Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

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September 30, 2006 1:23 am

When I was 6 years old my mother brought me to a very old theatre in Montreal to see the Disney film “Old Yeller”. I remember wearing a red wool coat, itchy matching leggings, and half way through the movie I peed my pants. The size of the screen and the overpowering volume had scared the droplets right out of me. Because fabric in those days was not made with permanent dye I had scarlet legs for days.

My mother and I cried forever at the end of that movie. She had a delicate whimper with flowing tears, while I in turn was screaming my head off. We did not go to an in-house movie again for a long time, opting instead for drive ins on the Vermont border.

Tuesday as I was taking the subway to the city this wonderful yellow dog entered the car and his mistress simply said,

“Momma sit!”

Looking at me dead straight in the eyes accompanied by endless tail wagging was the most wonderful yellow dog I had ever seen. The dog had piercing black eyes that had nothing but love in them. We both stared at each other for awhile and I knew I just had to get this dog’s story. I got up and moved next to them and asked owner Shayna if I could do a blog on her dog. She shrugged her shoulders and began to tell me about the life of this big old yeller dog.

The dog’s nickname was “Momma” but her real name was Rossi, named after Carlos Rossi. When Googling the name I have yet to figure out if the dog was named after Carlos Rossi the purveyor of wine, or the Venezuelan politician. My money is on the wine.

Rossi was born on the 4th of July from a litter of 11. This dog is so loved by Shayna that I briefly caught a glimpse of Rossi’s head tattooed amongst tiny flowers on her left arm. Now that is devotion as far as I am concerned.

Rossi goes everywhere with Shayna and they both study art, German and archery at a local college. The duo also visit a lot of music venues together and I bet Rossi does not flinch an inch when she hears loud noise. She does not beg for anything and sits quietly beside food until she smells one thing. Once this Rottweiler Mastiff mix eyes fresh cheese you had better produce it quickly or else.

I have never seen a dog so relaxed as Rossi climbed up on the seat to be next to her owner. Shayna in turn casually put her arm down on Rossi who in return just let out one long loving sigh. As they left Rossi had no idea she was on her way to Monterey to play in the surf which she dearly loves. As they exited she glanced from side to side to make sure all was well for her and her beloved Shayna. Did I also mention that Rossi is a registered service dog? That’s right, she is a service dog that specialized in love- just like Old Yeller. 



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November 13, 2004 4:30 Pm

My grandmother once told me that if I never talked to anyone I would never learn anything. So, I have always taken her words to heart, and have talked my way through life. It doesn’t matter if I know you, or if you are even looking my way. If I find you interesting, I will find the ways, and means to talk to you.  Yes, I am that interested in people.

I met a very interesting man Wednesday. He was disabled, and got on the subway at the same time I did. Of course a man with a bicycle held court in the space for the wheelchair users. No matter what the elderly gentleman said to him about moving his bike, the man pretended he couldn’t hear him.

The old man lowered his glasses in sadness, and then parked his wheelchair next to me and my cart. I asked him if he was okay, and he nodded his head and smiled. I patted his hand, and said I was so sorry the man with the bike was a jerk. He smiled, looked at me, and then asked out of the blue,

“Have you ever been to Disneyland?”

I nodded my head, and he started to tell me a story of how he helped construct the teacups for the teacup ride that opened in 1956. He held me captive telling me exactly how they made them, and then went on to tell the tales of making things for the San Francisco Aquarium. He did not stop there, and continued to banter about his company that helped with the restoration of the San Mateo Bridge in the 60’s. He was very proud of what he had done, and how he had worked for 40 years doing the things he loved.
By this time we had hit “the tube”, which is the tunnel under the bay, and he was still talking. I couldn’t hear him because of the noise, and told him he would have to wait 6 minutes until we could resume our conversation.

Because of his story, it immersed me in thoughts of Haven Isle that once was in a the Eastern Townships of Quebec where I lived. Every year the Sunday School picnics were held there, and they had an almost identical teacup ride. They also had a suspension bridge. I hated that bridge, but it was the only way to get to the island that held  a snack bar, a beach, and all my friends. So, Linda Knight had to suck in her fear, and go across that bridge. Sometimes a nasty kid would be on the other end, throw me a smirk, and start rocking it. Those were the times I held on for dear life, and then threw up over the side. I Googled Haven Isles today, and it still exists in some way.  I wonder what happened to the teacups, and all the joy that place once held.


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Audrey Bromby—- Cowansville United Church Picnic. Have Isles

Pulling into the Embarcadero station he talked a bit more about his life, this time with remorse about having to lead it now in a wheel chair. He said no one cared, or had respect for the elderly.  I sadly agreed, and when he got off at the next station, he thanked me for allowing him to talk a little about himself.

Who knew that in my life,  I would meet someone who had made the very teacups that I had seen on the Walt Disney show in the 1950’s?  How many people will you ever meet that shook Walt Disney’s hand?

The man with the bicycle was at the door, ready to get off at the next stop. I told him how disgusted I was with his treatment of the elderly man. He tried to ignore me, and raced out the door not looking. He was so concerned with avoiding my wrath that he bumped into a concrete pillar.I rode up the escalator smiling, and there at the top of the stairs were posters for Disneyland. I swear Mickey was smiling at me. In fact I knew he was.


Juanita Marsh‎–Eastern Townships Roots

Terry Peasley Sr this was built and owned by Calt and Minnie Randall, my Godparents

  • Valerie Irwin Cook I remember the teacups!
  • Patricia George And then Charlie Labranche put them in front of his house


April 6 2005 1:45 am

The child stood there silently gazing out of the window while the rest of his class ran like wild animals through the subway car. He watched the darkness race by the window for minutes until it changed into a deep blue sky.  The boy was silent and barely moved until he turned around and looked at me. Sporting a “Harry Potter shirt” and a smile, he asked me why I had a “Nightmare Before Christmas” bag. I told him it was because I was a fan of the movie.

As he pulled the elastic band on his wrist he came closer to the bag and touched it.  He asked me if I liked “Harry Potter” and I nodded my head. In a split second we were immersed into a conversation of wizards, magic and “Lemony Snickets”.  His blue eyes sparkled when I talked to him and then he asked me if I had seen “Lord of the Rings”. I laughed and said I had not, and that I was saving it for a rainy day marathon someday.

He twisted his longish blonde hair and asked me what my favourite movie was. I told him that I liked the animated short feature “Little Match Girl” that was done by Hi-Tops in the 80’s. We talked about dark stories and I was shocked to see this boy knew all about Neil Gaiman who created “The Sandman” series. We immediately said in unison, “Coraline”!

This stop motion piece was written by Gaiman and is a dark and creepy animated film about a young girl name Coraline Jones. Her world becomes filled with some reality, a tad of fantasy and two sets of parents. It is mesmerizing and a bit scary, but we both went on an on about it and talked about maybe having buttons for eyes. He looked at me carefully and said,

“You are not really a grown up are you? I think you are still a kid.”

I nodded my head and saw that this child would have an artistic soul one day and his feathers of creativity were showing already. He unzipped his backpack and pulled out a tiny black Transformer like toy. He said,

“Here take this toy and keep it.  I brought it along to be my friend on this field trip as sometimes I feel I am all by myself.”

I understood what he had just said. When I was growing up I was different and did not fit in like he did. I had imaginary friends, odd thoughts, and always felt threatened. As my stop approached I heard one of the other young boys yell at my new friend at the top of his voice,

“You are such a freak!”

The boy put his head down and I felt so badly. How many times had I heard that word in my life? Once, twice, maybe a zillion times? I put the small transformer toy back in his hand and he shook his head and gave it back to me. He looked at me quite seriously and said,

“I am young and can find a million toys, you need it more.”

I felt like I was one hundred years old after he said those words, but once again I knew what he was saying.When you are different you just need all the help you can get until you are finally appreciated. One day “Harry Potter Boy”, you too will be loved for what you are.



April 6 2005 1:45 am

I remember one day in 1966 sitting at the Riviera Cafe (a hole- in- the-wall right beside the muddy Yamaska River in Cowansville, Quebec) with my friends after school. Buffalo Springfield’s new song “For What it’s Worth” was playing and that particular song immediately became a huge turning point in my life about standing up to what I believe in. I respect everyone ‘s opinion, as this world would be pretty boring if we all thought the same, but I have always beat my own drum.

The year before The Byrd’s were my big influence, and I remember my father told me if he so much as saw me wear the Ben Franklin glasses Roger McGuinn wore, well, there would be trouble. In my life if people went left, I always went right, and right I did the next day to the The Treasure Chest on Main Street to buy the glasses. Of course I was wearing them as soon as I got out of the store, and who drove down the street but my father beeping his horn at me and shaking his fist. Arthur J. Knight eventually got over it, just like he got over the bell bottom pants.

My Dad had been horrified when he saw a few people wear this new style pant and told our neighbour his daughters would never wear them. Of course that weekend I hauled my 10 year-old sister with me on the bus to Montreal where we each got a pair at Eaton’s. I figured if Robin got a pair he would be only HALF as mad. They were also made out of a heavy backed polyester and were such a gaudy Kelly green, that we both looked like Gumby.

I was also hooked on musician Ravi Shankar and told my father that anyone over the age of 30 should be sent to farms. He couldn’t stop laughing, and that man waited for 16 years to ask me on my 30th birthday when I was leaving for the farm. Should I say that on one ever left for any farm. Not that I know of anyways.

Nowadays, my sole protest is getting up in the morning, and if something doesn’t ache or sound broken, it’s a good day. I can’t remember what happened two hours ago, but ask me to sing that song by Buffalo Springfield from 1966 and I can still remember every word.

“What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down”

History of Photo from The East Voice, March 21, 1959 ( Ville de Cowansville)

Yesterday at 12, this truck was stationed on south street in cowansville and the driver, Mr. Claude Dextraze was in the Riviera Café restaurant in Cowansville, Quebec.. Suddenly the truck loaded with soft liquor, went down the slope, passed through the garage garage and took a dive after breaking a solid fence. Fortunately, the thickness of the snow on the edge of the river stopped the truck. No one was injured, but damage was sustained by the truck, as well as loading. The vehicle crossed a distance of about a hundred feet before stopping.




May 30th, 2008 at 12:31 PM

One weekend while visiting my mother in the Darlington Rehabilitation Centre in Montreal my father brought my sister and I to Belmont Park in Montreal to see THE FLYING WILLENDAS. They were an amazing family high wire act that started “the seven chair pyramid” until one perished in a fall. They never used a net and just relied on prayers and talent–which they still do to this day.

As the story goes I became an instant circus fan after that. I would construct a circus ring out of a garden hose and dress up the neighbourhood dogs and cats as the prancing animals in the show. I was also so scared of heights I just couldn’t get up up on a kitchen chair, let alone the clothesline to do my act. The clothesline? What was I thinking? There was a Kodak moment waiting to happen.

Every year my father’s company would do the electrical work for the BIG BROME FAIR and my sister Robin and I would be there all weekend. My grandmother would pack egg salad sandwiches and bottles of orange crush soda, and we would just spend the day there eagerly awaiting the evening show. We saw the great high wire acts, magicians, and even motorcycles riding up thin wires into the crowd from the “electrical pigeon box” above the stage.

Years past, and when I had my store in Ottawa I would get all sorts of performers shopping in my store. Cirque De Soleil, Barnum and Bailey and finally one day “la piece de resistance” — The Moscow Circus. They came into the store in a huge group and could not speak English  After 10 minutes I figured out they wanted flesh coloured Danskin fishnet hose for their high wire /acrobat costumes and purple feather boas for costume trim. About 30 minutes later of back and forth with a dictionary and hand gestures I had all 6 women outfitted.They were thrilled and immediately all jumped into a pyramid in the middle of my store much to the delight of my customers. I smiled from ear to ear as they gave me a decorated Russian spoon for my service and I wished I could have been one of them.

I never did work in the circus. Instead, my life is now measured out with 8 colourful wooden spoons in a jar in my kitchen given to me by the Moscow Circus over the years. I guess in reality the circus will never ever leave town in my life because if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough.



Nov. 15th, 2008 at 4:30 PM

Christmas Eve was always about church and singing carol after carol in the highest decibels known to man. The night before, my Grandmother and I would decorate each pew with pine tree branches trimmed with large over–starched red ribbons and the amazing smell would bring tears to your eyes.

After the service everyone would help her and the altar guild team get the linens ready for the Christmas morning service. She would go into the church hall kitchen while we worked and would make everyone a warm mug of hot chocolate with one large marshmallow floating on top. I never quite understood why she rationed marshmallows in her cocoa. She told me that was how it was done on the Kraft TV commercials and I would never argue with her, or the Holy Grail of food commercials.

Grammy was always up at the crack of dawn cooking her famous half turkey Christmas morning. One week before Canadian Thanksgiving  she went to McLaughlin’s grocery store in Cowansville, Quebec and bought the biggest frozen turkey known to man. She would bring it home and put it on her tree stump outside and stand there in her rubber galoshes, plastic rain kerchief on her head, and whack that sucker in half. One part would be served for Thanksgiving, and the other half stored away in the freezer for Christmas.

It seemed that every second she would boast about her secret stuffing recipe and inform everyone that she would never tell anyone her secret. All of us knew she added mashed potatoes to it, but the family all remained silent for our own safety.

The height of her Christmas morning was watching Queen Elizabeth read her Christmas message while she wrung her hands going on and on hoping Princess Margaret wouldn’t give Queen E any more trouble that year.

Why does something that takes weeks of planning, hours to cook, only take 30 minutes to eat? I have never quite understood the logic behind that. After dinner we would listen to Prime Minister John Turner’s message with my Grandmother wringing her hands once again hoping Turner wouldn’t marry Princess Margaret. Mary Louise Deller Knight would insist that would about just kill Queen Elizabeth, and that moment in time was a sign for my Grandfather to get up and grab a glass of sherry and an antacid. As they say– the fondest memories are always made around the table.



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 5

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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