Monday, July 15, 2013

Destiny Unfolds in a Photograph

When i was 9 we moved from my fathers parents home in TO to an apartment in Kitchener  on Thaler Rd. and  a year later to Glen Rd.  in Galt (which is now part of Cambridge.)

Moving to Galt was the beginning of a page in my journey that was to transform my destiny.

In the fall of 1971 I brought a girl home to meet my parents.Her name was Mary Patterson. I had seen her in the hall at School and I was smitten. She was a gorgeous creature, and through a set of circumstances as equally mystifying as what I'm about to share we meet.

My father and i were in the kitchen preparing dinner. My mother  and Mary were in the living rooming perusing through old family photo albums. When suddenly  my mother called us into the living. It turned out that while glancing through the photos they had come across one of me taken at River Side park in Preston when i was ten. I was uncomfortably perched on top of a pony.

When Mary saw the picture, she exclaimed to my mom that , that was 'War Paint". It turned out that at one time Mary's Father had a corral in riverside park and on summer weekends used to give pony rides. Mary's job was to lead the little pinto called War Paint around the corral. Chances are very good that she was there the day the picture was taken and very probable  had been leading that pony around.

It proceeded to get even more intriguing. As the conversation carried on, we found out we were both in grade six at Lincoln Public School at the same time. We were in different classes we had  joint history and music together. I remembered people who sat around her and she remembered people who sat around me. but neither of us remembered each other.

To top it all off. I rode my bike passed her house every day to and from school for that year that i went to Lincoln.. Surely our paths must  have crossed on the road to school.

To think this was all revealed by a chance glimpse of a  photograph .

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lessons in the Tapestry.

I grew up not only surrounded by a tapestry of culture but literally woven into it. Our neighborhood was the epi-centre of cosmopolitan Toronto in the 1950's. My neighbors were the McGregors, Lefkawitz's and the Menice's. The aroma of mutza ball soup... candles and sabbath prayers.. tartan's and the lilting drone of pipes, back yards turned into small vine yards are part of childhood memories.

My closest and best pals growing up were Scots,  Jews,  Italians. Our family were WASPs, with Welsh and Eastern European (Celtic and Gypsy i muse, more on that another time) extraction  thrown in the mix. I remember fondly sitting on our neighbor Marco's  freshly cured concrete back porch  / wine cellar scoring the occasional sip of vino while my father  and our host  shared stories on blissfully  warm summer evenings.

I had a crush on the little doe eyed Jewish girl  that lived on the corner, Helena.  Her mother was a death camp survivor. All us  kids used to have these massive neighborhood games of tag that took in  two or three city blocks and a couple dozen of us youngsters. One time Helena's brother Irving was playing and he was hiding in a garage on the corner just around from their house. I guess it was dinner time and her mom was calling her kids in. Any way Irving was pretty wrapped up in the game and wouldn't come out of hiding and she went looking for him. I remember this so clearly cause i was with in ear shot. When she finally found him crouching in the garage. She quarried with horror in her voice. " Irving what for are you acting like your hiding from the Nazi's." At the time the full gravity of her question eluded me.

Eight year old boys can have strange ways of showing their affection for eight year old girls. One day while walking home from school i took hold of Helena's hand and twisted her arm. She immediately began crying and instantly split the scene making a bee line straight home. Sometime later the doorbell rang... a cold chill ran down my spine, as my Dad answered the door and i heard Helena's Mom's rather high pitched voice. "what for would he do a thing like that?"

"Boomer" my dad's pet name for me echoed through the front hall. I sheepishly made my way to his voice. My father was a very fair gracious calm man. He heard her out while I stood some what behind him in his shadow. He called me forward. He re-assuredly placed both his hands on my shoulders. "Mrs. ....... has something she wants to say to you. " if you don't know what to say keep your mouth shut, if you don't know what to do with your hands keep them in your pockets". The simple wisdom of Helena's Mom the death camp survivor words has stayed with me over the years. There have been times I've heeded them and times I wish I had.

Pictures: top left Peter Menice and my younger brother Glenn  Botom  right me in my grandparents  back yard in TO.