December 28, 2009
We stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s until we moved into your old house on James Street in 1948, one door down from Auntie Marg and Uncle Kev and their kids. And you went off to officer training of some kind in Kingston. You came home every weekend or every two weekends – I can’t remember. I also don’t remember if we had a car then so maybe you were travelling by train. Uncle Kev was working in Valleyfield and came home on weekends as well. I think both Mom and Auntie Marg decided they’d rather be in Ottawa where their family was rather than living in either Valleyfield or Kingston. I know that Mom and Auntie Marg were the very best of friends and had written letters to each other all through the war.
When you came home those weekends, I’m sure some of them weren’t all that great. Mom had me (a holy terror), Rob (who got foisted off on me to look after), and Louise who had been born in Belleville. I’m pretty sure that when you walked in the door, Mom said words to the effect that “Hi dear, it’s great to see you home again. You’ll never guess what Anne has done this time!” I remember you taking me to the basement and giving me a spanking for some transgression. That’s what happened in those days when you were “bad”. I don’t suppose you liked it any better than I did. One sin I remember quite clearly was knocking the slats out from under a verandah just down the street from us. The house belonged to the McCurdys and their kid was a real pain for some of the rest of them. I was “dared” to do it and, never one to resist a dare, I knocked all the pieces of wood out. That was really bad!
Ottawa was a time when I was mostly interested in my friends and not very interested in family. I know that you were stationed at RCAF HQ for a time but I’m not sure how long. We went to see Grandpa Tripe at the Vet’s Hospital once, you and I. It was kind of strange for me. The vets in the wards loved seeing a little kid coming through so I got lots of waves and smiles. But Grandpa Tripe was not very happy and was even a bit grumpy. I was uncomfortable seeing him. I think we went a couple of times. Then he died in 1950 and you took me to see him at Hulse and Playfair on Somerset, I thought. But I just checked and Hulse and Playfair (with a new partner) is shown on McLeod so it might have been there. He was in an open coffin and I didn’t like that at all. I have hated funerals with open coffins ever since. Grandma Tripe died in 1948 of breast cancer (as did Auntie Marg, I think) and I don’t remember her very well at all. However, she is in my mind as a very kind, gentle lady. She wrote me a letter when we were still in England and I have that letter. How wonderful that is!
I have two other memories of Ottawa. The first one is going to buy shoes with you. I remember walking up to Bank St. – holding hands. I feel quite certain that this wasn’t your favourite thing to do but Mom probably needed a break and wasn’t about to go traipsing off to get shoes when you could do it. And the second one is going to the War Memorial on Remembrance Day – just you and me. I don’t know how old I was but it really stuck with me.