One of my foster mothers, in fact my third one, used to say I was the worst kid on the block but she always added that she wouldn't trade me for any of them.
I was always doing something I wasn't supposed to like playing allys, marbles some people call them, I never had any money to buy them and of course I wasn't given any because I wasn't supposed to be playing with them.
She said it would give me rheumatism in my hands and of course she was right, as I have that problem now, but you couldn't tell me that for I was going to find a way to get them. I was a pretty good player too in fact I was a crack shot.
Once I was playing for a big ally, you had to win it twice if yours was only a small one. Well mine was and I had won it once so after my opponent threw hers for a second time I aimed mine. It went flying through the air and landed on top of hers splitting it in two. So now I owned two pieces of a large ally.
I had a few tricks up my sleeve to get allys, you know the "where there's a will, there's a way" bit well I dreamed up the way. My foster mother was always sending me to the store and she would give me specific instructions every time, like "get a five-cent pork chop". The poor butcher would try to cut a five-cent chop because in those days nothing was pre-packaged, they always cut the meat when you bought it.
It was impossible to cut it right on the button and I bet he charged the whole five-cents if he had ever cut it short but if he was over and he said, "that will be seven cents" I would answer with "I only have five-cents" and then turn to walk away. He'd end up giving it to me anyway which I was sure he would as I had done that many times. That's why I'm sure he tacked on the price if he ever cut it short.
My foster mother would sometimes send me for 15 cents worth of cooked ham, that would buy maybe a mouthful today but then it bought several slices. One day I tried a stunt of my own, I asked for 12 cents worth of cooked ham. When my foster mother never noticed the difference I kept the three cents and bought a small bag full of allys, not a big one but enough for me to get started.
Being the crack shot that I was I'd arrive home with a big bag full of allys but I couldn't take them in the house because then my foster mother would want to know how I got them so I'd hide them under the back porch. It didn't matter, one day she caught me and I was in trouble again.
Now there were two ways I'd get punished. If it was during the week she'd take her shoe, she had Cuban heels, which are heels about one inch high, and paddle my bottom. One day she grabbed me by one arm to whack me on my bottom and I let myself go limp and she thought I'd hurt myself when I landed on the floor, that was one day I didn't get spanked but then that was the general idea.
If it was on the weekend she'd send me to my room for the rest of the weekend but that was great as I could then read to my hearts content.
When I'd do something like wearing a cigar band for a ring, she'd start lecturing me about germs or she'd make me eat something I didn't want to eat. One day, she gave me carrots for supper, now I hated carrots then so I just wouldn't eat them, no way, not one bite, I sat there from noon till supper with the instructions that I would get nothing else until they were eaten.
Well I had them placed in front of me the next morning, noon and supper before I finally ate them but not until I'd told her, in no uncertain terms that if she was my real mother she wouldn't treat me this way.
I learned later when I had kids of my own was just how she would have treated me.
She wasn't a cruel mom, in fact she was the best mom I ever had or could have had. She was the one who gave me the values in life that I try to live up to but as I said I was a brat.
I remember the first day I came to live with her. This was only a little over a year after my real mother had died and I'd had my ninth birthday at my second foster home. This was my third foster home and I was a body of resentment. I didn't like anything.
She put a lovely meal in front of me that first day and sliced tomatoes was a favourite of mine but not that day. I hated them and for dessert I used my finger to lick the frosting from the cake and I refused to eat the cake.
I tell you I was as defiant as I could possibly be. I wasn't going to give an inch. I was going to make her life as miserable as mine. The nerve of her and particularly my mother for leaving me to go through this alone. After all she gave birth to me, the least she could have done was stick around long enough for me to grow up and be able to look after myself and my brother.
My brother… I hadn't seen him for almost a year, I also had three half sisters, dear knows where they were, I never did see them again. My third foster mother was a good person and she must have understood how I felt because she arranged with my social work for us to see each other once a month. I could spend one day with him at his foster home and he could come to stay one day the next moth with me at my foster home.
That kind of helped and I settled in, I didn't say I became a good girl but I wasn't such a brat. I still pulled some crazy stunts, like I got a hold of a sling shot one day and the girl next door whose mother was sister to my foster mother, well, we went to the cemetery. It wasn't very far from where we lived.
In those days people put glass tulips around the graves and I discovered that a stone flung from my slingshot would break them with a beautiful "pling" sound so I proceeded to shoot all the glass tulips I could find. When I ran out of tulips I turned my attention to street light bulbs and the funny part of it is that I never got caught.
Nobody ever said anything, at least I never heard about it anyway.
I got away with it.
Come to think of it I got away with a lot of things like Friday nights.
My foster mother was good like I've said and she insisted that we go to her church every Sunday morning and to Sunday school Sunday afternoon. She also insisted that we could only go for walks or read the bible on Sundays as everything else was taboo. But we would play hangman while pretending to read the bible, hiding the paper we were drawing on every time she came in sight.
Monday after school we used to go to Mission Band at the Baptist Church and Wednesday night I'd go to (CGIT) Canadian Girls in Training at the United Church. The Children's Aid wouldn't supply a uniform for brownies or the girl guides but they would supply me with the pleated skirt and white middy blouse that was the uniform for CGIT, then on Friday nights we would go either to the Hope Gospel Hall or to the Baptist church for Juniors.
We usually went to Juniors where we got together in the basement of the Baptist church to sing little religious ditties. I later taught them to my kids but before we'd go into the church we'd walk past and continue on further past the fruit market. We'd stop, take stock of how the fruit was arranged and with a mad dash we'd grab an apple as we raced past the fruit stand and then we would walk calmly into church eating a stolen apple.
At Halloween, my girlfriend and I would put on her brother's clothes and he ours and off we'd go trick or treating. We got lots of treats as the storekeepers were quite generous in those days but we were more interested in tricks.
There were apartments above the stores, which meant the people living there had to come down a flight of stairs to answer the door. Well, if they didn't come down in the time we figured they should we would stick chewing gum, which we always had for just this trick, on their buzzer. Then their doorbells wouldn't stop ringing and we'd watch at a safe distance when they would come down to remove the gum.
Serves them right, we thought. They knew it was trick or treating time and it was up to them to have treats for us or otherwise they had to expect tricks. At least we didn't break anything, it was annoying but harmless.
That brings to mind something that a couple of boys from down the street did to a dolly I had. These two boys grabbed my dolly out of my hands and one took a hold of an arm while the other its leg and they began to have a tug-of-war with my dolly between them.
The arm gave first. I had been crying, but when I saw the one boy with my doll's arm in his hand I up and swung my first as hard as I could and I got him smack on his nose which immediately started to bleed.
My girlfriend's mother was the first one on the scene and she took him inside to try and stop the bleeding. I followed to watch, as I was glad he was hurt. That would teach him not to do anything like that again. I really did get my revenge because it was quite some time before they could get his nose to stop bleeding. The boys had a little more respect for me after that, at least those two boys did, but like all boys they still pulled stunts.
One day, another boy from down the street who was always working with some invention or another came up with what he called an electric chair. He wanted us to help him so he told me to hold onto a wire and he had the rest onto each other's hand then he turned on the juice.
I felt a tingle go up my arm and down the other so fast that it had already started up my friend's hand before I could let out a yelp and let go. Of course it had already gone down the row of kids he had managed to collect and no harm was done and we all laughed and then we got him to do it again.
This same boy used to chase me all over the neighbourhood and because I was such a good runner I could even run faster than my own boys years later, couldn't catch me. But one day I was not thinking very clearly because I ran into an apartment building and down the stairs and into the basement before I realised I was blocking in with no way out.
He caught me but all he did was to whisper in my ear the question wanting to know what my mother had told me on my twelfth birthday.
I didn't understand what he wanted as I hadn't been told anything out of the ordinary. In those days sex was something nobody talked about and it was sometime before I understood what he had wanted to know.
In fact I didn't find out until it had happened to me. By that time I knew what it was because my girlfriend had arrived before me and she had told me all about it. Still I was too scared to tell my foster mother and I went to school and told my girlfriend that I had finally arrived she told her mother, who told mine and my foster mother called me into the bathroom saying that she thought I had something to tell her.
I burst out crying and she had to calm me down and when I told her she explained that this would happen every month from now on and that I was to be careful not to let the boys touch me. Then she showed me how to make a pad for protection. In those days the children's aid only supplied a roll of cotton batting and a package of gauze and a belt to wear around your waist to hold the pad in place and we had to make our own.
Now I felt grown-up and began to look at the boys in a different light but it was years before I became boy crazy. We used to snicker behind our hands about boys, particularly one boy who went to Friday night at the Hope Gospel Hall. I remember when he told us his name was Lovelace we thought that was something and of course we kept a close eye on him from then on. I don't know what we expected, but we felt that he was special. His name might as well have been engraved on his forehead because we couldn't look at him without laughing.
I'll never forget the day one of the girls came running down the street crying her eyes out and she kept saying over and over again that now she was pregnant. It was sometime before we got her calmed down long enough to tell us what was the matter. She said that boy had kissed her and that meant that now she was going to have a baby. Even I knew that wasn't possible although the facts of life were still a mystery and no one had yet explained anything to us so none of my girlfriends knew anything for sure.
All we could do was piece bits of information we had gathered together and it was years later when I came across a book with the title "Sex, marriage and birth control" but that's getting too far ahead of my story so I'll leave that till later on.
There was the time I lost a nickel. It went like this, I had been told by my foster mother not to go through the park on my way to the store.
The park was on the corner of the street I lived on and it was a short cut to the store or else I'd have to go all the way to the corner and all the way along the other side of the park before I got to the store.
There was a drinking fountain in the middle of the park and all the kids in the neighbourhood used to play around there, which I guess is why I wasn't supposed to take that short cut. I suppose it was also because I'd forget what I was supposed to be doing and would get to playing with the kids and as a result it would take me longer to go to the store than if I had gone all around the edge of the park by the side walk.
I was on my way to the store with a nickel for a five-cent pork chop, which was for the husband of one of her grown daughters.
She had two daughters but only one was married and the five-cent pork chop was always for him, which explains why I was always only sent for one.
So here I was, dawdling along, tossing the nickel into the air and catching it, well there came a time that I missed and the nickel fell in the grass and to make matters worse I couldn't find it. I knew I couldn't go home because I'd have to confess that I had disobeyed her by going through the park so I kept searching and it was a good half-hour before I finally found it.
I might still be there if I hadn't because I was too scared to go home and tell her what had happened. It was sometime before I took that short again but my memory was short lived, as most kids are and I started taking the path through the park again.
We used to play baseball in this park. A bunch of us kids used to get together Saturday afternoon and anytime during the summer. One of the boys had a small garter snake for a pet that he would wear like a bracelet. At first I was scared of it but after he chased us all over the park threatening us with it we finally got used to it. At least to look at it but there was no way I was going to touch it, even to this day I'm scared of snakes.
Many times I created my own problems. At the foster home there were two grown-up daughters and the one who wasn't married had a boyfriend who had given her a box of chocolates. He'd probably given her some on another occasion but this box is the one involved because you see this was the box that I came across.
One of my bad traits was that I'd go foraging around the house looking for something of interest, well this day I came across this box of chocolates in the dresser drawer in the room where my foster mother and her single daughter slept. I decided to take one and the next day I decided to take another one. I carefully moved the balance around so the empty space didn't show the next day and the next day till the top row was a good half gone.
How was I to know she'd miss one? I couldn't imagine someone not having a chocolate every day. I wasn't the only one enjoying the chocolates was I? Surely she was too, but as luck would have it she wasn't and what a fuss she made when she went to her box for the first time a week later and found the top layer almost gone.
There I was, in trouble again, but by this time trouble had become my middle name and I took it as my dues. After all, I had ate them hadn't I? So I had to pay the piper didn't I?
I look back at some of things I did and I am amazed at how lucky I am nothing serious happened. I used to go in the bathroom, lock myself in and lather my face, arms and legs, then I would meticulously shave myself. Not only that but many times I would take taste one of every pill I could find in the medicine cabinet. To this day I haven't a clue as to what I took. I did that quite frequently, it was one of my favourite pastimes.
That is until one day. I discovered some chicklets in a corner of the medicine chest and I ate some. It didn't take me long to find out what they were and I don't think I have to go into detail for I'm sure the result is clear enough. That's why I never left any medicine or the like in my bathroom so my kids never had the pleasure
My third foster mother is the one who I credit with the way I am today.
One day I was upset about something, I think she was trying to discipline me, thank goodness she kept at me, anyway I didn't like it so I threatened to run away. She came back the retort that you can't run away because you had to take your ugly self with you.
I've since realised how right she was, if you can't solve your problems where you are then you won't solve them anywhere else.
I used to recite poetry at the Timothy Eaton Church in Toronto. It was a Xmas concert that they put on every year. I'm not sure if it was put on by the Church or the Children's Aid entered me or if they did it on their own, I do know that it was my social worker who would coach me.
I used to have to stand in the next room and repeat my poem so they could find out how my voice carried and my foster mother would help me memorise my piece.
One poem I recited was called "I love to go walking with my Uncle Jim" and I can only remember the title, which was also the first line that's probably why I remember it. I knew another poem, one that they decided against. The funny thing is that I remember most of it it goes like this…"There came a giant to my door, a giant great and tall, his step was heavy upon the floor, his arms were ten yards long, he frowned, he scowled, he shook the ground, I trembled through and through, at last I looked him in the face and cried, who cares for you, the might giant as I spoke, grew pale and thin and small, he shrunk before my very eyes and faded quiet away." That's all I can remember now but that's not bad considering I was about ten at the time.
One day I was walking to the store and this time I went all around the park but at the last minute I cut off a bit of the corner like taking the bite out of a corner of toast, I don't know why I thought of that, anyway I looked down and found two large pennies. I didn't want my foster mother to find out, I guess it was because of what happened before. I didn't know what to do as I was on my way home so I decided to put them in my panties, one in each leg.
I used to wear panty dresses, the panties had elastic around the legs so that way they wouldn't bang together and also they couldn't fall out. Anyway, I forgot about them and when I got undressed for bed that night they fell out and my foster mother saw them. She didn't believe that I had found them as she said nobody loses just two pennies, one maybe but not two at the same time. They were just a few inches apart when I spied them on the ground.
The time before a nickel had disappeared from the top of the china cabinet in the dining room. She accused me of taking it. I didn't but I couldn't convince her that and she kept at me till I had to finally say that I did. Then of course she wanted to know what I had spent it on and I came up with a story of how I spent it. I don't remember what I said but another that I remember about this foster mother was how she taught me about habits.
She took a spool of thread and broke off a bit of thread, she said that was how easy a habit done once could be broken. Then she would fold a piece in two and broke it again but it was harder to do. That she said was a habit repeated, so then she put three pieces together, now it became harder to break and so on. She wanted to make the point of how habits are harder to break the more often they are repeated and that it is easier to break habits before they are repeated too often just like the thread was harder to break when it was doubled and tripled.
My best friend Patty and her brother Donald lived with their mother next door to us. Patty's mother was the sister to my foster mother, who by the way owned the house they lived in and also both two storey family homes on each side. My foster mother, whose husband had died years before I came to live with her, had two grown-up daughters.
One was married and they slept in the bedroom at the end of the hall upstairs.
My foster mother preferred we called her "Auntie". She and her younger daughter slept in the big front room. I had a foster sister who was also from the Children's Aid and we slept in the middle bedroom.
There was a bathroom between the front and middle room and the long hall room ran along the side of our bedroom. Later we slept in the front bedroom but I don't remember why or when we made the change.
The only reason that I can remember sleeping in the front bedroom was because that was the room with the closet over the stairs and I remember having nightmares about that closet when I was very sick with a high fever. My bed was alongside the wall of the bathroom and I once dreamt when I dozed off to sleep that someone had me by my hair and was swinging me round and round in this closet.
Now because this closet was above the stairway it didn't go down to the floor as closets usually do, it had a floor about two thirds up that gave more room in the stairway. It was a good-sized closet otherwise but not good for long outfits. That might be why we moved so Auntie and her daughter had more room for their clothes and also because I wasn't sharing a room with Phyllis yet. Phyllis was the name of the other girl from the Children's Aid and I only remember her being there the last year that I was with Auntie, even then she left before I did.
I remember another dream that I had when I was so sick and that was when the ceiling and the walls kept closing in on me and I started screaming. By the time I work up, actually my foster mother shook me awake, the ceiling and walls had closed in on me and the room seemed the size of a coffin. I wonder if that's the reason I'm so terrified of small spaces and even though this place I'm living in now is small the space is open. I hate sleeping in a bedroom because I get the feeling of being closed in.
Back to my dreams, I remember still another one and that I would be walking down the stairs and then I start to fall. I had that dream several times, maybe it meant something but at that time I wasn't in to the meaning of dreams.
Of course I was just a kid but let me tell you of another dream I had that I would be walking down the street kicking anything that I came across when I kicked a nickel. I'd pick it up and I'd see another one, so I picked it up and so and so and before I'd know it I'd be sitting in a pile of money saying over and over that I've got to get out of here before I wake up. So there I'd be, in a pile of money, repeating "I've got to get out of here before I wake up".
I remember Christmas morning at this foster home, how every year my foster mother would get one of those celluloid cupid dolls and crochet an outfit for it. She would do one for Patty too every year.
Patty and I would be allowed to have our stockings when we woke up Christmas morning.
They would be jammed full with oranges, apples, nuts, candies and several packages of little trinkets such as pencil eraser, pencil sharpener and something for our hair, a bracelet or maybe a ring. Just a bunch of little things and as always sitting half in and half out was this cupid doll, dressed in an outfit with a hat to match.
We'd have to wait for the rest of our gifts that were sitting under the Xmas tree that we had spent days shaking trying to figure out what was in them but we didn't mind as had the present that we had been allowed to open the night before. Usually it was a book to read and of course we had our stockings.
Now patty's bedroom window was directly across from mine with just a narrow driveway between us. We would sit on our beds which were just below the window and show each other what we got and no matter how cold it was and even though we were still in our night clothes we would open the windows once in a while to talk. How we loved our dolls. I wonder what happened to them, I don't remember having them at any other time.
One thing that sticks out in my mind is really what a good mother she was. She was firm but thoughtful. I really wish she had lived so I could have told her how I realise now that she treated me exactly how a real mother would have. Look how she planned things for me, like my birthdays, they were always the same but I didn't mind. My birthday was in august and it was during the best weather and Patty and her brother Donald were always apart of it, like a family.
The birthday parties Mrs McEwen gave me, that was my third foster mother's name but she told me to call her auntie, anyway she would pack us a lunch. Hard boiled eggs was always part of it and of course we had fun rolling them on the park benches and anything that was hard like cement, steps and walks, before we ate them, unless of course we had made a mess when we had fun.
Breaking the shells, we made a game of everything, like follow the leader and because it was my birthday party I was chosen leader, everything was going fine till I accidentally led them into a hornet's next, then all hell broke loose.
There came a horde of bees with us in the middle but we were lucky as there was a creek near by and we made a mad dash for it and laid down in it. The bees finally went back to their nest, there was four of us but only two got stung, myself twice and the one at the end, I think it was Patty's brother Donald, but I'm not sure.
I remember another incident that happened in that very same park, I don't remember if it was that birthday or another one, for we always had my parties at that park, it was the St Clair reservoir in Toronto.
There was a creek that ran through the middle of it, well one day this man who was sitting on a bench in the park asked us a question. I really can't remember exactly what he wanted but we got scared so we didn't stick around where he was but I figure he was one of those men who maybe molested kids. We didn't stay around long enough to find out.
I remember another time with auntie while she was buying her groceries I spied a bushel basket of peanuts in the shell. I swiped two and had them in my hands when we went to pay. Now the storekeeper must have seen me because he asked me to shake my fingers and let them drop.
I was so embarrassed. He just told me never to do it again but that could be the reason why I've been as honest as I've been. I never wanted to be that embarrassed again. I would've been happy if the floor had opened up and swallowed me, that was how bad I had felt.
We used to, ever so often, make the rounds of all the stores asking for free samples, in those days the little boxes of chiclets that hold two were given as samples. Sometimes it would be two Vick's cough drops in a box, a lot of companies used to put up and call them samples for the store keepers to give away, which reminds me of the Canadian National Exhibition. We called it the Ex.
Our mothers would make us a lunch and we would take our dollar, which had taken us all year to save and off we'd go to the Ex by the streetcar. We'd spend the morning going through the food buildings, again for the free samples, every booth gave them away.
I remember the shredded wheat booth, they had a machine that made little shredded wheats on the spot which they gave out as samples in a bag with their names on it. Now a days those samples have become spoon-sized shredded wheat, not only that but the tiny little doughnuts we buy today were free samples at the doughnut house booth.
We had a ball collecting and eating the samples and when it became lunchtime we'd be so full that we didn't have much room for our lunch so we'd play games with out hard-boiled eggs. We always got hard-boiled eggs.
One game was having a race by rolling the eggs on the grass till they broke open. We just kept racing them till they did. After we had tired of playing with our lunches we did eat some of it. We'd head for the midway, where all the rides were.
It was five cents a ride in those days but this was only on Children's Day at the Ex. The other days it was ten cents and every child had been given a ticket on the last day of school when we got our report cards. The ticket had three parts to it, to tear off. The first was to get on the grounds. The second was for the afternoon grandstand.
And the last one was for the evening performance.
We usually went to the one in the afternoon. Now before I left the house that morning I had been instructed not to ride anything but the merry-go-round and of course I'd go on every ride but the merry-go-round so I had nightmares and scream during the night, which was why I wasn't supposed to ride them. And every year I did the same thing.
It's a wonder my foster mother let me go but I guess she either forgot or felt maybe I had grown up and would obey her but as I told you I was a brat and I still hadn't changed.
Now my foster mother had to leave a light on in the hall because if I work up and it was dark I'd start screaming and I'd refuse to go back to sleep till my foster mother looked under my bed, in the closet and even in the dresser drawers.
I guess that's why I get such a kick out of the comic Calvin and Hobbes because he does that very thing. By the time we got home we would be so completely wound up and excited and we would all be talking at the same time all about our trip and what we'd do the next year. I just realised that I never finished telling about my birthday, the picnic wasn't all of it.
When we got home we would get cleaned up for supper, eat and then it was off to the movies. Now this was a treat, as we would be going in the evening. We usually went on Saturday afternoon and that was when they had what they called Cliff-hangers, it was a 15 minute segment where at the end the hero would be doomed and you'd have to wait till next Saturday to find out how he survived which of course he always did.
Tom Nix was one hero I remember, Rin Tin Tin was another, there was the eyes and ears of the world news and of course there was always a cartoon or two. My favourite was Felix the Cat and Popeye the sailor man and years later I was to watch these and other with my kids on TV.
Another flick that I remember was the "Our Gang" kids, I could go on and on. After the show we'd go home to my place and we'd have cake and ice cream, my birthday parties lasting all day.
Patty next door had birthday parties in the evening and they were like what kids have today. I'll bet they still play post office and spin the bottle. I had my first kiss and our noses got in the way at one of her birthday parties.
Patty and Donald and Phyllis were not my only friends, I remember the girl who lived across the street now. On the other side of the street was the Salvation Army at the corner of Davisville Ave and Young street was their church and the families lived all down that side of the street.
We lived in a twin house and in the other side of the house lived a girl whose name was Audrey, we didn't play together very often and that maybe because of something that I'm about to tell you. Patty and her brother and myself were like most kids of our ages, telling what we called dirty jokes.
One was "spell pig backwards and then add funny at the end". Now she told her mother who in turn told Patty's mother who immediately got her sister and patty and I into her kitchen to give it to us.
Now picture this, Patty's mother was busy painting a toilet seat and kept repeating "GEE-I-PEE FUNNY, Gee I Pee funny" over and over.
Now she couldn't get the drift as to her they were just letters, she said she couldn't see anything wrong and that Audrey's mother was making a fuss about nothing.
Patty and I would hardly keep from splitting agut but we never did tell Audrey any more jokes. Patty owned a pair of roller skates and she would lend me one and we would hold hands and roll down from the top of Acadian Street that almost perpendicular.
It was a very steep hill that led into Davisville Ave where we lived.
At the foot of the hill there usually was a lot of gravel and inevitably I would trip and fall, I'd scrape the side of my legs, also my hands as I would use my hands to break my fall.
As a result my foster mother forbid me to skate but that didn't stop me for after a while I'd do it again with the same result. I remember another time when Phyllis, who was also from the Children's Aid and at the same foster home with me, left a nickel on the dresser of our room.
I wanted one of the easter eggs that Laura Secords made and they cost five cents, today they still them but not for five cents, anyway I took that nickel but I didn't spend it.
Instead I hid it in her box of face powder, I figured if she didn't miss it then I'd buy the easter egg but I couldn't do it and even though she didn't miss it I put it back after washing the powder off of it.
I had another bad habit of sleep walking and one night the daughter of auntie was having a bridge party. My foster mother used to sit in the kitchen and knit or whatever and would serve them their snack which she had prepared for them Auntie was a good cook and I have memories of some of the meals she made.
I remember that Saturday was what she called Left Over Day, she always kept every little left over and on Saturday she would put them in a casserole with gravy and a pie crust like top and bake it.
Boy was it ever good, anyway back to the bridge party, well that night was one time when I went for a sleep walk, down the stairs through the living room, dining room, where the women were playing bridge and through the kitchen.
When auntie was sitting there asked me what I wanted I immediately turned around and with a shrug of my shoulder and an "oh nothing" I went back to bed.
Another time I got up early in the morning and started down the stairs.
When auntie heard me she spoke to me wanting to know what I was doing and I said and did the same thing.
Auntie told me that everytime I went sleep walking all she had to do was speak and it was the same thing. I'd turn and go back to bed.
I remember going to the museum in Toronto, it was a class field trip, the first time but Patty and I would go on our own other times.
There was a tall BC Totem pole that stood in the lobby of the museum, there was a spiral staircase that circled the totem pole.
We used to go to the top of the stairs and look down at the totem pole and the floors below. I don't know how many floors but it was a least three and maybe more.
Another memory was the year the quints were born (Dionne Quintuplets), that was the summer I had my 13th birthday, I still have a picture of us taken at what was called lookout point but I think I've already mentioned anyway.
We spent two weeks camping near Calendar (?) where the Dionne quintuplets were born and we went one day to see them.
The government was building a small hospital to house them. They each had their own nurse and they would bring them out one at a time and the nurse would place a card on a stand with the name of the baby on it.
They would hold up the baby for us to see and then leave so the next one could be brought out on the stage. They did this every so often, I can't remember exactly how often but probably once an hour. After that you could go to the souvenir stand that they had built beside the hospital to buy souvenirs of your visit to see the quints.
Statues were carved of each quint when they were around five years old and they stood out in front of a gas station near where they were born.
They stood there for years by the way, the tour of the quints included a visit to the lean-to that the quints were born in and that's exactly what the building was, a lean-to and very shabby looking.
We made that trip from Toronto to North Bay in a Ford V6 that patty's father had fixed so the back of the front seat would lie down flat to make a bed. That was where the adults slept, us kids Phyllis, Patty, Donald and myself slept in a tent.
There was a small creek nearby, it took us all day to arrive at our campsite, we had left home early in the morning and arrived at Barrie at noon.
They had packed a lunch and we stopped at a picnic ground. It was early evening when we finally arrived at the campsite. We pitched a tent and that was where we stayed for two weeks. On my 13th birthday we went into North Bay and that was where I bought my present.
Another time when I was allowed to buy what I wanted and I choose a silver-like hair band with a pink bow on it. We stopped at a place called look-out point and auntie took a picture of all four of us and that is the one I still have.
One more memory was how we would go for walks on Saturday morning to the library at St Clair and Younge street they had story time and you could read what you liked.
Also in the summer we would walk downtown to Eaton's and Simpson's and we would have fun running up the down escalators and down the up escalators.
One day Phyllis decided to sell a ring she had, it was real gold and one jewellery store had a sign saying they bought old gold.
She didn't get much for it but I guess gold wasn't so expensive then, but we had some spending money that day. I wonder what happened to Phyllis, also Patty and Donald. I have some pictures of them too.
I kept in touch with patty for a few years.
She was the one who taught me about tampons. I don't think I'll get into that at the moment. I have one picture of Patty with a boy. I believe his name was Johnny. One of her boyfriends was named Johnny as I have a memory of us singing that song "oh johnny".
Also I remember she was to get married but I don't think I went to her wedding and I don't remember who she married. She was three months older than me and I remember that she used to say that she wasn't going to get married till she was twenty one.
I used to say I was going to marry the first man who asked me, as you see I was the one who wanted to have children, but she got married at eighteen and I didn't get married till I was twenty one.
Actually I was engaged 13 times but I couldn't find anyone that I cared enough for to marry. I met Len and changed my mind. I remember when I was around ten that I wanted to knit, well I didn't have any knitting needles so I would walk into the butcher store and up to the butcher and ask if I could have a couple of meat skewers so I could use them as knitting needles.
Of course he would give them to me and to acquire yarn to knit with I would go around the neighbourhood knocking on doors asking if they had any scrap yarn that I could use to knit with.
Now a days kids knock on your door asking for pop bottles and old newspapers but I always asked for yarn or material to make clothes for my doll.
That was the time when I was called Ethel and didn't even know the woman who gave me the name pat so it was strange I though later that I had a Patsy doll.
You know, like the betsy doll but mine was a Patsy doll. One day we all decided we wanted something to eat.
Well a neighbour down the street had a peach tree in his backyard and we had noticed that they were ripe enough to eat, for us anyway, and so we snuck up to his tree by the back yard behind his place and climbed the fence to reach for a peach.
Now there was a garage in the corner of his lot and the tree was behind it so we thought he couldn't see us.
I had my knitting with me and when the neighbour spotted us stealing his peaches he let out a holler that startled me so that I dropped my knitting and ran.
After a while I decided to go back for my knitting but I didn't bargain on him waiting for me. You see he had seen my knitting and knew who I was and he also knew that I would probably come back for it. He laid in waiting for me and I was caught.
Of course now, my auntie gave me quite a lecture, for you see her sister had fruit trees in their yard and we could have some anytime we wished but of course there wasn't any peach trees, they had cherries, green gages plums, crab apples and pears but no peaches.
Now there was another we were in the habit of eating, it was nasturtion leaves, for they had an onion like flavour. Also another neighbour had an apple tree and of course there were times that we had pretty bad stomach aches from eating the green apples.
I had been busy spending the afternoon picking flowers from a neighbours garden. She saw me and called my foster mother who later racked me over the coals. Anyway, it ended up that I had to go to the neighbour and apologize but she told me that sorry wouldn't put her
flowers back and of course she was right which made me feel small as an ant that crawls on the ground.
Not long after Auntie grew sick and I was back at the Children's Aid Shelter.