Tag Archives: linda knight

Never Miss a Chance to Dance! Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Never Miss a Chance to Dance! Linda Knight Seccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina 1968 and Saul Cohen working at Place Bonaventure from-Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause!

Never Miss a Chance to Dance!

No one in this world wanted to take over tap dancer Ann Miller’s job more than I did. After 70 long years of random attempts, all that remains is a pair of silver tap shoes tucked away in a cupboard long forgotten. I used to wear them on a day to day basis for many years as I always believed one should be on call if someone had the odd tap dancing job. In life I have always winged it: life, eyeliner, just everything.

As a child my mother told my father that I had natural rhythm and would probably belong to a professional dance troupe. Actually, what she really wanted me to be was one of the dancers on American Bandstand, but I had other goals in mind. When I was eight I wanted to fluff out my tutu and be the Sugar Plum Fairy so badly that I accidentally bumped the reigning fairy off the stage during practice. Seeing the stage was a foot off the ground, she was luckily not hurt, and I was to remain a Waltzing Flower forever.

At 17 I had my first “break”. I became one of the regular “crowd” dancers on a Montreal based TV show called “Like Young”. Every Saturday afternoon I lined up outside CFCF-TV sporting my grandmother’s orthopedic brown lace up shoes, ready to dance. Those borrowed shoes were just super for dancing and they looked fabulous with my floor dusting Le Chateau gabardine pants. I was nothing but double-trouble on the dance floor.

After the show was over we would all head downtown and refresh our spirits at the Honey Dew restaurant on Saint Catherine Street. One giant glass of Honey Dew along with a hot dog and then it was off to Place Du Soul. It was the “all ages” place to be, that was right across from the Greyhound Bus Station in case you had to leave town quickly. Each week I resumed my Sugar Plum Fairy dreams of long ago– only this time it was for the coveted title of go-go cage dancer. The elevated cages were about twenty stairs up a shaky ladder and it became a weekly goal to try and fight the others to be queen of the dancing soul-castle.

One weekend James Brown was the headlining act and even though I had issues with vertigo I decided I was finally going to be dancing in that cage that evening.  As I stood in line waiting my turn I told several people that the lead singer Bruce from “Les Sultans” was soon to be coming in the front door.

“Les Sultans” were the French Canadian version of the Beatles in those days, and I tell you that line stopped being a line in about two seconds flat. Smiling a very large sinister smile I climbed those twenty stairs wearing a short print mini dress, white boots and a huge white bow on top of my head. I never looked down once and realized quickly there was no lady-like way to climb that ladder without flashing my underpants. Remember, there is always a wee bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.

James started to sing, “I Feel Good,” and it couldn’t have been a better song. I stayed up in the cage as long as I could and danced my boots off. Others got tired of me hogging the limelight and tried to climb up and get rid of me. I threw my boots down one at a time.  Last song, bootless, and eyeliner running down my face James threw me a kiss in the air and sang “I Got You”. I would never live my mother’s dream of being one of Dick Clark’s dancers, but finally, I was the Sugar Plum Fairy of Soul and covered in a “Cold Sweat”!
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we should dance. When you are sixty and still dancing, you become something of a curiosity. If you hit seventy and you can still get a foot off the ground, you’re phenomenal. Now, with a cane, dancing can be difficult, but I still dance like nobody’s watching. Because, in reality, they aren’t watching you. That’s because they are all too busy checking their phones. Why be moody, when you can shake your booty!

Dealing With Technical Difficulties Linda Knight Seccaspina

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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!

Remembering Courage Strength and Love- Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Remembering Courage Strength and Love- Linda Knight Seccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina 1953 Cowansville, Quebec

Remembering Courage Strength and Love- Linda Knight Seccaspina

By the 1930’s 90% of the urban population was dependent on a wage or salary, and most families you knew lived on the edge. Living in the city meant reliance on a male family member with a job to stay alive, and if you lived on the farm you counted on what you grew to feed everyone.

As a child, my Grandmother used to tell me all sorts of stories about the Depression. Each morning she made sandwiches for the hungry people knocking on her door, and her weathered screened verandah sometimes became a shelter for homeless people during rainy nights.  The train station was just a few blocks down from where they lived on South Street in Cowansville, and those that rode the freight trains would get off daily to see if they could find work or food. 

I was always told that we had a hobo mark on our side door, and Grammy Knight would also take in needy families until they got on their feet. Grampy once said that he never knew who would be sitting across from him nightly at the dinner table. Each time my Grandmother asked him to go to the grocery store to get another loaf of bread for someone in need he went without complaining.

One day Grammy hired a young homeless woman named Gladys who worked for her until she died. I was barely eight years old when Gladys passed, but I still remember her like yesterday. Gladys was an odd looking woman who tried to hide her chain smoking habit from my Grandmother. The manly-looking woman would talk up a storm while she cleaned with stories that young ears should have never heard– but I always did.

Gladys would tell me all about her days during the depression as a teenager, where she would hide along the tracks outside the train yards. She would run as fast as she could along the train as it gained speed and grab hold and jump into the open boxcars. Sometimes, she missed, and sometimes she watched some of her friends lose their legs, or their lives, as they jumped off as the train was reaching its destination.

There was nothing left at home for her during those horrible years of the Depression. One Sunday they were without money for the church collection plate and under one of the old rugs they finally found a dime which they proudly placed on the collection plate. 

There were just too many mouths to feed and Gladys knew she wasn’t going anywhere if she remained at home. So she just rode the rails as it was free and she knew she would find food somewhere, which was more than she was going to do at home.  She cut her hair, wore overalls and a cap, and survived life on the road until my Grandmother hired her.

Gladys ended up dying in her sleep in ‘the back room’ of my Grandparents home. After she died, my Grandmother promptly labelled it ‘Gladys’s room’. When I was older and came home on weekends, that very same room was where I slept. You have no idea how many times I thought I saw Gladys in the dark shadows scurrying around with her feather duster, and yes, still chain smoking.

When I was older my Grandparents would make a simple dinner for themselves. My Grandfather would cut up tomatoes, add mayo like a dressing with salt and pepper. While I watched him eat,  I would say, “is that all you’re having !!?? He would reply to me,

“I’m from a time when you looked in the icebox and you put together what was in there and that’s what you had. Remember that “my birdie” … it isn’t always right there for you when you get home . Money was scarce and we had to survive on what we grew in the garden. We learned to use everything and had no waste”.

My Grandparents taught me a lot about life. I never thought I would be my Grandmother, but here I am now. They taught me to count my blessings, not my troubles, and to “show up” for people. Your ancestors that lived through those times were brave and they never judged a book by its cover. You just never know as they say, the things you take for granted might be something others are praying for.

Fred and Mary Knight Cowansville Quebec – Photo from Linda Knight Seccaspina Collection

Do Gopher’s Regrow Tails? Tales of the Depression

Ramsay 1927 — The Depression

345 Franktown Road- Wave’s Inn– photo Lorie Paul
Hi Linda. My name is Lorie Paul. I moved to Carleton Place last October, but have had a family cottage on the lake for over 60 years. My Dad (Kenneth Paul) grew up on Napoleon St. I have this picture of my Dad working at what was a lunch counter at 345 Franktown Road (Wave’s Inn). He would have been around 14 or 15 at the time, so early to mid 1930s.
I have always wondered who the other gentleman in the picture was. Wondering if I should post the picture to see if anyone knows who it is, and perhaps a family member would like to see it as well. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post in any of the Carleton Place FB pages. My dad is standing on the left in the picture. Thanks so much, and have a great day.

Girls Just Want to Have “Fun-gi” Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Sports & Sports– Ville de Cowansville
Forty-six children from the Cowansville Municipal Swimming Pool, who received their Red Cross Certificate, accompanied by their teachers, Ms. Roland Boucher and Mr. Paul Meunier, and officials of the Red Cross (The Voice of the East, August 21, 1962)- Ville

Girls Just Want to Have “Fun-gi” Linda Knight Seccaspina

I stood there and peered through the chain link fence watching the cutest boy in town make a spectacular dive into the town pool and melted. The summer had begun and I had yet to make decisions between sitting at home reading my books, or doing something really special.  Would it be sitting under a tree reading the latest Nancy Drew or would I be learning how to be an Olympic style swimmer? I wanted to stand on the diving board, jump into the air and amaze my friends. No one was going to stand in my way even though I was petrified of water.

Anyone that knows me is quite aware of my fear of anything to do with water. It began the day my late mother stood me on the end of a lake pier much like Patty McCormick from the film The Bad Seed. Over and over she told me not to stare into the water less my reflection pulled me in. Of course I stared into the water, fell in, and needed to be rescued.

After telling my best friend about my summer vacation dream she told me I should start small by conquering a lake first. So the next Sunday at Selby Lake I slowly ventured into the water inch by inch. I thought that swimming might not take all that long to learn until one of my friends came roaring out of the lake covered in blood suckers.

As I stood on terra firma and watched a few men try to burn the suckers off the boy’s body with a lighter I suddenly thought that this might not be the best idea. Sure enough, that first day I stood there at the Cowansville pool feeling quite alone, shuddering from fear and looking very uncool wearing a rubber swim cap.

Not only am I afraid of water, but I also have an issue with feet, germs and wetness. After exiting the change room I had to figure out how to walk to the mandatory shower and exit without my feet touching the floor. I tried very earnestly to put my foot down on the wetness of the concrete, but all I could feel was imaginary bacterial ooze crawling through my toes.  I closed my eyes, ran under the shower as quick as I could, and then stood by the end of the pool.

Actually I stood on the edge of that pool for about 7 days and then graduated to sitting on the edge until the instructors became very concerned. Was Linda ever going to swim, or would she end her summer vacation still being a landlubber? Finally one day I courageously stood on the ladder and slowly descended into the blue water. For another two weeks I spent most of my time in the water but now only desperately clutching the edge of the pool with my hands.

Every lesson I would assume the same position until one day I made a miraculous headway. As I approached the pool one morning for lessons I saw the town fire truck parked right next to it. It seems that someone either polluted the water with their bacterial laden feet or there had been way too many “accidents” in it. The fire trucks were filling the pool, which was now only 4 inches deep, and I quickly ran through the germ laden floor, down the ladder and into the pool. With the water lapping dangerously around my ankles I mimicked every swimming style known to man air guitar style. I was finally in my element and was achieving my summer goal. I was swimming!

To this day I do not swim in lakes and still have fear of water due to the movie Jaws premiering years later. However, my biggest fear was met that very day I achieved my first diving board jump. I did not drown, but a week later I had a strange rash on my face that grew with the speed of light. I had contacted what is called Staphylococcus Aureis, or in layman’s terms- Impetigo. Some people blamed the water, but in my mind I knew where I got it from–it had to be the concrete changing room floor. But, in the end strong delusions travel around like cold germs on a sneeze. As my Grandmother treated my rash she said to me:

“Just wash your hands my birdie and say your prayers, because germs and Jesus are everywhere!”

Can I get an Amen?

Walking Without Knowing the Amplifying Truth

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Walking Without Knowing the Amplifying Truth

First Nations children were once living in residential schools under the thumb of priests, nuns and staff charged with purging these children of their culture and traditions and replacing them with their own. Several of the churches were engaged in the management of day and residential schools. This co-operation of the churches in the case of residential schools was as follows: Roman Catholic, 44; Church of England, 21; United Church, 13; Presbyterian Church, 2, making a total of 80. I have never understood why people try to hide history–great nations should never hide their history– but we did.

Today I discovered my truth in this matter by having a flashback and putting two and two together. Funny how that works- and after I had a good cry- I realized that all truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

Years ago in the 1950s and 1960s I used to help my Grandmother with her Anglican church groups preparing “the bales” to go north as they told me. The bales were actually handmade quilts rolled up with warm mittens and scarves, along with books and treats. We made a lot of them each year, and in my young heart I envisioned they were being transported to the North Pole. Every year I saved up my allowance to buy treats for the families that I thought lived in igloos, wore snowsuits and had big smiles like in the books I read. I was wrong – they were being sent to residential schools.

“As early as 1921, one official report described living conditions in residential schools as “a national crime.” When children wet their beds, the nuns at the Sturgeon Lake residential school would wrap the soiled sheets around their heads. If they tried to run away from the school where they were forced to live until they were 16, their heads were shaved. If they dared to speak Cree, their hands were rapped with a ruler. But the thing that hurts the most is they forced their religion on the children day in and day out.”

As I type the above words I wondered if my grandmother’s church group should have sent boxes of hymn books like they used too. I was always told the children loved getting these books– and now I can see that they did not. We have rules now that the government can’t penalize you because of your religious beliefs– so why were these children forced with this injustice. The residential schools were conducted by church authorities, with financial assistance from the Dominion Government and supervised by the Indian affairs section of the Department of the Interior. Half these schools were under Roman Catholic control and they remain divided among the other denominations. An Anglican bishop in Alberta told the media churches must stop “beating themselves up” over the question of abuse at Indian residential schools and should return to the basics of preaching Christianity. Unfortunately, I can’t tell whether the bishop was being purposefully ironic, or he really couldn’t see the contradictions of his statements.

In the larger residential schools in the 1930s daily duties were allotted to the pupils, who took turns:

Staff Girl

Set staff table. Clear away all staff dishes. Wait on the staff table. Dry staff dishes. Help to put dishes away In pantry. Sweep kitchen and dust. Clean kitchen stove and kettles.

Kitchen Girl

Pack up and wash staff dishes while staff girl dries. Wash all pot and tea towel. Help with up school meal. Clean both kitchen table before meal.

Dining-room Girl:

Wash all tables. Sweep room after all meals. Dust the dining-room thoroughly. Sweep and tidy the lobby after breakfast and dinner. Take wood to the sitting–room when required. Keep the dining-room shelf tidy. Put all Bible and prayer books away tidily.

Dormitory Girl Every day, clean wash stands In both dormitories. Dust. Clean lamp globe.

Monday, prepare for school wash.

Tuesday, sweep and dust boys’ dormitory.

Wednesday, sort and put away clothes. Fill all lamps, also table lamp.

Thursday, sweep and dust girls’ dormitory.

Friday, sweep and dust top bedrooms.

Saturday, sweep both dormitories. Sweep sewing room. Fill all lamps.

After we packed the bales I went home to loving parents. I had a warm meal, watched television and slept in a cozy bed.The next morning I got up for school without having to do the above chores with a full breakfast in my stomach. I told all my friends how we had sent the bales to happy people in the north, not knowing it was all a lie. One hundred and forty articles knitted by the church group members, as well as cash and other things were being shipped to the residential schools. As well, I remember that our church help donate money for an organ so the children could be forced to sing hymns that were not part of their own religion. Why did this all seem so right to everyone when it was all so wrong?

So what should we do now? In a world of TV soap operas an apology is always followed by acceptance, and the story moves on after the required tears and hugs. But, it just doesn’t work quite that way in real life– and especially in this case. More than one in five former school pupils have applied for compensation for living in residential schools have been turned down. Thousands of children that were taken from their families filed claims stating they were sexually and physically abused and forced to learn English. It’s not like we can just turn a page and everything is good. We have to realize that this is not just a dark chapter in our country’s history, it’s something we as a country need to come to terms with when it comes to making decisions about everyones future. We all are connected in a circle of life that is far deeper than any of us can truly understand– and today my realized participation and ignorance came full circle. Apologies are not just enough– it’s a start– but we have to do more than that.

“In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.”

― Charles Dickens

Also read-Kamloops Industrial School– “A New Idea in Residential Schools” After the Fire 1925

Calgary Herald
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
14 Jun 1930, Sat  •  Page 27
Calgary Herald
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
14 Jun 1930, Sat  •  Page 27

Calgary Herald
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
14 Jun 1930, Sat  •  Page 27

Oh Dear, William Penfold and my AB Positive Blood

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Oh Dear, William Penfold and my AB Positive Blood

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?”.

Enough said.

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.

Jesting?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.

The Standard
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

  1. William Penfold (1791-1872)4th great-grandfather grandfather of me…
  2. Emily Penfold Hider Friend (1823-1900)mother of …
  3. Harriet Hider Crittenden (1850-1910)mother of …
  4. Arthur Crittenden (1873-1954)father of …
  5. George Arthur Crittenden (1896-1970)father of …
  6. Bernice Ethelyn Crittenden (1927-1963)mother of …
  7. Linda Susan Seccaspina (1951-)You

Is it all Relative? Linda Knight Seccaspina

A Letter to my Grandchildren April 14, 2020 — Linda Knight Seccaspina

We Are Family

Linda’s Countdown to the Royal Wedding–Day 2-May 13th Mother’s Day

Spittle Spatter and Dirty Faces of Yore

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Spittle Spatter and Dirty Faces of Yore

Mrs. N. C. Waugh states that it is quite commonly believed
on Manitoulin Island that the mother’s saliva is good for certain
minor troubles of babies; for instance, inflammation of the eyes

Dirt was always my grandmother’s enemy. Mary Louise Deller Knight could never tolerate a child with a dirty face or a runny nose. She always said that under her watch I would never look poor or uncared for. When you walked in the house graced with dirt and she spotted it– you never ever pulled away. Even if you thought it wasn’t there, trust me Grammy Knight found it.

I was never the neatest kid in the world and I’m still a messy eater. I don’t think I was ever around for hand to mouth education. There isn’t a meal where I don’t drop something on me and my husband agreed while I was writing this– so no wonder she was busy all the time scrubbing my face and various food spots on my clothing.

Thankfully she was not like some parents I had seen who would have their kids stick their tongue out and then their mothers would dab it with a napkin or tissue. Then there was the dreaded spit thumb which thankfully I never saw. The worst was when I was with a school friend and Grammy tackled something on my face she didn’t care for. I remember that particular friend telling everyone at school what my grandmother did— so I responded that she got her freckles from standing behind a cow when it pooped on a rock.

My mother was nowhere as bad as my grandmother and at least she used a damp washcloth, but my grandmother had the enthusiasm of a carpenter sanding a large two-by-four. To this day, I would swear that I have one less layer of skin because of her. I am so pale and glow in the dark thanks to my grandmother and her persistent scrubbing.

My grandmother like myself always had something to clean with. I have heard people tell me they always will remember me having a tissue in hand or always able to pull one from the sleeve of any garment. I learned from my Grandmother that it was a necessary life accessory and sometimes Grammy stuffed her ‘cleaner’ in her corset bra.

People of  a certain age will all have one distinct memory that no self-respecting lady of any age ever left the house without a hanky tucked into her purse, a dress pocket or her cleavage. Goodness knows, one couldn’t be seen putting a finger anywhere near one’s nose without a hanky.

Really a  bit of spit on a hanky never hurt us, but there had to be some health and safety regulations about this horrible habit. Wasn’t there? All I know is in those days there wasn’t an antibacterial wipe in sight! According to my Grandmother I was given life out of my mother’s intestines (?), and the salvia/hankie ritual wasn’t going to kill anyone.

Did these “unsanitary” actions help us build our immune systems?

Now they run around with antibacterial this and antibacterial that and kids have colds, flus, pneumonia, and other illnesses that only have letters. I read there was a new cleaner called Mom’s Spit and that it was great for faces, necks, clothes, shoes, floors, counters, bathrooms, automotive degreasing and more. I thought it must be amazing, and then I found out it was just a funny ad for 409. 

In 2018 news reports from  KXAN in Texas reported that mother’s saliva helped stop allergies and people argued that kissing your baby too frequently could pass on a mother’s oral decay. In the 50s and 60s mom or grandma’s spit was an all-in-one cleaner and we never thought anything about it. It was always on hand in an instant for dirty faces, Formica counters, mirrors and even spit shined shoes. My grandmother always warned me however if you were going to spit clean like she did, never spit up because whatever goes up always comes down.

Gym? I Thought You said Gin!

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Gym? I Thought You said Gin!

by Linda Knight Seccaspina

Kids today have no idea what some of us older folks went through in gym class back in the day. I am not ashamed to admit that I’m not a huge sports fan except maybe synchronised swimming. In school I would have sold my soul to be exempt from gym class. The classes were stereotypical – tough gym teacher, tense atmosphere and I stunk at everything. I hated the bloomer uniforms and I swear I still have nightmares about them at age 69. In today’s day and age gym classes are slowly disappearing from schools, yet no one really complains about it. Is it because most people hated them like I did.

If I close my eyes tight I can still remember the box horses and really, if you google them now all you can find is stories about equestrians. Those oddly shaped wooden boxes expected me to run and springboard on top of them like The Flying Willendas. Let’s get the initial facts straight: I became an instant circus fan after seeing those high wire folks at Belmont Park. However, box horses were not made for people who loved cupcakes and the sports bra had not been invented yet. There was still no resistance training available for us growing young gals. Dodge ball stills scares me as it just seemed to be an excuse to hit each other in the back as hard as you could. I knew some kids who used to have panic attacks the day before Dodge ball events and dreamed about the gym teacher looking like a talking bicep.

Honestly I tried to have a positive look, but all that was offered to me in that gym class besides good intentions was going to the bathroom a lot and getting a ‘ Linda is improving‘ each report card. I have no idea what I was improving in, but I just remember the gym teacher always seemed to shake his head in dismay. It’s the same exact dismay I seem to now feel on an exercise bike while I watch the Pioneer Woman serving pasta with a giant cup of cheese and God only knows what else on that plate.

There was never a class photo that involved myself and anyone else participating in sports unless I was photo bombing it. Friends and I are also positive that none of the jocks or jockettes would have recognised me even if they hit me with their bikes. That’s just how it was, and I had to admit that part of my life would always have its ups and downs. Those exact feelings today would be called squats. I am sure there are still a few of us that were traumatized by gym class and being the last person picked for teams. Again, that feeling would be like wearing NIKES when you just can’t do it.

Sometimes I wonder if the gym classes from the past are now like a psychological block when it comes to exercise. I have always been under the belief that calories should scream like bloody heck when you burn them. In the end you will always have to rationalize that memories of your old gym class will always follow you around. There will always be that someone that thinks they are going to the Olympics instead of the local gym. Or, when someone shouts the word ‘exercise’ do you think you just heard the words ‘extra sides’?

It’s not like I have not tried to be more active, but if I ever had to run for my life, and believe me I have thought about this often- I would be dead.  One should always remember that Zombies like to eat the untrained ones first. When I used to run before my knees fell apart I thought I heard people clapping for me on the trails. It was one heck of a great motivation, but actually it was just my flapping inner thighs cheering me on.

Maybe I should have tried harder in gym classes in days gone by and not given the gym teacher a hard time. But at my age now it’s only memories and no matter what– if I can walk and talk at the same time now I am a rock star. My family always knew and still know that I will never be an athlete and that’s okay. I have learned to try and do everything 100% —except if I’m donating blood, and well, that’s another discussion.

Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause!

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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

A Word About Birthdays

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A Word About Birthdays
1966 Albert Street Cowansville Quebec

July 24, 2020

Today another year has gone by and next year I will enter into another decade that begins with the lucky number seven. Frankly, due to my family’s health history I never thought I would live this long, but I have, and have always vowed to make each year count.

This is the only birthday photo I have, and I have to thank this wonderful woman from Cowansville, Quebec, Agnes Rhycard, and my grandparents for getting me to the year 1966. There is Linda with her “Parent Trap” hair and some suit she made out of broadcloth teaming it up with bare legs and sneakers. Next to me is my late sister Robin, and you can tell by my face how much I hated birthdays even then.

I have always believed a day dedicated to your age shouldn’t matter and you need to celebrate every single day. We all know time never returns. Sometimes I wonder if I feel like this because I never really had a childhood, and was raised with the upbringing of keeping a ‘stiff upper lip’. The only childhood birthday I remember is when I was 6 and I can still see a swan cake and many friends under the old apple tree in the Albert Street backyard. That memory will last in my mind forever.

My family is planning a celebration tonight and that is what means the most to me. Being together– and being my regular Beverly Goldberg self. I have changed this year in some aspects and I don’t know if it’s the COVID-19 isolation or what. I don’t mean to be a Beverly Goldberg twin, but I guess it’s always been my way of caring. This week my daughter-in-law had some wise words for me:

“Maybe it’s just better you don’t know what goes on.” and she is right. 

So that’s my new mantra, and when one of my car enthusiast sons has this big smile on his face because I have the OPP’s  “You are going this fast” machine on my front lawn, I am not going to even question what he has in mind. It’s better that I don’t know.

I get up each morning thankful to be alive and am thankful for my community and the history I research and write about each day. I am thrilled to represent my town as a councillor and listen to people and try and help. Granted I quickly learned that I can’t change the world, but sometimes being like Beverly Goldberg does come in handy. I am so honoured to know so many people, and there is no reason to wait a full year to say thank you for being in my life. We should be grateful that most of us are fortunate to celebrate our birthdays once a year knowing that back in time they celebrated their birthdays because the average age of death was 35-40 years.

When I was 16 I wanted to be 18. When I was 18 I wanted to be 21 and after that it stopped. Today I am reminded that as a young hippie in the 60s, or was it the 70’s, I can’t remember anymore– I had chosen words for my father on his birthdays. I would constantly remind him of my belief that people over the age of 30 should be sent to farms. Well Arthur Knight never forgot those words and on my 30th celebration he handed me my birthday card and asked me when I was leaving for the farm. Touche! I now live and celebrate one day at a time.

So, I only have one wish for my birthday– and that wish is YOU. To my friends and to all the people that read me every day, once a week, or once a month. I just want to celebrate this day with all of you in my life. I’m getting older, I’m getting wiser, (that could be out for debate) and I am getting stronger, but most of all I sail my daily boat with your love. I am so glad all of you were born and we get to celebrate life together. Thank you for being in my life.