My Grandfather’s Crittenden’s home he owned in the 1940s and 1950s on Albert Street in Cowansville (this is circa 1990)
Lizzie Borden took an axe,
Gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
If that’s everything you know about Lizzie Borden, nearly everything you know is wrong. In reality, much of what popular culture regards as “fact” in the Borden case doesn’t hold up well against the evidence. The same with me. No matter what you heard about me during the years I lived in Cowansville, Quebec will never hold up well, as I believe there is no evidence.
I was never a violent child– more of an outspoken artistic gal with quite the attitude. When I was six I wanted to be the Sugar Plum Fairy so badly that I accidentally bumped the reigning fairy off the stage during ballet practice. Seeing the stage was a foot off the ground, she was luckily not hurt, and I was to remain a Waltzing Flower forever. That might have been grounds for a “rugrat exorcism”, but no one really said anything and as far as I know there was no real evidence.
If you did hear about my younger days of biting the small children of the neighbourhood, well I might agree to that, but the only person that knew about my nibbling issue was my poor late mother. After learning the process from a girl that lived at the peak of the Albert Street hill I too became a snapper, munching on whosoever’s arm was available until my Mother took me outside one warm afternoon in August. There on the sidewalk she bit me in front of the whole neighbourhood. I remember the peering eyes from behind closed curtains, but I don’t remember being embarrassed, however I do believe I caught the drift that day as I never did it again. Sometimes you probably figure out that that particular phase of your life is over, and it’s onward to newer better things.
I witnessed at age 7 what I considered a massacre of a local snake hiding in an Albert Street field near where we were playing. Cries of ‘snake’ from a group of us brought out Russell Rychard’s father with an axe, who with one swing sent that snake to the heavens above. I was amazed with his weaponry and still think about it to this day. Maybe that is why I am such a huge Game of Thrones fan.
At 7 no one in their right mind is going to give a child an axe or any tool for that matter, so I settled for baseball bats. But they were heavy and all I ever did was haul it around in my wooden wagon. There was nothing happening until my Grampy Crittenden gave me a 3 piece realistic tin gardening set. It was so realistic and my parents worried I might hurt myself with it. They were wrong.
Neighbouring childhood friends Russell Rychard and Randall Sargeant knew darn well that the field snake incident had traumatized me. The evidence was all over Albert Street how Linda Knight had freaked out and refused to go back to the field behind Mrs. Wilson’s, or any local field for that matter.
One afternoon after lunch Russell called me over to play and as I walked up the lane way of my “Grampy Crits” house on Albert Street they chased me out with a dead snake. Everybody knows how many whacks Lizzie Borden did with that axe, but there is plenty about the infamous double homicide that remains unresolved– but not in my case. Angry, I went home and carefully put the gardening set in my wagon ready to resolve this incident forever.
Taking many angry strides I made it back to Russell’s house in a flash and saw the both of them busy with something on the veranda. I took the hoe and walked quietly up the wooden stairs and standing in back of him I whacked him twice with the hoe. I could hear cries of pain as I ran home and standing on the front concrete stairs of 221 Albert Street was my mother with arms akimbo.
“Linda, what did you do now?” screamed my Mother.
I blurted out what both of them did and parental phone calls went back and forth with great speed. In the end the evidence came out about what they had done and I was punished and life moved on. I can’t remember too many incidents of bad behaviour after that– or maybe I am blocking it out. Sometimes I wonder if I was going through a phase– that is, until I gave birth to two boys 11 months apart. After dealing with their shenanigans I think I understood. I truly believed that my mother had put a curse on me and made my kids 10 times worse than I was. Some don’t believe me when I say that– but honesty? I have all the evidence you might need.
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 and The Tales of Almonte
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun Screamin’ Mamas (USA) and The Sherbrooke Record