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!
That Four Letter Word.. Linda Knight Seccaspina
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.
William Penfold—my 4th great grandfather
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.
London, Greater London, England
24 Oct 1857, Sat • Page 3
What is a Chandler-
a dealer or trader in supplies, provisions, etc., of a specialized type:a ship chandler.a retailer of provisions, groceries, etc.
CLIPPED FROMThe Standard
London, Greater London, England
01 Feb 1850, Fri • Page 8
- William Penfold (1791-1872)4th great-grandfather grandfather of me…
- Emily Penfold Hider Friend (1823-1900)mother of …
- Harriet Hider Crittenden (1850-1910)mother of …
- Arthur Crittenden (1873-1954)father of …
- George Arthur Crittenden (1896-1970)father of …
- Bernice Ethelyn Crittenden (1927-1963)mother of …
- Linda Susan Seccaspina (1951-)You
Words to Wear Pants To—- Linda Knight Seccaspina
I looked at a photo of my Grandmother today posing with yet another one of her regular house dresses on and realized I had never seen her wear her pants in her life. I remember the drawers of pinkish Eaton’s corsets, the array of stockings and her many hats and gloves. Evening in Paris bottles graced her bureau along with a tiny container of rouge and a stack of assorted hankies.
She had 5 or 6 dresses hanging in an old wooden closet along with a wire hanger full of assorted belts. Belts that wrapped around her bust line were a must and the ones that came with the Eaton’s dresses were versatile. I even knew one of her friends who ordered dresses and then returned it but kept the belt because they were that desirable.
None of her friends that I could remember wore pants either. Maybe it was the odd conversation around a table at the local Legion that kept these women in tow. I remember my Grandfather and his friends ask if the whining would come from a different direction if the women wearing pants were drafted for service.
My mother Bernice had two pairs of cotton capri pants, one white and one blue which she wore with a sleeveless blouse and a tiny scarf tied sideways across her neck. My father never had complaints about it and said his wife had been wearing the pants in the family for years. He blamed everything on the war anyways– or her celebrities in the Photoplay magazine. They were the root of all evil according to Arthur J. Knight.
I can’t remember when I started wearing pants except for shorts in the summer as a small child. The first time I walked into my grandparents home sporting a pair of jeans Grampy Knight asked me if I had been hired for agricultural work. I loved those jeans and refused to wash them less they would shrink to a point where I could not get into them. My Grandmother was horrified and for six days when I got Strep throat she monitored them on the chair beside my bed. Every day she would beg me to wash them as jeans in such unkempt condition were probably against the Bible doctrine and maybe even provincial health laws.
In the late 60s the local hotels and fancy dining rooms banned women for wearing pants. As a teen we were not allowed into church dances with them, and even local offices banned them as office wear. The clothing manufactures went into overdrive realizing the business they could lose and petitions were begun by female office workers. It’s not like it was a new thing as some women had been wearing pants for decades.
Some folks were still up in arms including my Grandparents who quoted Deuteronomy again. “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” Of course they had a specific verse for The Beatles too– not that there was anything wrong with that.
According to some, pants were the beginning of the loosening of morality and jeans, hot pants, long hair and bell-bottomed pants were not only offending good taste, “they were also stimulating the sexual passion to such an unbearable degree that there wasn’t even one young man left pure in that moment of time in the Townships.” Of course they mentioned that about drive-ins too.
Sometime in the lates 70s, my stepmother began wearing “the pant suit” or the power suit as they called it. Suddenly my father was telling me I should buy a couple of pant suits and conversing with my Grandfather that the Royal Bank had issued a statement that they were taking a fairly liberal attitude to clothing on the job. There was no objection to women wearing pants for work, although pant suits and coordinates were preferred.
After my bout with Strep Throat I never wore jeans again until the mid 2000s. Maybe because it just wasn’t considered rogue anymore for a woman to wear pants. Or, maybe because yoga pants suddenly had become the bacon of clothing.
My Grandmother was buried in one of the dresses she wore throughout her life, and I’m sure she never really wanted to wear pants. For her granddaughter, me, wearing jeans and pants encouraged women they could make change. Granted some days I sometimes ask myself if I should wear the smarty pants or the fancy pants, but I am still controlling the zipper.
A young woman has appeared twice at the Clinton, Ontario skating rink in male attire, and she is promised a visit from the magistrate if she repeats the performance. “Any woman who wants to dress as a man must come to police headquarters to get permission.” February 1887 Almonte, Ontario Gazette
Once again the tranquillity of the peaceful hamlet of Blakeney has been interrupted. Last Saturday night, I was touring the village and what did I behold in the beam of my headlights?
Was it a gigantic rat?
No, it was another member of the rodent family commonly known as a rabbit, and the same one that Donald Munro had asked me to keep an eye out for. You see, it was their pet rabbit which had escaped captivity and was now enjoying its rare glimpse of freedom.
Well, knowing the Munro’s need for its capture as they feared harm may come of it little did I know that I was now participating in an adventure which would involve several people and would take the better part of an hour. Getting out of my car I tried to corner it along a fence, but to no success. It immediately escaped me by hopping through a hole.
Beth Munro came up the road and I immediately informed her of the situation She replied that Donnie was already out there somewhere m the darkness pursuing the little culprit. At that moment Donnie and a good neighbour, Andy Sweetapple with flashlight in hand, joined in on the chase.
Back and forth across roads, ditches and over fences we did go but to no avail This version of Bugs Bunny had no intentions of being caught and was doing a marvellous lob of evading us. Braving the elements, we stripped off our jackets and used them in a fashion of a Matador .
We began to meet with some success using this method and were able to control the rabbits direction to some degree. Finally after all this running around, diving madly, throwing our jackets as nets, we had it cornered, or did it have us cornered? Anyways, Andy bravely dove right in and caught it .
Cheers rang up and boy. we were glad it was over as we all huffed and puffed our way up the road Donniw invited everyone over for a well deserved drink and the chase was finally over.
Horst Fallack —Blakeney 1980
As I look in the mirror at my hairstyle today it should be labeled as: ‘I tried’. It feels like anything that happens today is going to be held together by a hair scrunchie. I have come to realize in my golden years that you can’t control everything, and your hair was put on your head to remind you of that.
For as long as I remember I have watched my elders throughout the years spare no expense to keep those wisps and odd bits of hair neat and tidy. I was born with straight hair that had a will of its own and my Grandmother attempted to thwart that will every chance she got. Mary Knight came from a lifetime of bad hair days. She lost a lot of her hair entrusting it to the old professional salon hair dryers of the day that overheated and did not have timers. From that day on she invested in the acrylic fibers of the Eva Gabor Wig Company and wore her wigs crooked over her thinning hair until the day she died.
Not wanting her granddaughter to suffer the same fate my hair was constantly chopped into a bob with badly cut bangs. I have a few old black and white photos of such badly cut hair that the old Tressy dolls found in the bottom of a toy box looked better coiffed. From the hand cut bobs my hair follicles progressed to pin curls, and then to the almighty home permanent. There was no talking to my stylist, Mary Louise Deller Knight. She would adjust her wig from side to side in frustration while she wrapped an old plastic tablecloth around me.
The smell of a Toni Perm still haunts me like it was yesterday. Just seeing the little plastic squeeze bottle coming towards me still gives me nightmares. Did you know there were actually rules and instructions for those perms? My family knew their own version all by heart, as it had been handed down by word of mouth through many generations. I don’t think I can ever forget the words: “Let me know when it starts burning!”
When the timer dinged and the perm was over, the towels were taken out to be boiled in hot water because they smelled. The lingering scent almost rivalled Vick’s Vapor Rub– on the top ten most hated list. Half way through being almost blinded by the smell of rotten eggs and vinegar, Grammy Knight went outside to shake her wig. It seems that her Eva Gabor wig wasn’t that comfy when she was stressed out. I had figured that she was probably reliving her days of bad perms while she gave me one.
The year 1961 finally nipped the perm in the bud. When the movie “The Parent Trap” came out, I went to the Lido Hair Salon in Cowansville with a picture of Hayley Mills’s pixie cut and said, “Do this!” I was finally sick of feeling like Rapunzel caught in the tower with a head full of fuzz. Hear no perm, speak no perm, and see no perm–evermore I thought to myself.
In the 60s and 70s the brush rollers neatly covered with a scarf came into vogue. In every supermarket of the era women were seen with see through scarfs to protect their ‘doos’ from the elements and also showing off their expertise in hair styling at the same time. To be seen living in hair curlers meant the locals knew you were going to be doing something fancy soon. No mention was ever made about the ugly sleepless nights you had laying on those tiny torture devices. Beauty is pain, right? Eventually the rollers and yourself were able to come to some sort of mutal arrangement during the night, and maybe , just maybe, you were able to doze off.
Of course there were other hair fashion goals of ironing my hair and sleeping in empty Orange Juice can curlers I had made. Seeing my hair was dead straight I have no idea what I was trying to prove, but the added Noxema slathered on my face at night always just completed the look and set my enthusiasm high.
Through the years I went through hair crimpers, hot curling irons that I still have scars from and hair colours from every colour of the rainbow. Maybe the solution was just to ignore everything about your hair and realize there was always lipstick and clevage.
So now when I wake up and have that flippy thing going on with my hair I just remember that all those princesses from Disney gave me an unrealistic expectation about my hair. So now I know that a heartfelt smile triumphs over any bad hair day and actually I now have a ton of obscene gestures for that morning mirror.
And Now for Something Completely Different– The Junk Drawer……. Linda Knight Seccaspina
Across vast countries, mixed into every culture we all share one thing, one dirty little secret throughout time. That, my friends, is the junk drawer. No matter if you move, don’t have junk, or even aspiration to have one, that drawer is with you– sometimes forever. Someday you might even have enough of a variety in that drawer to make a spaceship– or even save the world.
Let’s be totally honest, is there anything you would really miss in that drawer? The nails and bolts, the bits of string, and yes, even small packages of Ketchup when you always keep a fresh litre in the fridge. If a global condiment packet shortage comes our way, my junk drawer will reign supreme. I can’t even begin a conversation with you about that strange light bulb in my drawer that could possibly be useful 20 years down the line— or the fork with two missing centre prongs that is used to unjam the dishwasher as seen on YouTube.
That’s where the birthday candles are kept, keys, keys and more keys that fit nowhere and lots of twist ties.One day down the road some archaeologist is going to find all these bread and twisty ties and conclude it must have played an incredible role in our society. Sometimes just the right whatever-it-is can be found in there, but how many old pens do you have in that drawe,r and actually how many work?
In all honesty, that drawer never started out to become a junk drawer, it probably had high hopes to be a utensil container and somehow it became a vast memory capsule for your family. In one fell swoop unexpected visitors called one day and whatever was hanging around on the counters got thrown in that drawer for a last minute hiding place and its fate was sealed forever.
In my drawer I have a flashlight with no batteries, but flashlights without batteries also exist in various places around my home. They are all awaiting the first storm so I can complain about them not working.There are scraps of paper with written notes on them I can’t read, like the poison hotline centre. Menus from restaurants along with enough mouse traps to catch The Mickey Mouse Club constantly jam the drawer each time you attempt to close it.
My sons are in their mid 30s yet rolls of hockey tape along with a remote control that controls nothing still lie at the back of that drawer. Instructions for the old BETA VCR and batteries that we just aren’t sure if they are dead yet lay next to markers that are half dead but not dead enough. There are small pieces of metal with no purpose that my late husband put in there along with matching pieces of similar plastic with elastic bands that no longer stretch around them. A Tim Hortons ‘Roll Up the Lid to Win’ remainder is in there along with things that came from the bottom of pepsi bottles caps for contests that ended at least a decade ago.
If anyone uses a tool, the mandatory protocol seems to be to give it a home in the junk drawer instead of putting it back. I swear my grandson who is now 3 will do the same in 10 years if I am still alive. It’s just the family traditions that will never be broken. Why are we still saving the extra buttons that come with sweaters, and various blouses even though the chances of using them are null to void? Odd band aids used to be in that drawer until I decided cleanliness needed to be next to godliness and some of them just didn’t stick anymore. I just threw out the small ancient Nerf gun with two bullets as I realized protection while cooking dinner is no longer needed.
No matter how you argue that your junk drawer isn’t like mine– this drawer exists in every household and you know it is the staple of every happy family. Right now you can go to this drawer and whatever you are looking for is right beside the old roll of duct tape that is next to the empty BIC lighter. I am sure we could empty out that drawer for the good of mankind, but in all honesty how could you break the news to the junk closet or the junk room? To those that say they haven’t opened that drawer in a long time I would suggest that you go take out that half broken rogue potato masher or spatula that is keeping the drawer stuck and investigate. If you really think of it junk drawers are mostly like opinions– everyone has got one and they are mostly full of crap.
My column for the Sherbrooke Record this week
Is it all Relative? Linda Knight Seccaspina
As they say, if you shake a family tree hard enough the nuts will begin to fall out. I spend a good part of my day writing history, and as of now I have about 5800 different stories on Lanark County in Ontario and the Eastern Townships. I never thought this would be what I would be doing in my later years, but after writing about what annoys me and celebrity gossip in for years I finally found my calling.
I don’t write text book history, I write about people that made our communities, the families. It wasn’t the politicians that helped our towns and cities grow, it’s the people that worked hard. As far as I am concerned everyone has a story and it’s all about chasing that information. But how far do you dig for these stories? What happens when you find the family stories that are like cornbread that isn’t done in the middle?
Last year each member of a local family all got Ancestry DNA kits for Christmas and their mother begged them to return them, assuring them that they were not accurate. Well, no one listened to her and most of them eventually found out that Dad wasn’t their real father. Apparently there had been a lot of unzipped genes in the family and family dinners were never the same after that.
What I have found odd with my own lot is that no one ever told me the stories about the good guys of the family. All I ever heard were stories of ancestors that never made it up to the standards of the Knight or Crittenden family. There was Cousin Odessa that was named after the Port of Odessa that was suddenly sent to Cowansville, Quebec from London. My grandparents soon found out that Odessa should have been named after Port Sherry instead of Odessa. As Alexander Fleming once said “If Penicillin can cure those that are ill, Sherry can bring the dead back to life!” I would like to believe Odessa is still out there somewhere like a good bottle of biologically aged sherry,
Last year I pieced my together my small family tree together while remembering the persistent repetitive stories of:
“She had to lock the door against the Fenians who were coming to her door- it was terrible!”
“He worked for Bell Telephone when he came from England in the early 1900s and froze to the poles in the dead of winter installing wires”
“She worked in the cafe in Devon where they sold the Devonshire Cream. Once she spilled soup on someone important and got fired”
“Every week your Grandfather gave her a 50 cent piece which she put in a small velvet bag that she wore around her neck. We never found it and wondered for years what she did with all the money.”
“He ran away to the USA without his family and if you look at this photo of his grave, that is why you should never leave your family- this is what happens– you die!!!”
Now this is only a tiny smattering of what I heard in my life, and every statement is true. I still have that postcard of my great grandfather’s grave and will probably pass the same message on to my sons.
I am wondering if I was told all these stories because there were far worse ones out there and they figured that would stop me from digging and finding something no family wanted to hear about. That however will never happen unless I win the lotto and then can afford another $25 dollars a month to join Ancestry in Europe.
As a writer I keep a buffer zone on family tragedy of 50 years, but I still have had some family tell me to take down a story that happened over 100 years ago. Personally I feel like Nancy Drew when I write as I feel like it’s solving a puzzle. But, when you find out a father’s name blank and crossed out on a delayed birth certificate be prepared for what you are going to discover. Ten to one some family is not going to want to hear that their great grandmother was caught with a man and morphine in a hotel room in Watertown N.Y in 1891 like I did this week.
So why do I write about past family stories? I am curious by nature, nosy, and I love the thrill of finding a story no one has heard about before. If I find a family mystery, I dig until I find the answer. I want people to know about the local individuals from the past whose lives helped make us what we are today. Our children and grandchildren need to hear about their ancestors- good and bad- it’s all history.
My youngest son’s favourite Tshirt reads:
“If you think I’m crazy you should meet the rest of my family!”
He’s right- crazy doesn’t run in our family– it gallops!