Words About Not Smelling Like Teen Spirit….Linda Knight Seccaspina
Just about every home in the world had a bottle of “Evening in Paris” somewhere in someone’s bedroom. Once upon a time even the perfume machines in women’s restrooms had them. If you put in a coin and pushed the buttons a big squirt of perfume would come out. My Grandmother would always get a bottle for a gift when I was a kid and I never heard her say she didn’t like it.
My Grandfather would take one of us girls to Varins drug store on South Street on Christmas Eve to buy a gift for her. We would come home reeking of many perfumes he had tried on me, but he always bought Evening In Paris as a special gift to win Grammy’s heart with its enticing scent.
How wonderful I felt when Grammy dabbed the fragrance from that cobalt blue bottle on my wrists and behind my ears before sending me off to school. I also remember when the vial shattered and spilled inside her coat pocket —-you could smell her long before she approached you in the preceding months.
One of my favourite flowers, Lily of the Valley, grew everywhere and after my Mother died they sent home her belongings in a blue Samsonite suitcase. When I opened it a bottle of her favourite perfume Coty’s Lily of the Valley had broken inside. For years, each time I opened that suitcase, I relived the rare hours spent with my Mother, in the many hospitals she lived in during my childhood before she died. Fragrances made me feel loved. Nothing is more memorable than a smell, sometimes it’s the key to our memories.
This is exactly where I should pump the brakes in my written journey about scents you remember. Last week I told my 7 year-old granddaughter that when I passed she and her cousin could share my collection of jewellery and hats. She was ecstatic, and then she turned to her mother and said,
“Mum, are they going to smell like Gammy?”
I was shocked and wondered if I had begun to smell musty or bad.
They say when a person approaches old age, they are more likely to start suffering from a distinctive whiff which is often described as a greasy or grassy odour, or ‘old people smell’. I remember going into my grandfather’s bedroom and it always had a certain scent to it. Concerned, I looked it up and they report it’s called– wait for it–Skin Gas. Apparently it’s 2-Nonenal gas, emitted by skin, which is a byproduct of the normal ageing process.Of all the things I thought I’d be thinking of in the new year, this wasn’t one of them. But, last week’s conversation with my granddaughter really made me think about what she was going to remember what Gammy smelled like. Getting to the bottom of it– she just didn’t care for my perfume.
Evening in Paris contained “bergamot top notes and middle notes of jasmine, Turkish rose, violet, iris, ylang-ylang, and a hint of peach and woody cedar that gave way to a sensual, powdery base of soft vanilla”. My Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet on the other hand, was supposed to be a “peony-rose sprinkled with some juicy apricot, an airy floral scent with clean white musk” wrapping it up. The first word that comes to my mind when I wear it is “celestial”– to her I smelled the opposite.
Trying to evoke my scented nostalgia for her memories would never be possible. Every once in a while a gal gets a yearning for a little powder, roses, and violets. Now, all I think about is that older people’s skin and smell will contribute to greenhouse gasses.
I don’t have many photos from my childhood, but this photo above is a favourite of mine. I have often wondered what this doll was as I have never come across it in my research journeys until last week. There it was, staring at me from the 1954 pages of the Almonte Gazette. I remember my doll talking, but it wasn’t 24 inches long so I assume it was a fake Trudy doll bought at the local 5 and 10 “The Ritz Store” situated on the Main street in Cowansville, Quebec.
My people didn’t travel much, so my beloved doll was a knock off, just like the knock off purse I got myself last week. But, my friend Stacey says we shouldn’t call anything fake anymore— you call it “designer inspired” as it’s all about the verbiage. Sovthe Trudy doll I had was “designer inspired” LOLOLOL.
This doll meant a lot to me as my mother was in the hospital a lot so she was a constant friend. I even used her on my book about cancer, because I never forgot her.
Trudy is long gone, so when I tried to find about the doll I found out that one of the Trudy dolls became haunted. This is nothing new to me– seriously…. read-The Spirits Are Alive and Well
On one of my excursions, we headed to a well known haunted area of the Maine coast called Wiscasset. Naturally when I saw a lawn sale at a run down house directly next door an old run down cemetary I had to stop. The toys were being ‘sold’ by the girl in the family who was maybe 7. She had all her items displayed on a blanket and was sitting with them. I thought it was strange that she had a doll in a box it didnt go in so I decided to ask this girl about it! I asked how much she wanted for the doll, and asked her if that was her original box, knowing it wasnt.
She looked at me point blank and said: “No, I put her in the box to keep her still at night”. I said, “Well did it work”? She said, “Not until I put the tape on it”. I have left this this taped up and have never opened the box.I could tell this girl was dealing with something supernatural in her life. She felt that whatever entity was in this doll had been contained to the box. There is immediately something scarey or strange about this doll in the box. The box was made of tin & plasticand I did not buy it.
I later saw a similar crazy doll on EBay (in a box) sell for $500.
Double, double, toil and trouble; no more Love Potion Number 9’s but we can still buy these silly dolls. I wonder if the sales of “Jesus or Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich” will now have restrictions? Cheesus Christ!
Well at least each eBay sale is protected through PayPal; but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been scammed by a Craigslist soul. Sadly these people that once bought these new prohibited items are now going to have to settle for an out-of-eBay experience. I used to think these things were scary– I realized real people are LOLOL
Advertising is the greatest sales force that ever has been discovered. Of course it must be admitted that advertising will not sell an article that isn’t in demand, is of poor quality or priced too high. But let those three requirements be met satisfactorily and advertising will produce the buyers in numbers that are sometimes embarrassing. Take for example an experience we had at The Almonte Gazette office recently.
A farmer living a few miles out of town brought in a Marian 25-20 rifle and advertised it for sale in the columns of the newspaper. Rifles are hard to get, the season was right, deer hunting days being at hand and foxily enough he threw in an offer of 7Q cartridges as an extra incentive. Because he lived in the country and it would be difficult for prospective purchasers to see the rifle at his home, the owner of the weapon asked us if we would keep it in the office and show it to such interested parties as they turned up.
In a moment of weakness we agreed to this arrangement and then hell broke loose on wheels. No sooner was the paper published than the parade started on foot, over the telephone, and through the mails. We were called out of bed late at night by the shrill summons of the telephone bell to answer a voice demanding to know how much we wanted for “that there” rifle. Phone calls came from Calabogie, Carp, Balderson, Lanark and many intermediate points. We even received a telegram from Sharbot Lake and several air mail letters from eager sportsmen who felt that the rifle might spread its wings and sail away before they could get their offers on the record.
But, it was the boys who walked into the office asking to see the gun who really got us down. Knowing nothing about a rifle we had to produce this weapon for inspection and tell each prospect to look it over and judge for himself as it wasn’t our property and we were incapable of hazarding an opinion on its condition. It was a revelation to watch and listen to these great hunters as they put the gun through its paces. We thanked a kind person over and over again that the owner had left no shells around or the demonstrations would have taken on a truly terrifying complexion. It was bad enough anyway.
Believe it or not during the week the gun was in the office it was nothing for the editor or his assistants to look up from their work and find themselves gazing into the muzzle of the 25-20. Now even if you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that a gun is not loaded you still get a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach when you find yourself confronted with the business end of a wicked looking black barrel.
What a procession of experts passed through the office during those hectic days and examined the fierce looking weapon! There they were peering down the muzzle to see if the rings were all right; holding the hind end of it up to the light or putting a piece of paper into the magazine to increase their powers of detection. We don’t know yet what the idea of holding the paper to one end of the breach was but we know we tore up several reams of newsprint in our efforts to accommodate our visitors.
“Ah, it doesn’t look too bad,’ one chap would say, gazing down the barrel as if he had a telescope and was searching for a new heavenly body. The rings don’t look very clean they may be leaded,” another prospective customer would opine hoping we would soften the price if he cried down the condition of the firearm. “I have one like it, only it is a Winchester,” said another pal of ours. “With my gun I have often shot two deer with one bullet. Do you suppose I could shoot two deer with this gun if they were standing end to end.”
My accounts of prowess in the woods evoked by the inspection of that gun were truly edifying. We asked on several occasions if it would be all right for us to publish stories describing their deeds in the great hinterland. Without exception they thought, and hastily exacted a promise that we would not mention either their names or their claims. This seemed passing strange to us because it is certainly no disgrace to be able to kill a deer a mile away or knock two over with one shot. We concluded that the huntsmen were very modest -a trait that somehow or other we never before associated with hunters or anglers.
There seemed to be a unanimous —old and young—who inquired about the gun that its owner wanted too much for it. So finally the man called and took his rifle home. We could have sold it a dozen times if we had had the authority to cut the price a little. Since then we have been directing traffic out to the farm occupied by the owner of the rifle. For all we know he may have sold it to some chap who is killing deer a mile away or knocking them over two or three at a time.
Any man who says advertising doesn’t pay is all wrong. This incident proves it although we will admit that an advertisement for a man to do a little hard work at moderate wages or for a furnished house to rent is not apt to produce the stampede that would be created by a printed intimation that you had a rifle and shells for sale just prior to deer hunting season or that you were prepared to give away a bottle of gin or a case of beer on Rooney’s corner at high noon.
In the old days a farmer was liable to find his wagon sitting astride the roof of his barn when the sun came up the morning after Halloween. This entailed more work than the boys would have cared to do in a legitimate cause. Many a young man who shined at hoeing potatoes didn’t mind doing a lot of heavy work in the interests of hilarity. The mysterious occasion—Halloween—passed off quietly in Almonte. The weather was good and the children indulged in the modern pastime of calling on their neighbors looking for treats. Owing to wartime conditions they did not fare so well this time. It was difficult for people to get candies and the old standby—peanuts —were out of the question.
Those who were fortunate had a store of apples on hand but they were expensive this year and it was impossible for most people to hand them out with the old time prodigality. So far as is known the town was free from the old time tricks—tricks of a destructive nature. In years gone by it was the practice for the town constable to swear in a number of deputies to keep down rowdyism. Nothing like that was necessary on that Saturday night. Chief Wm. Peacock had no trouble coping with the situation because, as it turned out, there was no situation to cope with. The Clayton Bear in Clayton however was one funny incident that people there were still chuckling over.
A well known practical joker of the village decided he would give the children a scare. In town they were going around visiting the various houses. This young man got under a buffalo robe and walked on all fours down the Road accosting the crowd of youngsters. He growled like a bear and hoped in the darkness he would be mistaken for the real McCoy. The boys and girls listened to the ferocious grunts emanating from under the buffalo robe and then they got wise.
Arming themselves with sticks and stones they chased the bear off the road helping him along by applying kicks to that part of the robe under which they surmised a certain part of his anatomy showed. The growls of the bear changed to genuine howls of pain as the robe and its contents sought safety in flight. It is said one of the sad experiences of the bear was that his forepaws passed over a spot where cows had recently mooched along in their homeward journey with consequences that can better be imagined than described.
And that wasn’t all. A vicious dog decided to take a hand in the game. That was the last straw so far as Bruin was concerned. He suddenly emerged from under the robe and the last seen of him he was going over a fence with more speed than any bear ever could display.
Taking it generally the war had its effect on the observance of Halloween this year. There were fewer entertainments on that night than of yore and in the towns the absence of young people in the armed forces and in positions -which made it necessary for them to Jive, in the city was painfully apparent.
There are still a few copies of my book available for those who haven’t gotten a copy yet, or as a Christmas gift to someone with ties to Clayton. They are available at the Clayton Store, the Mill Street Books or from me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Sharp--While we’re talking about Carleton Place families, Bill Findlay and his wife were touring Scotland once and ran into the Queen of England who broke down in her Landrover and apparently was invited for tea afterwards.
David Jeanes-–Hey Jim Sharp I thought from the movie “The Queen” that Queen Elizabeth knew how to fix Landrovers from her work as an army driver during World War II.
Jim Sharp–David Jeanes– Guess she didnt have the right wrench
I have been writing and documenting community history for a very long time with over 6,300 blogs about history. I believe humour is important telling history sometimes, as people seem to remember what is written longer. Everybody knows the tragedy of history, yet, there is no denying that the past is often very funny and yesterday Jim Sharp’s comments on Old Ottawa And Bytown Pics not only made me laugh, but I will never forget the story.
Do we think that serious textual stories are better, more “literary,” whereas maybe something in a lighter fare is for the under educated? If so, then we have a problem. Today’s generations are not interested in facts, and to get them, or a lot of other folks to read about history, it has to be interesting. I don’t know about you but reading traditional text really doesn’t inspire me to want to know more, so I decided to take the ‘vanilla’ out of some history. I mean what would you rather read–
“A faintness came over him, and together with the evacuations his bowels protruded, followed by a copious hemorrhage, and the descent of the smaller intestines: moreover portions of his spleen and liver were brought off in the effusion of blood, so that he almost immediately died.”
Well, maybe that is a terrible example–but today, one of the younger generation would ‘text’ that sentence something like this:
“Hey! That man just %^&* out his internal organs and I will never eat Pigs In A Blanket again”.
What about a local lad who was so popular that the crowd at one of our local Ottawa Valley threw so many various items at him out of adoration that he died of asphyxiation? What will you remember? Pie Winners? I don’t think so. But, interesting tidbits sometimes helps you remember the rest of the story.
Mill of Kintail Road off Highway 28
Of course we all remember Brothel Bertie (King Edward the VII) who probably exercised his prowess around the local Lanark area, including Ottawa. When he visited in 1860 he might have ended dying from bow chicka wow wow when he had a drink at Bennie’s Corners. Apparently, a certain lady from a local Ramsay farm had caught his eye. I don’t know about you, but reading about those “old community spirits” keeps my interests up and makes me want to know more. Read more here-Taking Sexy Back with Brothel Bertie aka Edward the VII
Ice Ice Baby, Ice Ice Baby All right stop, Collaborate and listen
On the 18th of 1897 Carleton Place was advertising for someone to introduce military drills and exercise in the public schools. For $600 a year the individual they hired was to instill serious discipline into the local school child. It was mentioned that 15 minutes a day plus the occasional ‘polite and necessary’ beating would increase the brain function from all that sitting sideways and slouching forward that a normal child does during the day.
As Maestro Fresh Wes once said: “Let your backbone slide!”
The Central Canadian newspaper wanted the school system to hire Joseph McKay, son of James McKay, Carleton Place Bell Street baker for the position. He rose in his long militia service here from lieutenant of No. 5 Company in the late 1870’s to lieutenant colonel of his regiment at the turn of the century. The Rifle Ranges at Carleton Place were constructed during Lieut. Colonel McKay’s command and the newspaper said it would be hard to find a more efficient man for the position. A no nonsense man I believe was quoted in the newspaper.
So what else did I remember when I read the newspaper article?
I somehow saw Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Mackay who had risen to Major by that point in time looking something like Black Jack Jonathan Randall from the hit TV show Outlander instructing those Carleton Place children with a snap of his crop.
I don’t think there is a “chance in Inverness” that I will ever forget this story now–nor will you.
Men Without Socks–An Opinion– Linda Knight Seccaspina
It is pretty obvious I don’t hang out with the Millennial fashion crowd. Last Saturday I went to a lovely outdoor event where 90% of the crowd were Millennials. Most of them were at least 3 decades younger than I. There were trendy young petite women looking like they just came off a fashion runway, and most of the men were wearing no socks. I was surprised, because basically we are only about a generation out from the belief that women should always wear hose or stockings with heels
Of course I have seen this style on Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice in the 80s but I had no idea the style had resurfaced. They say it’s a fad, but I always thought socks were considered the condoms of feet. Is it laziness, fashion, or the casual look pushing its way back into office attire now? If you think you are “The Wolf of Wall Street” I suggest you not give this a try as you probably will be taken aside in the boardroom and handed a pair of socks. But, maybe I’m wrong as every woman in the western world has owned at least one pair of ballet flats in the last decade and gone sockless. I remember being one of them.
I know for a fact there is nothing worse than the squelchy damp sensation that comes from a day of going barefoot in shoes. Shoes without socks are often rewarded with an odour, and let us not speak of what might be growing down in the dark linings of shoes. So these gentlemen that appeared to ooze confidence last week as they walked around with a glass of Chablis in hand, were being stylish, or maybe some had forgotten to bring their yachts to the vineyard. But, I had to remind myself, it was just socks and it wasn’t like they were trampling the Constitution of Canada with their bare feet– they were merely socializing.
Most of their pants hit about two inches above the shoe and exposed the bottom of their ankle. I have heard if you choose to wear them any higher than that people will assume you are wearing Capri pants and that’s a definite faux pas. I could not stop looking at these gentlemen’s feet, mesmerized, and wondered if both the wearer and his partner had nasal issues which would ensure they did not notice odour. But once again I assured myself they were at an outing and not running two marathons from 9-5 in their shoes. But the stories from my grandfather in the trenches in World War 1 reminded me about a young man’s plight a few years ago who worked in a car wash developing what my Grandfather called “Trench Foot”.
I discussed this with my sons who are in the same age group and I asked them what they thought about these new lack of feet garments. They both laughed at their mother who had obviously in her fashion design career not heard about the discovery of “no-show” socks. That was a huge “OH” moment for me and I suddenly remembered all the ‘low cut” socks I had bought for their birthday presents–the low-cut invisible kind that’ll keep you fresh and won’t ruin your look-so they say.
I now know that today’s fashion was no different than men wearing knee socks and dress shoes with Bermuda shorts in the 50s. Or men getting up to mow the lawn at 8 am with socks and sandals on, or not wearing compression socks when you want to live dangerously. I asked my husband if he would consider wearing this style of socks and he shook his head immediately. He said he had no issue with odour but the ankles had to be protected. I then remembered a man who once shined shoes for a living on the Main Street in Cowansville, Quebec. He told my father that he would tell his clients with no socks on their feet that they just might as well be wearing a pair of skunks.They say that fashion is a language that creates itself in clothing to interpret reality. You could have fooled me!
I have a love-hate relationship with IKEA. Whether you’ve just moved into a new place or are planning on renovating, you have to admit that IKEA has just about every piece of furniture you’ll ever need–if you can make it out of the store. I can sit for hours and read their old out- of- print catalogues at home and never get bored. Yet, when I enter that store I have to walk miles through areas I have no interest in. But, as I stroll casually through each department I realize the place is nothing but an obstacle course and somehow I find myself yet in another dead end. A dead end I don’t want to be in.
Do you list your next of kin address as IKEA on official documents and do you dream of Swedish meatballs? I have literally seen people bless themselves before entering those blue and yellow holy grail gates. It’s a well known fact that once you’re inside it’s fairly hard to escape, and once you do; you end up with a lot of things you didn’t even know you needed.I’ve heard customers complain about this same issue at Costco too: “Just came for milk and eggs” and $800 later, I still don’t see the milk and eggs. Sometimes I just like to stand in the IKEA parking lot and watch people try to fit everything into their small cars.
I must argue with the person who wrote that anyone that cannot assemble something from IKEA should go back to kindergarten. When no text is used in assembly instructions this should be the first warning that the bed you just bought that morning is not going to be slept in that night. I am sure whomever else is assembling the same product in another part of the world is having the same dilemma. Exactly what is that little illustrated Swedish man pointing at? Is he eating Salmon with Wheat Pilaf? A word of warning to remember is that your completed furniture is only as good as the “chosen one” who has volunteered to put it together. Welcome to IKEA, the people that sometimes throws in extra instructions, or nuts and bolts to mess with you. How about that Swedish plywood? Or is it really Swedish?
IKEA sells over 16,000 products online, of which they say approximately 9,209 items are now being resold on Kijiji. Half are dresser drawers that are missing knobs which have long fallen off and are lost. Most folks lose the instructions, so you know your end result will look like something conjured up by IKEA hackers working solely with tea lights guiding their way.
IKEA started making homes in Europe in 1996 called “BoKlok”. It was a move to allow first-time home buyers to have a chance at a cheaper place to live. What if the owners of one of these homes divorce? Who gets custody of the Allen wrench? Do they share? Didn’t that Allen wrench once put together the Eiffel Tower?
In the end it’s about who you want to spend the day at IKEA with, and the ultimate purpose of going to IKEA remains just as mysterious as the little dots they put over those very strange names. Even IKEA knows the struggle we mortals face when assembling their furniture! I would love to tell you more jokes about IKEA, but in the end the setup is too long and the final product is probably mediocre.
Yes, IKEA is a wonderful place, and no matter how many times we pay a visit, there always seems to be an endless array of new treasures to discover. Our children no longer want our old sturdy old furniture and antiques and insist on buying new things. I keep telling my kids my furniture was new when I bought it. At the end of the day, one does not simply ‘like’ IKEA – you either live and breathe it, or you don’t speak of it at all. I say everyone’s lips are sealed.
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 cassettes, to a CD, were a snap for me. 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 was painless.
Lo and behold the computer era began and I either ignored it or condemned it. Someone who couldn’t put gas in her 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 and also probably couldn’t hold the reins to the wagon. The daughter of renowned poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace actually discovered computer programming 178 years ago. That was long before we knew ‘a memory” was just something we lost a lot with age.
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, and a keyboard was no longer just related to the piano. 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.
I thought that was going to be it in my lifetime trying to figure out new fangled things, but no, 7 years ago my sons gave me my iPhone on Mother’s Day. I treated the phone like the black sheep of any family. I tried to ignore it, but it would not let me, and I feel like I am never alone. Granted it was my choice to get rid of the landline and finally move into the 21st century like everyone else.
Texting was easy as I already had several weeks of repetitive training/cajoling on my iPad– but my brain no longer wants to attempt any mental feats of strength that were not needed. Instead of texting back, most times I answer the text on my laptop with an email. Friends told me I would get used to it and end up loving it. Was I secretly sabotaging myself? I didn’t set up voicemail for months because others told me they had an issue retrieving messages, so I used that as an excuse.
I watched my oldest son use both his thumbs to text as I have seen many times. I marvelled at the precision and speed he used and thought of my texts with misspelled words that even spell check could not pick up. I remember the 4 year-old-girl on the Apple commercials and how she whizzed through feats of technology without help. How I wish I could be smarter.
I have in my hands a fabulous piece of communication that I sometimes shun like the Amish. It attempts to entice me daily to use it like a prosthetic for the rest of my life. I refuse to let it become the bearer of my vital signs and continued activity in my brain. So how do I use my cellphone now? Unlike my laptop which has become a vital organ for writing and communicating on Facebook I use my phone in these percentages:
50% to check the internet
20% to text to my sons
15% to take photos
10% to check the time
5% to actually call someone
Without my cell phone now I feel I would never find my way in the dark or read, now that doctors have removed all their magazines in their offices. I would have no idea there are 76 tiles on my bathroom floor when I forget my phone.
But, is there a middle ground to all this?
Has cell phone and computer dependency resulted in compulsive communicating?
Are cell phones called cell phones because we are prisoners of our phones?
Is the best relationship I have now with my wi-fi because all my friends live inside it?
One good thing to remember, and there is some salvation to us mere mortals, computers and cell phones die twice as fast.
In researching my lineage it seems I just can’t get a break. I am the way I am for a reason. I come from a bunch of colourful characters that my gynaecologist warned me about. My gynaecologist ?? Yes, when you are researching your ancestry talk to your gynaecologist. Don’t you?
My great grandfather was in charge of British Music Halls then ran away to America leaving the family. Another was a lady in waiting to Queen Victoria with loose skirts. A great grandfather was a lawyer who took on scalawags and now it seems William Penfold my 4th great grandfather was a bit of a smuggler. How is your day going?
So I blame AB positive blood……
Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood?
I was told by my doctor once that 10% of the world’s population has AB Positive blood and it’s where I get my “oddness” from. Funny, I never thought I was odd! All I knew was I didn’t want to end up in the military like my Father had daily visions of. It had come to his attention many times that I was different, and I stuck out like a sore thumb in my rural hometown in Quebec. When your father is a prominent municipal fixture, and the only electrician in town, word travels around like a bush fire that your daughter is weird or a character as they called me. Honestly, there are lots of people like myself, and then there are those that pretend not to be.
My friend Wanita Bates said something once that made complete sense to me after all these years.
‘Linda, some of us have gifts to feel what is going to be in style, and you and I are one of them.” When I had my store I was way ahead of fashion trends, but when major retailers grabbed on to it and money making was involved–I was long out of it.
So after heated arguments with my father, I left home and headed to Montreal, Quebec. I attended fashion design school on Bleury Street where I became instantly bored. Instead of great 60’s fashion and styles that I was expecting my teacher made me make pattern after pattern of 1950’s styles. After classes, I would venture into store after store, just absorbing the culture and the fashion.
After almost completing my course, I decided I needed to find a job. Well Twiggy, Mary Quant, and all the Carnaby Street styles were afloat and guess who was wearing them? My Dad was getting remarried and gave me $75 dollars to buy something for his wedding. Being the drama queen I purchased a black velvet Twiggy mini dress and a black floor length Dr. Zhivago style coat. It was a real floor duster with black faux fur trim, and Omar Sharif would have been proud.
So when I went for job interviews I insisted on wearing the same “ultimate”outfit I wore to the wedding. Most clothing manufactures were not into the “Carnaby look” yet and I was told time after time, “Kid, get yourself another coat”. In layman’s terms I was scaring all these fashion people with my wardrobe. Defiant, I kept wearing it.
A few weeks later I got my dream job. It was working for trendy Le Chateau on Ste. Catherine Street hemming pants. It was their first store, and their clothing styles were worn by anyone who wanted to be someone. I was right up their alley– or so I thought.
Sadly, I only got to work there for about 6 months, as I was basically hired for the Christmas rush. In those few months I got to meet the Montreal trendsetters, wore “Gabardine Mod” pants, and so began my lifetime eating disorder. But, it was a time I will never forget, and believe fashion has never been so exciting. Just being able to sneak into the Boiler Room on Crescent Street and watch fashion happen was mind blowing.
For some reason only known to God, I was just not ‘cool” enough to work as a salesperson in their store, and rent had to be paid. In the middle of the coldest winters ever I hauled my derriere all over the Island of Montreal looking for a job.
I finally found a job at The Fine Togs Clothing Co. It was a childrens manufacture run by Blossom and her husband Hy Hyman. Actually Blossom ran the company and Hy smiled a lot and played golf. They thought I was a spunky kid and if I had stayed there, I would have probably be retiring from the company about now. They were good people.
If my grandmother Mary was my foundation for my hard working ethics, then Saul Cohen was the drywall. He expected me to arrive at 7:30 every morning and I had to ask to leave around 7:45 pm at the end of the day. The man worked me to the bone, and I just chalked it up to experience. I worked in the cutting department, sewing, swept floors, did book work, and worked in the show room. There was not one stone that he did not make me turn over, and turn over again.
‘Sauly” was relentless, and when he found out that my Mother had been born to a Jewish Mother he made sure I knew about my heritage. Anytime I asked to leave early he would turn around and say to me,
“Do you know how our people suffered?”.
One day he decided that I was ready to represent the company selling their clothing line at the Place Bonaventure clothing mart. He told me I had to have, no, must wear, something conservative.
So I did what every other girl my age did. I went to Sears and bought “The Suit”. It was navy blue, a box jacket complete with a knee length pleated skirt. I had red shoes and red earrings to match. That was the last time I wore something so conservative. It just wasn’t me.
I applaud Saul for everything he taught me and how someone actually got me into something that wasn’t black. Word got around the clothing market about me and I was soon hired by a competitive children’s wear company run by Palestinians. Yup, I was no peace maker between the people of Israel and Palestine, but this was a time I will never ever forget.
Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood? Basic Element #2
I finally got my wish to be an assistant fashion designer, and quickly found out I was going to collect a pension before I became a designer. Lessons that were learned: when management says your designs basically stink– don’t believe them. A year after I left a certain firm, I saw my ‘unsuitable’ designs in the Eaton’s catalogue making lots of money for them.
Disillusioned, I left Montreal for love in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Again, mentors in life were: my Grandmother, Saul Cohen, and owner of Au Bon Marche–Morty Vineberg. I learned the retail trade from the bottom up from him, and to this day, if there is a spot for just 50 items, and I have 300; I can whip that into shape as fast as you can say “bargain designer clothes”.
Morty opened a discount clothing store in what he called “the dark side of Ottawa”. Today, I believe they call that Vanier, or is it part of Ottawa now? He told me how people would not cross the Cummings Bridge and shop in Vanier. Mr. and Mrs. Vineberg wanted to be the first, besides the seasonal swans, to get Ottawa consumers to cross that darn bridge. I think if there hadn’t been an “interior crime spree” going on in the store, again, I would have stayed.
Each day I had to turn my eye, and to be honest, I did tell Morty in certain terms, that all was not well in that former Bingo hall. But, it had gotten to a point that I needed to spread my wings, and so barely a year after the Vinebergs had transferred me, I quit. Ange, was working as a project manager for Olympia and York’s fabulous 240 Sparks, but he encouraged me to open my own business and a week later he too left his job.
Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood? Basic Element #1
Flash Cadilac was created and flourished through creativity. I was lucky I was able to pursue my dreams– but I had never taken the word “no” for an answer. In fact I had never listened to anyone who tried to talk me out of my views on life, fashion, and being yourself. At age 15 I marched into the Vice Principal’s office who doubled as a guidance counselor and told him I would not be returning to school the next year. I also asked for my $10 dollar school book deposit back.
I can still remember to this day where his desk was positioned in the room, and the look on his face that was partially hidden by his oversized spectacles. In a crisp but curt tone he scolded me.
“My dear Miss Knight, what golden path have you chosen for yourself?”
“I am going to be a fashion designer Sir,” I said emphatically.
He got out of chair and perched himself on the edge of my chair and asked me loudly if I was jesting.
I quickly realized had I told him I had gotten pregnant by the Keebler Elves it would have gone over better. He continued in a loud monotonous drone telling me young ladies became either nurses or teachers.
The elderly gentleman suggested maybe I look into the world of home economics if “I enjoyed sewing”. Seeing most of us either skipped our “Home Ec” class because of the Suzy Homemaker recipes or stared at the teacher’s legs while she spoke because we knew it made her uneasy, that notion was definitely out.
With that I stood up and again I asked him to cut me a cheque for $10.00. With my Grade 9 education, a shake of his hand, and $10.00 the world was now my oyster.
William Penfold—my 4th great grandfather
When William Penfold was born in 1791 in Itchingfield, Sussex, England, his father, John, was 32 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 32. He married Hannah Humphrey on February 18, 1821, in Hartfield, Sussex, England. They had 12 children in 23 years. He died on April 13, 1872, in Hartfield, Sussex, England, having lived a long life of 81 years.