Halloween – (Broomfield)

1380627_228186347342532_467684343_nThis was my favourite day. At school in the early days you could wear a costume but it had to be your patron saint or at least a special saint. Mom had a white tunic made for me with red velvet trim on the sleeves, neck and at the bottom. As well, a beautiful double armed cross. Dad made a sword and shield covering it with silver foil as well as painting the same double arm cross on the shield. I was Joan of Arc. Sadly no picture was taken with my white and red tunic and black leggings as I stood proudly in class holding my shield and sword and announced my patron saint St. Joan. One year I won a lovely little Hubbel figure for first place I was so proud to give that to Mom when I got home.

Once school was finished it was time to change and get bundled up for trick or treating. One year I was the wicked queen from Snow White although something was lost getting the extra clothes to keep warm as you can see. To this day I have no idea how we managed to cover all the territory that we managed. Often it was Pam and Beth Lee that came over to go out together. We covered the two mile strip around my house first with dad following with the car. After finishing1962 Dressed up for Halloween them we went down the road to the sub-division nearby and covered both sides of the street, hitting every house. We would then get back into the car and head to what was called the Pines in town and go to every house that my dad knew which was nearly everyone there. We would also cover a couple of businesses that Dad knew and maybe one or two more friends in the sub-division at the top of the hill on the other side of town. Thank goodness for really strong and big pillow cases which was our choice for hauling our candy. By this time everyone’s feet were sore and legs were tired and we were all ready to go home and check out our haul. Dad would drop my friends at their places and I would nearly fall asleep in the car on the way home. Once there, of course, there was that third or fourth wind in order to dump out the pillow case to check out what I got. Sorting before bed was just as much fun as getting the stuff. I know my Mom and Dad went in and got something for themselves but that was okay, I had enough candy to last until Christmas.

When we were in figure skating and there was the skating show that we were in at the end of the season sometimes the costumes that were made for the show was perfect for Halloween too and friends that were together in the group went out trick or treating together, just like we skated together. Halloween was a full, full night covering miles with friends, we rarely did any tricks except the very, very few that had their lights on and yet didn’t answer the door – they got some soap on their windows but in all my years of treating I can only remember doing that twice. Everyone went out from house to house until they were finished elementary school which was grade eight. Once in High School it was the Halloween Dance after going around dressed up all day.

Happy Halloween Everyone!


Fair Day! – (Broomfield)

18 - right of waySimcoe Fair or as it is known now Norfolk County Fair is 178 years young now. Kids Day is now called Young Canada Day and a bit more supervised than it was in my youth.  In the 60s and 70s the Monday before the Fair opened every school handed out a kid’s pass for free admission to the Fair. Mothers were on the phone to plan who would drive there, who would pick up and what times as we kids tried to push the time we could stay at the Fair. The older you were the longer you could stay. We saved our allowance for weeks ahead in order to have extra money with us. Moms and Dads usually gave a bit more in order to cover rides better. Sometimes you got money with instructions to buy Salt Water Taffy or Fudge or some other treat for the parents.

When you were very young mothers came with you and took you to the little kidsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA rides but once you were past grade one well, that was a whole new adventure. Your friends got together and away you all went. Moms dropped you at the Fair gate and the instructions were – stick with your friends, do not wander away from each other, we will pick you up at 4 right here at the gate. Away we went with the Fair ahead of us. Through the gates hundreds and hundreds of groups of children went in. The only ones who had a grown up with them were what we thought of as the babies. Rides, games and all the buildings were open to us. No grown up really came to Kids Day because it was not for them really. This was our kingdom on this day. First was to go to the rides and of course since we were now parent-free we could also go on the big rides. Having friends meant we were always challenging each other to go on the really scary rides. Teasing each other that we saw you with your eyes closed. To be honest – mine were closed most of the times. Rides were much, much longer than they are now and by token, each token was just ten cents although there were a few rides that were the biggest rides that would be two tokens but never more than that and they went longer.

A two token was the Salt & Pepper which, of course, turned you upside down and backwards too. I never saw anything because once I was fastened in and the shaker started to move I closed my eyes and prayed that it wouldn’t go on forever. We all dared each other to go on it together. It didn’t seem so bad with friends. Once we needed a break from the rides we started checking out the food. After all we were without any grown-up and therefore we could eat whatever we liked and we sure did. We tried games of chance and walked until we just had to go on a ride where we could sit. The Haunted House was a favourite after all Halloween was coming too. Kids rarely checked out the buildings except those we knew gave away free stuff. We didn’t really care what the stuff was but it was free and they were giving it to us, like we were important. I suppose they knew our parents would get it one way or another so it was worth a shot. We watched the One-Man Band and Trapees Artists and so many wonderful acts just happening everywhere. One building had our artwork if our teacher submitted it. You could win a ribbon so that was a building we just might check out to see.

2018 - goats2The kids who lived on farms had their special shows with their horses, pets or any creature that was special to them. 4-H Club was there in full force. This was a group that unless you were part of you were ignored but that was okay, the show areas were places to sit if your feet needed a break.

One of us was in charge of keeping an eye on the time and when it grew close to meeting our Mom then we tore through the Fair from whatever end we were at, stop at the booth with the food they wanted, use that money that was set aside to buy it and head to the gate. We all talked a mile a minute trying to tell the Mom driving everything that we saw and did. The goal of this talk was to try to convince them that they had to bring us back some evening, although the trade off with that was that we would probably have to visit the buildings with them.

Next day at school every class had to do something about their time at the Fair. Writing stories or reviews, art or whatever a teacher could think of. They did have a plan for any child that didn’t make it to the Fair but as I remember nobody in our class ever needed the other plan, every single kid went to the Fair.

Now as a Senior I don’t go to the Fair on Kids Day or Young Canada Day, I go on Senior’s Day but whenever possible I try never to miss Norfolk County Fair. If you want to see more pictures and fun at the fair, below are their Facebook page and their Fair Page and if you find yourself in Norfolk County the week before Thanksgiving – come to our Fair!

Facebook – Norfolk County FairIMG_20141011_163031148

Main Site – Norfolk County Fair

Powder Snow – (Broomfield)

68Mar10abMy sister, when she was small, was a little toughie. If you said no, she said yes, if you said, don’t go there, she would run for it. In order to keep her safe and out of mischief Mom and Dad put hooks on their bedroom, my bedroom and the bathroom to be used when we were not in those rooms because my sister loved to explore.

When she was two she would sit in the pot cupboard underneath the stove and close the door until she could only peek out and then she would wait for someone to walk by. The doors would fly open and so would a pot in the direction of whoever was there. She would giggle away as she shut the door for the next victim.

One day, I got home from school and our mother was frantic looking for Anna-Marie. She was no where to be found. There was not a sound anywhere in the house. I offered to go check out on the golf course near the swamp because she loved gooey places. I told Mom that I would put my books away and then go out looking right away. I opened the hook on my door and as I opened it there was a cloud of powder floating in the air. I looked with horror as my smiling, happy sister sat in the middle of my bath powder, my bath salts and make up spread all around her. She squealed out “Snow!” and shook the powder even more.

I called to Mom that Anna-Marie was found and moved towards her just furious68Nov06 as all my 12 year old prize possessions were completely ruined and covering my floor, bed and book shelf. Mom got her first and scooped her up to take her away to clean her up as I got the broom to clean up my room and see if I could salvage any of my gels, powders and glosses. The best we could work out was that I hadn’t put the hook in completely when I left for school and that Anna-Marie turning the doorknob and pushing as hard as a little 2 year old could got the door open. When she got inside, she quietly closed the door and as she did the hook fell back into place. When Mom was looking for her she was only checking that the hooks were in place. Anna-Marie was so very happy playing in all that forbidden stuff that she was as quiet as a mouse, even when Mom was calling her name. She knew better than to let anyone know she was there. From that time on, any time we could not spot Anna-Marie we lifted the hooks on the doors and checked inside. I was much more careful about putting my hook down tight.

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Minoux – (Broomfield-Potvin)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the longest lived cats we had was Minoux. She was a princess from the moment of her birth and lived to the full age of 19. She was found abandoned in a shed in Buckingham, Quebec. The person there took her to a local vet and a lady from work told us about her. We said yes, we would take this kitten. When we got her she was so tiny she could fit in the palm of my hand and yet her fluffy tail was longer than she was.

One of the things about Minoux was that she lived with us in apartments and although she would peek out down the long hallways, she did not go out. When we moved to the upstairs apartment of my mother-in-laws we brought in Minoux in her carrier and let her out to explore her new surroundings. She began right away but was totally confused by what probably appeared to her as a hole in the floor. The stairs going down to the main floor. She sat and looked up at us as if to say – What the hell is THAT?  She sat and looked at this weird hole in the floor for nearly three days on and off until she finally put her front paws on the step below. With great care and very slowly she made her way down the stairs for the very first time.

Through the rest of her life she never did go down stairs like most cats do but more of a glumping kind of way. Front paws first, the back paws together. Going up, she was perfectly normal but down was a completely different matter.

The first time she explored the downstairs she came across Robert’s mother, Minouxwho was pleased as punch to see her. As she spoke in French to Minoux to try to coax her to her, Minoux arched her back and hissed at her. That was Minoux’s attitude to Robert’s mother for the thirteen years we lived there. Every time she ran into her, she hissed at her.  Funny thing that Georgette was the only person that Minoux ever hissed at.  I think she was trying to tell her that she did not belong in her house. Minoux was the boss of all our homes (in her mind I believe) and this lady did not belong.

People who say that cats do not have expressions on their face truly have never lived with cats or paid much attention to them. Minoux was very capable of letting you know exactly what she thought of things. One year there was a lot of construction and mice had fled that area and found their way into the old houses of the neighbourhood. One, in fact, got into our apartment. Minoux was lying beside our dresser asleep when a tiny mouse ran in front of her paws. As she woke and looked at this mouse, Robert said to her – Get it Minoux!  She looked up at him and the expression was that of – You have GOT to be kidding!  I don’t know where it has been!  With that she got up and left the room. Yes, we took care of the mouse. Minoux would no more catch a mouse that she would actually be caught playing.

She did play but if she noticed that we were watching she would immediately stop and leave the area. She had a wonderful game she played with crawling babies. She would lie down where the baby could see her and she would wait seemingly asleep. As the baby would eagerly crawl as fast as they could to her she would move her tail very slowly as if to keep their attention.  The very moment that they were close enough to put their chubby little hand on her, she would slowly get up as if she didn’t know they were there and walk away just far enough for the little one to try again and she would lie down again and wait for it to happen all over. This she would do until the little one got tired of trying to catch her.

Minoux also loved tinsel and every Christmas had a few strands. We tried not to put any near her but she loved it and got to it no matter what. She had a thing for the smell of bleach and when a product that we used to clean had bleach in it Minoux would roll in whatever had been cleaned. She never bothered with catnip but bleach had the same effect on her as catnip would for other cats. When she was the age of 14 we gave up trying to stop her from getting any tinsel or roll in the bleach as we figured if it hadn’t ended her life yet, it probably wouldn’t. She would only eat the cheapest of cat foods and only the tuna. Tuna and cheese, tuna and egg, tuna and tuna. It got to the point that only one pet food store in the city of Ottawa carried it and fortunately carried it for her long life. They actually stopped carrying it a couple of months after Minoux had died.


Go Home! (Broomfield)

Story Note – All stories will have a title for easy finding and which family it is about in brackets. Stories take place from the beginning of the 1900s to present and therefore there will be things that may not go over well in a present day mind. Spankings were only a couple of swats on the bottom. Pets were not the fluffy pampered animals of today but working animals who earned their keep as well as being loved by the children. Smoking and drinking was a normal part of life even if Moms were pregnant or kids were present in the car or room, especially smoking.

325 Gilbert Ave Delhi - January 1959
325 Gilbert Street, Delhi, Ontario, Winter of 1959

In 1960 I was 2 years old and there was a family story that my grandfather Papa loved to tell anyone that I brought over to meet them and probably anyone else too. We lived on Gilbert Street in Delhi, at the time and I was sitting on the kitchen floor playing with my dolls when Mom told me she was going shopping and that Papa was coming over to babysit while she was away. Now to my mind, Mom being gone for an hour was nothing and since I was going to be busy with my dolls I wasn’t planning on moving from my spot so Papa babysitting was a waste of his time. After all I was a big girl and knew not to play with stuff under the kitchen or bathroom sink. Mom told me that. I knew not to make a mess with anything else and my dolls were much more fun.

AliciaPapa arrived and Mom went out. I told Papa very calmly that he could go home now I didn’t need him. Papa said that he had to stay and that was when I decided he was treating me like a baby, so I pushed him out the door, shut it and went back to playing with my dolls. Being a softy grandpa, not only did Papa let me push him out the door, he sat out on the porch on this spring day and would keep peeking in on me through the window. Now the door was unlocked and Papa could come back in at any time if I left the spot he could see but I was just as stubborn as he was and every time I would catch him peeking in on me I would wave my hand and say “Go Home!”

He stayed outside the entire time Mom was gone as I quietly played on the floor thinking I had won the argument on needing a babysitter or not. After all I was not any baby anymore I was 2 and perfectly capable of sitting and playing quietly until Mom got back. There, of course, was one fact I didn’t know and the grown ups really didn’t think to mention to me that might have changed my mind and that was that it was illegal for me to be alone. I might have listened to that.

Mom, of course, was very embarrassed that I kept trying to send her father home. I am pretty sure that I got a spanking after he was gone and put in my room without my dolls. Papa on the other hand thought it was funny and was very happy to tell the “Go Home” story for the rest of his life.

By Alicia Potvin

Papa and Me
Papa and Me