I ran across a post by Carmel Galvin on the Earlier Years blog and thought it might make a good foundation for developing some of my own stories. This genea-meme is a set of questions or prompts about childhood. These questions were proposed by Alona who says:
Like it or not, life today is a whole lot different from when we grew up. And as genealogists and family historians, we are mindful of recording our own history, yet so often it doesn’t happen, and sits in the “I must do that” list.
Do you (or your parents) have any memorabilia from when you were a baby? (ie. baby book, lock of hair, first shoes etc.)
This picture of me is the earliest I have. I was four days old. I’ve only just realised the significance of the date on the back of the photograph now. It was 29 October 1960 which would have been my father’s 39th birthday, no doubt why we had company. The photograph was taken by a family friend who had a camera that could take colour photographs and to my knowledge, this is the first colour photograph in the family albums.
Do you know if you were named after anyone?
My mother isn’t sure why she chose ‘Barbara’ as my first name. Although I have a cousin by marriage named Barbara, she and my cousin Bill did not marry until I was three years old so my guess is that Mom just liked the name. She wanted to give me one of the hyphenated names that were quite popular around 1960 so my full name was registered as Barbara-Jean Irene Bond, with the Jean Irene being my mother’s name. However my birth certificate is the only place that you will find the name Irene. I quickly found that most forms and identification don’t provide space for an additional middle name so I dropped Irene long before I registered for my Social Insurance Number at age fifteen and seldom admit to its existence.
Do you know of any other names your parents might have named you?
I have no memories of hearing stories of other names, but it would be interesting to know what my ‘boy’ name would have been. I must remember to ask if Mom remembers choosing a boy name for me.
What is your earliest memory?
It is hard to say for certain which is the earliest memory but I can definitely remember riding in my stroller, pushed by my older brother, on our way over to visit my grandparents a few blocks over. I must have been barely two at the time since my grandfather died about three months after my second birthday and my grandmother came to live with us after his death. I can remember quite a bit about my grandparent’s house including the layout of the front of the house which I’ve described in detail to my mother who confirms that my memories are correct. I can very vividly remember the day that my grandmother moved in to our house as well. It seemed like it took forever for the moving truck to arrive and I knelt on a chair looking out our dinette window into the driveway for what seemed like hours. Finally the truck pulled into the driveway and I can still picture my grandmother’s kitchen chairs stacked upside down and lashed to the kitchen table. I remember asking my mother why they were upside down and how Nana would be able to sit in them when they were that way.
Someone read me at least one story every night when I was little. In particular, I used to like my book of fairy tales because they were quite lengthy and I could stay up longer by choosing one of them as my story. I also remember getting a new ‘Golden Book’ at Christmas one year and after hearing the story only once I insisted that I wanted to cut up the book to make the Christmas decorations within the very next day. It could have been the one pictured here that I found on Pinterest. Although most of those decorations have been long gone, I still have the paper clown which has been laminated now to preserve it. I suppose it is more than fifty years old now!
When you were young, do you remember what it was that you wanted to grow up to be?
From the time I was in first or second grade, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I borrowed the library book ‘Someday You’ll Write’ so many times that it didn’t really feel wrong when I finally decided not to return it anymore and just kept it. I still have it in my bookcase, a testament to my earliest dreams of becoming an author. I still haven’t written a book yet, but I have had many articles published in magazines over the last few years, proving that it is never too late to follow your dream.
Did you have a favourite teacher at school?
Hands down, my favourite teacher was Miss Busatto, who I had for both the 2nd and 3rd grade. She was quite young, I think, fresh out of teacher’s college, with lots of new ideas about teaching and quite radical for the late 1960’s. In her classroom, our desks were arranged in work groups, rather than in rows, and we often did special activities to learn about new things instead of sitting and listening for hours on end. I remember once she set up multiple stations around the room where we had to go and try to identify various types of staple foods like oatmeal, salt, and vinegar just by using our five senses. After a rocky start in the first grade with the nasty Mrs. Morris, I flourished throughout grades two and three and was ‘skipped’ ahead straight into grade five.
How did you get to school?
I walked about five blocks to public school, from Kindergarten through to grade eight. For the first month or so of Kindergarten, I walked with the older boy across the street but was soon walking with my friend from around the block. The walk to high school was a bit longer but not much, maybe half a mile in total. I definitely had the advantage of growing up in a very established neighbourhood where the schools were close. My older brother and sisters had to walk a great distance to school from our house, before the closer schools were built.
What games did playtime involve?
Wow, there were SO MANY games. In the school yard, there was obviously skipping, both ordinary which I could do and double dutch which I always volunteered to be ends because I just could never get the hang of it. We often played ball against the wall, usually with two balls (or sometimes three if we wanted to show off). There were many different games of ball, none of which I really remember anymore, but I think most of them had rhymes. One of them was called ‘Sevens’ and involved counting with each number requiring a different action with the ball as many times as the number. I think I remember ‘two’ was to throw one ball up and then the second one against the wall, letting it bounce before catching it. Repeat 2x. One of them was over-hand and I remember that as the hardest – maybe it was for seven? Also remember playing ‘jumpsies’ with a rope made from elastics. It began at ‘ankle’ height then ‘calf’, then ‘thigh’, then ‘waist’, then ‘under-arm’, then ‘shoulders’, then ‘ear’, then ‘head’ and finally ‘upper-arms’ with the hand stretched over the head. For the lower ones, we would try to ‘clear’ the rope and then around ‘under-arms’ we would just kick up and over while touching the rope.
One rhyme I remember from two balls:
Girl guide, girl guide dressed in blue
These are the motions you must do
Stand at attention
Stand at ease
Bend your elbows
Bend your knees
Salute to the captain
Bow to the Queen
Turn your back
On the boys sixteen
Did you have a cubby house?
What was something you remember from an early family holiday?
I remember going to North Bay to stay with my Aunt Lily every summer. The earliest memory I have from visiting there was arriving one summer when I was about six years old and wanting to go to visit my cousins right away but my aunt and my mother wanted to catch up on the news first. My aunt told my mother that it was only a few blocks and I could go on my own so off I went with my aunt’s dog in tow. And lucky that he was with me. About half way there, I could not remember the rest of the way, and then got so turned around that I was totally lost. I stood on the street struggling not to cry and then suddenly had an idea. I dropped the dog’s leash and shouted “Go home Skippy! GO HOME!” Skippy took off running and I took off after him, finally arriving back at my aunt’s house, totally out of breath. I think I told them that I had ‘changed my mind’ and that it was ‘too far to walk’ rather than admitting that I got lost.
What is a memory from one of your childhood birthdays or Christmas?
Birthday parties when I was a kid were awesome! I remember playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey in particular. I can still remember where we hung the ‘donkey’ on the kitchen wall over a piece of foam and the tails were also made of paper and were pinned with straight pins! The other thing I remember is that somewhere in the cake was a prize, wrapped in waxed paper. It might be a quarter or a silver dollar or maybe even a dime-store ring. I remember being so excited that I couldn’t sleep the night before.
What childhood injuries do you remember?
I was pretty tame as a young child. The only injury I remember when I was young is being bitten by a hamster when I was about three. I still have the scar. I do remember when I was about thirteen, I was finally allowed to learn to ride a bike. My sister’s friend gave me an old one that she had and as I was riding around the block, the handlebars went one way and the wheel went the other way, right into the curb. I came off knees first into the road, earning a road rash that took months to head and proving to my mother that she had been right all along about how dangerous bikes were.
What was your first pet?
When I was a baby, we had a dog named Skip but I have no memories what-so-ever of it. The first pet I remember was my budgie called Pixie. I think it was green and the cage stood in the corner of the kitchen. Pixie died one morning when I was in Kindergarten and my mother was dreading telling me all morning. When I arrived home and got the sad news, I barely skipped a beat before asking, “Can we get a cat now then?”
Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of “when I was young ..?”
My grandmother told me all kinds of stories over the years and I only wished I had taken notes. The one that sticks in my mind was that she told me that when she first arrived in Canada in 1905, many of the sidewalks in Toronto were made of wood.
What was entertainment when you were young?
When I was a teenie-bopper, I had a massive crush on Donny Osmond. Posters totally covered every wall in my bedroom, which was, of course, purple. And they called it Puppy Love…
Do you remember what it was it like when your family got a new fangled invention? (ie. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?) Did your family have a TV? Was it b&w or colour? How many channels did you get?
My family was always pretty much on the bleeding edge because my father was a technology geek (at least for his time). When I was a young child in the 1960’s, there was a television in every room, I think, including mine, although strangely it was quite a while before we got our first colour set. I remember when my father brought home the first ‘pong’ game which we played for hours on the television screen and I remember he bought a video camera that was totally huge in the early 1970’s.
Lived all my life in the same house and the same room until I left home. And my parents lived there before me for many, many years. To the right is a picture of the house in the early 1950’s, before my time.
Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (ie. fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc)
No, pretty tame childhood. Although our basement did flood regularly.
Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory?
Silence is Golden, Make the World Go Away, and Downtown. Those were the three 45s that my brother gave me when he gave me my first record player. I played them over and over and over again until my parents shouted that Silence really was Golden so please give it a rest!
What is something that an older family member taught you to do?
My Nana taught me many, many things (including how to use cutlery). She taught me how to do fine crochet and I made a doily for my dresser and she taught me how to knit and I made a scarf for myself.
Red Cap Beer (my mother’s choice) in short stubby bottles
Black Cat cigarettes (also my mother)
Harry Hornes Custard Powder
Laura Secord’s Chocolate Easter Eggs with nougat filling
Did you used to collect anything? (ie. rocks, shells, stickers … etc.)
The back of my bedroom door was COVERED in stickers of all kinds, shapes and sizes. I had totally forgotten about that until now. My deepest apologies to whoever had to clean them off.
Share your favourite childhood memory.
Hard to pick a favourite. Some random memories:
Going to the EX with my brother when I was about seven. Sneaking on the big roller coaster by walking on tip toe so I would be tall enough. Him making me take the wheel on the car ride and I was scared to death of crashing, even though there was a guide track.
Going to my mom’s friend’s cottage with my best friend and sleeping in the bunkie.
Being made a ‘sixer’ of the Elves six at brownies. I got to take home the six box!
Going downtown with Nana on the new subway when I was six, I think to see Santa Claus at Eatons. I got to leave school early but was mortified when the teacher read the note out loud and everyone knew I was going to see Santa!
The first year my dad bought me special Christmas presents on his own. Got a ruffly pink housecoat, some perfume and an Estee Lauder makeup kit. I think I was seven.
My own refillable fountain pens with all different colour inks.
Tuck tape in soooo many different colours.
My pup tent – hours playing school in the side yard in the tent.
My father steering with his knees so he could light a cigarette.
Playing Barbies on the front porch with my best friend Esther. My special Barbie box that was made from a box from someone’s fur coat that my mother covered in wallpaper.
Thanks Alona for the prompts and Carmel for the post that inspired this one.