Tag Archives: writing

Who Remembers Pen Pals?

Who Remembers Pen Pals?

In 1971 a six-year pen pal relationship came to an end this week when the participants, a 19-year-old English girl and a 19-year-old Smiths Falls boy met face to face. Linda Murrish of St. Ives in Cornwall, England, picked the name of Darwin Boles from an international pen pal grouping six years ago. 

They have been writing ever since. Linda, who was told by her mother that Canadians ate nothing “but hamburgers and drank Pepsi” flew into Toronto International Airport and was visiting with the Boles family in Smiths Falls. Linda felt “right at home” with the Boles; thinks Ottawa is “fantastic;” has a slight problem understanding our currency and may just stay on in Canada. Her tour of Ottawa included a visit to Carleton University where Darwin is a third year student in sociology.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
10 Oct 1989, Tue  •  Page 18
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
05 Oct 1946, Sat  •  Page 24
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
23 Nov 1940, Sat  •  Page 20

Linda (Darnell) Susan (Hayward) Knight always hated her name, because in class there were at least three girls with the very same name. So, much to her Dad’s opposition, she decided to change the spelling of her name to Lynda. After all, if she was going to be a famous fashion designer, her name had to be slightly cool or have an edgy spelling. She was so enamored of the way her name looked now that she began sending away for free stuff. Every day after school she would walk across the street, march in to the Post Office, and open up the family’s mail box. Her father would not touch the mail addressed to Lynda because he thought she was being ridiculous. Most days, the box was full of the many free travel brochures she had requested; all addressed to someone named Lynda not Linda. She decided that once she got out of school, she would travel the world designing for the rich and famous, so she really needed this incoming travel information. Lynda entered contests daily by the loads, all with her newly made up name. She won a pen on the Canadian TV show, “Razzle Dazzle,” hosted by Alan Hamel and a talking turtle named Howard. She loved Howard and he read her winning story aloud on the air, and then carefully spelled out her name as L y n d a.

Linda Knight Seccaspina

Lucy Connelly Poaps Penpal


So Long? Farewell?

So Long? Farewell?




There is no doubt that history opens old wounds–but unfortunately history can no longer be buried. The Internet has become a vast and primarily free library with old newspaper archives documenting every little thing that has happened. Once upon a time history was clinical and you had to open a history book or go to a museum to get your facts.  With the right web site addresses or search strategies, I am prepared to argue that most people that lived and died, and any great tragedy that ever hit a community is publicly documented forever on ancestry.com or in a newspaper archive.


So what do I go through personally when I write every day? What feelings do I fight with on a daily basis? What makes me throw my hands up in the air and just want to walk away from my laptop some days?

Here are some examples:


Some people do not take what I write seriously as they feel I am not qualified because I have no formal degrees. There are also folks who also don’t like the way I write but —people no longer want to read clinical– they want a story, they want to be entertained, even in history. It’s a new world that some historians really don’t want to embrace, but are going to have too sooner than later.


Some say my blogs are popular only because local living ancestors want to see their names in print like the old newspaper social columns. While there is probably some hint of truth to that there is also an important factor. Without these names coming forward and offering their own personal stories community history would be impossible to document.


Some say I post tragedies for ‘cheap thrills’ or to quench people’s voyeurism which is also not true. While history is composed of good and bad I personally try very hard to keep a 50 year rule and not post anything negative from current frames of time. An example would be those that were concerned about my story of the Klu Klux Klan coming to Smiths Falls in 1926 and wanted it buried– but it happened. I am not posting about something that has not been documented in some shape or form in books and is also available online. I spend time researching to make sure notable stories are documented for today’s generations that really do not care about history–but they will some day. The bottom line is: accidents happened, loss of life happened, fires happened, and they are all part of our history whether we like it or not.


One of my good friends from the Bay area John Manchester summed it up for me a long time ago when I was having issues with negative comments on my political writings. John’s father was William Manchester who had written “The Death of a President” and he told me what his father had to go through to write his books. Everyone says they want to become a writer, but to be a real writer you have to dig in and write every single day and put up with lots of criticism and rejection. I am not writing about the Kennedys like he was, but I understand history generally teaches us how hard it is for anyone to control it, including the people who think they’re making it.  I don’t like everything I read, but understanding our past is important in helping us grapple meaningfully with our present.

You can’t change history, nor can you bury it, and ignoring the storms of the past will never let you see the rainbow at the end of the tunnel. History matters because of what people went through and it makes them nothing but heroes in my book. Today, once again for the umpteenth time I finally understand why I am spending the rest of my life documenting local history. As Confucius once said: ”Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.


So long
Auf wiedersehen

and yes, I will see you tomorrow





Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun 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.



Why I will Never Write a Book like The Death of a President

The Day the Ku KIux Klan Came to Smiths Falls


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Love You Forever Contest– I Know You Have it in You!



Daylight had broken, and the dining room was now silent and glowing. Whatever had possessed the night air that filled the pink hued room, was now gone. Why was it was there to begin with? Was it desperation for the loss of love?

A long time has passed since the death of the old couple, that lived at Springside Hall for fifty years.

Mrs. Rayburn would play tango music daily on the old phonograph, and her husband would sit silently in the dining room bay window and smile. He could not dance, but some days he would come and take her hand and swirl her around the room.

Money was not in abundance, but they simply had each other.  Each summer day he used to pick her one single pink rose as she so dearly loved those rose bushes that grew wild near her guardian angel within the trees.

Years passed by too quickly for them, and he ended up dying in his beloved bay window. Old, fragile, and now alone, Mrs. Rayburn was sent to the Almonte Senior Centre, and the home they had so lovingly shared was sold.

Excerpt from The Lover’s of Springside Hall


This was a true love story from Carleton Place that I wrote, and you just have to click on the link above to read the rest. I have many love stories written, some you might see, some you may never.

Patricia Guimond has all your story entries so come on down on on Feb 12 from 2-4 pm in their Paddles Pub at Waterside. On Feb 12th during 2-4 they will be letting everyone know who the winner is, and the winning story will be read outloud.

I will be there enjoying musical entertainment, champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Did someone say chocolate?