Tag Archives: blast from the past

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past



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Linda Seccaspina 2005– yes 2005, Daily Journal Blasts from the Past!

How I longed to be somewhere peaceful today like my old pumpkin patch at home in Cowansville, Quebec. Growing up with my grandmother she gave me a love of growing things. My grandfather and she had this huge garden where they grew everything from beans to zinnias. Occasionally my grandmother would find things growing in her compost pile (aka her garbage LOL) from old fruit she threw in there like cantaloupes and she would nurture them to blue ribbon prize fruit.

Every year I would grow pumpkins and I think I had a pumpkin patch each year until I left home. I tried to grow them here in Oakland the first year but “hoods “don’t seem to like pumpkins..I mean if you were growing “weed “I am sure that stuff would spring up like wild flowers, but forget the pumpkins.

When my pumpkins were the size of large baseballs I would go across the street to the local Pharmacy called Varins on South Street and buy hypodermic needles. In those days no one questioned a 14 year old girl buying a dozen needles.Today you wouldn’t get near them– especially in drug infested Oakland. Then I would carefully pull one out of its package and fill it with milk. Every week I would inject the stems with milk making them grow bigger. To this day I don’t know if it worked but my grandmother swore by it.

Author’s note –October 2017
Oh my Gourd– today my blood type would probably be pumpkin spice.



Dec. 26th, 2005 at 12:33 PM

Stop Global Whining?

Whining is an art, and we should be proud of our talents sometimes. Whining saved me from eating a whole bowl of cookies the other day. Heck, I ended up eating most of them anyways– which probably heightened the WHINE. Cookies are so soothing for the soul, or anything that contains sugar, whether it be white or brown. I hold no grudges against either one.  Pick a shade of sugar and I will eat it.

In 1962 I officially became a Beatnik at the age of 11. There were no official notices, no whining, and no immediate black clothing; I just got up one morning and started to write bad poetry, and that was that. The primary inspiration was the fact that my father said that Jack Kerouac was a bad influence on young people. That was enough for me and I admired how he angered some people in “On the Road”, telling everyone they were going to die. Kerouac was very popular where I lived in Quebec because his parents were ‘joual’*speaking French Canadians. Of course they eventually moved to Massachusetts, but his official name was Jean Louis Kerouac, and that was enough for the French Canadian people I knew.

Later as a student roaming the halls of Cowansville High School I picked up that in reality whining shows a lot of character – and we must do it or so I was told. if you don’t like the way something is, do something to change it. So we did in the 60s- we whined a lot about the Vietnam War and how we wanted old ways to change. Was it for the better? Did we change life as we know it by whining?

Author’s note –October 2017- Would you like some cheese to go with that whine?


Hand and Eye Co ordination

Before my late Father discovered golf he used to bring me to the Cowansville, Quebec dump on Sundays to shoot rats. In those days it’s what people did, as there were no landfills, and rats were a definite issue. I was taught that hand and eye coordination was important to hit your mark–whether it be a tin can, or something that scurried around.

In 2006 I saw my neighbour’s son get shot 6 times and crawl down the street to his Grandmothers. As they carried him out in a stretcher the young thugs in the neighbourhood cheered as the injured young man could still master his hand and eye coordination as he thrust his fists in the air.

After two years in the slammer he spent most of his days inside his Grandmother’s house too afraid to leave his home less this time his enemies had now mastered their hand and eye coordination.

Author’s Note- Choose your need for hand and eye coordination wisely. It’s usefulness might depend on the user.




I  Didn’t Know God Lived in Berkeley

Jan. 4th, 2006 at 7:03 PM

Today on the 88 bus we picked up an African American lady I see at least once a week on my daily journeys. She is about 36, partially blind, and has a club foot, but she goes out of her way to be pleasant to everyone.

Trini plopped herself down on the seat and began talking to Priscilla the bus driver. She loved to intermingle with everyone and she began to chatter:

“I heard my doctor tell my Mama that I was legally blind today, but I can still move around–and if I don’t’ step in mud one day, then it’s a good day.”

“Well your Mama just cares about you darlin” said Priscilla.

Trini began to get a little heated and blurted out,

“I don’t despair, but my Mama has faith the size of a mustard seed. If I can cross that street to go to the corner store and not get hit by a car nor mugged by those young thugs then it’s another good day. If I can’t do something then I am going to give it one hell of a try. When you stop this bus and if I fall down and bump my head, I’m just going to rub it and keep on going!”

“Did you know I was born in San Francisco?” asked Trini.

“Everyone thinks people from San Francisco are crazy so I moved across the Bay to Berkeley to find God,” she said.

I sat there and scratched my head as I didn’t know that God had moved to Berkeley.  Where in Berkeley was God living? Could it be that those hippies had it right when they revolted against Governor Reagan over People’s Park in the 60’s?

Was God really living in People’s Park?

I secretly knew what she meant, but it was interesting to think of what God would do if he lived in Berkeley.

Trini was still babbling telling the bus driver how she used to go the YMCA in the summer when she was young and how she loved the trampoline. She couldn’t jump because of her foot, but she could sit there while the others jumped and pretend she was flying. As she said, having no wings for her was just a detail.

Author’s Note- Details never matter because we grow fearless by walking into our fears.

This is an edited version of my first piece published in the East Bay Express 




50’s Asian chalkware by the late George Arthur Crittenden

Jan. 5th, 2006 at 11:03 PM

My late Mother’s father, “Grampy George Crittenden,” used to love Milton Berle. He once heard the comedian say that he got the perfect gift- a leaky ant farm, so Grampy asked my Mother for 25 dollars to buy an ant farm for his Birthday in 1961. She was furious, but I guess the novelty for him was having a whole world he could watch in the inner sanctum of his basement.

No one could figure out why after years of working for the C.N.R. in Montreal George just didn’t come home to the family farm in Brome Mississiquoi County.  Instead, he retired on Mercer Island just outside of Seattle, Washington to become the artist he always dreamed to be, and the owner of his own ant farm.

When the cartoonist occupation never panned out he became one of the creators of those Chalkware “masterpieces” that he mass produced in his workshop.  From 1910 to the 1950s, chalkware evolved into garishly painted figures of cartoonish animals sold at carnivals and fairgrounds that you now see at estate sales and thrift shops. I guess if you really want to do something you will find a way like he did, and the only person that ever took time to understand him was himself.

Author’s Note– Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants I guess– and I try not to judge people’s choices without understanding their reasons. You will never understand anything until it happens to you.



Jan. 1st, 2006 at 3:54 PM

On the side of the wall at the San Francisco subway system stood an African American man playing the violin badly, to put it mildly. As he began to adjust the strings before playing another “piece of noise” I dropped a dollar in his violin case and told him I found him quite interesting and shook his hand. He told me that his name was Melbourne Mordacious and he was the son of Franz Lehar. I had to chuckle to myself as I actually once knew Lehar’s granddaughter when they lived outside Cowansville, Quebec but did not mention it.

Elizabeth Lehar was the same age as me when we went to Heroes’ Memorial Elementary School with one great smile and two long blonde braids like Heidi. We quickly became fast friends even though we were very different. A few months later I was invited to her birthday party and I was so overwhelmed by the family I wrote a school composition about it. My teacher liked those written six sentences so much she sent it to the school annual and it was published in the Cowansville High School Hylite annual. How mortifying!

Even though some of my memory has faded, I can still see the black shiny grand piano in their living room. Her father, looking much like David Niven in a black suit and bow tie asked me to play the piano. I sat down and played Fuer Elsie on their grand piano and I can remember sounding much like Melbourne Mordacius.

Just as Elizabeth’s father had stood there and listened to my butchered rendition of a classic, I too stood there and listened to something that was “slightly worse than awful” coming from Mordacius’s violin.
Franz Lehar once said,
“Now I have finished with all earthly business and high time too. Yes, yes, my dear child now comes death.”
And with that three people walked by and yelled at Melbourne Mordacius  in unison,
“What the hell is that noise? Did someone just die?”


Author’s Note- There was no way that Melbourne Mordacius had received any genes from his alleged father Franz Lehar. Nor did I get any musical talent from my late mother, who was an amazing pianist. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have and pray for the best–even if it sounds like hell!



Jan. 13th, 2006 at 6:24 PM
I  love to sit and watch people.

I love to sit and listen to people, as every person is a story in itself.

One woman sitting on a bench today was smiling looking at a photo of a group of people who had a sign thanking her for her work. She was also clutching a small box that was obviously a gift to her by the people in the picture. She had a smile on her face the size of Canada, and because it was so infectious I smiled too.

I looked at the woman sitting across me and immediately labelled her a diet junkie. She had on a bright pink top, a slip worn as a skirt, and torn fishnet stockings. Her hands were shaking like Mexican jumping beans while she was text messaging someone on her cell phone. I recognized the Phentermine shuffle shakes all too well. She was probably 17 minutes into her new diet and couldn’t live in chaos anymore. I finally realized there was no miracle cure to be skinny, so I said what the hell and just kept on smiling. Today I will live in the moment, unless it’s unpleasant, and  then I might have to discuss life with a cupcake.

Two women my age were dressed almost identically as they walked by me. They each sported Camel coloured jackets, black pants, and wore cropped streaked blonde hair. They had on the same lipstick, and even their eye shadow matched. I assumed that some counter make up person had told them that they should wear those colours and only these colours, and it was probably some expensive line. I stared  at my eyebrow brush in my purse that I  had picked up off a dance floor on one of my travels decades ago and smiled– because in reality eyebrows are the only thing you can get into shape without exercising.

A homeless wet man was siting in the rain and begging for change. He said,

“Anything helps– even a smile!”

I gave him a dollar and told him I didn’t really have much, but felt I must share whatever I have. He turned to me and said,

“You are giving from your heart I can tell.”

Then he said,“Now how about a smile?”

I told him that smiles I could give him in bagfuls.

Author’s Note- If you don’t have a smile I will give you mine. There’s always a reason to smile– trust me, you just have to find it.



Feb. 1st, 2006 at 6:13 PM

To say that I was born in the wrong century is an understatement. I know that I should have lived during the Victorian period where the most complicated thing in life was having your corset tight enough or making sure you got to tea on time.

Easy transitions from musical 8 tracks to cassette, to a CD, were a snap. Harder but bearable were: the BETA to VHS then to DVD. Don’t ask me to program anything though–but putting the item in, playing it, and then removing it is painless.

Lo and behold the computer era began and I either ignored it or condemned it. Someone who couldn’t put gas in the car tank from 1974 to one ill fated snowy day in the 1990’s isn’t necessarily going to warm up to a computer.  After all the woman who invented the first computer program is often overlooked in history. Wasn’t she?

I used to volunteer at Caldwell Elementary school in the early 90s and one day Grade 3 teacher Mrs. Richardson assigned me to help in the computer library. The young students knew more than I did, and she couldn’t believe that I was petrified to go near the computers. This from a gal who loved to pause and marvel at the girls typing in the typewriter class beside the girl’s bathroom at Cowansville High School in the 60s.

One night I sat down at my son’s computer terminal and marvelled at the world before me. It suddenly became the bicycle of  my mind. That was it, I was hooked. The next time I had to volunteer I was “cutting and pasting” with the best of the 9 year-olds. Mrs. Richardson smiled and said, ” Linda I see you are computer friendly now, I  think  I will give you a gold star”. That made me smile as sometimes adults need gold stars too.

Author’s Note- To quote Isaac Asimov- I no longer fear computers- I now fear the lack of them.





Mar. 24th, 2006 at 7:03 PM

I  thought I finally packed my leggings away in the 80s, or were they thrown out mid nineties when son number one told me quite sharply,

“MOM, the 80’s are over!”

Leggings have now become a staple and you can buy them at the dollar store or stores with fancy names like Indiana Jeans. For 80 dollars you can buy a pair of fashion leggings so thin and skinny your eyes will pop out of your head. Team that up with a pair of  flats and you too can look like the letter “L”.

Just think of all those times gone by that you lay on the bed and struggled to pull up the zipper of your jeans. You became so frustrated that the skin came off your fingers, and then your oxygen was cut off. Then there were years of low cut jeans– so low that the “cracks of the earth” showed through. A perk with leggings is immediately noticing that your body has aged and now you look like an old letter “L” with a water bulge mid section.  Remember that all drunk people, children and leggings always tell the truth on all your fashion decisions.

Yesterday I saw a fashionista with three quarter thin Lycra leggings with lace on the bottom. Good Lord, I thought all the back stock of those were sent to the dumpsters of Middle America, or used as tomatoe plant ties. Bottom line is: don’t ever let anyone tell you that leggings are not pants– you really don’t need any of that negativity.
Author’s Note- We survived shoulder pads and we survived stirrup pants. Is fashion really an expression of who we are? Don’t answer that!