making many friends. I was friendly, I was honest, I was funny at times – and most importantly ..
I was just being a friend to talk to online. I wasn’t looking for “cyber-sex” or “one at every port”, .. no – I believe, I was doing what most people at that
time was doing … sitting in the comforts of home, just having a good friendly time chatting with people around the world…
Until, that is … there came some programs that were not only “real time” chat programs, but you can chat privately to
get to know people even better!


The time was before ICQ or AIM .. and besides being able to chat among friends, in semi-private rooms in the IRC programs,
I did meet one girl that I fancied and eventually bought an airline ticket and met her in person. I wouldn’t go back to change
anything now – but, at the time – it just seemed to be a good idea at the time that was never meant to be. Well – except for
the long-distance bills, the credit cards, and everything else. I sure could use a vacation and it was common knowledge
that my internet “IRC” friends were planning a group trip to London, England and Stockholm, Sweden just before Christmas ..
Me – I didn’t really go out much (couldn’t really afford to I decided), and chatted even more online.


I sure could use a break paying off my bills. I opened my mailbox one day and found a letter from the MBNA Bank
theorizing that I was “pre-approved” for a credit card limit up to $100,000 if I ‘acted now’. I immediately filled
the application out and applied, and was shocked to receive a notice stating I had a $5,000 limit now! WooHoo! The
first thing I did when I learned this, was call the travel agency and booked a flight to Europe! I had everything I
would need – lots of vacation time owing to me from work, Credit card limit (to kite other credit card payments) .. I
shaved off my long hair at that time to get a passport picture (short hair being low maintenance) .. and was almost ready..
Only thing I needed .. was a new Jacket.

CHAPTER 10 – HART’s JACKET was born

Thanks to my cousins Mark and Yale Singer at HARV-AL Sportswear Ltd., I decided to create a new jacket. I didn’t want
a beater jacket, nor did I want a parka. I wasn’t sure what the weather would be like in Europe, but I’m sure it could
either be cold, rainy, snowy or all of the above. I designed a cool looking Leather Jacket with Blue trims and arm guards,
and I had my email address (hbs@gatewest.net) embroidered on the chest. Now, in the fall of 1996 this was highly unusual, as
most people didn’t really know what email really looked like, although they might have heard about it… but, certainly they
never seen it on a jacket. The Jacket was great! Have you ever had your name on your jacket
and someone came up to you and said… “BOB! (or George! or whoever your name is” ..but didn’t know if they REALLY knew
your name, or just read it off of your jacket??? Worse yet – Do I know him? Having the email address on the Jacket
stopped that.

CHAPTER 11 – NOV 28/96 to DEC 16/96 TRIP

My trip was 19 days in length, including the overseas flight. I stayed in London, England for 6 days,
then flew to Stockholm for 7 days, then back to London for the remaining days. This is what I remember most about my
European trip. Nov 27/96 I was up until midnight packing. Nov 28/96 I arrived at the Winnipeg Airport at 5:30am (CST).
Once in London, myself and several of the internet chat friends met, and were drinking and socializing inside
every pub and tavern. A smaller group of friends I had planned to see Stonehenge first thing in the morning was expecting
me to arrive that night, and were planning to leave at 4:00am in the morning! I left my drinking friends, tired, jet-lagged,
(don’t forget the 6-hour time difference too) and sleepy anxious to find the bed and breakfast. I had directions, take the
train to the end of the line, then a taxi to the address. Simple.


Well – I fell asleep on the train and my suitcase stolen. My suitcase with my passports, clothes, directions to
the bed and breakfast, phone numbers, .. everything!! Well, except for all my money and travellers cheques I kept in
my pocket. I remember walking around some neighbourhood alone, no passport, totally depressed, for hours, hoping for
a miracle. I remembered at about 2am that I did keep on a secret page on my website, my itinerary and a few phone numbers.
All I needed was access to the internet – something hard to find in the middle of nowhere at 2am… I found a huge mansion
with a little box room guarding the gates and amazingly found a security guard playing online games ,,, a miracle I thought.
I woke up one of the internet friends living in London, and got the name of the B&B I was to stay at. I apparently was only
35 miles from where I was supposed to be, so I just took a cab and got to the B&B at about 3am … I didn’t sleep
much, as my roommates greeted and got me ready to go driving to Stonehenge …


By 1996, there had been much defacation of the rocks by tourists and they had blocked off the site to the public. We
had gotten special permission to arrive before everyone else to go inside the rocks, in the early morning before sunrise.
We chose to do so. I remember standing – tired, but fascinated with the structure – asking some Druid Gods to have PITY
on me and return my Passport, clothes and belonging. The next day, when I called the train station for the fifteenth time,
I was told that an anonymous traveller dropped off my suitcase two towns over and I could pick it up anytime! A friend drove
me to pick up my bag, and I looked inside it – My Passport was there! My clothes were there! I had an Orange Juice inside
the suitcase, but that was gone – and most importantly – there was a note…. It was from my robber … that said

“Dear Mr. Singer .. I apologize for taking your briefs and case and thank-you for your Juice. I must say,
that as I am quite fond of Canadians, you are most certainly lucky not to have stored any cash or valuables in your case.”

Certainly a polite thief… and, a Miracle of Stonehenge .. By day 3 I had my passport back, and stored on my body from now on!


It was a great weight lifted from my shoulders. Who knows? I could still be wondering around Europe today, trying to get
money to get home to Winnipeg. I surely “Wasn’t Worthy” (Wayne’s World reference) … I was thinking that I am either the
luckiest guy in the world, – or I’m invisible… Yah! That’s it! I must be invisible!! (sitting drinking Guinness…) Heck!
I’ve got about 10 rolls of film with me – I wonder what it would be like to take of my vacation, without any pictures of me???
Well – that’s silly – sure, but .. I could take (tah-dah!) Pictures of HART’s Jacket! I then decided at that moment that
was what I was going to do. I would showcase my new fancy shmancy Leather Jacket, having fun on vacation! Think of all the
things HART’s Jacket could do! And, when I get back to Canada – people will ask me .. “Where are you in all these 10 rolls
of pictures Hartley?” And I would reply – “I’m in all of them – except, I’m invisible… all you can see is my jacket”.


Well, following will be those pictures … but I would just like to mention that after my European holiday, I didn’t do
much else back in Winnipeg, except start to pay off the trip. I was a homebody, at home on the internet listening to music,
chatting in Real-Time with my usual amount of friends – until one day in early March 1997 that changed my life – when Yvonne
found me in the POW-WOW White pages and started to make a conversation with me. When we both realized that we were “LOCAL” calls,
we got off of the internet and chatted in “real-LIFE” and now we are married……….Awwwwwwwww

1996_trip-00.jpg – Yes, Broke and three feet of snow to shovel, I was desperate for a vacation

1996_trip-01.jpg – HART’s Jacket takes a Bus Tour of London, England

1996_trip-02.jpg – HART’s Jacket eating Chinese Food somewhere in Trafalgar Square

1996_trip-03.jpg – HART’s Jacket on the Tour Bus (note the hbs@gatewest.net email address embroidery)

1996_trip-04.jpg – HART’s Jacket stops and chats with some more Internet buddies

1996_trip-05.jpg – HART’s Jacket enjoys a unique blend of Swedish Coffee in Stockholm, Sweden

1996_trip-06.jpg – HART’s Jacket looking for stuff to do in Stockholm, Sweden

1996_trip-07.jpg – HART’s Jacket watches how the Swedish accomplish Mass Transportation

1996_trip-08.jpg – HART’s Jacket back in London, England at Trafalgar Square

1996_trip-09.jpg – HART’s Jacket notices “Bobbies” (policement) taping up Manhole covers due to terrorist threats

1996_trip-10.jpg – HART’s Jacket keeps a watchful “eye” er, “sleeve” for unusual activities

1996_trip-11.jpg – HART’s Jacket almost gets ruined from those nasty pigeon shit *eek*

1996_trip-12.jpg – HART’s Jacket visits the Tower of London, and takes picture of the Thames

1996_trip-13.jpg – Yes – that was a SAFEWAY GAS BAR in London, England .. Hmmmm

Sorry – all other pictures weren’t developed for about 3 months after the trip and didn’t survive or are barely legible and too dark
to be scanned and put up on the internet .. Sorry! Hope you enjoyed the story and pictures though! 🙂

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