Tag Archives: linda secccaspina

My View from Down Under

My View from Down Under



I always wanted to be tall. Since my Mother and both Grandfather’s were tall I could never understand why I was short. There are benefits of being tall, even as far back as 1899.  I have always noticed the first words in classified ads required servants and parlour maids to be tall, have good character and go to church. I had some of the character, and certainly went to church,  but my head always stretched to see over the pews.


They say being short isn’t a huge problem, but it limits you being in certain occupations such as being a basketball player. That’s not always true, as I did win a basketball contest in Grade 7 at Cowansville High School. It wasn’t that I was of the perfect height to beat even the boys in that class– it was called having a good aim. Even Mr. Busteed the gym teacher could not believe what I had done, but I think he was just being short sighted.


My Grandmother used to measure me on the wall of the shed, but my parents used another method called “the Blue Spruce Tree” in the front yard. My father had bought this tree as he had always wanted a Blue Spruce tree. Why? I will never know, and he never said anything about it. But he took care of that wee thing, and each year I was placed in front of it to see who was beating who in the height category. Needless to say that tree won year after year, and when I googled it on Google Earth– well, never mind, it has beat me lock stock and barrel. In fact, many of the trees in my yard grew faster than I did. Did you ever have  a feeling that you were born short because everyone wanted it that way?




Sometimes, even today, I sit on chairs and my feet don’t touch the floor, and not being to reach things on the top shelves of the grocery stores is just infuriating. I always sit on the aisle seat as I never get short folks to sit in front of me. Instead, I always get someone the size of Lurch from the Addams family blocking my view. My view of the Giants Pennant Winning parade that I had to cover in San Francisco for the local Bay area media in 2010 was strictly the top of floats.



I’m short, but I always say most of my body consists of legs, and while we are on the subject of body parts, once upon a time my thighs were deemed too skinny to most of my friends. I remember sitting next to a few of them pushing my thighs into the swimming pool bench trying to make my thighs appear larger. In crowds I’m completely lost, and people could step all over me and not notice what actually happened to me. This exact scenario transpired when I met Paul McCartney at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle in the 60s. I was short changed by the female crowd and local police had to rescue me.


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The Blue Spruce Tree 2018 Albert Street Cowansville Quebec.


I think high school was the worst when you would get a pain in your neck dancing with someone over 6 ft. tall.  I just didn’t want to be introduced to their belly buttons, so the only solution was to sit down or stand on a chair. Needless to say I remained mostly seated.

I cheated through life wearing heels and platform shoes, and now I look at my feet with their  hammer toes, ingrown toenails, corns, bunions, and wonder if I just tried too hard to not be abbreviated. Somewhere between the age of 40 and 50 I lost 1.5 inches. I am now a compacted 5 ft 4 and a half and if you see the wandering lost 1.5 inches tell them to come back to their lilliputian home.

As Erma Bombeck once said, “Being short is just like the common cold. They will never find a cure for it”. 


Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USA

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.



Mary Louise Deller Knight — Evelyn Beban Lewis–The Townships Sun

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 11


Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 12

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 12


Photo– 1995? After the 54 Rock Fashion show I put on. LOL Exhausted


Just Like Me– They Long to Be Close to You

I am sitting here listening to The Carpenters realizing that no song today will ever give me the same reaction their songs did. If silk had a sound, it would sound like Karen Carpenter. I am fighting back the tears right now as their songs echo through my headphones. The Carpenters were played continuously for times of angst in my life, and  honestly, sometimes left me more depressed than I already was.

Then I remember one summer evening driving back to Ottawa from a White Zombie concert in Montreal and trying not to fall asleep at the wheel. I was bringing three other people home, and everyone was fast asleep- that was no help. I began to laugh at my shenanigans at the venue that night screaming in zest at Rob Zombie that “I wanted to bear his children”. Giggling at those minutes of nothing but pure insanity could still could not keep me awake.

Insert- one Carpenter’s Gold CD in the car CD player and I begin to sing at the top of my voice with the windows open. Surely that would keep me awake! First track ends and the song “Close to You” comes on. Immediately I hear three voices in the back seat begin to sing the song together in great harmony. I was shocked — these folks knew every word of The Carpenter’s song. I realized then and there that when Karen Carpenter sang– she touched everyone’s soul. After that night I was never sad when I heard the Carpenters melodies because I realized life is a gift–don’t be sad—as someone, somewhere, is still wrapping it up for you as “We’ve Only Just Begun!” .



It “Depends”

I watch a lot of channel 700 with the Vintage Songs from the Past. They just played Gino Vanelli’s “I just want to stop” and I stopped typing- yes I stopped posting and typing. It brought me back to the day when I was buying purses for my store Flash Cadilac from this gal from England who was staying with a friend below Gino Vanelli’s apt in Old Montreal. He heard us talking about him and came downstairs and sang this song to me. I almost peed my pants. Time has flown by, and as for peeing my pants? I just stare at the Depends commercials now and realize time is drawing near. LOL




Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 10

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 8

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 7

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1


Being a Tombstone Tourist

Being a Tombstone Tourist



Being a tombstone tourist sounds pretty ghoulish doesn’t it? But if you are a genealogist, or a local history buff like myself, you are going to spend a lot of time wandering local cemeteries. I find myself wondering about the stories behind the graves as well- every person counts in my mind as they were part of the community. When I was a young girl my Mother was in the hospital most of the time, but when she wasn’t she had my Father drive us to all the cemeteries in Brome-Missisquoi in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. After all, to her they were kind of like parks without the crowd

Bernice Ethylene Crittenden Knight wanted me to know who I was related to, and even those that I wasn’t related too. She told me that a cemetery can tell you about a culture and history of an area and she was right. At that age I wasn’t totally enamoured of the idea, and constantly worried what my black patent Mary Jane shoes were walking on. Rural cemeteries became the poor person’s art gallery, offering carvings, statues, and buildings of spectacular local craftsmanship.


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She always pointed out the symbols of flowers on the gravestone, which were known to have their own language.  A rose could signify love, or friendship, and it could also mean innocence or secrecy.  There were many roses in the cemeteries she took me too due to early death during childbirth, or unwanted or secret pregnancies. Calla Lilies represent marriage and fidelity and a Lily of the Valley signified innocence, humility and renewal. Speaking of flowers; my late sister Robin in later years horrified us all one day when she gathered up all the flowers in the United/Union Church Cemetery and sold them to folks living on Dieppe Blvd. We were number one on the gossip sheet for weeks.

Did you know that a cemetery was one of the first places where upper and middle-class Victorian women could wander unchaperoned and unmolested? After cemeteries became fashion in the 1830s they were thought to be extensions of the home (of which women were the chatelaines and guardians, of course), and hence an appropriate place for women to attend at their leisure. Women took full advantage of this freedom, and frequently walked and talked with their friends as they would in an ordinary public park, without worrying that men would bother or accost them. My Mother never thought about these rules of the past, she just thought it was a great place to picnic while my Dad sat in the car refusing to venture in.

I love a good wander around a cemetery. I like reading the headstones and thinking about who that person was. That person was so important to somebody that they were commemorated for hundreds of years– similar to the funerals beforehand. Did you know that a funeral was so costly but so important, that lower class families often went without the necessities of life because the family refused to spend their funerary funds on things like food, clothing, and shelter?  How could parents starve their children to ensure that they could bury them? That was because families who were unable to provide for a proper funeral and burial of their loved ones were forced to rely on the local powers to be who would provide the bare minimum in burial – a pauper’s funeral.



There were lots of Irish where I came from and their funeral customs probably came over from Ireland with the waves of Irish who came to work as labourers. The Irish certainly had and have many funeral customs and superstitions about death. Irish wakes sometimes became so rowdy that the corpse was taken out of the box and dragged around the dance floor. When I went to funerals as a young gal the open casket was in the middle of the community hall. Cases of beer filled the hall along with square dancing in front of the coffin until the time of burial.

At any rate, what I was taught among other things was that you should wear black to visit the cemetery. You should appear as a “shadow” rather than a body so the dead person’s spirit won’t enter your body. Oh boy….

One of my favourite flowers Lily of the Valley grew everywhere among the headstones, and after my Mother died they sent home her blue Samsonite suitcase. When I opened it a bottle of her favourite perfume Coty’s Lily of the Valley had broken inside. For years, each time I opened that suitcase, I relived the rare hours spent with my Mother, and remembered how she spoke of that flower representing innocence, humility and renewal on the tombstones. That is how I try to live my life before I become one of those names of a tombstone.



Charles Neville Ross Here’s one. There were a couple of grave diggers hand digging a new burial plot in one of the cemeteries in Sherbrooke. a couple of mischievous kids crawled up on them to scare them. When they popped out from behind and adjacent head stone the both of them ran away so fast they left their shoes behind. My Dad swore it really happened.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

  1. relatedreading

George Bailey –Headstone– the Cemetery on the Ninth line

The Sinclair Family Cemetery–Photos by Lawrie Sweet with Sinclair Genealogy Notes

Did You Know They Moved St. Paul’s Cemetery?

Have You Ever Paid Tribute to our Pioneers? Middleville Pioneer Cemetery

Just a Field of Stones Now? “The Old Perth Burying Ground” Now on Ontario Abandoned Places?

The Old Burying Ground — Perth

The Clayton Methodist Cemetery

St. Mary’s “Old” Cemetery

In Memory of the Very Few–Adamsville Burial Site

The Oldest Cemetery in Drummond

So Who was Buried First in the Franktown Cemetery?

Kings Warks and Cemeteries–Interesting Discoveries of Lanark County

The Ghost Lights in St. James Cemetery

The Forgotten Cemetery at the End of Lake Ave West

Stairway to Heaven in a Cemetery? Our Haunted Heritage

Before and After — Auld Kirk

The Ghost Lights in St. James Cemetery

Young Hearts Run Free — Warning– Story Could be Upsetting to Some

If You Can’t Wear a Princess Dress on Monday — Then When Can You?

If You Can’t Wear a Princess Dress on Monday — Then When Can You?




Verna Wilson Hadlock wedding September 1959- I am on the left front- my late sister Robin Knight Nutbrown is on the right. (see clipping below)


I loved the fancy dresses my Mother made me as a child, but when I was growing up in the 50s, you had to keep the nice things for “good” as it was said on numerous occasions. That meant if somehow “the Pope” came to Trinity Anglican Church in Cowansville, Quebec where I lived, you got to wear your good dress. Of course that never happened, and in time you outgrew the the ‘good clothes’ and that was the end of that.

I used to argue why couldn’t you wear exactly what you wanted to, on let’s say Monday morning.  I was told that I might be “breaking the law” during many of those mother daughter primal, visceral fashion dialogues. That was another one of those ‘bad seed’ Old Wives Tales, and I can tell you that one never became an urban legend.




Sophia and Tenley 

When I watch my granddaughters dress up in their princess dresses today I am envious. Everything these kids find and wear as dress-up, they can wear anytime they want– without the message that others may judge you. That’s not shallow; that’s about transformation. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a pink taffeta dresses and heading off to the sandbox in my mind. Nothing at all, as I hear Tide has many formats these days!



Me and William Blais at the Royal Crossroads Tearoom Wedding Tea

Mind you, the way I dress on different occasions now, people probably think I’m in fancy dress too. I have no fear, or any restrictions anymore, and keep nothing for good. Okay, wearing clothing from Forever 21 does not keep me “forever 21”- but they make me look as though I wished I were.  But truth be told, these days, I don’t, but that’s okay. I have been seen on occasion wrestling one of my clothing items like a top hat decorated in many fancy plumes caught in a tree in Almonte as I passed under it. Loads of experience was learned that fateful fall day on how to approach a tree sorting fancy millinery.

I am so grateful that it really isn’t about what others think anymore. This grandmother is proud and delighted about the imaginative ways my granddaughters put together outfits as they enjoy it, and that makes me happy.

Jean Paul Gaultier once said,

“It’s always the badly dressed people who are the most interesting.”

If that’s the case, then these future children will become the most interesting people in the whole world – hands down!




 - Hadlock -Wilson -Wilson Wedding Held In...

Clipped from

  1. The Gazette,
  2. 08 Sep 1959, Tue,
  3. Page 26
  4. Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte


Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 11

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 10

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 8

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 7

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1

An “Absolutely Fabulous” White Wedding Day — May 19th!

An “Absolutely Fabulous” White Wedding Day — May 19th!

I spent 13 hours on Saturday celebrating The Royal Wedding. Am I crazy? Maybe, but I have loved Queen Elizabeth II for over six decades, and she’s made some pretty bad ass moves during that time. She has spearheaded a history-making trip to Ghana, ordered divorces, and even critiqued episodes of Downton Abbey for historical accuracy. But, I figured at my age this was the last time I was going to see a Royal Wedding, so I was going to enjoy each minute of the day. I was in full countdown mode.

Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous: ‘Full countdown mode? ?! I’ll be the judge of that.’

When I took all my necklaces off at the end of the day it looked like small mice had crawled over my neck LOL- red marks everywhere. The hat that I made was thanks to Martha Stewart Christmas ornaments trim from a Games of Thrones hat and a lot of work. Looks like I lost a rhinestone somewhere LOL



Welcome to the world Elia (eleeia) Angelo Seccaspina– Friday am May 18th around 1 am


Four a.m came quickly Saturday morning after celebrating the new arrival of my grandson Elia May 18th. You know what they say–‘life comes in bunches!‘ But, I had chosen my clothes the night before and got dressed while cranking up the volume of the TV to hear mundane tidbits about the upcoming wedding at the crack of dawn.

I walked around in my complete outfit except for my billowing tulle long skirt. I have been taught all my life to make you sure you potty before you go anywhere and did not want to deal with a skirt hanging in the toilet, so this seemed like it was a good idea.

Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous: ‘Darling, if you want to talk bollocks and discover the meaning of life, you’re better off downing a bottle of whiskey. At least that way, you’re unconscious by the time you start to take yourself seriously.’ 

First stop- The Hub’s Royal Wedding Event held at the Civitan Hall in Almonte.


It was an event well done, and the homemade wedding cakes and photo booth in front of “Buckingham Palace” was genius. Rico Falsetto from Carleton Place was there and working his magic. Who but CBC drops the feed just as Meghan the bride gets out of the  car? LOL The Hub

They created magic and I was so impressed. Well done ladies!








What a gal!!


Me and Steve at their wonderful event.

Meanwhile back in Carleton Place


Sylvia Giles was practising being a bridesmaid while watching The Royal Wedding with a few of the women from St. James Anglican Church.

Second Stop–Under Pressure Cafe in the Carleton Place Mews


(not their cake but it looked like this)

They were serving Victoria Sponge, Fruit Trifle & New Royal Chocolate Biscuit Cake in honour of the Royal Wedding so I picked up a couple of slices of the Victoria Sponge for Jennifer and Steve. Everything is awesome at the Under Pressure Coffee House!

Third Stop– Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.


Third Stop– Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. Saturday was their opening day of the the “Paddles UP!” exhibit, celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Carleton Place Canoe Club.



The famous Baldy Welsh

The Carleton Place Canoe Club is the oldest continually operating club in the country and is the only surviving charter member of the Canadian Canoe Association. The club has consistently produced athletes who qualify for the highest levels of competition at the provincial, national and international level. These range from Ontario team members to Canada Summer Games team members, Junior World Championship competitors to Senior National Team members, Pan Am Games to the Olympic Games.

Fourth stop– Lanark & District Museum–Lanark Village


 They were showing local wedding dresses in honour of the Royal Wedding. If you have not been to the Lanark & District Museum or the Middleville Museum–run don’t walk. A pure joy!! Put it on your summer visiting list! Come on in an see great historical mementos and sit down for a spell and have a chat.

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Fifth Stop– Crossroads Tearoom Royal Wedding Tea 


Driving really isn’t my friend these days after the heart attacks last year and parking is a nightmare for me. I couldn’t figure out from the sign if I could park in the locale as “only guests and visitors” could park there. #Confusion!

Does that mean I can’t if I am going to a tea there? I took a chance and left a note with a Union Jack flag on top of it. By this time I was getting tired so I threw caution to the wind.



William (Billy) Blais- who plays at Crossroads Tearoom also.

It was a lovely affair — as it always is if you have ever been to Crossroads Tearoom in Perth. If you haven’t– put that on your visit list this summer– you won’t regret it! I had great conversation with complete strangers and learned you can’t call the British flag a Union Jack anymore across the pond. In fact they get downright upset.

Sometime around 1674 the British flag became formally known as the ‘Union Jack’ when mounted on a warship and the ship was not in harbour. At the same time the British flag was referred to as the ‘Union flag’ on land. Brits insist it should called the Union Flag now.  It was the lovely British gals from Merrickville that set me straight– so: mark that one down!

Eddy  from Absolutely Fabulous on the liberal elite: “When somebody deliberately over-educates themselves out of the possibility of useful employment, I take issue.”


Exhausted and pouring rain outside I walk back to the parking lot to see my car is indeed still there  but– someone has parked right next to it like second skin so I cannot get into the driver’s side of the car. That’s right, with a huge billowing skirt, accessories galore, and that big hat I have to slide into the passenger seat and roll across the transmission to get to the driver’s seat. Please note there are no photos of this “Absolutely Fabulous” moment!


Friends since the 70s William (Billy) Blais and me at the Crossroads event


So, to those wee “plucky” granddaughters of mine who want to be a princess. My advice to you now? It seems as though you have to be a stunning gal on a hit TV show, and the next day you are a princess. Maybe I am wrong, but this is how this event happened and I would just stick with Disney for now. Gammy insists my sweet loves!

The Royal Wedding was fun, but now all I want to see is the Burger King marry the Dairy Queen– the definition to eternity.

Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous on her kind of day out: “I thought a little mosey down Bond Street, a little sniff around Gucci, sidle up to Ralph Lauren, pass through Browns and on to Quags for a light lunch.”

Thanks so much to Crossroads tearoom for the lovely prize for my hat. It will be consumed with delight.

It was a nice day for a white wedding and a nice day to start again!”

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Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

Debunking the Stories My Family Told Me

Debunking the Stories My Family Told Me

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I am the last one standing from the Knight and Crittenden family dynasty and come from a lineage that not even Heinz 57 would understand. My bloodlines are thick with British and Irish roots and a few other tree branches slipped in between. My mother’s side from the Call’s Mills and Island Brook area were all from Ireland, and as a child, tales were told on a weekly basis about our Irish ancestors.

My favourite story was one about my great great aunt fighting off the Fenians during the fight at Eccles Hill on May 25, 1870. According to the Crittenden legend, she fought them off single-handedly using a spoon as a door lock. Knowing my mother’s side of the family, I assumed she probably invited them in to play cards and have a few pints.

Farmers in the vicinity of Eccles Hill near Frelighsburg, Quebec were constantly in dread of being robbed by the Fenians and complained that the Irish were invading the area like a hobby. Many of the locals took their valuable silverware to the woods and buried them in order to be safe. But, like the rest of my past dynasty, it seems that my family didn’t worry about their cutlery and used their silverware instead to lock their doors.

We all need to remember locking doors wasn’t a huge priority in those days. Even if they left home for a week or two, homes were unlocked as break ins didn’t happen that often. Knowing my family I am sure there were some big, scary looking dogs involved that would either deter robbers from trying, or ensure intruders would be caught and immediately maimed in the process. But these were the hopeless Fenians that were invading Eccles Hill, while presumably the Benny Hill Theme song was playing  in the background.

So how did this great great aunt of mine with nerves of steel do it? This family folklore has stuck with me since I was a child, and instead of wondering for the brief years I have left; I decided to finally find out the truth for once and for all. Upon doing research I found out how to open a door with a spoon, but nothing was coming up until I found a story of a woman who went to the last Olympics and her room had no locks on it so she used a spoon.

I looked at the photo once, I looked at it twice and shook my head– it was that simple. All those years wondering. That was it? Yes, that was all she wrote as they say. So many chapters in my life lost in this little family tale. Some families have Kodak moments, some families have wonderful memories,  but I swear my family has straight jacket moments.



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte



Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

A Curio of Nostalgic Words

Been Caught Stealing– Bank of Montreal

Angry Mobs, Wolves and Bloodsuckers –Selby Lake

 Twisting my Dignity Away with Jimmy Manson

 Twisting my Dignity Away  with Jimmy Manson
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One Friday night my Mother watched with interest as I danced to the song “Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Backseat” in front of the HiFi. My Mother screamed for my father to come and watch my performance and told him excitedly that I had a really good beat and maybe someday I would become a professional dancer.

That was the day a phone call was made to a neighbour and I was immediately put into a ballet class after school. I will never know if that was a mistake, but it did stop me from gaining weight for a few years. As with everything else in life I was a misfit from the word ‘go’. I had natural rhythm, but just hated regimental bar exercises and my creative steps were frowned upon. After not being able to dance a series of skipping steps for part of the Nutcracker Suite I was banished from ever becoming a Sugar Plum Fairy and sent to the gallows of the Waltzing Flowers.

Every afternoon at 4pm I danced my heart away in the living room while watching American Bandstand. One day Clark introduced Chubby Checker and I attempted to perfect the dance called The Twist. Over time I had every step down pat and was ready to try my moves at the Grade 5-8 dance in the Cowansville High School gym. My mother had made me a soft royal blue jersey dress with a fake fur collar, and I had on my broken-in Mary Jane shoes ready to go.

The teachers lined up the boys on one side and the girls on the other with none of us knowing who we were going to get as a dance partner. I looked at the tall lanky boy across from me with a tight suit and thin tie and screamed at him,

“Hey you! I hope you know how to dance!”

He nodded and actually looked afraid of me after I yelled at him, which he probably should have been. The Twist music began and the both of us were just like the dancers on American Bandstand. How two people ages 10 and 11 who had never met each other before danced like professionals is beyond me.

After 20 minutes there were just three couples left in the finals and we were one of them. After what I seem to remember as some fancy jumps and spins, we won the contest and each were awarded a Cadbury’s Snack Bar. Jimmy, being the gentleman he was, carefully put the candy bars in his pocket and we danced the rest of the night away.

Later I found my friend Sheila and asked her how she thought we did. She promptly told me that the reason we probably won was that my fast dance movements had kept spinning my skirt around and I was constantly flashing my pink underpants. She deemed it a hands down “underpants’ win.


Years later as I heard Twist music playing during a 60’s revival night in some forlorn corner bar in Sept-Iles it suddenly brought everything 360. With no one wanting to dance I just went out by myself in the middle of the dance floor and twisted solo for three songs.

It was only a dance, for heaven’s sake, but The Twist opened up a new world and it was the first dance in which the genders were created equal. Then again, maybe that gender stuff was all hooey and all I really ever wanted to do was just dance.


Hobos, Apple Pie, and the Depression–Tales from 569 South Street

Ashes to Ashes and Spins of the Washing Machine

The Days of Smocking and Spanish Bar Cake

Been Caught Stealing– Bank of Montreal

Angry Mobs, Wolves and Bloodsuckers –Selby Lake

Memories of UFO’s Earthquake Lights and Gale Pond

Misty Glen Mountain Snow Bunny Hop

Music in the 60s- Memories of Herman’s Hermits

Back to The Future — Twisting Your Dignity Away

Groovy Hints on How to Catch and Keep a Boy – 60’s style

The Dreams of a Sugar Plum Fairy

I Was A Free Range Child

Scrapbook Photos of Cowansville

6 Seconds of Cowansville High School – Our Miss Phelps

The Benefits of Having a Large Human Chassis for Traction

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 11

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 11




June 12, 2009 2:12 PM

I have told the story before of my Grandmother reluctantly wearing Eva Gabor wigs at the age of 52. Her hair had been badly burned at the hands of a 1930’s salon perm and her thinning hair failed to cover her bald spots. Hence, a different style of Eva graced Mary’s head every single day. But, even with all her hair issues it never stopped her from inflicting Toni home perms on me. There was no talking to my stylist, Grammy Mary Louise Deller Knight. She would stand there forever adjusting her wig from side to side in frustration while she gave me a perm until her wig gave in.

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 perm was over; the towels were taken out to be boiled in hot water because they smelled. The scent was almost up there with Vick’s Vapor Rub– on the top ten most hated list. My Grandmother? 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 finally nipped the perm in the bud in 1961. When the movie “The Parent Trap” came out, I went to the hairdresser with a picture of Hayley Mills’ 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!

When I got the Hayley Mills cut I was interrogated by the hair salon’s many patrons and hairdressers. They were horrified, it was so short, so I just pretended to be Audrey Hepburn, from “The Nun’s Story,” for the next few months. I still can’t talk about perms. My rule now is:

 “Mess with my hair today people and I will cut you like bad bangs taped down with Scotch Tape and roll you up like a jacked perm!”




January 10 2018

When I grew up everyone’s family had a food they were known for in the community. Food captured a lot of the 50s with the invention of nuclear colours, and things made with cheese that should have never graced a meal on the supper table. In that era for example, we veered away from foods cooked from scratch to pre-packaged processed foods as households sought “convenience”.  I concur that the word “convenience” would have been anything affiliated with the word Kraft.

Oysters were common in my world as my Dad used to convene the Trinity Anglican Church Oyster Supper in Cowansville each year.  Arthur Knight was known for his Oyster Stew just like my Grandmother was known for her salmon sandwiches and Cheeze Whiz and Maraschino Cherry Pinwheel sandwiches. Of course if we have to be honest here, let’s not forget the Jellied Salads.

My Grandmother put me to work in the church kitchen as soon as I could fit into an apron. I hated the fact that my Grandmother, Mary Louise Delller Knight, made the tinned pink salmon sandwiches as I feared I might have to be a witness to anyone choking on one of those fine bones she might have innocently left in the filling. Minus the bones, her salmon sandwiches were definitely amazing and never quite tasted like the neighbours. I couldn’t figure it out until years later when I found out that the neighbour had been committing a felony for decades and had been using canned tuna instead.

As for those Cheese Whiz and Maraschino Cherry Pinwheel Sandwiches, mayonnaise was a prime ingredient in this recipe. Most normal folks used cream cheese, but not my Grandmother– she was a Kraft gal, with her only wish to be carried away in a riptide of cheese. Thankfully, she never made my Grandfather’s favourite of Sardines on Toast with onions. That was always “real eating” as far as they were concerned.

When the special dinners rolled around for the Legion or the Lodge, Jellied Salads were her specialty, and Grammy loved making them. On the morning of the event she would call out to my Grandfather who was working in the garden:

“Fred, could you bring me some fresh tomatoes so I can make a Tomato Aspic for the Legion dinner?”

My Grandfather would smile, and hum some unknown tune as she boiled those tomatoes to death to add to the Lemon Jello. Grammy always insisted on making extra for me, and she would serve a piece of jellied salad with a slice of lamb. Of course her famous mint sauce accompanied anything and everything that now looks similar to Uggs.

Mary Louise Deller Knight always insisted on picking fresh mint from the side of the house near the Shell Station on South Street, which I was not in favour of. I always threw my hands up in the air and mentioned that cats, dogs and the homeless had peed on it. She laughed, and I would shake my head, and yet everyone in the family except me would rave about about her mint sauce. Years later I am the last one in the family standing and sometimes wonder if her Mint Sauce did everyone in.

When I was in my 40’s I found myself making those very same Cheese Whiz and Maraschino Cherry Pinwheel Sandwiches that I used to loathe. After a church luncheon I was told never to darken the church’s doors with those awful sandwiches. When I protested how others used to like my Grandmother’s way back when they rolled their eyes. They said if anyone made that recipe today, people would think that the house that it came from was either a front for making Meth or hiding bodies. I shook my head and wondered if they really knew that the smart dressed gals might be the clever and good looking ones but— it’s really the ladies who make the church sandwiches that  are real wife material.

From Sherbrooke Daily Record online–http://sherbrookerecord.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx


Sept 2 8:30 Pm

Remembering 1964 — The Columbia Record Club
In 1964 Linda began to get herself into financial trouble with a mail-order company called The Columbia Record Club. At 14, she had a huge passion for music, and all she had to do was tape a penny to a card she found in the back of a comic book and have a home address. She happily picked out what she thought was 12 free music selections– after all, Columbia House had shipped 24 million records to other teenagers that year. Nothing could be wrong, could it?

Linda, like other kids, in greater North America had failed to read the fine print. She along with other Beatle fans never understood the “music appreciation club” wanting her and other music aficionados to purchase a certain number of monthly selections that were not even in her genre of music. Of course, had it not been for Columbia House she never would have had an appreciation for Barbra Streisand had she not listened to her records they shipped her without consent some months before.

As the months passed Linda found herself with a lot of unwanted music and a growing bill that she could not pay. Her father had warned her, as he too had been taken in by something called “The Book of the Month Club” and caught by something called “negative option billing”.

A man called Les Wunderman had taken “The Book of the Month Club” to new heights and created such novel marketing ideas as: the database, the 1-800 number, the ‘buy 12 items for a penny’ and post-paid insert cards. Linda had no idea about all of this, as all she knew was that she could order records for free without the cost of even a stamp. Columbia Records, and book clubs, may have in essence been scamming people, however, those of us in the far north of Canada would not have gotten any cool records or books without them.

There was nothing like receiving something free in the mail, even if they were hounding you for the $25 you didn’t have. The collection agencies began to send her nasty letters for the outstanding records she owed. Linda began to respond to the letters and argued they charged full list price for the records plus a very large “postage and handling” charge, usually $2.98 per record. A $4.98 LP that you could get for $2.79 in most record stores would cost $7.96 with the club. Columbia House kept sending her records and bills until one day Linda decided to ask for the help of the smartest kid in the 9th grade. Word on the street was that he was some “boy genius” and was filled with all sorts of facts.

It took her days to gather up the courage to set up “an appointment” during school lunch break, and finally one day she took the plunge. As she told him of her dilemma he lowered his glasses and read the letters carefully and told her he might have an answer the next day. Fourty-eight hours later he summoned her to his desk, as by that time others had gathered, as it seemed they were ‘under the boardwalk’ with Columbia Record House too. The young man with the razor sharp haircut was tapping his fingers on his desk when she entered the classroom. He looked at her and began to smile broadly and said,

“Linda, I have an answer to your problem and it’s quite simple!”

Gasps could be heard around the room that we had someone so smart in our school that could save us all. He held up the collection letter and began to laugh,

“Just tell them that contracts like this are not legal tender for anyone that is fourteen!”

With that everyone clapped their hands, and that very night letters from all corners of Cowansville, Quebec were sent to Columbia Record House. In later years some of us still found ourselves caught in the clutches of other “kissing cousins clubs” that sold CDs, video and cookbooks. But, it always made us remember that day when we learned that you could not force ‘little children’ to buy Ray Charles Singers records, but negative option billing would always be legal in some shape or form.





January 28, 2007 1:45 AM

Every Saturday morning I would awake to rousing marching tunes by John Philip Sousa being played on the old Hi Fi in the family living room. John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known primarily for American military and patriotic marches.  I have no idea how my father Arthur J. Knight found this musical passion, but he got it from somewhere. He loved the military so much that he joined the Canadian Army during the WW II, but never made it past the training session in Georgia because the war ended. I often wondered if he wanted to follow my Grandfather Fred Knight’s footsteps as he returned from the  trenches in France after WW1 with medals and and a lifetime encyclopedia full of stories.


I never remember asking my father to turn the death defying volume down as he chose to crouch next to the Hi FI speaker with his ear glued to whatever was being played. I figured if he kept it up for enough years he was going to lose his hearing– and then there was the fact that he put up with my Beatle music. No teenager would ever want to mess around with their Father’s views on their music. “The Washington Post” by Sousa was his absolute favourite, and then that usually followed with the “King Cotton March” with some added piping and drumming from the Grenadier Guards thrown in for good measure. This wasn’t a passing fancy- he would listen to music, and absorb it– but you would never hear it come out directly in his conversations. I don’t think anyone knew except for my sister and a few others.

When I was 13 I joined “Les Optimistes de Cowansville” and was handed a bass trumpet which I hated, and then a flag. I did a lot of practising but after never getting the snare drum I truly wanted to play I went back to being a Beatle fan and a Viet Nam War protester. I can tell you that none of that made my Father happy especially protesting a war.  In all honesty I have to say that in later years I realize how much his love of marching bands and bagpipes affected me. Even if I didn’t enjoy the music at the time my heart skips a beat at a parade, and of course the bagpipe drives me to tears because of my Father.

When the first Monty Python movie came out and the opening credits began, someone in the theatre audience asked where on earth they got THAT music from. Without missing a beat I yelled: “John Philip Sousa”. So you can say that my Father never really stunted my likes and dislikes in music– as Monty Python would say, “it was only a musical flesh wound”. Know what I mean? Nudge nudge. Nudge nudge! Know what I mean? Say no more. As John Philip Sousa once said: The average music-lover hears only the production under prevailing conditions.



Lies The World Told Me

The first ridiculous warning that I ever got from my parents was that if I swallowed watermelon seeds I was going to grow a watermelon in my stomach. Since I was more interested in the sweeter side of life I never gave that tale another thought. But honestly, their warning about swallowing gum terrified me. The first time I accidentally swallowed gum, I thought that I was going to die– but I was too afraid to tell anyone. So, I just carried on with life. Nothing horrible happened, and even though I was told gum stayed in your body for 7 years I soon realized that it was indeed a hoax and that humble chewing gum was no power for my gut.
My Mother however, insisted on sharing things that drove me to the point of insanity. One of her better ones was that Pinocchio was real, and if I lied my nose would grow. Of course that never stopped the little white lies/stories that I told, but I’d hold my hand over my nose while I told them. But, if was far better than my friend telling me that the oil spots on the street were caused by small children getting run over because they didn’t hold hands.


Every day I would check behind my ears to make sure potatoes were not growing  because I never washed behind them. My Grandmother told me that spinach would make me strong like Popeye, and I would force myself to eat a few forkfuls at lunch. I would rush outside with her as she told me to close my eyes and try and lift the house. Of course she exclaimed that it moved, and instantly I would run back inside and finish the spinach off. After all, you are what you eat, not how you clean your ears.

I thought it was terrible that I was told that closed stores in the mall was where they put the kids that demanded toys. But then, I told my kids when they were small that if they didn’t trim their nails their overgrown nails would put holes in their socks.

In the summer I would watch storms filling the sky while I drank only Coke, as I was told if you mixed Pepsi and Coca Cola together there would be an explosion, and that’s why restaurants never served both. Thunder was angels bowling and lightning was them getting a strike. I would always silently congratulate the angels when I saw lightning, and would imagine God giving them a high five and knew that they were happy I had not caused an unneeded explosion.

As the Easter season approaches, I will never forget the time when I told my Communion class that Easter was the day when Jesus rolled back the rock, and if he saw his shadow we would have six more weeks of winter. I have to admit that I was quite young when I began to imitate my family’s tales of terror in my own little way. I told my Father when I was 16 that I heard that anyone over 30 was going to be sent to farms. It was a sign of the 60s, but indeed a terrible thing to say. However, when I turned 30 he turned to me as I blew out my Birthday candles and said,

“Happy Birthday Linda, you are 30 today, what time is your bus pulling in to take you to the farm?”

That did indeed hit me hard, harder than the time he said if I kept picking my nose my forehead would fall in. Were they flat out lies? Maybe they were just trying to get a point across so we would behave. But then again, I have never drank a single cup of coffee in my life as I knew for sure it was going to stunt my growth. So how come I am so short?


From Sherbrooke Daily Record online–http://sherbrookerecord.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx


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January 12, 2018.

I sit here drinking from a mug of steaming hot chocolate topped with fake whipped cream trying to figure out what to write. As I stick my finger into the canned sweetened whipped cream that was propelled by nitrous oxide I realize very little has been written about the foodie topping. I figure my extreme fascination all boils down to one thing– my late mother’s beloved Royal Chintz whipped cream set which supposedly came from somewhere called Arnart 5th Avenue via a 1950’s slow boat from Japan.


I don’t have many fond memories of my childhood, but that miniature lilac gilt trimmed mini jug and saucer was the first thing I grabbed when they were settling up my father’s estate. As the beginning stages of my childhood gluttony began, whipped cream became part of my DNA. Family food fights with the finally invented aerosol whipped cream cans and making sure boxes of Dream Whip were stocked in the kitchen cupboards became passions of mine. My Grandmother’s threats of over-beating fresh whipped cream resulting in butter are still instilled in my brain.


Because whipped cream is so beloved as a food group to me, did I really want to waste it on sex later in life? “You, me, handcuffs and whipped cream” became the first hint that a possible suitor was not for me. I mean, was it really safe to put IT down there? Why waste it when sugar, cream and a cold mixing bowl could produce an orgasm the gentleman might not even be capable of giving me. Even a suggested bikini made from an aerosol can of whipped cream did not interest me as it was a definite “killing sexy time” moment– especially with a misspelled product name called Reddi-Wip without the ‘h’. I actually blamed that spell change from Whip to Wip on The Mandela Effect, in which many of us are certain we remember something a particular way, but it turns out we’re dead wrong.
When the children came around, breastfeeding was not even a thought for me as all I could think of was my breast spraying aerosol whipped cream into the child’s mouth. You have to wonder how I have survived life with all the fancy coffees and those grande non-fat lattes sporting whipped cream. Even when fitness model and blogger Rebecca Burger died in 2017 from “a domestic accident” with a whipped cream canister, it never turned me into a whipped cream agnostic. Now I just whip it myself and maybe just add a touch of Drambuie if I am feeling sassy. I could use the workout.

From my entry in the Erma Bombeck contest– two years ago #32… this year #24.. maybe before I die LOL



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 8

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 7

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 10

I Thought Growing Old Would Take Longer

I Thought Growing Old Would Take Longer



My very first thought this morning was a flashback of how I used to throw potatoes down the Albert Street hill in Cowansville. That 10 pound bag was way too heavy for me to carry from the grocery store as a child, and sometimes I got home with just a half bag of potatoes. I immediately realized that the bag represented my life for the past few months. The bulk of emotion from past health scares sits in “the bag” while some of it dribbles out each day.

At the end of June I had a series of heart attacks, then in January I tripped over a rug in the garage and landed on the hard concrete floor with a loud thud. Knowing there was not much left to give in the kneecap department, I lay there thinking my legs were not going to end up being very useful for a few months. I was right.

Throughout my life I have been labeled a klutz, and anything that was meant to trip over I have mastered that feat and more. A few years ago, even the family dog gave up on me after I tripped over a rock in the garden and lay on the ground in constant sorrow. When I figured out that maybe finally grasping a broken tree branch lying beside me might help elevate my aging body, the dog grabbed it out of my hand and ran off with it.

So while I have been healing for the past few months my links to my personal past have been blocked out. I have no problem writing about local history each day because if the former “cast from the past”  tripped or almost killed themselves in the 1880s it wasn’t my problem. Anger about having to use a cane wore me out as I realized my Disco dancing days were never coming back. I also wasn’t grasping our British family tradition of having “a stiff upper lip” because I told and emailed my story to anyone who would listen. I honestly felt that the world had to suffer along with me.

This morning I woke up remembering the potatoes rolling down the Albert Street hill, and how  a rusty old Quebec license plate on my tricycle gouged out a hole in my thigh when I fell off the curb. I believe the professional people you pay lots of money to would call it repressed memory associated with a high level of stress or trauma. But today the past finally emerged and it didn’t go to voicemail. It actually had a lot to say. In fact my inner voices insisted I immediately seniorcise my home! Today I think I have finally understood the only pole dancing I will ever do is if I install a senior handle bar on the bathtub. But, then again I think I will never be old enough to know better.

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The Secret World of Menopausal Mary



From the Sherbrooke Record

Looking closely at my body, I wonder how a person ends up becoming this particular shape in life. I think I have half a brain and know if you eat sensibly you lose weight. So how come for 60 odd years I have tried every diet in the universe and only a few pounds have fallen off? Is there something blocking a fat cell somewhere or is my lack of diet success just hereditary?
My mother was tall and slender like Rita Hayworth, and my father, who I am the spitting image of, was the shape of a box like his mother. There you have it; no wonder as the years have passed, people say I look just like my grandmother. I have become the junior version of Mary Deller Knight and have followed her quack diet ideas like ducks flock to water.
Mary was a pretty British gal when my grandfather met her on the seashore in Devon, England. She was no “skinny minnie” and had quite the caboose going, but Fred loved her no matter what she looked like. Mary always worried about her size and wore slimming navy blue dresses with her belt strategically located inches below her bust. I never saw her with a full plate of food, and considering how little we saw her eat in public, it was amazing that she did not look like a stick figure. All of us wondered why she was so stocky and asked ourselves if Mary really was what we would now call a “closet eater”?
She always started her morning with a cup of “slimming tea” followed by a piece of dry toast. Lunch was the same, and dinner was a small portion of whatever we ate, with the addition of fresh sliced tomatoes. I only saw her eat a piece of chocolate on Saturday nights, when my Grandfather would go across the street and buy a bar for them to have with their weekly glass of sherry. Personally, I always thought my Grandfather had that glass of sherry to get through the Lawrence Welk program she so dearly loved.
When the slimming tea did not work, my Grandmother read a magazine ad that advised her to take up smoking if she craved sweets. So instead of brewing her tea Grammy reached for a Lucky Strike instead. Seeing no one smoked in the family she did it on the sly amongst the fresh mint that grew on the side of the barn. Every time she served mint on her leg of lamb, I swear all I could taste were ashes and wondered when my Grandfather would catch on. Actually, it did not take Grampy long to find out and he insisted she stop smoking, or she was going to get hemorrhoids. I had no clue to what that was but I just nodded in agreement.
For a long period of time I noticed all these strange things in the drawers of the white bureau in her kitchen. They were $1.00 trial boxes of candy guaranteed to make you slimmer, called Kelpadine, and bottles of Ballard’s Liniment that was guaranteed to rub the fat off you.
Then the sugar company put an ad out stating that a little bit of sugar might be just what you need to curb your appetite. Following their suggestion to have a soft drink before your main meal, she had so much caffeine in her at one point she began to talk fast and slur her speech. My alarmed Grandfather immediately cut her off and he had to wean her like a lab rat getting off of cheese.
Six months later she read a magazine article that stated that a family who ate lard together remained happy.  She began to smile as she continued to read because on the other side of the page was an ad for Ayds.  It was the worst name ever to be associated with any weight loss product or anything else for that matter.
When she died we found cartons of the “vitamin enriched” stuff in chocolate and vanilla flavours tucked away amongst her folded towels. Mary had finally given in and gave up her grapefruit diets and the plates of cottage cheese.  She truly believed that if she ate Ayds before meals they would become her final diet salvation.  At last, Mary could eat the vegetables she really loved, like carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie. All was now well in Mary’s eating world and maybe someday it will be in mine. One has only got to hope!
 Notes from the Peanut Gallery

“Never eat more than you can lift!” – Patricia Plumber