They say a benefit of time travel might end in a continuous loop, and if it were possible to go back a few years maybe we could undo our mistakes. I have had some pretty wild dreams since my heart attacks and last night I found myself once again breathing in the past.
Sitting on a bench outside the old train station in Cowansville, Quebec it seemed like forever, but in reality it was probably just a few minutes. Nothing had changed as the lunchtime whistle blew from the Vilas factory across the way, and the ghosts of workers past streamed out of boarded up doorways and broken windows.
At the back of the train station there was a huge wooden door that almost reached the sky and sat ajar a few inches. What lay beyond this I asked myself, and being fearless I knew going beyond this barrier was now on my list.
As I pushed the door open I saw the Realmont building and remembered it being such a mysterious place to some of us as teenagers. Whispers of what went on in that building were always on my mind and the secretive products we thought they sold were now irrelevant in my life.
I looked at the old bowling alley across the street and remembered the evenings spent in a cigarette smoke filled basement dancing to 60s music and the friends I will never forget. As I walked down the street some of the older homes still held memories for me and I thought if I continued this journey maybe I could finally clear my head for good.
Walking by the South Street empty parking lot I remember once buying a guedille and a vico at the white clapboard snack bar. I soon realized after I moved to Ontario that no one understood the Joual French that I spoke and asking for a guedille anywhere else would never give me a hot dog bun with coleslaw in it again–along with a chocolate milk. The last time I had seen the owner of that snack bar was two days before she died of cancer and I tried not to let the sad times travel on my emotions.
Sitting on the cement steps of the old Voyageur Bus Terminal I watched my late Father trying to calm the owner, telling him to ignore the teenagers with their transistor radios as they were never going to take his jukebox business away. In reality all of us are just full of hot air and I had to giggle at my father’s lack of faith in technology. I snapped a photo of the two of them realizing it would probably only end up becoming memories and kept on walking down South Street stopping to peer into Hashim’s window.
I had spent a great deal of my youth shopping in this store and loved the smell of new clothing and running my hand down the long wooden counter on Friday nights. In those days you trusted your retailers and so did my Father when I purchased a pair of lime green ‘leprechaun’ shoes there in the 60s for $7. I remember those shoes as being the most outrageous, but incredibly uncomfortable shoes I had ever worn. Shoes are like time travel– sometimes you just need to go all out.
My Grandmother was sitting on the screened verandah and I waved as I walked by and said I would be back. She pointed to the big Shell truck that was unloading gas at the corner gas station. Every Friday evening the truck would pull up and the heavy smell of gas would invade the air. Grammy would put her hands on her hips and tell the driver that the next smoker who lit up was going to blow us all to kingdom come. My grandparents never owned a car so they had great difficulty understanding those who did.
I ran by the Dairy because I longed to see the shoes in Brault’s window as I had always admired their quality and cutting edge. The Anglican church beckoned me to pay homage to the place that I had spent a great deal of time in. The usually locked door was open and I looked inside and remembered the sound of the choir and the smell of the vestry that my Grandmother and I worked in every Friday night. I saw apple blossoms on the church pews for someone’s wedding and remembered my Grandmother dying in the church pew on the right 5 minutes before the service started. They say time is a mind construct but this seemed all too real and better to relive this just once more and not a thousand times again.
Nesbitt Residence–Constructed in approximately 1881, this Second Empire Style home was declared an historic site in 1991. Originally called the Lismore House, the structure was built when three local men, a senator, a high constable and a mill owner, each competed to build the most grand and luxurious home in the town. Of the three, only the Nesbitt Residence still stands.-Photo-Google Image
It was a debate where to stop next– my High School or Le Patio restaurant across the street. Both had been instrumental in my growing pains and I swore I heard the song “These Boots are Made for Walking” on a continuous loop and the smell of “patates frites avec sauce” filled the air.
I had no interest in going into the Post Office and crossed the street so I could stand and look at the Nesbitt residence in all its glory. Years of volunteering at the former senior home as a teen made me now understand when residents told me that their present life had left them speechless. But in my heart I knew they were storytellers of the past and now I had now become one of them and there was no looking back.
The East Voice March 11th 1959-Accident at the Mademoiselle Shoppe on South Street
I looked down the street and saw the shattered glass of the Mademoiselle Shoppe and knew I could not cross the bridge and go further because I was caught in a loop of that Winter day in 1959. There has always been a forever, but this is where it stopped for me. It had been worthwhile, but I knew this road well, having travelled it many times before. I was not intent on arriving, and this time I was only going to leave footprints, take pictures, and leave nothing but time.
Sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near and life now has to begin at the end of my comfort zone. My past has given me the strength and wisdom I have today and some things are better left in yesterday along with all the mistakes and regrets. My past now is just a story and I accept the result of once having had the time of my life and know that you can always go back home– some how.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)