Young Chronicles III: Cochrane to Timmins

Mileage 8573

I phoned my mom last night and everybody is fine. And me and Nigel had a party last night. We had three cookies and we watched TV. Then everybody went to bed and a pillow fell on me. And we saw two mouse like in the picture.

Mileage 8638

We are arriving in Timmins and we are ahead of the two cars, Mr. Fleming and Mrs. Cohen. We went to an open pit mine. It is 4/3 of a mile long and 1/2 a mile wide and 500 feet deep. They told us they have been working for seven years and they are going to work for three more years!

Then we went on a tour of a Timmins. We got magazine called The Golden Porcupine. The weather changed and it began to rain. Then we saw a skating rink and Frank Mahovlich learned to skate there. And I got one rock for dad, one for mom, and two for my sister and two for my brother. And one for me.

The Fear I: The Wizard of Oz

The very first time The Fear hit me was when I was six or seven years old. We were having Sunday supper and were watching The Wizard of Oz. Everything seemed to be normal. Nothing of note, to the best of my memory, happened that day. This was probably the fourth or fifth time I had seen the film. And then, right when the witch appeared in a cloud of orange smoke in Munchkin Land I got this horrible feeling. I wasn’t afraid of the witch; it wasn’t anything like that. It was a much more general feeling. Everything just seemed wrong, bad, evil. I couldn’t sit still. I had to stand up and move.

I walked across the room – nobody, not my sister, brother, father or mother, seemed to take any particular notice – and sat in a chair in the corner. I figured that if I didn’t watch the movie the feeling would go away. But it didn’t. I walked out of the room, down the hall and around the quiet, empty house. I paced up and down the stairs, went room to room, floor to floor. It took some time, but it did eventually fade away. I never directly associated the feeling with anything, but the movie certainly did seem to have brought it on. I didn’t watch any more of the film that night, nor did I see it for another fifteen years.

For the next few years I had two consistent nightmares. One where a witch lived in the basement and another where I would be sucked in between the walls and into the pipes by some sort of foreboding evil. I saw The Wizard of Oz again sometime later. It was incredible; no horrible feelings. I laughed all the way through. It is one of the best films ever made.

Young Chronicles I: Driving to Northern Ontario

June 3, 1973, Mileage 8240

We made a visit to the Marten River. There was about 20,000 black flies, and it was quite pretty. There was a little stream, and we saw the Marten River. Soon we had lunch. Then we went down to the pond and I saw a fish. It looked like this.

I past a lot of bees on dandelions. Me and Nigel had some fun playing soccer. We had to clean up a mess because the car stopped and all of a sudden a box fell full of food. That was our mess.

June 5, 1973 Mileage 8341

We are leaving New Liskeard and going to Cochran. We went to an agricultural farm. We saw the cows first, and one of the cows went to the bathroom on her baby. It looked like it had a hairdo. And then we saw sheep. They were cute except one because it was eating hay and he blew it at me.

Great Aunt Ida Remembers: A Darker Side

Great Aunt Ida’s memoirs focus on her childhood in the late1900s: These days would now be thought of as the dark ages by the present generation – when young girls of gentle birth were not allowed the freedom of conduct which they have today. 20151122_145601Most telling is her language, simply offered, reflecting insidious racism: …where the darkeys singing in the harvest fields, the village church sounding faint and sweet on the quiet air of a Sabbath morning.20151031_154840She goes on to relate a terribly revealing anecdoteThe brother was known to everyone as Tommy did fine cabinet work, but they seemed to move so silently and unobtrusively through life; there was a story that Tommy had been wild as a lad and when he was out one night carousing with some other boys of his own age – it may have been Halloween –  but anyhow a stone thrown by someone crashed through the window of a negro’s cottage and killed a baby asleep in a cradle. 20150919_152535No one ever knew who threw the stone, for the guilty one never told, but in a very few weeks Tommy’s dark brown hair had turned snowy white. Having heard the story, he was of course an interesting figure to us – though he was now a middle aged man.

Great Aunt Ida Remembers

My Great Aunt Ida wrote down her memories, dating back to her childhood in Maryland during the late 19th Century:

I have thought many times since my hair has grown grey and so many things that have been so important to me have seemed to lose their importance with the passing years, that I would go back home and visit the scenes of my childhood, make a sentimental journey, as it were, to all the places that are so indelibly stamped on my memory…20151122_145802…the guinea hens roosting in the cedar trees late in the fall and being very noisy first before a storm: the bees buzzing among the roses and the holly hocks all through the long summerHollyhock Christine McIntosh_Flickr..the great oak trees that sheltered the spring where water was always so cool and clear: the back lane that led out to the dirt road and the huge cherry trees…20140110_111722She somberly concludes her brief reflections with thoughts on her days living in 1940s New York:

When I am wearing a thick coat in April in New York and feeling resentful over the late spring, my mind invariably travel back home and I feel again the soft air, smell the fragrance of the blossoms on those far away hills – it is a very real sensation – one that I have loved and kept close in my heart for a long time and like many beautiful things – it is better to keep put away – for fear it might be lost or shattered.

Leaving Home As a Kid

“I wandered off as a kid, just kind of left. I never wanted to run away, nothing like that, but I liked being in my own head and staying there, alone.” Och squeezed the brim of his hat between his hands, bending the thick material together. “I remember once coming home from school, pretending to sleep, just so I could miss my stop. That’s how I thought. I had to pretend to sleep and wake up in case someone was watching. It was just…I just wanted to see where the bus went. I always got off at the same stop and I didn’t know where it went. I wanted to know where it went. And so I opened my eyes like, ‘Oh, no, I missed it. What do I do now?’ And there wasn’t anything. It was all the same, streets and stores and apartments. I stared out the window as we went north. And then it was only apartment buildings, wide avenues and then empty fields. The bus came to a turnaround and the driver asked me if I was lost. I told him that I had missed my stop.”

“How old were you?” Dee asked.

“I don’t know. I think maybe Grade Three.”

“You rode the bus alone when you were eight?”

“I did the same thing on the subway another time. I went to the end of the line. I collected a transfer from every station.” I stared into the water as if he could see his small hands clutching bits of colored paper. “I was never scared or anything. I was just getting off and on the train, collecting transfers. It was so great…like magic.”

Afraid of the Sliminess Inside

I remember being afraid of the dark. IMAG1986I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of the water, the sharks, the depth and sliminess. I remember lying in my bed, scared of my dreams, scared of what was to come, scared of things on my little body, scared I would die of something too young. Cape Breton 007I checked for early signs of a heart attack. I ran from wasps. I hid in tiny places I was afraid of. I didn’t want to be alone. I’m still afraid of that. And all of the other things too.

I’m older, not wiser, afraid as ever. I want to get out of that. I want to find myself, some truth, something that will make me the notion I hold inside or holds me. 20140419_195409It’s a funny thing, this interior battle, wanting to be another, wiser, braver me. I play that game. And then I pretend that I don’t. I’m better than that. I’m okay with who I am. That’s what I say to myself. That’s my little self con. 20140507_184134And I beat myself up and stay hiding, almost believing in my dreams, myself, but more  than that, stay that kid screaming inside.