At this time each year I miss my old house on Midland Row. It is the house I remember as a child, up into my teenage years until I left to go to university. It was located right in front of where the high school is now, that field that you see when you drive past, beside Madeline Whiffin’s house.The front of the house was symmetrical. There was a door right in the middle and the same sized window on each side of the door. The window on the right looked into the big living room and the window on the left looked into my parents’ bedroom.
I have many pictures of Mom and Dad sitting on the step in front of the door. Once I took a picture of my friend Sheila Evans in front of the door and she took one of me, in our Sunday’s best. I also have photos of Emma and Iniece Byrne smiling brightly in front of the house. There was a fence around our house and I have a picture of me, with my hair in pigtails, wearing shorts and a long shirt and I really thought I was something back then.
We lived across the road from the Whites and spent many hours over there, watching Gilligan’s Island and The Saint. And I’ll never forget Bonanza. Louisa and Abe were always really nice to us, and Stuart was like the big brother I didn’t know I had back then. When Mom went to the Toronto General to have open heart surgery I recall Louisa sending over a big pot of soup and it had potatoes in it! We thought it was really strange back then, as Mom never put any potatoes in hers. But it was delicious and we were famished for some home cooking. Aunt Madeline made homemade bread for us and often cooked up a casserole or soup for us as well.
I remember all the softball games the boys in the area would have in Whites’ field. I was a curious sort and had to be out in the middle of it all, and often got asked to fill in if there were not enough players. Then in the Winter time we would slide there, as there was a small hill. I recall the toboggans back then and falling off occasionally. Someone had a sleigh with metal runners on it and our parents were afraid someone was going to run into it or get run over by it. It didn’t happen but we tried to be as careful as we could.
I have a vague memory of a horse going through a septic tank up near White’s house and I was so nervous that the horse was going to die. I don’t know what happened but someone else might. I’d like to know that the horse came out of it and survived so if anyone remembers this happening, please make a comment.
In my teenage years I started babysitting and working at the Hi-Way Diner. I babysat mostly for the Macleods and loved those three little girls like they were my own sisters. I have very fond memories of the hours I spent in that house. After I started working in restaurants or take outs I didn’t babysit as much. But those memories are vague and I know they did a lot to help me grow into a responsible and decent person. Facebook has been great because I get to see photos of the Macleod sisters and their families. Some day I hope to get together with them to reminisce about those days.
Rock throwing was a common practice back then. If there was a weapon that was readily available and needed no preparation was our roads full of rocks. The streets were not paved when I was a child and walking to and fro school at Holy Rosary School could be a hit and miss ordeal, if you get my drift. Often we’d walk home behind the girls from Blue Ball and if one of my sisters was being devilish she might roll a rock right behind someone’s heels and then the rock throwing would commence. Sometimes we had to run into Dawes to get someone to come pick us up, we were that frightened we were going to get our heads cut open with a rock. When students fought near our home, children could come home with bruises or a cut from the rocks. I remember one fellow having to get stitches after being hit by a rock.
So much fun and so many memories. Later in my teenage years I remember the dating and bringing boys home. Dad was not keen on going to bed and leaving us sitting up chatting. Often Mom would stay up with us to make sure nothing happened. And when I was nearly old enough to get my driver’s license I remember being called into their bedroom and being told I had an older brother. But that’s a story for another day. So much happened in that house on Midland Row!
Of course Christmases were very exciting, lots of noise and laughter! Many visitors graced our house and music was a part of the festivities, especially Irish music. My father loved the music he remembered as a child and teenager in St.Shotts. I recall visits from Andy and Madeline Bishop and their families. Also John and Marina Carroll, and Joe and Elizabeth Whelan could drop by to see us all. You really never knew who might pop by for a visit at Christmas time of year. We were made to hug and kiss everyone, a tradition which I eventually refused to do when I was much older. Father Nixon was our parish priest back then and we all had to go to church, of course. No one was exempt. So visitors, music and church -these were a part of my childhood Christmas!
There are times my mind goes back in time to that small house in Pasadena and realize that there were many happy times, living with my eight siblings and parents, next door to my grandparents. There are special moments from that time which time can never erase.When Max and Gladys Fowler moved in across the road from us my life improved, as I saw in Gladys someone I could learn a lot from in our chats each day. She hailed from Antigonish, Nova Scotia and she answered all my questions patiently. She was very kind to me, giving me pigs in blankets and lots of treats. One Christmas she bought me a pair of pyjamas and a small silver jewelry box. I still have that little jewelry box. Her love for big earrings and big rings caught my attention and I wanted these for myself when I got jobs of my own. I remember how her face would light up when she saw me coming for a visit. One day she cleared out her jewelry box and gave me five or six pairs of her earrings. I thought I was a princess that day!
I loved to visit people and I recall vividly going to see Mr. and Mrs. Rose. I tried to help with any chore that Mrs. Rose assigned me. She was ill at the time and she would look at me and say “I love your rosy cheeks. I wish mine were like that.” Sometimes she would give me a few dollars for helping her. I just liked to talk to her. Mr. Rose was such a gentleman and he was always so friendly, thanking me for coming. That was after he had throat cancer and it was difficult for him to speak. So many nice people lived all around us!
As you can tell, I could go on and on and never be finished. You can get some understanding of how a person could never forget all the friendships and memories from a childhood filled with so much excitement and fun. I hope this brings back some memories for you of your childhood home. This can be a very lonely time for some people, and I my wish for you is that you can spend some time with friends and family who love you on this nicest of holidays. Merry Christmas from my family to yours, wherever you may be!
Betty, Pauline, Rose in back row(l-r), Albert, Helen, Theresa in middle row(l-r),
Tom, Carolann, Andy in front row(l-r) [Photo taken by Joan Marie Finlay]