I don't remember our first home, an apartment in Rosemount,
Montreal. I think of this neighbourhood and our next one, St. Laurent, as the first ring of homes around the downtown
centre, certainly not suburbia, where we would later move, when Dad earned more money. He also required homes near the
Dorval Airport, where he worked as a flight dispatcher.
I imagine this apartment had hardwood floors, that
Mom got down on her hands and knees and waxed. She stopped working in offices just before I was born, and enjoyed daily
life, as many young Canadian families did in those days.
Simple things: listening to radio shows, sewing dresses
for herself from paper patterns, writing letters with fountain pens to our grandmothers in Vancouver and Toronto. We
did not have a television set yet.
Housework demanded different activities: there was a meat grinder in the kitchen,
to grind hamburger. Darning tools in her sewing basket, to mend socks, and the rubber catches on girdles and garter
belts, and needles to repair frayed elastic on underpants. When clothes wore out, they shredded apart to be used as
household rags. Sometimes spare fabric became doll clothes, a magical transformation for little Canadian girls.
The scents and smells of Canadian homes: Johnson's Paste Wax for the floors.
Scorched irons on clothes on the ironing board; the sudden blackness on white fabric, the burning crispness in the air.
Coffee percolators on stove plates, with the coffee sprouting up into the glass thimble at the top of the pot.
Plastic was less in evidence. Shoe boxes smelled of real leather, even
for children and people with not much money. Leather was everywhere. And fabric stores which I knew well,
as Mom was a whizz with Vogue Patterns, the hardest to sew of them all. The amount of fabrics: dotted swiss, Madras,
denim, sateen, voile, chiffon, velvet, raw silk, brocade, and the air in stores not yet blankified with plastic blends.
She must have had a lot of spare time, because my
brother was still an idle thought in heaven. The home was small. I know Dad had a car, because he was the type of guy
who always had a car.
He walked to the tennis courts in Rosemount most summer
nights, because my only photograph of me in Rosemount is holding a little kid's tennis racket, and to top it all off, I wear
a white cotton sundress and white cap with plastic visor. I stand in front of my Dad's tennis court, looking hopeful
that I am a real tennis competitor, though somewhat diminuitive.
This photo is what I think of from Rosemount: the love, the thoughtfulness that
our parents poured into us, the playfulness and the innocence of that Canada, everything our society wanted to give us to
compensate for World War 1 , the Great Depression, then World War 11.
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