So, I left off yesterday with my brother and his friend entertaining the citizens of Trenton with their creative rendition of “Chopsticks” on the church organ…I believe the boys were probably reprimanded by James’ dad after hearing the racket from his study in the parsonage next door. I seem to recall at least one incident involving small boys with squirt guns and unsuspecting parishioners too. The church also had a fairly large bat population…it was amusing to look up high in the sanctuary and imagine the rodents hanging upside down from the ceiling detaching themselves and landing on some old lady’s Sunday hat (it certainly would provide a diversion from the sermon)!
Some Sundays after church, we would go out for lunch – we liked A&W, which we didn’t have in Ohio. They had a drive-in, where the server would come to your car and hang your tray full of food right on the car window! Root beer is still my favourite pop! My parents also took us to a Chinese restaurant – until we moved to Canada, I’d never had anything as exotic as Chinese food! They used to make little hats out of the paper napkins when they put them on the table! I liked eggrolls and chicken balls – my tastes have matured since then!
When we arrived in Ontario, we’d never lived in the country before. There was a wealth of things we could do that we’d never had a chance to try in the suburbs. One of the first things my dad did was build us a clubhouse out of scrap wood. It had a ladder in the middle leading to a hole in the roof. A favourite game was climbing up the ladder and then jumping off the roof (which was probably about 5 feet high). We played for hours in there with our new friends, Willy and Judy.
Growing up in Ohio, ice skating was a totally foreign concept to us…I was watching the Comedy Channel last night, and heard a comedienne joke about Canadians being born wearing ice skates! All my friends in Grade 3 could ice skate, except me (they’d all been doing it for years)! I had a pair of roller skates (the kind with a key that you strap on over your shoes), but the movements of roller skating and ice skating are completely different. So, I dragged an old wooden kitchen chair down to the pond, and proceeded to teach myself to skate. Barbara Ann Scott had absolutely nothing to worry about…maneuvering my fork from my plate into my mouth without dropping the food is as coordinated as I get…Needless to say, I fell…a lot!
Another winter joy was tobogganing…there was rarely enough snow in Ohio for that! We never had snowpants…we would just put on two or three pairs of pants, and stay outside until we were soaked or frozen! Dad used to pull us around on the big wooden toboggan too. Until we moved to Canada, we’d never had to take off our shoes to put on boots before – our old boots just went on over our shoes, like galoshes! We’d come in the house after being outside for three hours in sub-zero temperatures, and hold our feet over the register trying to thaw our frozen toes…oh, the pain!
Willy and Judy introduced us to “Skidooing.” Willy was 8 and Judy was 9 – they both were driving their own snowmobiles at that point (snowmobiles were a lot smaller in the late ’60’s than they are now)! Willy used to fly around the fields at tremendous speed…I can’t remember if he wore a helmet over his red hair or not…Both kids had Skidoo suits (one piece snowsuits) and Skidoo boots, which had removable liners and ties at the top.
In the spring, we’d go down to the pond and catch tadpoles in old glass jars…it was fun to watch them develop into little frogs…we’d always let them go after that!
I saw my first garter snakes at that house…there was lots of long grass out back that they delighted in hiding in, and then slithering out when we least expected it! Snakes aren’t my favourite animal! There were also rabbits and groundhogs around…some of the groundhogs were huge! Their big teeth scared me!
In the summer, we went to North Beach, which was near Brighton on Lake Ontario. The water was cold, and there were lots of rocks. We had fun, but I was happy later when my parents discovered the Sandbanks in Prince Edward County, and we started going there instead! The water was warmer, and the beach was sandy! We used to stand in the water and jump when the waves came in…
In the late summer of 1970, we said goodbye to the stone house…my parents bought a house in Rednersville, a few miles away. It meant that we would have to change schools, but we finally had our own place (it was our homestead for the next 30+ years!).