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Oh Dear, William Penfold and my AB Positive Blood

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Oh Dear, William Penfold and my AB Positive Blood

William Penfold—my 4th great grandfather

In researching my lineage it seems I just can’t get a break. I am the way I am for a reason. I come from a bunch of colourful characters that my gynaecologist warned me about. My gynaecologist ?? Yes, when you are researching your ancestry talk to your gynaecologist. Don’t you?

My great grandfather was in charge of British Music Halls then ran away to America leaving the family. Another was a lady in waiting to Queen Victoria with loose skirts. A great grandfather was a lawyer who took on scalawags and now it seems William Penfold my 4th great grandfather was a bit of a smuggler. How is your day going?

So I blame AB positive blood……

Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood?

I was told by my doctor once that 10% of the world’s population has AB Positive blood and it’s where I get my “oddness” from. Funny, I never thought I was odd! All I knew was I didn’t want to end up in the military like my Father had daily visions of. It had come to his attention many times that I was different, and I stuck out like a sore thumb in my rural hometown in Quebec. When your father is a prominent municipal fixture, and the only electrician in town, word travels around like a bush fire that your daughter is weird or a character as they called me. Honestly, there are lots of people like myself, and then there are those that pretend not to be.

My friend Wanita Bates said something once that made complete sense to me after all these years.

‘Linda, some of us have gifts to feel what is going to be in style, and you and I are one of them.” When I had my store I was way ahead of fashion trends, but when major retailers grabbed on to it and money making was involved–I was long out of it. 

So after heated arguments with my father, I left home and headed to Montreal, Quebec. I attended fashion design school on Bleury Street where I became instantly bored. Instead of great 60’s fashion and styles that I was expecting my teacher made me make pattern after pattern of 1950’s styles. After classes, I would venture into store after store, just absorbing the culture and the fashion.

After almost completing my course, I decided I needed to find a job. Well Twiggy, Mary Quant, and all the Carnaby Street styles were afloat and guess who was wearing them? My Dad was getting remarried and gave me $75 dollars to buy something for his wedding. Being the drama queen I purchased a black velvet Twiggy mini dress and a black floor length Dr. Zhivago style coat. It was a real floor duster with black faux fur trim, and Omar Sharif would have been proud.

So when I went for job interviews I insisted on wearing the same “ultimate”outfit I wore to the wedding. Most clothing manufactures were not into the “Carnaby look” yet and I was told time after time, “Kid, get yourself another coat”. In layman’s terms I was scaring all these fashion people with my wardrobe. Defiant, I kept wearing it.

A few weeks later I got my dream job. It was working for trendy Le Chateau on Ste. Catherine Street hemming pants. It was their first store, and their clothing styles were worn by anyone who wanted to be someone. I was right up their alley– or so I thought.

Sadly, I only got to work there for about 6 months, as I was basically hired for the Christmas rush. In those few months I got to meet the Montreal trendsetters, wore “Gabardine Mod” pants, and so began my lifetime eating disorder. But, it was a time I will never forget, and believe fashion has never been so exciting. Just being able to sneak into the Boiler Room on Crescent Street and watch fashion happen was mind blowing.

For some reason only known to God, I was just not ‘cool” enough to work as a salesperson in their store, and rent had to be paid. In the middle of the coldest winters ever I hauled my derriere all over the Island of Montreal looking for a job.

I finally found a job at The Fine Togs Clothing Co. It was a childrens manufacture run by Blossom and her husband Hy Hyman. Actually Blossom ran the company and Hy smiled a lot and played golf. They thought I was a spunky kid and if I had stayed there, I would have probably be retiring from the company about now. They were good people.

If my grandmother Mary was my foundation for my hard working ethics, then Saul Cohen was the drywall. He expected me to arrive at 7:30 every morning and I had to ask to leave around 7:45 pm at the end of the day. The man worked me to the bone, and I just chalked it up to experience. I worked in the cutting department, sewing, swept floors, did book work, and worked in the show room. There was not one stone that he did not make me turn over, and turn over again.

‘Sauly” was relentless, and when he found out that my Mother had been born to a Jewish Mother  he made sure I knew about my heritage. Anytime I asked to leave early he would turn around and say to me,

“Do you know how our people suffered?”.

Enough said.

One day he decided that I was ready to represent the company selling their clothing line at the Place Bonaventure clothing mart. He told me I had to have, no, must wear, something conservative.

So I did what every other girl my age did. I went to Sears and bought “The Suit”. It was navy blue, a box jacket complete with a knee length pleated skirt. I had red shoes and red earrings to match. That was the last time I wore something so conservative. It just wasn’t me.

I applaud Saul for everything he taught me and how someone actually got me into something that wasn’t black. Word got around the clothing market about me and I was soon hired by a competitive children’s wear company run by Palestinians. Yup, I was no peace maker between the people of Israel and Palestine, but this was a time I will never ever forget.

Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood? Basic Element #2

I finally got my wish to be an assistant fashion designer, and quickly found out I was going to collect a pension before I became a designer. Lessons that were learned: when management says your designs basically stink– don’t believe them. A year after I left a certain firm, I saw my ‘unsuitable’ designs in the Eaton’s catalogue making lots of money for them.

Disillusioned, I left Montreal for love in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Again, mentors in life were: my Grandmother, Saul Cohen, and owner of Au Bon Marche–Morty Vineberg. I learned the retail trade from the bottom up from him, and to this day, if there is a spot for just 50 items, and I have 300; I can whip that into shape as fast as you can say “bargain designer clothes”.

Morty opened a discount clothing store in what he called “the dark side of Ottawa”. Today, I believe they call that Vanier, or is it part of Ottawa now? He told me how people would not cross the Cummings Bridge and shop in Vanier. Mr. and Mrs. Vineberg wanted to be the first, besides the seasonal swans, to get Ottawa consumers to cross that darn bridge. I think if there hadn’t been an “interior crime spree” going on in the store, again, I would have stayed.

Each day I had to turn my eye, and to be honest, I did tell Morty in certain terms, that all was not well in that former Bingo hall. But, it had gotten to a point that I needed to spread my wings, and so barely a year after the Vinebergs had transferred me, I quit. Ange, was working as a project manager for Olympia and York’s fabulous 240 Sparks, but he encouraged me to open my own business and a week later he too left his job.

Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood? Basic Element #1

Flash Cadilac was created and flourished through creativity. I was lucky I was able to pursue my dreams– but I had never taken the word “no” for an answer. In fact I had never listened to anyone who tried to talk me out of my views on life, fashion, and being yourself. At age 15 I marched into the Vice Principal’s office who doubled as a guidance counselor and told him I would not be returning to school the next year. I also asked for my $10 dollar school book deposit back.

I can still remember to this day where his desk was positioned in the room, and the look on his face that was partially hidden by his oversized spectacles. In a crisp but curt tone he scolded me.

“My dear Miss Knight, what golden path have you chosen for yourself?”

“I am going to be a fashion designer Sir,” I said emphatically.

He got out of chair and perched himself on the edge of my chair and asked me loudly if I was jesting.

Jesting?Jesting?

I quickly realized had I told him I had gotten pregnant by the Keebler Elves it would have gone over better. He continued in a loud monotonous drone telling me young ladies became either nurses or teachers. 

The elderly gentleman suggested maybe I look into the world of home economics if “I enjoyed sewing”. Seeing most of us either skipped our “Home Ec” class because of the Suzy Homemaker recipes or stared at the teacher’s legs while she spoke because we knew it made her uneasy, that notion was definitely out.

With that I stood up and again I asked him to cut me a cheque for $10.00. With my Grade 9 education, a shake of his hand, and $10.00 the world was now my oyster.

William Penfold—my 4th great grandfather

When William Penfold was born in 1791 in Itchingfield, Sussex, England, his father, John, was 32 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 32. He married Hannah Humphrey on February 18, 1821, in Hartfield, Sussex, England. They had 12 children in 23 years. He died on April 13, 1872, in Hartfield, Sussex, England, having lived a long life of 81 years.

The Standard
London, Greater London, England
24 Oct 1857, Sat  •  Page 3

What is a Chandler-

a dealer or trader in supplies, provisions, etc., of a specialized type:a ship chandler.a retailer of provisions, groceries, etc.

CLIPPED FROMThe Standard
London, Greater London, England
01 Feb 1850, Fri  •  Page 8

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