Tag Archives: nostaliga

Everybody Hurts – Sometimes — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Everybody Hurts – Sometimes — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Everybody Hurts – Sometimes Linda Knight Seccaspina– Sherbrooke Record Column

I don’t know if any lollipop in the world could have made me smile after lining up at the town hall, or was it the fire station, on the Main Street in Cowansville in the 50s. There we were– 100s of kids in line for a polio shot with doctors and nurses pushing those ugly needles down in our arms. Loud cries pursued like clockwork, and children were led out with a lollipop in their hands mixed with tears. That image has never left my mind, nor the two hours one Friday night at Dr. Roy’s office on South Street with someone trying to pin me down for yet another inoculation.

At my age now I have been picked and prodded all my life and one more is not going to make a difference. But this week I got a COVID booster and there was no treat for me after I had received it. I seem to miss that little act of kindness after something significant in my life. You go through hours of labour and at the end there is your baby, or you get hit by a car like I did at age 6, and there were stacks of Illustrated Classics Jesus comic books given to me by my Grandfather Crittenden.

So what happened and when?

Enduring a bout of strep throat at the age of 17 my Grandmother asked me what I wanted to eat as a special treat. I told her there was nothing I would enjoy more than KRAFT spaghetti. It had to be KRAFT, nothing else. After hours of dreaming about boxed spaghetti she turned up with a bowl of vegetable soup. Is that where it turned all wrong? Or was it just Mary Knight’s way of saying– everyone that hasn’t felt well should have vegetable soup, bread and butter and a piece of cheese for their first meal. 
All I know is that when I got that COVID booster this week, there was no lollipop, no stickers, just a full shot because I am 70. I could have really used a treat when I had the aftershocks afterwards: you know: “the fever, headache, fatigue and pain at the injection site”. For 24

hours I could not move, and in my mind an ear worm song of “It’s a Small World“ was playing in my head. It’s still playing actually.

My husband Steve understands ‘treats’ and even though I was dead to the world he asked me what I felt like eating. I said,

 “I would like a McDonalds Chicken Burger please”. 

He looked at me in the way Mary Knight used to look at me and said,

 “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a bowl of soup?” 

I gave him ‘the look’ which he understood immediately. I don’t know how husbands figure things like that out but there was no other conversation after that. But Steve doesn’t treat me like regular glue anyways, I’m always glitter glue to him.

As I began to eat that chicken burger I realized that was not what my body wanted, and could barely take a few bites. But that was my treat for all this and why didn’t my mind or body want the treat. It was obvious that my body was still in distress and Mary Knight’s remedy of a bowl of soup, bread and cheese would have been better. I went back to bed and never thought about it again.

At 2 am I woke up and my hair was soaked just like I had gone swimming. Obviously the fever had broken and my body was going back to normal. I smiled. Now where was that treat? Yes, I thought, I needed that treat even if it was now cold. I ventured downstairs quietly and looked in the fridge. Nothing there. Then I looked at the garbage pail. Sitting on top was the McDonald’s bag and there inside the box was my chicken burger. Some of you are saying,

“Oh no she didn’t”

I am telling you right now, “oh yes she did!”

Pulling a George Costanza from Seinfeld, I took out what was left in that container and I ate it all. You have heard the saying, “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight”. It was after midnight, and I was going to have that treat still with the ear worm of It’s a Small World playing through my head.

Larry Clark Memories : Billings Bridge, Willow Trees and the Orange Lodge

Larry Clark Memories : Billings Bridge, Willow Trees and the Orange Lodge


 You asked for photos re: my previous submission but photos of my youth are few and far between mostly due to the fire at Arklan— 31 Jan 69. This is not so much about Carleton Place– but may be of interest. It is about my grandparents. As you can see, Dan Bennett in the photo below could not easily be encouraged to “dress up”. I was to learn later in 1946 that I had a second maternal grandfather as my mother had been adopted. I learned of him when he came to visit us and brought with him, his son Bill, from a second marriage and a huge 2 lb block of chocolate. He was an electrician that had come (Weston) to wire our newly built house on the corner of Napoleon and Arthur.

 1929 Reo, Dan and Tillie Bennett- Larry Clark Photo

In the early 40’s, I spent my summers with my Grandparents in Ottawa (Billings Bridge area). They had a home (which he had built himself) on Riverside Drive almost opposite the intersection with Alta Vista-4 acres I believe, on the Rideau River. This was a rather desirable location and in the early 50’s was being expropriated by the city of Ottawa. They were offered no greater value due to the location on the river and they fought the city to no avail. They were one of the last holdouts but eventually had to accept the offer.

They sold and moved to Kemptville to be near where their son, Earl, lived in South Mountain. Tillie died there in 1957. Grandpa (Dan; b.1872) and Grandmother (Tillie; b.1871) were my constant companions for months at a time. Dan had a huge garden stretching to the river. There was bush on the right side and a house on the left, the occupants of which I barely knew.  Dan was sociable enough with them but didn’t appreciate the fact that they had a very large Weeping Willow close to the property line in the vicinity of his garden. He maintained that it provided too much shade to his garden and it was sucking up all the water from that same area. Most of that area of garden was planted with potatoes, where I learned to treat their tilling with much disdain. A large swing in the yard adjacent to the Riverside was much more pleasurable until the day I passed out and fell off.  A contributing factor to this malaise was a large boil on the back of my neck. A poultice (bread, or Flax seed?) was fashioned and administered to the offensive sore, to draw out the poison. I survived.

1929 REO

A garage on the other side of the property harboured a 1929 REO which was driven at least once a week. Dan was very frugal , changed the oil regularly but with used oil (suitably strained). This was procured sans payment at the local friendly service station in Billings Bridge. On long trips i.e to CP, he would turn off the engine at the top of the larger hills, coast down and re-start at the bottom. It was at least on one such excursion that we stopped on the side of the road while Dan cut some cedar branches from the adjacent trees. These were taken home to be placed in bureau drawers with the clothing.

This rather boring trip would consume most of a morning’s hours. At least, I would be returned home and not have to suffer the same trip in reverse. Life at Dan and Tillies was never boring. They taught me to play Rummy (age 4/5) and it wasn’t long before they accused me of cheating because I tended to hold my cards; not putting them down immediately. This prevented them from discarding on my hand. Early evenings would be spent on the porch counting passing cars, which weren’t too commonplace in those days. Some of the time was allotted to trying to turn my stomach into knots-at least that is what I would be admonished for; repeatedly, climbing onto the porch and jumping off.

The best was the Tuesday and Saturday night visits to the Orange Hall, which were Euchre nights. At that point I couldn’t understand the game (that came later) but I enjoyed watching (learning), quite often bearing the brunt of players remarks (teasing) to which I was subjected. However, I took advantage of this friendship by becoming an entrepreneur. There was a corner store at Bank/Riverside which sold soft drinks (before it was Americanised to “pop”) for 7 cents. Deposit was 2 cents. I would take orders, collect a 10 cent payment and go purchase the items but never paid a refund on their dime. Of course I got quite a bit of flak for that and even more by collecting the empties and returning them to the store. That’s where I learned about “sticks and stones”!  

Daniel Bennett- Photo Larry Clark

The Orange Lodge figured  prominently in their lives as Dan performed as “King Billy” at the annual 12th of July parade for many, many years. He would be leading the parade on a huge (to me) white horse, while I would be standing on the sidelines with Tillie. It seemed to me that the parade venue changed every year, so that we would be visiting many different towns in the Ottawa, Gatineau area. When a group of Orangemen got together, there were many stories of the atrocities that the Catholics inflicted on the Protestants in days gone by. One such, was that of group of Catholics captured a Protestant; sealed him in a barrel; drove spikes into it and rolled him down a hill to a bitter end. Scary stuff until I learned many years later that these events probably took place (if at all) 400 years previously.

witch hazel

Dan earned extra money as a dowser (perhaps his only  income-I only knew he had once worked on the railroad). For this purpose, he would require a source of witch-hazel to which end we would drive along Riverside Dr. (near Bronson, mostly countryside in those days) until the perfect tree formation was found. He would be looking for a branch with a fork that had fairly equal diameters and was approx. 2 feet long. At the devining site, he would grasp the ends of the forked branches, twisting the ends to force the opposite single end into the air at an approx. 60 degree angle. He would then pace back and forth until he was satisfied with the results. I was a doubter, (perhaps that is where I acquired a doubting attitude) but he would show me the twisted bark on the branch? He would only search for water if the homeowner agreed to to dig a well by hand. He maintained that a drill could easily miss the source of water that he had indicated. He would locate the water in a variety of locations on a property and then proceed to go through a variety of ministrations and would then advise as to how deep you would have to dig to find water. They would then decide which location would be the most suitable.

Thanks Larry once again for sending your memories.

Read more about dowsing and twitching here. Twitching or Grave Dowsing– Our Haunted Heritage

Glory Days in Carleton Place– Larry Clark

Larry Clark — Your Veribest Agent

A Personal Story — Caught in the Ice– Rocky Point- Larry Clark

A Day in Life — November 28, 2020

A Day in Life — November 28, 2020
December 25, 2019 — Tenley, Sophia and Elia and me Gammy, that’s Grammy without an ‘R’– There is only one Grammy- Mary Louise Deller Knight my Grandmother.

November 28, 2020

The year 2020 has been difficult for us all– there is no doubt about it– but last night I was reminded once again that none of our memories are ever being lost. Some feel that important life moments are being taken away from them, when in reality, now is an opportunity to slow down and reflect on what matters to most of us.

Last night I babysat my oldest grandchild Sophia who is 6 going on 32. This morning I woke up and remembered the things that we did last night which were in fact not much different than the ones I enjoyed in my childhood.

Every Friday night when my Grandparents electrical store closed my Grandmother would make Cheese and Crackers while we watched Tommy Hunter around the television. Each time I babysit Sophia she asks me for cheese and crackers while we watch television– and I hope she continues this tradition with her children. 

February 1, 2014  · 

Helping to keep everyone warm…
— with Steph Andd Perry Seccaspina.

We have deep discussions about friends and life and we try to create memories. Last night we made up a fictitious family ancestry line for Bella the dog. So far she has 6 brothers and two sisters, and next time we will take the imaginary geneology line even further. We also talked about the iconic FAO Schwartz Toy Store in New York City where her teddy bear was from. I used to buy my sons a  treat there when on my buying trips there for my store. I can’t wait until she is old enough ( or should I say interested enough) to watch the film BIG which reminded me and others– that it’s okay to savour childhood  while being an adult. As George Bernard Shaw said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” 

Sure, we laugh and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath all the fabric is the child we always will be. As we watched The Gingerbread Man and laughed at his antics she does not read my mind that whoever created this animated little film must have been pretty sadistic and created many nightmares for small minds.

I understand her fascination with the film JAWS but I try to steer her into watching the Lego version– or the Jaws ride at Universal Studios where it cost her Grandmother 25 bucks to ride it.  Mimicking Elaine on Seinfeld I tell her it was ‘fake fake fake’ with many hand gestures. She repeats my ‘Elaine line’ two hours later.

But, is she any different than I was?  I still remember the day somehow a preview of Edgar Allan Poe’s film The Pit and the Pendulum was slipped in before The Sound of Music at the Princess Theatre in Cowansville, Quebec. It remained in a corner of my mind for a whole lifetime. I can still see that pendulum going back and forth to this day.

Sophia understands Gammy can’t get down on the floor to play because of her bad knees just like I knew my Grandmother’s tight Eaton’s corset didn’t allow her to do much. You just accept it as Gammy sits on a giant teddy bear and then realizes she can’t get up so she scoots on her butt over the hardwood floor to the stairs and then flips over like a beached fish and pulls herself up to the stairs. It’s all in a day of making those memories and I am sure Sophia will remember that incident for the rest of her life. I know I will and have reminded myself not to wear socks on hardwood floors if such an emergency happens again– absolutely no grip.

I have so many things I want to share with my Grandchildren, and most of them are shared events that I had with my Grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight. Although some of us would like to forget what has happened this past year, many like myself feel that communication is key.  I am never going to forget how many people have been sick and died. I lost one of my best friends this year to COVID, but at the same time she would not want me to forget that people are still living. My Grandmother used to remind me that she would never have yesterday, and tomorrow I would be bigger than I was today– so we needed to remember that  today was a gift– and for the love of God– stiff upper lip and pay attention. I did, and I will never forget a moment I shared with her just as I hope my grandchildren will remember too.

Dedicated to Sophia, Tenley and Elia in hopes you might read this one day. I love you so much.

Love, From Betty Crocker




I always believed in Betty Crocker– well, I wanted to believe that the first lady of food was real. Similar to finding out that Nancy Drew’s author Carolyn Keene wasn’t real, one day Betty Crocker was no longer real either. I realized that dear old Betty was just a brand name and trademark developed by the Washburn Crosby Company.

The story goes that they chose Betty as her name because it sounded as American as the Apple Pie she would show us all how to make. The original Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook was first published in 1951 and everyone knows someone that has a Betty Crocker Cookbook in their home. Betty, like Margie Blake from the Carnation Company, was important to me as my mother died young, and food somehow replaced parental figures. Well, that’s what a few years of therapy taught me.

The recipes from any Betty Crocker Cookbook are from leaner times, and in the 50’s my mother used to make Tuna Pinwheels and Canned Devilled Ham Canape’s for her canasta parties. Bernice Ethylene Crittenden Knight was a stickler for an attractive food presentation, and she also made something called Congealed Salad for holiday meals. A combination of Orange Jello, Cool Whip, crushed pineapple, and wait for it, shredded cheese. I think my Dad called it “Sawdust Salad” and I seriously tried to remain clueless as to why. I’m sure everyone has a family member that says they’ll bring a “salad” to a family dinner, but then they bring some Jello concoction. Bonus points if it has marshmallows.  Actually I feel more justified in calling anything a salad if I dump leftover taco beef and salsa onto a little lettuce topped with shredded cheese.

Everyone baked bread, but I guess not all people like Betty’s Fruit Loaf recipes because on page 78 of my vintage Betty Crocker cookbook the former owner of the book hand wrote:

“Terrible, even Nookie the dog turned it down.”

The steamed brown bread baked in a can was another baking tragedy. It was so horrible my Dad took my Grandmother’s failed recipe target shooting at the Cowansville dump. I would like to think that some of those rats got to feast on one of those brown breads. Of course, maybe after sampling it, they might have wanted to be put out of their misery.

I also used to love Betty Crocker’s 7 minute-frosting that my mother would put it on some of her 1950s nuclear coloured cake. Then there were the Floating Islands, homemade Rice Pudding, chilled with whipped cream and cinnamon on top. My grandmother’s specialty was steamed English Pudding, and when she was done, she would soak lumps of sugar with orange extract and then place them decoratively around the pudding. One by one each lump would be lighted with a match which would result in a near miss family dinner explosion each time.

Nostalgic triggers a story about our lives, helping us reflect on traditions and moments about the days when our  parents and grandparents were alive. That’s why we should never lose print recipes, and real paper-based cookbooks. Those mystery meat recipes, books, and foods that were the same colour as radiation will always resonate with us because we get to see and relive the gravy stained favourites, and the personal notes in the margins. If reading about Betty Crocker has you craving a big slice of cake, you’re not alone. Time to bake!




Vintage Culinary Blogging –Fun to Cook Book

“Get it On” — Banging Cookies Recipe–This Will Feel Wrong, but Trust Me!

The Invincible Ginger Snap Cookies of Carleton Place

Memories of Woolworths and Chicken in a Van

Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans–Lanark County Recipes

Easy Christmas Cake- Lanark County Recipes

Holiday Popcorn– Lanark County Recipes

Granny’s Maple Fudge —Lanark County Recipes

Albert Street Canasta Club Chilled Pineapple Dessert

Recipes from Lanark County–Glazed Cranberry Lemon Loaf

Gum Drop Cake — Lanark County Holiday Recipe

Gluten Free–

Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? Pastry Chef Ben White

“Sex in the Pan” Memories – A RIP Fashion Violation Photo Essay

Katherine Hepburn Did Eat Brownies

I Want Them to Bite into a Cookie and Think of Me and Smile