Sunday, August 14, 2005

Childhood Memories

Gina has tagged me to elucidate on the five things that I miss about my childhood.

I'm not sure that I actually miss anything. Miss is a strong word, which, to me, implies a sense of loss, but I hold that life is to be lived and appreciated in the present. However, there are some fond memories which spring wistfully to mind as I dimly contemplate my ancient history, so I will make an attempt to follow the spirit of the meme. Whether or not I manage to unearth five, or only five, memories remains to be seen.

Extended families, or at least their dwelling together, are largely a thing of the past. However, my first recollections are of my parents and I living in my grandfather's house, along with him and my uncle. It seemed natural then, and it seems right in my memories.

In those memories, grandad and uncle Charlie seem to be more normally socialized than my parents. Dad was extremely shy but also nervously quick to anger. Meanwhile, Mom had an odd way of being in the world. While some people, like my Cuppa, tend to see the world through rose-coloured glasses, Maw tended to peer darkly through grey, foggy, and somber spectacles. Fortunately, Grandpa seemed placidly normal, and uncle Charlie was a happy, little munchkin who liked to laugh, tease, and joke, and I think that their influence may have helped me to achieve whatever small semblance of normality I possess.

The thing about elementary school that lingers in my memory was that we were all together and accepted into the whole group. I did not have the sense of separateness or otherness that I later endured in high school. I was an ordinary kid in what must have been a rather tough school environment, but I got along pretty well in that milieu, not one of the tough guys but accepted by them. I was innocent then and could exist ingenuously without angst in my surroundings.

When I was around nine or ten, I received a weekly allowance of fifteen cents. With that amount of money, I was able to buy three chocolate bars. The bigger bars were a dime each but a nickel would buy us a smaller bar.

On payday, Saturday, I remember sometimes spending my stipend on three of the smaller bars, probably Neilson milk chocolate. That night, we would sit down to watch Hockey Night in Canada, and I would produce my three chocolate bars: one for each of us — Mom, Dad, me.

I'm sure that this generous phase did not last for very long, but this simple sharing seemed right and good to me then, and it does now too.

In a similar vein, I was in Wolf Cubs for several years. We met at my school on Wednesday evening. At closing time, my dad would usually meet me at the doors to make sure that I got home safely. Along the way, I sometimes got him to stop at a variety store called Pops. He would give me a dime for a bag of chips which I would happily munch on the way home. To this day, I remain rather fond of potato chips.

In those days, life was simple. Nelson was my best friend. On our walk back to school after lunch, we often threw a ball back and forth for the whole route. On weekends or on summer days, we would take a picnic lunch to The Tree by the train station and eat and talk on one of its huge, low branches. We were forever riding about on our bikes, Nelson and I. We biked downtown; we biked to Mount Royal in the middle of Montreal; we biked to Beaver Lake. Life was good, uncluttered by cares and responsibilities.

We met again several years ago, after more than decades had passed. we were still able to talk and laugh and be friends.

Although I didn't really know it at the time, we were pretty poor. Oh, I knew that we weren't rich, but I never felt poor. We didn't have a television until I was almost ten and were car-less until I was much older than that. We got around by public transport which was pretty reliable back then in Montreal.

Any number of times, my parents took me to Cap St Jacques for the day. I always liked the water, still do I guess. We'd pack a picnic lunch and get on the bus and make a day of it. Since dad didn't like the water, I know that they did this mostly for me, and I think that was pretty darn nice of them. I can't think that the bus trip was much fun for them, but they seemed happy to make me happy.

Well, that's six, and I suppose that I could go on, but I won't. Thanks, Gina, for giving me something useful to do when I woke up before five o'clock this morning.

In my bleary state, I would be hard pressed to remember five people to tag, let alone type their names, but I rather hope that Butterfly might choose to pick this up. She hasn't been blogging lately, and I'd like to hear from her. The proper rules for Butterfly or anyone else can be found at Gina's.

I think I'll put this aside to proofread later and try to go back to bed now.



PBS said...

Childhood memories are so interesting so read because there are so many likenesses and so many great differences!

Gina said...

Thank you for sharing, AC!

I too, like hearing about the childhoods of other people.

I also grew up poor, but not really knowing it. I didn't feel poor, either.

Christi said...

Oh man! Wow, fifteen cents, and you got three candybars! I laugh now, b/c everytime TJ finds a penny, he says, "We can go buy some candy now!" If only...

Your stories are sweet. They make me a little sad, though. I remember riding my bike everywhere, too. However, I know my kids won't be able to enjoy that same freedom and carelessness that I had as a kid. It's scary to think just how much things have changed just since I was a kid!

Butterfly said...

Tricky tricky.

I'll see what I can do.

Maybe. :)

Lora said...

I really liked readding your responses. I like your unconventional approach to this meme.