Thursday, June 25, 2009

Growing Up

I have sweet memories of growing up in Toronto, and in other parts of Ontario. I have troubled ones too. It was an adventure much of the time lots to explore I seemed fearless then. Jumping off box cars, roaming' the neighborhood. Lots of friends from different cultures. We rented a house from an Italian family in Toronto. We had plums and peaches out back and crickets would climb up the kitchen sink in the morning's because they'd had made wine in the basement, that's why they were there. That's what I was told. Too many bees, too many crickets. I hate bugs.

My very best friend was Josie Stevens, about 13 kids in the family. I thought I wanted her brother as my boyfriend when I was about 6 or 7, but I just wanted him to buy me the 3 cent ring at the corner store. I loved that cheap jewelry, still do. I'm like a crow that loves shiny things.

My brother got sick with MS there. He was 16 I was 6. Life was full of hospital then.

I was born in small town Nova Scotia, full of characters and history. Two sides of the tracks there. Rich, poor, black and white. We were white lower middle class. Father moved the family to T.O when I was six months old. He had been a cop. Got fired for drinking on the job. So he took the geographical cure down the road, I suppose. We'd do the usual trek to Nova Scotia every summer. Dad would drive continuous; mum would feed us copious amounts of sandwiches peanut butter and jam, bologna, and sandwich spread. God I got sick of them! Dad would always get lost going through Quebec, try to get directions from a cop, who would refuse to speak English, which would send dad into a rage, he'd curse, swear calling them names I won't repeat. .

Summer's were comfort to me cool and hot days spent at the shore living in the ocean. We'd stay at my aunt and uncle's cottage sometimes, more sandwiches! My aunt she never was one to make anything real good to eat, but she sure did love to eat. Like all Maritimers.

My father's brother and wife they had a store. I loved visiting them. Uncle Ed would give me lots of candy.

My grandmother's house, was always the same, everything in it's place always the same. Every morning she'd ask the same thing, "what are you going to have this morning, an egg?"

Grand dad had a swing he'd made for me in his garage that had that smell old wooden garages have. I love that smell. I would spend hours on that swing watching the bugs and bees. When I was in the house, I'd get all my grandmother's nic nacs down and play with them by the hour.I spent a lot of time alone, amusing myself, using my imagination. I guess I'm still doing that.

Poor grand dad he was deaf as a nit. He'd never put his hearing aid in. I quickly figured out why, my grandmother nagged him constant.

She caught him one day giving home brew to the mailman out the basement window. She flew into the mailman with a broom. Grand dad never did that again. At least if he did, granny never knew. She had quite the temper. Granny was brought up a die hard Baptist, her father was a tyrant and everything was evil, even school. Thank God grand dad had a love of learning, though he wasn't educated. He had two sisters that were teachers. Both my grandparents on my mother's side were from English and Scottish families. Farmer's, hard working people, very musical. Grand dad's people had a love and thirst for knowledge and learning. They were a kind, egalitarian, Christian family.

Never knew much about dad's family. The men were hard workers, miners, fighters, drinkers, from the old country. I met the matriarch of our family in Minto New Brunswick, my great aunt. She spoke seven languages and was Cheqoslovakian. She was a character, she would translate for the coal company and the miners, who spoke no English. I met her when she was 92. She lived in a little house with her animals that she loved. I remember going through Minto on our way to Nova Scotia in the summers and thinking, is that where my family lived? Then, there were tar paper shacks, literally. It was a depressing looking place. I was sure grateful to meet my great aunt. She told me about my father's grandfather and grandmother. Great grandfather was from Danzig (Gdansk) and my great grandmother was from Auchan. She was very good with her hands doing very fine handy work.

I would love to visit these places some day. It's important to know our roots and about our family I believe, as it helps us to understand who we are and why, even the stuff we'd rather not know about, even some of the relatives we'd rather not know we are related to.

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