The ending of part one was a description of the type of house I lived in, or as
Mom described it, a flat – a roof over our heads.
Dad were you baptized or dedicated as an infant?
Well I’m afraid I don’t have much information on where I was baptized or
dedicated. I’m certain it was in some Catholic church as later on I took my first
confirmation in some big church in an area of Montreal called Notre Dame de
Grace , short version NDG . I remember wearing black shorts, black to the
knee stockings, black shoes, white shirt and a black tie. The priest put a round
thing in my mouth and I remember it melting on my tongue. Later I found out the
term was the Host . I also had to memorize a catechism booklet by heart and
repeat passages out loud in the church. So that tells me I was a Catholic to
start out with. I will explain in more detail later about Church attendance.
I know I was born in the Herbert Ready Memorial Hospital in Montreal on Nov
19th, 1948 and my mother told me later I was a difficult delivery. She said I
kicked and moved so much in her tummy it was like I was fighting to get out
into the world. Well I came out kicking and screaming very loudly, she
recounted with a grimace on her face.
Did you attend church as a young boy? What are your earliest
memories of church?
As I mentioned above the earliest remembrance of being in a church was the day I had my first confirmation. After that it was only when my mom and dad got the notion to go themselves, thus taking us with them. I must add it was a very rare occurrence . You see my mother was of the strong belief that children should attend Sunday school while the parents stayed home and slept. I never could figure out that thinking. But I knew that if I didn’t get up when I was told to, I had wished I never doubted her word. So some Sundays off we went to Sunday school at the local church, Protestant, United, Catholic or whatever other denomination happen to be close by. You see my folks didn’t place any importance on the dogma at the time, because they didn’t know of any. They simply felt that as long as we were in a church where God lived and being taught the bible, then we were in the right place. Do you hear me chuckling now? The one church I clearly remember attending was a walk across the street from where we lived on Fortune Ave. It was called Grace United. How appropriately named, for by Grace we were saved as my parents could be heard snoring as we walked out our front door to cross the street for Grace.
Did my mother have a job? or did she work at home?
I only remember one place my mother worked before she started to have a
live-in boyfriend to help pay the rent, buy food and pay some bills. She worked at a place I believe it’s name was Belding Cortacelli. I may be wrong or it could have been at Northern Electric and it was close by. She wasn’t working outside the home for very long but I saw her every day before I left for school and came back home. My mother worked so hard around the flat, cleaning floors, laundry, dishes, wallpapering, cooking and so much more. Even though I had 4 sisters living at home with me, my mother still did so much work. The girls helped out, but Mom did the brunt of the housework. She was so clean you could eat off our floors and I always remember the wonderful scented smell of our laundry. She did it every day and it was freshly hung out to dry on our clothes line and came in with this wondrous scent.
Where did your father go to work every day and what did he do? Did his
work interest you?
All I can remember about my dad was that he was in trouble with the law all the time. On my 10th birthday, he had a black two wheeler bicycle waiting for me in our flat as a surprise gift. I was so happy to receive it, but my feet couldn’t reach the pedals so he put wooden blocks on each pedal in order for me to reach them. The next day two detectives showed up at our door to arrest my dad for some crime he had committed and that was the last I saw of him until I moved out West twelve years later. You see my dad had been put in jail for a fairly long time for the crime of robbing a bank and quite possibly some other crimes I knew nothing about. He was paroled by my older brother and his wife 12 years later from a penitentiary in British Columbia. They had transferred him from a Montreal penitentiary for some reason. So did his work interest me? Absolutely not, although he did correspond with me from prison and tried his best to apologize for leaving the family and committing the crimes he did. When I finally did see him again out west, he was a different man and I got to know him pretty good and he shared a lot with me about his past and reasons for turning to crime.
What was your favorite sport or outdoor activity? Why was this your favorite?
Hands down it was hockey. You see, back in my day we had a professional hockey team that was a dominant force in the NHL called the Montreal Canadiens. They would go on to win more Stanley cups than any other team at the time and into the future. As a kid growing up in Montreal, we played hockey all year round. Summer and winter street hockey, outdoor rink hockey and indoor arena hockey at the provincial level playoffs. I started playing hockey around the age of nine and once I got the taste of it, I knew it was my sport. Every day after school I went to the local rink to practice skating and playing pick up games with whoever wanted to put a game together. I became a very fast skater and good hockey player. My biggest thrill was being awarded a trophy presented to me at center ice by the great Jean Beliveau #4 for being the best defense man at pee-wee level on the island of Montreal. When I wasn’t playing hockey, I was jumping on the back of the bumpers of cars and buses to hop a ride home. It was dangerous thing to do, but I never thought so at that age. After all kids felt they were invincible and nothing wrong could happen to us. Chuckle.
Did you pray as a young boy? If so, can you remember a specific prayer? Who taught you
Yes I did pray as a young boy. My mother would come in my room and kneel down beside my bed and hold my hands, close her eyes and bow her head and I would repeat this prayer with her. Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray thee Lord my soul to take, amen….went something like that. I just remember clearly my mom teaching me this prayer and not very often forgetting to come into my room to pray with me before I fell to sleep.
Where was your childhood home located? Did you enjoy living there?
We lived on 4 different streets in The Point probably 2 or 3 years at each address. Each flat took on a different personality and atmosphere. No matter what the condition was before we moved into the flat, my mother made it into a very clean spotless flat to live in. She hated dirt and bad odors. She would be on her hands and knees scrubbing floors and walls to make it a warm and welcoming place to live in. Although we enjoyed living whereever we moved, the saddest thing was who we lived with and the nightmare of abuse we saw my mother take from the man living with us. I could write a book just about that situation, but won’t go into it here. The question may be raised further along and I will be truthful.
Describe your grandparents, what did you enjoy the most about them?
Oh, what a great question. I loved the grandparents on my mother’s side and never met the grandparents on my father’s side. For some reason my mother never visited with them when I was a boy living at home. But my mother’s parents, Grandpa Charlie and Grandma, were wonderful people and always took a shine to us when we were taken to their house for visits. They lived in a suburb called Rosemount and it was like going to a rich area of the city. Coming up from The Point would be like Hells Kitchen in the Bronx. I have pleasant memories of my grandparents giving us money,food, candy and treats, baked goods. And if my mom took us up at Christmas for a visit that was a real bonus. We would get extra rations of food and gifts. They treated us so well. I do know this: they never wanted my mother to marry my father. They said he was no good and they were right. Mom was from a good family. Dad was from a sadistic, mean father. If my dad and his brothers did not come in on time at night they were left to sleep out in the streets and also be given the boots by their sadistic, drunken father. I guess that’s one of the main reasons for my father turning out the way he did, also mean and cruel to my mother.
Can you remember being afraid as a boy? What was your greatest fear? How did you deal
Yes I can very much remember being afraid as a boy and it wasn’t from the bogeyman. The fright/nightmare in my life was a man who lived with us while I was between the age of 10 and 17 and let me tell you it was hell on earth. I won’t recall all the bad things he brought in to our house and the things we witnessed between him and my mother. I will tell you this though, I wouldn’t ever want to be put through that pain again. I know that there are many families who have been and are presently under constant abuse. We were one of those families back then. My greatest fear was for my mom’s life. I never knew when he was going to take it – he hurt her so much in front of us. You ask how I dealt with it? My sisters and I did a lot of hiding and crying together. We also would be scooped up and taken in a cab to various locations, aunts and friends of my mother’s in order to get away from this maniac. When my mother saw him walking down the street in a drunken fashion, she would scoop us up and take us out the back door and down the lane way and catch a cab that would take us away for the night. 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. I will close this part two sharing with you five of the most important lessons I had learned to this point in my life.
1. Love your family and love unconditionally
2 Believe in God
3.Get an education
4.Be honest and trustworthy and of high integrity
5.Be charitable, give without ever expecting anything back