I left part two with the answer as follows:
“Yes my sisters and I did a lot of crying together with mom, but somehow the good Lord gave us a way out and we eventually got saved from this despicable human being.”
Did the pastor or a visiting missionary ever eat dinner at your house? Did they have an impact on your life at that time?
Yes I remember it well, he was the local minister from the UnitedChurch at the top of our street, and Grace Church it was called. He came to visit my mom and us kids, he was aware of the abuse situation we were under and tried to offer up his help of redemption. We listened to his brief sermon while mom served us tea and cookies. He knew he was not making an impact on our souls, but never the less good listeners. Mom thanked him for the visit and he blessed us with a short prayer and away he went. Of course me and my sisters just giggled afterwards and our mom told us to behave and show some respect, we ran off to the streets without further notice.
Do you ever feel that God had a special calling on your life?
At that time in my life God was not something I didn’t know much about, sure I attended Sunday school, also had my confirmation, but truly, I did not know what or who God really was. Would I find out as my life took shape, oh yes? I learned about praying, heaven, hell and redemption. Do I believe there is a God, most definitely and we are accountable for our sins?
Describe the most memorable Valentine you ever received? Who sent it to you?
I was a grade three student at LorneSchool in Point St Charles and I was full of puppy love with a girl by the name of Wendy Forsyth. I followed her all around the place; she melted my little heart at the time. Valentines Day came along and I made her this beautiful card filled with pictures of little hearts and cupids. Little did I know she had also made one for me? We did not hand them to each other, but had friends hand them out to each of us. I was shy and so was she; all we did was look across the class at each other to see crimson on our faces. She grew up to marry a boy I hung out with his name was Archie Archibald. Hah.
How far did you have to travel to attend elementary junior high and high school, and how did you get there?
Depending on where we lived, most times it was a few blocks. Although one place we lived at we had to walk almost a mile to school. I wasn’t allowed to take my bike to school in fear of having it stolen. We had no automobile so if the weather was bad our mother dressed us up with oversized clothing to keep us warm and we would be out the door and facing the elements. I took a bus uptown to MontrealHigh School, although I only lasted one year and got expelled for throwing a desk from the second floor classroom. I enrolled in evening High School and completed it successfully. I was usually the youngest in the class, as night school had people of all ages trying to complete grade 11, which back then was the number you had to reach to complete high school. It’s grade 12 and 13 in most places now.
Who gave you your first Bible, and how old where you when you received it? How did it influence your life?
I really can’t remember when I actually received my very first personal bible as a young boy, although I probably stole one from the local church I attended at Sunday school classes, or maybe the teacher gave me one. I may have glanced through it from time to time as a boy, but it wasn’t until I met your mother way back in 1980 that I was given my very own bible. She gave me the New International Version on my 33rd birthday in 1981 and I still have it to this day. Full of yellow marked paragraphs that meant something to me back then. I was a student of the bible during part of my married life, but lost a lot of faith and fellowshipping due to the circumstances that changed the path I was on.
When did you become a Christian? How did this change your life?
I became a Christian in 1981 just before your mother and I married, Laura was in her tummy and the church we attended explained that we were living in sin and that it would better in God’s eyes if we were wed. A group of the elders came to visit us one evening. We chatted for awhile and then they wanted to pray over us, they knew that your mother was already a Christian, but I was still a sinner, so they had to do some heavy duty praying over me. They all laid their hands on my head and shoulder. Lots of praying was going on while I had my eyes closed and wondering what was going to take place, was a bolt of lightening going to come down and strike me? Well I must confess, that a change did happen, I fell to my knees and started weeping uncontrollably, from that evening going forward I was touched, some said it was the Holy Spirit working in my life.
Did you go to ball games as a boy? What kind of food did you eat?
I didn’t go too much of anything as a boy, I didn’t have a Dad who was around much to take me anywhere. Anything I did as a boy I did on my own or with other kids taking me to the events. I was very much a loner, although I made friends quickly. I played football, baseball and mainly hockey. I excelled at the game of hockey and won a number of trophies that got lost along the way as I grew into an adult. One of the proudest moments of my pee-wee hockey career was being chosen as the MVP on the island of Montreal. I went to the Montreal Forum to be handed my trophy at center ice by the great #4 Jean Beliveau who was center man for the Montreal Canadians. We ate a lot of macaroni, spaghetti, beans, ham, corn beef hash (spam) soups, stews, pigs feet, pea soup and cereal. I ate a lot of junk food when I had any extra cash, just like most kids back in the 50’s and 60’s. My favorite food as a boy was Hot dog and Hamburgers.
When you were growing up, did you have any animals? What were their names? Was it important to you to have a pet?
I can remember always loving animals, but had very few pets of our own. I guess my mom knew it was difficult enough just trying to keep us fed, she wasn’t about to spend any extra on pet foods. However we did have one dog by the name of Blackie, but he was not with us for very long, you see we had a very cruel man living with us and he murdered Blackie, I won’t go into details again, it was a very very sad day for us kids when that happened. We did have birds, they were less expensive to feed I guess. We had budgies and canaries. It was fun to let them out of their cage to perch on our fingers and bring them close to our ears to peck on. Also the odd one would fly to our table and eat scraps that we would lay beside our plates. I later got into keeping pet garter snakes and wrapping them around my bed post, but that didn’t last very long, my sisters were scared to death of them, so mom had me take them back to where I found them, over on Nun’s Island.
Tell me about your mother’s cooking. Can you recall your favorite meal? What made it your favorite?
Undoubtedly it was her Sheppard’s pie and her split green pea soup made from fresh pigs feet or knuckles, these two meals were to die for back then and my mom was an expert when it came to making them. She also made a great meatloaf, stews, turkeys, soups and our favorite all time desert, lemon meringue pie. We use to fight over who got to lick the bowls of left over lemon stuck to the inside. I remember mom always coming home from the butcher shop with a brown bag wrapped and tied with white string. She would unfold the brown wrap and we would see stewing beef, pig’s feet, liver. Now liver was the worst thing she cooked and we were forced to eat it with fried onions and smashed potatoes. Well today it’s one of my favorite dishes, baby beef liver is the best.
Did you ever get into fights, with other kids? Did you ever start a fight? Or stop one?
Oh what a tricky question to answer, but I have to be honest and answer it. I was one of the toughest kids in my neighborhood, I fought at a moments notice, there were not to many day’s at school that went by that I was not standing under the clock in front of our principles office waiting for him to bring me in for a strapping. I developed a method, whereby I would pluck a hair from my head and lay it across the palm of my hand, when he jumped in the air and came down with the strap it would cut my palm and start to bleed, not badly, but enough for him to stop and send me back to class. I had a bad temper at school, more than likely brought on my name calling from other boys about my poverty. I would go berserk and fight anyone, anytime and anywhere. I got my licks in, but I also took some nasty beatings, especially when I was ganged upon after school, walking home. I always got them back, I was very revengeful. I also had a protection ring going at school; boys would pay me .25 cents a week to protect them from other kids who wanted to beat them up. Me and another tough kid/friend at school would share the proceeds and give out lickings and warnings to kids who were pointed out to us. Because we were primarily in a French, Irish and Italian neighborhood and in one of the poorest and toughest neighborhoods in the city, we had many ethnic gang fights. I tended to always fight on the Irish side; most of my friends were Irish. So the French and Italians generally were the two groups we fought. I had many cuts and bruises when I was a boy from being a street fighter, but I survived.
What chores did you have to do growing up? Did you get an allowance? If so how much was your allowance?
I had to mainly take care of putting out the garbage, shoveling the walkway after a snow fall, also had to shovel the coal into the coal bin when it was sent down a chute to our basement, empty the stove from the coal ashes piled up and make sure they were cooled off before I dumped them in the garbage can. I remember once going out to the shed and bringing in an empty can and when I set it down onto the kitchen floor a huge rat almost the size of a cat jumped out and ran around the kitchen everywhere. My mom and sisters almost died, screams were heard a block away. My mom had to call our local rat catcher, he came over and was able to capture it and kill it. I got paid twenty five cents a week to do my chores, but back then you could buy a bag of candy for a penny.
Who gave you your first job? What kind of job was it? How much money did you make?
I was given my first job by a little Jewish man by the name of Mr. Spiegel. He was the owner of a dry cleaning store uptown near the old Montreal Forum on Closse Street. My job was a delivery boy; I had to carry dry cleaning, suits, dresses, draperies, coats and more over my shoulder. They were clad with plastic for protection from the elements, I walked in all the elements, rain, snow, blizzards, it was a difficult job at times, but I sure got into shape and my legs were like steel. They paid me around $15 t0 $20 per week plus I had extra from tips. I worked very hard and earned every penny. I worked every day after school and on Saturdays. I took a bus there from school and also a bus down to the Point where I lived. All in all it was a great job and experience and also where I met a man Mr. Woods, who would play an important role in the development of my character. He was my angel, but didn’t know it at the time. I spent my hard earned money on records, food, clothing, bus fares and of course candy, my mom made sure I put a few dollars of it away, by opening up my very first bank savings account, little did she know the bank she was putting it in was going to be held up and robbed at gun point by my father and his gang.
I will end this chapter and share with you my impression of what makes a good friend:
A really good friend accepts you for who you are without any reservations
Willing to stand behind you and protect your back
Is never condescending, critical or jealous of you
Someone who listens intently to all your hopes and aspirations without malice
Will go the extra mile for you and be willing to lay down their life for you in a crisis
Loves you unconditionally
If any of you are fortunate to develop close and bonding friendships then you are a blessed person. If you can count on one hand in your entire lifetime people of the caliber above then you are a very fortunate human being. I was able to find 4 in my life, two were male and two were female. God bless and I pray for peace in your lives.