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A big lover of all types of media, from Movies to Video Games, Books to Music, Television to Stage.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Dorset Park Years - Part The Second

As I mentioned yesterday, there was a major event that occurred during my year in grade three that needed major explaining in order to set the scene.  Before that, however, I want to touch on some other little stuff I left out of the previous post.  So, if you're ready, here we go.

I remember a Valentine's Day that had me receiving a lot of cards in the little envelope attached to my desk.  Knowing I never really spent any time with the children in my class other than actually being in class, I figured it was just a matter of every kid getting a card from every kid.  At least, that's what I was pushed to do.  And by every kid, I mean every kid.  My mother had me giving cards to the boys in my class as well.  Where she came up with that plan, and why she thought that was a bright thing to do, I have no idea.  I never caught any flack from that incident, but looking back it is another reason to despise the woman that was my mother.  Trust me, quite a lot more will come to light the more I post here, so stay tuned.

The other thing I forgot to mention yesterday was that during my school years I had a major operation.  I have had others before school.  When I was too young to remember, I had a double hernia operation.  Still don't know what that was about, and I guess I never will, but I do know from my mother that she got word from my doctor that after one side went the other would too, so she waited until they both went and then had me get the operation.  Additionally, I apparently had something wrong down below, allowing a cavity to exist where it shouldn't.  This cavity allowed one of my testicles to go up into a part of my body cavity unlike the spot where most males can accidentally lose of their 'boys' when sitting the wrong way, etc..  In my case, apparently, this other cavity had an opening that was gradually getting smaller, and if something wasn't done I would possibly lose a testicle to that cavity and it wouldn't come out again.  This, I was told, would allow the testicle to become useless, thereby halving the chances of my fathering a child.  As a result, i had an operation to close that hole before anything got stuck in there, and all was well.

However, during my first school years, probably grade two, I went into the hospital to have my tonsils removed.  This was due to my having major tonsillitis bouts as I was young, including one that almost ruined a trip my family took to Lake Placid.  That trip requires a whole post of it's own, so someone please e-mail me or comment below to remind me to write that one up in the near future.  It really is amazing what one remembers as they force themselves to travel down memory lane.  Anyway, I was out of school for near a month with this tonsil thing, and just like on Valentine's Day I remember getting a package delivered to my house by hand with tons of letters and get well wishes inside.  Yeah, right.  I appreciated it then, but maturity and wisdom tell me that the teacher made it a class project, yay me.  The best thing that came out of this operation is that there was this really big needle.  I mean a REALLY big needle.  Back then, for whatever reason, they had to inject this enormous freaking needle in my leg before the operation.  I have no recollection whatsoever as to what the needle was meant to do, only that upon a later visit to a hospital I asked about it and was told that it was no longer done.  Whatever, as I was getting prepped for this removal of my tonsils, they had to give me this gigantic flipping needle.  Am I making this clear?  The needle, without any deliberate exaggeration on my part, was approximately the length of the average width of a typical business card, with a syringe the size of a roll of quarters plus one half longer.  This was not a small needle.  They had to hold me down to give it to me, I kid you not.  My mother, two nurses.  And a third nurse to do the actual injection.  And then, just before the needle went in, the nurse giving the injection said the best thing she could ever have said: "Honey, you just scream as loud as you want to, okay?  I'm sorry, but this is going to hurt."  Why was that the best thing she could have said?  Well, as I stated, I was being held down by two nurses and my mother.  One nurse held my leg; one nurse held my arms.  And my mother, well she was holding down my chest, with one ear about an inch from my mouth.

According to my mother, she never heard properly out of that ear ever after that.  So, as you can see, other than having my tonsils out, another good thing came out of that operation.

And having my tonsils out changed my life in ways I never realized until long after I had returned home.  I had never eaten Kraft Dinner when I was young, hated the stuff, tasteless crap.  When I rushed home from school to watch The Flintstones on CTV during my lunch hour, I never could stand the sight of the stuff.  After the operation, I loved Kraft Dinner.  It became my favourite food.  Other things I hated the taste of I now loved, and I developed quite a palette over the years.  Those around me now appreciate the wonderful thing that operation did for me.  And this was all before I made it to double digits age-wise.  As for that other event that I promised yesterday, I'll start into that now.

During my grade three year at Dorset Park, I started getting weird tests.  My folks took me to some shrink or doctor or something, and I went through a battery of questions which turned out to be an IQ test.  It was then that I was told that my IQ was a ridiculously high number, well above the 150 that is considered genius at the time (possibly still is the marker defining that term, who knows or cares), and from that point on my mother changed the way things happened around me.  I have heard from a reliable source (that would be my cousin Jennifer) that my mother always strutted me around as though I was God's gift to the planet, but I'm positive that things got even worse when this news was brought to light.  At school, I began to be pulled out of classes, taken down to the nurse's office, and had to do tests down there quite often.  As to what the tests involved, I don't remember much, except that I was being asked to describe words for the tester, who reacted really ridiculously when I apparently gave him the right answer to words I shouldn't have really known at that age.  Keep in mind, I was a year ahead of everyone else at my grade level, so at grade three I was only seven years old.

Ultimately, this lead to a decision that was completely made without me, but which would affect the next five years of my life.  My mother, and I guess my father was somehow involved in this, but I seriously doubt he had much say in the matter - she decided to send me to a special school for those with 'exceptional potential.'  At the end of grade three, I left Dorset Park, and attended the next year of schooling at Churchill Heights School For The Gifted.  I kid you not, that was the name.  It was attached to a normal school of the same name, Churchill Heights, but had this special program for what they termed 'gifted students.'  This was to start in my grade four year, so I think I had some knowledge that I was leaving all my classmates behind.  Not a huge loss, the best things that happened to me in Dorset Park involved sitting in a line with kids while being read a story and tickling the back of whoever was in front of my while my back was tickled by whoever was behind me, and talking to a girl named Tina about how her top was getting too small for her and how in a couple of months the boys would be begging for her to wear that top.  Yes, at that age we were already talking sex.  That's what makes this sotry so much worse than it probably was.

It was the last day of the school year, grade three.  The last time I would be inside Dorset Park School until I was voting along with other idiots who thought that putting Bob Rae in charge of Ontario would show just how desperate our political climate had become.  I rushed home for lunch and The Flintstones as usual, and my mother served me one of the Chef Boyardee 'foods.'  I put 'foods' in quotes because even back then, it was crappy pasta of some sort in the trademark red sauce.  Not tomato sauce, red sauce.  Who knows what they make that crap with?  Anyway, I digress.  After a solid bowl of the stuff, I was back at school, heading into the last afternoon with these kids.  We were to be read something by our teacher, so we all gathered on the floor in front of her.  We were older now, so we didn't tickle other people's backs anymore (but we did get other kids into trouble for fun - I was once asked if I wanted a piece of gum during recess, and saying yes I received a square of Thrills.  As recess was ending, I put it in my pocket.  We get to class, not ten minutes later the guy who gave me the gum was called out for chewing it in class, a big no-no, and he promptly told the teacher that I had gum too, which backfired on him as I pulled out my unchewed square from my pocket and stated that I didn't put it in my mouth because you can't chew gum in class.  Yup, made lots of friends, I did.).  We just sat in a large group together on the carpet.  I was sitting amongst them, not at the back, but kind of in the middle with a girl sitting squarely in front of me.

As the teacher read whatever she was reading to us, she would occasionally look around the room to see that we were paying attention.  teachers always said they were staying connected with their students when they looked around.  Uh-huh, yeah, right.  She looked at me, read a bit, looked at me again and said, "David, are you okay?  You seem to be turning green."  I felt fine up to that point, and the other kids looked at me and then back to the teacher as I said that I felt fine.  The teacher read approximately one more sentence, at which point I threw up all over the back of the girl in front of me.  Now, to make sure you understand exactly what happened here, I am a projectile vomiter.  By this, I mean that when I throw up, I don't so much go for volume as I go for distance.  However, on really rare occasions, the volume and the distance are fairly equal, and what comes out is the real-life equivalent of the pie-eating contest in "Stand By Me."  This, sadly, was really one of those times.  I didn't stay in the room long enough to get a real firm grasp of the effect of my violent upheaval, but I do know that at the very least the girl in front of me was completely covered from hair to butt with a thick plastering of vomit.

I ran downstairs to the boy's bathroom, throwing up again on the landing on the way, got into a stall, locked the door, and cried to myself with the embarrassment of it all.  Keeping in mind that this happened within a half an hour of getting back to school after lunch, it was quite early in the afternoon that I was to be found in this stall.  I never came out, until well after school ended, and my father came to the school bathroom to collect me and take me home.  I was mortified.  I couldn't face the other kids, I felt ashamed and horrified by what I had accidentally done.  In some ways, I think that single incident hung over me for years and had an impact on my interpersonal relationships up to high school, third year.  Specifically, I never wanted to do anything after that which made me the centre of attention.  How bad was it?  I'm skipping way ahead when I tell this part, but will get to it in more detail when I'm covering this section later:  Upon getting to my biology class almost 5 minutes late in high school, I chose to skip the class rather than go in and make a spectacle of myself in front of everyone.  That in fact was the first class I ever skipped, ever in my high school life.  And it had repercussion, but again I will get to that in due course.

With the last day of grade three ending in horrible fashion, my years at Dorset Park came to an end.  The following year, I would experience living far away (relatively, considering I lived around the block literally from my previous school) from where I was going to school, meet many new people I would grow to loathe, and have a lot more memories that I can still recall clearly.  Grade four will be the next post, hope you stick around to read it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Dorset Park Years - Part The First

So begins my education.  The post today will deal with what memories I can pull out from my first three - four years of schooling.  As mentioned in the previous post, at some point another person came to live at our house, and I am going to try and keep that separate from things until I can guarantee that my memories have to include him.  I know this occurred when I was about 5, as he was 11 years older than I and we met him when he was about 16 or 17, but somewhere my memory breaks down on this point as the meeting came at a camping experience, and I am unsure as to when I started scouting as well.  Anyway, all will be made clear as I continue writing.

My first days of school were kind of confusing.  I remember being lead to the building by my mother, seeing the jungle gym at the back of the school, and going in a metal door to find bright colours and other kids inside.  I don't remember being abandoned or crying when my mother left, but that could have happened.  I'm actually pulling up memories of this event only as I sit here thinking directly about it.  I remember fingerpainting, and not a whole lot else.  I was only in kindergarten for a couple of days.  I was considered too bright for the class, easily bored, and was then transferred up to a grade one class.  So, at four years of age, I started grade one.  With my birthday being April 28th, I would always turn the proper age for the year I was in just a couple of months before that year ended.  I am not certain any of the other kids knew that about me, and I certainly didn't share the news.

A few days after being transferred to grade one, I was given the role of 'teacher' and was sent back down to the kindergarten class during recess for the purpose of helping those my age do stuff.  I still have absolutely no idea what the school was trying to do, but I was denied recess with all of the people in my class, and I now feel that as a result my possibility of making friends this early was stunted by this decision.  They were playing, I was teaching other kids.  It lead to a lot of confusion for me, and possibly resentment that spilled on to my mother.  No idea.  I do know, however, that I acted out as a result of it, in two specific instances that stand out to me.

Dorset Park was odd in that the kids didn't all play together outside at recess or at lunch before classes resumed.  I assume that it was odd, anyway.  See, one side of the school was meant for the boys to play outside, and the other side of the school was for the girls.  So, basically, unless you were in class you never did anything involving the opposite sex.  We were too young to care, but as a result of this strange division one side of the school was off limits, and so sometime during my first few weeks at school, I went to the washroom right before recess time, and the washroom was on the main floor whereas the classroom for grade one was upstairs.  I came out of the washroom, wandered a bit, and found myself in the 'girl's' stairwell just as the recess bell rang.  I panicked, and went and 'hid' under the stairwell.  It wasn't exactly a good place to hide, as if anyone outside looked in the windows beside the doors to go outside (and they were fairly large windows) they would clearly see me crouched in the corner against the wall (the stairs came down facing away from the doors, thus I was not hidden in the least when viewed from outside).  Since the girls were chatting and unconcerned about anything other than escaping the building, I actually avoided being seen until the very last few were headed out, at which point one girl spotted me and a general clamour revealed my hiding spot.  I hadn't done anything, but was reprimanded - I assume.  Don't recall, but the event itself sticks out in my mind.

The other event is the first in what I like to call 'dream phases.'  There were at least two times as I grew up that I felt that i dreamed something, only to discover that the event actually occurred in reality.  From my viewpoint in the present, I cannot honestly say whether I actually dreamed something and then acted it out, or whether I kind of lost touch with reality as I did something, but either way there are two incidents that really stood out in this manner, and both happened before high school.  This is the first one, and it happened one lunchtime in my grade one class.  My teacher was Mrs. Charleston, and was the one responsible for breaking my ambidextrous ability and forcing me to use my right hand for printing and writing.  My mother was angry at this, and invited her to lunch one day to have it out with her.  I was fairly ignorant at the time, but this is what was going on above my head.  I of course recall it as a nice lunch with my teacher, though not knowing why she was there, but given that my mother was hating her as a result, I figure I must have carried animosity from my mother over to Mrs. Charleston, and so one day I decided to urinate all over the classroom when the room was empty for lunchtime.

Now, I have no real recollection of doing this, but I do remember somehow gaining access to the room one day when it was empty, a big no-no, I remember that it was at the very start of lunchtime, as there was a lot of time that passed before the incident was discovered, and to this day I don't know what it was that made them realize it was me.  Honestly, I'm not even sure it was me, due to this dream-like state I saw it all in.  Either way, it happened and that was that.

Other school memories included running down the hallway into the gym because they wanted to time sprints and stuff and we couldn't go outside for it (I assume it was winter), a bully who was diagnosed with some mental disorder which made him my friend one minute and a violent enemy trying to injure me the next, and many threats of "You're dead at 3:30" which never made me run from the school but which never seemed to materialize as I headed home each afternoon.

Two big events marked my other two years at Dorset Park, one each in grade two and three.  In grade two, we were given these math books, red covers, filled with tons of addition and subtraction problems.  The idea is that we were not to actually write in the books, but were to copy the problem into our little Scarborough Board Of Education white notebooks with the Civic Centre on the cover, and complete the problems there.  This basically turned what could have been a half hour of math homework into an hour and a half of copying, then doing the actual problems.  I hated it, and argued with my teacher and my mother about the stupidity of needing to copy the problems when I could just look at the problem and see the answers.  At some point my mother intervened at the school, and I was given my very own math book in which I just did the damn problems and all was well.  This of course meant i was done way before the other kids, so then I would end up going around and giving aide to the others, showing them where they were adding wrong or not carrying a number over.  To say that as a result teachers and my mother had a higher expectation of me as a result would be stating the obvious.

The other big event needs some major explaining before I can properly describe it, so that will be in Part 2, coming soon to a blogpost near you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Random Events

I am still trying to ensure that the majority of what I'm putting in these first posts occurred before my first days of school, so while this post may also be a bit disjointed, I assure you that once I get into my years at Dorset Park things will settle down considerably.

I vaguely remember having kids around when I was very young, aged less than five, but I have no idea who they were or what happened to them.  I might be making this up, but I also seem to remember that there was one year when a lot of younger families moved away from the neighbourhood.  Probably word of my mother being there got out somehow.  Anyway, I do know that somewhere discussion began amongst us kids about derogatory slang used for different races, specifically what is commonly known as the 'N' word.  My mother heard me say that once, and then there was a whole discussion about why it was wrong, etc., but while it ensured I would never use it in the context of negativity, I also hadn't done so when she heard me say it, yet she acted as though I had used it as an insult directly at someone.  Just another example of her doing things without any clue as to the truth.  Julia was still around when this happened, I'm certain, and I think she was in on the discussion with the four or five of us talking about words.

I remember going on a train trip once when I was fairly young.  A big train, down at Union Station, not like a GO train, though I had a fondness for them as well.  I think that now, if I could do any job, it would be as a conductor of a train.  When returning back to where we boarded the train (could be Union, could be virtually anywhere else) I saw a short person, and couldn't stop staring, intrigued by the ambiguity of him.  My mother got all embarrassed and tried to apologise, but he understood that it was curiosity and not malice that provoked my interest.  Already, a pattern involving my mother is emerging.

My mother did have a lighter side as well.  It most came through with two characters she 'created' and had me talking to when really young, something I actually plan to do when I have kids though not for the same reasons.  One of the characters was 'moon,' and happened when the moon was full.  She'd say "Look at that," and point out the window of the car (for some reason, this always happened in the car), and I'd see the moon...and then she'd do a voice for the moon and start talking to me.  We had long conversations, depending on where we were going, and I used the moon as a confidante.  I'd tell the moon things that I wouldn't tell my parents.  For example, while I'm not sure of anything I did that was in this vein, my mother told me I'd confess to doing something bad to the moon when I wouldn't tell her a thing.  Same goes for the other character she had me talking to, 'reflection.'  You can probably see where this came from, with her compact mirror.  Just as with moon, I'd tell reflection anything, even though my mother was obviously in the same room when I was speaking.  Don't know where my mind was, just saying stuff even though she was right there.

All kids have a cruel streak.  Mine came out as jabbing people with needles.  One day, about to take my Grandma out for some trip, I was jabbing her with one, and she wouldn't say more than it hurt and I should stop.  Well, my mother stopped it - she took the pin from me and jabbed it into my leg, just as I was doing to my grandmother.  Boy, did I cry.  I don't blame her for doing what she did, but I do question the way she did it.  I'm certain that my understanding of the pain I was causing could not have been described to me without feeling it for myself, but I feel the abruptness of the act, as a form of retribution, was a poor choice of how to handle it.  I've given it a thought over long years, and while the actual pin in the leg I feel was fairly required, a discussion of what was going to happen, why it was happening, and extending the knowledge of that pain to include hurting anyone ever might have been a better way to go about things.  Either way, except for one other pin incident years later, I never did that again.

Other than the cottage, we also have Super-8 film of a Christmas from 1977 and a visit to Santa's Village in Bracebridge from around the same time.  I don't remember the Village visit from more than the movies, but I do remember being blinded by the light from that damn camera on that Christmas morning.  If I'm not mistaken, that was the same Christmas I got my first bicycle, with training wheels.  It was years before I learned to ride a bike without them, but that's a story for another day.  I think, though I could be wrong, that the same Christmas I got the game "Mouse Trap."  That game, along with a Haunted Mansion game from Disney that can only be found rarely on eBay, was my favourite board game I ever owned as a child.  I'd get my father up really early when he was home from the fire department to play board games.  We'd play those two, and "Pay Day" and "Snakes And Ladders."  I'd play with him for hours.  Later on, I'd have one of the "Star Wars" board games, and we'd play that a lot too. 

Unfortunately, I can't say there are many more memories I can include in the sections before going to school.  So much of my past is shaded with a fourth person living at my home that it is now hard for me to separate the time before he was there and the time after he arrived, as this occurred when I was five or six, and my life slowly began a downward slope that technically still hasn't reached the bottom yet.  All I can say for certain is that I was once a very happy person, and sadly I oftentimes feel that it all ended by the time I got to grade one.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Cottage Years

As I mentioned in the previous post, when I was younger we had access to my grandfather's cottage.  That grandfather was on my dad's side; my mother's father died when I was young of cancer, a period of time that was spent visiting hospitals frequently, and which I remember very little of.  I will probably get into that a bit more in another post, but there isn't a whole lot I can recall about that time, so even if I don't my readers will not have missed very much.  Regardless, this post is in regards to the cottage we used to go to.

As I have said, to get to the cottage you had to go by boat.  First, we had to drive about an hour and a half out of Toronto, north of Peterborough, to Bobcaygeon, and maybe another 45 minutes from there.  After doing some research on my own, I have found Mississagua Lake, and noticed it is about halfway to Algonquin Provincial Park, but more to the east.  Now that I've finally found it, courtesy of Google Earth, I'm hoping that at some point I'll be able to rent a boat and go and see if I can actually find the old place.  The cottage had a wee tiny little beach, nestled in the smallest little cove, and it is here that I first learned to float and ultimately swim.  The sound of the water of the lake lapping at the floating dock is a sound that always soothes me to this day.

The cottage was tiny, and pretty bad from the viewpoint of the types of buildings that come to mind when you think northern Ontario cottage nowadays.  It had a kybo, was built off the side of a steep hill so that it stood on stilts, and was mosquito infested most of every time we went up there.  I don't think my parents were aware of Muskol and their variety of bug repellent products at this time, so getting bitten was a frequent occurrence.  I can't really put the memories I have of the time spent there in any cohesive pattern, so this stuff will just be rapid fire and disjointed.

My first experiences driving a boat were en route to the cottage and the store.  We have Super-8 film of me doing just that, but i remember it independently as well.  I learned that the word 'Wednesday' had an 'n' in the midst of it from my grandmother up there.  That would be on my mother's side, whom I considered my only grandmother, but we'll get there in a paragraph or two.  At some point a swing was put in a tree by the path from the dock to the cottage, and I remember swinging on that.  I also remember learning about birch bark, and using it as paper after it had fallen naturally from the tree.  There was one time my mother was determined to wash my hair at the cottage, for whatever reason (I probably got something in it, but can't remember), and I was still afraid of putting my head under the water in the lake, so as my hair got brittle from the shampoo drying in it she convinced me to put my head under the tap in the kitchen.  I remember one year I was fairly ill (I had stomach cramps like you wouldn't believe when I was a kid - turned out I am lactose intolerant, and yet all I drink to this day is milk), and they got this little portable toilet so that I didn't have to leave the cottage constantly all day and night.  I remember watching the two channels of television we could get up there when it was a rainy day outside.  Not that we only got two channels when it rained, no, we only got two channels ever.  This is the 70s, remember, and the antenna was the only way to get reception.  I always got disappointed trying to watch "Huckleberry Hound" and having the television cough up "Huckleberry Finn."  I hated that little kid.  Turns out, I didn't like the book either when I read it in Grade 8.  Give me "Tom Sawyer" over "Huckleberry Finn" any day of the week.  Oh, and my first encounter with "The Beachcombers" was up at the cottage too, so I guess one of the channels was CBC.

There were a few big things that happened up at that cottage.  One year, I had fallen at home and scrapped the skin clear off my right knee.  We went to the cottage and each and every time the wound had scabbed over, I somehow fell and ripped it clear again.  Painful damn summer that, and a foreshadowing that eventually that knee was going to get really scarred, but that's a late high school story, and we're no where near there yet.  I remember playing with chipmunks under the cottage, which doesn't sound as weird as you'd think when you consider that apart from the first few feet of the entrance and the back wall of the bedrooms, the entire cottage was off the ground by a sizable amount.  I mean, sunlight got under there for crying out loud!  Think 'sandy-floored lower deck' more than 'under a house' and you'll be on the right track.  I for some reason remember going up there with a bunch of kids from Scouting on a weekend camping excursion, but given the size of the cottage I'm not sure I'm right about that.  If it happened, then all the kids would have been in tents while the leaders (my mother and Peter, who we'll get to eventually) would have been inside the building.  I remember a clue-laden treasure hunt leading to a chocolate bar tied to a tiny tree in the middle of a field clearing, and while were all looking high and low in the brush I spotted it and won the hunt.  Weird how these memories all jumble together.  Then there was the night of the thunderstorm...

One night, this storm swept into the area that really did a number on me as a kid.  I was afraid of thunder and lightning at this point, and the storm was so intense it sounded and felt as though the hill the cottage was on was sliding down into the lake.  My bedroom in the cottage was in the middle of the three I think were there, and I had a big window looking up the hill.  I swear that for a moment there the storm was centred directly above the cottage.  I have experienced severe thunderstorms since, but never in such a tiny shelter, and it was a life changer for me.  As a result of that storm, something in me became different, and it came to fruition when at home that fall.  We were having a pretty bad storm there too, and during that one I determined that enough was enough, forced myself to watch the lightning and really feel the thunder, and changed my viewpoint on storms entirely.  Since then I've loved thunderstorms, and have wished I was a storm chaser in the American Midwest.  One of my reasons for moving to the Dominican, though it is quite far down the list, is that the region gets really strong storms, some even at hurricane strength, and I'll be able to really watch one blow.

There was an island near the cottage, a fair sized one, and one time we decided to go out and take a walk on it.  This was with my grandmother as well, and I only remember her coming up there with us maybe once.  Anyway, we got over there in the boat, started wandering around, and came across this boathouse.  Now, none of us went in, and I don't even think any of us took a peek inside the building, but we all (grandmother included) got this incredibly weird and creepy vibe off the place, enough so that we turned around and hightailed it off that island faster than it took to type this paragraph!  Considering that looking out the windows across the deck of the cottage gave us a view that had that island dead centre in the middle of it didn't help things either.

The cottage years also included one of my first sexual encounters, if you can call it that.  A couple of cottages over, there were two little girls, and one day when my mother had us over there to visit we went to play.  Our play basically consisted of taking off our bathing suits and comparing body parts.  That was it, the sum total of that experience, but I don't remember ever visiting them again.  However, that could also have come from the fact that the cottage years ended rather abruptly after my grandfather died.  He willed the cottage to us, but my father's mother decided instead to sell it, and for some reason (probably financial) my family never fought her on it.  I hated her from that moment on, and never found it within myself to forgive her.  In fact, from that point on I never really bothered having any contact with her whatsoever, and that is why I consider my mother's mother to be my sole grandmother.  In my mind, from the age of about seven or so, I only had one grandparent, even though my other grandmother was around long into my teens.  Given how happy being up at that cottage made me, and how horrible family life was otherwise, it's no wonder that I held that grudge the way I did, and do.

So those were my cottage years.  I often times wonder if my life would have been any different if that cottage had stayed with us the way it was meant to.  If having a safe haven away from everything and everyone would have made me handle things better, or at least more maturely, when all the bad things happened later on.  I'll never know, but at least I can try and see if I can find the place again, and with any luck I can recruit Scott and Andi on my journey to do so.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Early Years - Part Three

Since I am now entering territory that may or may not have happened once I had started grade school, I figured that it would be a good time to warn readers that the timeline on the new few posts is likely to jump around a bit.  If I'm writing something about school life at Dorset Park and remember something that happened one summer day possibly before I even went to school, I'm going to simply slap it in there in order to ensure it doesn't get lost for good.

When I was younger I was ambidextrous.  I could switch mid-word from one hand to the other and unless you were watching me write/print, you'd never know where the switch took place.  Not much of a story attached to this, but there it is.  I was forced to choose to write with my right hand in Grade One, by Mrs. Charleston, but we're trying to get all the pre-grade school stuff out of the way first here.

I do remember one day, it must have been in August or September since I can't imagine any other reason for this day to have happened unless it was in preparation for my first days at school.  I was sitting on the big chair my father used to read in, in the corner of the living room, and my mother was really pounding into me the basic knowledge every kid needs in order to be found if lost.  Address, phone number, parent's names, stuff like that - heck, maybe exactly and only that.  Seemed like more, but can't remember more than those being hammered home.  I figure from a present viewpoint that this was probably in response to my first days at Dorset Park, since everywhere I went before then would have been with someone else who knew that information, and child abduction simply wasn't as big a deal in the 70s as it is today.  We didn't even put the locks on the door at night in those days.

I had an encyclopedia I didn't use much, the World Book Of Knowledge.  Had records I listened to regularly, Winnie The Pooh, Chilling, Thrilling Sounds From The Haunted House by Disney, An Introduction To Music which was the soundtrack of a bunch of animated shorts that were about the instruments and what made what sound.  I even had this Star Trek comic on album, about this little alien creature that crooned this sound which took over people's minds.  Came with the comic book and everything.  Don't know what age I was when I got that, as I wasn't much of a Trek fan when I was a kid, but someone thought it would be neat.  I still have all of these records, never gave any of them away or sold them.  Not in mint condition, of course, since I've actually used them when I was younger, but they still work.

Even as a child I loved to read.  I remember going to Scarborough Town Centre, long before there was a cinema there, long before the RT had a station, and going to Cole's Books in order to grab a few of The Hardy Boys series of titles.  It was a long time before I had the collection, the original 56 titles, hardcover, blue backed books that I still have and keep on display on my bookshelf.  Not only am I keeping them for my own kids, but also as a throwback to a simpler time, story-wise.  I still have my original boxed set of Paddington Bear, and even an old Dr.Seuss book, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish."  I read and reread those books when I was a kid.  I also played a lot with toy cars, Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.  I gave them personalities, storylines, kind of like what you see in the Toy Story movies, but with a multitude of cars rather than a bunch of other toys.  I had a bunch of hockey pucks (don't know where from, I've never played hockey) and tracks from a Hot Wheels set I got that shot cars into a loop-de-loop, and I would make fortresses and roads, incorporating my bundled up blanket as a mountain to climb to get to the enemy lair.  Did all this on what I was told was a Captain's bed.  Basically, it was a bed that was REALLY high off the ground, with storage and drawers underneath.  Great idea, until you take into account that the damn thing was too heavy for me to move, and anything that fell behind it would be gone for months at a time.

I remember some of the stuff that we have on Super-8 film as it was being shot.  A lot of my fonder memories came from going to a cottage my family was left by my father's father when he died.  Used to go up there a lot during the summers.  It was a tiny place: three little bedrooms, and a main living room/kitchen area, then a deck looking out over the lake.  that would be Mississauga Lake near Bobcaygeon, just past Peterborough.  Had to get to the cottage by boat, and the bathroom was a kybo.  That, apparently, comes from the old Kybo brand coffee cans that would hold the lime that dropped the odour to a minimum, and is usually only used as a Scouting term.  You'd likely call it an outhouse.  Anyway, there were a lot of memories from that cottage, and I think I'll reserve the next post for them.

I'll finish this one off with a shot of that Star Trek comic I have.  I linked the picture to the actual item on Amazon.  1975, just a couple of years ago.