June 2 , 2019 Grand Manan New Brunswick
The main difference between a storyteller and a writer is that the writer has to take the time to get his words on paper, but with the Storyteller you only have to wind him up and he will talk for ever.
I am a storyteller and my Stories seem to come to me on a daily basis.
Some are silly. Some stupid, one or two true but every now and again some pop up straight from somewhere in that cerebral filing cabinet, My memory.
Memory for me is like a photo or a video replay of something that happen many years ago.
I have no idea when they will pop out from my memory closet but when they do they are as vivid as a TV replay.
The other day a friend of mine told me that as a teenager she had a summer job cleaning cottages.
Her speciality was that she could strip and make a bed in 12 minutes, double or single, just get out of her way.
Her recollection was instantly a new story. I had not spent 5 minutes in the last 60 years but now Vivid memories of my older cousin Josephine were once again on the TV in the back of my head.
Josephine was 18 when she left River Bourgeois and came to live in our house in Halifax. The day she arrived my childhood was over and the joy or fear of adolescence for me began.
Now adolescence for me was not a recurring nightmare or a cause for any lifelong anxiety. I was a normal kid from North End Halifax with Irish and Acadian parents.
My normal day as a 12 year old was street hockey, Perry Como on the TV and trying not to sin in anyway.
That was relatively easy but with Josephine’s arrival everything changed.
I can’t blame J D Salinger or Hugh Hefner for taking me down the wrong path. My coming of age was very normal. My Mother bought me new sneakers every summer and new Rubber boots every Fall.
When I was 12 I was then first in line for any clothes that belonged to an uncle or older cousin if they died. My first serious pair of trousers once belonged to my Late Grand Uncle Dr Fred Coolen.
For the first time in my Life I now had to deal with a crease that needed to be pressed. Of course that task fell to one of my sisters and how upscale could it be, now I also had cuffs on my shirts and my trousers .
Now Uncle Fred was over 6 foot and I at that time I was less than 5 foot. Mother said that she would do the necessary alterations and advised me that it was a privilege for me to wear his trousers because he was the first Family member to graduate from college.
Now alterations meant that 14 inches had to be taken up up and the waist had to come by some 6 inches. When I wore them to Church the next Sunday I discovered that the fly was somewhere near my knees and that tweed was a little warm for early June. All of the above caused serious humiliation for me. My friends made Hay that day but I got over it.
At that point in my youth the other sex was my sisters and their friends and older girls or women that were the friends of my Mother. I ignored them all that is so say they never enter my train of thought.
Then my cousin entered the household and my imagination got a bit of a jump start At that time she only spoke French, Isle Madame dialect . it was 1958 and the only other opportunity to see other older girls or women was in the movies. At that time my movies were limited to Roy Rodgers or the Marx Brothers neither were that stimulating.
The transition into Adolescence was up and away. I was not in control and it just kept moving forward at a pace that I was not accustomed to.
Josephine was now in the Big City and with that all the quiet of Isle Madame was 300 kms away, Halifax had Movies, dances, roller skating and city beaches. Did I say that Josephine was shy in fact she was very quiet.
The YMCA had a job opening for a Room Cleaner. Josephine went with my Mother for the Interview and the next day she entered the workforce.
Vacuum the room and change the sheets and make the bed. Two bathrooms on each floor and clean both. Those were her duties. By the end of her first week she had it all down pat.
Every second weekend she had to work the Sunday shift. It was then that she took me along for the 6 hour Sunday shift.
No baloney sandwiches for this girl or her younger cousin. She would take me to the YMCA Restaurant and a Cheeseburger and Chips with Gravy was always my reward for emptying the trash cans in the rooms and dragging all the dirty laundry down to the basement to the Washers
About now you are probably thinking what has this got to due with a Coming of Age Story. Here is where my life changed for the Good or Bad depending on your reaction to Naked Women, Stories of Crime and Punishment and access to reading material that could fetch a small fortune for a twelve year old.
Every room had to be cleaned every day and Josephine had a list that indicated the rooms that were now vacated and therefore everything had to done with fresh sheets etc. The trash left behind was to be thrown out but money likeTips or other items like books or magazines went to the Maid. Josephine took the money and the Movie Magazines but anything like Sports Illustrated , National Geographic went to me.
The Real Reward for a Twelve Year old was not the naked women in National Geographic but the discovery that Playboy had pictures of Real Naked women in Swimming pools or playing Volleyball. That much pleasure meant only one thing for sure, I was in a Major State of Sin and my Mother must not find out.
Within a day came sadly the realization that you could not hide anything from my Mother. Her immediate reaction to my new Reading Material was that I would most likely go to Hell but in the meantime I would have to St Teresa’s on Thursday night for a Full Confession to Father O’Flannery.
She also told me that she better not find any these filthy magazines in Her House ever again or Hell would not as bad as her next response would be. Her final comment that morning was “What would the neighbours think.”
Now even at that early age I was not shy about trying to turn a disaster into Entrepreneurial success achievement.
With full knowledge that I would never bring these Dirty Magazines home again I was determine to continue to seek out the goldmine so to speak that was hidden under the beds at the YMCA.
Keep in mind that as a young Catholic boy my main fear was being in a Sinful State. The solution turned out to be quite simple. By the end of the month I thought I was cleansed of my earlier failings in the Eyes of the Lord and I reaped the benefits of my first Business Adventure.
The next Thursday I was back at the Confessional at St Teresa’s Church with a new found confidence that I was definitely in a State of Grace.
Father O’Flannery was pleased that I was not taking sinful glances at Playboy Centrefolds but as for my new Business Adventure he had one Good Bit of Advice. If I sold the magazines that I found to other boys at school that was their Sinful discretion. He then smiled and said Edward if you donate 15 percent of your gross sales on Sunday to the Collection Box he guaranteed me that I would remain in a State of Grace.
The original photo of Valerie’s Harrison Rose I took some 15 years ago.
With new Photo Editing Software anything is possible .
As of February this year. The Fraser Cultural Centre has started up two new groups within the activities that are regularly available within the Centre.
There is now a Creative Writers Group as well as a Photography Club.
I have joined both groups and so far we have had several people joined us.
I will take advantage of this opportunity to share with you some of the Photos that I take each month.
Here are my March 2019 Photos
Stay tuned for more next week.