When I was sixteen I asked the Children's Aid about my parents. That was when I found out John Marshall wasn't my real father and that my mother was born Edith Catherine Baker in Sue Saint Marie and had been adopted by Elliott's in Sarnia after her mother died when she was ten months old.
They told me that I was to talk it over with my brother Ted and if we still wanted to know the background on our Mother then they would tell us both the rest at the same time but they added that we might not like what we heard. Ted and I talked it over and with what we had already been told we came to the same conclusion, that our Mother obviously wasn't married when we were born. I had been told that my brother and I had the same father, a fact I wasn't sure that I believed till I had my second son Michael.
Mike was born and he was the splitting image of my brother Ted for I had a picture of Ted when he was 16 and if I didn't know better I'd swear it was the same person. You can hardly tell the difference. That was when I finally believed and later when my fourth son Don arrived and he had Ted's colouring and eyes it was clear to me that we had to have had the same father.
Ted and I decided it would be better to let the past stay in the past, so we never learned anymore, a fact I'm sorry about now.
ENTERING THE WORKING WORLD
Around this same time when I was sixteen and about to be seventeen the superintendent of the boarding shool took me to my first job. I had packed my possessions in a cardboard box and the super drove me into the city of Toronto.
When we arrived she went in first to make sure she had the right place.
She mentioned to the lady of the house that she had her thirteen year old niece with her who she had brought along for the ride.
Now I always looked young for my age so when I came in the house carrying my box of clothes she asked "Is this your niece?"
Much to her surprise she was told "No", that I was the girl who would be working for her.
Then the super and her niece left and I settled in. now I don't remember much about this job but a couple of things stand out in my mind. One was about the little girl that I was there to help look after. I can't even remember her name but I do remember that she could pronounce my name Ethel, as I was called then.
You see the school wouldn't let me use the nickname Pat so I had to go by Ethel. I changed to Pat at my next job which I had got on my own but back to the little girl and how she pronounced my name.
Everytime she tried to say Ethel it always came out Fesso. It was cute but I spent a whole day trying to get her to pronounce it right and when I succeeded was upset with myself because Fesso was so cute coming from her and I missed it after I taught her to say Ethel.
Clearly now I worked as a mother's helpe and my pay was twelve whole dollars a month.
When I received my first it was my day off so I set sail with my twelve dollars tucked safely in my purse. When I arrived home that evening I had a gift for everyone. I don't remember what I had bought but there was something for everyone.
I probably got a colouring book for the little girl it couldn't have been too late because I remember that the little girl wasn't in bed when I got home after I had presented everyone with what I had bought them the woman I worked for asked me what did I buy for myself.
Well, you see, I was so busy buying for everyone else that I just didn't think about me so that was how I spent my first pay but the next month I left the house with my twelve dollars determined to spend it on me and buy myself a dress so I went directly to a dress store that I had been in with Patty looking at the dresses the one I picked out costs twelve dollars and I ended up spending all of it on a dress.
That was when I realized that I would have to come up with a better way to handle my money for so far I never had any money to spend on my days off but remember, this was a young girl who had never had a velvet top with a plaid skirt and I wore it everywhere I went. if anyone had said that it must be the only thing I owned they would have been right anyway I started dating a boy and the only thing he ever saw me in was that dress.
BUNNY AND ODD JOBS
Bunny and I re-met years after the Boarding school when we were both working at house work. Now we didn't want to stay maids all our lives so we would save our money, by the way, we were only making twelve dollars a month with free room and board. We got every Wednesday afternoon and evening and every second Sunday afternoon and evening off so our expenses were slight and as our boyfriends used to treat us when we went out we could save a good portion of our pay.
When we had saved what we felt was enough we'd quit our housework jobs, get a room for a month and enough grub for about two weeks as we hoped to have a job to buy more when needed. Well, jobs were as scarce as hen's teeth and by the third week we still hadn't found a job and our money was gone. We had no food left and we still had nearly two weeks left on our room.
We walked the streets of Toronto and into every factory we had come to with the same story, they didn't need anybody or else they'd want to know if we had any experience which of course we didn't and one day I was so upset I pointed out that how were we going to get any experience if no one would give us a chance but they would just shrug their shoulders and say that wasn't their problem.
So when our food ran out and we came home from looking for a job we'd try to not think about being hungry. There was an old man who lived in the room across the hall and one day when he was out we crept into his
room to see what he had that we could eat. The only thing we could find that we didn't think he would miss was bread and mustard so that's what we lived on for a few days but as luck would have it one day he didn't go out and after waiting for a while in the hope he would go out we went to bed.
We did fall asleep after all had done quite a bit of walking, because by this time we didn't have any money for street car fare, but our hunger pains woke us up and because we lived near what was called sunnyside and soldiers would hang out down there we decided to get dressed and go out and see if we could meet a soldier who would maybe take us to get something to eat.
Well, we found one, he was a bit tipsy but he was pretty nice. He took us to the greasy spoon, that's what we used to call a place that wasn't very big and served cheap food, they were usually run by a greek or an Italian, one thing I'll say, their food was good. A lot like what you'd get at home.
Anyway, June, that was my girlfriend's name, choose the most expensive item on the menu but I didn't like to take him for too much so I choose a hot chicken sandwich. It was very filling and besides it was and still is a favourite of mine. He watched us wolf our food and it was so obvious how hungry we were that he remarked that he wasn't as drunk as we thought.
The next day we decided it was time to go back to hour work. It was some time before we tried that again. It was an experience we were not in any hurry to repeat. House work was easy to find, you could easily get a job before the day was out. Now we started to enjoy life and began going out together on our days off and of course we always hung out at sunnyside because that was one of the safest places to pick up a nice guy.
Sunnyside was an amusement park but it was geared to the adult crowd with a roller coaster, tilt-a-whirl and a lot of concession booths.
There was one where they made waffle ice cream sandwiches, they were a favourite of ours. There was an outdoor dance hall that you had to buy three tickets for a quarter to get in but from then on it was only five cents a dance.
The boys paid for your dance after you got in so it was usually a cheap evening. There was a large dance hall called the Palace Royale (Pal-lay Roy-yal) but the one spot that we mostly hung around was called the Derby. Now this was a large turntable with rows of life sized wooden horses, four in a row, that would go at a different pace.
It looked like a race track and we would pretend that it was. By this time we usually had picked up a couple of guys and the four of us would bet on the horse that we thought would end up ahead then we would each get on our choosen horse and whoever was on the winning horse
could decide what we would do next.
Sometimes we would continue to ride the horses and other times we'd try something else. Like one night we decided to ride the roller coaster and after the first ride decided to stay on for the next ride.
Well, we stayed on until after the eighth ride and the thrill was gone so we left. One evening similar to the roller coaster night, when it was time to leave, one of the fellows said they had got a ride with a friend of theirs, we he went to find him.
When he found he said he would give us a ride home. I took one look at this one and I was caught. By the time we had arrived at our destination I had figured out how I was going to try to score some points with this one so I said to my date of the evening that I wouldn't kiss him good night unless I kissed everybody.
So I kissed my friend's date, my date, then I put everything I had into the kiss I gave the driver. It really is true that you can become completely oblivious to everything. In fact, I forgot for the moment that anyone else was in the car with us.
I guess I accomplished what I set out to do because a couple of weeks later I received a letter from him congratulating me on mastering the very pleasing art of osculation and after asking everyone I knew what it meant and saying that if I didn't know I was a good girl I would be worried, but nobody seemed to know so I finally decided to look it up in the dictionary only to find out that it meant kissing.
It turned out that he was a wireless operator in the air force and I began dating him whenever he was in town. I was partial to the airforce uniform to begin with but he was something else. I still have an easter card he gave me with a card inside with the morse code and also a note in code for me to decipher.
Everytime I came across it or at times when I didn't have money for whatever I needed at the time I would just remind myself that at one time I could have married a multi-millionaire's son, so I couldn't complain. It has helped me over many a rough time and my husband used to ask me why I kept it and he would make me get rid of it or so he thought and every time he came across it he would get upset.
When he realized that I still hadn't got rid of it and it is something I will never get rid of. I wonder what happened to him, for he left for Japan and I never heard from him again. Oh well, c'est la vie.
I was walking down the street with a girl who I had gone to school with. She stopped to talk to this boy who was riding by on his bike.
We talked for quite a while.
When she told us that she had to go home this boy wanted to know if I would like a ride on his bicycle bar with him. Of course I did. I was a working girl on my own and as this was my day off I had lots of time. Anyway we went for a ride and we ended in the St Clair reservoir. That was a tank that the city water came from.
We laid down on the frade going up to the water talk and with his arm around the back of my neck we laid there and talked and looked up at the sky. While we were there we noticed a man who was slinking up the side of the reservoir and we stayed real quiet till he had left and then so did we.
When I got back to where I worked I went to bed but like that other night I didn't sleep. I had those woman feelings going through my body again I still hadn't had a date, so these feelings were strange and wonderfully new. it wasn't long after that that I had a real date (blind) and my first kiss.