Tag Archives: Sherbrooke Record

The Horrors of Wool, Bread Bags, and Red Dye Number 7

The Horrors of Wool, Bread Bags, and Red Dye Number 7

The Horrors of Wool, Bread Bags, and Red Dye Number 7 Linda Knight Seccaspina

During the 50s because of the baby boom, there was suddenly a high demand for more stylish clothing for children. Many boys began to wear jeans to elementary school– but girls of all ages were still expected–if not required-to wear dresses and skirts for school, church, parties, and even for shopping.

Out of all the outfits I wore as a child I remember my 3-piece red wool winter snowsuit. It was a short red wool swing jacket with matching jodhpurs and a hat. That particular red outfit and enduring Toni Perms would have been enough to drive me to a psychologist for years.  

There was nothing like playing out in the snow with this 3 piece red wool outfit on. I have to wonder what manufacturers and mothers were thinking. It wasn’t warm, and when it got wet it weighed triple its weight. The scratchy wool fabric rubbed my thighs so much that chafing couldn’t even be called a word. 

Red dye number 7 has never been safe for the world, but in the 50s when you removed coloured wet wool your skin matched the shade you had been wearing. It took a lot of scrubbing to get the colour residue off, but nothing was redder than my raw inner thighs. I had matching red rubber boots and sometimes I had to wear bread bags on my feet in those boots to stay dry.

My friends next door hated the snow boots they had to wear. They were black boots with buckles on the front that every male in any generation seemed to wear. They were tough to put on and were even more difficult to remove. Worn over shoes, the heels of your  shoe would tend to become wedged in the narrow neck of those boots.

To remove the boots at school, the boys would have to sit down on the hallway floor and try to unbuckle the now soaking wet buckles, which was difficult to do with cold hands. The boys could never seem to get their feet out of them without a fight. One boot or the other was always stuck halfway off, with one foot seemingly wedged in at some strange angle. Parents thought the solution to this was once again to place empty bread bags over their  shoes before the boots, but it never helped. That idea only caused them to have to deal with wet, empty bread bags along with the boots. At least their parents were there to help in the fight to get the boots on at home, but at school the kids were on their own. By the time those feet got into the still damp boots, the school was nearly empty. 

I hated wearing navy blue school tunics and white blouses and Monday seemed to be the only day I could wear the same white blouse as Friday without anyone knowing. In those days we wore uniforms so everyone would be dressed the same and no one would feel slighted. 

Then there were the tights– yes, the tights. They were so uncomfortable and scratchy that I couldn’t help but complain. I even snuck into one of the church’s closets one Sunday before the service and took the tights off. Unfortunately my Grandmother caught me  without my tights under my Choir robe and told me sternly, ”you have to put them on now!” I told her that they were uncomfortable but she told me I had to wear them for the rest of the church service at least. There just seemed to be something unfeminine about not being able to sit down comfortably with the crotch sagging down to your knees.

Now, most fashion for kids is just as trendy as adult fashion– even more for school. Every style comes back, even if you don’t want it too. Today, you need a small loan to buy a school uniform and as for the bread bags, well, I hear Reynolds Oven Bags, size Large, do a better job than Wonder Bread bags! As for the chafing– at my age my thighs don’t chafe anymore. They just applaud my efforts as I move around.

Stay safe!!

Dressed for winter. Note the storm door and the wooden bucket. No names to protect the innocent.

Related reading

Fashion Faux Pas in the Cemetery

The Poker Face of Corsets and Waist Training -1800s Fashion Comes Back in Style

Saved by Her Corset

It’s Electrifying! Dr Scott’s Electric Corset

Once Upon a Time it was Yesterday —- Linda Knight Seccaspina

Once Upon a Time it was Yesterday —- Linda Knight Seccaspina

Once Upon a Time it was Yesterday Linda Knight Seccaspina

They say if you time travel in your dreams you might end up in a continuous loop, and if it were possible to go back a few years maybe we could undo our mistakes. Last night I found myself once again breathing in the past.

Sitting on a bench outside the old train station in Cowansville, Quebec in a dream, it seemed like forever, but in reality it was probably just a few minutes. Nothing had changed as the lunchtime whistle blew from the Vilas factory across the way, and the ghosts of workers past streamed out of boarded up doorways and broken windows.

The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
22 May 1987, Fri  •  Page 3

I saw the Realmont building and remembered it being such a mysterious place to some of us as teenagers. Whispers of what went on in that building were always on my mind and the secretive hygiene products of what we thought they sold were now irrelevant in my life.

I looked at the old bowling alley across the street and remembered the evenings spent in a cigarette smoke filled basement dancing to 60s music and the friends I will never forget.

Sitting on the cement steps of the old Voyageur Bus Terminal I watched my late Father trying to calm the owner, telling him to ignore the teenagers with their transistor radios as they were never going to take his jukebox business away. In reality all of us are just full of hot air and I had to giggle at my father’s lack of faith in technology. I snapped a photo of the two of them realizing it would probably only end up becoming memories and kept on walking down South Street stopping to peer into Hashim’s window.

I had spent a great deal of my youth shopping in this store and loved the smell of new clothing and running my hand down the long wooden counter on Friday nights. In those days you trusted your retailers, and so did my Father when I purchased a pair of lime green ‘leprechaun’ shoes there in the 60s for $7. I remember those shoes as being the most outrageous, but incredibly uncomfortable shoes I had ever worn. 

My Grandmother was sitting on the screened verandah and I waved as I walked by and said I would be back. She pointed to the big Shell truck that was unloading gas at the corner gas station. Every Friday evening the truck would pull up and the heavy smell of gas would invade the air. Grammy would put her hands on her hips and tell the driver that the next smoker who lit up was going to blow us all to kingdom come. My grandparents never owned a car so they had great difficulty understanding those who did.

I longed to see the shoes in Brault’s window as I had always admired their quality and cutting edge. The Anglican church beckoned me to pay homage to the place that I had spent a great deal of time in. The usually locked door was open and I looked inside and remembered the sound of the choir and the smell of the vestry that my Grandmother and I worked in every Friday night. I saw apple blossoms on the church pews for someone’s wedding and this seemed all too real and better to relive this just once more and not a thousand times again.

It was a debate where to stop next– Cowansville High School or Le Patio restaurant across the street. Both had been instrumental in my growing pains and I swore I heard the song “These Boots are Made for Walking” on a continuous loop and the smell of “patates frites avec sauce” filled the air.

I looked down the street and saw the shattered glass of the Mademoiselle Shoppe and knew I could not cross the bridge and go further because I was caught in a loop of that Winter day in 1959. Many children were hurt in a terrible accident which I am sure they too never ever forgot.

Sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near and life now has to begin at the end of my comfort zone. My past has given me the strength and wisdom I have today and some things are better left in yesterday along with all the mistakes and regrets. What happened yesterday is just a story, and I accept the result of once having had the time of my life and know that you can always go back home– somehow.

Letting my Hair Down — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Letting my Hair Down — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Letting my Hair Down — Linda Knight Seccaspina

I still have my original crimping iron from the first day of the “Regretful HairStyles 80s” era. It’s the colour of pink candy floss and works better than anything new on the market. When it comes to crazy hair and makeup, no decade trumps the 1980s– but throwing this crimping iron in the trash can is out of the question at this point in my life. They say ‘Old is not gold’, but honestly this crimping iron is along for the ride like the wine coolers, the cassettes and the mall. So do I still crimp or curl my hair? Personally, I always try not to anger the beast, and most days my life is held together by a single bobby pin.

Regretfully, I lost a vintage 1920s Marcel curling iron in my hair styling repertoire that I found in my Grandparent’s barn on South Street in Cowansville, Quebec. It was part wood and part metal and should have had a danger sign on it. Vintage curling irons were once heated on the fire or the stove for the most part, so I used my grandmother’s wood stove to warm it up. I was warned never to curl your hair with a vintage curling apparatus as they are dangerous and you can burn your hair off, and might even singe your scalp. Each time I used it my grandmother would get hysterical and tell me to be careful. In the hair salons of days past they used to try it on a piece of paper first before they curled their clients’ hair. Why am I thinking there must have been a few minor salon fires in those days?

My grandmother, Mary Louise Deller Knight got her first perm when she immigrated to Canada and it really didn’t go very well. She kept telling the hairdresser her hair hurt under one of those over-sized dryers and no one listened. It was a sad day after that my friends. Mary loved to control everything in her life, and sad to say you can’t. That’s why hair was put on your head to remind you of that very thing. So after they lifted the lid,  a lot of Mary’s hair fell out and eventually grew back very thinly.

Mary tried every potion and lotion known to man and finally she gave up, and that’s when Eva Gabor came into her life. They always say that beauty comes from inside– inside a hair salon actually– and we would make quarterly trips to Montreal to buy her Eva Gabor wigs and I never ever discussed it. When she asked me questions about certain styles I chose my words very wisely—until her golden years. That’s when she plopped those wigs on her head sideways, backwards, and any other position known to man, and someone had to tell her. 

It doesn’t matter who you are, just remember that no one really has control over their lives and your hair is here to remind you about that fact. On great days it swings like the hair in an old Breck commercial and on the bad days it’s frizzy and wavy when you can expect a day of total loss of control. You are as strong as the hairspray you use and always remind folks that the messy bun you are sporting actually took 18,501 tries. Thank you to the past few weeks of Canadian humidity– I always wanted to look likeThe Lion King said no one ever. Your comb is not a wand.

In the end my grandmother made me promise that when she died to make sure her wig was on her head straight which I did. Dead or alive– you need to look like you are not having a bad hair day, as after all, no one is looking at your shoes.

And Now for Something Completely Different– The Junk Drawer……. Linda Knight Seccaspina

And Now for Something Completely Different– The Junk Drawer…….  Linda Knight Seccaspina

photo from Tracey Beckerman as I wont show mine LOLOLhttps://tracybeckerman.com/whats-hiding-in-your-junk-drawer/

And Now for Something Completely Different– The Junk Drawer……. Linda Knight Seccaspina

Across vast countries, mixed into every culture we all share one thing, one dirty little secret throughout time. That, my friends, is the junk drawer. No matter if you move, don’t have junk, or even aspiration to have one, that drawer is with you– sometimes forever. Someday you might even have enough of a variety in that drawer to make a spaceship– or even save the world.

Let’s be totally honest, is there anything you would really miss in that drawer? The nails and bolts, the bits of string, and yes, even small packages of Ketchup when you always keep a fresh litre in the fridge. If a global condiment packet shortage comes our way, my junk drawer will reign supreme. I can’t even begin a conversation with you about that strange light bulb in my drawer that could possibly be useful 20 years down the line— or the fork with two missing centre prongs that is used to unjam the dishwasher as seen on YouTube.

That’s where the birthday candles are kept, keys, keys and more keys that fit nowhere and lots of twist ties.One day down the road some archaeologist is going to find all these bread and twisty ties and conclude it must have played an incredible role in our society. Sometimes just the right whatever-it-is can be found in there, but how many old pens do you have in that drawe,r and actually how many work? 

In all honesty, that drawer never started out to become a junk drawer, it probably had high hopes to be a utensil container and somehow it became a vast memory capsule for your family. In one fell swoop unexpected visitors called one day and whatever was hanging around on the counters got thrown in that drawer for a last minute hiding place and its fate was sealed forever. 

In my drawer I have a flashlight with no batteries, but flashlights without batteries also exist in various places around my home. They are all awaiting the first storm so I can complain about them not working.There are scraps of paper with written notes on them I can’t read, like the poison hotline centre. Menus from restaurants along with enough mouse traps to catch The Mickey Mouse Club constantly jam the drawer each time you attempt to close it.

My sons are in their mid 30s yet rolls of hockey tape along with a remote control that controls nothing still lie at the back of that drawer. Instructions for the old BETA VCR and batteries that we just aren’t sure if they are dead yet lay next to markers that are half dead but not dead enough. There are small pieces of metal with no purpose that my late husband put in there along with matching pieces of similar plastic with elastic bands that no longer stretch around them. A Tim Hortons ‘Roll Up the Lid to Win’ remainder is in there along with things that came from the bottom of pepsi bottles caps for contests that ended at least a decade ago.

If anyone uses a tool, the mandatory protocol seems to be to give it a home in the junk drawer instead of putting it back. I swear my grandson who is now 3 will do the same in 10 years if I am still alive. It’s just the family traditions that will never be broken. Why are we still saving the extra buttons that come with sweaters, and various blouses even though the chances of using them are null to void? Odd band aids used to be in that drawer until I decided cleanliness needed to be next to godliness and some of them just didn’t stick anymore. I just threw out the small ancient Nerf gun with two bullets as I realized protection while cooking dinner is no longer needed.

No matter how you argue that your junk drawer isn’t like mine– this drawer exists in every household and you know it is the staple of every happy family. Right now you can go to this drawer and whatever you are looking for is right beside the old roll of duct tape that is next to the empty BIC lighter. I am sure we could empty out that drawer for the good of mankind, but in all honesty how could you break the news to the junk closet or the junk room? To those that say they haven’t opened that drawer in a long time I would suggest that you go take out that half broken rogue potato masher or spatula that is keeping the drawer stuck and investigate. If you really think of it junk drawers are mostly like opinions– everyone  has got one and they are mostly full of crap.

The End

My column for the Sherbrooke Record this week

Related reading

The Good, the Bad and the “Eggly”

Spittle Spatter and Dirty Faces of Yore

Shaking Things Up! Linda Knight Seccaspina

Is it all Relative? Linda Knight Seccaspina

Gym? I Thought You said Gin!

In Loving Memory of James Luther Hosking- The Father of Aboriginal Archaeology



Today I am documenting for posterity the story of  James Luther Hosking that was originally published in the Sherbrooke Record in 2009. Thanks to David Hosking for sending this and letting the whole world share what a great man his Father was.

In Loving Memory of James Luther Hosking—24 May 1922 – 17 June 2008

By David Hosking

Screenshot 2017-02-20 at 11.jpg

Five years ago, in his 86th year, Jim Hosking bought the farm, having lived only half of the time on this Earth that he wished for, and perhaps three or four times longer than what a few of his relatives had hoped for. Incredibly, for over eight decades, Jim escaped near-death experiences at least two million times. Never afraid of hard work, he was a very active man who was prone to overexerting himself at whatever task he undertook. His favourite expression following each endeavour was That damn-near killed me!” and he fully enjoyed relaying the intricate details of each of these brushes with death to anyone within earshot.

He was born into an impecunious family in the boondocks of New Jersey, and he was raised by his grandmother who used to swear at him a lot, albeit lovingly. They cut their own firewood, grew their own vegetables, stole chickens from the neighbours, and shot a wide variety of varmints for the cooking pot in order to survive the lean and hungry years of the Great Depression. Speaking of food, Jim loved to eat and could never pass up a meal, or even a snack. He ate lots of animal fat which never seemed to adversely affect his overall health and stature. Throughout his youthful years, Jim suffered from asthma. This ailment prevented his acceptance into the military at the outbreak of WWII. Instead, he served the wartime effort as an electrochemist with the Aircraft Radio Company where he participated in the development of the first remote-controlled airplane.

To escape the unhealthy New Jersey climate, as well as a failed marriage, Jim moved to Sherbrooke, Quebec in 1949, and brought along his two young children, Linda and Jimmy, to be raised in a more civilized place. At this point in his life, he met Elaine Marian Bishop who swept him off his feet with her incredible beauty and compassionate heart. He was star-struck and could hardly believe his good fortune in finding the true love of his life. Elaine and Jim were married at the United Church in Bishopton in 1950. Three years later, Elaine and Jim gave birth to the fifth member of the family, David, who eventually grew up, despite the strong doubts of his parents, teachers, relatives and law enforcement.


Blueberry Point Lake Massawippi www.lacmassawippi.ca

The family lived in Sherbrooke during the winter months but spent the summers at their cottage on the western shore of Lake Massawippi near Blueberry Point. Jim and Elaine cleared the wilderness property and built two cottages, mostly by hand, for the express purpose of steering their children away from joining street-gangs in Sherbrooke. The travails of building the cottages gave Jim at least one million opportunities to use his favourite expression “…damn near killed me!”

Jim was passionate about hunting and fishing, as well as archaeology. He is considered by some to be the father of aboriginal archaeology in the Province of Quebec. He loved and respected all aspects of the natural environment; he was a member of the Naturalist Society (not to be confused with Naturist) in Lennoxville where he enjoyed listening to talks about the birds and the bees from his colleagues. For years he was dedicated to improving the water quality of his adopted lake, annoying friends and neighbours alike by selling memberships to them in the Lake Massawippi Fish & Game Club. He also dedicated many hours to the sportsman’s community by serving as one of the first district instructors for the Quebec hunter’s safety course. This was an ideal public venue for discussing the potential for death and dismemberment by firearms—one of Jim’s many favourite topics.

Jim was a Freemason, who was raised a Master Mason in 1953. He was twice Past Master of the Prince of Wales Lodge in Sherbrooke and then Chaplain of the Lodge in Magog. Membership in the Fraternity had a major and positive influence on his outlook toward mankind and on his relationship with God.

In 1995, Elaine, his loving wife of forty-five years, passed away quietly at the Sherbrooke Hospital after a very long illness. For many years, until her demise, Jim attended to Elaine’s daily needs as she slipped further and further away. He is survived by his three children, Linda, James, and David, all who have been blessed with good looks and brilliant minds. His kids participated in the mass Anglo Exodus from Quebec in the 60s and 70s and now they reside in various other parts of North America.

Jim is survived by his daughter Linda Hosking (Wright), son James Raymond Hosking and other son David Luther Hosking. His grandchildren are Laura Wright and Michael Wright, Julie Hosking (Fitchet), Lisa Hosking (Stanton), Elaine Hosking and Collin Hosking. He was also the great-grandfather of Tyler Fitchet and Olivia Stanton. Expanding the family circle a bit further, Jim was the brother of William, and the sister of Katherine, Alice, and Evelyn, all of New Jersey. Regarding Jim’s obituary, published in 2008 in the Daily Record, some of Jim’s in-laws pointed out that their names were not mentioned in the newspaper. Unencumbered by experience with writing such things, that same author shall try to make amends herein. Accordingly, Jim was the brother-in-law of Lloyd and Rita Bishop, the late Douglas and Ethel Bishop, Lorne and Pauline Bishop, and Douglas and Shirley (Bishop) (late) Willard.

Jim’s presence on this Earth is sorely missed by his family and friends, notwithstanding his corny humour. Clearly, he was a character—strong-willed, quick to help, quick to laugh, and most certainly not a slave to fashion. He had a significant impact on all who met him.

Love to you always, Dad.


James L. Hosking is considered the father of prehistoric archeology in this region. Originally from the United States, he settled in Sherbrooke in 1949. He discovered more than a dozen sites in the region, including the one at Lac des Nations. In the early 1960s, he helped found the Société d’archéologie de Sherbrooke with Abbé René Lévesque. For more than 50 years, he gathered many artifacts, creating one of the most impressive private collections of the region’s prehistoric archeology. In 1973 at Lac des Nations, James L. Hosking discovered an artifact that leads us to believe that First Nations people were in this area between 6 000 and 4 000 years before present.

Hosking, James L.  1922-1928
Passed away suddenly on Tuesday June 17, 2008 at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. Dear father of Linda Wright of Kitchener. As requested by James, a private funeral service will be held, graveside in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Related reading:





Newspaper article from David Hosking

Where is Pointe James Hosking?–Click here

Monday, January 18th, 2010

As of December 1st, 2009, the Southern portion of Lac des Nations is officially known as Pointe James Hosking.  It fulfills one of Jim’s most intense and long-lasting wishes. He would often speak with a sense of urgency over the matter of having a plaque put up along the river`s edge to make known the culture that lived there before us.

It was made known to him when he found the spear point in the lake, and he wanted so badly to share this knowledge with others because he had a deep love and respect for anything involving conservation, history, culture and above all, people – even if they lived there thousands of years ago and he never saw them. It didn’t matter – he still had a deep respect for them and would often say how he wished he could have met them.

His convictions are a crying voice to the memory of our forgotten ancestors, a voice that would not have been so readily expressed by any other person other than himself. I am proud of James Hosking for this. He wanted them to be remembered, and it is ironic that through his generous disposition he will be remembered along with them, thus becoming a part of what he loved so much.