About Me

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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It Takes A Neighbourhood

The house I lived at, at 23 Denham, was a split-level detached house built in the 60s on the site of what used to be a golf course.  The street itself ran the length of exactly one block, at both ends having another side street running perpendicular to it.  The numbers on the street maybe ran as high as 28, so we were near the north end on the east side.  As I grew up, I became familiar with the people who lived in some of the homes around us, so I'm going to mention them before getting into the real start of my personal story.

Next to us to the north, at 25, there was a family whose name I couldn't remember.  They had a daughter named Julia, and I got to know her as a playmate and friend.  It was one of those relationships in the movies, where kids who are the same age live next door to each other, grow up together, eventually marry and remain together for the entirety of their lives.  When I was around 5 or so, probably the summer before I started school, Julia's family moved away.  I vaguely remember being told they went to Hawaii, but perhaps they were Hawaiian and just moved somewhere else.  Regardless, she had been a big part of my childhood to that point, and losing her friendship still saddens me to this very day.  Wherever you wound up, Julia, I do hope you have had a happy life.

To the south, at 21 Denham lived the Freckers.  Can't remember the wife's name, but the husband was Bill, and these two were elderly when I first met them, never mind the years that passed.  Bill had a garage in his backyard, the only house in the area that did, and he kept a workshop in there that I visited maybe twice growing up.  The two of them were always nice to me, chatting and keeping an eye on me for my parents when I was out playing, but never in an obvious way.  I spent a lot of time playing with their grandchildren when they came to visit from Oshawa, two girls named Nicole and Danielle.  Danielle was younger than Nicole by maybe two years, and Nicole was younger than me by 3 or 4, so we didn't meet or play until I was a bit older.

Next to the Freckers, at 19 Denham, were the Tobins.  They too had a daughter, named Lisa, and she was a bit older than me, by maybe 3 or 4 years.  Lisa Tobin was involved in my first sexual experiences with a member of the opposite sex, soon after which she got her period, which stopped everything immediately - soon after, they too moved away.  I remember that before I was allowed to play with Lisa, I was given a literal fifth-degree questioning by her mother up their driveway so that my mother wouldn't be able to spot it occuring if she happened out on to the sidewalk.  I don't recall anything sinister about the questioning, but it took a long time and was all over the map as to what was asked.  Just a weird situation, for sure.

Next to them were two more houses whose inhabitants I had interaction with over the years.  17 had the Gummetts, a nasty old couple who were generally the meanies of the street.  They were the house where, if you lost a ball, it would never come back.  Theirs was also the first house on the street that, when travelling south, wasn't like the others around it.  All the houses were identical on the street as far as design, with maybe a few mirror images in how they were built, except three:  25, where Julia lived, and the Grummetts' home were still the same style, but turned sideways.  Number 15 was either turned totally around or was a different style altogether.  I think that it was just turned around, so the back was the front with windows on the upper floor, but never went in it so have no idea.  It was at number 15 that Fred the dog lived, and I'll discuss my interaction with him in another post.

Across the road I only knew two families, the people directly across from us and the house one to the south of them, so probably numbers 22 and 20.  At 22 were the Methvans, again an older couple whose daughter was attending college.  Cindy Methvan was my piano teacher when I was younger, before she moved from her parent's house and got married.  At 20 Denham was Ann Dark.  She was alone as far back as I can remember, and also fairly old.  She was the person on the street who hid behind the curtains and watched everybody coming and going.  She was also apparently a wild racist.  Never got to know her beyond those facts, so who knows if any of it is true?

The only other home on the street that bears mentioning was number 27 Denham Road, where at some point during my grade school years a Czechoslovakian family moved in, the Bolchiches,  That is a phonetic spelling, as I have no idea how it was properly spelled.  They moved in with their sons Gordon and Dennis when I was in early double digits, and due to the nosy interactions of both my mother and theirs, our friendship ended after about a year and became distrust and hostile glances for the remainder of my life on that street.  That was a shame, but I feel nothing but animosity towards them now, and have no idea anymore if any of it was even warranted.  I'll get into that stuff at another time.

Beyond the confines of my street, I knew a bit about some other people in the neighbourhood, but didn't get that information until I started attending school at Dorset Park Public School.  The school was at the south end of Blaisdale, the street parallel to Denham one over to the west.  It went just south of the street at the south end of mine, Cornwallis, and dead-ended in the school parking lot.  Needless to say, I was only a three minute walk from the school doors to my door, which is ideal for kids first starting out.  Beyond that, I knew about the White Shield Plaza, where resided a Miracle Mart, which was our main grocery store, located right at the northwest corner of the intersection of Kennedy and Lawrence, and the McGregor Park Library and Arena, found on the south side of Lawrence right between Kennedy and Birchmount Road, where they had an outdoor swimming pool and indoor skating rink.  Until I was much older, and apart from knowing where my grandmother on my mother's side lived at 70 Eastwood Avenue down at Gerrard and Coxwell, these locations and people were the centre-point of my life.