Wednesday, August 31, 2016

boyhood sketch 3. POLISH HOME OWNER

I am recalling the years from 1949-1956 when I was ages 7-13 in St. Catharines. Ontario.

Our home was owned by a Polish immigrant whom we saw infrequently. He spoke with an accent so prominent that I could understand little that he said. A few steps from the Clark Street sidewalk a front door opened to a hallway that we never used. A staircase led to Mary Pankratz's apartment. I told you about Mary yesterday. Around the right outside corner of the house the sidewalk led to a side door that was our own primary entrance. It opened to a family sitting and dining area. Off to the left a door opened to my small bedroom. A hard left took us through a large arched entry into a formal living room we seldom used.  On the front facing wall were two doors, one leading to the unused hall and the other to mom's and dad's large bedroom. On the right side of the room two more small rooms, Murray's bedroom and a family bathroom. At the rear of the house, passing through the sitting/dining room was the kitchen that ran the width of the house. A back door led to a large yard that was entirely enclosed by a fence on the right side and by walls of buildings to the left and to the rear. There were two very tall trees on the wall side of the yard, trees that rose fifty feet in the air. Trees that were mine to climb. I could sit in the crotch of a tree with a good book for hours.   (This image shows the Green property 65 years after I lived there. Then it had a grass lawn where the driveway is with shrubs beside the other home.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

boyhood sketch 2. RUSSIAN RENTERS

My home was at 10 Clark Street, a two-story rental. Mom and Dad and Murray, five years my junior, and I lived on the main floor. We rented the top floor to Mary Pankratz and her sister Elizabeth. Mary's daughter Betty was a four years older than me. They were religious people. In fact they attended the same church that we did, perhaps because mom and dad recommended it to them. They had not been in Canada very long when they came to live at our house. Their stories of persecution in Russia captivated me. Mary's right elbow was misshapen. A bone protruded noticeably. She let me feel the large bone covered with skin. She said that a soldier on horseback had charged at her, slamming her into a wall. These friends were quiet and pleasant. I liked all three of them. I remember that we shared an occasional meal together. Particularly on special days and seasons, Mom made enough food for everyone in our building to enjoy. ( the green house was our house. It seemed so much larger when I was a child)

Monday, August 29, 2016

boyhood sketch 1. FIRST TV ON THE BLOCK

I remember the boy that I was, and the life I lived. In a series of daily sketches I now recall the years from 1949-1956 when I was ages 7-13 in St. Catharines. Ontario. The stories are all true. 

I wouldn't trade my childhood for one with all the electronics today. I had a bike. I had imagination. I had a local library. I had really tall trees in my yard. I had friends on my street. We lived in simple homes on Clark Street. We were happy. We didn’t have a television but Eddie McArthy did. He lived three houses up the street on the other side. Neighbourhood kids were allowed inside to watch Sagebrush Trail, Howdy Doody and Hopalong Cassidy before supper. After about an hour when Mrs. McArthy called Eddie to the table, we knew it was time to go home. Ronnie & Jerry Barr, Joey Daniels, my brother Murray, and me never overstayed. On a couple of occasions Mrs. McArthy asked us whether we would like to stay for supper. Murray and I declined. We were certain that what our mom would prepare was far better than what we saw on Eddie's supper table.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Brenda Alberts, the owner of the Birthplace of B.C. Gallery in Fort Langley, has died. She passed away peacefully late Monday after a brief struggle with cancer. She championed the work of local artists. We grieve with her husband Kurt and his family. A celebration of Brenda Albert’s life will be held on Thursday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. at Christian Life Assembly, 21277 56 Ave, Langley. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to Langley Hospice. (Photo by Roxanne Hooper, Langley Advance) - Gallery website: