Randy Rauton

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Clinton Randolph (Randy) Rauton was born in 1952 in Houston, Texas but grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He was 16 when his parents divorced. He chose to go with his mother to Toronto and immigrated as a minor child in September 1968. He and his mother moved into 224 McCaul Street in October. Soon afterward he and his friend and mentor, Steve Blossom, began to make leather goods that they sold at the Yellow Ford Truck store. Steve Blossom taught Randy how to make leather goods in a simple, unadorned New England style that emphasized soft texture and muted color. Their leather belts and bags quickly became the best selling items in the Yellow Ford Truck. In April 1969 Jimmy Wilson moved the Yellow Ford Truck down the street and a storefront devoted to their leatherwork opened at 11 Baldwin Street. Several individuals in the draft-dodger community helped with donations, loans and contributions in what was seen as the first spin-off from the Yellow Ford Truck and the second of what was hoped to be many “liberation tribal stores”. The leather shop grew rapidly and became the vortex of an active community that attracted people from all over the city. Randy assumed a central role in this whirl of people as the only individual who was constantly present at the leather shop. While the other, older members of the commune moved back and forth between Toronto and the commune’s property in Machar Township, Randy stayed in Toronto working in the shop and overseeing the day-to-day operation of the commune’s business. Between 1969 and 1978, he lent stability and continuity to an otherwise very unstable working environment.

Although Randy did not finish secondary school until after 1984 he was widely read. He learned to play classical guitar and taught himself to speak and write several European languages. Randy liked to travel, as did all of the Ragnarokr community. He spent 2½ months in Mexico in 1976. He left for Europe with Bie Engelen in February 1978 and returned to Toronto a year later. Beginning in August 1979 he worked for 15-months for his father’s construction company in Georgia and Florida. In July 1982 he decided to finish school and embarked on a long career as a student to first earn his secondary school diploma, then a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and finally an Ontario Secondary Teacher’s Certificate. Randy finished school in June 1989. He married Kathleen Walsh, a Canadian, a fellow musician and a fellow-teacher, and has three children. He continued to work part-time in the leather shop until it closed in December 1996. He is now an instructor at Central Technical School at Harbord and Bathurst Streets in Toronto.

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