Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5


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June 22, 2008 2:13 am

I was born the 24th of July on the hottest day of the year. According to the stories of Arthur J. Knight, it took my mother a couple of days to try and birth me, (other stories debate this fact) and when I would not come out forceps were used. I was born that day at the Brome-Mississiquoi Hospital with blue green cat eyes, blonde hair, and a streak of klutziness that has followed me for my whole life.

At age 6 I didn’t see a car coming and got hit by a drive-by car trunk on Albert Street in Cowansville. Arthur Knight’s stories say I flew up higher than neighbour Buster Goyette’s roof and the last thing I remembered was my mother screaming in the doorway. I woke up on the couch with Dr. Roy telling everyone I would be okay

At age 7 I put a Quebec license plate on the back of my tricycle and fell over on a crack in the sidewalk. When I got back on my bike I noticed I could see the bone of my inner thigh through a large hole that the license plate corner had caused. No stitches were needed and Dr. Roy told everyone once again I was going to be okay.

Skateboards became the rage and I owned a wooden tin wheel number. I have ‘great concern” over heights, yet I went up and down that Oliver Street  hill with the best of them. I had no idea that Russell Rychard and Randall Sargeant were hiding in the bushes that day. No idea at all. If I had, I would have picked up my board and gone home. Our parents had just settled the “snake incident” and I thought they were finally going to leave me alone.

Half way down that hill they jumped out of the side bushes screaming at the top of their lungs. Needless to say I fell off, rolled down the rest of that hill, and took off half of my knee cap. Dr. Roy once again came to the house and said I was going to be okay. At this point I don’t think he knew what else to say anymore.

Years have passed and every second day seems to be filled with stubbed toes, bruised elbows and paper cuts. I have slipped down the back staircase similar to a water ride. I tried to tape a 50 pound box up on a broken wooden TV table and it fell and broke my toe.  I laughed when I saw my 100 foot wall of fabric in my old sewing factory tilt and 40 minutes later I was buried under it with a metal pipe crushing my back 7 months pregnant.

Years ago I did the splits in my old store without warming up and heard the “pop” that broke windows around the world and I could barely walk for days. I Insisted on wearing Doc Marten Mary Jane shoes even though every time I wore them I seemed to trip on air and stumbled on the pavement. After a dozen times and no skin left on my front right leg I threw them out.

I live with torn cartilage and little bumps that move all over my knees. If something is 50 miles away I seem to find it and hurt myself. There is also no longer Dr. Roy around to say I am going to be okay– and maybe he would have given up by this point.

Even my dearest old late German Shepherd kind of hated to hang around with me, but he loved the car rides. He enjoyed riding shotgun in the front seat and one day driving down the icy Fallowfield road I did a 360 and we ended up sitting backwards in a snow bank in the ditch on the opposite side of the road.

As we sat there waiting for help, he was still strapped in with a seat belt and the engine exhaust was coming out the tail pipe in the snow bank full speed. So we both sat in the cold and “dog laughed” until the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) showed up. Rolling down the window the constable scratched his head and said,

“Mam, I have been on the force over twenty years and I have never seen a car in this position in a snow bank before”

I looked at him and said,

“You are lucky I wasn’t walking,it could have been worse!”



September 3 2008

Riding with Convicts Through Middle America

“Two guys” got on the Greyhound bus with me in St Louis, MO. and southern gentlemen they were not. What I heard was just outrageous, and I had to write it all down in my notebook in the dark, as it was 3 am. I basically wrote most of the polite stuff down and the off-colour stuff I will save for my stand up routine some day. Both ‘gentlemen” had been in jail at one point, and in fact it seemed as they had just been released. They introduced themselves to each other by giving out their prison numbers.

“Hi, I’m 834678,” said one.They were very proud of themselves, and all laughed proudly when the introductions were finished. Both of them were southern, one from North Carolina, and one from Kentucky, and on their way west like myself. I assumed they might have been run out of town.

Conversation was as follows:

“Well, I got me Mark Twain and Rick Warren (famous religious preacher) to read on the bus,” says ex-con number 1.

“Hell, you might as well read the Bible if you are reading Warren,” says ex-con number 2.

“Well I got that too if you are interested,” laughs ex-con number 1.

“Mark Twain, was he a musician that played with Van Halen? Heck no, didn’t he write the movie GHOST?” asks ex-con number 2.

“Man, you are one heck of a redneck if you don’t know who Twain is. I do not associate with anyone who wears cowboy boots, drives a big truck, does not know Twain, and has rubber plants” says ex-con number 1.

What rubber plants had to do with it confused the heck out of me and I just kept on writing.

Then ex-con number 2 asks his pal if he has heard about the little known law that is still on the books in Kentucky. According to the brighter one, you cannot have relations with a raccoon from Sunday to Tuesday. After jostling with this Encyclopedia Britannica memo in their brains for some short period of time they begin to talk about how ex-con number 1 went bear hunting in North Carolina before he got there. He states for a fact that bears just sit in the middle of the road and wait for pigs with honey all over them to be put put out for bait. Knowing that an ex-felon can have a gun, let alone shoot bears, or have custody of a pig along with a bottle of honey is beyond me.

Of course ladies and gentlemen both had been in the army. Why was this a no brainer for me? They begin to discuss spiders in the Middle East that are so big as one called it,

“They are so big they will carry off your kids !!!”

I believe they are called “camel spiders” and of course the military used them as target practise along with Palmetto Cockroaches. (Hey, I watch Animal Planet from time to time)

One laughed and said,“The palmetto cockroach is so huge it will kill you,”  with which ex-con number two stated,

“Yeah my buddy in Kentucky got him a couple of those in his house after they kept getting into his bodybuilding vitamins”

Pass the plate and scream salvation as I broke my pen when I heard that one. Anyone in Kentucky who has has seen those critters, please do not email me–for goodness sake just call Animal Planet.

Then ex-con ex con number 1 asks ex-con number 2 if he knows how the word BULLSEYE came into effect? He tells him it’s because: if you put a bull on one side of the pen, he will come running at full speed to consummate his relationship with the cow in one shot. Hence the term BULLSEYE.

Ex-con number 2 says it’s a lie, as it will break the “mare’s” back.

I’m sitting there with my mouth open thinking: THE MARE??? What the heck?

Ex-con number 1 starts laughing and says,

“Boy, we are going to have to get you one of those SPEAK AND SPELL things.”You know, the cow goes MOO and the horse goes”NNNAAAAY”

By this time I have having a hard time writing as I am laughing so hard inside. Then the piece de resistance arrives in the conversation–the story that someone could not have made up. So ridiculous, but after what I had been listening I really wanted to hear more.

“Well I got to get me out west because I got fired from my last job, and one guy is looking for me real bad” said ex-con number 1

“Oh heck what did you do, get his sister pregnant?” asks ex-con number 2

“Nope,and I just don’t  think it’s fair, I was trying to save the guy’s life. You see, we were working on one of those cupolas on a roof and those things have quite the pitch to them. This guy Billy started to slide down screaming for help and I did the only thing I could think off,” says ex-con number one.

“Oh you reached down and grabbed him??” asks ex-con number two??

“Nope”, says ex-con number one.

“Ya see, I had me this nail gun and I shot it at his hand, and it was a double shooter, so two nails held his hand to the roof, and buddy boy wasn’t going NOWHERE! But, two nails in his hand was NO joke, and the foreman had to come up and get those nails out right quick and rush him to the hospital,” says ex-con number one.

“But this guy was reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal mad, and all I was trying to do was save his life and the rest of the guys on the crew were not too happy either!”

“So,”you got out of town real fast?” says ex-con number two.

“Yup, faster than two nails coming out of a nail gun,” says ex-con number one and they both burst out laughing.

Needless to say, at the next stop I changed my seat first chance I had because this ride was getting way too long for me and I envisioned soon being ushered into The Twilight Zone.



October 4th, 2008

I swear I should have been hired to evaluate public washrooms. On day 4 of a bus trip to California  I could tell you which Greyhound bus washrooms were good and which ones you needed a shot of Penicillin before you went in. When I was pregnant with my two sons I had every washroom location nailed down in the Ottawa Valley. I mean they do Zagat reviews of restaurants, why not a review book on rest rooms? I would most certainly buy it.

Junior scientists who did a study on ice cubes appeared on Oprah years ago. Apparently, ice cubes in restaurants have more bacteria than the water in a public washroom toilet. I don’t know which washroom those kids did their project in, but it was good enough for me never to have ice cubes in my drinks again at fast food joints.

I never use a washroom that smells are coming out of, nor toilets that have water on the floor. That’s just asking for some publicly transmitted disease. My very British  grandmother always told me that “ladies should only pee in clean washrooms”. I never really could understand her reasoning when I used to see her very large drawers hover barely 1/8 of an inch from an obviously “malaria stricken” public washroom floor.

I hate any hidden surprises when I open a stall door and I cannot understand people that wash their hands thoroughly, yet grab the parasite infected door handle upon exiting. In essence I should have probably been a man because they have it made. At least I would have the sense to lift the seat up– after all standing is not an option in my world.




Oct. 10th, 2008 at 9:13 AM

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5
Oct. 10th, 2008 at 9:13 AM

They say that ritual is important to us as human beings, but I have never been in love of the habit. My grandmother used to do things almost robotically and I used to giggle at her. But now to my horror at 66, I find I am doing the same thing.

Mary Deller Louise Knight used to get up exactly at 6am and start the wood stove and put on coffee. She would feed my grandfather every day at exactly 6:20 am. Fred Knight had one boiled egg in a white ironstone egg cup which he would tap exactly four times with a silver spoon to break it. He would then cut his toast in four diagonals and then eat the egg with a knife and fork in a rhythmic pattern. My grandmother would begin baking something sweet every single day at exactly 6:30am.


At 7am she would hang out laundry and water her garden in the summer. Her zinnias were about 4 feet tall and stood regimental in a long line in front of her vegetable garden, every third one a red one. I realized a few years ago she was ahead of her time in the 50’s when she set her veggie “compost” in a empty spot in the garden. Things ended growing out of that pile that scientists should have investigated.

One by one her chores would be done, and at exactly 9am and on non-school days, I had to walk across the street to the Dairy and get one quart of milk in a clear glass bottle with the paper tab closure on top. I loved the smell of the Cowansville Dairy and the noise of the machines that were preparing milk. The dairy’s freezer also held great interest with tiny little cups of ice cream with strawberries on them, and little wooden sticks/spoons lay on top of each one of them seeming to cry out your name.

Noon time came and my grandfather would sit in front of the old wooden radio to listen to the headlines on the BBC news. My grandmother’s recipe for “chicken stew for two” with huge dumplings would be simmering on the wood stove and the smell filled the house. When my grandfather would go back to work at exactly 12:55 my grandmother would rush in and adjust the clear plastic over the couch ready for him to sit down on it at exactly 5pm.

We watched specific programs at night and never really strayed. Lawrence Welk and Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights, Hymn Sing, Ed Sullivan and Bonanza on Sundays, and Tommy Hunter’s Country Jamboree on Friday night.

Before Friday night TV it was altar guild night, and we would get ready for Sunday’s services. Some Friday nights were very special when we would decorate the pews for a wedding. My grandmother had all her boxes neatly shelved in the vestry that contained the huge white ribbons that were neatly ironed. We would lovingly decorate them with apple blossoms or other flowers in season and huge bows.


So at 66 I find myself doing the same things. Maybe not working with a wood stove or doing altar guild duties, but always in a formula so harmony will not be interrupted. I have finally understood that rituals are important to us as human beings as they tie us to our traditions and our histories.


August 2005 3:13 am

Last August 3rd at dusk I met a furry stranger on my porch. It was thirteen years to the day that my sister Robin had died at the age of 40, and life was full of up and down memories and thoughts.

The cat jumped on the railing and stared out at the birds that were still chirping in the trees. Turning around, he looked at me and meowed loudly. For the next fifteen minutes he sat quietly like nothing else mattered in the world.

As I talked to him like I would any other living thing, his eyes blinked slowly while I spoke. He jumped off the railing and followed me when I got up to go inside. Stopping at the door he turned around and left as quickly as he had come.

Every day after that, at the exact same time, he just seemed to find me. He expected nothing, and I slowly grew to love him despite my allergies. One afternoon I told him a story about why I was cautious of strange cats. Peering at me closely, he looked like he was actually listening to my every word.

One weekend I had to look after a neighbour’s cat when they went away. I was excited to look after their pet anticipating all sorts of “rub against the leg” love. When I walked into their apartment and called him it peered at me strangely from the kitchen doorway.

I went into the living room to water their plants and noticed the cat had moved to another doorway and was still eyeing me. It was not the first time I had seen him, so I thought it was playing a game with me.

Thinking nothing of it, I went into the kitchen and opened a can of food. Within a very few seconds I felt something like sharp needles on my legs. The cat’s claws were actually glued to my legs at that point and I was going nowhere without a furry body hanging on me.

Trying to shake him off my tights, his claws dragged down the back of my legs until he hit the floor. Blood was oozing everywhere, and I ran out of there faster than felines after a can of tuna. The next few days that I fed him I walked in with a cardboard box around me for protection. When my friends came home they had a good laugh when they saw the tattered box. I on the other hand, was nursing sore scratched legs and very fearful of their cat.

So after I finished telling the strange “porch cat” my story, he looked at me with a Cheshire cat sort of smile, and gazed out at the street. He did not seem to have a home nor did he ever leave anymore, and my story had not fazed him for one second.

Sometimes I would see him laying on a hill of sand in the corner of the yard or sleeping in the garage. He seemed to know I needed him and was always around. Then as quickly as he had appeared, one day he just vanished into thin air.

I asked my daughter in law if she knew anything about the cat or if he had a home. She looked at me and said,

“I don’t think he actually has one, and I know for sure he had no name on his tattered collar.”

I smiled and knew I had simply been followed for weeks by a strange moon shadow and that a single beam had been enough to drive away the shadows. 



January 7th, 2009
As the days progressed, a friends became sick, and her daughter was being laid off. Every day seemed to get worse.Things kept piling on top of each other and I was just beside myself trying to make them feel better.

Until today.

I found hope today.

I found the same hope Charlie Brown did in Charlie Brown’s Christmas. I kid you not.

My friend had told me that her daughter had always wanted a hot pink Christmas tree. She had found lights on sale at Walgreen’s and said they would have to do. The pink tree was just never going to materialize because of the cost. As I was pushing my cart up the street the next morning I saw this bright thing glistening in the sun on the edge of the sidewalk. It couldn’t be–but it was. 

There standing on the first sunny day we had in weeks was a 36 inch brand new tinsel hot pink Christmas tree that someone had thrown out. The garbage men were coming towards me fast so I grabbed it and stuck it in my cart quickly. What are the chances of this happening? More odds than having an upcoming drama-free 2010? Maybe.

I had to go into the city so it meant I had to haul it around all day. No problem, it made me smile. It made other people smile seeing it stick out of the cart. I swear the minute I saw that Christmas tree my mood changed and I knew hers would too.

Things are really tough out there now. People are hurting and just don’t know what to do anymore. We need to believe things will get better, and my  inspiration today was a hot pink Christmas tree. All I could think of was Linus talking about Charlie Brown’s poor little tree:

“I never thought it was such a bad little tree.” (wrapping his blanket around the base of the trunk)

“It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”

And that is all I needed today was just a little love. May joy, peace and love fill your life– pass it on.


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1

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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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