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.


Poppadezutt – (Verhaeghe)

1942 Mom & PapaBack in about 1938 my mother lived on a farm and had a dog that she had gotten from a neighbour. She had named him Sport and took care of him.

Now Papa wasn’t a huge fan of Sport and always called him Poppadezutt which meant Crazy Dog. When Papa did the morning chores Sport would follow him everywhere and one of the things that Papa would do was open the huge barrel that sat in the corner, dip his finger in and give the dog a taste of the molasses that was kept there. This barrel of molasses was used to kill the tobacco worms that would destroy a crop if not taken care of. It was mixed with poison and applied to the plants but what was in the barrel was just pure molasses, no one would mix it until it was needed.

Now today was the family’s day to go to town. Mamie, Papa and Mom would take their car and drive to Delhi to get the week supplies. This would be a day trip which included visiting, errands and even more visiting. It was something that Mom really looked forward to as in those days, one didn’t go shopping or anywhere for that matter so it was pretty exciting to go to town. This day was no different and it was dusk when they pulled back into the driveway on the farm.

Mom was worried as she didn’t see her dog running out when they arrived home. He usually came from wherever he was to greet the family as if they had been gone forever. As Mamie began to take in the supplies Mom and Papa went looking for Poppadezutt. Mom calling Sport looking under the porch and anywhere she could think of. Papa went into the barn, looking everywhere he could think of – no dog – just as he was turning he saw the lid of the barrel open just a bit and in the dim light of the barn when he pulled back the lid of the molasses barrel he could just make out the black nose just poking out of the molasses.

In those days, one dressed up to go to town and Edmond Verhaeghe was no different. He was in his good suit. He tore off his jackets, tie and shirt, reached deep into the barrel, into the molasses and grabbed hold of Sport and began drawing him out of the molasses. Out of the barrel came a molasses covered dog. Barely moving at all. Papa ran with the dog to the horse trough. He put him in and got the first part of the molasses off the dog. Wiping him down with straw and then washing him with soap and a hose until the dog was free of the molasses, he then wrapped the shivering dog in a blanket and stuffed him in a straw bed in order to keep him warm. As Mom sat beside her dog, talking to him she knew her dad had made it better. Sport was going to make it.

In fact, the next morning Sport was back to his old self and following Papa as he went about his chores with one change. When Papa dipped his finger in the barrel Sport took off. He did not want anymore molasses probably for the rest of his life.

Delhi 1938


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.

Chaudiere Park – (Potvin)

lebreton3The park took most of the block consisting of Ottawa street, Booth street, Wellington street and, Broad street. The aqueduct separated the park, so that at the north end of the park was the smaller kids end, while the south end of the park was for the older kids and teens.

I spent most of my free time at the park. It was where the gang hung out. I learned to skate, play hockey, baseball, horse shoes in that park.

The small kid area had a sand box, 12 kiddy swings, a kids pool, merry go around and monkey bars. As a kid, I used all of the facilities. In the winter however everyone went to the other side of the aqueduct to skate and play hockey.

The pool was to shallow to be able to swim in it, but on a hot summer’s day it was a great place to splash and cool off. The water was always refreshing, since the pool would overflow with all the kids in it, that the park supervisor would have to add more city water on a regular basis. The pool was emptied at night, before the supervisors left for the day.

The sand box was used quite a bit by the smaller children, but on occasion you would get a creative teenager or parent, who would construct a large castle. Of course this meant getting water from the pool, which resulted in several volunteers to get pail after pails of water.

There were 12 kiddy swings made of wood and hung up on chains. The type of chair that had three sides with an opening at the front and a bar that raise up and down to set the child in. As I got too big to sit in the seat part, I would sit atop of the seat itself and swing for hours. By the time I was 12, they had set up larger swing on the south side of the park.

The merry go round consisted of 5 long boards you sat on, facing inwards and someone would volunteer to push it around. Now if you pushed it from the outside, it would turn nice and slow. However if someone got inside and began to push, it would go a lot faster. It was a ride that could be a lot of fun and scary at the same time, as you held on for dear life, when you got someone to push it real fast. I don’t recall anyone falling from the merry go round, but I must admit it came close at times. Then again, whoever was push it, took in consideration who was sitting on it.

The monkey bars was my favourite activity in the spring. Going hand over hand from one end to the other, seemed always to be a lot of fun. As I grew older, hanging upside down from it was one of the tricks everyone did. Every spring a new set of blisters would appear on my hands from moving on the monkey bars.

It was also a great place to bring my younger brothers, when I was old enough to baby sit. Strangely, I don’t recall seeing many parents there.

By the time I was 12 years old, I began to spend more time on the south side of the park, with the older kids. It consisted of 6 swings, with boards as a seat. I’m sure there is a good reason for the webbing they use now, which becomes very uncomfortable as you swing. Then again, I can’t recall anyone getting hit in the head with the wooden seats.

The ground was covered in crushed stone, so playing football, other than tag football wasn’t done. Almost daily, during the summer school break you could see a baseball game going on. This by all means was not organized, just a bunch of kids and teens playing a game.

As for horse shoes, I got many a blister playing that game also.

There were a few tables, where you could play checkers.

As the weather got cooler in the fall, each day I would look to see if the boards for the rink were being put up. Tall polls were erected from which hung the lights and speakers and, then the boards were set up. Soon it would be cold enough for the ice to be formed. In the winter months there was one man, who flooded the rink and supervised the park. There was the shack where you could change from your boots to your skates, which had a coal stove to keep it warm. The speakers blared out music during the periods of time where only skating was aloud. If the nets were on the rink, you could play hockey, if not it was just skating time.

Clearing the snow from the ice, was done by the kids. There was no problem with finding volunteers to remove the snow, to get a game of hockey started. Again this was not organized, just a bunch of kids divided into two teams to play a game. I must admit it could be very confusing for someone watching as there were no team sweaters. And yes, not only did I wear magazines wrapped around my shins as shin pads, but so did a lot of my friends. I don’t recall ever wearing shoulder pad. The only players who wore pads supplied by the park, were the goalies. One size does not fit all, when it comes to goalie pads, I know from experience. Of course there was little body check and the puck remained mostly on the ice surface, but then you played the puck, not the man.

Although I really enjoyed playing hockey, my favourite time on the ice, was when the music played for skating. I still enjoy just taking my time and skating.

The lights would flicker, meaning it was time to leave the rink, get your boots as the park closed at nine PM. There were many of Friday nights, we would stay around, waiting for the supervisor to leave and get back onto the ice for another hour of skating in the dark.

There is nothing left of the park, as the transit way runs through the south end of the park and a bicycle path runs through the north side, but each time I pass by the aqueduct, I can’t help but remember the park, the friends I played with and the fun we all had.

Can you imagine a bunch of teens standing by a small transistor radio and singing away the new song. Or one of them telling a joke, causing all the others to laugh out loud. Listening to the dreams of each of your friends, as to what they want to be when they grow up. Is that what kids do at the malls.

I do have to tell you a funny story that took place in the park. You must understand, that I’m part of a very large family, with many cousins. Some I knew well and some I got to meet first when I was 12. Richard is one cousin, I first met, when his parents move in the neighbourhood. Jean-Marc is a cousin I knew most of my life. One day, while at the park, Richard asked to borrow my bike. Of course I let him have it. Just as Richard was getting on the bike, Jean-Marc came into the park at the far end. Thinking Richard was stealing my bike, Jean-Marc pulled him off the bike and pushed Richard to the ground. I was able to pulled them apart from each other, before either got to badly injured. We all had to laugh when I introduced them as cousins.

08-Serge and Denis 1958

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.

Pig Tails – (Verhaeghe)

PapaPapa use to tell me the story of when he was about 5 years old, one of the dishes that his mother would make was fried pig’s tails. Now that is something that I have never seen but he explained that it was very crunchy and with salt they were like fried chips.

He and his friend were outside playing in the dirt near the pigpen. Most homes had farm animals for the family use. Now, there were piglets in the pen and one was sleeping with his butt snuggled up to the fence. His little pigtail was sticking outside the fence and Papa and his friend were crouched down there looking at it and discussing it very seriously.

Both Papa and his friend loved fried pigtails very much and thought that they could have a small bite of this little pigtail while the pig was sleeping. Now each of them wanted to go first. Papa thought he should go first since it was his idea but his friend insisted and pushed him out of the way as he bent down.

Papa watched as his friend bit down hard on the tail. Well, the piglet squealed sleeping pigletand bolted from the fence. The friend’s tooth was stuck in the ligaments of the tail and his face was yanked forward to smash against the fence hard enough to make his nose bleed and pull his tooth out. He ran screaming to his mother with Papa following close behind. The mothers had been sitting on the porch darning socks when the two ran up, the mothers jumped up to help the child. Papa’s friend was screaming and jumping up and down in front of his mother pointing at Papa.

Papa’s mother did not wait for any explanation from Papa or the other boy but grabbed him and turned him around and smacked his bottom hard. It would not have been so bad a smack if she did not still have the darning needle in her hand at the time. So not only did he have more of a reason to cry by having a needle stuck in his bum he felt bad because he did not even get to taste the pig’s tail either.

1958 April - Me and Papa

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.

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




HUGE Changes!

61-05There are going to be huge changes to this blog and the site is going to have new purpose. I will completely understand those of you who subscribed to my storytelling blog if you unsubscribe as these changes may not be what you want to read about.

After getting back from attending the birth of my grandson Kyle I really struggled with writing any story or blog entry of any kind. I came really close to deleting this site completely as there was nothing in my mind to write. One of the things I did was take part in a series by Good Catholic called Mary – Undoer of Knots. While going through each day of this 21 day program (not done yet either) I began praying about my blog. Should I dump it or is there something else to do with it.

This morning the answer to this prayer was in my head as I said my morning rosary. First was the thought of my Papa telling me how he escaped from a German Work Farm during World War I. My daughters don’t really know that story so my grandson won’t hear it as he grows up. What about my Gran who lived her whole life with a unclosed hole in her heart? So many family stories flashed through my head – My blog! That was the answer! It could be the place where I write down all those stories, with family pictures of course. But it also could be more than the stories I remember. It can be a place for my husband’s stories that he shares. My sister could add to it. My daughters could too, my nieces, my brother-in-law too. After all he grew up in New York, what tales he might share so different from where his wife/my sister grew up. There a many items in our keepsake containers and the blog will be where I put a picture and why it is special. Copies of love letters from grandparents, the last letter from a great, great uncle. So many pieces of OUR history.

So this is a call to all of my family! Write down a story to share with the rest of the family. Send it to me in messenger. Add pictures if you have them or I will find some in our family pictures. Before it is forgotten or lost like Mamie’s Crab-apple Jelly. Yes, special recipes like that will be shared here too so they WON’T be lost. The stories do not have to be in order or anything like that. Put a date or approximate date or year so that we will know roughly when it was but they are going in as they are remembered or submitted.

So, here comes stories from the Broomfield’s, Verhaeghe’s, Cnop’s, Hillyer’s, Hammond’s, Potvin’s, Hazzard’s, and Gilman’s history to share with family and friends before they are forgotten.