Tag Archives: linda knight seccaspina

The Good Bad and Ugly of Kissing— Linda Knight Seccaspina

The Good Bad and Ugly of Kissing— Linda Knight Seccaspina

The Good Bad and Ugly of Kissing— Linda Knight Seccaspina

An old local tale I was told many times flashed through my mind today: about a wife and a boarder that went missing. Fred Smith and his wife made a somewhat small income by keeping boarders. One of the boarders, as reported by the husband, had become very attentive to his wife.  So much so that the husband  decided to leave for a few weeks until the boarder was gone.

Once Smith left the house he refused to go back until household matters were adjusted. The renter stayed on just the same. The boarder was unemployed, and as Smith said, had paid them no money. He was literally just a fixture in the house.

Mr. Smith also supported the house of his sister-in-law’s children, besides the rest of  his clan. He obtained work in Farnham and went away to work a few weeks later. However, he became suspicious and returned to his home in Cowansville. He found nothing, as the wife and the boarder had cleared out, and there was no trace of them to be found. Smith laid a complaint before the police and said he would prosecute the parties if he found them. But, why had she left him?

Physicians had started an anti-kissing crusade from time to time telling some fearful stories of transfer of bacteria from lip to lip. But, whatever truth or danger there was in the warnings of the medical men, few cared. Kissing lost none of its fascinations, and everybody, including the bacteria, continued to be happy.

It seems Mr. Smith’s dentist had told him some fearsome tales. He told him that no matter how fine a set of teeth he may have– if you kiss a person — you will soon need the dentist’s services. That information did not sit well with Mrs. Greene, and hence she took up with a man not interested in bacteria.

I had heard this tale of fear from my grandparents many times and ignored all warnings when it came to kissing. Here is a tale of my first kiss:

We met one day in the sunshine while we were both picking raspberries from bushes so tall they seemed to touch the sky.  I had just turned seven and he was barely eight. His body was hidden on the other side of the shrubberies but his voice hit me like a ton of rocks.  The high volume of his vocals insisted I was not to pick from ‘his’ raspberry bush.  He kept insisting that he needed a lot of berries so his mother could make him some jam. She had told him emphatically that he had better not come home unless that big silver pail was full.

I pushed my blonde bangs out of my face and told him in a loud voice that he did not own the raspberries. His round face full of freckles had a look of defiance as I saw him walk around from the other side of the bushes.

He stopped dead in his tracks, put his pail down and wiped the sweat off his face with his blue chequered shirt. He smiled, and said he was sorry, and that he didn’t usually yell at pretty girls.

I looked down at my white sandals and socks that were now covered in dirt and berry juice and smiled. No one had ever called me pretty before so we began to talk and pick raspberries together. I had seen him in the school yard at recess and one day he had waved at me from his verandah as I walked home from school.

When our pails were full and our lips bright red from eating fresh raspberries he held my hand as we walked home. We reached his house first and before I could say a word he kissed me hard on the lips. It tasted like a river of sweat combined with tributaries of fresh warm raspberry jam. He suddenly ran across the street and flew up the rickety stairs hugging his mother who was hanging clothes.

Buzzy Lickfold never did kiss me again, but I will forever remember that heartfelt affection as my first kiss. Sixty five years later I wonder if he still picks raspberries and kisses his wife tasting warm fresh jam. Maybe some days he thinks back to the day he kissed the little blonde haired girl with her stained red lips; because she still remembers that kiss to this day. It wasn’t my lips he kissed – it was my soul.

After that for a good many good years my kisses were more of only the Hershey Variety. The only kiss with no strings attached– okay maybe one– and maybe a dentist warning too.

Can you Hear Me Now? Linda Knight Seccaspina

Can you Hear Me Now? Linda Knight Seccaspina

Can you Hear Me Now?

I have finally admitted my hearing is not as good as it once was due to listening to very loud rock music and constant headphones blasting out the tunes. My grandmother warned me about what was going to happen to my ears, but that does not mean my hearing is completely impaired, or I can’t communicate. Some days however, I feel like other seniors in the fact that no one is listening to me. I, along with others, are hearing just instrumental music out of the mouths of politicians these days and none have any lyrics.

When my father was a town councillor in Cowansville, Quebec, I listened to the man grumble about a lot of issues, but never once about senior advocacy. In those days, elders seemed to be respected more and there was no internet, so there were basically just a few ways to communicate.

Now, in a similar role like my father, fighting for senior advocacy is at the top of my lists. These days a lot of senior’s voices are not being heard and I ache to hear commitments to provide necessary services to all seniors. Did you know that ageism is one of the most tolerated forms of discrimination in Canada?

Some seniors have told me they felt they were ignored in the last elections- especially those with low incomes. But this is not the first time, nor will it be the last. What will it take? Should I send a random text to a government number and say,”I hid the body!” Will I finally get someone to respond then?
When COVID-19 began, there was and continues to be a shortage of communication for seniors who do not have internet access, or someone that could help them. I asked a representative from a Health Unit at a United Way meeting how a senior without the internet was going to know how to get information about shots. How would they be able to find their results? I was told quite emphatically they could check the results on Twitter. I asked again, “what if they do not have

internet?” I was told they could get other people to help them on the internet. Well, that was not a good enough answer for me.

How does a senior without the internet, or the means to understand, how to use a computer cope with today’s pandemic and other things? Then there are the seniors who do have issues with the internet in very rural areas, with spotty internet, or none at all. The issues facing today’s aging generations have not been taken seriously on many government levels. 

Each month I look at my senior pension and wonder if I did not have another job, how would I pay for anything. How much time do seniors have when they finally sell their home and live in these retirement residences that cost $3000-$6500 a month? Or, add on the charges for extras like tying their shoes and other similar things. What happens after the money runs out? 

As the baby boomers age, and another generation moves into retirement these basic infrastructures that they never fixed are going to collapse. These many patchworks of tax credits and empty promises will fail to support anyone that will be in long term care in the future. What about the seniors aging at home? Home care is often overlooked and not talked about as much as other institutional parts of the health care system. 

Let me tell you how someone finally listened to seniors in Ontario. The Golden Girls Act. Bill 69 was inspired by four Port Perry seniors who, in 2016, wanted to move into a house together. After realizing that a retirement home, condo or apartment was not the ideal living arrangement, these four seniors decided to cohabit together, designed a home that would meet their collective needs. But the law would not let them do it.

Upon meeting the Golden Girls, Durham Member of Provincial Parliament, Lindsey Park, was inspired to do what she could to promote this project and ensure that other seniors did not face similar hurdles at the municipal level. In February 2019, MPP Park introduced

a Private Member’s Bill in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, titled The Golden Girls Act, 2019. The Bill was debated in the Legislature and passed Second Reading with all-party support and passed in May 2020.

Seniors are feeling greatly left out.  During these COVID times many are slowly isolating themselves because of lack of communication. No matter what governments promise, it is just not enough. According to a new study conducted by Campaign Research Inc:

91% of seniors plan to stay in their own home or apartment as long as possible,

75% of seniors believe the government has a role to play to ensure people make informed, safe decisions

95% of  seniors believe that being in their own home with the support of home care is the safest environment for them to live during a pandemic.

96% of seniors believe it is either very (84%) or somewhat (12%) important for the government to provide home care workers with personal protective equipment during times of pandemic to assist with infection control measures.

Is anyone listening out there? Should I check to see if I have an expiry date on me somewhere? It’s not the distance that keeps seniors isolated or confused– it’s just something called communication that needs to put some heavy duty work boots on.

From my weekly column in The Sherbrooke Record

Related reading

Don’t Make Me Use my Senior Citizen Voice! By Linda Knight Seccaspina

Since When did the Word “Senior” Become a Dirty Word?

Being Old is No Place for Sissies! Part 2

Being Old is No Place for Sissies

Dealing With Technical Difficulties Linda Knight Seccaspina

Dealing With Technical Difficulties Linda Knight Seccaspina

Dealing With Technical Difficulties Linda Knight Seccaspina

For years my late grandmother, Mary Louise Deller Knight, would repeat her life stories and anything else that she felt she needed to say. At first I would remind aging Mary of the increasing repetition of her tales, and then I would just nod my head and let her carry on.

To add to the situation, Mary also forgot how long she kept things in the freezer. During the years of increasing memory loss she had created her own breakfast specialty called ‘Freeze Dried Waffles’. Sometimes I would hide them in my pocket after she served them, and then skip them across the Yamaska River like stones. Mary Louise never really got any better with her memory, and I hoped that I would not have the same issues.

The year is now 2021 and I am a bit  younger than Mary Louise was in the prime of her ‘broken needle’ storytelling era. I can recall anything right down to the finest detail of whatever happened to me thirty to forty years ago; but ask me what I did five minutes past and I am at a loss.

I began to worry I might be getting Dementia and then someone explained the difference to me. Not finding my keys – that was one thing, but if I did not know what a key was, then that was an issue. This morning I sat down and wrote what I needed at the store, on the top of my hand. I have long rid myself of hand written notes as I can’t find those either, unless I stick them in my sports bra. Cash register receipts, keys and credit cards also store quite nicely inside that spandex athletic bra. Except maybe in the summer when doing anything with a humid sports bra is much like resistance training.

Years ago in the subway, I pulled out what was then the ever popular disposable Tracfone and stared at it. The back looked quite odd and I couldn’t figure it out. Suddenly part of my phone was handed to me by a woman who realized I had no idea what was going on. Of course, the back plastic cover had fallen off!

I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated it and how forgetful I was sometimes. She told me not to worry because she was exactly the same. Her cell phone had broken one day and when she took it back to the store she had literally begged them to replace it with the same model. They told her that her phone was outdated, no longer available and end of story, much to her horror.

She finally received a new phone and told me she sat there for days trying to figure it out. Only when a neighbor loaned the frustrated woman her high school aged son to help her was she finally able to use it. She longed for the days of being able to buy something with only one sheet of instructions. I laughed and told her these days you needed a PhD to operate a food processor. She smiled and said,

“I do have a PhD, and I still can’t figure anything out without calling a 1-800 number to India.”

She continued sharing stories and told me not to worry, as we are not alone in this world of memory loss. I shook my head and realized how I have turned into my Grandmother.

Why do I still keep hard candies in a dish like she did? I have cabinets full of dishes and glassware no one really wants along with a plastic bag full of other plastic bags. My couch is not covered in plastic like Grammy’s was, but I still have company towels in the bathroom. I read stories on the internet, but still long to go through piles of my Grandparent’s dusty Reader’s Digests just for the memories.

I smell like vapor rub now on a daily basis because of knees that no longer have cartilage, and people back in my hometown of Cowansville tell me I look just like my Grandmother. Nothing wrong with that, but what happened and when?  I vowed on a daily basis I would never be like my parents and grandparents, but here I am. No matter what we think, they are always with us– everywhere we go and in everything we do. They are living on through us, and with us– and maybe, thank goodness for that.

Anyways, never let aging get you down, remember, it’s just too hard to get back up!

Things Borrowed from my Grandmother — Human Hair Nets

Things Borrowed from my Grandmother — Human Hair Nets

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
21 Apr 1923, Sat  •  Page 23

Hair nets were made either from combings collected from men’s plaits by local barbers or from whole plaits which flooded the market in the years around the revolution of 1911. … With the advent of nylon the global demand for human hair nets plummeted.

I used to borrow two things from my grandmother- Her hairnets and her tie up shoes with cuban heels in mesmerising brown !!! I wore those shoes until they died and wore her hairnets as a snood. She just shook her head LOL

In the late 19th century fashionable ladies in Europe began to replace their silk hair nets with hair nets that were hand-knotted out of human hair. Initially these were made by poor women and children in the rural villages of Alsace and Bohemia but production later spread to the Shantung province of China which became the most important centre of hair net manufacture, employing as many as 500,000 workers. By the early 1920s the human hair net had become an item of mass consumption, with American women consuming over 180 million nets in the year 1921-22. The appeal of the human hair net was that it was invisible, blending with or adding subtle highlights to a woman’s own hair.


What is interesting is that wherever they were produced the nets were made exclusively from Chinese hair – much of it collected up from men’s combings. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries most Chinese men wore their hair shaved at the front and in a long plait or ‘pigtail’ at the back in a style which had been imposed by the ruling Manchu dynasty two and a half centuries earlier under penalty of death. When itinerant barbers tended to these pigtails, they saved the combings many of which ended up recycled into hairnets for the Western market. ‘No other hair possesses the right degree of coarseness and resilience to give that peculiar elastic spring to the mesh that a good hairnet requires’ argued the Textile Mercury in 1912, suggesting that the hair of the northern blonde races was too fine and soft, the hair of Italians and Spaniards a little more suitable owing to its coarser texture, the hair of the Japanese too stiff and the hair of yaks inadequate.

However when the bob became a fashionable hair style in Europe and America the hair net industry in China suffered a severe blow. Attempts were made to revive it with some success in the 1930s and 1940s when double mesh hair nets became popular. Using two rather than one hair at a time these nets were longer lasting and some of them were designed specifically for bobbed hair styles. But soon this fragile and ephemeral artefact, which had always been valued largely for its invisibility, had disappeared from European and American heads, replaced in many cases by nylon alternatives. Emma Tarlo

Did you know?

Ena Sharples, a character in the UK soap opera Coronation Street between 1960 and 1980, was famous for wearing a hairnet;  the original hairnet was brought in by the character’s actress, Violet Carson, to stop the make-up women from altering her hair.

Food service workers often wear it to prevent hair from contaminating the food, even though there has never been any scientific or anecdotal evidence that hair poses any health hazard. The man who started the trend of hairnets for food service workers admittedly lied about the dangers of hair in food, and his hairnet manufacturing company profited greatly from the propaganda and new regulations.

Hairnets are part of normal attire for female horse riders, and are worn in most equestrian disciplines, including dressage, eventing, show jumping, and hunting. Organizations such as the Pony Club encourage their young members to become accustomed to wearing hairnets when around horses, not only to ensure a neat and elegant appearance, but also to eliminate any danger of scalping, should the rider fall off and the horse tread on loose hair.

Ballet dancers typically wear one at the crown of the head covered in a fine hairnet.

Chattanooga Daily Times
Chattanooga, Tennessee
11 Feb 1923, Sun  •  Page 11

Additional reading..

How Many Times Should You Bathe?

Being a Tombstone Tourist

Know Your Travelling Salesmen!- Professor Dorenwend

Searching for A Good Hair Day — Linda Knight Seccaspina

The Stack Perm or the Disco Wedge ? 1970s Hair Fashion

Should Girls Speak to Strange Men in Uniform? 1917

Lois Lyman–A Hair of a Blunder!

To Die Dying Your Hair

Why Were These Folks Facing Backwards?

Scrapbook Clippings of Wampole

The Sears Roebuck Nursery Chair

The Best Little Chin Hair Post on the Prairie

As the Carleton Place Barber Pole Spins

Whose Barbershop Chair was This?

Victorian Surgery — Beware of Content Ahead!!! Seriously!

Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause!

Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause!

Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause! — Linda Knight Seccaspina

In 1967 I was very excited to go to the London School of Fashion Design in London, England. Sadly my mentor, my grandfather, died that August so all was shot to hell as they say. My Dad was very busy with his business, being a town councilman and a man of the community. I was barely 16 and one thing that had gotten his attention was that I was very different and he didn’t care for it. I dressed in the latest fashion styles that I made and I stuck out like a big sore thumb. In a small town where your father is a prominent fixture word travels around like a brush fire that someone is out of the box somewhere.

I was labeled “the daughter that Arthur Knight had so much trouble with”. Yes, I was probably and admitedly a rebel teeenager, there is no argument to that. But, fashion was my first love, and I knew I would never work in a bank or become a home economics teacher. 

So after heated arguments with my father I left home and headed to Montreal. I attended fashion design school where I instantly became bored. Instead of the great 60’s fashion and styles that I was expecting, my teacher made me make patterns of 1950’s styles. After classes I would go into store after store, just absorbing the culture and the “joie de vivre”  of Montreal fashion.

Graduation couldn’t come fast enough for me. After completing my course, I had to find a job. Twiggy, Mary Quant and all the Carnaby Street styles were everywhere 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. Omar Shariff would have been proud– or maybe not!

When I went for job interviews I had to wear that outfit as my personal fashion budget was bankrupt.  Most clothing manufactures were not yet into the Carnaby look in 1967 and I was told time after time:

 “Kid, get yourself another coat– or you will never get a job!”

Defiant, of course I had to be me and soon got a job at Le Chateau on St. Catherine Street hemming pants. It was the very first Le Chateau store and when I left 6 months later they were opening their second store on St. Hubert. 

With a year long fashion design course under my belt I finally found a job at THE FINE TOGS CLOTHING CO. It was a children’s manufacturer run by Blossom and 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 would have probably been retiring from the company about five years ago. I was raised by my British Grandmother, but there is definitely Jewish blood flowing through my veins and now now I was working for a Jewish firm and I was getting an education, in more ways than one.

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 am  every morning and the man worked me to the bone. I worked in the cutting department, did 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. He was relentless and when he found out about my long lost heritage he made sure I knew about it. When I complained about maybe leaving at 6 pm he would turn around and say to me:

“Do you know how our people suffered?”

Enough said!

One day he decided that I was ready to represent the company selling their clothing line at Place Bonaventure clothing mart. He told me I had to wear something conservative. So I did what every other girl my age did. I went to SEARS and bought THE SUIT. It was a navy blue  matching box jacket, and knee length pleated skirt. I had red shoes and red earrings to match– and I wore it exactly 4 times.

I applaud Saul for everything he taught me and how someone actually got me to wear something that wasn’t black. But, word got around the clothing mart about me and I was soon hired by a competitive children’s wear company which was just one more step on the way to becoming a designer. To this day I never lost control of my fashion life and bought sweatpants. Give a girl the right shoes and the right outfit and she can conquer the world.

Linda Knight Seccaspina 1968 and Saul Cohen