I just finished packing at the same time for the second straight night in a row. It was all horrible packing tonight. ( I refer it to kindly as bitch packing) Most of it was going over to the UK. I made sure that Mr Cambridge in South Wirral had lovely soft pink tissue to protect that size 22 white mini dress he bought for himself, and the Gothic hat I made and sold with 7 yards of black bridal illusion net was packed with equally nightmarish tissue to please the dark kinder-goth girl in New Mexico. I got up late today as I was so tired from the past two days of posting and packing. I literally ran to buses and the subway today just to keep on track. I have all my hunting spots down to a specific time when they bring new things out. I was a good 30 minutes behind today. Even “Cashier Joe” at the Community Thrift shop said to me “You’re late today” and I just laughed and rolled my eyes. I started off the day going up Market Street to the Goodwill salvage depot. On the way a brisk cold damp wind was blowing hard. It was darn cold.
I saw this old woman backing up against the wall of the Bank of America building and felt really sad for her. I thought how sad it was that she was lifting her dress and getting the hot air to blow up her skirt from the vent to warm her up. I soon found out that was her way to relieve herself. As things were flowing down the walls I was very quickly flowing up the street trying hard not to catch any down winds. I got into the salvage place and started going through bins. The man who own the Sharks vintage chain and his pickers and a whole slew of Latinos from the flea market were forming this very straight line in front of the chain fence that separates the Goodwill workers waiting for bins of clothing to come out.
I found this great piece of vintage fabric from 1971 from Walt Disney’s movie The Aristocats. I was looking at it and the guy from Sharks comes over:
He says ” Hey Linda, I see you here every week, want a job?”
I looked at him and started to giggle and politely said no. Me and my ‘allergic nose’ can barely stand 30 minutes in here, and I am going to come here every day earning basically $5.00 bucks an hour? I think not. Once a week is enough for me.
I paid for the stuff and the cashier said “New bins coming out soon”. I said, “Oh they come out at noon? ” He said, “No, every 30 minutes.”
I mean that’s crazy–these bins come out like cinnamon rolls at a take out place. These people stay there all day every day and all day long just to get stuff to sell at the flea markets and vintage stores. I immediately hear horror movie music in my head.
My fun find today was a great silk skirt from the J PETERMAN COMPANY for a buck. Yes, that J Peterman CO. If you are a Seinfeld fan like me you know when I wear that sucker this week there is going to be one gory description full of adjectives.
I leave the salvage place on the rest of my hunting journey while Shark Man keeps asking me if I need a job. I am allergic not only to dust but to stupidity, so I decide to speak to him in fluent sarcasm. Shark Man laughs and says he will see me next week.
Have you ever asked yourself why everyone loves quilts? What drove families to gather in their communities and make quilts for their families? Quilts connect everyone and they speak about former lives of families, and their joys, their hardships, and their homes.
Seven days after my birth I was placed in a quilt my grandmother had made and brought immediately to her home as my mother was ill. I was tucked into my crib with the same quilt I came home from the hospital in.
One night my father gathered me up in that same quilt and smuggled me into the Royal Victoria Hospital hoping my mother might remember me as she had postpartum depression. I can still see her looking down at the cards she was playing solitaire with while I was holding on to the edge of that dear quilt in fear. To this day I will never forget that image – my father says I was barely two, but I still remember the grayness of the room. While my life was sterile and cold, the quilt held warmth and security. My grandmother always said that blankets wrap you in warmth but quilts wrap you in love.
At age 12 my mother died, and my grandmother sat with me on her veranda and wrapped that same quilt around me while I cried. Life was never the same after that, and the quilt was placed on my bed like an old friend when I stayed with her. I would stare at the painting on the wall while I tried to sleep and thought that a lot of people understood art but not quilts. If I had a lot of money I would own a quilt and not a piece of art, because in the end which gives you the most comfort?
When I got married at age 21, my Grandmother sat at the dining room table for weeks and worked on a quilt for my new home. As I traveled down the road of life the quilt was always there while people came and went. Although it was aging gracefully it was still heavy and secure anytime I needed it. Through death and sickness it held comfort, and the promise that it would never desert me. This quilt held my life with all the bits and pieces, joys and sorrows, that had been stitched into it with love.
At age 47 the quilt died peacefully in my arms. A terrible house fire had destroyed it, and as I looked at the charred edges I realized the thread that held it together had bound the both of us forever. Now it was time to go down the final road by myself, and remembering the words of Herman Hesse I began the journey.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
Romancing the Princess Theatre Linda Knight Seccaspina
Last night I dreamt I was sitting in one of the maroon velvet chairs of the Princess Theatre in Cowansville, Quebec. It was dark in that theatre and I was alone, but the light from the projector still shot across the room, yet there was nothing on the screen.
For years the Princess Theatre was a safe haven for me. Every Saturday afternoon, I would go to the matinee and be whomever was on the screen. Growing up in a small town you did what you could for entertainment. My limited picks were the local swimming pool, neighbourhood kids, and the Princess Theatre for movies. Because the theatre was small we seemed to get the big movies later than the rest of the world – but 50 cents and a bag of popcorn was a sure fire way to put a smile on your face.
The Princess Theatre was where I first saw Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, which scarred me for life. Seeing The Sound of Music was the closest I ever came to seeing my Grandmother enjoying her own personal hootenanny while caterwauling along to the songs in the film.
Small town gossip spread quickly among the rows of that theatre and for weeks we hear rumours about the local minister being told not to laugh so loudly at the risque antics in the film Carry On Doctor. Summer romances began on the second level and continued into the colder months, and sometimes there was more steam coming out of the balcony than there was outside.
Drive-Ins were illegal in the province of Quebec as the Catholic Church deemed them pits of sin that could take you halfway to Hell. Had they only looked at the balconies of the Princess Theatre I swear that place would have been shut down in a Cinerama moment.
Esther Williams and her swimming extravaganzas on that movie screen had me hooked making me want to create my own musical number. One day after seeing Jupiter’s Darling I stopped at the local five and dime (The Ritz) and bought one of those flesh coloured nose plugs. Arriving home I dragged out my wading pool in anticipation and went to work.
The hose was hauled out from underneath the porch, pool filled, and I would sit and wait patiently until the water warmed up from the sun. Once ready I would don my one piece bathing suit, rubber cap and nose plugs.
I always seemed to entertain the afternoon passersby on Albert Street as I would kick my legs up in the air and do my personal version of synchronised swimming. Once most of the water had left the pool from overuse I would get out and bow to no one in particular. Seeing the pool was no more than 3 foot around and barely ankle deep I must admit it was quite the MGM presentation. In my mind I was presenting The Greatest Show on Earth!
I had never became a talented swimmer from the encouragement I got from movies, but each time I watch an old move I remember the Princess Theatre in Cowansville. Some old theatres have gone by the wayside, but the memories have lasted in our hearts, mine especially.
What do you remember about your Main Street?
Every Friday night as a young child, we would walk up Albert Street to make our way to the Main Street of Cowansville, Quebec. Everyone was there with smiles on their faces and you could hear the sounds of a jazz band playing from the Hotel. There were clothing stores filled to capacity with people purchasing things, and you could see men in haberdasheries standing on small stools being fitted with pants.
We would stop and look carefully at the store windows and then make our way down to the hat store. Their veranda was yellow and white with many gorgeous hats in the window. I watched my mother point at one and saw my father tell her to go buy it.
Inside it smelled of lilacs and I would sit on one of the fabric covered benches and watch everyone try on hats. The women who worked in the store seemed like they were right out of the fashion magazines and their hair was coiffed in the latest styles.
I remember the hat that my mother bought that day and watched the daisy trimmed straw hat being carefully wrapped up in tissue and then placed in a brown paper bag. The cookie store was next and I was allowed to buy 3 cookies covered in peppermint icing that had chocolate drizzle on them. I never touched them until I got home as I wanted to savour every bite.
After my mother died my father would take me up to Brault’s drugstore every Saturday night where I was allowed to purchase one magazine and a chocolate bar. My father never really talked to me much as he was always busy, but this brief time that we spent together each week is something I will always remember.
He would never understand the teen magazines that I bought but figured it was useless to argue with me about considering another choice. Sometimes he brought me to the Blue Bird Restaurant where we would have a chocolate milkshake and my father would talk non stop to the owner. They would talk about the fire that happened years ago and destroyed most of the street and how chain stores were coming in and might possibly ruin the smaller businesses.
One of those chain stores was Canadian Tire and when it opened there was a line up that stretched down the street and around the corner. They had sent everyone catalogues beforehand and everyone wanted to see all the good deals they professed to have. The kids got a free sucker and balloons and I remember the man that owned the hardware store nearby standing in his doorway with a huge scowl.
Main Street was the place I bought my first lipstick and eyeliner. I was in seventh heaven when pantyhose came to town and was proudly displayed in the Continental store window. That was the same store that I bought my first 45 RPM’s and actually one day I was dared to steal one by my friends – that was the first and last time I ever pulled that stunt. The fact that it was Shelley Fabares’ “Johnny Angel” was not really the perfect thing to put between your loose leaf binder with the name angel in the title.
As I got older and moved away things changed. They erected a shopping centre and an A & P came to town shutting the Dominion store down quickly. People opted to go into the air conditioned mall rather than putter along a dying street. The Princess Theatre no longer had a full house, and it only held remembrances of watching Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music with my grandmother. No longer did Bonneau’s grocery store stand on the corner and the street now held French bakeries and a cafe that sold exotic waffles with strawberries and cream.
There was no family left to complain to about the changes, and no one really remembered the old stores anyways. The Bank on the corner shut down and became a restaurant and all you could smell was retail death in the air.
The evolution of retail has hit most small towns; from Main Street to shopping malls and then on to big box stores. No one remembers when a trip to the Main Street was a big deal and now frozen food and big screen TV’s have replaced homemade cookies, theatres, and shoe stores. Now only floral displays with donated benches are many a town’s dream of hoping to attract customers that might remember what it once used to be. We know the magic is still there, you just have to remember. Remember to #supportlocal they are counting on it.
The Benefits of Having my Human Chasis
One snowy New Year’s Eve I remember leaving a dinner with friends that invited me to crowd into a Mini Austin for a ride home. It was not exactly an invite per say – it was actually more of a dare to see how many people we could fit into the “Cooper”. One by one we piled into this tiny car with me scoring a seat riding shotgun.
Since I seemed to have the largest “chassis” in the group it was only fair that I house a couple more people on my lap. There was no way in the world we would ever reach the Guinness World’s Book of Records total of 21. We had no super smart Malaysian students that had once figured out the solution and no one volunteered to sit in the boot of the car.
Packed to the rafters with 9 people the driver attempted to leave and immediately the wheels spun in the fresh new snow. We were all pretty uncomfortable at this point and voices of desperation start to surface to the top.
My father Arthur Knight always insisted that you keep bags of sand or salt in the trunk for traction in case you got stuck in the winter. However there was no sand or salt in the back end of this car, only a bunch of lightweights.
I sat in the front seat slowly losing the feeling in my legs due to the human load being forced upon me and suddenly had an idea. I could be the “living” bag of sand in the rear and hopefully that would help. After shouting out my idea everyone agreed and the doors opened with people literally falling out into the snow. I immediately got into the back end and the passengers reassumed more uncomfortable positions. With a huge push from a passerby we were off.
The car swerved and slipped in the snow but one by one we were safely dropped off and had enjoyed a life experience we would never forget. Arthur Knight’s bag of sand, who was really his daughter in this case, had saved the day.
I decided to look this traction myth up on Snopes.com and the page was completely blank. Had Arthur Knight had it all wrong? I found a few discussions on a few automotive boards and one man had this to say.
“So while extra weight generally improves traction, the only safe place to put it is in between the wheels. That’s why, for traction, we suggest car-pooling. In fact, when recruiting car-poolers, you could start by putting up a sign at Weight-Watchers.”
After more research I decided to go back to Snopes when I found another link about the topic. Again the page was blank and the lone entry was about a woman called “The Human Couch”.
Legend goes that a 500 pound woman had to be brought to the ER after she had experienced shortness of breath. While they attempted to undress her an asthma inhaler fell out of one of the folds of her arm. A shiny new dime was under her breast and a TV remote control was found in one of the folds of her lower extremities. Her family was extremely grateful they found the remote and the doctor said it was the first time he had found buried treasure.
No wonder it had been an entry selection when I typed in “sand weight and car”. I sit here and giggle about what I have written and wonder if people reading this will consider my story legend or lore. At least I wasn’t listed as “The Human Couch” because losing a TV remote is a felony I hear in some countries.
Betty Betty Betty
I always believed in Betty Crocker– well, I wanted to believe that the first lady of food was real. Similar to finding out that Nancy Drew’s author Carolyn Keene wasn’t real, one day Betty Crocker was no longer real either. I realized that dear old Betty was just a brand name and trademark developed by the Washburn Crosby Company.
The story goes that they chose Betty as her name because it sounded as American as the Apple Pie she would show us all how to make. The original Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook was first published in 1951 and everyone knows someone that has a Betty Crocker Cookbook in their home. Betty, like Margie Blake from the Carnation Company, was important to me as my mother died young, and food somehow replaced parental figures. Well, that’s what a few years of therapy taught me.
The recipes from any Betty Crocker Cookbook are from leaner times, and in the 50’s my mother used to make Tuna Pinwheels and Canned Devilled Ham Canapes for her canasta parties. Bernice Ethylene Crittenden Knight was a stickler for an attractive food presentation, and she also made something called Congealed Salad for holiday meals. A combination of Orange Jello, Cool Whip, crushed pineapple, and wait for it, shredded cheese. I think my Dad called it “Sawdust Salad” and I seriously tried to remain clueless as to why.
Families all loved baked bread, but I guess not all people liked Betty’s Fruit Loaf recipes because on page 78 of my vintage Betty Crocker cookbook, the former owner of the book hand wrote:
“Terrible, even Nookie the dog turned it down.”
The steamed brown bread baked in a can was another baking tragedy. It was so horrible my Dad took my Grandmother’s failed recipe target shooting at the Cowansville dump. I would like to think that some of those rats got to feast on one of those brown breads. Of course, maybe after sampling it, they might have wanted to be put out of their misery.
Betty Crocker’s 7 minute-frosting that my mother would put on some of her 1950s nuclear coloured cake was a family favourite. Then there were the Floating Islands, homemade Rice Pudding, chilled with whipped cream and cinnamon on top. My grandmother’s specialty was steamed English Pudding, and when she was done, she would soak lumps of sugar with orange extract and then place them decoratively around the pudding. One by one each lump would be lighted with a match which would result in a near miss family dinner explosion each time.
Nostalgic triggers a story about our lives, helping us reflect on traditions and moments about the days when our parents and grandparents were alive. That’s why we should never lose print recipes, and real paper-based cookbooks. Those mystery meat recipes, books, and foods that were the same colour as radiation will always resonate with us because we get to see and relive the gravy stained favourites, and the personal notes in the margins. If reading about Betty Crocker has you craving a big slice of cake, you’re not alone. Time to bake!
Jo-Anne Dowdall-BrownMy Dad always told me he would know if I did something wrong before I would get home! True words!
Joann VoyceBack in the 1950’s that bell chiming at 11 pm was our curfew. I could make it from most places in town to my home by the time it had rung 11 times
Sherene Baird Flint—I grew up in Carleton Place,Ontario during a time when everyone treated each other like family (we never got away with ANYTHING, and I mean NOTHING!!!) that is because everyone knew whose child I belonged to!!
We went outside to play, got dirty and we didn’t eat fast food (it was a treat). We ate Bologna or jam sandwiches, raw hot dogs and cooked homemade food. We ate penny candy, yes, I said, “penny”, and fake candy cigarettes, black cat gum.
On weekends we would go for a drive and drop in to visit someone (no planning a week in advance). If they weren’t home, we would drive a little farther.We played kick the can, Red Light Green Light, Hide & Seek, Truth or Dare, Red Rover, What Time Is It Mr. Wolf, Tag, Dodge ball, Baseball, jump rope, and road hockey.
We rode bikes and raced against each other.We cried if we couldn’t go outside and play. There was no bottled water, we drank from the faucet and the garden hose (don’t forget to let that water run for a minute because it was hot when you just first turned it on!).
We watched cartoons on Saturday morning (everyone looked forward to Saturday morning cartoons! Especially bugs bunny, our parents loved it because they were able to sleep in knowing we were occupied). We watched hockey, comedy movies and played cards or board games.
We played in the woods, built forts, and rode our bikes for hours WITHOUT a cell phone. When you fell you wiped off the dirt and blood and kept on going. If you wanted to talk to your friends, you had to go to their houses and find them.
We weren’t AFRAID OF ANYTHING. Our parents knew that when the street lights came on we were on our way home. If someone had a fight, that’s what it was…a fight.
Kids DIDN’T HAVE ACCESS TO GUNS when I grew up. Dusk was our curfew. School was mandatory, and we watched our mouths around our elders because ALL your neighbours knew your parents, so we knew if we didn’t, we were in big trouble when we got home.I really miss those days. We were taught to be respectful and we didn’t give our parents a hard time. We had a respectful fear of our parents, teachers, AND THE LAW!
We were taught to work hard for what we wanted.Life is short, very short…..be humble and kind and respectful.Re-post if you’re proud that you came from a close-knit community and will never forget where you came from!
Alana Flint Great description Sherene! I remember and did all of that! We used to bike to the park with our 25 cents to spend at the shack…a hot dog, drink (in a glass bottle) and a chocolate bar. We’d spend the day swimming and get sunburned (no sunscreen). Rossy Doyle would be at the park in the afternoon with games and puzzles for us to use. I had many skinned knees from the Twirlers. Good times!
Dale CostelloDid all that and even had a paper route too. Played street hockey under the street lights on Rochester Street. Had a BB gun, but hit a neighbor kid and got into trouble. Didn’t like him anyway.
Ray PaquetteIn the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am reminded of a similar fear we had as kids growing up-polio. The similarities with COVID 19 are striking: until Dr Salk and his vaccine it was constantly on our minds, particularly in the summer. We all took precautions based on the latest public health warnings but as with COVID 19, we were able to get through it…
Ray PaquetteTed Hurdis We south end boys would get an early start on the swimming season by swimming in Dibblee’s Quarry ( Mahogany Spa) at the end of Napoleon Street…
Dan Williams Can you remember going out to Dibblee’s quarry to get an early start on the swimming season? The quarry ice was gone earlier and the spring sun helped to increase the water temperature to almost an acceptable level..
Dan WilliamsHey Llew Lloyd being from the better side of town we had our own quarry, Dibley’s, to swim in. It was however not used much in my time except for rafts. In my brothers day it definitley was a swimming hole with great places to dive from. I can also remember picnicing there with my family
I was with my sister and brother and the in laws yesterday visiting my brother, and you know a topic just SEEMED to come up. You know friendly, family happenings in childhood, that today just might be causing pains or the occasional ache.
When you get to be on the senior side of things a lot of body parts just do not do what they were designed to do, or did when were a child. The topic of knees came up, both my siblings sometimes have problems with this body part, mine seem to be fine right now, who knows what tomorrow might bring. My thought about the health of my knees could be as a result of hanging from my knees on a branch of a tree might have strengthened them as a child and helps in the old age. You do not want to ask about other body parts as they could be sometimes dysfunctional. Some may say the brain functions some times are a tad bit slow, but we do eventually tune in.
After this discussion, I thought it is the KNEES they are discussing and not the shoulder and collar bone area. You see when we lived on Gardner Street there was a teeter-totter or some called it a seesaw. It was in Mrs. Gardner’s backyard, and if her granddaughter Joan or if you asked permission you were permitted to play on it. You must abide by Mrs. Gardner’s rules and be on your best behaviour, and no stepping on the flowers please.
Well it was a bright sunny day, and the Sewell kids and the Ing children were not home. We did ask my Mom could we go down the street to play on the teeter totter and our instructions were to make sure you ask Mrs. Gardner. Wouldn’t you know Mrs. Gardner was not home so we just decided it was fine; we would not walk on the garden, we would have a couple of turns and then go home.
Well brother Jack and I headed down the street and our younger pesky sister Grace said she wanted to come. We said no, but she started to cry and said, “I will tell MOM, if you don’t let me come”. She was cute, but she was a pest, and she did have a big mouth if she wished get you in trouble. She was known to scream if she did not get her way, so we let her come along.
We were having such a good time Jack and I, until the pest wanted a turn, so we let her get on one end. We went up and down a couple of times, and I have to say Grace was enjoying her ride, but as sometimes children do get bored, brother got off and said, “You take a turn with you and Grace”.
Now he was coaching from the ground, mind you I need little coaching, and he said put Grace in the air, I DID. He yelled jump off, I DID. Oh my, Grace came crashing to the ground and it was almost instant a CRY of pain. I stayed with Grace as she was crying and Jack went two doors down to Grandma.
Well Grandma was not impressed, and realized that there was something wrong. She asked me to run and get your Mom. I did, and the next thing I knew she was taken to the Doctor. She did look strange as one arm hung down a little further than the other. We had to stay with Grandma, now she was a women of few words, but I could tell she was mad.
What seemed to be a long time, Grace came home with her arm in a sling, telling my Grandmother she had a broken collar bone. In somewhat of a quiet voice my Mother said, “Home and to your bedroom!” Funny thing she never sent us for the punishment stick, it was just TO YOUR BEDROOM!
Can you believe my sister got some gumdrops from Grandpa?
Now she was a spoiled child as well, and maybe she should have stayed at home and not be a pest, It was her own fault. SO THERE. 🙂
My grandparents once lived on Mercer Island, Wa. just off the I-90 Seattle floating bridge. In September of 1963 my Mother died and in the summer of 1964 my Dad sent my sister and I to visit them. It was 1964 and it was a summer of rebellion for me. So much so I think my Grandfather was ready to ship me back to Canada the next time I did something wrong.
My grandmother insisted on chores and one afternoon wiping the lunch dishes I spilled some grape juice all over the dishtowel. I don’t have to tell you what that dishtowel looked like and I immediately panicked. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I tossed the now purple tea towel into the raspberry bushes in the backyard. I figured landing in the midst of 30 bushes with long thorns would keep the dish towel hidden forever. Like Niki Saindon’s story below– it was all about staying out of trouble.
For weeks my Grandmother Winnie looked for that towel deeming it a present from an old friend. I was questioned about it until she went on to something else I had done. A month later my grandfather was picking some raspberries and up came that dish towel that now was spanking clean thanks to the rainstorms that had passed us over. He didn’t say much, but he had this look on his face that said it all. He threw it on the lawn in my direction and I brought it in to Winnie saying it must have fallen off the clothes line. If I remember correctly she had the same look.
The Broken Plate- Niki Saindon
When I was a kid, I accidently broke a plate (China blue speckled thing) and fearing my mother’s wrath I buried it in the driveway. Forward 10 years later when we were developing our business at home and landscaping needed to happen. Behold the plate unearthed and no one knew how it got there…but me ;). Funniest thing for me….for my family to find.
When you reach a certain age like myself and someone famous dies it affects you. Especially if that someone played predominantly from the musical soundtracks of your life like Aretha Franklin. At 67 there is still not a day that goes by that I don’t play her music. I always knew this day would come, but when she died on August 16th I felt that a piece of me had faded away and suddenly felt really old.
According to scientific report, our musical idols die young. Many of them die from drug overdoses, drunk-driving accidents and that the average lifespan of musicians is only 45. So let me get this right– I am going to live longer if I’m not participating in any of the above? Somehow I would like to feel reassured, but I don’t, and I am not banking on many extra years these days.
In 1967 Aretha released the song Respect and life was never the same for me. With ironed hair that I had set on empty orange juice cans and my mini tent dress, I danced to her music on the weekend in the basement of the old bus terminal on Depot Street in Cowansville. Not once did I ever think about getting older and protesting about getting senior discounts only when I supposedly had one foot in the grave at age 60.
In 1968 I became part of the Pepsi Generation and watched American Bandstand on TV in colour dancing to what was called Slo Jams to Aretha singing Natural Woman. Living a few blocks from the Montreal CFCF studios I was a regular audience dancer on the TV show Like Young. When I screamed hysterically when Bobby Darin and Englebert Humperdinck appeared on stage, no one ever told me at age 60 I was going to get a very important letter from my bank.
I had no idea dancing to her music at Snoopy’s on Dorchester Street in 1969 that the very day I turned 60 it was going to be an important milestone for me. I was too busy making cassette mixtapes of Aretha’s songs to even think of gray hair, sore knees and retirement. In 2011 the bank would thank me for being a client for many years. Because I was turning 60 they would give me me a monthly rebate of $4.00 on my monthly fees instead of charging me $13.95 a month. The bank was definitely paying this Natural Woman a little Respect. Or were they? Playing Chain of Fools on my stereo on a daily basis I never thought about the the extra $4.00 savings each month. Would $4.00 buy me a package of Depends down the road?
As the years passed and slowly entering my golden years Aretha’s music was still always part of my life, and so was my bank. The bank seemed to know as I danced around the kitchen in my pajamas to her music last Thursday with uncombed hair that I would need a colonoscopy as part of their cherished older clientele. That’s right, they were Saying a Little Prayer for Me that I would do the right thing when they sent me that letter last week.
Aretha, I am going to remember every time I danced to your songs on the radio, my transistor radio, reel to reel, 8 tracks, cassettes, CDS, YouTube and now ITunes. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world. The choir upstairs just got a little better. As for the bank knowing my every move all these years? Thanks for always checking up on me, I’m doing fine, but I’m really going to miss Aretha Franklin. But, please send candles next time in your letters as they are costing me more than the cake now. My body called the Freeway of Love is a lot older now– but you knew that A Change was Gonna Come.
Childhood , Oh so scary childhood “Mom don’t leave big brother in charge” maybe we can come with you… Please!
Jack’s in Charge-Scary Stories
I have a brother who I love dearly but as a twelve year old left in charge of his two younger sisters while Mom and Dad went down the street three doors away to visit Grandparents. Brother dear was left in charge, OH DEAR, oh dear.
My Brother, could not do any wrong, in my Mothers eyes. He always obeyed my mother’s request, at least he told her he understood and he would go get our parents should there be any trouble Sweet Boy, NOT .. OH YEAH! I would say to my sister oh here we go again what will he do now? He was a good brother but he sure scared us sometimes. He did know how to creep us out!
In my childhood there was no television, you would listen to the radio, and on Sunday evening there were horror or horrible shows as I would call them. Sound effects and voices were so scarey, creaky doors, screaming people, piercing sounds, footsteps to name a few. I still shiver
Dear Brother would get two chairs and place them in front of the radio. He would then say, sit down, First time it happened we thought we were going to play, musical chairs or something. But OH NO., Brother dear would go and get a couple of my Dad’s ties and tie us to the chair. He would then turn up the radio and shut off the lights.
Oh we were so frightened my younger sister would be crying, I would be screaming and no he did not stop He would just wait for a scary part in the program and then he would crawl under the chairs and grab our legs. The programs THE SHADOW KNOWS and the GREEN HORNET.
I do not know how my sister and I survived, you know much later in Life around the age of 45, it was discovered I had been born with a hole in my heart, this problem was never medically repaired or had any family Doctor known it was there. Over the years this caused major heart problems , and I ended up with Open Heart Surgery.. Here was this sweet thing scaring us to death, he was supposed to protect us, so I thought.
When the shows were over he would untie us put everything away, my parents would come home shortly after. Once again my sister and I would say that Brother was mean to us and tied us to a chair. Mother would say, “I don’t think he would do that.” She would ask him ‘’did you put those programs on the radio’‘and he would admit to it. Mom would say he will not do that again and that would be the end of the conversation.
Needless to say the next trip down the street by our parents to our Grandparents we would know, Here comes the Green Hornet, and experience the same treatment. One night shortly after, my mother, went out she did not go down the street right away, when the lights went out, she came in and caught him. WHEW we were safe AND THEY WERE NOT HEARD AGAIN. So ended LISTENING TO THE GREEN HORNET AND THE SHADOW KNOWS, and I am stronger for it. I think!
For the past little while I have been concentrating on Summers at the Stone House in Snow Road. I have done a couple of stories about memories of events, and there are some pictures to go along with it. Well here we are with a Winning Photo, not a Snow Road picture but I thought I should share. As a child I was somewhat of a Tom Boy and definitely had an attitude of who cares, as long as we had fun, did it matter what we looked like. From the look of this picture I would say not. Now my Grandfather did not care if I looked a wee bit tumbled or shoes on the wrong feet, he always had a greeting and I did enjoy his attention and comments. If there was a tree to climb or some kind of an insect to check out, this would fill my time outside. I did not require a companion I could amuse myself with no difficulty. I have to say I did enjoy myself, be it climbing a tree, hanging upside down, now that was a very interesting way to look at things. Dolls and toys did not attract my attention for very long, maybe at Christmas when I received a new doll and my Mother and Grandmother had taken the time to make clothes and dress. The Doll was soon put aside to sit on the bed and look pretty, I did have adventures to seek. We lived not too far from the Railway Track and it was fun watching the train go by. I could have been sitting on a limb of a tree or just sitting on the grass on the side of the track. It was nice to see the Train Engineer wave as he went by, and he did blow the whistle. All of my younger years I thought, was that not nice he tooted the whistle to greet me. Little did I know that he was blowing the whistle to warn he was approaching a intersection. Oh well it was nice to think I was important to him as a child, nice man. You can tell my clothes were not important, just to many other things to discover and I didn’t need a mirror to look in I was just fine, to me. Now there were times when my Mother did not have patience with me. She would go to great pains, washing clothes, bathing us, washing hair and brushing it til it shone, this was important. I can remember at night before bed she would brush the hair and tell me to count. If I lost my place start over, how boring START AGAIN. There were times when I thought is the part of homework to make me smart in arithmetic ? Who knows, I didn’t really care. Now my sister used to call me “Miss Goodie Two Shoes”, as she had a tendency to talk back, I did not, but I did what I wanted. Oh life was good no stress, no troubles, just no worries. I never felt that it was my place to argue, but when the talk was over, I just would do as I like, no pressure there. (Prissy) Looking at the picture, I now know why my mother would look at me the way she did, I often received this little quote “can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. I can’t say I understood what she meant but that was fine. I do have to admit she would be nice to have here now, as my attitude is still somewhat the same. Before leaving to go to school, once again she would brush my hair, tell me if my shoes were on the wrong feet and straighten what had to be straightened. “Oh for goodness sake, pull up those stockings”. The last question was did you brush your teeth. I would give her the answer she wanted and rub my teeth of with my finger, going out the door. School I enjoyed and the walk to and from, with friends was delightful. My marks were fine in all subjects but S P E L L I N G I do have to admit spell I could not, and still can’t. This is fine, I have spell check on the Computer and sometimes my sister get’s the honour of reading the lines first. I do hope you enjoy these words of wisdom and the picture is just so me! From the Pen of Noreen 2018
The day was crisp and cool at the local county fair the day John died. He had a lifelong weakness for younger women, golf and Ferris wheels. He was the only one sitting in the still damp seat on the broken down ride and some of his legal vultures stood below, seemingly awaiting his final demise. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. But it would come.
John had not moved or spoken in weeks. He was filled with remorse for a life that had been not all that it should be. His daughter joined him and gently touched the thin vein slowly pulsating in his hand. His eyes flashed open as he felt her presence and he said,
“Did you get them?”
She nodded her head.
The doughnuts were hot and coated with sugar as she handed him one from the brown paper bag. His tongue slid into the warm jelly doughnut and smiled. Why couldn’t his life have been this comforting? They both sat motionless in the seat – stalled at the very top. The fog seemed to disappear and he wondered if God could see him better now. Would God forgive him for all his wrong doings? But in his heart, he knew it was too late now and all he could hope for was final forgiveness.
The operator opened the door for John, who was still clutching the rest of his warm donut as he climbed out. Rain began to fall as he slowly took his last steps. His final breath came as he went to purchase another ticket for a ride he would never have. The vultures carried his body into the car and soon he would be laid to rest. It was over.
John’s daughter insisted on sitting next to his lifeless body as they journeyed to the morgue. She remembered the good times, which were few, and the painful moments in her life, which were many.
The day of his funeral, the Ferris wheel did not operate. It was cold, wet and as gloomy as John had always been. The vultures sat in the first row in the massive cathedral and the trophy wives sat behind them. Instead of prayers, whispers circulated like the wind on who was going to get the best morsels. His daughter sat alone and prayed for him. She prayed that God would forgive him for all his poorly chosen roads in life.
The next day she returned to the county fair. She was read the rules about riding the Ferris wheel by a somewhat expressionless man, even though she was the only one sitting in the still damp seat. Not even the changing colour of the leaves and the promise of a rainbow could bring a smile to her face.
She remembers when she and her father were at that same county fair barely days ago. They had tried in his last few minutes to rekindle a relationship that had been splintered by pain and anger. But he was not whole – ravaged by cancer that would rob him of life.
She sat motionless in her seat as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, wondering if her father could see her better as she rode towards the top. She asked God to return him to her for one brief moment so they could say things never said, but deeply felt. No matter how angry they had become towards each other through the years, they had still had love for each other in their hearts.
The operator opened the door and she knew she had no more chances with God or her father. She bought a warm doughnut, and bit into it slowly and lovingly. She smiled and threw the doughnut towards the heavens for her father to share.
He knew. He had always known. She had known. They were one and the same.
The vultures stood by the car and watched her as she walked up to the ticket booth once again.
“One, please” she said.
Once again the expressionless operator read her the rules. Once again she stalled at the top. Once again she looks up to the heavens and cried,
“I love you Dad”
Down from the bottom the aged man running the ferris wheel softly says,
And for one brief second when she looked at him she thought saw her father’s eyes. Sometimes we all learn things too late. The only true time you become an adult is when you finally forgive your parents for being just as flawed as everything else.
Dec. 15th, 2009 at 2:44 PM It is December 15th, almost a week before Christmas, and you would never know it. I wrote a piece a few years ago called “Searching For Christmas” and it seems, as the years go by, it disappears more and more. The Martha Stewart Christmas CD plays for the umpteenth time, and after 17 Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel I just can’t watch another. Or can I?
I had something happen to me this year that was life altering. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, and it has literally changed my perspective on life. It was almost like learning there was no Santa Claus when I was a child. That innocence that reinforced the goodness of mankind suddenly vanished. So, I sit here and ask myself, how many Christmases do I have left? What if I had not lived, and missed Christmas this year? Well, I did live, and Christmas is almost around the corner. So I try to snap out of this funk and remember. I remember the smell of Christmas trees and their sharp pine pungent scent, and the smell of home baking in the air. To be honest, the last years of my childhood Christmases were not spent smelling a fresh evergreen tree. It was gazing at the latest model of Sears “best in the line ” decorator trees in my Grandmother’s living room. I remember the delicate fragile glass ornaments that belonged to years gone by and the blue lights on the tree.
I still hear Miss Watson playing the church organ next to the Chrismtas tree at Trinity Anglican Church, which also shone with blue lights. I felt like it was something that was decided upon one Altar Guild Day in one fell swoop of a pact. Can I still hear these women talking with their glasses perched on their noses and fluffing their short tight perms? Did these church ladies decide that blue lights, and only blue lights, should be on a Christmas tree? I am positive that’s what happened and then they all went home and changed their lights to blue in a no nonsense way.
Memories then flood my mind of two weeks after Christmas in 1995 when my sons and I stood on top of a water- soaked carpet looking sadly at a completely black Christmas tree. Staring at the remainder of a horrible fire that burned everything the day before, my oldest son wondered if his purchase of one small TY Beanie Baby monkey started the fire that turned our lives upside down for over a year. He is very much like his mother. We dwell on things and don’t give them up. We are good at that. But Christmas went on the next year and no one was a Negative Nancy. We still watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas and baked cookies and hung up stockings and I still left small presents on the door steps of the elderly. So what to do? How do I get out of this Downer Dan mood? I decided to make Butter Tarts–now that would make me feel festive. Twenty minutes later after listening to Loreena McKennitt singing “Good King Wenceslas” for the umpteenth time, I take the tarts from the oven. They smell wonderful and I know they will be enjoyed. I turn the Martha Stewart Christmas CD off and file it away, not to be played for… let’s say…at least a day. Charlie Brown’s Christmas by Vince Guaraldi fills the air and I dance. I realize the holidays are what you make out of it and not to expect anyone to drop the Holiday spirit outside your bathroom door– because it just ain’t going to happen. Christmas just isn’t a season–it’s a feeling sometimes being torn for the familiar and just a chance to feel old feelings twice.
Author’s Note–This story was my initial awakening call as to why stories and people from the past are important.
August 22, 2006 2:13 am
One sunny Friday afternoon I rescued some things out of random boxes at the Oakland Flea Market. The seller told me that the family of the deceased had left most of his belongings as discards on the street. I could not imagine anyone doing that–it felt heartless to me, now seeing everything spread out on the pavement under the hot blazing sun. Are the remainders of your life only worth a dollar each?
There were mysterious French books and a host of other wonderful things. What caught my eye was an old green cardboard file full of personal correspondence, and I couldn’t wait to get home and start to do research on the internet.
I found out that the box once had belonged to a Professor who had died in San Francisco in 2006. He had written a book about the study of historians in the French Revolution, and after reading some of his received correspondence I learned that he specialized in French Restoration History. The learned man had taught at Yale, UIC, and was renowned by historians everywhere– yet the fate of his belongings lay in a heap on the ground.
I was quite sad to hear that the gentleman had led a sheltered and lonely life. Indeed he had many people that loved and wrote him, but by the tone of the letters he was a recluse and died alone. As I did more research, another professor, who had been one of his students, had written a seven page obituary online about the Professor, obviously out of the great respect he had for him. I was shocked when I read each page that his former student had written, as it was everything I had envisioned about the Professor, yet I had never met him.
In later years the aging Professor became jaded with new students who didn’t seem to care. Yale University had sought him out to teach and he had almost completed a manuscript on Guizot that he just could not seem to hand in for publication.
It broke my heart that this wonderful man who had so many letters in the box from friends and students felt that he was always alone. There was even a note to a woman he barely knew tucked in the lining of the box. The loving man had tenderly wrote that that his words of love would remain in his file forever, never to be seen by her, or known to anyone else.
So what happened to this treasured correspondence file? I wrote a story about it and posted it on my old website, and within a month five different people contacted me, wondering what was I going to do with it.
I knew some of them were inquiring for financial gain as several universities would pay for the items I had. It got vicious at one point with nasty emails directed at me questioning why I had this– when in essence, I had rescued his papers in the first place from the possible landfill site. In the end I decided where its rightful place should be and I sent it to a former love interest of his in the northwest. There, his box of memories sits in privacy on a desk to be cherished by her forever.
The Professor’s manuscript about Guizot was never found, and not a single soul knows where it is. I assume he felt that no one would appreciate it and had hidden it away or gave to someone for safe keeping. But someone did care about him, and there will never be a day that will go by that I do not think about him and how I found his “messages in a bottle”.
This is why I share photos and stories of the past, as eventually all of us will be only memories in photographs and notes. Everything is proof that we all existed once and in reality we become just stories in the end. It was just not anything that I found in an Oakland flea market that day– it was finding something that needed to be saved and cherished. We live as long as we are remembered.
Jan. 23rd, 2010 at 2:33 PM
When “Poofy Dog” first lived in the building, he was one heck of a Dapper Dandy. Poofy is mostly terrier mixed with a bit of this and some of that. Once upon a time he was better dressed than any Fashionista you have ever seen. Spiffy hats, coats, and quite frankly, a hairstyle that did not quite fit a male dog but he carried it off quite well. Every time I saw him with his human Mum he was not allowed to stop and chat. He was marched outside with precision and decision mixed with very quick steps. I knew deep in his heart he wanted me to pat him and call him all sorts of lovey dovey names but it was just not allowed. Instead he threw me a look from the corner of his eyes as he was rushed out the door which spelled out “maybe next time”. While in appearance Poofy Dog looked much like a perfectionist, in his heart he was not. He didn’t want the hats, he didn’t want the coats, he just wanted to be a normal dog. Poofy Dog was also a barker. He barked in the morning, he barked at noon, and he barked for the rest of the day. He wanted to be heard, he wanted to be petted, and he wanted out of those clothes. He just did not want to be Poofy Dog–I think he really wanted to be Sloppy Dog. One day Poofy Dog disappeared from the building. One minute he was there, and the next minute he was not. It was quiet and it was silent. No more plaid dog coats ran down the hall and everyone asked each other, “Where was Poofy Dog?” Exactly one year later, Poofy Dog returned to the building. He no longer had fancy clothes or the fancy hats. He no longer sported a ponytail or bows on top of his head and his coat was no longer brushed. He saw me and seemed to smile with glee. Poofy Dog was almost close to being the Sloppy Dog he wanted to be and boy, was he happy. Word on the street was that Poofy Dog’s human Mum and Dad were no longer together. Apparently she had dumped dear old Dad in a pizza parlour, just like that. Making a long story short, Poofy Dog was to live with his Mum and his Dad was supposed to have weekend visitation rights. Poofy Dog had no idea what a break up was all about. All he knew, in his fuzzy little doggie head, was that his dad, the Alpha of the family, came and got him every Friday night. He loved his dad. No hats, coats or ponytails and no more “ouchy” brushing. As weeks passed, Poofy Dog began to winder if his Mum was not so hot as a “superior” leader. Poofy Dog just wanted to be with his Dad, the ‘big” dog. Poofy Dog became so upset and so sad he became Naughty Dog. In fact he went out of his way to be Naughty Dog. So finally his Mum, the “unsuperior dog” gave him back to his Dad full time. After all, there is only so much barking and “surprises on the carpet” one can take. To end this silly but very story, Poofy Dog is now back in the building full time. He prances and dances and laughs all the way down the hall. He is finally back where he belongs. Now when I see Poofy Dog I call him and he comes running, pulling his Dad on the other end of the leash. He always rejects the dog cookies I offer him and looks at me quite silly. You see, all Poofy Dog wanted was some loving and to be back “with his pack”. And isn’t that what we all want? Being in a pack. a family pack, with a whole lot of loving and above all, no dressy hats.
Feb. 12th, 2010 at 3:57 PM
I wrote this very true “cat tail” in March of 2009 after reading daily emails from a good friend of mine about the cats she loves. This blog is dedicated to everyone that helps animals, and above all to true love. This story documents Rogue and Selma who were indeed two very real cats from Phoenix, Arizona.
Once upon a time in Phoenix Arizona, there was a very kind lady who looked after cats. There were outdoor cats, inside cats, and cats that just lived wherever they could. Every day the sun shone brightly and it was very very hot. It was a hard life for the outdoor feral cats trying to make it on their own.
Rogue was the most handsome cat of her feral cat crew. Every night he snuck in through the kitchen “kitty door”, climbed on top of her bedroom bureau, and stared at himself in the mirror. Then he would lick his paw, swish it over his head and smile at his reflection. The kind lady loved Rogue and wanted him to stay indoors where it was cool with her other cats but Rogue was Rogue. He had decided in his own kitty mind that he belonged to no one.
One day it became so unbearably hot that Rogue decided to sit next to the kind lady’s home under the bushes where his feral friend Goldie sometimes sat. His furry yellow pal had a friend sitting next to him and he introduced his companion to Rogue. Rogue looked up slowly with those sly dark eyes of his and saw Goldie’s friend. She completely took his breath away. Her name was Selma, and Rogue fell in love with her right at that very second in time.
From that moment on Selma and Rogue were inseparable. They watched the sun rise, and then watched it go down. When the hot noon sun struck Rogue and Selma would sit in the back seat of the kind lady’s Jeep that she purposely left open for them. Days and weeks went by and they never left each other’s side. Selma was Rogue’s Juliet and he would never let anything harm her. Selma became pregnant with “kitty child” and Rogue was even more dutiful as time progressed.
He would go out scouting for food daily but at dusk you could see Rogue scale the tall fences to find her and stay by her side. The kind lady would go out every day and make sure Selma was out of the sun and that she was okay. Unbeknownst to anyone, Rogue would sit on top of some hidden fence protecting Selma through his watchful eyes.
When the kittens came, Rogue was there for his beloved more than any human could be. This love they had for each other was bigger than life itself. He would nestle beside her some nights while she nursed their kittens and sing ‘Nessun Dorma’ to them in his wee kitty voice. He had learned the song after listening to the kind lady’s music, and now it was a song just for them. It was his way to express his profound and everlasting love for her.
One day the kind lady took their kittens to the vet to make sure they were okay and then found them loving homes. Rogue and Selma were heartbroken, but things had changed over the weeks. Rogue had become ill, and try as the kind lady might, they could not save Rogue. No one spoke about it for weeks. No one ever wanted to speak about it. Rogue had died and Selma was beside herself. Selma had lost her Romeo.
The kind lady tried hard to make Selma come inside but Selma was afraid to share her love again lest it disappear like Rogue. Selma was not herself anymore. She had lost the only kitty she had ever loved and would never ever have that kind of love again. A few weeks later Selma became pregnant with ‘kitty child’ once again and the father disappeared faster than the sun disappearing at night. Goldie the cat tried to persuade her to let the kind lady love and take care of her but she was just too afraid.
One day in the extreme Arizona heat Selma being very pregnant found herself giving up. Was life worth living without Rogue? She saw a small basket and crawled inside and with that the kind lady scooped her up and brought her inside. Selma’s old friend Goldie came in that night and told her she had nothing to worry about, but Selma lay there with sad eyes and gave birth to her kittens.
Selma had three kittens that night. Identical twins and one other male that was so oddly marked the nice lady called him Toon. New life crept into Selma watching these kittens cuddle around her and she knew Rogue’s love was all around them. Goldie became her protector that night and they talked about Rogue and his life. Nothing could ever bring Rogue back but they would both remember him forever.
Months have passed now and Selma is just fine living with the kind lady and yes, Goldie is still by her side. Sometimes, just as the sun goes down they swear they can see the dark shadow of one fine looking cat sitting on the fence. If they listen carefully they can hear a small heavenly voice singing “Nessun Dorma” along with Pavarotti into the warm night air. They both know in their hearts that it is Rogue and he will forever be singing his love on that fence to Selma, his Juliet.
Dedicated to Anne B and just to let everyone know that as of today in 2016, Selma, Toon and Goldie still live on.
Youtube video of Nessun Dorma– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTFUM4Uh_6Y
February 21st, 2010–12:03 am
With rain on the horizon the visit to the flea market today lasted no more than 12 minutes. The sellers were trying to get rid of their stuff quickly and cheaply in a short span of time. Sometimes that can be a good thing–sometimes not so much. As I raced down one row something caught my eye. It was a 22 inch Miss Revlon doll from the 1950’s. It was not just any doll either, as it looked exactly like my old doll Candy. The seller wanted one whole dollar for her so I grabbed the doll quickly and put her in my cart. Rain started pounding down at that point, so I ran like the wind to the bus stop making mental memories from days gone by on my sprint back.
Somehow Miss Revlon keeps coming back to haunt me. Years ago she appeared under the family Christmas tree in a huge tall box full of pink straw. My late sister Robin never seemed to care for this doll from the get go. Many times I had to grab the plastic scissors away from her as she tried to trim her hair.
When I lost the Brownies doll clothing fashion contest I wrote about a few weeks ago I felt like an Olympian caught on drug charges. I learned that day never to lie, and I swear that was my turning point in life. My younger sister seeing how upset I was ripped Candy’s head off, and there she sat for years on a shelf headless with her head next to her as a reminder to me that lying was a bad thing. On the way back I began to think that maybe my late sister sent it to me in a humorous heavenly sort of way. As there are no more Brownie badges to win at my age, maybe someone just needed to give this doll a good home. I’ve tried to replace some of the dolls I had growing up, but it just doesn’t feel the same. I guess sometimes you just can’t go home again. To me in my childhood, elves and fairies were very real things, and my dolls were really my children as I was myself a child.
My granddaughters have lots of dolls but somehow don’t appreciate the clothing, as I keep seeing them hug dolls that don’t have a stitch of clothing on. But, I am reminded that they represent the good in all of us and display the diverse beauty of humankind. As they say: “We are all just little dolls of ourselves who occasionally pull back the curtains to reveal the real us”.