The Dead End Perfection of Mary Louise Deller Knight

The Dead End Perfection of Mary Louise Deller Knight

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

Mary Louise Deller 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 was a red one. I realized a few years ago she was ahead of her time in the 60’s when she set her veggie “compost” in an empty spot in the garden. Things ended growing out of that pile that scientists should have investigated.

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 of course 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.

My Grandfather always told her to strive for progress, not perfection, but Mary never listened and he ignored her ways until one day. Each day as Mary went grocery shopping she could not believe the indecency of the sign that said Dead End almost opposite one of the local funeral homes. As she saw cars come and go filled with families that were distraught from a passing loved one Mary knew she had to do something about it.

She felt our forefathers would feel the same way as she did and no one needed to see a sign that said Dead End, and the town needed to show some respect. So Mary filed a complaint with the town of Cowansville, but told me she never heard from anyone. Well sign elves must have used their magic, as a few weeks later there stood a new sign that said No Exit that replaced the Dead End sign.

My Grandfather and Father could not believe what she had done and Mary became famous not only for her baking but for how she took on the town. From then on if I had a problem they both looked at me and said,

”If nothing is going well, talk to your grandmother”.

And I did– because you know what?  I never underestimated the power of my Grammy Knight after that day.

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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