Thursday, 4 June 2015

School Years

My first school was called Strathcona on Walkers Line, about one and a half miles away from our house. My friend Sylvia, who was a couple of years older than me, would call on me to walk me to and  from school.  Sometimes if the weather was bad, my dad would drive us in the truck.  At first it was fine, but as I got older I was not very proud of arriving in a truck with construction materials in the rear.

I was embarrassed about many aspects of my life: my house of grey cinder blocks was unfinished; my plain clothes washed and worn over and over; my parents appearance and their broken English.  We were poor, but most of my classmates were from the more affluent part of town.  Some of my best friends were very rich and lived in an enclave called Roseland. 

This classy area with beautiful mansion-like homes; wide, treed boulevards, and manicured lawns cared for by gardeners.  Their parents were professionals - doctors, lawyers, business owners, etc. and some had maids, gardeners, and house cleaners.  My friends took skating lessons, music lessons, went to camps in the summer, and belonged to sororities.

I was able to join the Brownies and Girl Guides. I went skating at the arena, but there were no figure skating, music, or swimming lessons for me. In spite of my lack of opportunities, I thought I had fun. I got a bicycle from my brother and sister for Christmas when I turned eight, this opened up the world to me. I could ride to school, go swimming, skating, go to the show and meet with my friends. I often got invited to play at their house. Sometimes I was invited for a sleep over, although we didn't call it that then. I was envious how other people lived and was reluctant to invite them to my poor, unfinished house. I did, however invite a couple of girls to my birthday party on our porch when I was seven years old.

In my final year of grade school, I had to leave my friends behind as a new school had been built closer to me. This school was called Lawrie Smith on New Street which I attended for grade 8 and then went on to Burlington Central High School where I completed grades 9 and 10.

When I was around twelve years of age, my mother had a nervous breakdown. It was after she came back from Ralph and Audrey's wedding in New Brunswick. I believe it was during her menopause. She refused to take any medication for it and she got progressively more confused.   Eventually, she was institutionalized where she underwent the terrible shock treatments of those times.

I remember going to visit her at the Mountain Psychiatric Hospital and seeing all the patients in their pitiful states. It was scary to say the least! I can't remember how long my mom was there. Eventually, she came home for visits and she pleaded not to be taken back. So one day my dad didn't take her back and she slowly got better ~ enough to lead a fairly normal life.

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